0012-CIVILIZATION, (IMARAT/ISTIMAAR AL ARDH)(PART III)
Lecture for 1st year
medical students on 23rd December
2000 by Professor Omar Hasan
3.5.5 THE RISE and FALL OF CIVILISATIONS, al dawrat al hadhariyat
STUDY OF HISTORY
The Qur’an has called for study of the history of past human experiences (p 217 3:137, , 12:109, , , 27:69, 29:20, 30:9, 30:42, 35:44,
40:21, 40:82, 47:10). This enables learning valuable lessons that are useful for the contemporary and future periods (p 217-221
3:137, 6:11, 6:42-45, 7:4-5, 7:94-95, 7:96-103, 8:52-54, 9:69-70, 10:13-14, 11:100-102, 11:120, 12:111, 14:9, 15:10-13, 16:26,
16:36, 16:63, 17:17, 18:32-44,18:59, 19:74, 19:98, 20:128, 21:11-15, 22:45-46,
22:48, 24:34, 25:38-40, 27:69, 28:58, 29:38-40, 30:9-10, 32:26, 34:45, 35:44, 36:30-31, 37:71-73, 38:3, 39:25-26, 40:5, 40:21-22,
40:82-85, 41:13, 43:6-8, 44:37, 46:27, 47:10, 47:13, 50:36-37, 54:4-5, 53:50-55, 54:51, 64:5-6, 65:8-9, 67:18, 69:4-12).
RISE and FALL OF CIVILIZATIONS
The Qur’an mentions the civilizational cycles among communities, tilka al ayaam nudawiluha bayna al naas (3:140). Those who are strong today may weaken tomorrow and those who are weak
today may become strong tomorrow. Each community or civilisation has a fixed term, ajal al umam (p 73 , 7:135, )
much like human life, ajal al insaan. It can die as much as a human dies. The rise and fall of civilizations follows fixed
social laws. If a community does the right things Allah gives them strength for a limited time as a test. If they persist
in doing good they will continue being strong. It is however part of human nature that as soon as they become strong, they
relax and pick up bad behavior which leads to a downfall. Luxury and excess, taraf, are the commonest causes of civilizational
decay (p 233 11:116, , , , 23:64-67, 34:34-35, 43:23, 56:45). Theoretically a community could stay in ascendancy
until the last day if it followed closely Allah’s laws in building civilizations. The Qur’an has informed us that
the righteous inherit the earth (p 96-97 7:100, 7:128-129, 7:137, 12:21, 14:14, 17:104, 21:105, 22:41, 24:55, 28:5-6, 33:27,
38:26, 39:74). A community changes for the good or the bad by the change of individuals in it (p 240 ,
). Existence of laws that determine the rise and fall of civilizations does
not imply historical determinism as propounded by Marxist thinkers. Events are sometimes contrary to the ordinary laws.
ROLE OF THE ENVIRONMENT
The climate determines where people live, what they wear, the type of house, the crops grown, the nature of economic
activity, and the type of social organization. Climate affects the way people behave. Natural resources affect the location
of a civilization. Rich soils allow agriculture. Coal and iron lay the basis for industrialization. A difficult environment
can lead to development by forcing people to look for practical solutions that will make their daily lives more bearable.
Civilizations first developed along river banks because of ease of transport andaccess
to water for agriculture. Civilizations grew in plains and not on mountains because of ease of transport. The mountainous
terrain explains why Greeks lived in several independent city-states and not one centralized state. The Nile
and the small strip of fertile land along it explains the power of the central government in Egypt
because people had no where to escape if they rebelled against authority. The correlation of environmental conditions to the
level of material development of a civilization is difficult and rather complex. Whereas the ease of life in the tropics has
been advanced as the reason discouraging technological development, the difficulties of the cold areas of North
America did not make the Amerinds any more developed.
COMMUNICATION AND CIVILISATION
Some environments favor easy transport and therefore spread of ideas. The open grasslands of central Asia,
the desert and semi-deserts of the middle-east and North Africa encouraged land movement over long
distances. The coasts and bays of Europe also enabled sea transport to link communities. The forested
regions of sub-saharan Africa and South-east Asia made movement difficult; thus
no great civilizations developed in these parts of the world. Ease of transport also determines the end of a civilisation.
When its geographical expansion becomes so big that effective communication and control are not possible it breaks up into
smaller groups or may eventually lose its distinct identity.
B. ANCIENT CIVILIZATIONS
Human history can be divided into two distinct parts: prehistory before the development of writing and the historical
period when written records are available. Different groups of people have gone through these periods at different times;
there are people living on earth today in the pre-historic era. In the paleolithic pre-historic era, humans were food gatherers.
They used stone tools. One of their major discoveries was the making of fire for warmth and cooking. They lived in caves and
wore skins. Later they started hunting and living in villages where more permanent homes were built. Once they settled down
in communities more civilizational developments occurred.
