History of Islam & the West

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The Civilisations History Initiative is based on presenting the intertwined history of the Islamicate and Western civilisations, from their inception in the Early Middle Ages up to the present time.

We aim to highlight the rich heritage that links both great civilisations throughout their history, as well as to debunk many of the myths and misconceptions that have arisen over the centuries, and to provide an alternative to the prevailing Eurocentric telling of history.

The main project of the Initiative has been the popular Civilisations History Course – A Story of Two Civilisations – a 12-month course which has run in Hounslow (2016-17), High Wycombe (2017-18), and Woking (2018-19). Read past student testimonials.

Start date: TBA

Venue: TBA

Class times: TBA

Class schedule: One Sunday per month for 12 months

Fees:TBA

Due to the pandemic, courses have temporarily been put on hold. However, we continue to develop our online materials and are considering making the History course available as an on-line course.

To register your interest in enrolling on the next course, please EMAIL US or subscribe to our newsletter below.

A Story of Two Civilisations:

Islam and the West

Almost 1,500 years ago, an honest Arab trader from a small desert town sat in a contemplative retreat on a mountain in the sandy wilderness. As he sat, deep in his thoughts, of a sudden he witnessed something extraordinary, something that no-one on earth had experienced for over six hundred years. He came face to face with the Angel of Revelation.

“Read!”

The advent of the Final Prophet signalled that the time of the ancient empires was coming to a close. The long-awaited Apocalypse was imminent. The End of Time (akhir al zaman) had drawn close.

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The Prophet sallalahu alaihi wa sallam said, whilst pointing with his index and middle fingers, “The time of my advent and the Hour are like these two fingers.”

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Verily, a day with your Lord is like a thousand years of your reckoning.

(Quran 22:47)

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The final chapter of human history inaugurated by the auspicious appearance and mission of the Messenger of God (may peace and mercy be upon him) was destined to be dominated by two great civilisations: that which emerged in the lands of Islam, and that of Western Christian Europe, later to be known as the West.

The Civilizations History course is a study of these two world civilizations. The syllabus has been carefully crafted to facilitate students to gain an understanding of the history of the Islamic and Western civilizations, and how they interrelate, from the early Middle Ages (advent of the Prophet) up to the end of the 20th century.

Course structure

The course focuses on a broad sweep of the major historical personalities, events and processes of the Islamic (622-1707) and European (1707-present) Ages. The Islamic Age, or Islamic Millennium, is further divided into 3 major periods: (1) the High Caliphate Period (622-1066), in which most of the Muslim world is united under one caliph who commands the greatest empire in the world; (2) the Middle Period (1066-1500) of Islamic sultanates, emirates and khanates, in which myriad polities and dynasties come and go but which form the “Muslim Commonwealth” united by a common language, religion and culture; and (3) the Gunpowder Period (1500-1707), dominated by the emergence three great empires in the Muslim world, the Ottoman, Mughal and Safavid, which continue Muslim global pre-eminence, while Western Europe is undergoing its Renaissance, Reformation and Age of Discovery.

The final period, the European Age, (1707- present), witnesses the gradual rise of the European colonial empires which come to dominate most of the world by the end of the nineteenth century. Following the momentous and self-destructive power struggles between these colonial powers in the 20th century – the two World Wars – the mantle of Western civilization is taken on by the new world superpower, the United States of America, which proceeds to fashion a new global order under its direction.

The passage of ages, empires, dynasties and the later emergence of nation-states will be studied in relation to the world situation as a whole, and with particular regard to three inter-related aspects: political-military, intellectual and the economic.

Civilizations History course outline

LESSON
TERM 1 – INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW
Introduction
The writing of history
Overview of the High Caliphate period: 622-1066
Overview of the Middle period: Islamic sultanates, emirates & khanates 1066-1500
5Overview of the Gunpowder period 1500-1707
Overview of the European Age 1707-2000
TERM 2 – EARLY HIGH CALIPHATE PERIOD – PROPHETIC AND RASHIDUN PERIODS
The Advent of Islam
Rashidun Period (632-661) 1 | Abu Bakr
Rashidun period 2 | Umar
10 Rashidun period 3 | Uthman
11 Rashidun period 4 | Ali
TERM 3 – THE ISLAMIC MILLENIUM (AGE OF ISLAMICATE CIVLIZATION)
12 High Caliphate period 1 | Umayyads & Abbasids
13 High Caliphate period 2 | Harun Rashid and Baghdad
14 High Caliphate period 3 | Barbarian kingdoms & Vikings
15 Middle period 1 | Normans, Crusaders & the Turks
16 Middle period 2 | Intellectual trends of the Middle period (Sh Talal al Azem)
17 Middle period 3 | The Mongol expansion
18 The Gunpowder period 1 | Europe and the Ottomans
19 The Gunpowder period 2 | The Mughals (Sh Jawad)
TERM 4 – THE EUROPEAN AGE
20 18th century: The European Enlightenment
21 18th – 19th century: Revolutions and European world empires
22 19th century: “Excuse us please, we’re British!”
23 Early 20th century: the World Wars
24 Late 20th century: Cold war and American empire

A more detailed syllabus and class dates for the History course 2018/2019 can be found here.

If we do not know where we came from, we do not know who we are. It is hoped that this course will help connect us to our forefathers because, after all, it is their story that we are telling.

Did you know?

Did you know that the Caliph Harun Rashid ruled over an empire that was almost twice the size of the Roman empire at its height? 

Did you know that the great city of Baghdad, the capital of the Abbasid empire, had a population of one million citizens while the largest cities in Western Europe at that time had only about 40,000? 

Did you know that all major Muslim cities during the Middle Ages had hospitals funded by wealthy patrons and endowments, which were open to all and provided free healthcare? 

Did you know that while peasants in Western Europe in the Middle Ages toiled under the virtual slavery of serfdom, peasants in the Muslim world were free men and women with rights to justice, property and movement? 

Did you know that non=Muslim communities living under Muslim empires of the past were allowed to follow their own religion, customs and laws, including drinking wine and eating pork? 

Did you know that the philosophical writings of Muslim scholar, Ibn Rushd, were translated into Latin and spread through Europe in the 12th  and 13th centuries leading to a rationalist movement? 

Did you know that Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, was probably the richest man in the world of his time, and that he had the Taj Mahal, which is considered by many to be the greatest architectural work existing today, built in memory of his beloved wife? 

These are just small glimpses of our proud and rich heritage which spanned over a thousand years in which the Islamicate civilization dominated and led the world in learning, art and culture.  

Relevance  

The Civilizations History course has been developed in response to a perceived pressing need and a major gap in the English-medium syllabuses of our Muslim madrassas and schools in the UK. The aim is to empower  Muslims with the knowledge of where we have come from, what our forefathers did before us, and where we are now. This knowledge will enable us, God willing, to embrace our heritage, understand our situation, and inform our responses to the challenges facing our ummah.  

Re-reading history 

We believe that the true reality of events can only be fully known when examined through the lens of revelation and a Quranic worldview. During this course, we unapologetically re-read and re-examine the received history that we find in many western textbooks, and challenge many Euro-centric biases and distortions that have inevitably crept in especially since the time of colonial domination. This unique course has the lofty ambition to re-namere-claim and re-tell our history.  

Then it is up to the intelligent student to decide which version corresponds closer to reality.  

Past student testimonials
Detailed syllabus and course dates 2018/2019