Event Review: “Islamic History & Civilisation” with Ustaz Nasir Johari
What: Youth aLIVE Discourse – The Series
“Glorifying our Heritage, Emulating the Legacy – inspirations from our Islamic Civilisation”
Where: MUIS Auditorium
Who: Dr. Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied, Ustaz Muhammad Fizar Zainal, Ustaz Muhammad Nasir Johari
When: 18th May 2013 9am-5pm
By: a.L.I.V.E. MUIS[/box_dark]
The 5th run of Youth aLIVE Discourse certainly lived up to its promise of inspiring its audience through Islam’s colourful past with its three truly inspiring lectures that brought the audience on a journey that began from the introduction, spread and influence of Islam in the Malay world to a brief historical lesson on the different Islamic empires and their influence on the world and finally culminating in a lesson on how to truly appreciate the message behind Islamic art and architecture that can be easily found in our present time.
Interactions with Ustaz Nasir Johari: “Islamic History & Civilisation”
It is an almost impossible task to explain a vast, rich and colourful history of a 1400-year-old civilization into two hours. But that did not deter Ustaz Nasir Johari as he brought the audience on a roller coaster ride through Islam’s glorious past and the many revolutionary inventions and philosophies that it had produced.
A graduate from the International Islamic University of Malaysia with a Bachelor’s degree in Comparative Religion, Uztas Nasir likened Islamic history to the concept of the stand up comedy program “Whose line is it anyway?”
In the program, a group of actors and a host would act out different scenarios, many times to the embarrassment of the actors themselves, so as to provide endless laughter and entertainment for the audience.
Ustaz Nasir explained that the history of Islamic Civilization is somewhat similar as although it was fraught with murders and wars, the inventions and perfections that were produced were of profound benefit to the world.
He then took the audience through a brief history of Islam that began with the reign of the four Righteous Caliphs and ended with the downfall of the Ottoman Empire.
Khulafa Arrasyidin (632 – 661 AD)
The four Righteous Caliphs Abu Bakar RA, Umar RA, Uthman RA and Ali krwj had to wage campaigns against apostate tribes, external threats from other kingdoms and internal political strife. Umar RA was the first to set up the Registry Office and Office of Law & Enforcement while Ali krwj dispatched several of the Sahabahs to various parts of the world to spread the message of Islam.
Ummayyah (661-750 AD)
Muawiyah, the first Ummayyah Caliph, moved capital of the Islamic Caliphate from Madinah to Damascus in Syria. The Ummayyahs also built the present structure known as the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem in 691 AD and established the Muslim rule of Andalusia, Spain in 756 AD.
In Andalusia, the Ummayah Amir or leader, build the La Mezquita mosque in 785 AD which is famous for its interlinked arches which were designed to look like date trees. The architecture of many buildings in Andalusia also displayed the concept of symmetry and balance in Islam.
Andalusia eventually fell to the Catholic Reconquistas that began with the fall of Toledo in 1085 AD and ended with the fall of Granada in 1492AD.
Abbasiah (749-1258 AD)
Founded by a man named Abu Abbas As-Suffah, the Abbasiah Dynasty began with the dark agenda of the extermination of the Ummayyahs. The Abbasiah rule however did give birth an Islamic cultural and intellectual renaissance, especially in the city of Baghdad, when it was under the rule of the Harun Al-Rashid. The Bayt al-Hikmah or House of Wisdom was built and housed a plethora of academic books and the academics themselves who were vital in the invention and perfection of many tools, systems and philosophies before it was burned down by the Mongols.
Shii Fatimis (969 – 1171 AD), Seljuks (1038 – 1194 AD), Ayyubiah (1169-1260 AD) & Mamluks (1250-1517 AD)
The Shii Fatimis came to power in 969 AD and established their capital in Cairo, Egypt and were responsible for the construction of the Al-Azhar mosque and university.
The Sunni Ayyubiahs defeated the Fatimis in 1169 AD and converted many of the conquered regions into Sunni. A famous individual of the Ayyubiah dynasty was Salahuddin Ayyubi who restored Jerusalem to the Muslims in 1187AD.
