Another pretentious approach to praise Islamic inventions is made through the internet. An article titled “How Islamic inventors changed the world” was written by Paul Vallely, begins with the following statement: “From coffee to checks and the three-course meal, the Muslim world has given us many innovations that we take for granted in daily life.” In his article, Vallely lists twenty “Islamic inventions that changed the world” and reveals their actual inventors and the true role of Islam/Muslims behind the inventions.
The answer to these atrocious claims is heavily taken from the internet article: “how Islamic inventors did not change the world.” Regrettably, this inaccurate piece of writing not to say full of sheer lies, has received much praise from Muslims and is still being widely circulated on Islamic websites, forums, blogs, and is even used as a source to validate false claims of Islamic inventions in many separated articles on Wikipedia.
Coffee. According to Vallely it was invented by an Arab named Khalid, in the Kaffa region of southern Ethiopia. He boiled berries of a tree to make the first coffee. However, this man was an Abyssinian; that is he was an Orthodox Christian. So, if this legend were to be true, Khalid (or Kaldi) would not have been a Muslim, but a Christian.
Vision. According to Vallely, the first person to realize that light enters the eye, rather than leaving it, was Ibn al-Haytham. He invented the first pin-hole camera and set up the first Camera Obscura (from the Arab word Qamara, for a dark or private room). He was also the first man to shift physics from a philosophical activity to an experimental one.However,the basic optical principles of the pinhole are commented on in Chinese texts from the 5th century BC. Both the claims, that Ibn al-Haytham created intromission theory, and that he invented the pin-hole camera, are false. Intromission theory originated in Greek philosophy by Aristotle and Galen. The term “camera” was not derived from Arabic, but the opposite: the Arabic word “Qamara” has been borrowed from the Latin word “camera.” The term camera was first coined by Johannes Kepler (1571–1630). “Camera Obscura” means literally a “dark room.”
Chess. According to Vallely Islam developed and was the cause of the spread of chess to Europe. However, this is an offence to the Islamic religion as chess is forbidden. It was condemned by Muhammad who compared playing chess with dying ones hand with the flesh and blood of a swine (Sahīh Muslim, 28:5612.al-Muwatta, 52:7). The internet publication “history of Chess” is commonly held that the first version of the game was invented in India. It spread to Persia before the Islamic conquests, and was carried by the Byzantine Empire to Europe. From there it was introduced by the Moors in Spain in the 10th century.
Flying. According to Vallely, a Muslim poet, astronomer and engineer Andalusian named Abbas Ibn Firnas made several attempts to construct a flying machine. In 852 he jumped from the minaret of the Grand Mosque in Cordoba, creating what is thought to be the first parachute. In 875, he perfected a machine of silk and eagles’ feathers he jumped from a mountain. He flew to a significant height and stayed aloft for ten minutes. This is a thousand years before the Wright brothers. As far as flying is concerned, at the beginning were the kites, and these were a Chinese invention. They date back as far as 3,000 years. The earliest written account of kite flying was about 200 BC. In 478 BC a Chinese Philosopher, Mo Zi. Kites were also used in Chinese warfare for years, meant to frighten the enemy. The ancient Greek engineer, Hero of Alexandria, worked with air pressure and steam to create sources of power. One experiment that he developed was the aeolipile, which used jets of steam to create rotary motion. The importance of the aeolipile is that it marks the start of engine invention. Given all of the above information, how can anyone possibly accredit the invention of flight to a 9th century Muslim jumping off a mosque in Spain?
Bathing. According to Vallely, since washing and bathing are religious requirements for Muslims, which perhaps explain why they perfected the recipe for soap which we still use today. The ancient Egyptians had soap of a kind, as did the Romans. But it was the Arabs who combined vegetable oils with sodium hydroxide and aromatics such as thyme oil. Shampoo was introduced to England by a Muslim.However, Sumarians produced thousands of years before the formal invention of soap from a mixture of alkaline ash and fat-containing substances. A soap-like material found in excavation of ancient Babylon as early as 2800 BC. The “Muslim” that Paul Vallely is referring to who introduced shampoo, was not a Muslim but a Christian convert. Moreover, the Jews have strict rules concerning washing and hygiene related to religious rituals. Olive oil soap and lighting was known from the beginning of Jewish history in the Land of Israel. This happened thousands of years before Islam, and all evidence prove that Islam’s religious ritual was taken from Judaism. Like the ancient Egyptians before, daily bathing was also an important event in the ancient Roman world. Soap-making by guilds was an established craft in Europe by the 7th century. The English began making soap during the 12th century.
