Posted Sat, 04/10/2010 – 15:02
Muhammad Farooq Rehmani
There are some vested interests in the west and the United States of America who under one pretext or other try to spread hate and prejudice between Muslims and Christians. Such elements paint Islam as a religion of sword. One of such men is the American Baptist Minister Rew Jerry Falwel who made slanderous attack on the personality of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in October 2002. He had called Prophet, “a terrorist, a violent man, a man of war.” This is verbal terrorism of the worst kind by any American evangelical Christian against Islam which needs to be analysed, rejected and condemned by every sain person in every society.
In fact, it is The Quran and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) who showed the best path of love, peace and justice to humanity, and stressed belief in all Prophets and Holy scriptures who were sent by Allah on earth before The Quran and Muhammad (PBUH). Muhammad was opposed by Arab tribal chiefs in the beginning, because he taught oneness of God and universality of God’s revelation, otherwise these very enemies of Muhammad acknowledged his honesty and integrity in day-to-day life. One must not ignore the facts of history, i.e. when Muhammad entered Mecca as victorious, he unlike many Generals of the world history did not revenge on his worst foes, who had earlier forced the Prophet to migrate from Mecca to Madina. The Prophet of Islam forgave his enemies in Mecca. His proclamation of amnesty applied even to enemies who sought shelter in the house of Abu-Sufiyan-the enemy of Islam at that time.
A renowned writer Cliton Benett writes in his book, “Victorian images of Islam” that the relations between Christians and Muslims were very cordial in the first four centuries after Hijra. Describing western Christianity, he says that it was ignorant about Islam and did not bother to distinguish Islam from a large number of the enemies of Christianity. The author of “Victorian images of Islam” says that the western Christianity in the middle ages represented a political and theological approach to Islam. He says that medieval crusades were not primarily religious but they had worldly and material purposes cupidity and greed. He recalls that the crusades accepted most far fetched myths as facts about The Prophet (PBUH) and His mission. The author refers to Carlyle, (1795-1891) who in 1840 made the first strong affirmation in the whole of European literature-medieval or modern of a belief in the sincerity of Muhammad (PBUH) in his treatise -“Muhammad: Hero as Prophet.” Similarly Charles Forster in his mohmetantism unveiled, called Muhammad descent from Ismael and Islam a spiritual religion, propagated not by sword but by peace and peace-leading missions. Carlyle says that Muhammad (PBUH) positively contributed to human knowledge. The Muslim universities of Baghdad, Alexandra, Cairo, Fez, Toledo says forster provided model for the establishment of Bologna, Padua, Paris whose whole course of study, bore the marks and traces of their saracinic origin, especially in chemistry, Arabs assumed the undisputed rank of inventors. To further acknowledge the contribution of Islam, forster connected “Paradise Lost” with the mental images and influences of Islam and tacitly endorsed sincerity of Muhammad (PBUH). Besides, I quote article “Our debt to Islam” by “Martin Wainwright in the “Guardian” London. The theme of the article is that by teaching children how Muslim sages saved European Philosophy could bridge a modern culture gap. Wainwright says, “Without the work of 500 years succession of Islamic sages, we would have lost the essence of Aristotle, much of Plato and scores of other ancients.
It Happened simply enough. While the barbarians smashed and burned in Western Europe, the Arabs and Persians used the libraries of Alexandria and Asia Minor, translated the scrolls and took them to Baghdad and far beyond. In distant Bukhara on the Silk Road to china, teenager called Abu Ali Ibn Sina was engrossed in Aristotle’s Meta-Physics at the age of 17. The year was AD997 and text–central to subsequent development of philosophy–had long been lost and known in Western Europe.
The story of this priceless heritage’s return home, slung in the saddlebags of camels on the long caravans to Cairo, Fez and the cities of Moorish Spain, is well known to scholars. Hundreds of learned books are available and if you key in Ibn Sina or his westernised name Avicenna on an internet search engine you will come with about 28,800 references. But the story, so relevant to the world today, has never been admitted to everyday British culture.
There are simple reasons for this too – medieval Christian bigotry, the post-Renaissance belief in the glory of Europe – but a lack of excitement in the story is not one of them. Umberto Eco proved that in the global bestseller, The Name of the Rose. His demented monk Jorge smears poison on a lost work of Aristotle and contemptuously spits out the name of “the Arab Averroes”- the scholar Ibn Rushd of Cordoba, the last link in the journey of Greek learning back to the west.
The national curriculum reformers, to their credit, have seen the gap and tried to fill it, but their good intentions easily get lost. How many pupils in Britain take key stage 3’s option on Islamic civilisation AD600-1600 or the shorter, 15-hour “scheme of work” project on the cultural achievements of Islamic civilisation?
The Department for Education does not know; neither, more disturbingly, do the education authorities in a place like Bradford Where Muslims and others desperately need common ground. In his report on the Yorkshire city’s divided communities last year, Lord Ouseley inveighed against the national curriculum’s shortcomings and demanded “effective learning environments in which racial differences are seen positively by pupils, underpinned by knowledge and understanding”.
He had good ideas, including a local Bradford citizenship section to be added to the national curriculum’s citizenship module, which becomes compulsory from September. But the simpler option of highlighting those KS3 options, which offer just that “knowledge and understanding”, didn’t figure. Did Ouseley and his researchers know they were there?
The need for them, and for simple, reasonable textbooks on both courses, is not just a matter for the white community: the story has been marginalised in Islamic culture as well. A straw poll of British Asian students in Bradford produces the occasional cautious nod at the name Ibn Sina but none for Ibn Maimoun (Maimonides, Saladin’s doctor and the greatest Jewish scholar of the Arabic world); and none for Ibn Rushd.
Like Jorge, traditionalist Muslims have long found the sage of Cordoba disturbing and hard to explain to students in the madrassa.
What can they make of a man who complained that curbs on women wasted the potential of half the population of the Islamic world – and this way back in the 12th century? A man whose books, for a time, were proscribed by Christian and Muslim authorities alike?
And so we fumble on, with both communities stuck in the world memorably summarized by Dr Johnson’s explanation of why Richard knolls’ book, A Generation all Historie of the Turkes (1603), sank without trace. The author said, Johnson, “employed his genius upon a foreign and uninteresting subject and recounted enterprises and revolutions of which none desire to be informed”.
Next to Lumb Lane’s yunani tibb shop is the Asian Sweet Centre, which, significantly, has opened a subsidiary Sweet Centre fish and chip shop. Commerce and the laws of the market can force such bridges between communities; maybe the KS3 history options, in places like Bradford, need a bit of compulsion too. [Courtesy: The Guardian London/ The Nation Islamabad Dated 27-7-02]
[Dated: July 10, 2004]