When people talk about the Islamic civilization, they mean the cultural side of the Islamic world including non-Muslims who live in this civilization. Islam is a relatively young religion, which originated in the VII century AD in Arabia. In 610, when the Prophet Muhammad was forty years old, the angel Gabriel appeared to him. He dictated the great Arab the first five verses of the Koran. Thus, the emergence of Islam dates back to 610 (Avari 5). However, as it is known, Christianity is an older religion than Islam. It appeared in the 1 century AD in the eastern part of the Roman Empire – Palestine – as a religion aimed at all humiliated people who strive for justice.
As it was already mentioned, Islam appeared in the VII century. Thus, it is considered the youngest among other world religions. Until the moment the Prophet Muhammad saw the angel, the Arabs inhabiting the Arabian Peninsula were pagans (Avari 2). In the book Islamic Civilization in South Asia, it is stated that “the Arabian society of Muhammad’s time was both tribal and polytheistic in nature” (Avari 1). People worshiped the spirits of their ancestors. The astral cults, fetishism – worship of inanimate objects such as wood, stone and others – as well as totemism – identification of the generality with a certain totem animal such as the bull race, a tribe of the wolf, and a tribe of the Fox – were highly widespread. However, even in pagan times, all Arab tribes without exception revered Black Stone of the Kaaba. These days, it is situated in Mecca. This relic is still sacred to all Muslims. It serves as a guide for prayers at any point of the globe.
The Arabian Peninsula was the cradle of the Islamic civilization. It is the desert with a strip of fertile lands along the coast, where wheat, grapes and spices grew and where sheep and camels were raised. The ancient cities of Arabia were active in trade with the Mediterranean countries, Africa and India. In the Arabian Desert, nomadic Bedouins lived, who were engaged in cattle breeding and maintenance of trade caravans. Bedouin tribes feuded with each other and made raids on the neighbors. In the cultural and socio-economic sense, this motley Arabia face completely changed with the appearance of the new religion. Islam not only played a unifying and civilizing role in the fate of the Arabs, it, along with other factors, led to the emergence of a giant Islamic world.
As it was already mentioned, before Islam, pagan beliefs were dominated among the Arabs. However, foreign religions also had a strong influence on them. In the north and south of Arabia, Christian and Judaic (Jewish) communities peacefully coexisted with the Arabic population (Avari 2). Even before the advent of Islam, the Arab preachers advocated the idea of monotheism. The Prophet Mohammed was one of them. He laid the religious foundations of the Islamic civilization.
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After writing the first verses of the Quran, the Prophet Muhammad for three years led a secret preaching among his relatives and close friends. As a result, about forty people accepted Islam, among whom was Muhammad’s wife – Khadija. In 613, the Prophet made his first appearance in front of people in Mecca (Avari 14). The ruling circles of the city perceived his sermon with hostility, and he was forced to move to Medina. There, he was able to convert the tribes of Banu al-Khazraj and Asura to Islam, who became the backbone among the adherents of the Prophet Muhammad. Muslims undertook not to oppress the Jews of Medina, and they, in turn, promised not to support the enemies of Muslims (Avari 14). In 632, the Prophet Muhammad made the pilgrimage (hajj) to Mecca (Avari 15). At that time, even the ruling circles of the city met him not so amicably. In Mecca, he was able to turn many people to the Islam religion. However, after the return to Medina, the Prophet Muhammad died. Nevertheless, his goal to spread the Islam religion around the world continued to live. It continues to live these days as well.
Almost simultaneously with the advent of Islam, the Arab civilization began to develop. Soon after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, all the Arab tribes united under the banner of Islam. The era of the victorious military campaigns of the young Islamic civilization began. The Muslim theocratic state was formed. It was called the Arab Caliphate. It occupied almost the entire territory of the Arabian Peninsula. In 639, with the campaign against Egypt, a period of wars of conquest began, in which the Muslims won a series of remarkable victories and expanded their territory by several times (Avari 31). Their possessions stretched from Central Asia and the North-West India to North Africa and the Middle East. Southern Italy and the Iberian Peninsula were also under the control of the Arab Caliphate. Only in 732 Europeans managed to stop the military expansion of Muslims in the Battle of Poitiers (Avari 32). This period had a profound influence on the development of the Islamic world and had played a major role in the world history.