Distillation. According to Vallely, the means of separating liquids through differences in their boiling points, was invented around the year 800 by Islam’s foremost scientist, Jabir Ibn Hayyan, who transformed alchemy into chemistry, inventing many of the basic processes and apparatus still in use today. As well as discovering sulphuric and nitric acid, he invented the alembic still, giving the world intense rosewater and other perfumes and alcoholic spirits. Ibn Hayyan was the founder of modern chemistry. However, distillation apparatus from the Chinese Han dynasty, dated around the first century AD. The earliest evidence for its invention is a distillation apparatus and terra-cotta perfume containers recently identified in the Indus Valley, dating from around 3,000 BC. The first firm documentary evidence for distillation comes from the Greek historian Herodotus, dated 425 BC. The Arabs may have improved upon the process of distillation some 3500 years later, but they most definitely did not invent it.
The crank-shaft. According to Vallely, this was one of the most important mechanical inventions in the history of humankind. It was created by an ingenious Muslim engineer called al-Jazari to raise water for irrigation. His 1206 Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices shows he also invented or refined the use of valves and pistons, devised some of the first mechanical clocks driven by water and weights, and was the father of robotics. Among his 50 other inventions was the combination lock. However, the crank-shaft was known to the Chinese of the Han Dynasty. It was also used on Roman medical devices. In year 834 AD the crank was used in Europe. Piston technology was also used by Hero of Alexandria in the 1st century AD with the creation of the world’s first steam-powered engine—the aeolipile, more than a thousand years before al-Jazari. Hero of Alexandria deserves the title “father of robotics” and not al-Jazari. As for the water clock, the ancient Egyptians used a time mechanism run by flowing water. One of the oldest was found in the tomb of an Egyptian pharaoh buried in 1500 BC, and the Chinese began developing mechanized clocks from around 200 BC. The more impressive mechanized water clocks were developed between 100 BC and 500 AD by Greek and Roman horologists and astronomers. Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, and astronomer Archimedes (287–212 BC) is also said to have made such a device. As about the Combination Lock, it was on use during the Roman period.
Quilting. It is a method of sewing or tying two layers of cloth with a layer of insulating material in between. According to Vallely, it is not clear whether it was invented in the Muslim world or whether it was imported there from India or China, but still Vallely chose to include quilting as an Islamic invention. However, again the evidence is clearly against. The actual origins of quilting remains unknown, but its history can so far be traced to ancient China, Egypt of the first pharaonic dynasty, in 3400 BC, and in Mongolia somewhere between the 1st century BC and the 2nd century AD.
Architecture. According to Vallely, the pointed arch so characteristic of Europe’s Gothic cathedrals was an invention borrowed from Islamic architecture, allowing building of bigger, higher, and more complex buildings. Other borrowings from Muslim genius included ribbed vaulting, rose windows and dome building techniques. Europe’s castles were also adapted to copy the Islamic world. However, there is no basis or credible evidence for Vallely’s claim that Europeans “copied” the structural elements of Muslim castles. When it comes to revolutionary architectural inventions, nothing is greater than the creation of concrete, a material perfected by the Romans. This enabled them to erect buildings that would have been impossible to construct using the traditional stone system. As about the pointed arch, it was in fact the Assyrians and not the Muslims who first used it as early as 722 BC. The best example of a dome in the ancient world is the Pantheon in Rome, built almost 500 years before Islam. It remained as the greatest dome in the world until the 15th century construction of the Florence Cathedral (1420–36). The second most impressive pre-Islamic dome is that of the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, built during the years 532–537 AD. In fact, it was the Muslims who borrowed from older Christian architecture. As about rose windows, the invention depends entirely on glass and craftsmanship, originated around 2,000 BC. The best glass manufacturers and exporters were the Phoenicians, who had a great supply of silica rich sands. The invention of the arrow-slit is attributed to Archimedes during the Siege of Syracuse in 214–212 BC.
