Why The Golden Age of Islam Ended

Tom Wallace

We have been looking at the Golden Age of Islam for the last couple of days. It lasted for 70 to 75 years. The Reason it ended was the trial of the Caliph, Al Ma’mum. I guess the best way to describe Al Ma’mum is call him a revolutionary. He was an anomaly in the Islamic world. He championed critical thinking and cultivated intellectual and scientific developments. He started what was called the House of Wisdom in Baghdad after they moved the seat of government from Syria to Persia. Let me repeat what Al Ma’mum said about the Persians:

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.”

The Persian society had embraced Hellenistic ideas with its logic and Greek philosophy. This brought about a new era for the Islamic world. The Arabs were bankrupt of this kind of thinking. Many of them could not read or write, which is still true to this day. Intellectual and critical thinking are still not encouraged in the Islamic world because if it was, Islam would be shown for the fraud that it is.

During this short period of time many scholars from around the world were brought in, translations of works in other languages were made, and science was encouraged. One of the few advances in knowledge we can give the Arabs credit for is Algebra. Another was the improvement of the equipment used in distillation, which allowed them to distill kerosene more efficiently. In the art world we can credit them with calligraphy, which is a beautiful form of writing. There is only one great piece of literature that has come out of the Islamic world, “The Book of One Thousand and One Nights.” It is translated into English as “The Arabian Nights.” Their only contribution to medicine is the discovery of the difference between the small pox virus and the measles virus.

This Golden Age came to a crashing end because of the trial of the Caliph, Al Ma’mum. Since he embraced critical and intellectual thinking, challenging and questioning things, Muslims started challenging and questioning the religion of Islam. Muslims are commanded to accept the theology and law of Islam without questioning any part of it.

At that time the traditionalists were known as the Ash’arites. The reformers were known as the Mu’tazilites. The chart below shows the difference between the two philosophies:





Founded by al-Ashʿari

Founded by Wasil Ibn ‘Ata

On Freewill

Man has Fate/Compulsion (___Qadar_____)

God is the source of ALL things. (even sin)

On Freewill

Man has Power to Act Freely (___Jabr____)

God is not the source of Evil, man is

On Knowledge

____Naql______ = Blind Faith

Logos – Truth is revealed to obey, not to question.

On Knowledge

______Aql________ = Reason

Logos – to understand truth to relate to the creator

On Tahwid….

Because God is Omnipotent, nothing

can bind him.

He Transcends ALL boundaries.

God has absolute Freedom & Power.

God’s Attributes were distinct (separate) from God’s essence.

God cannot be compared to anything.

(Wala tashhih).

On Tahwid….

God cannot do anything unreasonable, therefore God can be held accountable to his moral attributes. Certain things are incumbent upon Him.

“He who affirms qualities beside God, affirms two Gods.”

Man is made in God’s image.

On the Qu’ran

____Uncreated________, Pre-existed, eternal with God.

Al-Ash’ari said, “The Qur’an is on the heavenly tablet…the uncreated, divine word.….Not in the sense that all these are copies….of the heavenly original. No! all these are identical with the heavenly original.”

On the Qu’ran

_____Created______ at the moment of its revelation.

If the Qur’an was uncreated then it must be another God, and therefore the unity of God would be violated.”

Al Ma’mun required all Muslims in the courts to affirm the Qur’an was created and held the belief of Jabr on the pain of death.

The traditional view is still held by the majority of Muslims today. Because of the differences between the two theologies, Al Ma’mum was put on trial for his blasphemy and heresies. He was found guilty.

The Islamic world had a short period in which critical thinking was accepted. From the time of Al Ma’mum’s conviction, any intellectual advance was ended within Islam. It closed the Muslim mind to scientific thought. Critical thinking was considered a violation of the law of Allah, and all intellectual advance was ended.

This is why, as I said yesterday, the country of Spain will translate more books in one year than the Islamic world has translated in the last 1,000 years. They do not subscribe to scholarship. They do not embrace enlightenment. The do not embrace critical thinking. ISIS has shown Islam’s disdain for knowledge by their destruction of libraries as they conquered various towns in advancing their caliphate.

In the Islamic world, you are subject to Allah, you obey and do not question. You accept what Allah says and does by blind faith. Allah has given his word so you can obey it without question. Allah transcends his creation. He cannot be compared to anything, nor can he be understood.

The squelching of reason and critical thinking is why Islam has produced so little of value. One quarter of our world is Muslim, yet they have only won 12 Nobel prizes, six of them allegedly for peace, and one of them was given to Yassar Arafat, who stirred up all kinds of conflict between the Palestinians and Israel.

On the other hand, the Jews, who are from the same region, have received 22% of all the Nobel prizes. I wonder why a people that only numbers a few million received such a large percentage of the Nobel prizes, and a people that numbers 1.7 billion has received so few. Do you suppose it could be the fact that Muslims are not encouraged to reason and ask questions?

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