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April 11, 2003


Australian political scientist, David Martin Jones has a long article on Islamic fundamentalism that points out that it is primarily a PRODUCT of modernization and affluence -- with its most dedicated members being largely Westernized and often living in Western countries. Thus modernization and democratization is not going to cure it -- the reverse if anything. Apparently, modern-day, skeptical Western civilization with its lack of any certainties is profoundly alienating for many not born to it and fundamentalist Islam is something that such people turn to as a more satisfying alternative. Thus the Islamic enemy will always be nearby hating us and endangering us unless we become intolerant enough to exclude or crack down on him in some way



We hear a lot about the contribution of the Arabs to the maintenance of civilization in the Middle Ages when Europe had become relatively backward compared to how it was in the days of the Roman Empire. Most of the story is a pious myth, however. It is true that ancient civilization was better known among Muslims at that time but the Muslims did NOT invent or originate any significant part of the knowledge concerned. They borrowed it from the Greek Christians of the still-thriving Eastern Roman empire centred on Byzantium (in what is now Turkey), and from peoples that they conquered, such as the Persians, the Northern Indians and the Assyrians. There is a good summary here showing that most of the famous "Moslem" scholars of the Middle Ages were in fact from the Assyrian Christian community, though not all were very religious. Note also this summary:

The next great luminary of the Islamic world is Abu Ali Sina, known as Avicenna in the West, his "major contribution to medical science was his famous book al-Qanun, known as the "Canon" in the West. The Qanun fi al-Tibb is an immense encyclopedia of medicine extending over a million words. It surveyed the entire medical knowledge available from ancient and Muslim sources. Due to its systematic approach, formal perfection as well as its intrinsic value, the Qanun superseded Razi's Hawi, Ali Ibn Abbas's Maliki, and even the works of Galen, and remained supreme for six centuries. This book was taught as the textbook to the students of Medicine in the University of Bologna until the 17th Century.

Avicenna's philosophy was based on a combination of Aristotelianism and Neoplatonism. Contrary to orthodox Islamic thought, Avicenna denied personal immortality, God's interest in individuals, and the creation of the world in time. Because of his views, Avicenna became the main target of an attack on such philosophy by the Islamic philosopher al-Ghazali and was even called apostate.

There is also Al-Ma'arri, (973-1057) the greatest Syrian poet. He referred to religion as "noxious weeds" and called it a "fable invented by the ancients", worthless except for those who exploit the credulous masses.

Other examples are Omar Khayyam and Ibn Rushd an important philosopher and scientist, known in the Western world as Averroes.These great men upon whose shoulders rests the glory of the golden age of Islam were not Muslims and even were critical of it.

(Crossposted from Dissecting Leftism)