MUSLIMS ARE NOT IGNORANT
One point of agreement conspicuous in the Western publications concerning Islam and in the books which travellers wrote about Islam is that Muslims are extremely ignorant, that most of the Muslim people they contacted in Asia and Africa did not know how to read and write, and that there is not a Muslim name among the scientists who made a reputation in science or culture throughout the years covering the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Some of those Western sources make a narrow-minded diagnosis, alleging that the Islamic religion is an impediment to progress, while others reach the ungrounded conclusion that it is this ignorance that blindfolds Muslims from the greatness of Christianity and hampers them from accepting Christianty despite all the efforts of missionaries.
A retrospective look into history will reveal that the truth is quite counter to the Christian allegations. For Islam always commends knowledge and encourages Muslims to learn.
The ninth âyat-i-kerîma of Zumar Sûra purports, “… Say: Are those equal, those who know and those who do not know? It is those who are endued with understanding that receive admonition.” (39-9)
The following commandments of our Prophet ‘sall-Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam’ are universally known:
“Even if knowledge is in China, go and learn it.” “There is Islam wherever there is knowledge.”
“It is farz (Islam’s commandment) for Muslim men and Muslim women to look for knowledge and learn it!”
Islam holds knowledge equal with worshipping, and the ink used by scholars equal with the blood of Muslims. Muslims reject Christianity because the Islamic religion is much more logical and much more true than Christianity.
Islam is not a regressive religion, but on the contrary it commands to follow all the renovations, to explore new facts daily, and to always make progress. It is for this reason that from the earliest days of Islam great value was attached to men of knowledge, the Muslim Arabs reached the highest summits in medicine, in chemistry, in astronomy, in geography, in history, in literature, in mathematics, in engineering, in architecture, and in ethical and social sciences, which are the bases for all those sciences, educated valuable scholars, judges, experts and masters, who are still being remembered with deep reverence today, and became the teachers of the entire world and the guides of civilization. Europeans, who were semi-barbarians in those times, studied science in Muslim universities, and even Christian religious authorities, such as Pope Sylvester, attended lectures in the Andalusian universities. A number of scientific terms used in European languages today are of Arabic origin, e.g. ‘Chemistry’ from ‘Kimyâ’, ‘Algebra’ from ‘Al-jebîr’. For it was the Muslim Arabs who taught these sciences to the world.
Europeans were loitering around the misconception that the earth was a flat space of ground surrounded with walls, when Muslims explored that it was a round, rotating planet. The length of a meridian which they measured in the wilderness of Sinjar in the vicinity of Mousul astoundingly concurs with today’s measurements.
It was the Muslim Arabs, again, who protected from extinction and annihilation the ancient Greek and Roman books of philosophy, which were vehemently banned by the vulgarly ignorant and bigoted priests of the Middle Ages, by undertaking their translation. It is a fact acknowledged by reasonable Christians today that the real Renaissance, (which means the revival of the ancient valuable sciences,) came not in Italy, but in Arabia, during the reign of Abbasids; that is, a very long time before the European Renaissance. It is a shame, though, that the giant progress suddenly lost its impetus in the seventeenth century.
What fostered this catastrophic breakdown was the masonic and Jewish policy which was formulated to obviate further scientific research on the part of Muslims by infusing recessive notions into them, such as, “Everything made by Christians is a heresy forbidden (harâm) for Muslims. Those Muslims who adopt or imitate them will become disbelievers,” and those religiously ignorant bigots who believed them.
In recent centuries the Ottomans were the greatest guides of Muslims in knowledge. The entire Christendom launched political and military offensives for the debilitation of that Islamic Empire in order to reduce it to a state of disinterestedness towards the improvements and explorations taking place in the world.
Crusading attacks, on the one hand, and the subversive and separatist activities of the heretical Muslims employed by them, on the other, sabotaged the Ottoman guidance in science and technology. The aggressions coming both from without and from within caused lasting damages to the Turks. They were no longer able to make effective new weapons. Nor could they properly tap the great resources in the possession of their country. They had to forfeit the industry and the trade of their own country to foreigners. They became poor.
