Necessity of Being Familiar with Islamic History
A lecture delivered by
Hazrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad,
Khalifatul-Masih II(ra) , Head of the Worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama‘at (1914-1965), delivered on 26th February 1919 in a gathering at the ‘Martin Historical Society, Islamiyyah College, Lahore’, Pakistan
A short while ago I received the news, with great pleasure, that a society has been established in the Lahore Islamiyyah College in which those who are acquainted with historical facts will present their research. I was overjoyed by this, as familiarization with history acts as a great stimulant in the progress of nations. A nation that is unacquainted with its historical accounts can never advance towards progress. Knowledge of the circumstances of one’s forefathers guides a person to many higher objectives. Thus, when I came to know of the establishment of this society, I was pleased by the thought that lectures on Islamic history would be delivered alongside other lectures on various historical topics. These lectures would enable college students to understand the kinds of challenging tasks their forefathers were confronted with and the exceptional ability and perseverance with which they carried them out. They will come to know of the ancestors they have descended from and the obligations that fall upon them in their capacity as their children and representatives. They will aspire to be like their forefathers upon witnessing their magnificent deeds and their lofty splendour. Truly, I am overjoyed by the establishment of this society. Now that I have been asked to deliver a lecture on this forum regarding an aspect of Islamic history, I most delightedly postponed my departure and accepted to present my research before you on this occasion, with respect to certain subjects of historical importance.
Importance of the Subject
I was asked to speak on a few historical issues concerning Islam. Undoubtedly, the most significant era in Islamic history is that in which the Holy Prophet(sa), under the command of God the Exalted, presented the religion of Islam to the world. He imprinted its reflection upon the hearts of hundreds of thousands of men through twenty three years of arduous labour, and created a community of thousands of men whose thoughts, speech and actions became [an embodiment of ] Islam itself. However, the foundation for dissension in Islam was laid fifteen years after the demise of the Holy Prophet(sa). After this time, the cracks of schism between the Muslims continued to widen. The history of this very era is concealed in heavy veils of darkness. According to the opponents of Islam this is a hideous blemish upon Islam and even to its friends, serves as a perplexing question. Only a few have sought to cross the swamp of the history of that era safe and sound, and who were able to succeed in their objective. It is for this reason that I have decided to speak to you on this very topic.