The Mamluks defeated the Mongols in 1260 AD, which resulted in many of the Mongols converting into Islam.
The Seljuk Turks defeated the Byzantines and established themselves in Anatolia in 1071 AD.
Uthmaniah (1281 – 1924 AD)
In 1288 AD, a Turk by the name of Uthman dreamt of a huge tree with a lot of branches and took it upon himself to create his own Muslim empire, which is known as the Uthmaniah Dynasty, or more commonly, the Ottoman Empire.
The Uthmaniah Dynasty was responsible for the conquests of Constantinople (present day Istanbul) from the Byzantines and Egypt and Syria from the Mamluks. They also set up embassies in European capitals but started to decline when they became bankrupt as a result of foreign loans and ended with the setting up of the Turkish state by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1923 AD.
Your CV, My CV
Ustaz Nasir then conducted an exercise called Your CV, My CV where the audience had to go around asking each other several questions that were provided such as “Who likes to eat cheese?” and “Who still uses bar soap?”
He then explained that the items and subjects of these questions owe their existence to Islamic Civilizations and the intellectuals who discovered them.
Several of these discoveries include:
1) Fountains & Gardens
– There were widespread construction of fountains and walled gardens throughout the Muslim world such as in the Alhambra in Spain, Taj Mahal in India and buildings in Persia.
– Muslims were reported to be the first to use mobile hospitals during the Battle of Badr where Muslim women would attend to the sick and injured.
– The first hospital was built in Damascus under the orders of Caliph al-Walid in 706 AD.
3) Sherbert drinks
– Derived from the Arabic word ‘Shariba’, it is made from fruit juices and flower & herb extracts that would be mixed with sugar and water to form syrup. This syrup would then be mixed with water, ice or snow.
– Coffee was reported to have been discovered by an Ethiopian goat herder who noticed that his goats would turn restless after eating a certain type of bean.
– It became popular amongst the Yemeni Sufis who drank it to help them perform their Dzikr.
– A polymath whose real name is Abu al-Hasan Ali Ibn Nafi.
– He introduced the concept of fine dining through a three-course menu of soup, the main meal and dessert.
– He also refined dining further by introducing the use of clear, crystal cups where the colour and consistency of drinks are visible.
– He also played a fundamental role of establishing Muslim fashion and music.
6) School and Education
– Libraries owe their origins to the Bayt al-Hikmah while the term Bachelor’s degree is actually a degenerate form of the Arabic word Bihaqq al-Riwayah.
– Muslim scholars such as Al-Khwarizmi and Jabir Ibn Hayyan introduced several theories of Mathematics and Chemistry.
To conclude, Ustaz Nasir stressed the need for Muslims to look upon the everyday instruments that we use and see the link that it has to Islamic Civilization so as to appreciate its origins and emulate its inventors who strived to improve and benefit society through their work.
Bio of Speakers
– Dr. Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied
- Assistant Professor in Department of Malay studies, NUS
- PhD from School of Oriental and African Studies
- Actively involved in various projects for social reform and youth development.
– Ustaz Muhammad Fizar Zainal
- Left secular education after GCE ‘O’ Levels to pursue Arabic Literacy in Yemen and Syria
- Previously a trainer of Youth aLIVE trainers
- Head of Education, Research and Training, Safinah Institute
– Ustaz Muhammad Nasir Johari
- Holds a Bachelor’s degree in comparative religion from the International Islamic University of Malaysia
- Youth aLIVE Trainer
Attendance: Approximately 98 pax.
Comments by Attendees
Syazwan, 14, Secondary 2 student in Raffles Institution:
“I learned to appreciate Islam architecture more and can see that Islam is growing.”
Zahara, 22, Student
“I felt that Dr Khairudin’s talk was really engaging and influential.”
Added that she now knows more about how the Malay Islamic Empire was formed.
Muhammad Ilham Othman
An aspiring writer currently studying Journalism and Media Studies. One who is also constantly trying to better himself for Allah SWT.