Today I want to continue on the subject of Islam’s Golden Age that I started yesterday,. We hear so much today about how much Islam has contributed to science and the culture of the world. We are being fed the lie that we are indebted to Islam for the scientific development of the modern world. They tell us that we owe Islam for the advances in astronomy, alchemy, mathematics, medicine, optics and so forth.
Yesterday we talked about this and exposed the truth concerning this lie. We saw that these claims are fallacious because the things they are credited with discovering or inventing were actually discovered or invented by others, often long before the existence of Islam. Here is the chart we used yesterday showing the truth:
The Invention or Discovery Who Really Invented or Discovered It
Water Pumps – 8th Century
Egyptians 2000BC and Greeks 200 BC
Windmills – 7th Century
China and Persia 6th Century
Papermaking from Linen – 8th Century
Chinese 1st Century
Gunpowder – 11th Century
Chinese 7th Century
Ibn al Haytham father of Optics 10 Cenutry
Greeks – Eculid 300 BC
Al Khalili C. 858AD – First True Scientist (BBC 2015)
Greeks – Aristotle – Archimedes 200-300 BC
Earth’s Axis by Al-Battani
Chinese – Chou Li 1100 BC
Kerosene discovered by Razi (Bk – Kitab al-Asrar)
Chinese – 1500 BC
Magnetic Compass 1300 AD
Chinese – 300 BC (directional in 1040AD)
On this last item, the magnetic compass, it was not used to indicate direction until 1040 AD, but the Muslims did not start using it until 1300 AD. These things were discovered by the Greeks, the Chinese, the Persians, and Egyptians, many of them long before the existence of Islam.
There are a few things that can be attributed to Muslims and we do need to give credit where credit is due. When we try to take away the credit that belongs to a people, even if we don’t like what they stand for, we lose our credibility. We must give them credit for what they have done. We need to be in search of the truth, not a “truth” that fits our desires.
Yesterday we saw that the Abbasid Dynasty moved the Caliphate from Syria to Persia. They ruled the Persians for about 100 years. What the Caliph Al Ma’mum, whose Mother was Persian, said is very interesting:
“The Persians ruled for a thousand years and did not need us Arabs even for a day. We have been ruling them for one or two centuries and cannot do without them for an hour.”
In this statement he is telling us that the Arabs were not very developed. Once they moved the Caliphate to Persia they started reading and seeing the benefits of the advancement of learning. He opened up what is called the House of Wisdom where both Muslim & non-Muslim scholars came to translate and gather works of world’s knowledge.
This was the first time in Arabic history that critical thinking was welcomed. This brief period which welcomed critical thinking, and which cultivated intellectual and scientific developments, brought prosperity to the rein of the Abbasids.
Caliph Al Ma’mun led them to their pinnacle of what is celebrated as Islam’s Golden Age. It lasted until 833AD. Tomorrow I will look deeper into why it was so short lived.
One of the two intellectual and scientific advancements that the Muslims gave to the world was Algebra, which came from Kitab al-Jabr. The term ’algorithm’ is derived by al-Khwarizmi. We must be honest and give them the credit for this advance in mathematics.
The second intellectual and scientific advancements we must credit the Muslims is distillation. The credit for this goes to Jabir ibn Hayyan (Geber). Although there were earlier uses of distillation, the Muslims get credit for some equipment invented during this time period. They designed equipment for distilling oil. This is why it is suggested that they developed kerosene. The Chinese had developed kerosene some 2100 years before, but the process was improved by the equipment invented by Muslims. Because of this advancement, they produced oil for their lamps.
In the Arts, their gift to the world is the beauty of calligraphy. Islam does not draw images of man and animals because of the teachings of Islam, but the beauty of calligraphy is their art form.
In Literature, the only work of fiction that has reached world wide fame from the Arabic world was authored during this time. It was called “The Book of One Thousand and One Nights.” It is translated into English as “The Arabian Nights.”
In the Medical world, it is believed that 800 doctors lived in Baghdad at this time. Remember, during this period they invited in masters in many areas of science from all over the world. The only medical advancement we can give them credit for is, they distinguished the differenced between the small pox virus and the measles virus. That’s it. We need to give credit where credit is due, but let’s not buy the lie that they gave us the advances listed in the chart above.
It is interesting to see why this Golden Age did not last very long. We will look at this tomorrow because it brings us to the religion of Islam. As a teaser let me say, Spain alone has translated more books than all of the Muslim countries of the Middle East has translated in the last 1,000 years. The reason for this is the Muslim mindset. Their mind is set against critical thinking and logic because of the religion of Islam.
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