Our situation today looks as if the past was a dream; our present is ailing; and the future hazy.
The eminent British orientalist and historian of Islamic art, Thomas Arnold, said, “Islamic sciences were at the height of their greatness, lighting up as the moon shines, and dissipating the depths of darkness, which wrapped Europe in the Middle Ages.”
I would like to admit here that I am incapable of understanding these words, or even imagining them. These words are like tales from Arabian Nights; I like them to be narrated to me whenever I want to escape the reality to a world of romantic fantasy, dreams and visions.
Are all things told about the contributions of Arabs and Muslims in this regard true?
If yes, then why is our present reality backward and despicable?
We look into the past and find a wide gap and huge difference (compared to the present). We look at how we can escape this closed circle.
The Belgian historian, George Sarton, said in his book Introduction to History of Science: “The bulk of the human intellect’s tasks was carried out by Muslims.”
For example, Al Farabi was the greatest philosopher; Al Mas’udi the greatest geographer; Al Tabari the greatest historian.
Western historian, Adam Mitz, points out in his book The Islamic Civilisation in Fourth Hijri Century: “History did not mention a nation interested in acquiring books and cherishing them, like Muslims did during their renaissance and prosperity eras. There was a library in every home.”
All these sciences and libraries today are strange to the people and vague. Some of them are protested and exiled from the borders of Arab and Islamic states. Moreover, some Muslim scientists are considered blasphemous, heretics and apostates and their books are being burned as Averroes’ books were burned.
On books, reading and obtaining knowledge, a recent report by the Arab Thought Foundation pointed out that one book is published for every 12,000 Arab citizens compared with one book per 500 British citizens and one per 900 Germans.
The reading rate in the Arab world does not exceed 4 percent of that in Britain, the report said.
Israel translates 15,000 books into Hebrew (once described as a dead language) every year, compared with the Arab world, which does not translate more than 330 books into Arabic every year, according to a United Nations Human Development report.
French science fiction writer Bernard Weber says the most important moment is the present because the person who does not take care of his present loses his future. But the present seems miserable amid divisions and rivalry among Arabs and Muslims.
The present looks miserable amid the sectarian and ideological fighting between Arabs and Muslims.
Everybody prays and waits for a divine miracle to happen to take him/her from hell to heaven. How will 2014 be like? Will it be better than the previous year?
Best wishes for all and a Happy New Year.