ISLAMABAD, (Parliament Times) : “Umayyad dynasty was the first Muslim dynasty to rule the Arab kingdom. Umayyad rule was divided between two branches of the family: the Sufyanids and the Marwanids with centralized caliphal authority in Damascus,” observed Prof Dr Aslam Syed while responding to a question during a Webinar on Discourse on Medieval Muslim History and Historiography here on Saturday.
Prof Dr. Aslam Syed has been serving at the Center for Religious Studies, Ruhr Universität, Bochum, Germany. He remained Chairman, Department of History, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad and served the NIHCR as its Director.
Dr Syed recalled that the Syrian army became the basis of Umayyad strength, enabling the creation of a united empire through greater control of the conquered provinces and of Arab tribes. Muslim rule expanded to Khorasan, garrison cities were founded at Merv and Sistan as bases for expeditions into Central Asia and northwestern Asia and the invasion of northwestern Africa was begun.
The Webinar was arranged online by the National Institute of Historical and Cultural Research (NIHCR), Centre of Excellence, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, attended by over 1000 participants ranging from students, teachers and researchers to have greater insights into the valuable views of the guest speaker.
“The medieval period of Muslim history is amazed at the Umayyad dynasty’s awesome military achievements of the empire as they reached westward to Spain and eastward to Indonesia in less than 40 years after they came to power,” he said.
Quoting noted Muslim historian Ibn-e-Khaldun, Dr Syed observed that the Muslims achieved a definite advance beyond previous historical writing in the sociology and sociological understanding of history and the systematisation of historiography. The Muslim historiography helped indirectly and modestly to shape present day historical thinking, he opined.
“Muslim historiography has at all times been united by the closest ties with the general development of scholarship in Islam, and the position of historical knowledge in Muslim education has exercised a decisive influence upon the intellectual level of historical writing,” he said while responding to a question.
Replying a question on fall of Ummayad dynasty, Dr Syed said decline began with the disastrous defeat of the Syrian army by the Byzantine army. Members of the Umayyad house were hunted down and killed, but one of the survivors, Abdul Rahman escaped and established himself as a Muslim ruler in Spain, founding the dynasty of the Umayyads in Córdoba.
“This Umayyad Empire was the largest besides that of the Mongols before modern times. It was also the only empire in history conquered by armies drawn from a nomadic people to establish a new world religion and the first and last time that an Arab elite and their Arab armies ruled a world empire. Many of the central lands of the modern Muslim world were conquered in the Umayyad era,” he recalled.
The NIHCR Director Dr Sajid Mahood Awan conducted the Webinar by triggering a dialogue with Dr Syed for substantiating this discourse. A history student would often like to find primary sources written about the subject and the period. Given the nature of these historical sources, one must raise the question of whether a reliable understanding of the subject and the period will ever be possible. As a result, scholars often pursue this period carefully by trying to answer about the medieval Muslim history subject, he said. This inclusive activity has been taken up every week for the benefit of students in general and capacity-building of the teachers and researchers in particular.