Golden Ages and Theories of History

Golden Ages and Theories of History

Whenever an excited young Muslim discovers history for the first time, it often sparks a debate. The young person may be impressed by the accomplishments of the Muslim Empires of past and talk proudly about the Muslim Golden Ages. At some point, he may encounter Muslims who take offense to the term Golden Age for referring to any period past the first generation. They insist that the first generation of Muslims were the only Golden Age and it was all downhill from there. This can often leave the youngster confused, not understanding why someone would take offense to the existence of Golden Ages.

I believe these two groups are speaking past each other, because they are both looking at history from different, yet equally valid, angles. History is a touchy subject as there are so many ways to analyse history that people can often look at the same events in radically different lights. It may be, and I believe this to be the case, that both groups are right in their own way. The peak of the Abbasid and Ottoman Empires was on one hand a Golden Age for that empire, but also spiritually weak compared to the first generation. To understand this, let us look at some perspectives from which people analyse history. We will analyse three perspectives; the common Theory of Progress model pushed by schools today, the Theory of Spiritual Regress model, and the Cycles of Power model.

The Theory of Progress

Schools around the world today are based on the Western School System that emerged during Colonization. This model is designed to push forward a colonial model of history that is radically different from the Islamic model. I only raise it here because many readers may have grown up on this model and never questioned it. We need to unlearn this myth about history before studying Muslim History. The theory of progress suggest that the world is moving forward for the better. Past civilizations and systems are deemed to be backwards or barbaric, while new ideas are considered progressive and logical.

This theory paints a distorted view of Muslim History. It categorizes the Shariah as a barbaric outdated system of governance. Anyone who is clinging onto the Shariah is viewed as backwards and uncivilized. The idea is that all nations must let go of their past models and adapt new (Western) models in all aspects of life. Sadly, many Muslims hold on to this theory. This can be noticed in their speech patterns when they make statements like “get with the times” and “we know better now than they did then” indicating that they view the Muslims of the past as less enlightened and civilized than them.

Not only is this theory false, but it is also unislamic and borderline blasphemous. Believing that we know better than the Muslims of the past or are more morally upright than them is an insult to the Prophet and his companions. It also distorts the way Muslims view their own history. Instead of looking to the past for role models, such Muslims look at the past as something to be avoided. To counter this mindset, I propose we study history utilizing two distinct theories. For our spiritual history, I propose we analyse it from a Theory of Regress perspective, and politically, I suggest we understand it as cycles of power.

The Theory of Spiritual Regress

The theory of regress simply means that spiritually, this nation peaked with its first generation. The most pious human beings, as a collective, were the Prophet ﷺ and his companions. After that, with each passing generation, Muslims as a whole grow spiritually weaker and distant from the ideal. This does not mean that individuals cannot reach high levels of piety, or that they may be bubbles of pious communities. It simpler means that there is no comparison spiritually between the first generation and those that come after them, and they will always remain our role models of piety.

This theory is based on the hadith in which the Prophet ﷺ said, “The best people are those of my generation, then those who come after them, then those who come after them…” (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 6429, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2533). It is also supported by the verses in the Quran that indicated that the pious will be many in the early generations but few in the latter generations. (Qur’an 56:13-14) When some Muslims claim that the first generation was the only Golden Age of Islam, they are referring to spiritual greatness, and this is true.

Spiritually, our Golden Age was the first four decades of Islam. It was during this time that piety was the norm, and the righteous led the nation. Spiritually, no empire that came after them could ever match them. No king, sultan of Caliph could ever match the spiritual greatness of Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, or Ali (RA). It was the best of times, and the most important period of history for any Muslim to study. This does not mean that later empires could not have their own Golden Age. To understand how that is possible, let us look at the theory of cycles of power.

Cycles of Power

The cycles of power theory was made popular by Ibn Khaldun, who proposed that every nation goes through a similar cycle. First it rises to power, it eventually hits a peak, then the decline begins, and eventually it collapses. This theory can also be deduced from the Quran in which it is stated “Such days We alternate between the people.” (Quran 3:140) This verse was revealed after the first military setback faced by the companions in the Battle of Uhud. It created realistic expectations regarding war and power, Muslims would not always emerge victorious, and victory was not guaranteed. Based on this concept, it is also possible for Muslim nations to fall and lose their power as has happened many times in our history. Because of this verse, military defeat and loss of political power does not affect our faith in Allah or the truth of this religion.

As every nation has its rise and peak, it makes sense to describe the peak as a Golden Age. The Golden Age of the Abbasids does not mean that they were more pious than the companions. I do not think any historian would suggest that. It simply means that in the cycle of power of the Abbasid Empire, it peaked during that period. It was the time when the Abbasid Empire produced its best leaders, scholars, inventions, and contributions to society. Likewise, stating that the Ottoman Empire experienced a Golden Age during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent does not mean that people at the time were more pious than the companions. It simply means that the Ottoman Empire peaked during this period.

