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A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes
- Read in 16 minutes
- Audio & text available
- Contains 10 key ideas
Destiny Disrupted (2009) tells history from an Islamic perspective. It begins before the emergence of Muhammad and Islam in the seventh century CE and ends with the decline of the Islamic empires in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. On this epic journey, Tamim Ansary describes the fascinating stories of great Muslim states, scholars and leaders – a perspective on history that is, unfortunately, widely unknown to most Westerners.
Key idea 1 of 10
Sandwiched between West and East, the Islamic world was born amid a commercial and pagan society.
Have you ever wondered where the “middle” in “Middle East” comes from? To find out, let’s travel back in time to the dawn of civilization.
On one side, we have Western civilization, which emerged in the area surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. On the other, around what is now China, we have Eastern civilization. Between these two worlds, we have what the author refers to as the Middle World.
More specifically, this world is the area between the Indus River, which runs along the border of India and Pakistan, and Istanbul, which is located on the northern tip of Turkey and lies between the Black and Aegean Seas. This is the Middle World, resting between East and West – two very different civilizations, with their own distinct histories.
At the heart of the Middle World was Mesopotamia, which lay between the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers, where modern-day Iraq is located. Around 5,500 years ago, in southern Mesopotamia, the Sumerians developed the first high culture, inventing letters and numbers in the process.
The Sumerians didn’t last and, as history proceeded, several other high cultures came and went. There were the Akkadians, Amorites, Babylonians and, around 550 BCE, the Persians. Then came the Greeks — and the famous conquests of Alexander the Great — which were immediately followed by the rise of the Roman Empire, during which time Christ was born.
All of these empires and cultures came and went in the Middle World – and it all happened before the birth of Islam.
Around the year 570 CE, the Prophet Muhammad was born. His birthplace, Mecca, was a trading hub defined by commercial enterprise. He was raised an orphan and grew up poor among a society of rich Arab merchants.
At the time, these Arabs were pagans who believed in a multitude of gods. But then, one day, Muhammad had a life-changing experience. While meditating in the nearby mountains, he was visited by the angel Gabriel, and a voice commanded him to “recite.”
After this revelation, Muhammad began preaching monotheism to the people of Mecca. And, much to the discomfort of the rich Arab merchants, the message he had was that God wanted to end debauchery and help the poor.
Thus, Islam was born.