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Inserts / Messages
- Basic Education
- Interesting Articles
- Religious Lectures
- Wiladat Celebrations
- Questions about Iman
- Healthy Living
A History of the Propagation of the Muslim Faith
T.W. Arnold Ma. C.I.F
Professor Of Arabic, University Of London, University College. Written in 1896, revised in 1913
Rearranged by Dr. A.S. Hashim
|To the modern Christian world, missionary work implies missionary societies, paid agents, subscriptions, reports and journals;
and missionary enterprise without a regularly constituted and continuous organization seems a misnomer.
The ecclesiastical constitution of the Christian Church has, from the very beginning of its history, made provision for the propagation of Christian teaching among unbelievers;
Its missionaries have been in most cases, regularly ordained priests or monks; the monastic orders (from the Benedictines downwards) and the missionary societies of more modern times have devoted themselves with special and concentrated attention to the furthering of a department of Christian work that, from the first, has been recognized to be one of the prime duties of the Church.
But in Islam the absence of any kind of priesthood or any ecclesiastical organization whatever has caused the missionary energy of the Muslims to exhibit itself in forms very different to those that appear in the history of Christian missions:
- There are no missionary societies,
- no specially trained agents,
- very little continuity of effort.
- The only exception appears to be found in the religious orders of Islam, whose organization resembles to some extent that of the monastic orders of Christendom. But even here the absence of the priestly ideal, of any theory of the separateness of the religious teacher from the common body of believers or of the necessity of a special consecration and authorization for the performance of religious functions, makes the fundamental difference in the two systems stand out as clearly as elsewhere.
Whatever disadvantages may be entailed by this want of a priestly class, specially set apart for the work of propagating the faith, are compensated for by the consequent feeling of responsibility resting on the individual believer. There being no intermediary between the Muslim and his God, the responsibility of his personal salvation rests upon himself alone:
- consequently he becomes as a rule much more strict and careful in the performance of his religious duties,
- he takes more trouble to learn the doctrines and observances of his faith,
- and thus becoming deeply impressed with the importance of them to himself,
- is more likely to become an exponent of the missionary character of his creed in the presence of the unbeliever.
- The would-be proselytizer has not to refer his convert to some authorized religious teacher of his creed who may formally receive the neophyte into the body of the Church,
- nor need he dread ecclesiastical censure for committing the sin of Korah.
- Accordingly, however great an exaggeration it may be to say, as has been said so often,  that every Muslim is a missionary, still it is true that every Muslim may be one, and few truly devout Muslims, living in daily contact with unbelievers, neglect the precept of their Prophet: “Summon them to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and with kindly warning.”
- Thus it is that, side by side with the professional propagandists,—the religious teachers who have devoted all their time and energies to missionary work,—the annals of the propagation of the Muslim faith contain the record of men and women of all ranks of society, from the sovereign to the peasant, and of all trades and professions, who have labored for the spread of their faith,—
- the Muslim trader, unlike his Christian brother, showing himself especially active in such work.
- In a list of Indian missionaries published in the journal of a religious and philanthropic society of Lahore we find the names of schoolmasters, Government clerks in the Canal and Opium Departments, traders (including a dealer in camel-carts), an editor of a newspaper, a bookbinder and a workman in a printing establishment.
- These men devote the hours of leisure left them after the completion of the days labor, to the preaching of their religion in the streets and bazaars of Indian cities, seeking to win converts both from among Christians and Hindus, whose religious beliefs they controvert and attack.
It is interesting to note that the propagation of Islam has not been the work of men only, but that Muslim women have also taken their part in this pious task.
Role of Muslim Women in Propagating Islam:
- Several of the Mongol princes owed their conversion to the influence of a Muslim wife, and the same was probably the case with many of the pagan Turks when they had carried their raids into Muslim countries.
- The Sanusiyyah missionaries who came to work among the Tubu, to the north of Lake Chad, opened schools for girls, and took advantage of the powerful influence exercised by the women among these tribes (as among their neighbors, the Berbers), in their efforts to win them over to Islam. 