Continuous improvements in all areas are daily events in the world. We have to follow them continuously, learn them, and teach them. We should follow our ancestors, not only in industry and technology, but also in religious and moral attitudes, and we should raise believing and decent generations. Let us give you a small example:
The Turks were universally known as invincible wrestlers. Indeed, they always won the international wrestling championships. In recent years, however, we have scarcely made ourselves felt in the rings. Do you know why?
Formerly, Europeans did not know wrestling. They learned it from us, improved it and perfected it, adding new and swift acts, new tricks, and new techniques. On the other hand, we still insist on the old styles, which we do not know, either. We have not yet been able to examine the improvements in wrestling properly. Nor do we seem to be willing to learn lessons from foreign wrestlers. So, owing to the new techniques they have developed, they easily wrestle our players to the ground. Therefore, we have to learn worldly practices from people who know and do them better than we do.
A person who considers himself to be better than others in everything is either an idiot or a megalomaniac. Our religion has separated religious knowledge from scientific knowledge.
It has vehemently forbidden to make a slightest alteration in religious teachings, in Islamic ethical principles, or in the modes of worship. When it comes to worldly affairs and scientific knowledge, however, Islam commands us to keep pace with all the improvements, to learn and utilize all the new inventions. The so-called intellectuals who seized power in the Ottoman administration reversed this set of instructions. Falling for the masonic ruses, they attempted to modify religious teachings and to demolish the essentials of Islam.
They closed their eyes to the scientific improvements and new explorations taking place in Europe. In fact, they martyred the progressiveminded Ottoman emperors who intended to follow the time’s scientific knowledge and modern technology.
Quite deprived of their personal initiatives in the hands of freemasons, they sought progress in religious reforms and separatism.
Astonishing to say, the heinous attempts to pollute the pure religious teachings became a trend among political parties and maintained its grip until recent years. Some politicians were carried away by that vicious fad with such blind zealotry as to stigmatize some true Muslims whose only fault was to show little interest in politics, or rather, not to support their party. May infinite thanks be to Allâhu ta’âlâ that He eventually created the saviors to stop those people from leading our pure and noble people to disasters.
Otherwise, we would have been deprived of our blessed religion and beautiful country, and fallen into the paws of communists. Al-hamd-u-lillâh ’alâ hâzih-in-ni’mah!
Today, [in 1985 C.E.], there are nineteen universities in Turkey. Young Muslim Turks are trying to learn modern worldly knowledge and positive sciences and thereby to guide other Muslim countries. As of 1981-82, the number of the students coming to Turkish universities from Muslim countries was several thousand. The following is an excerpt translated from an article published by a reasonable European concerning the scientific research carried on in Muslim countries. The article, written by a French writer named Jean Ferrera, appeared in the number 724 issue, dated January 1978, of a periodical entitled Science et Vie.
The headline of the article was Les Universites du Petrole = (Petroleum Universities). Some of Ferrera’s observations are as follows:
“Muhammad ‘sall-Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam’ passed away in the arms of his beloved wife Âisha in Medina in 632.
In the course of the following years the Muslims, moving from their homeland which is called Saudi Arabia today, established a colossal Islamic Empire astride a vast area extending from the Atlantic Ocean to the river of Amur. Extremely strong, patient and brave people as the Muslims were, they demonstrated great compassion in the aftermath of their victories. At each place they passed by, they established a civilization whose immense size most of us still do not know. The Islamic universities, established on a vast area extending between Baghdâd and Cordova, resuscitated the ancient civilizations which the European ignorance was about to eradicate. While translating into Arabic the works of Ptolemy, Euclid and Archimedes, the Muslims also rendered into their language the works written by Indian scientists, studied them, and republished them worldover. A group of envoys sent by the Caliph Hârûn-ur-reshîd to visit Aix la-Chapellede Charlemagne for the first time in the eighth century were appalled to find the people in the palace mostly ignorant and illiterate. Europeans’ first experience with figures was in the ninth century, when the Muslims taught them numbers, beginning with zero. In actual fact, Indians were the explorers of zero.
