Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Clash of Civilizations?

I must admit, I'm perplexed by this train of thought. I mean, people are so scared about the big bad Islam these days, they seem to skip right over the historical obvious. If the "West" is supposedly a civilization versus "Islam" as the "other" that the West is "clashing" with, how can one reconcile that with history? Islam has not only been a part of Western History and society since it came into being, but also influenced all those things that we consider "civilized". It’s the same argument that my grandfather heard as a child that blacks in America contributed little or nothing to American "society" yet when one examines history and the facts, one will easily see that without black slaves, inventors, minds, etc. there wouldn't even be an America. The same goes with the new Islam contributed little or nothing to civilization mantra that's taking hold. If one examined history in the facts, it would be easy to find out that behind every Western science, mathematical schema, medicine, astronomy, etc. There is a Muslim author. Even the word Algebra for instance, is Arabic. Here's a little history for ya

"Algebra is a branch of mathematics concerning the study of structure, relation and quantity. The name Algebra (from Arabic: الجبر, al-jabr) is derived from the treatise written by the Persian mathematician Muhammad ibn Mūsā al-kwārizmīA titled Al-Kitab al-Jabr wa-l-Muqabala (meaning "The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing"), which provided symbolic operations for the systematic solution of in Latin translation of his other major work on the Indian numerals, introduced the positional number system and the number zero to the Western world in the 12th century. The words ism algorism and algorithm stem from Algoritmi, the Latinization of his name. His name is also the origin of the Spanish word guarismo, meaning digit.

His major contributions to Islamic mathematics, astronomy, astrology, geography and cartography provided foundations for later and even more widespread innovation in algebra, trigonometry, and his other areas of interest. His systematic and logical approach to solving linear and quadratic equations gave shape to the discipline of algebra, a word that is derived from the name of his 830 book on the subject, al-Kitab al-mukhtasar fi hisab al-jabr wa'l-muqabala (الكتاب المختصر في حساب الجبر والمقابلة) or: "The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing". The book was first translated into Latin in the twelfth century.

His book On the Calculation with Hindu Numerals written about 825, was principally responsible for the diffusion of the Indian system of numeration in the Middle-East and then Europe. This book also translated into Latin in the twelfth century, as Algoritmi de numero Indorum. From the name of the author, rendered in Latin as algoritmi, originated the term algorithm. Some of his contributions were based on earlier Persian and Babylonian Astronomy, Indian numbers, and Greek sources.

Al-Khwārizmī systematized and corrected . Ptolemy's data in geography as regards to Africa and the Middle east. Another major book was his Kitab surat al-ard ("The Image of the Earth"; translated as Geography), which presented the coordinates of localities in the known world based, ultimately, on those in the Geography of Ptolemy but with improved values for the length of the Mediterranean Sea and the location of cities in Asia and Africa.

He also assisted in the construction of a world map for the caliph al-Ma'mun and participated in a project to determine the circumference of the Earth, supervising the work of 70 geographers to create the map of the then "known world".

When his work was copied and transferred to Europe through Latin translations, it had a profound impact on the advancement of basic mathematics in Europe. He also wrote on mechanical devices like the astrolabe and sundial."

Now this is just ONE Muslim. If one truly sought out knowledge on such things, they would find a slew of Islamic pioneers in the fields that helped develop the "civilized" world. I used this Muslim as an example to prove that Islam and Muslims are very much a part of the "civilization" we supposedly are clashing with, because Islamic beliefs instilled in these Muslims help build it. That's like saying I’m clashing with my son's identity when I’m the one that gave him the life to have an identity.

We need to be cognizant of our ignorance and seek to destroy it. We are taught as Muslims to seek knowledge and the Quran is replete with verses inviting man to use his intellect, to ponder, to think and to know, for the goal of human life is to discover the Truth which is none other than worshipping God in His Oneness. The Hadith literature is also full of references to the importance of knowledge. Such sayings of the Prophet as "Seek knowledge even in China", "Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave", and "Verily the men of knowledge are the inheritors of the prophets", have echoed throughout the history of Islam and incited Muslims to seek knowledge wherever it might be found. During most of its history, Islamic civilization has been witness to a veritable celebration of knowledge. That is why every traditional Islamic city possessed public and private libraries and some cities like Cordoba and Baghdad boasted of libraries with over 400,000 books. Such cities also had bookstores, some of which sold a large number of titles. That is also why the scholar has always been held in the highest esteem in Islamic society.

The problem is that radicals in Islam, those who use violence, and terror have shaped or have helped shape an image that is incompatible with Islam. The truth of the matter is that these guys don't represent Islam or the truth thereof. Muslims who believe in the Quran as the word of God and strive to follow the example of the Prophet(saw) easily live in the West never losing their Muslim identity and beliefs. The numbers of Muslims in the West that are law-abiding citizens alone are staggering proof to refute the claim of a supposed "clash". How can we clash when we have been here from the beginning? Our existence here all this time proves there is no clash. It’s even that much disturbing for Americans to feed into this foolishness when Islam has been on these shores since they were colonies. Not just by the slaves, but the majority of the founders of this country were well acquainted with Islam and the Quran in one form of another and using some of it as allegorical symbolism in their "secret" affiliations, which culminated with the founding of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine i.e. Shriners. Now I’m not claiming or suggesting any direct affiliation with Islam by these groups, I will leave that to the conspiracy theorists, but what I am pointing out that at the bare minimum in order to use Islamic symbolism one has to know about Islam.

Without getting too deep into it, my point is simply this, Muslims have been an integral part of the West and Western "society" since its inception, so to claim that after centuries of existence now all of a sudden in the 21st century there is a "clash of civilizations" is not only false, but not historically factual.

The best one can say is that there is a clash in ideology and I would agree. The clash in ideology is between those of secularism and fanaticism. Not Islam, because fanatics don't represent a religion that teaches balance, tolerance, and submission.

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