The Birth of the Middle Ages, 395-814

By H. St. L. B. Moss | Go to book overview

PART III
THE ONSLAUGHT OF ISLAM

VIII
THE FAITH

THE beginnings of Islam are made more difficult of comprehension not only by the obscurity which surrounds the birth of any religion, but also by its later developments, which tend to transform the primitive characteristics, and even sometimes to replace them by opposite qualities. Islam, in its earliest stages, was a personal faith; Islam to-day, as a world-force, is a faith and culture uniting the most diverse peoples; Islam as a conquering, nationalist principle is the connecting link between the two. In summary outline, then, three aspects of Islam may be distinguished--the Faith, the Conquest, and the Culture--and it is convenient, if not strictly accurate, to label by these names three phases in its historical development.

In the case of all three, it was inevitable that misconceptions should exist in the current view taken of them. The 'paynim followers of Mahound' still suffer from their medieval reputation, and are seen through the eyes of a crusading Europe. Only in recent years has intensive criticism sought to discover what facts may lie embedded in the mass of legend and tradition which is virtually all that remains, in Christian or Moslem sources, of the earlier history of the movement. It used at one time to be thought that the Faith of Islam was a new Faith, an original Arabian religion. It is now certain that the Faith was not new, neither was it Arabian. Arabia, it is true, was its cradle, and Arab cults and social habits imposed certain limitations upon its outlook, and influenced its ritual; but the creed is actually the offspring of Judaism and Christianity, with a later admixture of Zoroastrianism. It was not new, but rather the assertion of continued revelation to the Peoples of the Book; Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Mahomet--the line of prophets is unbroken. The teaching of Islam may, in one sense, be regarded as a re-emphasis of the Semitic elements in Christianity, which had become submerged

-143-

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The Birth of the Middle Ages, 395-814
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents ix
  • Description of Illustrations xvi
  • Part I- Romans and Barbarians 1
  • I- The Roman World 1
  • II- The Barbarian World 38
  • III- The Clash of Cultures 57
  • Part II- The Triumph of Justinian 79
  • IV- Constantinople *
  • V- Justinian and the West 95
  • VI- Justinian and the East 108
  • VII- The Aftermath 125
  • Part III- The Onslaught of Islam 143
  • VIII- The Faith 143
  • IX- The Conquest 149
  • X- The Culture 159
  • Part IV- The Age of Charlemagne 175
  • XI- The European Background 175
  • XII- The Franks 193
  • XIII- The Papacy 222
  • Appendix A 266
  • Appendix B 270
  • Chronological Table 275
  • Bibliography 283
  • Index 288
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