- In East Africa, the pagan natives who leave their homes for six months or more, to work on the railways or plantations, are converted by the Muslim women with whom they contract temporary alliances; these women refuse to have anything to do with an uncircumcised kafir, and to escape the disgrace attaching to such an appellation, their husbands become circumcised and thus receive an entry into Muslim society. 
- The progress of Islam in Abyssinia during the first half of the last century has been said to be in large measure due to the efforts of Muslim women, especially the wives of Christian princes, who had to pretend a conversion to Christianity on the occasion of their marriage, but brought up their children in the tenets of Islam and worked in every possible way for the advancement of that faith. 
- On the western frontier of Abyssinia, there is a pagan tribe called the Boruns; some of these men who had enlisted in a negro regiment, under the Anglo-Egyptian government of the Sudan, were converted to Islam by the wives of the black soldiers while the battalion was returning to Khartoum.
- The Tatar women of Kazan are said to be especially zealous as propagandists of Islam.  The professed devotee, because she happens to be a woman, is not thereby debarred from taking her place with the male saint in the company of the preachers of the faith.
- The legend of the holy women, descended from Ali, who are said to have gone from Karbala to Lahore, and thereby the influence of their devout lives of prayer and fasting to have won the first converts from Hinduism to Islam,  could hardly have originated if the influence of such holy women were a thing quite unknown.
- One of the most venerated tombs in Cairo is that of Nafisah, the great-granddaughter of Ḥusain (the martyred son of Ali), whose theological learning excited the admiration even of her great contemporary, Imam al-Shafi’i, and whose her piety and austerities raised her to the dignity of a saint:
|It is related of her that when she settled in Egypt, she happened to have as her neighbors a family of dhimmis whose daughter was so grievously afflicted that she could not move her limbs but had to lie on her back all day.
The parents of the poor girl had to go one day to the market and asked their pious Muslim neighbor to look after their daughter during their absence.
Nafisah, filled with love and pity, undertook this work of mercy; and when the parents of the sick girl were gone, she lifted up her soul in prayer to God on behalf of the helpless invalid.
Scarcely was her prayer ended than the sick girl regained the use of her limbs and was able to go to meet her parents on their return.
Filled with gratitude, the whole family became converts to the religion of their benefactor. 
Even the Muslim prisoner will on occasion embrace the opportunity of preaching his faith to his captors or to his fellow-prisoners.
- The first introduction of Islam into Eastern Europe was the work of a Muslim juris-consult who was taken prisoner, probably in one of the wars between the Byzantine empire and its Muslim neighbors, and was brought to the country of the Pechenegs in the beginning of the eleventh century.
- He set before many of them the teachings of Islam and they embraced the faith with sincerity, so that it began to be spread among this people. But the other Pechenegs who had not accepted the Muslim religion, took umbrage at the conduct of their fellow-countrymen and finally came to blows with them.
- The Muslims, who numbered about twelve thousand, successfully withstood the attack of the unbelievers, though they were more than double their number, and the remnant of the defeated party embraced the religion of the victors. Before the close of the eleventh century the whole nation had become Muslim and had among them men learned in Muslim theology and jurisprudence. 
- In the reign of the Emperor Jahangir (1605-1628) there was a certain Sunni theologian, named Shaykh Aḥmad Muiaddid, who especially distinguished himself by the energy with which he controverted the doctrines of the Shi’as : the latter, being at this time in favor at court, succeeded in having him imprisoned on some frivolous charge; during the two years that he was kept in prison he converted to Islam several hundred idolaters who were his companions in the same prison. 
- In more recent times, an Indian mawlavi, who had been sentenced to transportation for life to the Andaman Islands by the British Government, because he had taken an active part in the Wahhabi conspiracy of 1864, converted many of the convicts before his death.
- In Central Africa, an Arab chief condemned to death by the Belgians, spent his last hours in trying to convert to Islam the Christian missionary who had been sent to bring him the consolations of religion. 
