The Historical Role Of Islam has 20 ratings and 6 reviews. Shadin said: This book helps me to rethink about the origin of Islam. M.N Roy described shor. The historical role of Islam by Manabendra Nath Roy, , Vora & Co. edition, Microform in English – Fifth Impression. Historical Role Of Islam Bookyards is the world’s biggest online library where you can find a large selection of free ebooks. Download or Author, M. N. Roy.
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Roy was greatly attracted towards Marxism though later on he renounced his Marxist views and became a secularist and rationalist. He was critical of traditional religion and wanted a secular state to remain away from religious ideologies and religious institutions to maintain its secular character. However, he was highly appreciative of democratic and egalitarian character of Islam and Islamic teachings.
Islam, besides other things greatly stressed the importance of justice. Justice forms one of the core teachings of Islam.
It lays great emphasis on all forms of justice, social, economic as well as gender justice. However, Islamic society, which ought to have been an exemplary just society histofical degenerated into tyrannical hierarchical society. Feudalism and feudal values overwhelmed Islamic values and Islamic revolution was undone within three decades of its inception.
Imam Husain, the grandson of the Prophet made a lastly attempt to restore Islamic values through his martyrdom but his was the last protest. It lost its revolutionary thrust and did not challenge the personal tyrannical rule and various dynastic rulers captured power. Roy was from a Brahmin family from West Bengal.
He began to take part in underground revolutionary activity at the age of His revolutionary zeal took him to various countries in search of arms from Java to Japan isllam China to Isllam Francisco to Mexico. In Mexico he joined Mexican Gole Party. Thereafter Roy went to Moscow in and met Lenin to discuss with him the national liberation movements in colonial countries.
His commitment and intellectual sharpness enabled him to occupy high positions in all policy-making bodies of the Communist International. Roy came to India in incognito but was arrested in July and was tried and sentenced to imprisonment for 12 years for conspiring to overthrow the British Government. However, his sentence was reduced to six years on appeal. He completed the sentence in and was released from Jail.
He appealed to Indians to join Indian National Congress in millions. He wanted the Congress leaders to thoroughly democratise the Congress and build it from village and Taluka level. He wrote Historical Role od Islam during this period in when he was struggling for thorough democratisation of society. It was during this struggle that he realised the importance of the role Islam had played in history.
As for prejudice against Muslims and Islam Roy ascribes it to the relationship between the conquerors and the conquered. Spiritual imperialism is an outstanding feature of our nationalist ideology.
Hardly fifty years had passed since Mohammad assumed the role of the singular Prophet spreading his Message of peace at the point of the sword, when his followers victoriously planted the banner of Islam on the confines of India, on the one hand, and on the shores of the Atlantic, on the other. Roy, with his Marxist background and sharp intellect could penetrate to the causes of the rapid spread of Islam with its revolutionary message.
Roy, unlike other historians or interpreters of Islam did not confine this understanding to the religious and spiritual side of Islam but brought to the front its political side and rich cultural contribution. In the initial stages of its history, it was essentially a call for the unity of the nomadic tribes inhabiting the Arabian desert.
Christianity at one time had given the oppressed of the world a hope but once opted by the Roman empire it lost its revolutionary character and degenerated into a prop for the oppressive empire.
There is great need to understand this character of Islam. It was revolt against the corrupt and exploitative establishment. It is this revolutionary and political character of Islam that attracts M. Roy, himself a one time revolutionary. Their devoutness might have been fortified by superstition, but was not strained by hypocrisy. Their fanaticism was softened by generosity and sound common-sense.
Their ambition was remarkably free from selfishness. Roy, in order to prove his point, quotes from the advice given by the first Caliph Abu Bakr to his followers, which explains why Islam attracted people to its fold. Be valiant; die rather hisrorical yield. Be merciful; slay neither old men, nor women, nor children. Destroy neither fruit trees, nor grains, nor cattle. Keep your word even to your enemy. Molest not those men who live retired from the world.
The early historians of Islam like Baladhuri also point out that oppressed people of Roman Empire opened the doors of strong citadels as these invaders were seen as liberators. And this is precisely what happened and the ruler of Sassanid Empire had to run for his life. The slaves and oppressed peasants welcomed these simpleton Bedoins as their liberators. Fanatically faithful to the revolutionary teachings of the Prophet, and obediently acting according to the noble wise and eminently practical injunctions of the Khalif, the Saracen invaders historcial enlisted the sympathy and support of the peoples they conquered.
No invader can establish an abiding domination over conquered peoples, except with their active support or tacit rooe. Roy could easily understand this revolutionary character of teachings of Islam and dynamism of early Islamic history because he himself was a revolutionary and histrical fighting against the tyrannical rule of colonial establishment and wanted to see India transformed into a just and democratic society. Islam played great role in transforming the primitive tribal Arabia into a most powerful and most modern empire according to the standards of those days.
