Western Occupation under colonialism
Khalid Nisaif Jassim whose pregnant sister was shot by US troops as she was rushed to hospital in Samarra summed up western occupation when he said, “God take revenge on the Americans…They have no regard for our lives.
Islamic Conquests under the Khilafah
Abu Yusuf (ra) in his classical book ‘Kitab Al-Kharaj’ gives the following report of the Islamic Conquest of Syria.
After getting on peaceful terms with the people of Syria and collecting the dues of the Jizya and the Kharaj, news reached Abu ‘Ubeida that the Byzantines had amassed their troops to attack him. The effect of this was great on Abu ‘Ubeida and the Muslims. He sent messages to the rulers of cities with whose citizens he had made peace, asking them to return to their subjects the paid dues of the Jizya and Kharaj with an instruction to tell them: ‘We hereby return to you the money you have paid us, because of the news of the enemy troops amassed to attack us, but, if God grants us victory against the enemy, we will keep up to the promise and covenant between us.’ When this was delivered to the dhimmi and their money returned to them, they told the Muslims: ‘May God bring you back to us and grant you victory over them!’
Moulding People into One Ummah
The Messenger of Allah (saw) passed away after the entire Arabian Peninsula had entered into the fold of Islam and polytheism had been abolished. The Peninsula was under the Islamic domain, ruled comprehensively by Islam according to its ‘Aqeedah and the system that emanated from it. He (saw)died only after Allah (swt) had perfected the Deen, completed His favour unto the Muslims and chose for them Islam as that Deen. This included the invitation of neighbouring nations and people to Islam by sending envoys to their kings and rulers as well as by dispatching expeditions to raid the Roman frontiers of Mu’tah and Tabuk.
Then came the Khulafah al-Rashidun, and the conquests continued. Iraq was inhabited by a mixture of Arabs and Persians who professed the faiths of the Christians, Mazdakyya and Zoroastrians and this was the first country to be conquered. Persia followed next and al-Sham after that. Persia was inhabited by Zoroastrians, Jews and Christians and ruled over by the Persians while al-Sham was a Roman colony where the Roman culture and Christianity were predominant. Syrians, Armenians, Jews, Arabs and a few Romans lived there. Egypt was conquered after this and it too was inhabited by a mixture of people, such as the Copts, Jews and Romans. North Africa followed suit and this was where the Berbers lived under Roman dominance. Along came the Ummayads and they conquered Sind, Khawarizm and Samarqand, joining them to the Islamic State in the process. Al-Andalus was then conquered and became a Wilayah of the Islamic State.
The inhabitants of these countries varied in the ethnicity, language, religion, traditions, customs, laws and culture. They naturally differed from each other in mentality and attitude. Therefore, the process of moulding these countries together and of uniting them into one single Ummah, adopting the same Deen, language, culture and laws was a colossal task. Success would be a tremendous and extraordinary achievement. This happened solely through Islam and was only achieved by the Islamic State. Once those people were identified by the banner of Islam and ruled by the Islamic State. They became a single Ummah, which is the Islamic Ummah. This feat was due to the effect of Islamic rule and Islamic ‘Aqeedah.
Many factors led to the successful moulding of these disparate people into one Ummah, the most important of which were the following four factors:
1) The teachings of Islam.
The teachings of Islam oblige Muslims to call for Islam and spread its guidance wherever and whenever possible. This necessitates Jihad and the conquest of other countries in order to enable people to understand it and contemplate the truthfulness of its rules. It also gives the people the choice between embracing Islam or retaining their faith if they so wished, provided that they submit to its rules related to matters of transactions and penal code.
This last point is important because it would develop harmony in the people’s actions and dealings once the system and rules that deal with their problems became unified, and it would also serve to make the non-Muslims feel like Muslims by being part of the society, sharing the same system, enjoying the peace of mind and the guardianship of the State.
The teachings of Islam necessitate that the ruled people should be looked upon from a human point of view and not a racial, tribal or sectarian one.
Therefore, the Islamic laws related to social and penal matters must be equally implemented upon every citizen, with no difference between the Muslims or non-Muslims.
Allah (saw) says in Surah al-Ma’idah,
“Do not let hatred of others lead you away from justice, but adhere to justice, for that is closer to awareness of Allah. Be mindful of Allah: Allah is well aware of all that you do.” [TMQ 5:8]
All people are equal in the eyes of the law. The ruler looks after the people’s affairs and rules over them. The judge settles people’s disputes without any prejudice. He looks upon them from a human point of view with the aim of solving their problems and settling their disputes. The ruling system in Islam introduces true unity and equality between the different regions of the State.
Islam commands the rulers to guarantee the basic needs of all the Wilayat of the State with grants provided by the treasury, regardless of the amount of revenues being collected from each Wilayah, and regardless of whether these levies cover the expenditure or not. Islam commands a single financial policy by collecting levies for the treasury from all the Wilayat, thus helping to mould the conquered countries into Wilayat and making them into one State. This is what the Islamic ruling system would and did inevitably achieve.