Such being the missionary zeal of the Muslims, that they are ready to speak in season and out of season,—as Doughty, with fine insight, says, “Their talk is continually (without hypocrisy) of religion, which is of genial devout remembrance to them,”—
Let us now consider some of the causes that have contributed to the Muslim success.
Foremost among these is the simplicity of the Muslim creed, There is no god but God; Muhammad is the Apostle of God. Assent to these two simple doctrines is all that is demanded of the convert, and the whole history of Muslim dogmatic fails to present any attempt on the part of ecclesiastical assemblies to force on the mass of believers any symbol couched in more elaborate and complex terms.
- This simple creed demands no great trial of faith,
- arouses as a rule no particular intellectual difficulties and is within the compass of the meanest intelligence.
- Unencumbered with theological subtleties, it may be expounded by any, even the most unversed in theological expression.
- The first half of it enunciates a doctrine that is almost universally accepted by men as a necessary postulate, while the second half is based on a theory of man’s relationship to God that is almost equally wide-spread, viz. that at intervals in the worlds history God grants some revelation of Himself to men through the mouthpiece of inspired prophets.
- This, the rationalistic character of the Muslim creed, and the advantage it reaps therefrom in its missionary efforts, have nowhere been more admirably brought out than in the following sentences of Professor Montet :—
|Islam is a religion that is essentially rationalistic in the widest sense of this term considered etymologically and historically.
The definition of rationalism as a system that bases religious beliefs on principles furnished by the reason, applies to it exactly.
It is true that Muhammad, who was an enthusiast and possessed, too, the ardor of faith and the fire of conviction, that precious quality he transmitted to so many of his disciples,—brought forward his reform as a revelation: but this kind of revelation is only one form of exposition and his religion has all the marks of a collection of doctrines founded on the data of reason.
To believers, the Muslim creed is summed up in belief in the unity of God and in the mission of His Prophet, and to ourselves who coldly analyze his doctrines, to belief in God and a future life; these two dogmas, the minimum of religious belief, statements that to the religious man rest on the firm basis of reason, sum up the whole doctrinal teaching of the Quran.
The simplicity and the clearness of this teaching are certainly among the most obvious forces at work in the religion and the missionary activity of Islam.
It cannot be denied that many doctrines and systems of theology and also many superstitions, from the worship of saints to the use of rosaries and amulets, have become grafted on to the main trunk of the Muslim creed. But in spite of the rich development, in every sense of the term, of the teachings of the Prophet,
the Quran has invariably kept its place as the fundamental starting-point, and the dogma of the unity of God has always been proclaimed therein with a grandeur, a majesty, an invariable purity and with a note of sure conviction, which it is hard to find surpassed outside the pale of Islam.
This fidelity to the fundamental dogma of the religion, the elemental simplicity of the formula in which it is enunciated, the proof that it gains from the fervid conviction of the missionaries who propagate it, are so many causes to explain the success of Muslim missionary efforts.
A creed so precise, so stripped of all theological complexities and consequently so accessible to the ordinary understanding, might be expected to possess and does indeed possess a marvelous power of winning its way into the consciences of men.”
Bishop Lefroy considers that the “secret of the extraordinary power for conquest and advance which Islam has in its best ages evinced “is to be found in its recognition of the Existence of God rather than the Unity of God.
- “Not so much that God is one as that God IS—
- that His existence is the ultimate fact of the universe—
- that His will is supreme —
- His sovereignty absolute—
- His power limitless . . .
the conviction that, amidst all the chaos and confusion and disorders of the world which so fearfully obscure it, there is nevertheless, an ultimate Will, resistless, supreme, and that man is called to “be a minister of that Will,
to promulgate it,
to compel—if necessary by very simple and elementary means indeed—
obedience to that Will—
this it was which welded the Muslim hosts into so invincible an engine of conquest, which inspired them with a spirit of military subordination and discipline, as well as with a contempt of death, such as has probably never been surpassed in any system—
this it is which, so far as it is still in any true sense operative amongst Muslims, gives at once, that backbone of character, that firmness of determination and strength of will, and also that uncomplaining patience and submission in the presence of the bitterest misfortune, which characterize and adorn the best adherents of the creed,”
When the convert has accepted and learned this simple creed, he has then to be instructed in the five practical duties of his religion :
- recital of the creed,
- observance of the five appointed times of prayer,.