It was the Muslims, however, who transmitted it to Europeans. Likewise, the Muslims were the earliest tutors who taught trigonometry to Europeans.
The Muslim teachers in Muslim universities taught sine, cosine and, some time later, trigonometry to their European pupils. Whatsoever progress was made in the name of knowledge in the world between the ninth and twelfth centuries originated from one source of knowledge: Muslim universities.
[The number of the men of knowledge and science educated in the Ottoman Empire defies computation. The great services that those people rendered to today’s civilization are reflected in their books. One of those great people is Mustafâ bin Alî Efendi ‘rahima-hullâhu ta’âlâ’, the muwaqqit (timekeeper) of the mosque of Yavuz Sultân Selîm ‘rahima-hullâhu ta’âlâ’, [d. 926 (1520 C.E.)] in Istanbul, and the Reîs-ul-munajjimîn (Chief Astrologer of the Sultân). He passed away in 979 [1571 C.E.]. His geography book I’lâm-ul-ibâd and his books of astronomy, Teshîl- ul-mîqât fî-’ilm-il-awqât, Teysîr-il-kawâkib and Kifâyat-ulwaqt fî rub’-i-dâira, contain astounding information. Also, the book Kifâyat-ul-waqt li-ma’rifat-i-dâir, by Abd-ul-’Azîz Wafâî ‘rahima-hullâhu ta’âlâ’ [d. 874 (1469 C.E.)], provides modern astronomical information.]
“Because books of medicine written by the ancient Greeks were burned by the ignorant Christians of the Middle Ages, we do not have their original copies today. A few pieces of those original texts were forgotten here and there and thereby survived the barbarous destructions. Those pieces were translated into Arabic by Huseyn ibni Johag of Baghdâd. That great celebrity translated also the works of Plato and Aristotle into Arabic.
“Muhammad bin Mûsâ Harazmî, one of the three brothers educated as scholars of arithmetics, geometry and astronomy in Baghdâd during the caliphate of Ma’mûn,  The seventh Abbâsid Khalîfa. A son of Hârûn-ur-reshîd, the fifth Khalîfa. He was born in the vicinity of Baghdâd in 786, and passed away in 833. He was buried in Tarsus.
calculated the altitude of the sun and the length of the equator, and made the instruments called usturlâb (astrolabe) [rub’i-dâira] and used to determine the prayer times. His book entitled Jebr (Algebra) was translated into English, and his book Usturlâb (Astrolabe) was translated into Latin. He passed away in 233 [847 C.E.].
“Proving that the earth has a spherical shape, the Muslim astronomers wiped out the European superstition that ‘the earth is flat like a tray. If you go on a long sea voyage you will fall down.’
They managed to measure correctly the circumference of the earth. Sad to say, the Abbasid Empire, who taught many facts to Europeans and who prepared the conditions that would give birth to Renaissance, began to suffer a gradual decline, which reached its nadir with the Mongols’ invasion of Baghdâd in 656 [1258 C.E.]. Burning and devastating the city, the Mongols put an end to a civilization established by the Muslims. How are the situations now? Should we expect another renaissance in the Islamic civilization?
“In the Middle Ages, Muslims looked for gold, valuable spices, odorous-scented wood [such as aloe wood, etc.], and exported some of them to Europe. Today, black gold has superseded these things, [as was the case in the time of Suleymân (Solomon) ‘alaihis-salâm’.] I wonder if Muslims will manage to establish once again a state as enormous as the empires established by Alexander [d. 323 B.C.] and Napoleon [1769-1821 C.E.]?
The present Arab welfare is due to petroleum. They are trying to become powerful by utilizing this rich treasure in their hands.
