"O my soul, it is only a few days, bear them patiently.A lifetime seems long but a flitting reverie"

~Imam Shafi~
" “The heart will rest and feel relief if it is settled with Allah and it will worry and be anxious if it is settled with people.” – Ibn al-Qayyim"....Say : "This is my way; I invite unto Allah with sure knowledge, I and whosoever follows me with sure knowledge" (Qur'an - 12:108) "Say: we believe in God and in what has been revealed to us, and what was revealed to Abraham, Isma'il: Isaac, Jacob and The Tribes, and in (the Books) given to Moses, Jesus and the Prophets, from their Lord: We make no distinction between one and another, among them, and to God do we bow our will (in Islam)." (Qur'an, Al-Imran 3:84) . "And if he (Muhammad SAW) had forged a false saying concerning Us (Allah),We would have seized him by the right hand;And then certainly should have cut off his life artery (Aorta),And none of you could withhold Us from (punishing) him" (Qur'an,Al-Haqqah 69:44-47) "Do they not ponder the Quran! If it were revealed from a source other than Allah,certainly they would have found,many contradictions."[Holy Quran 4:82] " O man! Verily, you are returning towards your Lord with your deeds and actions (good or bad), a sure returning, and you will meet (i.e. the results of your deeds which you did)" [Holy Qur'an, 84:6] Say, "Is it other than Allah I should desire as a lord while He is the Lord of all things? And every soul earns not [blame] except against itself, and no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another. Then to your Lord is your return, and He will inform you concerning that over which you used to differ." ~Holy Quran 6:164 Imam Malik (rh): “Do not look to the sins of people as if you are Lords, but look to your own sins as if you are slaves. Have mercy on the people of affliction and praise Allah for your well-being, and never say, ‘This person is from the people of Hellfire, and this person is from the people of Paradise.’ Do not be arrogant over the sinners, but rather ask Allah to grant them hidayah and rashad (i.e. guidance).” Ibn Kathir (Ra) narrated: كان نقش خاتم عمر بن الخطاب رضي الله عنه : كفى بالموت واعظاً ياعمر “The engraving on ‘Umar ibn al Khataab’s(Ra) ring was: “Sufficient is death as an admonisher O Umar”. ["Al-Bidaayah wan-Nihaaya]. "When you fear the creation, you run away from it, but when you fear the Creator, you feel close to Him,& run towards Him.".Ibn Qayyim . "Allahumma la‘aisha illa‘aish-al-Aakhirah": 'There is no life but the life of the next world' "And worship your Lord until there comes to you the certainty (i.e. death)". (Quran 15:99) “And those who strive for Us – We will surely guide them to Our ways.And indeed, Allah is with the doers of good.” [Quran: 29:69] "... And my success is not but through Allah . Upon him I have relied, and to Him I return." ~ Al Quran 11:88
"Nothing in this world is really useful to you unless it has some utility and value for the next world"-Imam Ali(R)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Ibn al-Qayyim Al-Jawziyya

He is Muhammad Ibn Abi Bakr, known as Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyya, named after his father who was an attendant (Qayyim) at a local school named Al-Jawziyya. He was born in Damascus, Syria in 1292 C.E. (691 A.H.), and he studied under his father, the local attendant (Qayyim) of the al-Jawziyya school. Later on, he pursued his quest for knowledge at the hands of renowned masters and scholars of his epoch, as well as he studied the works and teachings of sufi masters known in his time. His schooling centered around Islamic jurisprudence, theology, and the science of prophetic traditions. He finally joined the study circle of Imam Ibn Taimiyyah (1262-1329 C.E.), who kept him in his company as his closest student and disciple, who later on became his successor.

Ibn al-Qayyim was fervent in his devotion to his teacher, and he was an excellent student and disciple of the great Muslim scholar Imam Taqiyyu-Deen Ahmad Ibn Taimiyyah. He defended his religious opinions and approaches, and he compiled and edited most of his works, and taught the same.