THE FERTILE RIVER VALLEY CIVILIZATIONS OF MESOPOTAMIA, cradle of civilization
Sumeria: The Sumerian civilisation (3500-2000 BC) arose in the land between the Tigris and
Euphrates rivers. It is the earliest known human civilization. The Sumerians learned how to control
the river flooding and how to build irrigation canals to enable them grow crops. They invented the wheel and the plough. They
were the first to develop writing, a form or cuneiform writing. They had a government and laws. They built cities that became
city-states. They worshipped many gods. The priests grew powerful and eventually became hereditary kings. About 2400 BC the
power of Sumer began to wane. Sumer
was conquered by Akkadia. The Babylonians in turn conquered both Sumer
and Akadia in about 1800BC.
Assyria: The Assyrian(800 BC-612 BC).Assyrians were warriors in the upper Tigris. By 800BC they
had taken control of cities and trading routes in Mesopotamia. Their power was due to a well organized
army and their use of iron weapons (copied from Hittites). They were cruel; they killed and burned wherever they went. Many
people surrendered without fighting. The Assyrians built a powerful empire that they divided into several provinces connected
by good roads. The empire became too large to be governed effectively. Eventually the Chaldeans (Babylonians) captured the
capital Nineveh in 612 BC and the Assyrian empire ceased to exist.
Babylonia: Babylon (1700-530 BC) was a powerful
empire in Mesopotamia. It conquered and took over much of the Sumerian culture. Hammurabi was one of
the great rulers of Babylonia. In 1720 BC Hammurabi built the empire by conquest of neighboring peoples.
He extended the empire to the Mediterranean, repaired the irrigation canals, made new laws, expended
trade, and improved taxation. Hammurabi's code became very famous. His reign was known as the golden age. Babylonians were
skilled mathematicians. They were good farmers. They knew about irrigation, land survey, engineering, astronomy, and medicine.
Babylonians developed the number system and had clocks controlled by falling water. The Assyrians briefly took ovet the empire
until they were defeated by Nebuchadenezer who built a strong Chaldean empire with the capital at Babylon.
Chaldeans: Chaldeans were descendants of Hammurabi’s empire. They were warriors who conquered many people
under Nebuchadnezer. They extended their power to Syria and
Palestine. They built a new Babylon
with more than 1 million people. The city was rich with the famous hanging gardens and the tower
of Babel. Caravans came from far away lands to Baylon for purposes of trade. The
city became a center of science especially astronomy. They later found it difficult to control their empire; The Persians
took it over by 539 BC.
THE NILE VALLEY CIVILIZATIONS
Egypt: The ancient Egyptian (3100-525 BC) civilization
prospered in the Nile valley. The annual flooding of the river deposited fertile silt that supported
agriculture and made them good farmers. They were protected from foreign invasions by the Mediterranean sea,
the desert on both sides of the river, and the cataracts along the river.In
3100 BC lower and upper Egypt were united into one state that was called the ancient kingdom and it lasted 500 years until
2600BC. During this time the pharaohs were priest-kings. They were respected and pyramids were built for them. Egyptians believed
in many gods. They believed in the hereafter and therefore embalmed their dead. The middle kingdom started in 2300 BC when
great officials expelled the pharaohs and controlled the government for 200 years. The pharaohs were later brought back but
with reduced power. The Hyksos invaded Egypt in 1786 BC and
brought the middle kingdom to an end. They ruled Egypt for
150 years and were overthrown in an uprising led by an Egyptian prince. In the following era, the new kingdom, Egypt
became richer. Egyptians invaded neighboring countries and engaged in external trade. They also started worshipping a new
god. By 1000 BC Egypt had declined. The Decline of Egypt started
when the pharaoh did not like and expelled the powerful priests. The Egyptian empire was further weakened by rebellions. External
wars also drained the country's resources. The Assyrians invaded Egypt
in 671 BC. The Kushites invaded Egypt in the 8th
century BC. The Persians invaded in the 6th century BC. The Greeks under Alexander the Great invaded in the 4th
century BC and controlled Egypt for 3 centuries. The Greeks
were replaced by the Romans who were eventually defeated by Muslim armies. Egyptians made many contributions to civilization:
papyrus paper; the decimal number system based on 10, fractions and whole numbers; geometry; and the calendar. They made many
contributions to medicine. They were the first to use splints, bandages, and compresses. They discovered treatments for indigestion
and hair loss. They developed 3 types of writing one of them was called hieroglyphics. The pyramids they build stand as monuments
of architectural achievement to our day yet they also are a monument to human exploitation, thousands of slaves died in their
THE INDUS VALLEY CIVILIZATION
The Indus valley civilisation grew in the period 2000-1500 BC. They learned how to control
the flooding of the Indus river and became good farmers. They discovered cotton for cloth making. They
used fired bricks to build their cities. They had two main cities, Harapa and Mohanjodano,which were the first planned communities in the world. By 1700 BC the Harappan civilization declined for reasons that
are not known. By 1200 BC Aryan invaders had taken over the Indus valley. The Aryans moved forced the
Dravidians to the south of India where their descendants continue
to live today. Hinduism developed about 3000 years ago. Budhism started in about 500 BC. Alexander the great invaded India
in 320 BC but did not establish a permanent presence. Thereafter the Maurya dynasty ruled India
until 200 BC. Thereafter many small dynasties followed. The Gupta dynasty in northern India
after 300 CE was a period of progress in many aspects of Indian life. The Muslim Mongol invaders started arriving in the 700s
AD. In 1398 AD the Mongol emperor Tamerlane captured Delhi. India
developed a sophisticated material civilization; cities, roads, and sewers were built. It also developed mathematics and other
branches of knowledge. Early in its history, a rigid caste system was introduced in India.