Instruments. According to Vallely, many modern surgical instruments are of exactly the same design as those devised in the 10th century by the Muslim surgeon, al-Zahrawi. His devised 200 instruments are recognizable to a modern surgeon. In the 13th century, another Muslim medic named Ibn Nafis described the circulation of the blood, 300 years before William Harvey discovered it. Muslims doctors also invented anesthetics of opium and alcohol mixes and developed hollow needles to suck cataracts from eyes.However,the Greek and Roman physicians had access to a variety of surgical instruments. These medical instruments, which are now on display in museums around the world, were all available to the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates (460–370 BC) who lived more than a thousand years before Islam. It was also the Greek physician and medical researcher Claudius Galenus (129–217 AD), who first used catgut to close wounds and not al-Zahrawi. As for the circulation of the blood, the Chinese Book of Medicine describes this 1,600 years before Ibn Nafis. Cataract surgery has been performed for many centuries. The earliest reference was written by a Hindu surgeon in manuscripts dating from the 5th century BC. In Rome, archaeologists found surgical instruments used to treat cataract dating back to the 1st and 2nd century AD. Anesthetics of opium and alcohol mixes were used both by the ancient Chinese and Romans.
The windmill. According to Vallely, it was invented in 634 for a Persian caliph and was used to grind corn and draw up water for irrigation, 500 years before the first windmill was seen in Europe.However, a lie again. Contrary to the Vallely’s claim, there was no caliph in Persia in 634, and there was no Islamic windmill in 634. The first rotary mills were discovered in Turkey and existed 8,000 years ago. As about grain-grinding and water-pumping, one of the earliest can be found in 1st century BC in Greek writings. China is also often claimed as the birthplace of the windmill, but the earliest actual documentation was in 1219 AD.
Inoculation. According to Vallely, the technique of inoculation was not invented by Jenner and Pasteur but was devised in the Muslim world and brought to Europe from Turkey by the wife of the English ambassador to Istanbul in 1724. Children in Turkey were vaccinated with cowpox to fight the deadly smallpox at least 50 years before the West discovered it. However, this is most inaccurate. Indeed, Jenner and Pasteur were not the inventors of inoculation but neither were the Muslims. Inoculation against smallpox began in China during the 10th century, but the earliest documented reference comes from text written in 1549. In India, physicians conferred immunity by applying scabs to the scarified skin of the healthy. The technique of inoculation spread west to Turkey and then Europe.
The fountain pen. According to Vallely, it was invented for the Sultan of Egypt in 953 after he demanded a pen which would not stain his hands or clothes. It held ink in a reservoir by a combination of gravity and capillary action.However, this nice story is provided without any proof or corroboration. The history of the fountain pen begins with the quill pen, which was used by the Pharaonic kings 4,000 years ago. Though the first pencil was invented by Conrad Gessner in 1567, until the end of the 18th century when the metal pen was invented. A fountain pen which functioned as a pen with a piston was created by Folsch in 1809.
The system of numbering. According to Vallely, the system of numbering in use all round the world is probably Indian in origin but the style of the numerals is Arabic and first appears in print in the work of the Muslim mathematicians, al-Khwarizmi and al-Kindi around 825. Algebra was named after al-Khwarizmi’s book, al-Jabr wa-al-Muqabilah, much of whose contents are still in use. The work of Muslim maths scholars was imported into Europe 300 years later by the Italian mathematician Fibonacci. Algorithms and much of the theory of trigonometry came from the Muslim world. al-Kindi’s discovery of frequency analysis rendered all the codes of the ancient world soluble and created the basis of modern cryptology.However, today’s system of numbering evolved from the Indian Brahmi numerals which were developed in the beginning of the first century. Even Arabs themselves refer to as “Hindu numerals.” Theorigins of algebra is traced to the ancient Babylonians who were able to do calculations in an algorithmic fashion. The mathematician Diophantus of Alexandria (214–298 AD) who authored a series of books called “Arithmetica” and is commonly referred to as “the father of algebra.” It is universally accepted that the system of numbering we use today (the digits 0 to 9) was invented in India. The use of zero as a number is found in many ancient Indian texts. The concept of negative numbers was recognized between 100–50 BC by the Chinese.