This is what I mean by both groups are speaking past each other. Those who claim that the only Golden Age was the first generation are looking at history from a spiritual perspective, and that is a valid reading of history. Those who are discussing the Golden Ages of the Abbasids or Ottomans are looking at it through a cycles of power perspective and are amazed at the heights of political and civilizational greatness that Muslims reached during the peak of these might empires. Both perspectives are valid.

In terms of practical application, the theory of regress gives us realistic expectations of Muslims today. While we strive to revive Islam and educate our communities, we are realistic about the levels of piety we could attain as a collective. But the cycles of power theory gives us hope politically. It gives us hope that a new Muslim Empire could emerge during our lifetime and that another Golden Age for a Muslim civilization is still possible. This hope inspires us to work hard, dream big, and remain optimistic about the future of the ummah.

Learn more with the History of Islam online course, our bestselling product, on sale here.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Islam
Discover the Muslim Golden Ages

Discover the Muslim Golden Ages

The Muslim Golden Age, also known as the Islamic Golden Age, is a period of great intellectual, cultural, and scientific achievements in the history of Islam. It is generally considered to have occurred from the 8th to the 13th century, and is often associated with the Abbasid Caliphate, which ruled a large portion of the Islamic world from its capital in Baghdad.

During this time, Muslim scholars made significant contributions to a wide range of fields, including mathematics, medicine, astronomy, chemistry, philosophy, and literature. Muslim scholars translated and studied the works of ancient Greek philosophers, and made important advances in mathematics, including the development of algebra. Muslim physicians made significant contributions to the field of medicine, including the discovery of new drugs and surgical techniques. Muslim astronomers made important discoveries about the movements of the planets and the stars, and developed sophisticated celestial models.

The Muslim Golden Age was also a time of great cultural and artistic achievements. Muslim architects and builders constructed impressive buildings and monuments, including the Great Mosque of Samarra and the Alhambra in Spain. Muslim artists and craftsmen created beautiful works of art and craftsmanship, including ceramics, textiles, and metalwork.

Overall, the Muslim Golden Age was a period of great intellectual, cultural, and scientific achievements that had a lasting impact on the world. It serves as a testament to the enduring legacy of Muslim scholars and their contributions to the advancement of human knowledge and culture.

Learn more with our full History of Islam online course, available here: https://islamicselfhelp.gumroad.com/l/history1/2022

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Islam
The History of al-Andalus in 10 Points

The History of al-Andalus in 10 Points

Muslims ruled over parts of the Iberian Peninsula for around 700 years. (711-1492 CE). Here is a brief history of al-Andalus.

1. In the reign of King Walid I, Tariq Ibn Ziyad led an army from North Africa to victory in the Iberian Peninsula. This land became known to Muslims as Al-Andalus and became part of the Umayyad Empire.

2. Al-Andalus was mostly ignored during the early Umayyad Era, due to its distance from the capital. It was seen as insignificant. Only Caliph Umar II paid special attention to it and had its details researched and documented.

3. When the Abbasids took over the Muslim World, the last Umayyad prince Abdur Rahman Ibn Muawiyah went into exile. He eventually made his way to Al-Andalus, where he took over the country and established it as an independent Muslim state.

4. The Umayyads ruled Al-Andalus exclusively for 290+ years. Their full focus was on developing Al-Andalus into a model country. Under their leadership, Al-Andalus became a striving civilization and world leader of science and education.

5. Al-Andalus peaked with the reign of Abdur Rahman III, a descendant of Abdur Rahman Ibn Muawiyah. Abdur Rahman III ruled Al-Andalus for around 50 years, and turned it into a massive empire. He eventually declared himself a Caliph, rivaling the Abbasid Caliph.

6. After Abdur Rahman III, Umayyad rule slowly declined in Al-Andalus. The country fell into a state of civil war and each province became an independent nation, some Muslim and some Christian. This state of war lasted around a century.

7. Al-Andalus was reunified under Yusuf Ibn Tashfin, a military leader of the Muratib (Almovarid) Empire known for his courage and piety. It remained under Muslim rule for two more centuries.

8. After brief reigns of the Murabit and Muhawid empires over Al-Andalus, it fell into a state of civil war once again. This time the Christian kingdoms began to grow. They were inspired by the crusader movements in the East to reconquer the land.

9. With the Reconquista in full swing after the conquest of Córdoba in June 1236, Granada became the last independent Muslim state in Western Europe. Eventually Granada too fell, and Al-Andalus was no more.

10. Islam was eliminated from the land through a series of harsh policies, exiles, and forced conversions. Its influence over Europe can still be seen across various fields and sciences.

It is time to reconnect with your legacy and history. Over 1400 students have signed up already for our History of Islam course, and now it is your turn!