It still persists to this day.
HUANG HO (CHINA)
The Chinese (1027-256 BC) built an empire in China.
It had achievements in Iron, literature and the arts. The Chinese discovered paper, gunpowder, porceline, printing, and silk.
Confucius was a great philosopher who lived at this time. The empire broke up due to internal quarrels. Chinese were good
farmers. They built their first cities in 1766BC. They discovered how to make silk. They worshipped spirits and believed that
dead ancestors affected their lives. The big gap between the rich and the poor contributed to Shang decline and could not
unite to resist the Zhou invasion of 1122BC.
C. REGIONAL POWERS
Hitti: The Hittites lived along river Halys in modern-day Turkey.
Their civilisation (1900-1200 BC) was the first to use iron. They were weakened by rebellions.
The Persian empire (700 BC-331 BC). Persians were Aryans from the grasslands of Central Asia.
In about 2000 BC they settled in the area between the Persian Gulf and the Caspian sea.
In about 600 BC they were conquered by the Medes. The Medes were in turn defeated by the Persian king Cyrus who organized
an army that conquered a big empire stretching from Egypt
to India. Darius was one of the famous Persian kings. Persians
developed a strong administration. They worshipped several gods. In about 570 BC Zoroaster taught them a new religion based
on fire-worship. Persians were farmers and shepherds. They refused to be traders because it encouraged cheating and lying
although they allowed their subject people to engage in trade. They built roads and opened the silk caravan route from China.
They introduced the use of coins which facilitated trade. Persians were defeated by Alexander the Great in 31 BC. Later Persia
fell under Roman control. A new Persian empire under the Sassanid dynasty broke away from Roman control
and became strong under King Bahram (420-439 CE). This empire was brought to and end by the Islamic conquest in 643 CE.
Minoa: The Minoan civilisation grew and prospered on Crete island in the period 3000-1100
BC. It started in about 2800 BC. The Minoans were farmers and herders. They built ships and by 2000BC had become the world’s
first sea-faring civilization. They liked sports. They built cities. They worshipped many gods and the rulers were priest-kings.
By 1400 BC control of the sea passed to the Myceaneans. They were afflicted by a succession of earthquakes. They eventually
collapsed.It is not known exactly why the Minoans collapsed.
Mycenaeans: The Myceneans came from present-day Russia.
Around 2000 BC they settled in the lowlands of Greece. They were farmers, herders, and hunters. They learned writing, ship building and navigation
from the Minoans. Being warriors they replaced the Minoans by 1400 BC as a dominant power in the area. They attacked Troy and Asia Minor in the middle of
the 1200s BC. Due to civil wars the Myceneans weakened and were conquered by the Dorians. A general collapse of trade in the
Mediterranean followed for the next 800 years.
Greece: By 700 BC several Greek cities were established.
Each had 5000-10,000 citizens and the rest of the population were servants. The Greeks lived in the southern part of what
is today Greece. They constructed buildings and sculptures.They excelled in science, poetry, drama, and philosophy. The Greek city-states had
a flowering civilisation that produced intellectual giants.like Hippocrates,
Euclid, Archimedes, Plato, and Aristotle. Socrates taught people to think and to ask questions. Plato was a student of Socrates
who set up and taught at an Academy for 40 years. He taught order, did not like political liberty, and preferred rule by the
wise and the good. He put down his ideas in a book called ‘The Republic’. Aristotle taught logic. Thales taught
the scientific method. Hippocrates was a pioneer in medicine. A major contribution of Greeks to the scientific methodology
was their discovery that the world was governed by natural laws. The most famous Greek city states were Sparta
and Athens. By 500 BC Sparta had the
strongest army. It was first ruled by a King but in 800 BC the aristocrats took over power. All citizens were members of the
assembly. Land was worked by slaves and trade was left to traders. The aristocrats trained only for the army. Weak newborns
were abandoned to die in the hills. Boys started rigorous military training at the age of 7 years. Sparta
did not develop trade, use of money or literature; it remained a poor farming society whose only goal was military strength.
Sparta was defeated in 371 BC. Athens
was first ruled by Kings. By 750 BC the nobles took over and set up an oligarchy; democratic rights were expanded later. Education
was encouraged. In 490 BC Athens defeated the Persian army under Darius. The Persians
however returned in 480 BC and set Athens on fire; the Greeks however defeated
the Persian fleet and the Persian wars were over. Athens grew stronger which made
other Greek states jealous. This led to the Pelopeniusian wars that lasted for 30 years. In 404 BC Athens
surrendered to Sparta and started declining after that. Other city states declined
after that and all Greek city states were conquered by Philipp II of Macedonia
in 338BC. The Greeks worshipped many gods. They developed sports and the theatre.
Hellenistic period: This is the period during which Greek culture spread in Asia and North
Africa. Philip of Macedonia developed a standing army. He improved weapons and tactics. He was therefore able
to conquer Greek city states in 338 BC and prepared to attack Persia.
