Anyone who was around in the 1950s or ’60s knows that the Russians invented everything. From the steam engine to the atom bomb, from the paper clip to the zipper — Bolshevik propagandists insisted that all were Russian or Soviet inventions.
Now we find out that we were mistaken: in reality, everything significant was invented by Muslims. As reported in many places, Islam was responsible all important scientific and technological accomplishments, not to mention the discovery of America.
The German-Syrian Muslim reformist Bassam Tibi writes in his book Islam Between Culture and Politics that “rational sciences were — in medieval Islam — considered to be ‘foreign sciences’ and at times heretical. At present, Islamic fundamentalists do not seem to know that rational sciences in Islam were based on what was termed ulum al-qudama (the sciences of the Ancients), that is, the Greeks.”
Science was viewed as Islamic science, the study of the Koran, the hadith, Arab history etc. Tibi believes it is thus incorrect to call institutions like al-Azhar in Cairo, Egypt, the highest institution of learning in Sunni Islam, a university: “Some Islamic historians wrongly translate the term madrasa as university. This is plainly incorrect: If we understand a university as universitas litterarum, or consider, without the bias of Eurocentrism, the cast of the universitas magistrorum of the thirteenth century in Paris, we are bound to recognise that the university as a seat for free and unrestrained enquiry based on reason, is a European innovation in the history of mankind.”
Al-Azhar was created in the tenth century and is hailed as one of the oldest universities in the world. However, as late as the early twentieth century, the blind Egyptian author Taha Husayn complained about the total lack of critical thinking he encountered at the institution:
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“The four years I spent [at al-Azhar, from 1902] seemed to me like forty, so utterly drawn out they were….It was life of unrelieved repetition, with never a new thing, from the time the study began until it was over. After the dawn prayer came the study of Tawhid, the doctrine of [Allah’s] unity; then fiqh, or jurisprudence, after sunrise; then the study of Arabic grammar during the forenoon, following a dull meal; then more grammar in the wake of the noon prayer. After this came a grudging bit of leisure and then, again, another snatch of wearisome food until, the evening prayer performed, I proceeded to the logic class which some shaikh or other conducted. Throughout these studies it was all merely a case of hearing re-iterated words and traditional talk which aroused no chord in my heart, nor taste in my appetite. There was no food for one’s intelligence, no new knowledge adding to one’s store.”
Taha Husayn was the kind of genuine intellectual who found absolutely no room for free inquiry at this leading Islamic madrasa. He enrolled at the new, secular University of Cairo, founded after Western models, in 1908, and continued his education at the Sorbonne in Paris. Although best know for his autobiography Al-Ayyam abroad, he created a huge controversy in Egypt by daring to suggest that some passages of the Koran should not be read literally, and for claiming that some pre-Islamic poetry had been forged by Muslims to give credibility to traditional Islamic history. For this he was accused of heresy, and had he lived in the aggressive Islamic atmosphere a couple of generations later, he might well have been killed.
Go over to Dhimmi Watch and read the whole thing.