Because of their perception and opinions, both the teacher and the student were unjustly persecuted, tortured by unjust rulers at the time, and humiliated in public by the local authorities, and they were imprisoned in a single cell, while the other disciples were kept separate in the central prison of Damascus, still known to-date as al-Qal‘a. Among the imprisoned scholars, students of Ibn Qayyim, included a young man by the name of Ibn Kath
ïr (1302-1375 C.E.), who later on became a most renowned Muslim scholar and compiler of the most comprehensive Qur’anic commentaries ‘Tafsïr Ibn Kathïr.’

Upon the death of Imam Ibn Taimiyyah, the disciples were set free from prison, and Imam Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyya furthered his studies, and held study circles and classes for his own students. Ibn Jawziyya taught Islamic Jurisprudence at al-Sadriyya school, in Damascus, before he held the position of the Imam of the Jawziyya school for a long period. Most of his writings were compilations, although he authored several books himself, and manuscripts with his own handwriting are preserved today in the central Library of Damascus.

In fact, it was considered an honour and a privilege to study in his circle. Among the renowned Muslim scholars who studied under him, we mention Ibn ‘Abd al-H
ãdï (1305-1345 C.E.), and Ibn Rajab (1337-1396 C.E.), and others who oft-frequented his circles, and sought his company, such as Imam Ibn Kathïr. Most scholars of the time have acknowledged the author’s excellence, and profound knowledge of Qur’anic interpretation, commentaries on the prophetic traditions, and theology. His extensive knowledge and understanding of Qur’anic commentaries surpassed even some renowned theologians in Islamic history.

Ibn Kath
ïr spoke of him in his book ‘Al-Bidãya wa-’Nihãya, saying: “He was most friendly and kindhearted, he never envied anyone, he never caused harm to anyone, he never bore prejudice against anyone, and I was the closest to his heart. Furthermore, I do not know anyone who is more devout in his worship than him in our time.” A similar opinion also was quoted by Ibn Hijr.

Ibn al-Qayyim catered to all the branches of Islamic science, and was particularly known and commended for his commentaries. Al-H
ãfiz Ibn Rajab spoke of his teacher, saying: “He was an accomplished scholar of Islamic science, and no one could rival him in his deep understanding of the Qur’an and prophetic saying, and his interpretations were unique in accuracy.”

Ibn Rajab narrated that his teacher Imam Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyya learned the science of prophetic sayings (Had
ïth) from al-Shahãb al-Nãbulsi, Qãdhï Taqiyyu-Deen Sulaimãn, and Fãtima Bint Jawhar, among others. During his early student life, Imam Ibn al-Qayyim sought the company of most shaikhs of his period, and he was particularly proficient in interpreting the Hanbali Muslim school of thoughts.

His Spiritual Life
Imam Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyya was an avid and a resolute worshipper. He devoted long hours to his supererogatory nightly prayers, he was in a constant state of remembrance (zikr), and he was known for his extended prostrations. One could see on his face the clear expressions of piety, and constant solicitation of God’s bounty and favors.

During Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyya’s imprisonment in al-Qal‘a prison in Damascus, he was constantly reading the Qur’an, and studying its meanings. Ibn Rajab noted that during that period of seclusion, he gained extensive spiritual success, as well as he developed a great analytical wisdom, knowledge, and understanding of the prophetic traditions.

Upon his release, he performed the pilgrimage to Mecca several times, and sometimes he stayed in Mecca for a prolonged period of devotion and circumambulation of the holy Ka‘aba.

His Works
ãn al-Alüsï al-Baghdãdï once said: “His interpretations are unique in accuracy.” The renowned Muslim scholar at-Thahabi once said about him: “He gave great attention to details and references of the prophetic traditions.” Furthermore, Shaikh Burhãn al-Deen al-Zãri’ spoke of him saying: “No one is as cognizant as Ibn al-Qayyim was in his time.”

Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyya’s contributions to the Islamic library are extensive, and they particularly deal with the Qur’anic commentaries, and understanding and analysis of the prophetic traditions (fiqh-u Sunnah).