He died in 338 BC before accomplishing his ambitions. His son Alexander the Great completed the conquests. He crushed the
Persians and subdued territory from the Nile to India.
He built the city of Alexandria. He died in Persia
in 323 BC at the early age of 33 years. After his death the empire broke up. Greek culture however spread. Trade grew. However
due to economic decline, most Greek city states were under Roman control by 146 BC.
Phenecia: Phoenecia extended 320 km along the eastern coast of the Mediterranean. The Phoenicians
lived in Northern Canaan. They were of two groups: Canaanites (herders) and philistines (traders and
ship-builders). They were great sea-farers and had established overseas colonies such as Carthage
in North Africa. Phoenecians depended on trade by sea. They explored the seas guided by the stars.
They developed sophisticated business methods. Phoenicians developed an alphabet that is the forerunner of the Latin alphabet
used by Europeans today. They modified the Egyptian hieroglyphics system to produce their alphabet. The Greeks copied the
Phoenician alphabet. The Greek alphabet eventually became the Roman alphabet used today. Phoenecians were famous for the manufacture
of clothes. Phoenecia remained a collection of cities and never developed into one united state. The most important cities
were: Beirut, Tyre, Byblos,
and Sidon. Each city had a king. There were rivalries between cities. Carthage
was a Phoencian colony in North Africa founded in 814 BC. Being trading cities, the port was the most
important part of the city. The phoenecians believed in life after death. They copied the Egyptian tradition of embalming
the dead. They were subsequently conquered by Assyrians, Persians, the Greeks, and finally in 64 BC by the Romans
Kush: Kush was in the present-day Sudan lying on the NileRiver. Its history started in about 2000 BC. They were conquered by the Egyptian New Kingdom
and were controlled for 500 years. During this period they learned the Egyptian religion, worked in copper and bronze and
adapted the Egyptian hieroglyphics in about 300 BC to make their own system of writing. The Kushites worked iron and pottery.
Knowledge of iron working could have spread from Kush to the rest of Africa. They built pyramids. With the decline of Egyptian power they reclaimed their independence
and set up their capital at Napata on the Nile. Starting in 750 BC they invaded Egypt and controlled it for 70 years
until they were driven out by the Assyrians. The Kushites learned iron smelting from the Assyrians and made tools that helped
expand agriculture and trade. They remained a trading empire until they were defeated by Aksum (from Ethiopia)
in about 350 AD.
Ethiopia: Aksum was a trading country along
the Red Sea. Trade started in about 500 BC. By 350 CE Aksum was a powerful trading state in north-east
Africa and the Red sea. Aksum mixed
with and learned from Sabeans of the Arabian peninsula. They invaded and destroyed Kush.
Their King Ezana converted to Christianity in 324 AD. They developed a writing system and learned how to farm on terraces.
After 700 CE Aksum declined due to wars. With the rise of Islam they retreated into the interior where they lived in isolation
for 1000 years and became parents of later Ethiopian civilizations. About 1300 CE Christian kings of Ethiopia
who claimed descent from Queen Sheba started invading Muslim
states in the region. Muslims fought back after 1400 CE. A powerful Muslim commander, Ahmad Gran, invaded Ethiopia
that was saved from defeat by Portuguese intervention. Ethiopia
is the longest surviving Christian civilization; it retreated into the interior in inaccessible mountains.
Starting in 400 CE, Nuba nomads settled in the Kushitic towns. In the mid-6th century CE Christian monks arrived
and started converting people. By 600 CE all the leading people had accepted Christianity.. They developed a Christian civilization
that lasted over 600 years until defeated by the Ayyubids. This civilization made brilliant progress in building monasteries,
churches, schools, and towns. There were many beautiful works of art. Writing was developed in both Greek and Nubian. Good
relations were established with Egypt and Muslim traders.
Trade prospered. The Ayyubids conquered Nubia by the 15th
century CE and the whole of Nubia came under Muslim influence
while Christianity disappeared.
350 AD the people of Ghana learned how to smelt iron. They became middle men in the gold trade between the forest
area of West Africa and North Africa. Ghana had a big army. The King was pagan but many Muslim traders lived in the capital of Koumbi
Salleh that lies in modern-day Mauritania.
Zimbabwe: The Zimbabwe civilization
thrived in present-day Zimbabwe. It was settled in about 300
CE by farmers, herders, and iron smelters. Towards 1100 CE they started building in stone.
Olmecs:The Olmec civilization
started in 1000BC. The Olmecs lived on the southern coast of the Gulf
of Mexico. They were farmers and built stone cities. They had
hieroglyphic writing and a calendar. The civilization disappeared after 900 years.
Maya: The Mayans of Central America (300 BC-900 AD) were skilled mathematicians, astronomers, and architects but
did not discover the wheel. The Mayan civilization thrived in present-day Mexico
and Belize where ruins can be found even today. Their empire
began in 500 BC and reached a peak in 500 – 900 AD. The Mayans were farmers. They built stone cities that were linked
by roads. They were great traders trading in canoes along the coast. They adopted their own hieroglyphics writing from the
Olmecs. They discovered the zero and developed a counting system based on 20. Their astronomers could predict the eclipse.