- payment of the legal alms,
- fasting during the month of Ramadhan, and
- the pilgrimage to Mecca.
Of the pilgrimage: The observance of this last duty has often been objected to as a strange survival of idolatry in the midst of the monotheism of the Prophets teaching, but it must be borne in mind that to him it connected itself with Abraham, whose religion it was his mission to restore. 
But above all—and herein is its supreme importance in the missionary history of Islam—it ordains a. yearly gathering of believers, of all nations and languages, brought together from all parts of the world, to pray in that sacred place towards which their faces are set in every hour of private worship in their distant homes.
No fetch of religious genius could have conceived a better expedient for impressing on the minds of the faithful a sense of their common life and of their brotherhood in the bonds of faith.
Here, in a supreme act of common worship, the Negro of the west coast of Africa meets the Chinaman from the distant east; the courtly and polished Ottoman recognizes his brother Muslim in the wild islander from the farthest end of the Malayan Sea.
At the same time throughout the whole Muslim world the hearts of believers are lifted up in sympathy with their more fortunate brethren gathered together in the sacred city, as in their own homes they celebrate the festival of Id al-Aḍḥặ or (as it is called in Turkey and Egypt) the feast of Bayram.
Their visit to the sacred city has been to many Muslims the experience that has stirred them up to “strive in the path of God,”and in the preceding pages constant reference has been made to the active part taken by the ḥajis in missionary work.
Of the alms: Besides the institution of the pilgrimage, the payment of the legal alms is another duty that continually reminds the Muslim that “the faithful are brothers “ —a religious theory that is very strikingly realized in Muslim society and seldom fails to express itself in acts of kindness towards the new convert. Whatever be his race, color or antecedents he is received into the brotherhood of believers and takes his place as an equal among equals.
It is not, however, true, as some European writers have maintained, that if an unbeliever is the slave of a Muslim his conversion to Islam procures for him his manumission, for, according to Muslim law, the conversion of a slave does not affect the prior state of bondage;  and the condition of the Muslim slave has varied much according to the character of his master.
But freedom is in many instances the reward of conversion, and devout minds have even recognized in enslavement Gods guidance to the true faith, as the negroes from the Upper Nile countries, whom Doughty met in Arabia. “In those Africans there is no resentment that they have been made slaves . . . even though cruel men-stealers rent them from their parentage. The patrons who paid their price have adopted them into their households, the males are circumcised and—that which enfranchises their souls, even in the long passion of home-sickness—God has visited them in their mishap; they can say it was His grace, since they be thereby entered into the saving religion. This, therefore, they think is the better country, where they are the Lords free men, a land of more civil life, the soil of the two Sanctuaries, the land of Muhammad :—for such they do give God thanks that their bodies were sometime sold into slavery ! “
Of the five daily prayers: Very effective also, both in winning and retaining, is the ordinance of the daily prayers five times a day.
The religion of the Muslim is continually present with him and in the daily prayer manifests itself in a solemn and impressive ritual, which cannot leave either the worshipper or the spectator unaffected. Said b. Ḥasan, an Alexandrian Jew, who embraced Islam in the year 1298, speaks of the sight of the Friday prayer in a mosque as a determining factor in his own conversion:
|During a severe illness he had had a vision in which a voice bade him declare himself a Muslim,
“And when I entered the mosque “(he goes on) “and saw the Muslims standing in rows like angels, I heard a voice speaking within me. This is the community whose coming was announced by the prophets (on whom be blessings and peace !) ;
and when the preacher came forth clad in his black robe, a deep feeling of awe fell upon me … and when he closed his sermon with the words, Verily God enjoineth justice and kindness and the giving of gifts to kinsfolk, and He forbiddeth wickedness and wrong and oppression. He warneth you; haply ye will be mindful.
