Historical Reprints Religion New World of Islam, The

New World of Islam, The

New World of Islam, The
Catalog # SKU3269
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Lothrop Stoddard
ISBN 10: 1610336267
ISBN 13: 9781610336260


The New
World of Islam

Large Print

Lothrop Stoddard

The entire world of Islam is to-day in profound ferment. From Morocco to China and from Turkestan to the Congo, the 250,000,000 followers of the Prophet Mohammed are stirring to new ideas, new impulses, new aspirations. A gigantic transformation is taking place whose results must affect all mankind.

--New Edition, large 15 point font



This transformation was greatly stimulated by the late war. But it began long before. More than a hundred years ago the seeds were sown, and ever since then it has been evolving; at first slowly and obscurely; later more rapidly and perceptibly; until to-day, under the stimulus of Armageddon, it has burst into sudden and startling bloom.

The story of that strange and dramatic evolution I have endeavoured to tell in the following pages. Considering in turn its various aspects-religious, cultural, political, economic, social-I have tried to portray their genesis and development, to analyse their character, and to appraise their potency. While making due allowance for local differentiations, the intimate correlation and underlying unity of the various movements have ever been kept in view.

Although the book deals primarily with the Moslem world, it necessarily includes the non-Moslem Hindu elements of India. The field covered is thus virtually the entire Near and Middle East. The Far East has not been directly considered, but parallel developments there have been noted and should always be kept in mind.


The rise of Islam is perhaps the most amazing event in human history. Springing from a land and a people alike previously negligible, Islam spread within a century over half the earth, shattering great empires, overthrowing long-established religions, remoulding the souls of races, and building up a whole new world-the world of Islam.

The closer we examine this development the more extraordinary does it appear. The other great religions won their way slowly, by painful struggle, and finally triumphed with the aid of powerful monarchs converted to the new faith. Christianity had its Constantine, Buddhism its Asoka, and Zoroastrianism its Cyrus, each lending to his chosen cult the mighty force of secular authority. Not so Islam. Arising in a desert land sparsely inhabited by a nomad race previously undistinguished in human annals, Islam sallied forth on its great adventure with the slenderest human backing and against the heaviest material odds. Yet Islam triumphed with seemingly miraculous ease, and a couple of generations saw the Fiery Crescent borne victorious from the Pyrenees to the Himalayas and from the deserts of Central Asia to the deserts of Central Africa.

This amazing success was due to a number of contributing factors, chief among them being the character of the Arab race, the nature of Mohammed's teaching, and the general state of the contemporary Eastern world. Undistinguished though the Arabs had hitherto been, they were a people of remarkable potentialities, which were at that moment patently seeking self-realization. For several generations before Mohammed, Arabia had been astir with exuberant vitality. The Arabs had outgrown their ancestral paganism and were instinctively yearning for better things. Athwart this seething ferment of mind and spirit Islam rang like a trumpet-call.

Mohammed, an Arab of the Arabs, was the very incarnation of the soul of his race. Preaching a simple, austere monotheism, free from priestcraft or elaborate doctrinal trappings, he tapped the well-springs of religious zeal always present in the Semitic heart. Forgetting the chronic rivalries and blood-feuds which had consumed their energies in internecine strife, and welded into a glowing unity by the fire of their new-found faith, the Arabs poured forth from their deserts to conquer the earth for Allah, the One True God.

Thus Islam, like the resistless breath of the sirocco, the desert wind, swept out of Arabia and encountered-a spiritual vacuum. Those neighbouring Byzantine and Persian Empires, so imposing to the casual eye, were mere dried husks, devoid of real vitality. Their religions were a mockery and a sham.

Persia's ancestral cult of Zoroaster had degenerated into "Magism"-a pompous priestcraft, tyrannical and persecuting, hated and secretly despised. As for Eastern Christianity, bedizened with the gewgaws of paganism and bedevilled by the maddening theological speculations of the decadent Greek mind, it had become a repellent caricature of the teachings of Christ. Both Magism and Byzantine Christendom were riven by great heresies which engendered savage persecutions and furious hates. Furthermore, both the Byzantine and Persian Empires were harsh despotisms which crushed their subjects to the dust and killed out all love of country or loyalty to the state. Lastly, the two empires had just fought a terrible war from which they had emerged mutually bled white and utterly exhausted.

Such was the world compelled to face the lava-flood of Islam. The result was inevitable. Once the disciplined strength of the East Roman legions and the Persian cuirassiers had broken before the fiery onslaught of the fanatic sons of the desert, it was all over. There was no patriotic resistance. The down-trodden populations passively accepted new masters, while the numerous heretics actually welcomed the overthrow of persecuting co-religionists whom they hated far worse than their alien conquerors. In a short time most of the subject peoples accepted the new faith, so refreshingly simple compared with their own degenerate cults. The Arabs, in their turn, knew how to consolidate their rule.

They were no bloodthirsty savages, bent solely on loot and destruction. On the contrary, they were an innately gifted race, eager to learn and appreciative of the cultural gifts which older civilizations had to bestow. Intermarrying freely and professing a common belief, conquerors and conquered rapidly fused, and from this fusion arose a new civilization-the Saracenic civilization, in which the ancient cultures of Greece, Rome, and Persia were revitalized by Arab vigour and synthesized by the Arab genius and the Islamic spirit. For the first three centuries of its existence (circ. A.D. 650-1000) the realm of Islam was the most civilized and progressive portion of the world. Studded with splendid cities, gracious mosques, and quiet universities where the wisdom of the ancient world was preserved and appreciated, the Moslem East offered a striking contrast to the Christian West, then sunk in the night of the Dark Ages.

However, by the tenth century the Saracenic civilization began to display unmistakable symptoms of decline. This decline was at first gradual. Down to the terrible disasters of the thirteenth century it still displayed vigour and remained ahead of the Christian West. Still, by the year A.D. 1000 its golden age was over. For this there were several reasons. In the first place, that inveterate spirit of faction which has always been the bane of the Arab race soon reappeared once more. Rival clans strove for the headship of Islam, and their quarrels degenerated into bloody civil wars. In this fratricidal strife the fervour of the first days cooled, and saintly men like Abu Bekr and Omar, Islam's first standard-bearers, gave place to worldly minded leaders who regarded their position of "Khalifa"1 as a means to despotic power and self-glorification.

The seat of government was moved to Damascus in Syria, and afterward to Bagdad in Mesopotamia. The reason for this was obvious. In Mecca despotism was impossible. The fierce, free-born Arabs of the desert would tolerate no master, and their innate democracy had been sanctioned by the Prophet, who had explicitly declared that all Believers were brothers. The Meccan caliphate was a theocratic democracy. Abu Bekr and Omar were elected by the people, and held themselves responsible to public opinion, subject to the divine law as revealed by Mohammed in the Koran.

450 pages - 7 x 8½ softcover
ISBN-10: 1610336267
ISBN-13: 9781610336260

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