They developed a calendar based on that of the Olmecs. Their calendar had 365 days in the year. They manufactured cloth and
paper. About 900 AD they disappeared for no known reason.
Aztecs: The Aztec, warlike farmers, developed their empire starting in the 1200s CE. The Aztecs came from northern
Mexico and settled at the present site ofMexico city. They started building a capital city in 1325 AD.
By 1400 they had a population of 5 million people. They went on to conquer neighboring people and built an empire. They had
advanced farming, curved stones. The capital, Tenochititlan, had pyramidal temples. The Aztecs however did not discover the
wheel. They worshipped a sun god and practiced human sacrifice. The empire reached its peak in the early 1500s under Montezuma.
The empire was completely destroyed in 1521 CE by Spanish invaders.
Incas: The Incas were farmers and herders. In 1438 they conquered neighboring people and established the Inca Empire.
They forced Inca religion and language on the conquered people. The Inca Empire stretched along the west coast of South
America for 4000 kilometers and had a total population of 12 million people by the 1500s. They had paved roads
and rope-suspended bridges that crossed canyons and rivers. They however developed no writing. The empire was destroyed by
the Spaniards in the 1500s CE.
D. THE WORLD EMPIRES
THE ROMAN EMPIRE, pax romana
Over-view of the Roman empire, pax
romana: The Roman Empire (735 BC-475 AD) isone of the greatest
empires in history. Romans ruled almost all of Europe. Rome
was a republic in 509-27 BC and an empire in 27 BC-180 CE. Romans were good administrators and law-givers. They fell because
of civil wars and assassinations. The western empire was destroyed by Barbarian invaders in 476 AD. The eastern empire lasted
until 1453 AD when the city of Constantinolople was conquered by Muhammad al Fatih
and was renamed Istanbul. At its peak the Roman empire
covered 5 million square kilometers and had 50 million citizens.
Start and rise of the Roman empire: The start of the Roman empire were legendary. The Etruscans
took control of Rome in 616 BC. The Romans learned a lot from the Etruscans as
they started building their empire. The Roman republic was headed by 2 consuls who had both to agree before a law was passed.
The consuls were helped by a senate. Tribunes were assemblies to which citizens were elected. Roman laws were written down
in 450 BC. Rome expanded and by 275 BC ruled the whole Italian peninsular. By
146 BC it ruled the whole Mediterranean. The Romans had a strong army. They fought Carthageans in what
were called the punic wars. The Romans eventually subdued the Carthageans after they mastered naval warfare. The empire continued
growing after that. Small farms were replaced by estates. Slavery was introduced to provide labor for the estates. People
forced to migrate to the cities lived in poor conditions. The empire started to weaken due to corruption, economic collapse,
and the wide gap between the rich and the poor. Attempts at reform by Tiberius and Garius were not successful. The generals
eventually took control. A triumvirate was set up with Caesar as a member. Caesar became dominant and by 46 BC he was sole
dictator of Rome. He tried to undertake reforms but was assassinated in 44 BC.
By 31 BC the republic was ended. Augustus became the ruler and reorganized the government. There was peace and trade increased.
By 125 AD Roman law was standardized. Leisure and games were developed.However
by 476 AD the empire had collapsed due to political instability, high taxation, inflation, and invaders.
Decline and fall of the Roman empire: In the late 300s AD, Huns led by Attila attacked the Goths (German tribes) and forced
them to seek shelter in the Roman empire. The Goths later rebelled and defeated the Romans captured
and looted in 410 AD but they moved on to conquer Spain and
did not establish a permanent presence in Rome. By 550 AD the Roman
empire in the west had collapsed and was replaced by several states. The eastern empire based at Constantinolople
persisted. Throughout the middle ages there were attempts to recreate the European system that collapsed with the end of the
Roman empire. The Franks were a Germanic people who controlled modern France
and West Germany and had converted to Christianity. One of
their rulers, Charles Martel, stopped the Muslim advance into France
at Tours in 711 AD. Charlemagne was a powerful Frankish king who united the tribes
and created a large empire by 800 AD. He was crowned emperor of the Romans by the Pope but his empire collapsed after his
death in 814 AD. The Holy Roman Empire continued in Germany
but as a weaker entity.
WESTERN EUROPE AFTER ROME
Cultural unity of Europe: Understanding of modern Europe requires careful study of the Roman
empire that had united European people under one political authority. Since the collapse of the empire, the church
played a role in maintaining a semblance of a European order. The Habsburg family played a role in the unity of Europe
because most royals were related by blood or by marriage. Several military adventurers including Napoleon and Hitler attempted
European political unity by force. Towards the end of the 20th century CE, Europe is moving
voluntarily to political unity. A European common market had been established as early as 1957. SeveralEuropean institutions like the European parliament and the European Monetary Unit. Full European political
unity is envisaged in the future.
The Christian Church: Christianity has played an important role
in the lives of people in many continents. After the collapse of the Roman empire, the Roman Catholic
Church remained as a European institution that filled the vacuum. Isa (PBUH) had 12 disciples who spread Christianity in the
then Roman empire. Early Christians were persecuted until Emperor Constantine gave them freedom by the edict of Milan.
