The Muslim 100 provides a highly readable, fascinating and equally inclusive exploration of over 1500 years of Islamic history, culture and civilisation through the lives and works of 100 most influential Muslims. Beginning with the Prophet of Islam in the early seventh century and concluding with Muhammad Ali in the twentieth century, this remarkable and encyclopaedic work unfolds the extraordinary contributions and achievements of some of Islam’s most influential and enduring personalities. For anyone interested in acquiring an intimate, interdisciplinary and multidimensional view of Islam as a global faith and culture through its kings and rulers, theologians and scholars, generals and sportsmen, architects and scientists, writers and poets, preachers and mystics, and many others –this is the book for you!
It has inspired numerous projects and initiatives, both in the Muslim world and the West, including publication of Islamic history books; launch of Islamic history websites, individual and institutional research projects, and bestowed on me a prestigious fellowship from one of the oldest learned society’s in the United Kingdom. More recently, this book has been recommended as one of the best ‘Modern Islamic History’ books. I am delighted that so many people – students, scholars, historians and general readers alike – have found this book accessible, informative and invaluable. This also explains why the demand for the book has continued unabated.
Over the last decade or so, I went through the book several times and made copious notes, correcting and improving the whole manuscript. Why? Because learning is a life-long journey and all true seekers of knowledge never cease to learn. Why? Because knowledge is like a sea without any shores or a road without any signs, and the more you travel, the more you learn and discover. In fact, as I continued to read and improve the book during the last 12 years, it became very clear that knowledge is but an inexhaustible ocean, emanating as it does from the All-Knowing (al-Alı˜m), the All-Encompassing (al-Waasi’), the Source of all knowledge (‘ilm) and wisdom (hikma), transcending both time and space.
Even after a whole lifetime devoted solely to learning, research and scholarship, we will only be scratching the surface! Alas, there is so much to learn, and so little time left! Despite our efforts, there is no doubt that some minor errors, factual or otherwise, may still remain. For this, we can only apologise and request forgiveness for our shortcomings. As the great polymath, Murtaza al-Husayni al-Zabidi (b. 1732-d. 1790) pointed out, even the finest of horses can stumble, the most accomplished athletes can falter; it is easy to criticise than compose, especially a wide-ranging book like this one; it is also easy to pontificate and pick holes than think out-of-the-box and write a new and challenging book; not copied or translated from others. If you think you can do better, then go ahead and do it; this is my challenge to my critic
Likewise, Aldous L. Huxley (b. 1894-d. 1963), the acclaimed English philosopher and novelist, wrote, ‘That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.’ But what actually is history? Abd al-Rahman ibn Khaldun (b. 1332-d. 1406), the father of the philosophy of history, wrote in his famous Muqaddimah fi’l Ta’rikh (Introduction to History), ‘History is a discipline that has a great number of approaches. Its useful aspects are very many. Its goal is distinguished. History makes us acquainted with the conditions of past nations as they are reflected in their national character. It makes us acquainted with the biographies of the prophets and with the dynasties and policies of rulers. Whoever so desires may thus achieve the useful result of being able to imitate historical examples in religious and worldly matters. The (writing of history) requires numerous sources and much varied knowledge. ’Few historians would disagree with Ibn Khaldun that writing history requires ‘numerous sources and much varied knowledge.’
I became fascinated by history, especially Islamic history, when I was in my early teens. To me the past is as important as the present, because without a proper understanding of the past we are unlikely to understand our present condition, and without a proper understanding of the present we will not be able to shape our future. Our past, present and future are therefore inter-connected and interdependent. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that our past is more important than our future, because we cannot control and shape our future if we are not aware of our past. Therefore, knowing and understanding our history is not optional: it is a necessity.
This book, begins with the advent of the Prophet Muhammad and ends in our own time. Additionally, I have not adopted a chronological approach to the study of Islamic history. Instead, in this book an attempt has been made to explore Islamic history through the lives, thoughts and achievements of one hundred of the most influential Muslims. Influence, based on their contributions and achievements, was therefore my main criterion for selection and inclusion in this book.
The Muslim 100 - Muhammad Mojlum Khan - Revised Edition - Kube Publishing, 2021- 9781847741707