Factors Of Success

In the previous chapters the main topics of our discussion comprised of a survey of the political and social conditions attending upon the birth of Islam and the situation at its commencement.

Detailed description covering the environments prevailing in Arabia and the Hejaz region as the birth-place of Islam followed by pertinent information about Yemen, Omman and Iraq which at that time was under the government of Hira, and then about the regions of Shaam, Lebanon and Jordan a part of which was ruled by the Ghassanis having an Arab government.

This was followed by a description of the empire of Iran as the eastern neighbour comprising present Iran, a part of Uzbekistan, Azarbaijan, Russia and even a part of modern Turkey. Then followed the description of Roman empire comprising Syria, the Lebanon, Turkey, Bulgaria and present Greece. This was followed by a survey of Egypt which had only sparse population in the south, which too developed after Islam. Then we dealt with Abyssinia comprising the present Abyssinia and a part of Sudan.

Outside this circle of neighbouring territories, there remained two relatively civilised regions, namely India and China which were remote from the land of Islam and had almost no connection with the Islamic movement. For this reason no details have been discussed even though in the Prophet's time certain groups were sent to China specifically as missionaries to Tibet to invite people to Islam where they reached Tibet in the time of Abu Bakr.

In this part of the discussion it is intended to reach certain from the preceding discussion.


The leading conclusion from the preceding discussion is that the movement of Islam began in centrally located region which is now the geographic heart of the Islamic world, and was at that time completely backward civilisation. Scientific and technical resources were nor existent, nor did it have wealth or any form of a government.

Its people led a tribal life. The original base of the Islamic movement was surrounded by neighbours all of whom were well ahead in their civilisation and paid scant attention to this area because of their historical precedence.

The king of Persia Khusrow Parviz, had written to his envoy to go and see who was the one to have dared to write to him asking him "to accept monotheism in order to enter the garden of bliss". He wanted to know who was it that had the courage to address him at all! And ever if he had something to communicate he should have given due consideration to established protocol. He upbraided his governor in Yemen desiring him to chastise the writer for having addressed the Emperor of Iran!

The neighbouring countries regarded this region (Arabia) too worthless to maintain any contact with it. Even today no communications exist with neighbours and if one was to come out of Mecca and Medina, one would come across no habitation or water for a radius of several hundred kilometers, and although it borders onto the Red Sea, this sea is to no avail as it affords no source of irrigation.

It was too backward culturally and economically and even politically to have been able to influence any of its neighbours. In view of these conditions, what was it in the Islamic movement that enabled it to spread so rapidly and extensively in less than a quarter of a century and overcome all the neighbouring lands?

The causative factor may be considered from two angles, firstly about its effects on the people of Arabia itself and the deep transformation which resulted among them. What was it that made them undergo such a radical change?

How did the movement give them the competence and the ability to promote the mission of Islam? How could they so suddenly change from a tribal society into an organised central government, so that within two or three decades it came to be regarded as the model of a powerful state in the world? Whichever history one read one would witness mention of 'Umar bin-Khattab as a powerful and intelligent ruler.

Secondly, what attraction did the movement of Islam possess that it spread so rapidly over all the neighbouring lands? In a previous discussion it was stated by one of the participants that possibly the reason for such rapid progress was that heralded freedom and its breaking of social bonds and any movement which declared these goals, would have spread just as rapidly as Islam.

I postponed my reply to that question until now and I had purposely delved into the details of early history to show that had 70 or 80 years before the movement of the Prophet of Islam, the Mazdaki faith made its appearance in Iran al lowing a good deal of freedom and even license, but it failed to make any headway.

The faith of Manichaeus which gave an ideological code and which had appeared two or three (in one doubtful version about five) centuries before Islam in Iran, also gained no success. How was it, then, that this alien movement coming from a remote and strange land made such an overwhelming entry and so easily overcame all lands including almost the entire civilised world of the time?

To illustrate the importance of this matter, let us quote from a European subscriber to the Encyclopedia Britannica, also in order to know the point of view of an opposing source concerning the movement of Islam:

"Had a small Christian contingent been maintained in Arabia, that same emperor of Abyssinia alongwith the Christian government of that country would have been able to crush Muhammad (a.s.) in his cradle and destroy him, and Abyssinia would have succeeded in checking a movement which was to change the social, political and religious conditions of the world and cause a revolution in the political, social and religious conditions of the world."

This is the view of a Christian adversary whose observation "Muhammad would have been crushed in his cradle" reveals the degree of his animosity and rancour. It is therefore worth considering what spirit and moral power was inherent in this revolution that according to this Christian historian, even a small Christian contingent in Hejaz could have contained its progress in the initial stage.