Pax romana helped the spread of Christianity even when Christians were persecuted. In 312 AD Constatine I became a Christian.
The next emperor made Christianity the official religion of the empire. Towards the end of the 300s AD the New Testament was
accepted as a comprising the writings of Mathew, Mark, Like, John and the epistles of Paul. The Church became structured into
parishes and dioceses. By 600 AD the Archbishop of Rome was called the Pope but Greek-speaking Christians followed the archbishop
of Constantinople. As a result of disagreements, the church split into an eastern and a western wing
in 1054 CE. The western wing was called the Roman catholic Church and the eastern wing was called the Eastern Orthodox Church.
The middle ages and feudalism: During the middle ages, a feudal
society developed in Europe. It was an agrarian society based on inhuman exploitation of the serfs.
There was general insecurity and disorder in Europe during the middle ages. Ignorance was wide-spread
and Greek and Roman knowledge were forgotten. After the collapse of the western Roman empire, the church retreated into the
monasteries. Monks working in monasteries preserved Greek and Roman knowledge during the middle ages (500 AD – 1500
AD), the period between the fall of the Roman empire and the rise of modern times. The church called
for crusades which were wars to expel Muslims from Palestine and lasted 200 years.
Jerusalem was captured in 1099 AD and was looted. Salahuddin al Ayyuubi recaptured
the city in 1187 AD. The Church became powerful and cruel in the middle ages. Mercatile growth towards the end of the middle
ages manifested as new trading cities. Merchants in Genoa, Venice
and other cities became very wealthy. Professional guilds arose as the manufacturing industry developed. Europeans became
jealous of the Muslim control of Asian trade. They were also under military pressure of the Muslim Osmanli state that was
expanding into south and central Europe towards the end of the medieval period.
Renaissance: Towards the end of the middle ages, new ideas developed
in Europe that were to lead to the renaissance. The renaissance and rediscovery of lost Greek and Roman
knowledge. The rise of empiricism gave an impetus to science and technology. Renaissance started in Italian city states of
Florence, Venice, and the papal states.
It first spread to France and Germany.
It later reached England and Spain.
In 1440 CE had Gutenberg invented the printing press. This was the forerunner in the increased dissemination of knowledge
and information as well as mass communication. Renaissance ideas were able to spread quickly because of mass printing of books.
Reformation: The renaissance brought many political, religious
and intellectual changes. There was a lot of corruption in the medieval church and people asked for reforms which later gave
rise to the protestant movement. In the 1500s CE the protestant reformation led to another split in the western church into
the Catholic and several protestant churches. Since that time ecumenical movements have been trying to re-unite the church
with little success. Martin Luther started the reformation movement in Germany.
The Lutheran church was formed in 1524. Lutheran ideas spread to other parts of Europe resulting in
the setting up of protestant churches. In response the catholic church also underwent reform. King Henry VIII took England
out of the catholic church. The reformation led to religious wars that were fought between Protestants and Catholics from
the late 1500s to 1648.
Age of exploration: The year 1492 CE was a momentous one in the
history of the ummat because of the final expulsion of Muslims from the Iberian peninsula and the demise
of the Andalusian Islamic civilization. New Christian nations, Spain
and Portugal, arose on the peninsula. The Portuguese set themselves
the task of outflanking Muslim traders by looking for a direct sea-route to Asia to import goods instead
of middlemen in West Asia. In the late 1400s the Portuguese started the age of discovery. Under Prince
Henry the navigator they made rapid progress. They reached Senegal
in 1440 CE, Nigeria in 1472 CE, and River Congo
in 1483. The Portuguese captain Vasco da Gama finally reached India
in 1498. The Portuguese occupied trading stations on the East African coast, India,
and South-east Asia. They also established themselves in what later became the Portuguese-speaking
territory of Brazil. The Spanish soon
followed the Portuguese in exploration. Christopher Columbus under Spain
discovered America which led to Spanish conquistadors occupying
and settling in Central and South America. Ferdinand Magellan flying the Spanish flag was the first
to sail around the world. The French, English and Dutch sailed to North America in search for the north-western
passage to Asia and in the process discovered new lands. The Portuguese and Spanish empires declined
because of internal weaknesses (corruption, ignorance, cruelty, small populations) and many were taken over by the new rising
powers of France, England
Political revolutions in Europe: In 1642 a civil war broke out in England
between the King and Parliament. The American colonies rebelled and declared their independence from Britain
in 1776 and after a protracted war Britain surrendered in
1781. The French revolution breaking out in 1789 led to the overthrow of the monarchy and influenced political developments
elsewhere in Europe. Soon Napoleon Bonaparte appeared as the strong man of the French revolution. He
attempted by war to unite Europe and spread French ideas and culture. Napoleon controlled all of Europe
with the exception of England and Russia.
He was finally defeated in 1815 and died later in exile. The year 1848 witnessed revolutions in France
and other European countries but they failed to change the established order. The second half of the 19th century
saw growth of nationalism. The new nation states of Italy
and Germany were formed by union of hitherto independent small
states. Italian union was achieved in 1861 and German union in 1871. Nationalism and secularism replaced religion as the guiding
philosophies of European society.
