The Unique Characteristics of Our Civilization - II

The Unique Characteristics of Our Civilization - II
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4. The fourth of these characteristics is that it believes in knowledge in the truest sense, based on belief in the purest principles. So it addressed the rational mind and the heart at the same time, it provoked emotions and thought at the same time. This is an advantage that has not been shared by any other civilization in history. The reason why this particular characteristic of our civilization is to be so admired is because it was able to establish a state system based on principles of truth and justice, based on religion and belief without religion becoming an obstacle to the development of the state and the progress of the civilization. Rather religion was one of the greatest factors in its development. From the mosques of Baghdad, Damascus, Cairo, Cordoba and Granada the rays of knowledge shone into all parts of the world. Islamic civilization is the only one in which religion was not separated from the state even though it was spared the misery that resulted from the mixing of the two as happened in Europe in the Middle Ages. The head of state was the Caliph and a leader of the believers (Ameer Al-Mu’mineen), but he ruled in accordance with the truth, and legislation was left to those scholars who were specialized in that field. Each group of scholars had its field of specialization, and all of them were equal before the law. Superiority was determined by one's level of taqwa (piety) and service to people:

 The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said: “By Allah, if Faatimah the daughter of Muhammad were to steal, Muhammad would certainly cut off her hand.”
 
This is the religion on which our civilization is based; no special privileges and immunities are there for a chief (Caliph, President, Prime Minister), a clergyman, noble or rich…
 
Allah Almighty Says what means: {Say, “I am only a man like you…"{[Quran 18: 110]
 
5. The last of these unique characteristics of our civilization is this amazing religious tolerance which has never been seen in any other civilization that was based on religion. If a person does not believe in any religion or any god, it is not strange for him to regard all religions as being equal and to treat the followers of all religions fairly; but if a person follows a religion and believes that his religion is true and that his belief is the best of beliefs, then he wields the sword and conquers cities, taking power and sitting in the position of a judge, but his belief in his religion and his pride in his belief does not cause him to be unfair in his judgments or to deviate from the path of justice, or force people to follow his  religion... it is strange to find such a man in history, so how about an entire civilization which is based on religion but was the most tolerant, just, compassionate and humane civilization known to history! This is how our civilization was, and we will mention dozens of examples later on. It is sufficient here to note that our civilization is unique in history because it was established by one religion but it was for all religions.
 
These are some of the unique features of our civilization when compared to the history of other civilizations. Hence, it was admired by the whole world and loved by free and intelligent people of all races and religions, at the time when it was strong and when it was ruling, directing, educating and teaching people. When it collapsed and was succeeded by another civilization, the way in which people looked at it changed. Some began to look down on it and others admired it. Some spoke of its virtues and some went to extremes in criticizing it. Thus, the views of western researchers differ concerning our civilization. They would not have done that were it not for the fact that they — the ones who set the standards and whose opinions are followed are in a position of strength and are behind the steering wheel of civilization nowadays, whereas those who are being judged, along with their civilization, are in a position of weakness and are the ones whom the strong are planning to rob of their resources and to rule their country with avarice. Perhaps this is the attitude of the strong towards the weak, whom they despise and belittle. This is what the strong have always done throughout history, apart from us when we were strong, for we were fair towards people, strong and weak alike, and we acknowledged virtue in easterners and westerners alike. Our history of exemplary characteristics includes fairness in judgment, purity of intention and sincerity of conscience.
 
It is unfortunate that we did not really notice the bias of the strong against us, or their unfairness in judging our civilization. Many of them were either religious fanatics whose prejudice blinded their eyes to the truth, or nationalist fanatics whose nationalistic pride made them refuse to attribute anything good to anyone who was not of their nation. But what is our excuse for being influenced by their view of our civilization? Why do some of our own people look down on a civilization to which the whole world bended the knee for many centuries?
 
Perhaps the excuse of those who belittle the worth of our civilization is that it is nothing when compared with the wonders, inventions and scientific marvels of modem civilization. Even if this is true, it does not justify looking down on our civilization for two reasons:
 
1.     Every civilization consists of two elements: a spiritual ands ethical element, and a material element.
 
With regard to the material element, undoubtedly each civilization supersedes those that came before. This is one of the laws that Allah has decreed for the development of life. It is nonsense to expect an earlier civilization to have reached the level of material development of a subsequent civilization; if that were acceptable, then it would be permissible for us to look down on all the civilizations that came before our own, because of the things that our civilization has invented and the means and manifestations of civilization that were not known to any of the earlier civilizations. So the material element of civilization can never be the basis for differentiating between them.
 
It is the spiritual and ethical element that makes civilizations endure and enables them to bring happiness to mankind and save mankind from fear and pain. Our civilization surpasses all previous and subsequent civilizations in this regard, and it reached a level that has never been matched in any age of history. This is enough to give our civilization a lasting impact.
 
The purpose of civilization is to enable man to reach the highest degree of happiness, and in this regard our civilization managed to do what no other civilization in the east or in the west managed to do.
2.     Civilizations are not measured by materialistic standards or by quantities or areas, or by luxurious standards of living, food and clothing. Rather they are measured by the impact they have on human history. The same applies when we speak of battles and kingdoms; they are not measured by the size of the battlefield or the numbers of soldiers. The decisive battles of ancient times or of the Middle Ages cannot be compared to the battles of the Second World War, for although the numbers of soldiers and the means of fighting may appear insignificant, they are still regarded as important historical battles because of their far-reaching effects. The battle of Cannae in which the famous Carthaginian general Hannibal defeated the Romans is one of the battles that are still studied in the military colleges of Europe to this day. The battles of Khaalid ibn al-Waleed in the conquest of Syria are still studied and admired by western military experts, and for us they are golden pages in the history of military conquest in our civilization. The fact that the battles of Cannae, Badr, Al-Qadisiyah and Hit-teen happened so long ago does not snake people ignore that they were decisive historical battles.

The Unique Characteristics of Our Civilization - I

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The Unique Characteristics of Our Civilization - II

4. The fourth of these characteristics is that it believes in knowledge in the truest sense, based on belief in the purest principles. So it addressed the rational mind and the heart at the same time,...More