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Arnold Thomas Walker. The Preaching of Islam: A History of the Propagation of the Muslim Faith

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Arnold Thomas Walker. The Preaching of Islam: A History of the Propagation of the Muslim Faith
Richard Clay & Sons, Limited — 1913 — 467 p.
Sir Thomas Walker Arnold (1864–1930) was an eminent British orientalist and historian of Islamic art who taught at MAO College, Aligarh Muslim University, then Aligarh College, and Government College University, Lahore. He was a friend of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, and wrote his famous book "The preaching of Islam" at the insistence of Sir Syed. He was also the teacher of famous poet-philosopher Muhammad Iqbal, Syed Sulaiman Nadvi and a very close friend of Shibli Nomani who was also a teacher at Aligarh.
Taking into purview the proselyting aspect of Islam, the work discusses the spread of this religion. The study of the phenomenal spread of Islam has tended to be dominated by historians who have assumed it to have been a concomitant of the Muslims political conquests. Yet a closer look reveals that in fact Islam has won its spiritual conquests in placer where its political power was at lowest ebb. Therefore it becomes essential to study the proselytising aspect of this religion independent of the political sphere.
To appreciate how deeply entrenched is this missionary zeal, the present study commences with examining the Prophet as preacher. The successful consolidation of the myriad warring tribes of Arabia into one was his singular achievement. The work discusses the subsequent spread of Islam in West Asia, Africa, Spain, Persia, Central Asia, among Mongols and Tartars, in India, China and Malaya. Undoubtedly, then were political, social and economic factors that facilitated this spread. But on the whole, it was noncoercive. Its success in converting Jews, Christians, Hindus, as well as the followers of tribal religions is a tribute to the amazing and tireles efforts of its religious teachers.
The other intriguing aspect is the motives of the converts. The work examines evidences to ascertain what were the political, economic, social other than religious motives that were manifested. Also characteristic of Islam is the absence of missionary organisation, which confined missionary efforts to the zeal of individuals. Whether traders, merchants, saints or rulers it is as individuals that they succeeded even against the more organized efforts of the Christian missionaries.
Hitherto Islam has suffered from the image of being a faith imposed by the sword. To help dispel this grossly unfair interpretation, this objective study, now reprinted, will be a singular contribution.
Was the phenomenal spread of Islam in medieval times effected by the sword? Disputing this commonly held prejudice, the present history of the propagation of the Muslim faith examines its proselytising efforts. Commencing with the first preacher the Prophet himself, the author goes on to discuss missionary efforts in West Asia, Africa, Spain, Persia, Central Asia, India, China and the Malays Archipelago. He highlights the political, economic and social factors that facilitated the spread of Islam. A useful contribution to the history of religion.
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