Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Seerah Muhammad: Overview On Supremacy

Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, lived for about 63 years.  Two third of it was as ordinary man, the other one third as a prophet. 

He lived as a prophet for 23 years.  The first 13 years were spent in Makkah as the leader of the persecuted group, while the last 10 years were spent in Madinah as the leader of a sovereign ummah. 

In the 10 years of his Madinah period, the first half was defensive, while the other half was offensive. 

In the first half, he was engaged in three major wars with his archenemies, the polytheist Quraysh.  He won the first, the Battle of Badar.  He lost the second, the Battle of Uhud.  In the third battle, the Battle of Ahzab, there was no real war.  Only little skirmishes here and there.  The Quraysh left the battlefield, having failed to attack and destroy Madinah as planned.  As the Qurasyh and their allies left the battlefield, Prophet Muhammad said to his companions: "From now on, they don't come to us.  We go to them."  Thus, the mode switched, from defensive to attacking.

True enough, in the second half, there was no more attempt by the Qurasyh to attack Madinah.  It was now the Muslims' turn to go to Makkah.  The first expedition took place one year after Ahzab, in 6 AH (After Hijrah).  The expedition was to perform umrah (lesser pilgrimage), not to engage in a war.  But the Prophet and his companions were denied entry into Makkah, and the expedition ended in a peace treaty. 

The peace treaty itself at one look appeared one sided, which caused the Prophet companions to complain, but when one of the Quraysh allies violated the terms of the treaty, Abu Sufyan came to Madinah begging the Prophet for understanding and resettlement.   According to the treaty, if the Muslims or their allies violated the terms, the treaty would be automatically dissolved.  Likewise with the Qurasyh. 

Thus, when one of the Qurasyh allies violated it, the peace treaty automatically dissolved.  Abu Sufyan came begging for a settlement and an extension of the treaty, pleading ignorance about what his allies did, and confessed himself being innocence of the matter.  Hitherto it was the Muslims who always begged for leniency, understanding or clemency.   By then the matter had turned 180 degree, for the one who begs is always in an inferior position than the one being begged. 

Seeing that this 10-year treaty, known as the Treaty of Hudaybiyah, no longer served its purpose, the Prophet did not bother even to listen to Abu Sufyan, the head of the Makkans.  Two years after the Hudaybiyah treaty, he conquerred Makkah without shedding much blood.  The Makkans offered hardly any resistance but requested for clemency, which was granted.  The Makkan allies, however, fought against the Muslims and they were summarily defeated. 

For the remaining two years of his life, one delegation after another came to Madinah to pledge loyalty and to accept Islam.  Before the Prophet finally died in 632 AD (10 AH), the whole of Arabian Peninsular was subdued under his power. 

As soon as he died, however, major revolts immediately rose all over Arabia.  The only places immune to the revolt were Madinah, Makkah and Taif.  The situation was precarious.  His companions, however, were ready to face the challenge.  His successor, Abu Bakar, undertook the challenge to quench the revolt and reestablish the Muslims supremacy.  This time more firmly and more absolutely. 

In the midst of quenching this rebellion, the Persian and the Roman empires, the two superpowers at that time, took advantage by stirring troubles at the borders.  Even in his short reign, Abu Bakar managed to resolve this problem as well.  When he died some months later, having ruled for about two and a half year only, the Muslims were already inflicting major blows to the Persian and the Roman empires.

In less than five years after the death of the Prophet, under the leadership of his second successor, Umar, the Persian empire was practically no more and the Roman Empire had been dealt a definitive blow.

After the Battle of Qadisiyyah which took place in 636 AD, the Persian Empire lost its supremacy in the Western Persia, although it continued to exist until 644 AD, when it finally came to a permanent end.  Also during Umar's time, more than two third of the Roman Empire, better known as the Byzantine Empire, fell to the hand of Muslims.  The Romans' control of the Middle East and North Africa, having dominated these regions for about seven centuries, thus came to a permanent end.

By the time Umar died in 644 AD, the Islamic Caliphate became the superpower, the largest single empire at that time.  It continued to dominate the world for about six centuries, with its capital first in Madinah, then in Damascus, and later in Baghdad, until the Mongols invasion in the thirteen century.  From the ashes of Baghdad, rose many dynasties to champion the cause of Islam, the most dominant being the Ottoman dynasty. 

With the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1917 AD, Muslims supremacy was no more.  But from a humble begining, Islam and the Muslims ruled supreme for the first six centuries, and continued to be the power to be reckoned with for another six centuries, until its power was vanguished with the fall of its last bastion in the WWI.

It has been a century that the Muslims have completely lost their supremacy, but it does not mean that it will be like that forever.

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