Islamic Culture & Civilization

Durre Najaf

Islamic Culture & Civilization

According to Amir al Mumineen Ali (as):

“There is no greater heritage than culture.”

It is our moral responsibility to Mohammad Rasulullah (S) and his ‘itrat Tahirah (as) and our Awliya (ra) to preserve their richest cultures as heritage. Our goal is to help the young generation keep in touch with their cultural identity, inculcating in them pride about their rich legacy whilst being able to interact with other cultures without losing their uniqueness. Islamic culture and civilization is a term primarily used in secular academia to describe the Islamic cultural practices. As the religion of Islam originated in the 7th century Arabia, Arab customs and traditions became embedded in Muslim culture. With the rapid expansion of the Islamic empires, Muslims contacted and assimilated much from the Persian, Turks, Mongol, Indian, Malay, Berber and Indonesian cultures. Civilization is sometimes a controversial term which has been used in several ways. Primarily, the term has been used to refer to human cultures which are complex in terms of technology, science, politics and division of labour. Such civilizations are generally urbanized. The months of Muharram and Ramadan have great importance in the life of a Muslim and are an integral part of the Muslim culture. The following occasions are celebrated by Muslims: Eid, Mawlid, Lailat al Miraj and Haj amongst others. Muharram is commemorated around the world with great religious zeal. Hadith, Sirah and Sunnah have greatly influenced Art, literature, architecture and calligraphy in Muslim dominated areas especially. It was Al Imam al Baqir (as) and Abi Abdillah Al Imam Jafar us Sadiq (as) who conducted a series of Asb’aq to various groups of scholars and taught them several sciences. They in turn contacted the Greeks and Persians which enabled the transfer of this knowledge and in this manner philosophy and Hikmah, Arabic prose and poetry and other branches of science reached the nook and corners of the world. The influence of the Imami Talim – “Ikhwan us Safa” ultimately made possible the Renaissance of the Shariah in the Muslim world. It filtered through the distorted version that was a result of the amalgamation of the Shariah with the Greek philosophy which had been officially broadcast by the Abbasids to eliminate the Talim of Shariah.

Muslims recorded their own history and that of others. But they added insight to facts and gave to events, people, and places a philosophical dimension expressed in the universal history written by al Tabari of Baghdad, Sayedna Qadi al Nauman of Al Qahirah and Sayedna Idris Imaduddin of Yemen. These volumes present us history written as per scientific methodology. Islam originated and has developed in an Arab culture and other cultures which have adopted Islam have been influenced by it. Islamic culture inherited an Arab culture born in the desert which was simple, but by no means simplistic. It has an oral tradition based on the transmission of culture through poetry and narrative. However, it has been the written record that has had the greatest impact on civilization. Islamic civilization is based on the value of education, which both the Qur’an and Rasulullah (S) stressed upon. Like the human being, every civilization has a body and soul. The body of a civilization is its material achievements in terms of buildings, trade facilities, machinery and anything which reflects welfare and earthly advancement. Its soul is the set of principles and concepts which condition the behaviors of individuals and groups, their mutual relationships and their worldview. These are the elements which constitute the characteristics of the Islamic civilization. Islamic culture and civilization is based on Aqidah. Tawhid is the focal point which contributed to the rise and prosperity of Islamic culture and civilization. It rather concerns all peoples and nations and has echoes that reach different parts of the world. The culture and civilization is generous in that it welcomes people of the world. It contributed greatly to the advancement of science, knowledge and the values of justice, equality, beauty and virtue, regardless of race, color or even religion. Muslims and non-Muslims, be they Christians, Jews or secular, coexisted together within the Islamic civilization. The renaissance of Islam is flourishing in every part of the world and dedicated Muslims are trying hard to meet the challenges of modern times while remaining faithful to the values of their past.

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