Imran Khan’s proposed book on Islamic history, Lost Islamic History?
Lost Islamic History
What is Imran Khan’s proposed book on Islamic history, Lost Islamic History?
With the onset of the Coronavirus epidemic in Pakistan and various lockdowns across the country since the last week of March, normal life has been paralyzed and a large number of people are struggling to make ends meet.
In this regard, the Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan and other leaders of his government is sending a message to watch the historical dramas made in Turkey to help the people to know the history of the Islamic ancestors and Muslims and Pakistan. The state-run TV channel is also promoting it.
Probably for the same purpose and for those who are tired or not interested in watching TV, a few days ago, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan posted a message on the social networking site Twitter: ‘Lockdown (lockdown). A great choice for our young people to study in the summer season.
“This book is a beautiful but concise collection of historical factors that shaped Islamic civilization into the greatest civilization of its time and unveils the factors that led to its decline.”
Imran Khan’s tweet was the book ‘Lost Islamic History’ published in 2014, ie the forgotten history of Islam, which was written by the American researcher Firas Al-Khatib.
After Imran Khan’s tweet, a large number of his followers said that they are interested in reading this book.
Even Dr. Arsalan Khalid, the Prime Minister’s Focal Person for Digital Affairs, tweeted the link to download the book so that those who want to read it can download the book for free.
Dr. Arsalan if he had read the book himself, he said he would start it.
But downloading the book for free in this way is not a violation of piracy laws? To this question, Dr. Arsalan said that he is in touch with the author.
What is in the book?
It chronicles the beginnings of Islam, its golden age, the rise and fall of various states and rulers, as well as well-known Islamic scholars and researchers such as Ibn Khaldun and Ibn Sina.
The book is written in the Silesian language and also provides information about some historical events in the margins of places that deviate from the main narrative of the book.
But the second thing that emerges very clearly after reading this book is that it is a very simple, common sense and a book with a specific narrative that provides only superficial information and the origin of events. It doesn’t mention soul, background, and details.
Another major weakness of this book is that it does not have much detail about references and has a two to three-page list which is inappropriate and insufficient to get more information.
Different eras of Islamic history and the ‘Golden Age’
The book is written in chronological order, beginning with the arrival of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula, followed by the Prophet of Islam, and later the Rightly Guided Caliphs.
The majority of the book, about three-quarters, is based on the three major Muslim empires, including the Hope Empire, the Abbasid Empire, and the Ottoman Empire.
Writing about these three periods, Firas al-Khatib pointed out that the reason for their success was to adhere strictly to the Shari’ah and to follow the teachings of the Prophet of Islam, and that distance from them was the reason for their decline.
From the period of Mu’awiyah after the time of the Rightly Guided Caliphs and the subsequent establishment of the Hope Empire and the study of other chapters, one point becomes clear that history is given in this book giving priority to the Sunni narrative.
A few places, such as the beginning of Chapter 9, are written with a negative impression of the Shiite Muslim states and their military era and are associated with the Mongols and the Crusades as if because of them (Sunni). Muslim empires have fallen.
Firas al-Khatib, a high school teacher in the United States, has said that his book aims to introduce non-Muslims, and younger Muslims, to history with a Muslim background, and that the book is enough Useful because in the light of Western research on Eastern cultures (also called ‘Orientalism’), neutral commentary on Islam is less visible.
So should I read this book or not? There are two possible answers to this question
Commenting on the book by Steve Tamari Firas al-Khatib, Professor of History at the University of Southern New York, USA, he says that the current situation is a period of history in which Islamophobia is rampant in Europe and the United States. If a book written by a Muslim writer describing the history of Islam is needed, it will take time, especially for non-Muslims who speak and understand English.
In this regard, researcher and author Tamim Ansari have explained in his book A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes that it is wrong to look at the history of Islam from the Western point of view and it should not be considered as the last word.
However, in this book by Firas Al-Khatib, it is seen that she preaches a popular (Sunni) narrative without a critical review which may be acceptable to non-Muslims but is it correct for Pakistani readers? Is?
“What are the standards of decline and evolution and who will determine them?”
On the other hand, the narrative in this book about the rise and fall of Muslim empires is written in the style of “Orientalist” itself, in which the past is always presented in a positive way.
In this regard, when the BBC spoke to Sher Ali Tareen, an associate professor of religious studies at Franklin & Marshall College in the United States and the author of a recent book on the Prophet of Islam, he questioned the quality of decline and evolution. What are they and who will determine them?
“It may not be right to interpret the lack of political empire and sovereignty as a social decline.
In the history of the subcontinent, in the 18th and 19th centuries, on the one hand, there was modern colonialism and on the other hand, there was a tremendous evolution in our scientific traditions. So the question is, what definition of decline will we adopt and will we consider only political power as the criterion of evolution?
So should I read this book or not? There are two possible answers to this question.
If you look at Professor Steve Tamari’s comment, he says that in this age of Islamophobia, this book is a great addition to the understanding of Islam and should be used.
But at the same time, it must be borne in mind that this book presents the history of Islam from a very short and specific angle, which may help Pakistani readers to grasp the complex history of Islam over 1400 years. Prove insufficient.
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