Ummah’s heroes

June 18, 2020


APROPOS the article ‘Dissecting Ertugrul mania’ (June 6). The writer has raised many points with which one may agree or disagree.

Soon after the founding of the faith, Muslims succeeded in building a new form of society, the Madina caliphate, which in time carried with it its own distinctive institutions, art and literature, science and scholarship, political and social forms, all of which bore an unmistakable Islamic impress.

In the course of centuries, this new society spread over widely diverse climes, throughout most of the Old World. It came closer than any had ever come to uniting all of mankind under its ideals.

In every age, Muslims have reasserted their faith in the light of new circumstances that have arisen out of the failures and also of the successes of the past. The venture has never been abandoned and these hopes and efforts are still alive.

The Islamic faith spread gradually throughout most of the more densely inhabited parts of the eastern hemisphere, and with the spread of faith very often went Muslim rule. In pursuit of the new Islamic society, a solid foothold had been gained in one of the major Hellenic areas of Anatolia in the 13th century. The first Ghazi state was founded in the 13th century in Northwestern Anatolia in the town of Sogut by the Orguz Turkish leader Osman.

This tiniest Ghazi state in Bithynia, the hilly country southeast of the Thracian Straits, found itself facing the Byzantine empire. Blessed with good leadership, the Ottomans were able to beat off the attack and captured the beautiful town of Bursa which became the first capital of the Ottoman dynasty.

After 1354, the Ottomans crossed into Europe and with the conquest of the Balkans, the young Ghazi state turned into a transcontinental, multilingual state. With the conquest of Constantinople, the Turks under the leadership of Mohammad the Second, the son of Murad the Second, captured Istanbul in 1453.

Istanbul became the capital of the Ottoman Empire, a bridge between the Eastern and Western worlds for six centuries. By 1801, the empire included eastern and central Europe, Caucasus, western Asia and North Africa.

The Madina caliphate, the Abbasi and Umayyad Empires, the Mughal Empire, the independent Umayyad Caliphate of Spain (756-1492) were all parts of the Ummah and in their heyday a source of pride and inspiration for Muslims for all over the world. I see nothing wrong with Muslims in Pakistan lauding the Ummah’s heroes anywhere in the world. I also see nothing wrong with documentaries and films reminding Muslims of the rise and fall of their empires. After all, those who don’t learn from history tend to repeat their mistakes.

Roedad Khan

Published in Dawn, June 18th, 2020