Islamic History: Why Muslims should study their past – Quranic guidance – Niyaz Ahmed

The Quran was and will always be the most crucial source in understanding ourselves as human beings and the nature of human civilisation. While the Quran is in itself the greatest guide for mankind, nearly a third of the Quran consists of Qasas (stories). So how can we ignore the study of history? In many ways, this makes learning history an act of faith. Therefore, our connection to our history becomes a theological one, and helps us learn the deeper messages behind the words of Allah (SWT).

The narratives that are given to us in the Quran are fundamentally instructive. Lessons, values and ideals are taught to us through the development of past civilisations. Instead of simply telling us a story, the Quran teaches us that enjoining good and forbidding evil is the measure in which we perceive past civilisations even if they existed such a long time ago. Indeed, Allah says in the Surah Al-Imran Verse 110:

“You are the best community that has been raised up for mankind. You enjoin right, conduct and forbid wrong; and you believe in Allah”

Therefore, we are considered the best of people as our Book, and therefore our worldview, focuses on the most important parts of history rather than dates and figures and places as it is telling us what is important about human history. What is important in the narrative of the Quran is how truth prevailed over falsehood, such is the story of Luqman and his son. Little information has been given about him, yet his advice to his son remain a key lesson for all human beings until the Day of Judgement.

In essence, the Quran teaches us to never forget. To constantly remind ourselves of the successes, struggles and stories of the Prophets and pious people of the past. We are a part of a stage like every other past civilisation that will eventually end, yet the Quran reminds us that we are of the same essence, that there is a universality to the lessons we take, and their experiences will always matter to our personal and communal wellbeing.

By Niyaz Ahmed