Russia, the then primitive from the then contemporary standards of Europe was transformed into most modern and dynamic nation of its time after revolution. This was possible in Arabia because of revolutionary teachings of Islam on one hand, and, because of supreme sacrifices and simple life pattern adopted by the Prophet and his close companions.
Roy gives few examples of the style of those early revolutionaries. Then he gives example of Omrou.
The following remarkable passage occurs in his report to Khalif Omar: But the riches they extract are unequally shared between those who labour and those who possess. The idea of social equity was unknown in all the lands of ancient civilisation. The toilers, either as slaves or as sudras were object of contempt and exploitation. They were hardly considered as human beings. The economic principle, primitively formulated in the memorable injunction of the first Historicwl, evolved out of the interest of the Arab traders, revolutionised the old social idea.
A part of the wealth produced by the toiling masses, when left with themselves, becomes a powerful impetus to trade. In his administration of the conquered kingdoms of the Pharaos and the Ptolmies, the Historkcal warrior sought with success to mend glaring inequities that had offended his poetic vision. Egypt, robbed and despoiled for centuries by the Greeks and the Romans, prospered under the Saracens.
Roy was also aware that the state of war and conquest did not last for ever. It was but a temporary phase. The Arabs and other Muslims showed their intellectual calibre too and also engaged in trade and industry. The Saracens some suggest it is corrupted form of sehranashin i. War was no longer the passion and proud profession of the Saracens, because they had found interest and delight in a peaceful world created by the prowess of their forefathers.
The progeny of the intrepid heroes, who had flocked to the belligerent standard of Abu Bakr and Omar, with the hope of paradise and incidentally earthly spoils, found the modest occupation of trade and industry more profitable, and science and philosophy more gratifying.
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It is interesting to hisforical that prosperity and valour in battlefield do not go together. Prosperity and intellectual pursuits did have telling effect on the Muslim valour and they fell easy prey to Mongol hordes who sacked Baghdad in The Persians sunk in prosperity and luxurious living could not face the Bedouins charged with zeal of new faith and devoid of soft life but few hundred years later, Fakhri points out, the same Arabs, now used to soft life and luxurious living could not stand up to the Changezi hordes fired with the zeal of conquering the world.
Roy also counters the myth that Islam and war go together. He maintains that it is gross misunderstanding of history to confound Islam with militarism.
He rightly points out that the prophet of Islam was not the Prophet of Saracen warriors but of Arab Merchants of Mecca. The very name of his religion Islam means to make or making of peace indicates his aim. Thus his aim was to establish peace in the world. Peace on earth, Roy says was of immediate importance, and greater consequence.
Even the temporal interest of Arabian merchants required it; for trade thrives under peaceful conditions.
The Historical Role Of Islam
Roy points out that the main arteries of international trade of the medieval world ran through the countries which embraced Islam and were united in the Saracen Empire. The northern routes of trade with China, which passed through Constantinople to Italy and other countries of Western Europe, had become extremely risky owing to the Scythian inroads and ruinous fiscal policy of the Byzantine Empire. After their conquest of Syria, Mesopotamia, Persia and the territories across the Oxus, the Arabs captured the Chinese trade and diverted it to pass through their domain of North Africa and Spain, ultimately to reach the markets of Western Europe.
During the eighth to the eleventh centuries, practically the entire trade between India and China, on the one hand, and Europe, on the other, was done by the Arabs. Thousands of traders travelled with their caravans loaded with precious cargoes. They were not persecuted or detested as their kind had been in all the countries of antique civilisation with the honourable exception of Greece.
In the Empire of Saracens they belonged to the ruling class. Roy points out that Islam promoted trade unlike feudal monarchs of ancient empires persecuted traders and levied heavy taxes on them.
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Thus Islam represented progressive forces as against feudal monarchy. Thus Bu was of great help in promoting world trade and so also paved way for peace and prosperity not only in Arabia but also in other countries liked together by way of trade. Roy repeatedly stresses that Islam did not promote war but peace. Accept the Koran or pay tribute to the Saracen conqueror!. The Sword of God was unsheathed only when neither of the alternatives was accepted.
The economic interest of the Arab trader, which produced the monotheistic creed of Islam, was antagonistic to the indiscriminate bloodshed. The lands through which the trade-routes lay must be conquered and brought under the domination of the unitary state.
The object would be all the better realised, should the conquered peoples accept the new religion; for, then the Unitarian State would be established on a solid foundation.
However, Roy also points out that production and consumption of commodities are the essential factors of trade. Therefore, it was not compatible with the historic role of Islam to massacre the artisan and peasant masses, or to destroy opulent cities for the impiety of rejecting the Koran. What was necessary was their subjugation to the believers of the new creed. Under the domination of the followers of the Prophet, unbelieving peoples were allowed to hold their imperfect faiths and to continue histprical perverse worships.