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Concept of History in Islamic Perspective
Author/Source:   (tauseef.parray21@gmail.com) Posted by: Tauseef Ahmad Parray
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The Holy Qur`an - a Book fully explained to mankind, a clear proof, a word that separates the truth from falsehood and in which every example and similitude is given – in its various verses like 6:98, 41:3, 17:89, 18:54, 86:13, provides guidelines about every aspect and every sphere of life as well as detailed information about several sciences and disciplines and ‘history’ is one of them.

According to Quran, history is a ‘peripheral tussle between forces of god and evil’. According to classical Arabic historiographers history is “knowledge pertaining to a country, customs and manners of a people, remains of the people of yore, as well as account of the actions of those alive”. The early dogmatic view of the purpose of writing history was to ‘obtain pleasure of Allah’. But the Quran stresses the need of historical knowledge as a moral exhortation of the faithful when it says:

“Have they not travelled in the land to see the Nature of the Consequences for those who disbelieved before them? They were mightier than these in power and (in the) traces (which they) left behind them in the earth; yet Allah seized them for their sins and they had no protector for Allah” (40:21).

The holy Qur`an interprets history “neither a constantly moving equilibrium between self-developing spiritual forces nor as a constant clash between economic classes but as a perpehial tussle between forces of good and evil”. This is a theme to which Quran frequently refers and quotes instances from history, both the past and contemporary. The Quran asks the human being again and again to go through the world with open eyes and diligent hearts. Nisar Ahmad Faruqi, about ‘Islamic concept of History, in his book Early Muslim Historigraphy writes that the Quran, while referring to the bygone nations and extinct civilizations has, in its own way, presented the idea that ‘Nature’, or in Islamic terminology “the Will of Allah”, does not work blindly and arbitrarily, and there are certain historical reasons leading to every change or revolution which the Quran calls the ‘Sunnah of Allah’. The Quranic way of referring to ancient peoples, and their civilizations and of exhorting the faithful to learn a lesson from their history, clearly show that “Islam is a religion essentially history conscious”.

From the historical point of view the holy Quran is the first and most authentic available source of the history of Islam. It covers various events of the lives of Prophets of Allah like Hadrat Adam, Nuh, Ibrahim, Yusu, Musa, Isa (AS) and Prophet Muhammad (SAW). It also covers account of the battles fought by Prophet (SAW) and the circumstances in which certain Commandments of Allah were revealed unto Prophet (SAW). Indeed, historical studies started in Islam as a necessary adjunct of theological development. Various Quranic verses were interpreted in historical perspective and were given a historical colour. The truth is that with the thoughtful study of the Quran, a particular world-view takes place giving birth to a particular behavior. In this regard Muhammad Munawar in his book Iqbal and Quranic Wisdom argues that the study of the Quran brings us to the conclusion that the “fountain head of several sciences and disciplines is the Book itself and history is one of them”.

The holy Quran repeatedly refers to the rise and destruction of nations as a phenomenon to be studied for guidance. It urges men to sojourn through the world and see themselves the fate of those who were once powerful and proud, but rebelled against Allah and were eventually destroyed for their wickedness. Various verses like 20:128, 22:45-46, obviously contain a “great lesson” for humanity. If a nation goes astray, it can only learn from history of the earlier nations which were destroyed in punishment, for their evils. In most cases their habitations became desolate and they now lie buried beneath the earth.

To sum up, the above mentioned views regarding concept of history in Islamic Perspective, it is clear that holy Quran is replete with the verses which refer to the remains of ancient civilizations and the purpose of these verses is to remind human beings of the deeds and misdeeds of their predecessors so that they may give a thought; they may ponder over/ upon; they may understand; they may know what is truth; they may know what is reality; the right and the wrong; the good and the bad; the virtue and the vice; transgression and submission; unity and idolatory; monotheism and polytheism; justice and oppression; truth and falsehood; and above all, “their hearts and minds may thus learn wisdom”.


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