The strategy conceived by Prof. Muhammad al Shamalî, Director of Quwait Research center, is as follows: First of all, we have to make progress in knowledge and science. This, in its turn, requires increasing our efforts in scientific research and educating men of knowledge.”
This is the end of the passage translated from the article by the French writer Ferrera.
Islamic scholars state that Islamic knowledge consists of two parts: Religious knowledge, and Scientific knowledge. For being an Islamic scholar it is necessary to learn both these parts.
Every Muslim has to learn and practice the religious knowledge, (the first part). In other words, it is farz-i-’ayn. As for the scientific knowledge, (i.e. the second part;) it is to be learned, as much as necessary, only by those Muslims whose professions necessitate to do so. In other words, it is farz-i-kifâya. A nation which carries out these two precepts will certainly make progress and attain civilization.
Allâhu ta’âlâ purports in the twentieth âyat of the Shûrâ Sûra of the Qur’ân al-kerîm, “To any that desires the tilth of the Hereafter, We give increase in his tilth; and to any that desires the tilth of this world, We grant somewhat thereof, but he has no share or lot in the Hereafter.” (42-20) Desires are not obtained with mere words. It is necessary to hold fast to the causes, i.e. to work. Allâhu ta’âlâ promises to give the wishes of those who exert themselves to obtain the blessings of this world and the next. He declares that He will give anyone who works, Muslim and non-Muslim alike. Europeans, Americans, and Communists attain worldly blessings because they work for them.
Muslims of the Middle Ages were the guides of civilization because they worked as required. The subversive activities carried on by the enemies who had begun to undermine the Abbasids and the Ottomans from within as well as from without prevented them from learning and teaching science and from doing any work in science and arts. Consequently, the great empires collapsed. The religious knowledge consists of îmân (belief), worship, and moral behaviour. Absence of any one of these three components means that the religious knowledge is incomplete. And something incomplete, in its turn, is useless.
The ancient Romans and Greeks and all the European and Asian states had scientific knowledge. Yet their religious knowledge was incomplete. For this reason, they misused the blessings that they had attained in science and technology. They used some works of art in indecencies, while some of them used their technological inventions in tormenting and persecuting other people. Let alone attaining civilization, they broke to pieces, collapsed, and perished.
By the same token, despite the present dazzling and flourishing state of advancement that some non-Muslim but theoretically
Islamic socialist states have attained in science and technology, they are deprived of all the three components of the religious knowledge. They are committing the most vicious sorts of atrocity which wildest people, let alone civilized ones, would be disgusted to do. States of this sort, entirely devoid of Islamic knowledge, are doomed to extinction. History consists of repetitions. Countries like Saudi Arabia should learn lessons from history and correct their belief and morals instead of only working for worldly blessings. Mere scientific progress will not guide them to civilization or save them from perdition.
The Turks, working like their ancestors, have become the scientific guides of other Muslim nations. However, if some young people fall for some deceitful political trends, become involved in sectarian squabbles and try to strangle one another instead of studying science and medicine and working for the welfare of their country, alas for the pains taken for their future, alas for the hopes placed on them, and alas for our poor country!
The only thing that will protect our young people from such harmful thoughts, heretical ideas and wrong ways is for them to purify their hearts and beautify their moral attitudes. And the source of these two virtues, in its turn, is religion. For religion, as we have repeatedly stated, protects a person from doing vices and deviating into heresies, attaches him to his country and to the heroes of his country, and shows him the truest way. What we mean by ‘religion’ is the ‘true religion’, ‘Islam’, and ‘to learn it correctly’.
The aberrant and heretical beliefs which some hypocritical miscreants advocate in the name of religion for the purpose of misleading young people have nothing to do with religion! The Islamic religion is productive. It has never been destructive or separative.
O you valuable youngsters! Keep away from those people who try to provoke you into subversive and separative acts! For those people are the enemies of Islam and our country.