And when the prayer began, I was mightily uplifted, for the rows of the Muslims appeared to me like rows of angels, to whose prostrations and genuflections God Almighty was revealing Himself, and I heard a voice within me saying, If God spake twice unto the people of Israel throughout the ages, verily He speaketh unto this community in every time of Prayer, and I was convinced in my mind that I had been created to be a Muslim.”
If Renan could say, it can be readily understood how the sight of the Muslim trader at prayer, his frequent prostrations, his absorbed and silent worship of the Unseen, would impress the heathen African, endued with that strong sense of the mysterious such as generally accompanies a low stage of civilization.
Curiosity would naturally prompt inquiry, and the knowledge of Islam thus imparted might sometimes win over a convert who might have turned aside had it been offered unsought, as a free gift.
Of the fast during the month of Ramadhan, it need only be said that it is a piece of standing evidence against the theory that Islam is a religious system that attracts by pandering to the self-indulgence of men. As Carlyle has said, “His religion is not an easy one: with rigorous fasts, lavations, strict complex formulas, prayers five times a day, and abstinence from wine, it did not succeed by being an easy religion.”
Bound up with these and other ritual observances, but not encumbered or obscured by them, the articles of the Muslim creed are incessantly finding outward manifestation in the life of the believer, and thus, becoming inextricably interwoven with the routine of his daily life, make the individual Muslim an exponent and teacher of his creed far more than is the case with the adherents of most other religions.
Couched in such short and simple language, his creed makes but little demand upon the intellect, and the definiteness, positiveness, and minuteness of the ritual leave the believer in no doubt as to what he has to do, and these duties performed he has the satisfaction of feeling that he has fulfilled all the precepts of the Law.
In this union of rationalism and ritualism, we may find, to a great extent, the secret of the power that Islam has exercised over the minds of men.
“If you would win the great masses give them the truth in rounded form, neat and clear, in visible and tangible guise.”
Many other circumstances might be adduced that have contributed towards the missionary success of Islam—circumstances peculiar to particular times and countries.
- Among these may be mentioned the advantage that Muslim missionary work derives from the fact of its being so largely in the hands of traders, especially in Africa and other uncivilized countries where the people are naturally suspicious of the foreigner.
- For, in the case of the trader, his well-known and harmless avocation secures to him an immunity from any such feelings of suspicion, while his knowledge of men and manners, his commercial savoir-faire, gain for him a ready reception, and remove that feeling of constraint which might naturally arise in the presence of the stranger.
- He labors under no such disadvantages as hamper the professed missionary, who is liable to be suspected of some sinister motive,
- not only by people whose range of experience and mental horizon are limited and to whom the idea of any man enduring the perils of a long journey and laying aside every mundane occupation for the sole purpose of gaining proselytes, is inexplicable,
- but also by more civilized men of the world who are very prone to doubt the sincerity of the paid missionary agent.
The circumstances are very different when Islam has not to appear as a suppliant in a foreign country, but stands forth proudly as the religion of the ruling race.
In the preceding pages it has been shown that the theory of the Muslim faith enjoins toleration and freedom of religious life for all those followers of other faiths who pay tribute in return for protection, (and though the pages of Muslim history are stained with the blood of many cruel persecutions), still, on the whole, unbelievers have enjoyed under Muslim rule a measure of toleration, the like of which is not to be found in Europe until quite modern times.
- Forcible conversion was forbidden, in accordance with the precepts of the Quran :—”Let there be no compulsion in religion “(ii. 257). “Wilt thou compel men to become believers? No soul can believe but by the permission of God”(x. 99, 100).
- The very existence of so many Christian sects and communities in countries that have been for centuries under Muslim rule is an abiding testimony to the toleration they have enjoyed,
- and shows that the persecutions they have from time to time been called upon to endure at the hands of bigots and fanatics, have been excited by some special and local circumstances rather than inspired by a settled principle of intolerance.)
- At such times of persecution, the pressure of circumstances has driven many unbelievers to become—outwardly at least —Muslims, and many instances might be given of individuals who, on particular occasions, have been harassed into submission to the religion of the Quran.
