Decisive Moments in the History of Islam
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DECISIVE MOMENTS IN THE HISTORY OF ISLAM BY MUHAMMAD ABDULLAH ENAN By the same Author 1. AlHakim biAmr Allah and the mysteries of the Fatimide Doctrine. Arabic 2. Ibn Khaldun his Life and Work English 3. History of the Inquisition and the Famous Trials of History. Arabic 4 MisrulIslamiah Islamic Egypt. Arabic 5. History of AlAzhar Mosque, Arabic 6. History of the Muslim Dynasties in Spain new and enlarged edition. Arabic Translated from the Second Arabic Edition Preface to the Second Arabic Edition THE original idea of this book is fully represented by its title. It deals with the decisive encounters between East and West,Islam and Christendom. This is one of the most important subjects of Islamic history, indeed perhaps the most important of all. Besides its abundant and eventful episodes, it throws much light on this eternal struggle between the East and West. The encounter of Islam and Christendom in the fields of war or peace, was always decisive and had the most farreaching effects on their destinies. Such is the field which inspired me with the idea of this work and most of its chapters, and from it I chose those decisive encounters which I here present to the reader. They are all united with this common bond, and all are representative of the idea. The book is not, therefore, as it may seem, at the first glance, a collection of miscellaneous studies but, with the exception of a few chapters, is a harmonious unity dealing with one and the same subject I did not, of course, deal with all such decisive events, the subject being so vast and inexhaustive, but have tried to present some of the most important and with most farreaching effects on the course of Islamic history, I have dealt with special care with two of these, namely, the Arab siege of Constantinople and the battle of Tours Pavement of the Martyrs, the greatest decisive encounters of Islam and Christendom. The failure of the Arabs, under the walls of Cons tantinople, was a check to the torrent of young Islam from penetrating into Europe from the East, and gave it a new life to the Byzantine Empire, which lasted for some more centuries. The retreat of the Arabs before the Franks, in the plains of Tours, was a check to Islam from penetrating into the nations of the West and the North, the seal of its victory in the West, the field of deliverance for Christendom, and the cradle of resurrection and life for the European nations. Likewise the victory of the Muslims in the plains of Zallaka was not only the victory of Muslim Spain it was the defeat of Christendom by Islam, and the prelude of the Crusades. And the Crusades were nothing but a new phase of this eternal struggle between East and West, and Islam and Christendom. The fall of Andalusia and the Moorish civilization was a blow not only to Islam, but to the greatness of Spain itself. Let us imagine for example that the Muslims conquered Rome instead of their failure under its walls, or that the Crusaders were able to crush Egypt and establish themselves in the East what would have then been the fate of Islam and the Tslamic world ? These decisive events and moments in the history of Islam and Christendom, are the data which supplied the subject of these studies. Many of them are very scantily dealt with by the Islamic Chronicles, and are seldom treated in our modern historical research. We are, therefore, obliged to refer for many of their details to Western sources and scholars despite their being often influenced by religious and national motives, which could be eli minated only by a dispassionate and impartial inquiry. Cairo, March 1943.