Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | Islam and Muslims | Al-Risala November 1987

Two of the most powerful Muslim rulers of the fourteenth century were Taimur Lang (1336-1405), born in Samarkand and belong­ing to the family of Chengiz Khan, and Bayezid I (1389-1402), born in Anatolia and ruling over Adrinopal. Taimur, envious of Bayezid’s Asian territory, wished to conquer it, and this led to conspiracies and counter-conspiracies, each associating with the other’s enemies. The culmination was a fierce and prolonged battle at Ankara which ended on the 20th July, 1402, when Bayezid was taken prisoner. Taimur added zest to his victory by incarcerating his vanquished foe in an iron cage and carrying him in it on all his journeys. Crushed by such humiliating treatment, Bayezid died eight months later. Taimur himself lived only for another two and a half years after his victory. His ultimate destination was no different from that to which he had despatched the vanquished Sultan.

According to a noted historian, the battle at Ankara had been a clash between giants, both sides fighting with equal courage and ferocity and the death toll finally mounting to almost one and a half lakhs. Death and destruction were everywhere, and the carnage was terrible to behold. Some blamed Taimur, while others blamed Bayezid for these enormous losses, but, no matter where the responsibility lay, it was the entire Islamic world which had to suffer the setback.

Europe had been on the verge of being turned into an Islamic continent by the Ottoman Turks, and, with Taimur ruling over the entire eastern region and Bayezid holding sway over the west, (having extended the boundaries of his Islamic domain as far as the Danube in Hungary), it only needed these two brave and powerful kings to extend their empires to the east and west respectively for the whole world to be brought under Islamic domination. As it was, the conflict between them obviated any such possibility, and Europe instead became a Christian stronghold.

This is one of the great lessons of history, but as far as the Muslims are concerned, it has fallen on deaf ears. In-fighting continues to be the principal factor in their downfall, and they are all too ready to complain about the conduct of others. They do not wish to accept the fact – which is staring them in the face – that any harm which befalls Muslims is due to Muslims. Things are no different now from what they were in the past. They would do well to give some consideration to the thought that the seemingly tremendous advantages of the victor over the vanquished will be set entirely at naught in the Hereafter, for both victor and vanquished will be compelled to appear in the court of their Lord as equals – as two humble servants of the Almighty. And, as in the case of Taimur and Bayezid, it may be sooner than they imagine.