- But such oppression is wholly without the sanction of Muslim law, either religious or civil.
- The passages in the Quran that forbid forced conversion and enjoin preaching as the sole legitimate method of spreading the faith have already been quoted above (Introduction, pp. 5-6), and the same doctrine is upheld by the decisions of the Muslim doctors.
- When Moses Maimonides, who under the fanatical rule of the Almohads had feigned conversion to Islam, fled to Egypt and there openly declared himself to be a Jew, a Muslim juris-consult from Spain denounced him for his apostasy and demanded that the extreme penalty of the law should be inflicted on him for this offence; but the case was quashed by al-Qaḍi al-Faḍil, Abd al-Raḥim b. Ali, one of the most famous of Muslim judges, and the prime minister of the great Saladin, who authoritatively declared that a man who had been converted to Islam by force could not be rightly considered to be a Muslim. 
- In the same spirit, when Ghazan (1295-1304) discovered that the Buddhist monks who had become Muslims at the beginning of his reign (when their temples had been destroyed) only made a pretence of being converted, he granted permission to all those who so wished to return to Tibet, where among their Buddhist fellow-countrymen they would be free once more to follow their own faith. 
- Tavernier tells us a similar story of some Jews of Ispahan who were so grievously persecuted by the governor “that either by force or cunning he caused them to turn Muslims ; but the king (Shah Abbas II) (1642-1667), understanding that only power and fear had constrained them to turn, suffered them to resume their own religion and to live in quiet.”
- A story of a much earlier traveller in Persia, in 1478, shows how even in those turbulent times a Muslim governor set himself to severely crush an outburst of fanaticism of the same character.
- A rich Armenian merchant of the city of Tabriz was sitting in his shop one day when a Ḥaji, with a reputation for sanctity, coming up to him importuned him to become a Muslim and abandon his Christian faith; when the merchant expressed his intention of remaining steadfast in his religion and offered the fellow alms with the hope of getting rid of him, he replied that what he wanted was not his alms but his conversion; and at length, enraged at the persistent refusal of the merchant, suddenly snatched a sword out of the hand of a bystander and struck the merchant a mortal blow on the head and then ran away,
- When the Governor of the city heard the news, he was very angry and ordered the murderer to be pursued and captured; the culprit having been brought into his presence, the governor stabbed him to death with his own hand and ordered his body to be cast forth to be devoured by dogs, saying : “What! is this the way in which the religion of Muhammad spreads?
- “At nightfall, the common people took up the body and buried it, whereupon the Governor, enraged at this contempt of his order, gave up the place for three or four hours to be sacked by his soldiers and afterwards imposed a fine as a further penalty; also he called the son of the merchant to him and comforted him and caressed him with good and kindly words.
- Neglected as the Eastern Christians have been by their Christian brethren in the West, unarmed for the most part and utterly defenseless, it would have been easy for any of the powerful rulers of Islam to have utterly rooted out their Christian subjects or banished them from their dominions, as the Spaniards did the Moors, or the English to the Jews for nearly four centuries.
- It would have been perfectly possible for Salim I (in 1514) or Ibrahim (in 1646) to have put into execution the barbarous notion they conceived of exterminating their Christian subjects, just as, Salim I (had massacred 40,000 Shi’as with the aim of establishing uniformity of religious belief among his Muslim subjects. The muftis who turned the minds of their masters from such a cruel purpose, did so as the exponents of Muslim law and Muslim tolerance.
Still, it is obvious that the fact of Islam being the state religion could not fail to have had some influence in increasing the number of its adherents.
- Persons on whom their religious faith sat lightly would be readily influenced by considerations of worldly advantage, and ambition and self-interest would take the place of more laudable motives for conversion.
- St. Augustine made a similar complaint in the fifth century, that many entered the Christian Church merely because they hoped to gain some temporal advantage.
