Saturday, June 1, 2013

Muhammad: The Light for the Dark Ages of Europe!

A very good eye-opening article! Read on...


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Muhammad: The Light for the Dark Ages of Europe!

My task here is twofold, first to show that European science was built on the Latin translations of the works of the great Muslim pioneers and secondly that the Muslim learning from 8th-12th centuries was heavily influenced by the teachings of the Holy Quran, the literal word of God revealed to the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him.  

Cave of Hira where the Prophet Muhammad had his first revelation!

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD

An honest study of the causes of the Dark Ages and European renaissance will lead to the inevitable conclusion that Muhammad, may peace be on him, was the light for the Dark Ages. John Davenport writes in, an apology for Mohammed and the Koran: "It is in the compositions of Friar Bacon, who was born in 1214, and who learned the Oriental languages, that we discover the most extensive acquaintance with the Arabian authors. He quotes Albumazar, Thabet-Ebu-Corah, Ali Alhacer, Alkandi, Alfraganus and Arzakeb; and seems to have been as familiar with them as with the Greek and Latin classics, especially with Avicenna, whom he calls 'the chief and prince of philosophy.' The great Lord Bacon, it is well known, imbibed and borrowed the first principles of his famous experimental philosophy from his predecessor and namesake Roger Bacon, a fact which indisputably establishes the derivation of the Baconian philosophical system from the descendants of Ishmael and disciples of Mohammed." In a short paragraph, John Davenport has very precisely identified all the links in the human intellectual evolution. Additionally, his book, which is available in Google books, is a master piece in the defense of the Prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him. Read his two page Preface and he is standing shoulder to shoulder with other great defenders of the Prophet Muhammad in the Western world, like Thomas Carlyle. Unfortunately, some Western scientists and historians propose the European science to be some sort of magical wand and what preceded it as not good enough or label it as pre-science or mystical science etc.!
My task here is twofold, first to show that European science was built on the Latin translations of the works of the great Muslim pioneers and secondly that the Muslim learning from 8th-12th centuries was heavily influenced by the teachings of the Holy Quran, the literal word of God, revealed to the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him.

"If greatness of purpose, smallness of means, and outstanding results are the three criteria of human genius, who could dare to compare any great man in modern history with Muhammad?"  Alphonse de Lamartine, Foreign Minister of France, 1848