The Agricultural revolution started in the 1750s. Improved methods
of cultivation produced more food to feed the growing populations. The scientific
revolution started with renaissance and reformation. New methods of
scientific thinking and investigation were developed. Empiricism developed and replaced the previous concepts based on speculation
and not empirical research. The industrial revolution had its beginnings in
the 1850s. It started in England and spread to Belgium,
France, and Germany.
New machines, new forms of energy, and new means of transportationwere discovered.
There was an immediate and profound social impact. The growth of new cities with migration of many people from the rural areas
led to social problems that in their turn called for social reform movements. The factories soon started producing more than
what the domestic market could absorb. Competition became very acute leading to industrial depression. Attempts to impose
high tariffs to keep out outside competition were not enough to solve the problems.
Economic and political imperialism: Industrial revolution and industrial
capitalism directly led to imperialism. The new factories needed raw materials. Markets had to be found overseas for their
products. Some Europeans wanted to get colonies overseas to raise the glory of their nation and satisfy nationalistic yearnings.
A few had a vague idea of mission civilicatrice, the duty of Europe
to bring civilization to backward races (the white man’s burden). Some Europeans worried about the cost of military
operations that would be needed to establish colonies; they were however reassured by European superiority in military technology
and tactics. Few questioned the morality of imperialism. It was generally justified on a racist basis that it was the right
of the advanced Europeans to control and exploit the non-whites and perhaps in the process transfer civilization to them.
The concept of colony also changed from a colony of settlement (European immigrants settled and colonized America
and Australia) to one of a colony of exploitation. European
financiers who had investments in Africa and Asia also exerted pressure on their
governments to impose colonial rule in order to protect their interests. Starting in 1884 there was a European scramble for
Africa; by 1914 only Ethiopia and Liberia
remained as independent countries in Africa. After the failure of the Indian rebellion in 1857, the
British government took over direct control of the whole of India.
Britain acquired Hong Kong after the
Chinese defeat in the opium wars. By 1901 China was under
European control and its independence was nominal. The French occupied Cochin
in China, Kampuchea,
and Laos and formed their Indo-Chinese colony. They also occupied
Tahiti. Britain occupied Fiji,
Solomon islands, Gilbert island, New
Guinea, and Borneo. By the close of the 19th century most
Latin American territories were at least nominally independent but European culture and economic interests spread.
Cultural imperialism: Europeans soon discovered that military and
political means were not sufficient to control the colonies. They therefore made efforts to introduce their religion, culture,
education, law, and ways of life with the aim of creating a native Europeanized class that would help them establish effective
control. The French were the most active cultural imperialists. Their policy of assimilation aimed at producing French-men
with black or brown skins who would think and act as the French thus serving and protecting the interests of France.
In the end cultural imperialism was more successful since it enabled Europeans to secure their economic interests even after
giving political independence to their former colonies. Thus cultural imperialism did not only facilitate political control
but laid the ground for neo-colonialism. By 1990 most Asian, African, and Caribbean territories had
won at least nominal independence but their economic resources and political destinies were tightly controlled by American
and European interests. This control is more sophisticated that that under direct colonial rule. It is mediated through nationals
of the countries who were educated and molded for their roles in western institutions and who returned to take positions of
The World Wars and aftermath: the first world war (1914-1918) and
the second world war (1939-1945) were in essence European civil wars but came to be considered world wars because Europeans
were controlling so much of the world that many non-Europeans were involved in the conflicts. The post-war years witnessed
a lot of social reform programs and more industrial development. These wars weakened Europe so much
that it was forced to give up its overseas territories. By 1990 virtually all former colonies were once again independent.
In 1949 NATO was formed. The European Community was formed in 1957. European nations are fast moving towards political unity.
These moves however can not mask the weaknesses that are manifesting as break-down of the family, falling populations, addiction
to drugs, lack of purpose, and vigor among the youths.
Emperor Constantine I moved the capital of the empire from Rome to
Constantinolople in 330 AD. When the western empire collapsed a century later, the eastern one persisted and prospered for
another 1000 years. Constantinolople was an important trade center and had a good defence system. The Justinian law code prevailed.
The Church was prominent. Monasteries provided social services. Arguments eventually led to a break between eastern and western
Christianity in 1054 AD. The empire later declined due to military weakness and invaders. In the early period of the Prophet’s
dawa mission in Makka, there was a military encounter between the then-superpowers of West Asia, Byzantium
and Persia. The Qur’an describes the differring sentiments
of the Muslims and the non-Muslims in Makka. The non-Muslims hoped for a Persian victory because Persians like pre-Islamic
Arabs were idolators. The Muslims hoped for a Byzantine victory. Abubakr made a wager with a non-Muslim and the Qur’an
was revealed about the initial defeat of the Byzantines and their eventual victory (p 516 30:2).The fortunes of Byzantium began to change for the worse wit
the rise of the Muslim state. Its territories in Syria and
Palestine were opened to Islam and it retreated to Anatolia.
Its Anatolian territories were gradually chipped away by the Seljuk and Osmanli states until it was It was eventually conquered
by the great Muslim commander Sultan Muhammad al Fatih in 1453 AD.
THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE, pax russica
Moscow was a small principality that grew into an empire. One of the
rulers, Ivan the Great, married the niece of the last Byzantine emperor and thought of himself as a successor to Byzantium
adopting many Byzantine ideas. Russia was in turmoil following
the death of Ivan the terrible who died in 1584. In 1613 the Romanov dynasty took over and ruled until 1917. Peter the Great
who ascended the throne in 1648 started modernizing Russia
along West European lines. The Russian empire spread to include many territories in Asia. The 19th
century was a time of much discontent because of the oppressive serfdom system. An attempted revolution in 1825 failed however
in 1862 Czar Alexander freed the serfs but they had no land of their own and had to become tenant farmers. Another uprising
in 1905 was put down. Russia entered the first world war and
its people suffered a lot of deprivations. This led to the successful 1917 revolt that overthrew the Czar and established
a communist government under Lenin. The new government took Russia
out of the war but soon a civil war broke out, 1918-1920, between monarchists and communists. By 1921 the communists were
victorious and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was
formed in 1922. Lenin died in 1924 and after a period of power struggles, Stalin asserted himself in 1928 as the new leader.
He pushed industrialization and collectivization which changed Russia
from a backward country to an industrial and military power.
THE JAPANESE EMPIRE, pax japanica
The Japanese empire was short-lived because it was based on narrow and extreme nationalism and racism. Japan
had resisted European influence until the Meiji restoration in 1868 when it opened its doors to European trade, knowledge
and technology. By the end of the 19th century Japan
was fully industrialized but managed to keep its independence. The need for land and raw materials set Japan
on a war of conquest in Formosa, Manchuria,
Korea and parts of Russia.
Later the whole of south-east Asia was overrun. Japanese rule was cruel and very exploitative. Japan
was defeated and occupied by popular rebellion and military action of the western allies led by the USA
towards the end of the World War II and it was forced to give up conquered territory.
THE CHINESE EMPIRE, pax sinica
The Chinese empire has expanded mostly within the borders of modern China.
Although many Chinese migrated to live outside China, no overseas
territories have been established.
BRITISH EMPIRE, pax brittanica
Pax Britannica (1600s- 1770s CE). Angles, Saxons, and Vikings were early invaders of England.
The Romans occupied England in 53 BC and left in 400 AD. The
Normans came in 1066 AD, defeated the Anglo-Saxons and started the English culture.
They also set up a feudal system. In 1255 AD the magna carta signed by the King guaranteed rule of law. In the 16th
century England started building a strong navy that made it
a superpower in the subsequent 2-3 centuries. Britain became
the richest and most powerful nation during the long reign of Queen Victoria
(1837-1901). At the peak of its power, Britain had an empire
over which the sun could not set. In the late 1800s the British empire was 41 square kilometers and
had 500 million subjects. The first and second world wars weakened Britain
a lot. By 1970 Britain had given up most of its overseas possessions.
The British were largely economic imperialists. They controlled territories to the extent that their commerce was facilitated.
They preferred tact and diplomacy to force whenever that was possible to secure their commercial interests. They made a long-term
investment when they selected children of the local elites and trained them to take over government after the end of direct
rule. This ensured continuation of the commercial benefits in the neo-colonial period.
THE AMERICAN EMPIRE, pax americana
The first British settlements in colonial America
were at Jamestown in 1607 CE. By 1733 there were 13 colonies along the Atlantic
coast. Many of the native Indians died from wars and new diseases introduced from Europe. The British
were successful over the French and the Spanish in the struggle for land in North America. High taxation
of Americans by the British provoked the war of independence that started in 1775 and was won by the Americans in 1781. In
1783 Britain recognized the independence of its American colonies.
A constitution was promulgated in 1789. Westward expansion occurred in the 18th and 19th centuries with
more migration from Europe (voluntary) and Africa (involuntary). About 28 million
migrated to America in the period 1830-1910 AD. The US
survived the civil war of 1861-1864 that was fought over slavery. After world war 1 the US
became a world power, a status it continues to enjoy today. America
has a strong economy, a simple and aggressive culture, and a youthful and vigorous population being replenished on a continuous
basis by migration.
E. ANALYSIS AND CONCLUSIONS
REASONS FOR RISE OF CIVILIZATIONS
Innovation and dynamism
Courage, adventurism and risk-taking
Law and Order
Outward-looking vs narrow ethno-centricism
Group feeling, ‘asabiyyat
REASONS FOR FALL OF CIVILIZATIONS
REVIVAL OF A CIVILIZATION
No civilization can be eternal
Once a civilization collapses it can not return (22:95)
Only the Islamic civilization can be revived after collapse
With the fall of communism, the world become uni-polar being dominated by America
and its European allies. China is a rising power with all
the characteristics needed to become a controlling world power. Other Asian countries have some economic development but have
no matching military power. Sub-Saharan Africa has many resources and people which are not exploited.
Europe and America have now entered
a period of civilizational decay that they refer to as post-modernism. They still however have a long time as a power. They
have managed to spread their culture and languages to many other parts of the world such that they make up by cultural domination
what they lack in military and economic domination. They have made their culture and way of life the standard that many people
in the world look up to. It is only Islam which at the moment can offer a credible opposition to Western cultural hegemony.