- Moreover, to the barbarous and uncivilized tribes that saw the glory and majesty of the empire of the Arabs in the heyday of its power, Islam must have appeared as imposing and have exercised as powerful a fascination as the Christian faith when presented to the Barbarians of Northern Europe, when “They found Christianity in the Empire—Christianity refined and complex, imperious and pompous—Christianity enthroned by the side of kings, and sometimes paramount above them.”
- Added to this must often have been the slow, persistent influence of daily contact with Muslim life and thought, such as led even a Nestorian writer of the twelfth century to add words of blessing to the mention of the name of the Prophet and the early Khalifas,  and to pray for the mercy of God on the Khalifah Umar b. Abd al-Aziz. 
- In modern times Christian missionaries complain that the system of public instruction in Egypt under the British occupation, according to which “Christian boys are often compelled to sit and listen to the Koran and Din (religious teaching) being taught to their Moslem companions when there is no room where they can be separated,” tends to give the Muslims a preponderating influence over their Christian fellow-students.
- One of the most active of the followers of the late Mufti Muhammad Abduh was originally a Coptic medical student, who had been won over to Islam through the influence of the religious instruction he had heard given in school hours. 
But the recital of such motives as little accounts for all cases of conversion in the one religion as in the other, and they should not make us Jose sight of other factors in the missionary life of Islam, whose influence has been of a more distinctly religious character.
Foremost among these is the influence of the devout lives of the followers of Islam. Strange as it may appear to a generation accustomed to look upon Islam as a cloak for all kinds of vice, it is nevertheless true that in earlier times many Christians who have come into contact with a living Muslim society have been profoundly impressed by the virtues exhibited therein;
If these could so strike the traveler and the stranger, they would no doubt have some influence of attraction on the unbeliever who came in daily contact with them.
The literature of the Crusades is rich in such appreciations of Muslim virtues, while the Ottoman Turks in the early days of their rule in Europe received many a tribute of praise from Christian lips, as has already been shown in a former chapter.
At the present day there are two chief factors (beyond such of the above-mentioned as still hold good) that make for missionary activity in the Muslim world.
- The first of these is the revival of religious life which dates from the Wahhabi reformation at the end of the eighteenth century; though this new departure has long lost all political significance outside the confines of Najd, as a religious revival its influence is felt throughout Africa, India and the Malay Archipelago even to the present day, and has given birth to numerous movements which take rank among the most powerful influences in the Islamic world.
- In the preceding pages it has already been shown how closely connected many of the modern Muslim missions are with this wide-spread revival:
- the fervid zeal it has stirred up,
- the new life it has infused into existing religious institutions,
- the impetus it has given to theological study and to the organization of devotional exercises, have all served to awake and keep alive the innate proselytizing spirit of Islam.
- Side by side with this reform movement, is another of an entirely different character—for, to mention one point of difference only, while the former is strongly opposed to European civilization, the latter is rather in sympathy with modern thought and offers a presentment of Islam in accordance therewith,—viz. the Pan-Islamic- movement, which seeks to bind all the nations of the Muslim world in a common bond of sympathy.
- Though in no way so significant as the other, still this trend of thought gives a powerful stimulus to missionary labors; the effort to realise in actual life the Muslim ideal of the brotherhood of all believers reacts on collateral ideals of the faith, and the sense of a vast unity and of a common life running through the nations inspirits the hearts of the faithful and makes them bold to speak in the presence of the unbelievers.
- What further influence these two movements will have on the missionary life of Islam, the future only can show. But their very activity at the present day is a proof that Islam is not dead. The spiritual energy of Islam is not, as has been so often maintained, commensurate with its political power.
- On the contrary, the loss of political power and worldly prosperity has served to bring to the front the finer spiritual qualities which are the truest incentives to missionary work.
- Islam has learned the uses of adversity, and so far from a decline in worldly prosperity being a presage of the decay of this faith, it is significant that those very Muslim countries that have been longest under Christian rule show themselves most active in the work of proselytizing. The Indian and Malay Muslims display a zeal and enthusiasm for the spread of the faith, which one looks for in vain in Turkey or Morocco.