He compiled a large number of studies besides his own books, including:
1- Tahth
ïb Sunan Abi Dãwoud (Emendation of Sunan Abu Dãwoud);
2- Al-Kal
ãm al-Tayyib wa-al-‘Amal al-Sãlih (The Essence of Good Words and Deeds);
3- Commentaries on the book of Shaikh ‘Abdull
ãh al-Ansãri: Manãzil-u Sã’ireen (Stations of the Seekers);
4- Z
ãd al-Ma‘ãd (Provisions of the Hereafter), from which the famous book Natural Healing with the Medicine of the Prophet is extracted.
5- Tafsir Mu'awwadhatain (Tafsir of Surah Falaq and Nas);
6- Fawaa'id;
7- Ad-Daa'i wa Dawaa' ;
8- Al-Rooh;
9- Al Waabil Sayyib minal kalim tayyib;
10- Haadi Arwah ila biladil Afrah;
11- Al Jawaabul kaafi liman sa'ala 'an Dawaa'i Shaafi;
12- Ighadatu lahfan fi masayid shaytan;

Many more gems of works well-preserved up to this day.
Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyya died in the city of Damascus on Rajab 751 A.H.,1350 C.E., at the age of sixty-two, and was buried besides his father at al-Sagheer Cemetery there


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Omar bin Abdul Aziz

Islam, meaning surrender to the Will of God, is an eternal idea. Muslims assert that it is the pristine faith of mankind, subscribed to by the first created humans, Adam and Eve and confirmed by the Messengers of God, including among others, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammed. Islam throws a challenge to the community of believers to create a society “enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong and believing in God”. Islamic history is a perpetual struggle to meet this challenge in the matrix of human affairs. This struggle is continuous and relentless. Muslims through the centuries have struggled to rediscover the fountain from which the Prophet drank. The corruption that surfaces with time is challenged time and again and a corporal attempt is made at a renewal of faith. Hence, revivalist movements in Islam provide benchmarks from which subsequent historical events can be measured and understood.

Omar bin Abdul Aziz, also known in history as Omar II, was the first revivalist Emir in Islamic history. After Muawiya, the character of the Caliphate changed and dynastic rule was established. The corruption of the Omayyads reached its crescendo with Karbala. The Omayyads built lavish palaces, surrounded themselves with servants and maids, accumulated enormous estates, treated the public treasury as their privy purse and lived like princes and kings. There was no accountability for their wealth or for their actions. The populace had no say in the affairs of the state. The Caliph was not nominated nor could he be questioned. The people were there merely to obey the strongman, pay taxes and serve in the armed forces.

Omar bin Abdul Aziz became the Emir by a coincidence of history. When the Omayyad Emir Sulaiman (714-717) lay on his deathbed, he was advised that he could earn the pleasure of God by following the example of the early Caliphs and nominating someone besides one of his own sons as the next Emir. He therefore dictated in his will that Omar bin Abdul Aziz, a distant cousin, was to succeed him and Omar bin Abdul Aziz was to be followed by Yazid bin Abdul Malik. Omar bin Abdul Aziz was a man of polish and experience, having served as the governor of Egypt and Madina for more than twenty-two years. He had been educated and trained by a well-known scholar of the age, Saleh bin Kaisan. Before his accession to the Caliphate, Omar bin Abdul Aziz was a dashing young man, fond of fashion and fragrance. But when he accepted the responsibilities of Caliphate, he proved to be the most pious, able, far-sighted and responsible of all the Omayyad Emirs.

Indeed, Omar bin Abdul Aziz set out to reform the entire political, social and cultural edifice of the community and to bring back the transcendental values that had governed the Islamic state in its infancy. He started by setting a good example in his own person. When news reached him of his nomination to the Caliphate, he addressed the people, “O people! The responsibilities of the Caliphate have been thrust upon me without my desire or your consent. If you choose to select someone else as the Caliph, I will immediately step aside and will support your decision”. Such talk was a breath of fresh air to the public. They unanimously elected him.

