I understand what you mean by the concept of Allah granting sovereignty to the early Muslims as a “promise” of sorts to them. I wish to follow up on my question with the following queries:
What was the mechanism by which this sovereignty was allowed to manifest? Did Allah give the armies super-human strength? Did He send angels to fight in the wars? Did He bestow military genius into the minds of the Muslim generals? Or did He bless them with great determination and grit needed to achieve the astonishing military conquests that they did, so that a little after a century of the Prophet’s death, the Arabs had formed the largest empire then known to man? Was it a little bit of all these things? Or can we not know for certain?
While the Muslims of the immediate generations might have been helped directly by Allah (in some way), it was actually the Muslims that lived centuries after these military conquests about which my original question was aimed. These Muslims, who lived around the Dark Ages of Europe flourished in the arts and sciences. They can hardly be called the “early” Muslims as they lived some 700 years after the Prophet’s death.
Please re-answer my original question keeping these particular generations of Muslims in mind. Did Allah’s promise of sovereignty extend so far after the prophet’s death? If so, can such sovereignty be ours again if this ummah goes back to practicing Islam properly?
According to my understanding of the Qur’an, it was in fact the progeny of Abraham (pbuh), who were promised a dominant position in the world, depending upon their sincerity in adhering to the directives of God1. This promise was manifested first through the dominance of the Israelites and later, after their disqualification – as has been explained in Surah Al-Baqarah – through the dominance of the progeny of Ishmael (pbuh).
The foregoing clarification should answer your second question. It was not only the immediate generation of Muslims who were given dominance over a large part of the civilized world, according to the Divine decree, but, in fact, it was the progeny of Ishmael (pbuh) who enjoyed this privilege, for as long as they remained sincere in adhering to the Divine directives. From a practical perspective, this dominance remained in force till the time that the rule of the Muslim collectivity remained in the hands of the progeny of Ishmael (pbuh), which lasted till the Ottoman Empire.
As for your first question, almost all of the factors that you have mentioned, including other circumstantial factors may have played a role, at one time or another, in the said dominance. In short, as a result of God’s promise, not only did the efforts of the Banu Ibraheem bore fruit – which is generally not the case during the life of this world – but God also supported them with His forces. However, on the other side, these people, because of their special position, were also immediately punished for their transgressions – which, again, is generally not the case during the life of this world.
I hope this helps.
December 7, 2002
- Refer to Surah Al-Baqarah 2: 124 and Surah Al-Nisaa 4: 154. [↩]