History teaches us invaluable lessons from which we can avoid mistakes and seek wisdom. The link with history
gives us the heroes and villains who made and ruined lives, who built and annihilated lands and states. History gives an insight
into the events and people who made progress possible and even when trying to understand the truth and the facts we need to
have an understanding of the actual circumstances surroundings the events.
When studying Islam through the explanation of the Qur’an or the study of Ahadith, we should research the history of the time in which the Prophet (saw) lived along with
his blessed Companions (Ra). This gives an insight into the Seerat - life and times of our Prophet (saw) and the struggles
of the protectors of Islam. All this can be understood through the history of the time and makes the learning of Islam more
valuable. In fact the Seerat of our Prophet (saw) can only be understood through the learning of the era in which he lived.
Also we have to follow not only the rise of Islam through the land of Arabia and beyond, but also the eventual demise of the
Caliphate structure and Islamic dominance. We need to understand how the Qur’an and Sunnah was once lived and followed
as the law and adopted as the culture, we can re-live the glory of Islam through history while also reflecting on the actions
of people who deviated and betrayed great leaders and scholars of Islam. There are lessons to be learnt but they have been
lost on many of us who only think that reading history is just for the historians or scholars. Even recent history going back
fifty to hundred years is very significant but only if we are aware of it and understand the implications of those events
and actions. As with any knowledge, the one who reads and understands is always more aware of what is really happening and
prepares for the future.
Learning about history can also be misleading as times and events can be portrayed in accordance to the bias
of those relating the facts and displaying their version of the ‘truth’. This is when we need to take a balanced
view and reference what we are reading or being taught. This is exactly the same as reading a version of an occurrence that
may not always be told correctly. In today’s age, history is taught through secular education as efforts are made to
give students an insight into previous ages and events. However we will find that very rarely will we get taught any history
that is relevant to Islam. How many institutions of education actually incorporate any significant element of Islamic history,
this maybe unrealistic to expect in western countries but even Muslim countries fail to cover the history of Islam significantly.
History is taught as a subject almost exclusively concentrating on national and continental borders.
The real value of history from an Islamic viewpoint is only gained if we differentiate between ‘Muslim
history’ and ‘Islamic history’. One may see little difference between these two terms but this
difference is crucial. Muslim history is often what is taught under the pretence of ‘Islamic history’.
We may hear about Muslim kings and queens and the monarchies of rich countries but a closer look reveals that these chapters
on history give us as much knowledge of the greatness of Islamic leadership as contemporary Muslim statesmen do. This Muslim
history often covers people who did nothing for the deen – religion of Islam, in fact many of the Muslim kings
and Monarchs actually were anti-Islamic in their regimes. They were even guilty of imprisoning and executing great scholars
of Islam who taught the Qur’an and Sunnah and opposed their brand of rule. We need to find true Islamic History and
learn from the great Caliphas, rulers, scholars, warriors and conquests.