A Look At The Early Islamic Civilisation, By Sayyid Qutb
“The bond of faith and ideology is a free one which human beings choose by their own free-will, after proper consideration and study. The other ties are not only more fitting for animals, but are also imposed on man and he has no say in them.
No human being can change his family descent or the race to which he belongs Nor does he have any choice of the colour of his skin. All these matters are settled before he is even born. The same applies to the land or the country of his birth and the language he speaks as a result of being raised within his particular community. Man has certain material interests and a common destiny with others, but these are also very difficult to change, because they apply to him as well as to his community. There is little room for man’s free-will in all these matters. For this reason, Islaam does not adopt any of these as the basic bond uniting its community.
Faith, ideology and its practical approach of implementation are all matters of free choice. At any moment, a human being can declare his choice of these and determine the community to which he wishes to belong. No restriction is imposed on this choice as a result of man’s colour, language, race, descent, the land of his birth or his material interests which may change from one community to another…
The concrete remarkable result of this attitude was that the Islamic society became an open and all inclusive community in which people of various races, nations, languages and colours were members. No obstacle prevented them from forming a coherent and open society. The rivers of higher talent and various abilities of all races of mankind flowed together into this vast ocean and worked in perfect harmony. Such a coherent mix gave rise to a high level of civilization in a very short period of time. It harnessed the capabilities, ideas and wisdom of all those people to produce a great civilisation, in spite of the fact that in those times, travel was difficult and the means of communication were slow.
In this unique Islamic society Arabs, Persians, Syrians, Egyptians, Moroccans, Turks, Chinese, Indians, Romans, Greeks, Indonesians, Africans and people of other nations and races were gathered together. Their various characteristics were united, and with mutual cooperation, harmony and unity they took part in the construction of the Islamic community and the Islamic culture. This marvellous civilisation was not an ‘Arab’ civilisation but an Islamic one. At no time did it acquire a nationalistic guise, but was instead always based on faith.
All these people came together on an equal footing in a relationship of love, with their minds set on a single goal. They used their best abilities, developed the qualities of their races to the fullest, and brought the essence of their personal, national and historical experiences for the development of this united community, to which they all belonged as equal members and in which their common bond was through their relationship with their Lord. In this community their ‘humanity’ developed without any hindrance. Such characteristics were never witnessed in any other community in the entire history of mankind.”
[Fee Zhilaal Al-Quraan [English trans.], 7/217-218]