Omar bin Abdul Aziz discarded his lavish life style and adopted an extremely ascetic life after the example of Abu Dhar Ghifari, a well-known companion of the Prophet. Abu Dhar is known in history as one of the earliest mystics and Sufis in Islam who retired from public life in Madina during the period of Uthman (r) and lived in a hermitage some distance away from the capital. Omar bin Abdul Aziz discarded all the pompous appendages of a princely life–servants, slaves, maids, horses, palaces, golden robes and landed estates–and returned them to the public treasury. His family and relatives were given the same orders. The garden Fidak provides a good example. This was a grove of palms owned by the Prophet. The Prophet’s daughter Fatima (r) had asked for this garden as an inheritance but the Prophet had declined saying that what a Prophet owned belonged to the whole community. Fatima(r) had pressed her claim before Abu Bakr (r) but Abu Bakr (r) had denied the request saying that he could not agree to something that the Prophet had not agreed to. After the Caliphate of Ali (r), Fidak had been made a personal estate of the Omayyads. Omar restored Fidak to the public treasury, as a trust for the whole community.

The Omayyads had no accountability to the treasury. To support their lavish life styles, they collected enormous taxes from Persia and Egypt. They compelled traders to sell them their merchandise at discount prices. The Emir’s appointees received gifts of gold and silver in return for favors. Omar reversed the process. Omar abolished such practices, punished corrupt officials and established strict accountability.

Some Omayyad officials, drunk with power, mistreated the conquered peoples. Oftentimes, their property was confiscated without due process of law. Contrary to the injunctions of the Shariah, even though people in the new territories accepted Islam, they continued to be subject to Jizya. Those who refused to pay the taxes were subject to harsh punishment. Omar abolished these practices and ensured fairness in the collection of taxes. Gone was the oppression of Hajjaj in Iraq and Qurrah bin Shareek in Egypt. The populace responded with enthusiastic support of the new Caliph. Production increased. Ibn Kathir records that thanks to the reforms undertaken by Omar, the annual revenue from Persia alone increased from 28 million dirhams to 124 million dirhams.
Following the example of the Prophet, Omar bin Abdul Aziz sent out emissaries to China and Tibet, inviting their rulers to accept Islam. It was during the time of Omar bin Abdul Aziz that Islam took roots and was accepted by a large segment of the population of Persia and Egypt. When the officials complained that because of conversions, thejizya revenues of the state had experienced a steep decline, Omar wrote back saying that he had accepted the Caliphate to invite people to Islam and not to become a tax collector. The infusion of non-Arabs in large number into the fold of Islam shifted the center of gravity of the empire from Madina and Damascus to Persia and Egypt. As we shall elaborate in later chapters, this development had far reaching consequences during the Abbasid revolution (750) and the evolution of the schools of Fiqh (760-860).

Omar bin Abdul Aziz was a scholar of the first rank and surrounded himself with great scholars like Muhammed bin Kaab and Maimun bin Mehran. He offered stipends to teachers and encouraged education. Through his personal example, he inculcated piety, steadfastness, business ethics and moral rectitude in the general population. His reforms included strict abolition of drinking, forbidding public nudity, elimination of mixed bathrooms for men and women and fair dispensation of Zakat. He undertook extensive public works in Persia, Khorasan and North Africa, including the construction of canals, roads, rest houses for travelers and medical dispensaries.

Omar bin Abdel Aziz was the first Caliph to commission a translation of the Qur’an from Arabic into another language. Upon the request of the Raja (king) of Sindh (in modern day Pakistan), Omar bin Abdel Aziz had the Qur’an translated into the ancient Sindhi language and had it sent to the Raja (718 CE). To put this event into historical context, this was within ten years of the conquest of Sindh and Multan by Muhammed bin Qasim and the conquest of Spain by Tariq and Musa.
Omar bin Abdul Aziz was also the first Emir to attempt a serious reconciliation of political and religious differences among Muslims. Since the time of Muawiya, it had become customary for khatibs to insult the name of Ali ibn Abu Talib (r) in Friday sermons. Omar bin Abdul Aziz abolished this obnoxious practice and decreed instead that the following passage from the Qur’an be read instead: “God commands you to practice justice, enjoins you to help and assist your kin and He forbids obscenity, evil or oppression, so that you may remember Him” (Qur’an, 16:90). It is this passage that is still recited in Friday sermons the world over. He treated Bani Hashim and the Shi’as with fairness and dignity. He even extended his hand to the Kharijites. According to Ibn Kathir, he wrote to the Kharijite leader Bostam, inviting him to an open discussion about the Caliphate of Uthman (r) and Ali (r). He went so far as to stipulate that should Bostam convince him, Omar would willingly repent and change his ways. Bostam sent two of his emissaries to the Caliph. During the discussions, one of the emissaries accepted that Omar was right and gave up Kharijite extremism. The other went back unconvinced. Even so, the Caliph did not persecute the man.