Allow me to make the lion's share of my case by quoting a classic book History of the Moorish Empire in Europepublished in 1904 in three volumes and extending over more than 2000 pages.  The insightful writer, Samuel Parsons Scott, a lawyer from Hillsboro Ohio  writes, as he attributes all the success of Europe to the Prophet Muhammad:
Unlike most theological systems to which men, in all ages, have rendered their obedient and pious homage, no mystery obscures the origin and foundation of Islam. The purity and simplicity of its principles have undergone no change. Its history has been preserved by the diligence of innumerable writers. The life and characteristics of its Prophet, even to the smallest detail, are accessible to the curiosity of every enterprising scholar.
The austere character of a faith which, at its inception, exacts a rigid compliance with the minutest formalities of its ritual, naturally becomes relaxed and modified after that system has attained to worldly importance and imperial authority; or, in the language of one of the greatest of modern writers, 'a dominant religion is never ascetic.' It is strange that Islam, which, in this respect, as in many others, has conformed to the general law of humanity, and now acknowledges tenets and allows practices that would have struck the subjects of Abu-Bekr and Omar with amazement, has been able to preserve in such perfection the observance of its ceremonial; especially when it had no organized sacerdotal power to sustain it. The absence of an ecclesiastical order which could dictate the policy of the throne, and humble the pride of the ermine and purple with the dust in the presence of some audacious zealot, also left untrammelled the way for scientific investigation and research, and, more than all else, contributed to dispel the darkness of mediaeval times. The doctrine of toleration enunciated by Mohammed gave no encouragement to that system of repression whose activity has exhausted every means of checking the growth of philosophical knowledge, by imposing the most direful spiritual and temporal penalties upon every teacher who ventures to publicly explain its principles; and it is a matter of far deeper import to the civilization of the twentieth century, than is implied by the mere performance of an act of devotion, when the Temple of Mecca—the seat of a time-honored faith, from whose shrine emanated the spirit of learning that redeemed degraded Europe—is saluted five times every day by the reverent homage of concentric circles of believers, one hundred and fifty million in number, from Tangier to Pekin, from the borders of Siberia to the Equinoctial Line.
We may well consider with admiration the rapid progress and enduring effects of this extraordinary religion which everywhere brought order, wealth, and happiness in its train; which, in destroying the deities of the Kaaba, swept away the traditions of thirty centuries; which adopted those pagan rites that it could not abolish; which seized and retained the birthplace of Christianity; which dispersed over so wide a territory alike the theocracy of the Jews and the ritual of Rome; which drove the Magi from the blazing altars of Persia; which usurped the throne and sceptre of the Byzantine Church; which supplanted the fetichism of the African desert; which trampled upon the mysteries of Isis, Osiris, and Horus, and revealed to the wondering Egyptians the secret of the Most High God; which invaded the Councils of Catholicism, and suggested a fundamental article of its belief; which fashioned the graceful arches of our most famous cathedrals; which placed its seal upon the earth in the measurement of a degree, and inscribed its characters in living light amidst the glittering constellations of the heavens; which has left its traces in the most familiar terms of the languages of Europe; which affords daily proof of its beneficent offices in the garments that we wear, in the books that we read, in the grains of our harvests, in the fruits of our orchards, in the flowers of our gardens; and which gave rise to successive dynasties of sovereigns, whose supreme ambition seemed to be to exalt the character of their subjects, to transmit unimpaired to posterity the inestimable treasures of knowledge, and to extend and perpetuate the intellectual empire of man. These signal and unparallelled results were effected by the inflexible constancy, the lofty genius, the political sagacity, of an Arabian shepherd, deficient in the very rudiments of learning, reared among a barbarous people divided into tribes whose mutual hostility had been intensified by centuries of warfare, who had no organized system of government, who considered the mechanical and mercantile arts degrading, who recognized no law but that of force, and knew no gods but a herd of grotesque and monstrous idols. Robbery was their profession, murder their pastime. Except within the precincts of their camp, no friend, unless connected by the sacred ties of blood, was secure. They devoured the flesh of enemies slain in battle. Deceit always excepted, cruelty was their most prominent national characteristic. Their offensive arrogance, relentless enmity, and obstinate tenacity of purpose were, in a direct ratio to their ignorance and their brutalizing superstition, confirmed by the prodigies, the omens, and the legends of ages.
To undertake the radical amelioration of such political and social conditions was a task of appalling, of apparently insuperable difficulty. Its fortunate accomplishment may not indicate the active interposition of Divine authority. The glories which invest the history of Islam may be entirely derived from the valor, the virtue, the intelligence, the genius, of man. If this be conceded, the largest measure of credit is due to him who conceived its plan, promoted its impulse, and formulated the rules which insured its success. In any event, if the object of religion be the inculcation of morals, the diminution of evil, the promotion of human happiness, the expansion of the human intellect; if the performance of good works will avail in that great day when mankind shall be summoned to its final reckoning, it is neither irreverent nor unreasonable to admit that Mohammed was indeed an Apostle of God.
Alhambra in Granada Spain
Mark Graham is the Edgar award-winning author of 'Black Maria,' third in a series of historical novels which have been translated into several languages. He studied medieval history and religious studies at Connecticut College and has a master's degree in English literature from Kutztown University. He writes:
This is how the tale is still often told in the West, from grade school through college. The rise of Islam is mentioned just long enough to explain why there are so many Muslims in the world. After that Islam fades from the historical record until the Franks encounter the 'Saracens' in the l090s. The success of the First Crusade is recounted with pride, while later failures are quickly glossed over. With the Renaissance wrapping up the account, one might safely conclude that the Europeans could do what the Muslims could not: turn Greek wis­dom into something useful.
This is the story of the Middle Ages, the one that every school kid learns. It is the story of how the glory of Greece and the grandeur of Rome were lost for a time but found again-how Europe wandered in the wilderness for forty years (actually more like six or seven hundred) but eventually redeemed itself by throwing out the superstitious world­view of the Catholic Church and embracing the humanistic ideals of the Greek philosophers. What may come as a surprise to the millions of people of all generations who have been forced to learn this version of events is that it is sheer myth.
After all, what could be more mythological than the idea of a hero (Europe), the son of Gods (Greece and Rome), discovering its birthright (civilization and power), after going through a quest (the Crusades) and fighting various monsters (Muslims) who have been hoarding the treas­ure (philosophy, science, mathematics) for ages? Read it in Ovid, the Nibelungenlied, or J. R. R. Tolkien. But if you really want your heroic fantasy straight up, all you have to do is read a social studies textbook.
Looking through the pages of a standard high school text on Western civilization (or world cultures or whatever other euphe­mism), you will be hard pressed to find mention of any Muslim other than Muhammad. Perhaps you will come across the names of Saladin or Suleiman the Magnificent, brilliant rulers who, it is begrudgingly admitted, actually defeated the West from time to time. But after that.. .nothing. No mention of scientists, writers, artists, philosophers-in short, no reference to anyone or anything that would lead you to believe that the Islamic world ever had any culture worth speaking about.
Truth, unlike myth, is frequently what we do not want to hear. And perhaps the most heretical thing to say is that Europe ever had anything to learn from Islam. But learn it did, sitting at the foot of its Muslim teachers for half a millennium. Far from being incubators or preservers, Muslims were all the things those textbooks deny them being: artists, poets, philosophers, mathematicians, chemists, astronomers, physicists. In short, they were civilized at a time when Europe was wallowing in barbarism. Muslim civilization was the greatest in size and technology that the world had ever seen. And far from existing in a vacuum, it directly impinged on the creation of Europe as a cultural entity and as a scientific and political power. As much as some are loathe to admit it, the Islamic world is the giant on whose shoulders the European Renaissance stood.
Read further in our site Islam for the West

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