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Myth #28: The Islamic Civilization that Muhammad established, Is And Always Has Been Archaic

Is the Islamic civilization archaic?

The Qur’an, more than 140 times, highlights knowledge as a distinguishing characteristic of believers. Prophet Muhammad declared, “Seeking knowledge is a duty upon every Muslim.” [2]  Archaic means, “obsolete – antiquated – old – ancient – out-of-date,” and Islam stands for the seeking of knowledge – thus it has always promoted advancement and freshness and growth – not the characteristics of an archaic system of thinking at all.

Prophet Muhammad’s example left an incredible impact on the Muslim Ummah. Due to the importance he placed on pursuit of knowledge, Islamic history has bore a vast number of intellectual giants. These giants laid the foundations for the progress in science which followed the medieval period and we witness today. His followers made advancements in agriculture, anthropology, architecture, arts, astronomy, biology, cartography, chemistry, coinage, cosmology, culture, diplomacy, economics, education, engineering, finance, geodesy, geography, geology, government, hermeneutics, history, industry, literature, law, mathematics, medicine, music, navigation, philosophy, physics, poetry, politics, psychology, sociology, and technology. While the list below is not exhaustive, it provides a glimpse into the vast arena of Muslim scholarship (* denotes a polymath):

Hadhrat ibn-e-Abbasra, Akbar the Great,* al-Amidi, Malik ibn-e-Anas, ibn-e-Arabi, Nana Asma’u, al-Astrulabi, al-Athir, Hadhrat Ayeshara, al-Azraqi, Al-Baghdadi, ibn Bajjah,* Rabiah of Basra, al-Battani, ibn Battuta, Bayhaqi, Ulugh Beg, al-Biruni,* Al-Bitruji, al-Bukhari, al-Buzjani, Katib Chelebi,* Abu Dawud, ad-Dimishqi, al-Din,* ad-Dinawari, ad-Durr, Erzurumi, al-Farabi,* al-Farghani, ibn-e-Firnas,* al-Ghafiqi, al-Ghazali,* al-Hajjaj, al-Halabi, ibn-e-Hanbal, Abu Hanifa, Ibn-e-Hisham, al-Haytham,* ibn-e-Hayyan,* ibn-e-Hazm, Hadhrat Salim Mawla Abu-Hudhayfah (ra), al-Humaydi, ibn-e-Ibrahim, al-Idrisi,* Ibn-e-Ishaq, al-Ishbili, Hadhrat Muadh bin Jabalra, al-Jahiz,* al-Jahshiyari, Zubaidah bint Jafar, al-Jazari,* al-Jurjani, Hadhrat Ubayy ibn Kab, al-Udar al-Karimah, al-Kashi, Ibn-e-Kathir, Abul Khair, ibn-e-Khaldun,* Zafrulla Khan, al-Kharkhi, al-Khawarizmi,* al-Khayyam,* al-Khazini,* al-Kindi,* Ali Kuşçu, al-Latif, al-Maghribi, ibn-e-Majah, Abdul Malik, al-Mardini, al-Marrakushi, Hadhrat Abdullah ibn Masud, al-Masudi,* al-Misri, ibn Mubarak,* Sitt al-Mulk, al-Muqaddasi,* the Banu Musa, Walladah bint Mustakfi, Ibrahim Muteferrika,* Rabi’ah bint Mu’awwadh, an-Nabati, an-Nafis,* Sayyida Nafisa, an-Nasa’i, an-Nuwairi, an-Nawawi, al-Qalasadi, Hadhrat Fatima bint Qaysra, ibn-e-Qutayba,* Radiyah Begum, al-Razi,* Razia Sultanah of India, Rumi, ibn-e-Rushd,* Abdus Salaam, Shaghab, ash-Shatir,* Fathullah Shirazi, ibn-e-Sina,* ash-Sufi, as-Sulayhi, ash-Suli, ash-Suyuti,* at-Tabari, at-Tabarani, Hassan bin Thabit, at-Tirmidhi, ibn-e-Tufail,* at-Tusi,* Abu Ubaida, Maryam bint-e-Uthman, ibn-e-Yunus, ibn-e-Zubair, ibn-e-Zuhr,* and az-Zahrawi.*

Islam aside, it hurts one’s head to try to rationalize how critics can attribute Western intellectualism to “Judeo-Christian” culture. Aside from its debt to the Islamic world, Western Civilization is the product of the Renaissance, the Scientific Revolution and the Age of Enlightenment—phenomena whose essence mandated the near wholesale rejection of prevailing Judeo-Christian thought.

Whose culture was shared during the conquest of South America, the Atlantic Slave Trade, when Galileo was condemned for “heresy,” when blasphemous books were burned, when, until the 20th century, women were denied their rights, when thousands upon thousands of witches were burned or hanged in Europe?

Yes, some Muslim cultures today are barbaric and backwards, and Muslims the world over reject them as un-Islamic and inhumane. But history is clear that Muslim empires during Prophet Muhammad’s time, during the time of the rightly guided Khalifas, and even the Almoravids fostered education, pluralism, and multiculturalism.


[1] Ibn Majah

[2] Ibn Majah.

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