Omar bin Abdul Aziz was the first Muslim ruler who moved his horizons from external conquests to internal revival. He recalled his armies from the borders of France, India and the outskirts of Constantinople. There were few internal uprisings and disturbances during his Caliphate. Islam had momentarily turned its horizons on its own soul, to reflect upon its historical condition and replenish its moral reservoir. Faith flourished, as it had during the period of Omar ibn al Khattab (r). It is for these reasons that historians refer to Omar bin Abdul Aziz as Omar II and classify him as the fifth of the rightly guided Caliphs, after Abu Bakr (r), Omar (r), Uthman (r) and Ali (r).
But greed does not surrender its turf to faith without a battle. The reforms of Omar II were too much for the disgruntled Omayyads and the rich merchants. Omar II was poisoned and he died in the year 719, after a rule that lasted only two and a half years. He was thirty-nine years old at the time of his death. And with him died the last chance for Omayyad rule.

Contributed by Prof. Dr. Nazeer Ahmed, PhD


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Conquest of Spain

The conquest of Spain was the beginning of a new era in world history. It was the first interaction of Islamic civilization with the Latin West. For centuries, Muslim Spain was a beacon of knowledge to a European continent that was shrouded in the stupor of the Dark Ages. It was Spain, along with southern Italy, that was destined to act as a conduit for learning to the West. It played a central role in the reawakening of Europe.

The very name Andalus conjures up images of a bygone golden age of a brilliant civilization. Spain, as Andalus is known today, is situated in the northwestern corner of the Mediterranean. It is a peninsula, bound to the west by the Atlantic Ocean and to the east by the Mediterranean Sea. To the north the Pyrenees Mountains separate it from France and the rest of Europe. To the south the narrow Straits of Gibraltar connect the waters of the Atlantic with the Mediterranean. Geographically, it is a part of the Mediterranean world, although topographically, the rugged mountains of the Peninsula make it more a part of North Africa than southern Europe.

The Atlantic Ocean had arrested the westward advance of Muslim armies. But the narrow straits separating Morocco from Spain were not wide enough to stop their inexorable march northward into Europe. They were propelled by the vision of a world order wherein tyranny was abolished and freedom of religion guaranteed. The early Muslims considered Tawhid (meaning, a God-centered civilization) to be a Divine trust and the establishment of Divine patterns on earth, a mission. Neither the ocean nor the desert was an insurmountable barrier in their drive to establish a just order on the globe.

Faith was the driver for centralization of power during the first centuries of Islamic rule, just as today economics is the driver for centralization of power in the world. Faith cements civilization, advances knowledge and brings prosperity. Absence of faith destroys civilization, fosters ignorance and invites poverty. When the human soul is motivated by faith, nothing in this world—not greed, nor passion nor even glory—can detract it from the single-minded pursuit of a higher goal. People with faith work together and create civilizations. It is only when faith is weak that greed and passion win, co-operative struggle becomes impossible and civilization crumbles.

In the 5th century, the Visigoths conquered Spain and established a kingdom there with Toledo as their capital. Not noted for their skills in administration and statecraft, the Visigoth monarchs invited the Latin Church in 565 to manage the affairs of state. In return, the church obtained official sanction to propagate its faith. The economic condition of the Spanish peasant improved little under this arrangement because he was now subject to double taxation, one from the despotic monarchs and the other from the local monasteries. The rich lived in opulence while the farmers suffered abject poverty. The condition of the Jews was even worse. They were precluded from owning land and prohibited from openly practicing their religion. When they protested, the Church came down hard on them. In 707, when the Visigoth king Vietza slackened in the persecution of the Jews, the clergy promptly deposed him and installed a playboy army officer, Rodriguez, as the new king. The Jews were forced into slave labor and their women condemned to servitude.

