14 mosques established in the first 150 years of Islam, after the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) migrated to Madina:
1. Umayyad Mosque, Damascus, Syria: 96 years after migration (AH)
The site of the Umayyad Mosque was originally a Christian church and a Roman temple prior to that. After the Muslim conquest of Syria, the church was converted into a mosque. Caliph Walid I, who oversaw its conversion, radically altered the layout of the building- a project that was completed in 715. Parts of the outer wall today still date back to the original Roman temple of Jupiter. Inside, an edifice marks the spot where John the Baptist’s (Yahya ibn Zakariyya) head is thought to be buried. A plaque has also been placed above the spot where the head of Imam Husayn (may God be pleased with him) was put on display after he was martyred at Karbala.
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.