By Dr. Mahathir Mohamad on February 8, 2010 9:56 AM
1. A commentator asked "if the Islamic Empire (there never was an Islamic empire in the sense of the other Empires - only an Islamic community - the Ummah) was so good in science before why are the Orgainisation of Islamic Conference countries lagging behind in science and technology?".
2. I had explained why before but i think I should repeat.
3. The early Muslims accepted the message of Allah in the Qur'an enjoining upon Muslims to read (Iqraq). The verse (the first to be received by the Prophet - an illiterate man) did not specify, much less limit what Muslims should read.
4. There were no books on Islam at that time but there were many books on the Hebrew and the Christian religions. There were also many books or tracts on Greek science and philosophy as well as Indian mathematics.
5. The early Muslims read and eventually translated all the writings of the Greeks, the Indians and others. Obviously they had to learn these languages first. Then they followed up by doing their own research.
6. And so the early Muslims were learned in the subjects pioneered by these other races and this added to the body of knowledge they had acquired.
7. The Europeans on the other hand were wallowing in the superstitions of the Dark Ages despite having embraced Christianity. The superior civilisation of the Muslims overwhelmed the Europeans so that Spain, Portugal, Sicily, Greece and much of Eastern Europe fell under Muslim rule.
8. But around the 15th Century of the Christian era, fatwas were made by Muslim Ulamas that "Iqraq" or read was intended for reading and studying religion only. From then on the Muslim scientists, physicians, mathematicians etc stopped their study of these subjects in order to study religion exclusively.
9. On the other hand the Europeans noticing the greatness of the Muslim civilisation decided to acquire the knowledge of the Muslims in the different subjects, including those of the Greeks. To do this Christian priests learnt Arabic and were thus able to gain access to the great libraries of Cordoba, Baghdad and elsewhere. They translated the work of the Muslim scholars and scientists into Latin and then into the other European languages.
10. If we care to read the history of the Muslims and the Europeans we would notice that from around the 15th Century of the Christian era when the Muslims rejected what they regarded as non-religious knowledge, the Muslim civilisation began to regress.
11. The Europeans, after acquiring the knowledge of the Muslims started to emerge from the Dark Ages and to build the civilisation that we see today.
12. Unfortunately Muslim historians seem not to have noticed the significance of the fatwas of the 15th Century A.D. Even today Muslims seem unwilling to connect this decline of their civilisation with the neglect of non-religious knowledge. But European historians admit that their emergence from the Dark Ages, their Renaissance, coincided with their study of the Islamic civilisation and its origins.
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