Claim your access here: https://islamicselfhelp.gumroad.com/l/history1

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Islam
July Sale Extended

July Sale Extended

Alhamdulillah, we now have over 1000 students enrolled in the History of Islam Online Course.

In July 2022, we ran a promotion offering the course for only $11. Alhamdulillah, over 300 people signed up through this promotion. Because of the success of the promotion, we have extended it into August for another 100 people. Sign up here to join the course at the discounted price.

About The Course

#1 Bestseller 2022 – Over 1000+ students currently exploring their history!

A deep dive into Muslim history unlike anything you ever witnessed before!

Finally, a course that covers the entire history of the Muslim world in 30 amazing videos.

Join us on a life-changing journey across the great empires of old.

Explore the world of the Umayyads, Abbasids, Ottomans and more with in in-depth video series that covers the history of Islam in a comprehensive and engaging manner.

In this course, Shaykh Ismail Kamdar will take you on a journey through the past 1400 years, starting with the life of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), through the eras of the Rightly Guided Caliphs, the Umayyads, Abbasids, Ayyubis, Mamluks, Ottomans, all the way into the 21st Century.


  • A Passionate History Buff
  • A Muslim who is curious about our Ummah’s legacy
  • A Muslim Teenager who wants to learn the real history of the Muslim world.
  • A Parent who wants to teach their children the correct history of Muslims
  • Anybody who is tired of the Islamaphobes controlling the narrative and wants to empower themselves with the true history of the Muslim world.

Why You’ll Love This Course

This course offers the kind of one-stop learning environment that benefits you both during and after the completion of the course in a multitude of ways:

  • Solid Learning with dedicated help, support, motivation and accountability
  • Self-Paced Online Learning – you can study anytime and learn from anywhere, according to your daily routine.
  • Lifetime Access to Learning Materials for continued Referencing, Knowledge, Development and Inspiration

Whether it’s work, academia, family or other constraints, the course allows you the flexibility to learn at your own pace without pressure.

About the Instructor:

Shaykh Ismail Kamdar is a graduate of a traditional Alim program (Talimuddin, 2006) and also holds a Bachelor’s in Islamic Studies (IOU, 2014). He has studied Islam in both traditional and modern settings and has been a student of Islamic Studies for over two decades.

He began studying Islam full-time at the age of thirteen, began preaching at the age of sixteen, and wrote his first book at the age of twenty-three. Over the years, he has taught multiple courses and seminars around the world and has worked with multiple leading Islamic organizations across the globe.

He served as faculty manager at the International Open University for ten years, from 2010 to 2020. He currently heads the book publication department at Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research. His books are currently available in three different languages, and sold across five continents, in twenty-five different countries.

Student Testimonials

“It is an absolute brilliant series. You will not regret it. Hats off!” – Jahangir

“Ma sha Allah an excellent course. I purchased it recently. It is a deep dive into history of Islam based on factual information. It is full of insights on key events. Highly recommend for anyone seeking knowledge of this discipline.” – Areeba

“I’m really enjoying it. Especially the analytic style as opposed to memorizing names and dates method which I am used to. This course is a must for every Muslim.” – Ismail

“What make this course different from others? I think it’s mainly Shaykh Ismail’s approach to looking at history. His first and foremost priority is always drawing lesson as much as possible, not to just know or memorize historical incidents. And he narrates history from neutral perspective as far as possible. As a result, he neither fantasizes history nor becomes pessimistic. I think these reason are worthy enough to drive anyone to do an excellent course like this.” – Osman Harun Sani

“Sheikh Ismail Kamdar is highly professional, dedicated, disciplined and knowledgeable. He is one of the very best tutors…” – Yasmeen

“When I say that Ustadh Ismail Kamdar was, all things considered, the best teacher I had…and one of the best teachers I had the blessing of studying under, I am in no way exaggerating, as will be testified by hundreds of other students!” – Tabassum

“Thank you for putting together such a beautiful course. I thoroughly enjoyed all the sections and learnt from it. one of it’s unique value adds is the “lessons learnt” at the end of each video. I sincerely hope and pray we have a new Islamic golden age and our children will benefit and be part of it.” – Janahara

Sign up here to access the course at the discounted price.

July Promo still available in August 2022.
Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Islam, Leadership
Reflections on the Ottoman Empire

Reflections on the Ottoman Empire

In this new video series, I discuss some of the highs and lows of the Ottoman period of Muslim history with my friends. Some of the topics covered in these videos include:

  1. The rise of the Ottoman Empire
  2. Contributions of the Ottoman Empire to the world
  3. The Causes of weakness in the Ottoman Empire
  4. The multiple causes of the fall of the Ottoman Empire
  5. World War I and its aftermath
  6. The modern Muslim world and drafting a way forward together

Watch the full discussion at the links below.

Part 1
Part 2

To learn more about Muslim History, sign up for our hit new course: History of Islam, available here.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Islam