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Knowledge and Civilization
The first University in the world in the modern sense was not Cambridge or Oxford, but the Jamia Al-Azhar in Cairo, Egypt. The Professor sat in a chair, students from all over the Muslim world sat on the floor around him. Perhaps that is where the term “Chair in Economics” comes from, for the one who held the chair held the position, otherwise the chair is just a piece of furniture. Even the monk who went on to become Pope Sylvester II at the turn of the first millenium (1000 CE, Y1K) was educated in Muslim institutions in Arabic, since the Muslim countries were the centers of higher education and learning.
Mathematics, chemistry, medicine ..
The Muslims developed mathematics, if you flunked Algebra in high school, you can blame the Muslims for inventing it. Omar Khayyam not only wrote poetry, "The Rubaiyat", but also graphically solved the roots of quadratic equations. If you’ve done programming, you’ve used the name of Al-Khwarizmi, a Muslim mathematician, if you’ve used the word “algorithm”, a corruption of his name. Muslims developed optics, physics and chemistry. The word “alcohol” is from the Arabic "al-kuhl" because the Muslims chemists first isolated and identified it. Muslims established hospitals, developed the Egyptian and Greek medicine, and their medical text books were in use in Europe during the Middle Ages.
Muslims were great navigators, from navigating caravans in the desert at night by using the stars. Some of the terms used in navigation today come from the Arabic – azimuth is from "as samouth" meaning the direction, and the Muslim astrolabe was copied and used by European sea-going navigators. Copernicus used handwritten data in Arabic from Muslim astronomers to formulate his theories, and Galileo used Copernicus’ ideas to develop his theory that the earth revolved round the sun, which he was forced to withdraw when threatened with excommunication by the Church.
Even some of the terms used by American military come straight from the Arabic of the Muslims. "Admiral" is from “Emir al Bahria”, the commander of the navy, for the Muslims were the first to develop the military institution of the navy. Arsenal is from “Ar-risala”, the store, used for the store of weapons and ammunition.
Some concepts of government, like separation of Executive and Judiciary branches of government, existed only in Muslim countries, while in Christian Europe, kings like King George held all the power. The Muslim contributions to jurisprudence, like the use of precedents, has carried over to modern judicial processes.
In the Middle Ages, the only relatively safe place to be a philosopher was in the Muslim countries, while in Christian Europe, the Church was likely to excommunicate, like Galileo, or burn at the stake, like Bruno, those whose ideas they could not comprehend. The Muslim philosopher Ghazali took the work of the Greek philosophers and developed it, and Europeans came to learn through the Muslims in Arabic the work of the Greeks. Francis of Assisi and Thomas Aquinas mention Ghazali as “Al-Gazel” in their own works.
There is no forcible conversion to Islam. Muslims ruled Spain and India for centuries, yet the Christians and Hindus were not forced to convert. There is relative tolerance and freedom of religion for non-Muslims to a degree that is unmatched in history, aside from the last 50 years of political conflicts.
The Muslim countries were the only place where for centuries Jews and Eastern Orthodox Christians found relative safety from Christian persecution, and freedom to practice their religion, where they were not frequent massacres of “Christ Killers”. The greatest Jewish scholar of the Middle Ages, Moses Maimonaides, who developed an interpretation of the Talmud, lived not in Christian Europe, but in Muslim Spain and Egypt, where he was also a high government official. After the Muslims left Spain, the remaining Jews were subjected to the Inquisition and forcibly converted. Many migrated to Muslim countries like Morocco and Iraq, where they lived for centuries till the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.
Part of the foundation of modern civilization
The Muslim civilization developed knowledge and spread its light and civilization over the world. Europeans came to Muslim countries for education and learning. There was no light switch that changed Europe from the Dark Ages to the Renaissance, it was the Muslim civilization that provided the bridge and the illumination.
The Islamic civilization contributed to modern civilization, and is part of the foundation of the modern civilization.
There is so much nonsense about how Muslims are uncivilized that it is necessary to remind people that there are several things in daily use in modern civilization that come straight from the Muslim civilization:
Numbers: The numbers 0, 1, 2, 3 .. are called Arabic because they came from the Muslims, who got them from India. Every time you punch numbers on your phone or keyboards, remember that the numbers come to you from Islam.
Candy: The Muslims brought “qandi” from India, and introduced it to Europe. Next time you pop a candy in your mouth, thank the Muslims.
Coffee: originated in Arabia, called qahwah, so thank the Muslims as you sip your morning coffee.
Chess: If you are a chess player, surprise your opponent by using the original Arabic for “Checkmate”. It is “Al shah maat”, which means literally, “the King is dead”.
University: If you or any of your relatives got a University degree, thank the Muslims who introduced the concept of higher education and Universities.
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