The contrast between Spain and North Africa at the beginning of the 8th century was as marked as it can be between two geographically adjacent areas. The Muslims had arrived on the scene with a new creed and a new mission, preaching the freedom of man and justice before the law. The openness of the Muslims was not unknown in Spain and many of the serfs and the Jews had escaped and found a new home in Maghrib al Aqsa (Morocco).

North Africa was seething with vibrant energy. The Berber revolts had been overcome. The Berbers were enlisting in the Muslim armies with the newfound zeal of faith. In Damascus, Waleed I had ascended the Omayyad throne. A skillful administrator and shrewd statesman, he had successfully crushed a rebellion in far-away Khorasan and had even outmaneuvered the Chinese emperor into a stalemate in Sinkiang. Waleed is known in history as the Emir who gathered around himself the most capable generals of any Omayyad. Noteworthy among these generals were Muhammed bin Qasim (the conqueror of Sindh and Multan), Qutaiba bin Muslim (the conqueror of Sinkiang), Musa bin Nusair and Tariq bin Ziyad (conquerors of Spain). The Omayyad governor of the Maghrib, Musa bin Nusair, waged a constant struggle with the Visigoths for the control of Maghrib al Aqsa (The western frontier, today’s Morocco). One by one, the Visigoth strongholds on the Mediterranean had been captured. Only Ceuta remained under Visigoth control and Count Julian, a Visigoth deputy, governed it.

It was customary among the Visigoth nobles to send their daughters to the royal palace so they could learn the etiquette of the court. In accordance with this custom, Count Julian sent his daughter Florinda to the court in Toledo. There, the profligate Rodriguez raped her. Julian was outraged and sought to take revenge on Rodriguez for this act of dishonor. Besides, Julian’s wife was the daughter of Vietza, whose throne Rodriguez had usurped. At this time, the area around Ceuta was governed by Tariq bin Ziyad, a deputy of Musa bin Nusair. Julian traveled to Kairouan to confer with Musa and ask him to invade Spain and humble Rodriguez. The timing was right. Musa ordered Tariq to cross the straits with a contingent of troops.

According to Ibn Khaldun, there were three hundred Arab and 10,000 Berber troops in the army of Tariq bin Ziyad. The towering rock near which Tariq landed is called Jabl al Tariq, the mountain of Tariq ( in English Gibraltar), and the straits separating North Africa from Spain are called the Straits of Gibraltar. Tariq was an outstanding soldier, a brilliant general, a man of faith and determination. He burned the boats that had brought his forces across the straits and extolled his men to march forward in the name of Tawhid or perish in the struggle. A skirmish ensued with the local Visigoth lord, Theodore Meier, in which the latter was soundly defeated. The year was 711.

Rodriguez heard of the invasion and collecting a force of 80,000, advanced to meet the Muslim force. Tariq called for reinforcements and received an additional contingent of 7,000 cavalrymen under the command of Tarif bin Malik Naqi (after whom Tarifa inSpain is named). The two armies met at the battlefield of Guadalupe. The Muslims were fighting to establish a just political order whereas the Visigoths were fighting to protect and preserve an oppressive scheme. The Arabs were superior in the art of mobile warfare. They were superb horsemen and had mastered the art of rapid enveloping movements in their advance from the desert across Asia and . The Visigoths were accustomed to fighting in static, fixed positions. There was no contest. Even though the Muslims were outnumbered, the Visigoths were cut to pieces. Rodriguez was slain in battle.

The defeated Visigoths retreated towards Toledo, the ancient capital of Spain. Tariq divided his troops into four regiments. One regiment advanced towards Cordoba and subdued it. A second regiment captured Murcia. A third advanced north towards Saragossa. Tariq himself moved swiftly towards Toledo. The city surrendered without a fight. Visigoth rule in Spain came to an end.

