As a crossroads of trade between the Indian Ocean and East Asia, the Malay Archipelago has consistently been a wealthy, diverse, and politically important region. Islam began to spread in the region through trade not long after the life of Prophet Muhammad (S). For centuries, the people of Southeast Asia slowly began to accept Islam and create Muslim towns and kingdoms.
Perhaps the most important of these kingdoms was the Sultanate of Malacca (Melaka in Malay), which reached its peak in the mid-1400s. As a powerful and influential kingdom, the continued spread of Islam was intricately tied with the rise of the Malacca Sultanate. Unfortunately, however, the Malacca Sultanate would not last, as the newly powerful Portugal conquered the kingdom in 1511 and began a centuries-long period of European domination.
The streets of Gaza in November 1917 after a British attack on the city in WWI. The First Battle of Gaza was fought on 26 March 1917 during the first attempt by the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) to invade the south of Palestine in the Ottoman Empire during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign of the First World War. Fighting took place in and around the town of Gaza on the Mediterranean coast when infantry and mounted infantry from the Desert Column, a component of theEastern Force, attacked the town. Late in the afternoon, on the verge of capturing Gaza, the Desert Column was withdrawn due to concerns about the approaching darkness and large Ottoman reinforcements. This British defeat was followed a few weeks later by the even more emphatic defeat of the Eastern Force at the Second Battle of Gaza in April 1917.
The Cedid Atlas (The New Atlas in Ottoman Turkish) was one of the first printed atlases in the Muslim world
The Cedid Atlas (The New Atlas in Ottoman Turkish) was one of the first printed atlases in the Muslim world. It was commissioned by the Ottoman government in 1803 as part of its 19th century reforms to bring the empire up to par with other European powers. All of the maps in the atlas were thus adapted from an earlier atlas made by the English cartographer, William Faden. Only 50 copies were printed of the atlas, and of those, only about 10 survive today.
Ibn Khaldun was a scholar of history, economics, sociology, and historiography. His summary of history and particularly its introduction, the Muqaddimah, is seen by many as the basis for modern historical philosophy.
“Know that the subject of history is a noble science that can be very beneficial only if it gives us a proper understanding of:
1- Previous nations’s morals and character
2- The stories of the Prophets
3- Government and politics
For whoever embarks on the study of history, they will end up in a beneficial imitation of the mindset of previous peoples in the subjects of religion and worldly matters.
This subject is dependent on studying numerous sources, understanding diverse subjects, having the best insight and analysis, and being able to verify the truth of sources as they can deviate and be filled with mistakes. Historical research must not be dependent on bare copying of all reports. It should instead be based on an understanding of local customs, politics, the nature of civilization, and the local conditions of where humans live. You must also be able to compare primary and secondary sources, as they can help you differentiate between the truth and falsehood, helping derive conclusions that are believable and honest.”
Translation by Firas Alkhateeb.
The land of Iraq is home to some of the most ancient and precious civilizations in history. In the Mesopotamian valley that encompasses the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, Babylonia, the world’s first empire was born. Writing was first developed along the banks of the rivers with tablets made of clay. Advanced government bureaucracies were first implemented here. It is truly one of the cradles of human civilization.
And when Islam was revealed in the deserts of Arabia south of Mesopotamia, the people of Iraq were some of the first to accept Islam outside of the Arabian Peninsula during the caliphate of Abu Bakr. As Islamic history went on, Iraq became one of the centers of the Muslim world, with Baghdad being established in the 8th century as the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate. Politics, culture, science, and religion all flourished here in early Islamic history. After the Mongol invasion, however, Iraq’s importance declined, it eventually became a part of the Ottoman Empire from the early 1500s until the end of the empire in the First World War. After the war, it was organized into a British-controlled mandate, which sought to create an independent nation-state in this ancient land.
Which brings us to the question: what is Iraq? The British assumed they’d find a homogeneous people in this land that would easily coalesce into one united nation, but the reality has been much more complicated. When the British drew Iraq’s borders, the people within those false borders were of different ethnic groups, religious beliefs, and languages, yet they were all expected to adopt a new identity – Iraqi – and function as a modern nationalistic European nation. This article will address the origins of these problems of identity in 20th century Iraq.
The development of the modern nation states throughout the Arab world is a fascinating and heartbreaking process. 100 years ago, most Arabs were part of the Ottoman Empire/Caliphate, a large multi-ethnic state based in Istanbul. Today, a political map of the Arab world looks like a very complex jigsaw puzzle. A complex and intricate course of events in the 1910s brought about the end of the Ottomans and the rise of these new nations with borders running across the Middle East, diving Muslims from each other. While there are many different factors leading to this, the role that the British played in this was far greater than any other player in the region. Three separate agreements made conflicting promises that the British had to stand by. The result was a political mess that divided up a large part of the Muslim world.
As the current dispute over control of the Crimean Peninsula between Russia and Ukraine intensifies, there’s a claim making the rounds online that, if true, could have major repercussions for the region today. Most versions of the story claim that after Russia annexed Crimea in 1783, it signed a treaty which promised that if Crimea ever declared independence, it would automatically be transferred to the Ottoman Empire.
On March 11, 2014, the Supreme Council of Crimea declared its independence from Ukraine in the aftermath of the Euromaidan protests and the ouster of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych. That would mean that according to the 231 year old treaty’s provisions, the Crimean Peninsula would now legally belong to Turkey (the successor state to the Ottoman Empire). Many of the articles making this claim online have sensationalist headlines that declare that Crimea should now belong to Turkey or that Turkey now finds itself in the middle of the dispute between Ukraine and Russia. But is there any truth to this claim?
The 40th president of the United States, Ronald Reagan famously stated in a piece in the New York Times in 1993,
“May I offer you the advice of the 14th century Arab historian Ibn Khaldun, who said: “At the beginning of the empire, the tax rates were low and the revenues were high. At the end of the empire, the tax rates were high and the revenues were low.”
And, no, I did not personally know Ibn Khaldun, although we may have had some friends in common!”1
Although one may agree or disagree with the conservative economic policies of Ronald Reagan, there is no denying the genius of the man he is quoting – Ibn Khaldun. He was centuries ahead of his time. His monumental work, the Muqaddimah, published in 1377, is hard to categorize. All at once it is a resource on history, Islam, science, sociology, economics, politics, warfare, and philosophy. One article on the entire book would be a disservice to Ibn Khaldun and the great amount of knowledge he left for subsequent generations. Instead, this article will focus only on some of his economic ideas, which centuries later form some of the basic ideas we use in government taxation today.
The Andalusian city of Seville fell to Christian Castile in 1248, after over 500 years of being a Muslim city. Abu al-Baqa’ al-Rundi was a contemporary Andalusian poet from the city of Ronda, in southern Iberia, who wrote a lament about the fall of the once great city in 1267. He alluded to ancient Arabian and Persian history in his poem, hoping to inspire Muslims to rise up and recapture the city. The English translation by James T. Monroe is below, followed by the original Arabic.