It is the thread that links cars, carpets and cameras and is also
responsible for three-course meals, bookshops and modern medicine. The
Islamic civilisation, according to the curators of a national exhibition
that opened this week, has made an enormous but largely neglected
contribution to the way we live in the west.
It lifts the veil on hundreds of innovations - from kiosks and chess through
to windmills and cryptography - that are often popularly associated with the
western world but originate from Muslim scholarship and science.
Based on more than 3,000 peer-reviewed academic studies, the exhibition
charts Islamic innovations during ten decades of "missing history" spanning
from the 6th to the 16th century and covering an area stretching from China
to southern Spain. . . .
[There was once a civilization that was the greatest in the world.
It was able to create a continental super-state that stretched from ocean to
ocean, and from northern climes to tropics and deserts. Within its dominion
lived hundreds of millions of people, of different creeds and ethnic
. . . The technology industry would not exist without the contributions of
Arab mathematicians. Sufi poet-philosophers like Rumi challenged our notions
of self and truth. Leaders like Suleiman contributed to our notions of
tolerance and civic leadership. . . .
This kind of enlightened leadership - leadership that nurtured culture,
sustainability, diversity and courage - led to 800 years of invention and
prosperity.--Carly Fiorina, "Technology,
Business and Our Way of Life: What's Next," hp.com, September 26, 2001
- read last 12 paragraphs]
IN THE BEGINNING. THERE WERE TWO NATIONS. ONE WAS A VAST, mighty and magnificent empire,
brilliantly organized and culturally unified, which dominated a massive swath of the earth. The other was
an undeveloped, semifeudal realm, riven by religious factionalism and barely able to feed its illiterate,
diseased and stinking masses. The first nation was India. The second was England. . . .
Though governed by Muslims under a legal system based loosely on sharia law, its
millions of non-Muslim subjects - Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists - were allowed freedom of
conscience and custom.
This empire was ruled by the world's most powerful man, Akbar the Great. Akbar was one
of the most successful military commanders of all time, a liberal philosopher of
distinction and a generous patron of the arts. . . . His hobbies were discussing
metaphysics, . . .--Alex Von Tunzelmann, "Indian Summer: The
Secret History of the End of an Empire," Henry Holt and Co.; 1st edition (August 7, 2007)
[A series of
documentary travelogues in which Tim Mackintosh-Smith follows in the
footsteps of 14th Century Moroccan scholar Ibn Battutah, who covered 75,000
miles, 40 countries and three continents in a 30-year odyssey. He was
Islam's and perhaps the world's greatest traveller--"The Man Who Walked
Across The World," BBC, August 29, 2008]