Meanwhile, Musa bin Nusair landed in Spain with a fresh contingent of Berber troops. His first advance was towards Seville. The defenders closed the city gates and a long siege ensued. The offensive capability of the Arabs, backed by military engineering and technology, was superior to the defensive capabilities of the Visigoths. Musa had brought his Minjaniques (machines) with him, which threw heavy projectiles at the city ramparts demolishing them. After a month, the city surrendered. The Umayyad armies now fanned out across the Spanish peninsula. In rapid succession, Saragossa, Barcelona and Portugal fell one after another. The Pyrenees was crossed and Lyons France was occupied. The year was 712.

Musa was ready to continue his drive into France and Italy. But in the meantime, CaliphWaleed I fell ill in Damascus. In the power struggle that ensued, Musa was called back to take his oath to the next Caliph Sulaiman. Musa appointed his son Abdel Aziz as the Emir of Spain, left another son Abdallah in charge of North Africa and hastened to the Umayyad Capital. During their conquest of Spain, the Muslims had captured an enormous amount of booty. Musa was eager to hurry up and bring the conquered booty to Walid I so that the dying Emir would appreciate the services rendered by Musa. Meanwhile, Sulaiman, the heir-apparent, wrote to Musa to slow down his return so that by the time the war booty arrived in Damascus, Walid I would be dead and the booty would belong to Sulaiman. However, Musa, out of courtesy to the dying Emir, did not oblige Sulaiman. He arrived before Walid died. Sulaiman was very upset at losing his chance to claim the war booty. So, when he ascended the throne, he stripped Musa of all rank, accused him of misappropriating war funds and reduced him to stark poverty. Musa lived the rest of his life as a beggar, half blind and at the mercy of public charity.

The Jews and the peasants in Spain received the Muslim armies with open arms. The serfdoms were abolished and fair wages were instituted. Taxes were reduced to a fifth of the produce. Anyone who accepted Islam was relieved of his servitude. A large number of Spaniards became Muslim to escape the oppression of their former masters. The religious minorities, the Jews and the Christians, received the protection of the state and were allowed participation at the highest levels of the government.

Spain, under Muslim rule, became a beacon of art, science and culture for Europe. Mosques, palaces, gardens, hospitals and libraries were built. Canals were repaired and new ones were dug. New crops were introduced from other parts of the Muslim empire and agricultural production increased. Andalus became the granary of the Maghrib. Manufacturing was encouraged and the silk and brocade work of the peninsula became well known in the trading centers of the world. Andalus was divided into four provinces and efficient administration was established. Cities increased in size and prosperity. Cordoba, the capital, became the premier city of Europe and by the 10th century had over one million inhabitants.

Contributed by Prof. Dr. Nazeer Ahmed, PhD


Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Abu Bakr Mohammad Ibn Zakariya al-Razi (ابو بکر محمد ابن زکریا الرازی) born on 28 August 865 and died on 6 October 925 in (the Persian Empire, now Iran (Ray near Tehran. Razi achieved mastery in a number of fields, initially, he was interested in music but later on he learnt medicine, mathematics, astronomy, chemistry and philosophy from a student of Hunayn Ibn Ishaq (حنین ابن اسحاق) , who was well versed in the ancient Greek, Persian and Sub-Continent systems of medicine and in other subjects. He also studied under Ali Ibn Rabban(علی ابن ربان) .

Around the age of thirty he was first placed in-charge of the first Royal Hospital at Ray, from where he left for Baghdad (now in Iraq), where he was active in the reconstruction of the city hospital, where he remained the head of its famous Muqtadari Hospital for along time.. Al-Razi became famous as the most prominent physician in the Islamic world, his fame comparable only to that of another Persian physician, Ibn Sina. The practical experience gained at the well-known Muqtadari Hospital helped him in his chosen profession of medicine. At an early age he gained eminence as an expert in medicine and alchemy, so that patients and students flocked to him from distant parts of Asia.

