9. Commentary of the Qur’ān
Allah says in the Holy Qur’ān:
وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا مِنْكُمْ وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ
لَيَسْتَخْلِفَنَّهُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ كَمَا اسْتَخْلَفَ الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِهِمْ
وَلَيُمَكِّنَنَّ لَهُمْ دِينَهُمُ الَّذِي ارْتَضَى لَهُمْ وَلَيُبَدِّلَنَّهُمْ مِنْ بَعْدِ
خَوْفِهِمْ أَمْنًا يَعْبُدُونَنِي لَا يُشْرِكُونَ بِي شَيْئًا وَمَنْ كَفَرَ
بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ فَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ .
(النور ٢٤ :٥٥)
“God has promised those of you
who have attained faith and do righteous
deeds that, of a certainty, He will cause them to
accede to power on earth, even as He caused (some of)
who lived before them to accede to it; and that, of a certainty,
He will firmly establish for them the religion which He has been
pleased to bestow on them; and that, of a certainly, He will cause
their erstwhile state of fear to be replaced by a sense of security –
(seeing that) they worship Me (alone), not ascribing divine
powers to naught beside Me. But all who, after (having
understood) this, choose to deny the truth – it is
they, they who are truly iniquitous”
( Qur’ān 24:55, Asad’s translation)
In this verse Allah promises that He will cause strong believers who do righteous deeds “to be successors on earth”, namely, to gain power and security, and in turn, to satisfy their worldly needs. This promise is an allusion to His natural law of rising and falling nations depending on their moral qualities, such as the Children of Israel under the rule of their Prophet-kings David (Da’ūd) and Solomon (Sulaymān). There is also a promise that the religion of Islam will be established and fear among its followers will be exchanged for security.
The above verse was revealed when the Muslims were still weak and under constant threat from their enemies, the Meccan idolaters. They suffered from fear and threat, and became exhausted in defending themselves for ten years in Mecca, so that some of them complained to the Prophet asking him when this suffering would end. Then the above verse was revealed. This prophesy was fulfilled when the Prophet conquered Mecca and became undisputedly the de facto ruler of the Arabian peninsula, and Islam became the predominant religion among the people.
The spread of Islam was so fast that about eighty years after the death of the Prophet, the Muslims reached the Indian peninsula in 711 C.E. Twenty-seven years later the Muslims reached Canton in China in 738 C.E. To the West, at almost the same time Islam reached Spain when the Muslims conquered Seville in 716 C.E. The conquest continued for seven centuries – namely, 781 years – until the Muslims were defeated in 1492 C.E.
With the Muslims’ conquest of Spain a brilliant Arabic-speaking society flourished which brought prosperity to various levels of Spanish life. While Europe was still in the Dark Ages, Cordova’s citizens were enjoying illuminated streets and its half million citizens worshipped in three thousand mosques. Cordova, Granada and Seville became the centres of institutions of higher learning where philosophy, law, literature, mathematics, medicine, astronomy, history and geography were taught. The Christians imitated the Muslims in their tradition and enjoyed the poems and prose words of the Arabs. They studied the works of Muslim theologians and philosophers, with the intention not to refute them, but to acquire a correct and elegant Arabic style. They also read the Qur’ān to appreciate its beautiful style. Among famous scholars from this area were Ibn Rushd (Averrus), Ibn H…azm, Ibn cArabī and the Qur’ānic commentator Muh.ammad al-Qurt.ubī (“the native of Cordova”).
After the eleventh century Muslim power declined. Civil strife and civil wars occurred among themselves. Sometimes they asked the help of Christians to fight their own Muslim brothers. Finally, they themselves were defeated and ousted from Spain in 1492 C.E. They were mercilessly killed, forced to abandon their religion and to leave the country. Books in Arabic were burned, and the Arabic language was considered to be the language of innovators and of low class people, after it had been the language of learning, art and literature. However, thousands of Arabic words passed into their daily speech. The word hasta and usted, for example, came from the Arabic word h.attāحَتَّى) , until) and ustādh (أُسْتَاذ, mister, teacher). The exclamation olé was originally from God’s name in Arabic, Allāh. The name of the longest river in Spain, Guadal quivir, came from the Arabic name, al-Wādī ‘l-Kabīr (الْوَادِي اْلكَبِيْر, the Great Valley). The other river, Guadalijara (read as Guadalahara), came from Wādī ‘l-H.ijārah ( وَادِي اْلحِجَارَة, the Valley of Stones). Professor José Pita-Andrade of the University of Granada once said to Thomas J. Abercrombie, an American Muslim journalist and reporter of National Geographic Magazine, “You will find more than four thousand Arabic words still common in Spanish.”
The above promise of Allah remains valid till the Doomsday. The rise and the fall of a nation is based on its people’s faith, good deeds (in all of its manifestations) and moral behaviour. The glory of Islam will return if its followers stick to their faith and work hard to achieve this noble end.