Islam's Role in History
When the Muslims embarked on their spectacular career of conquests, they had to contend against the mighty empires of the Persians and the Byzantines. The sword lay with these empires and not the Arabs, the dwellers of the desert. If the Muslims won the day against the non-Muslims, such victory was as a result of the strength of their faith; not the sword. The people of these countries accepted Islam, of their own free will. The people of these conquered countries were given the option of either accepting Islam or paying a nominal tax and continue with their old religion.
When Syria was conquered by the Muslims, the Christians had the choice to migrate to other Christian territories. They however, chose to remain in Syria. This shows there was no compulsion on them to accept Islam. Similarly after the conquests of Egypt, the Muslims allowed the non-Muslims complete liberty in the profession of their religion. Indeed, the conversions to Islam in the conquered territories of Syria, Egypt and Persia was spread over more than a century. If Islam had spread through the sword, the conversions to Islam should have followed immediately after the conquests.
Islam in Spain
The Muslims ruled over Spain for some several hundred years. If the sword had been used to spread Islam, all the people of Spain would have been converted Muslims; this was not the case. Furthermore, the Muslims were eventually expelled from Spain. Therefore, if they would have used the sword for the spread of Islam, then they would have remained the masters of Spain.
Islam in Russia
The Muslims were the dominant power in Russia for over two hundred years. If they had used the sword to convert the people to Islam, there would be no non-Muslim in Russia today. The very fact that the Muslims lost Russia, shows that no attempt was made to spread Islam through the sword.
Islam in Eastern Europe
The Ottoman Turks were the masters for the eastern part of Europe for more than a century. If the Muslims had employed the sword for the conversion of the people to Islam, there would be no Christians in Eastern Europe today.
Islam in the Lands under the Occupation of the Non Muslims
During the course of history, the Muslims had to withdraw from many lands. If Islam had been spread through the sword, the people of such lands, if they would have accepted Islam under any compulsion, would have reverted to their original religions after the withdrawal of the Muslims from such lands. This however, did not happen, which shows that Islam with such converts was a matter of conviction and not a matter of compulsion or force.
Conversion of the Mongols to Islam
When the Mongols dismantled the Abbaside Caliphate and occupied the Muslim lands, they held the swords over the heads of the Muslims. Although Christianity tried its best to convert the Mongols, they failed and the Mongols accepted Islam. Their original aim had been to destroy Islam; so their conversion to it instead, showed that they accepted it not out of any compulsion, but because they were convinced Islam was a superior faith.
Islam in Indonesia and Malaya
No Muslim power ever led any Muslim force to these lands in South east Asia. Islam was carried to these lands by Muslim traders and preachers.
The Holy Qur'an is not a book in of history, but many historical events are referred to in it, and we have been required to learn from history. In the opening chapter of the Holy Qur'an, we are required to pray to Allah to show us the right way - not the way of those on whom His wrath has fallen. There are references to the old nations who deviated and were punished by Allah. We have also been told that the Holy Prophet (S) of Islam is the seal of the prophets and that there would be no more prophets after him. Thus with Islam, mankind has come of age, and that thereafter there would be no need of any further guidance. Indeed, history begins with Islam. All accounts previous to the advent of Islam are mere legends. Islam has made history.
According to Islam the people are required to establish Allah's rule on earth and to act on behalf of Allah in accordance with His commands. As such according to the Islamic point of view, all that happens in history is a manifestation of the Will of God.
Apart from the punishment that is to be awarded in the Hereafter, Allah punishes the people for their sins in this world as well. Allah may punish people through natural calamities such as floods, fires, famines, epidemics, earthquakes etc. He may also choose one set of people to punish another set of people. Allah gives ample opportunity to the people to reform themselves and follow the straight way, but when they persist in following the wrong way, they cannot escape the wrath of Allah.
Many instances in Islamic History show that a higher power is at work to make history. For instance, no one could imagine that the Arabs, the dwellers of the desert, would overthrow the mighty empires of the Persian and the Byzantines. When Baghdad fell, and the Abbaside Caliph was trampled to death under the hoofs of the Mongol horses, no one could ever dream that these people, so hostile to Islam would be converted to Islam. When the Umayyads were the masters of Spain, who could foretell that after eight hundred years of rule, the Muslims were to be expelled from Spain. Who could imagine that the Turks would establish one of the largest empires in history.
Indeed there are many events in history which cannot be predicted. Therefore, it is obvious that there is some mysterious power which shapes the course of history; this power is Allah.
The western historian seeks to interpret the events of history according to the law of cause and effect; whereas a Muslim historian is to interpret history according to the will of Allah. Therefore, while secular history is man oriented; Islamic history is God oriented.