Razi was a Hakim, an alchemist and a philosopher. In medicine, his contribution was so significant that it can only be compared to that of Ibn Sina. Some of his written works in medicine have been widely studied, Latin editions of which remained in use as late as the seventeenth century in Europe, e.g. Kitab al- Mansoori (
کتاب المنصوری), Al-Hawi (الحاوی), Kitab al-Mulooki (کتاب الملوکی)and Kitab al-Judari wa al- Hasabah(کتاب الجزداری و حسابہ) earned everlasting fame. Kitab al-Mansoori(کتاب المنصوری) , which was translated into Latin in the 15th century C.E., comprised ten volumes and dealt exhaustively with Greco-Arab medicine(ادویات العربیہ و یونانیہ) . From him we have the earliest distinction between smallpox and measles, and the understanding that smallpox occurs only once in a person's life. As a skilled chemist he recognized the toxicity of arsenic (arsenic oxide), but prescribed small doses of this compound in the treatment of many skin diseases and anemia.

He was a prolific author, who has left monumental treatises on numerous subjects. He has more than 200 outstanding scientific contributions to his credit, out of which about half deal with medicine and 21 concern alchemy. He also wrote on physics, mathematics, astronomy and optics, but these writings could not be preserved. A number of his books, including Jami-fi-al-Tib , Mansoori (
کتاب المنصوری), al-Hawi(الحاوی) , Kitab al-Jadari wa al-Hasabah(کتاب الجزداری و حسابہ), al-Malooki (کتاب الملوکی) , Maqalah fi al- Hasat fi Kuli wa al-Mathana (مقالہ فی الکلی و المتحانہ), Kitab al-Qalb (کتاب القالب), Kitab al-Mafasil (کتاب المفاصیل), Kitab-al- 'Ilaj al-Ghoraba (کتاب العلاج الغربا), Bar al-Sa'ah (بارالصابا), and al-Taqseem wa al-Takhsir (التقسیم و التخسیر), have been published in various European languages. About 40 of his manuscripts are still extant in the museums and libraries of Iran, Paris, Britain, Rampur, and Bankipur. His contribution has greatly influenced the development of science, in general, and medicine, in particular.

Like his predecessor, the Arabian alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan (جابر بن حیّان), al-Razi was influenced in his alchemical views by Aristotle's theory of the four elements. Arabic alchemists had modified the Aristotelian system with respect to the composition of minerals, whereby two elements, mercury and sulfur, were responsible for "the mercurial and sulfurous principles" of a given substance. Later called "philosophical" Mercury and Sulfur, these elements (or principles) were thought to be the substances from which all metals were formed. This Sulfur-Mercury theory later became highly influential among European thinkers, for example, Isaac Newton. To this Sulfur and Mercury, al-Razi added a third constituent, a salty principle (which was later reproposed by Paracelsus). In al-Razi's opinion metals were comprised of particles of these elemental constituents, while the identity of the metal depended on the relationships between these indivisible particles and the empty spaces between them.

In contrast to Jabir, who inclined toward numerical mysticism, al-Razi became practiced in experimental work. This is apparent from his two most influential works, Kitab al-Asrar (
کتاب الاسرارThe Book of Secrets ), and Kitab sirr al-Asrar (کتاب سرالاسرار -The Book of the Secret of Secrets ). In these works he gave several recipes for the alleged transmutation of common metals into precious ones, and crystal or glass into precious stones. Perhaps al-Razi's main contribution to chemistry was his attempt to systematize laboratory practices, to which end he listed contemporary laboratory equipment and techniques used in chemical experiments. Another influential contribution to chemistry was his classification of all the chemical substances he knew, for this is the earliest attempt of which we are aware. Al-Razi divided these substances into four main groups: vegetable, animal, derivative, and mineral. The last group consisted of six subgroups:

(1) spirits (volatile substances, such as mercury, sulfur, and arsenic sulfide);
(2) metals (gold, silver, copper, tin, iron, lead, and "karesin," probably a bronze composed of copper, zinc, and nickel);
(3) stones (ores and minerals of iron, copper, zinc, but also glass);
(4) atraments (metallic sulfates and their derivatives);
(5) boraces (borax, but also sodium carbonate [confused with borax]); and
(6) salts (in which categorization sodium chloride appears under four different terms, other salts being sodium carbonate, potassium carbonate, and others).

In later life al-Razi became blind, which, according to some sources, was a result of his indefatigable activity—for he is said to have written approximately 200 works. He finally returned to Ray, where he died around 930 C.E. His name is commemorated in the Razi Institute near Tehran.