The mixing of the Muslim with the indigenous people was one of the major factors that led to those people entering Islam and integrating with other Muslims. After conquering a country, the Muslims would take up residence there and begin teaching the people Islam and Islamic culture. They lived in neighbouring houses, they shared in all of life’s affairs and became subjects of one country, being ruled by the same laws. There never existed two different segregated communities divided into conquerors and conquered, winners and the defeated. They were all citizens of the State who helped each other in their daily affairs. The conquered people looked upon the rulers as being a different Moulding People into one Ummah type of people whom they had never encountered before. They witnessed the equality with which they treated them by placing themselves on the same level and serving them and managing their affairs. They experienced fine treatment by rulers of high qualities and this made them adherent towards the rulers and towards Islam. The rulers and other Muslims would marry women from the People of the Book (Jews and Christians), eat their slaughtered meat and their food. This served as an incentive for them to enter Islam because they witnessed the effect of Islam through the rulers and saw the light of Islam through the system being implemented upon them. As a result, these people became integrated and constituted a single Ummah.
The entering of the indigenous people into Islam was not limited to a time period or a country. The people of each country embraced Islam en masse. People continued to enter into Islam until most of them were Muslims, and thus Islam was not merely confined to Muslim conquerors. By entering into Islam, the people of the conquered countries integrated with the conquerors and became one single Ummah.
The comprehensive change that Islam caused in those who embraced it led to the raising of the intellectual level of those new Muslims. This developed in them the Islamic ‘Aqeedah which became an ideological basis upon which all concepts were founded and measured. As a result, Islam took them from an emotional based belief (faith) to a rationally founded belief. It transformed them from the worship of idols, icons, other human beings, and fire, and the belief in the trinity and other similar types of worship, which led to a steep decline in the intellectual level, to the worship of Allah (swt), which led and will continue to lead to the establishment of an enlightened mind. Islam made them believe in the Hereafter and led them to comprehend it in the way that the Qur’an and the Sunnah have presented it and the reward and punishment in it.
So they conceived of it as being real and this led them to acquire a true meaning of this life thus being the path to another happier and eternal life. They held life with open arms and they did not neglect it. They took its means and enjoyed the pleasures and wealth that Allah (swt) – the One who provided the right criteria and perceptions of life.
Prior to the advent of Islam, their criterion of life was based on personal interest as the only controls to perform any action. After the acceptance of Islam, the criterion of their actions changed and came to be based on what is Halal and what is Haram. This criterion became the driving force behind their actions, and its guidelines were according to what Allah (swt) had commanded and prohibited. The aim of their actions became attaining Allah’s pleasure.
The value of the action became the objective behind the performance of the action. It would be spiritual if it were prayer or Jihad; material if it were buying or selling; moral if it was a trust or an act of compassion; humanitarian if one was being assisted in a crisis, etc. People began differentiating between the motive behind the action and the value of the action. As a result, their conception of life became different from their previous one. It became the true conception about the life measured by a criterion that Islam had set, this being the commands of Allah (swt).
Islam gave the people a true meaning of happiness. Happiness had been, in their original view, the satisfaction of their instincts and organic needs. It came to be transformed into gaining the pleasure of Allah (swt). This entails true happiness because true happiness means total and permanent peace of mind and this can never be achieved merely through satisfying the human desires and acquiring material pleasures. It can only be achieved by obtaining the pleasure of the Lord of the Universe. This is how Islam affected the viewpoint of the people who embraced it.
Their viewpoint about life and the actions which they performed in this life changed. Their order of priorities also changed, some went up in value and others came down. Life to the human being was at the top of his list of priorities to begin with and the ideology came second. Then Islam came and reversed the situation so that the ideology came to the top of the human being’s priorities in life. As a result of this, the Muslims began to devote their lives to the service of Islam because they correctly considered that Islam was more precious than life and it was only a natural corollary for the Muslim to endure hardship and sacrifice in the way of Islam. Life’s matters came to be placed in their appropriate order of priority. Life became honourable and dignified and the Muslim acquired a permanent peace of mind once he set his ultimate objective to that being the pleasure of Allah (swt). Moulding People into one Ummah
The new Muslims’ concept of the highest ideal changed therein. In the past the people had different and ever changing ideals. Now they acquired the one and only ultimate objective. This resulted in the changing of things that mattered to them and in changing the definition of virtue. The basis of virtues formerly included things like personal courage, individual decency and respectability, sectarian backing, boasting about wealth and noble descent, generosity to the point of extravagance, faithfulness to the tribe or clan, mercilessness in revenge and other similar acts. Islam changed all that. It made all of these qualities trivial, which the human could take or leave according to Allah’s decrees, not according to the benefits they generated, nor to the pride or prestige which they entailed, nor because they were traditions or customs or a heritage one had to preserve. Islam mandated the submission to Allah’s orders only. Therefore, Islam enjoined the submitting of the individual, tribal, popular, and national interests to the commands of Islam only.
This is how Islam transformed the mentalities and attitudes of the people who embraced it. It changed their personalities and their evaluation of man, life and the universe. It completely altered their criteria concerning all of life’s matters. People began realizing that life held a special meaning which was perfection and nobleness. They acquired a supreme ideal which was securing the pleasure of Allah (swt), and that was the happiness which they vigorously pursued. Therefore, they became different creatures from those which they had once been.
These four major factors helped to detach all the people who embraced Islam from their former circumstances. Their concepts and visions of life became unified into one concept and one vision. The management of their affairs sprang from that concept. Their interests also became unified and they became one interest, i.e. the interest of Islam. Their goals in life became a single goal, which was the spreading of Allah’s word. In total, the integration of these people into Islam was inevitable and they eventually became a single Ummah, the Islamic Ummah.
Western Occupation vs Islamic Conquests: A tale of two states