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The Islamic Empire

From an Introduction to The Korān by George Sale

For many centuries the acquaintance which the majority of Europeans possessed of Muhammadanism was based almost entirely on distorted reports of fanatical Christians which led to the dissemination of a multitude of gross calumnies [wild tales]. What was good in Muhammadanism was entirely ignored, and what was not good, in the eyes of Europe, was exaggerated or misinterpreted.

It must not, however, be forgotten that the central doctrine preached by Muhammad to his contemporaries in Arabia, who worshipped the Stars; to the Persians, who acknowledged Ormuz and Ahriman; the Indians, who worshipped idols; and the Turks, who had no particular worship, was the unity of God, and that the simplicity of his creed was probably a more potent factor in the spread of Islam than the sword of the Ghazis.

Islam, although seriously affecting the Christian world, brought a spiritual religion to one half of Asia, and it is an amazing circumstance that the Turks, who on several occasions let loose their Central Asian hordes over India, and the Middle East, though irresistible in the onslaught of their arms, were all conquered in their turn by the Faith of Islam, and founded Muhammadan dynasties.

The Mongols of the thirteenth century did their best to wipe out all traces of Islam when they sacked Baghdad, but though the Caliphate was relegated to obscurity in Egypt the newly founded Empires quickly became Muhammadan states, until finally it was a Turk who took the title of Caliph which has been held by the house of Othman ever since.

Thus through all the vicissitudes [problems] of thirteen hundred years the Korān has remained the sacred book of all the Turks and Persians and of nearly a quarter of the population of India.

Sir Edward Denison Ross in his Introduction (page vii) to The Korān by George Sale (1877 Edition).


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The Korān

It is well for all who study the Korān to realize that the actual text is never the composition of the Prophet, but is the word of God addressed to the Prophet; and that in quoting the Korān the formula is "He (may he be exalted) said" or some such phrase. The Prophet himself is of course quoted by Muhammadan theologians, but such quotations refer to his traditional sayings known as "Hadīs," which have been handed down from mouth to mouth with the strictest regard to genealogical continuity.

Sir Edward Denison Ross in his Introduction (page vi) to The Korān by George Sale (1877 Edition).

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