Caliphs were at the head of the Arabian state. They were spiritual and secular rulers. Their authority and power was huge. Their skillful economic policy quickly led to the Islamization of the population of the occupied territories. The fact is that Muslims paid only a tenth to the treasury, and adherents of other faiths – a high land tax (from one to two-thirds of the crop) and the poll tax. Islamization was also implemented by intermarriage. However, the huge empire that arose at breakneck speed did not differ with strength. Hardly formed statehood was unable to rally vast regions together, which were economically and culturally diverse. In the center and on places, various factions struggled for political supremacy. In the IX century, the Arab Caliphate began to fall on sultanates and emirates (Avari 33). Other powerful state formations later appeared on the site of the Caliphate.
When all these events tool place, several world religions had been already widespread around the world. It is especially true about Christianity and Buddhism. These religions are considered the youngest religions in the world. Thus, the Islamic civilization cannot be the first world civilization. Despite this fact, it has certain peculiarities that are typical only of this civilization. In the Quran, there are revelations that Allah sent Muhammad. They clearly show the influence of Christianity and Judaism on the Islam religion, even though the Prophet thought that those religions only preceded Islam and Islam was more complete revelation of other religions.
Each civilization has its differences and features that characterize it and that distinguish it from other civilizations. For example, the Greek civilization was distinguished by the cult of mind. The Roman civilization differed from others by the cult of force and the spread of influence. The Persian civilization was characterized by the cult of bodily pleasures, military power and political domination. The distinguishing feature of the Indian civilization was the cult of the importance of spiritual power (Avari 95). There are also certain features that excelled and stood Islamic civilization out among the previous and subsequent civilizations. These features are based on the heavenly message, which represents the message of Islam with all its qualities of humanity and the absolute monotheism to the creed.
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The features of the Islamic civilization include globalism, monotheism, equilibrium and middle moral foundation. All these features are extremely important for the emergence and spread of the Islamic civilization. However, it is believed that globalism is the most important feature. The Islamic civilization is different from other civilizations by the breadth of outlook and globalism of its message (Avari 102). It is evident from the declaration of the noble Quran, which proclaims the unity of the human race, in spite of the variety of races, origins and homelands. In such a way, the Islam religion welcomes all people regardless of their age, gender and nationality. The Almighty said: “O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted” (The Q’uran 49.13). The Noble Quran made the Islamic civilization a necklace that consists of all abilities and the genius of peoples scattered over then the banner of the Islamic conquests. The Islamic civilization is humane in its views, outlook and scope. It is not associated with a geographical area, human race, nation or a historical epoch. It covers all peoples and nations, and its luster is aimed at different areas and locations. All people enjoy the patronage of this civilization. It is because it is based on the fact that a man is the most important and noble of all creatures of Allah. Everything in the universe is in subjection to a man. All human activity should lead to the improvement of the conditions of people’s life and happiness. Each action that has an intention to achieve this goal is primarily a human act. The Almighty, referring to His Messenger, said: “And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to the worlds” (The Q’uran 21.107). Therefore, the mission of the Islamic civilization is global. Thus, it involves every race, color and language. Lifestyle and deeds of the Messenger of Allah were the application of the basis of the World Mission.
Quran’s dogma is quite simple. It rests on five pillars of faith. Every Muslim should believe in one God (Allah) and His Messenger Muhammad. A person must read the prayer, fast and give alms. At least once in life, he/she should make a pilgrimage to Mecca, where the temple of the Kaaba, the sacred black stone, is located. According to Muslims, this stone is a petrified angel who must come to life in the Day of Judgment. Islam ideas are imbued with fatalism. It is the belief in predestination. Fatalism is very firmly strengthened in Muslims’ mass consciousness.
The Islamic civilization is one of the youngest civilizations of the East. It began to take its shape only in the VII century. The Arabian Peninsula became the motherland of the Islamic civilization. The Prophet Mohammad saw an angel who told him to spread the Islam religion around the world. The Prophet visited many cities and soon, Islam became extremely widespread. After the death of Mohammad, his disciples continued his mission. Thus, the Arab Caliphate was created. The Islam religion united numerous people that were different in their beliefs and cultures. Thus, it was the appearance of Islam civilization. Despite the fact that many historians believe that it is the first world civilization, it cannot be true because such religions as Christianity, Buddhism and Judaism appeared much earlier, forming their unique civilizations.