The Arab conquests under ‘Umar

The Arab conquests under ‘Umar December 1, 2017


Thumamah, Saudi Arabia
In Saudi Arabia’s Thumamah Nature Park
(Wikimedia Commons photo by Anikó Krén)


Continuing with a preliminary brief account (from one of my manuscripts in progress) of the early history of Islam under the second caliph, ‘Umar b. al-Khattab:


These were astonishing conquests, rapid and seemingly without end, and it was not only the ancient Christians who saw them as fortunate (indeed, perhaps even as God-ordained). Parley P. Pratt was enthused about them as well. “Now,” he said,

if we take Mahometanism during those dark ages, and the cor­ruptions that are so universally prevalent over the earth, and the idolatrous systems of religion, falsely called Christianity, and weigh them in a balance; with all my education in favor of Chris­tian nations and Christian powers, and Christian institutions, so called, with all my prejudices of early youth, and habits of thought and reading, my rational faculties would compel me to admit that the Mahometan history and Mahometan doctrine was a standard raised against the most corrupt and abominable idolatry that ever perverted our earth, found in the creeds and worship of Christians, falsely so named.[1]


[1] Journal of Discourses 3:40. Elder Pratt is probably a bit too enthusiastic. His com­ment on the following page certainly is: “So far as that one point is concerned, of wor­shipping the one true God under the name of Mahometanism, together with many moral precepts, and in war acting only on the defensive, I think they have exceeded in righteousness and truthfulness of religion, the idolatrous and corrupt church that has borne the name of Christianity.” I suspect that Elder Pratt was acting on the basis of something like the old Arabic proverb, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Protes­tant despisers of the Latter-day Saints in his day loved to compare Mormonism to alleg­edly pagan and sensual (i.e. polygamous) Islam. They also liked to compare the two “false prophets,” Muhammad and Joseph Smith. In response, certain Latter-day Saints seem to have felt that, if their “Christian” enemies hated Muhammad and Islam, well then, neither Muhammad nor Islam could be all that bad. They were right, of course, that Muhammad and Islam are not altogether evil, which was a fairly revolutionary thought for nineteenth-century Americans. But they went too far. The Muslim doctrine of God is far different from that held by the Latter-day Saints. And Arab Muslim armies—particularly after the death of the Prophet—often fought offensively as well as defensively.


Posted from Park City, Utah



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