Greek and Indian mathematicians studied the theory of rational numbers. The best known is Euclid’s Elements, dated 300 BC. Euclid is also often referred to as the “Father of Geometry.” The earliest use of irrational numbers is in the Indian Sulba Sutras (800–500 BC). The earliest known conception of mathematical infinity appears in the Hindu text Yajur Veda. The earliest reference to square roots of negative numbers were made by Greek mathematician and inventor Heron of Alexandria (10–70 AD). Prime numbers have been studied throughout recorded history. The mathematical branch of Trigonometry has been studied by ancient Egyptians and Babylonians, but the ancient Greeks are responsible to modern trigonometric formulae. And finally, the earliest known algorithms were developed by ancient Babylonians (1600 BC). Cryptology itself can be traced back to the time of Julius Caesar.
Three course meal. According to Vallely, Ali Ibn Nafi’ came to Cordoba in the 9th century and brought with him the concept of the three-course meal – soup, followed by fish or meat, then fruit and nuts. He also introduced crystal glasses (which had been invented after experiments with rock crystal by Abbas ibn Firnas).However, indeed having to include the three course meal in any top 20 list of inventions is embarrassing. Still, it is not a Muslim invention. It is Roman’s one. It was the pre-Islamic Persians who introduced the dessert into Asia Minor. Also, Abbas ibn Firnas did not invent crystal glass. Clear glass appeared during the 15th century in Venice, and was called cristallo. Crystal was invented 175 years later, after glassmaker George Ravenscroft added lead oxide to glass, creating lead crystal glass.Carpets. According to Vallely, carpets were regarded as part of Paradise by medieval Muslims, thanks to their advanced weaving techniques. , new tinctures from Islamic chemistry and highly developed sense of pattern and arabesque which were the basis of Islam’s non-representational art. Europe’s floors were distinctly earthy, until Arabian and Persian carpets were introduced. However, the earliest known carpet was discovered in the Altai Mountains in Siberia, dated from the fifth century BC and is now kept in the Hermitage museum of St. Petersburg. Evidence suggests that some forms of rug-weaving were used in Pharaonic Egypt, Babylon and Persia about 4,000 years ago. The Romans were fond of rugs and used them intensively.
The modern check. According to Vallely, the modern check comes from the Arabic word, Saqq, a written vow to pay for goods when they were delivered, to avoid money having to be transported across dangerous terrain. In the 9th century, a Muslim businessman could cash a check in China drawn on his bank in Baghdad.The Pharaonic Egyptians invented the book, as well as the material on which it could first be written, via papyrus. Up until the middle of the tenth century, papyrus was the main source of writing material. The only surviving copies of two works of the third century BC, Greek mathematician Archimedes, were on papyrus (Huff, The Rise of Early Modern Science).
Earth is round.According to Vallely, by the 9th century, many Muslim scholars took it for granted that the Earth was a sphere. The proof, said Ibn Hazm, “is that the Sun is always vertical to a particular spot on Earth”. The calculations of Muslim astronomers were so accurate, the Earth’s circumference to be 40,253.4km, less than 200 km out. Along these lines, Science and Technology Minister, Fikri Işık, claims that Muslim scientists working around 1,200 years ago (some 700-800 years before Galileo Galilei) were the first to determine that the Earth is a sphere.However, everything that has been attributed to Muslim Arabs, had already been discovered by not only the pre-Islamic East, but also by the pre-Christian Greeks. The fact that the Earth is spherical was common knowledge among Ancient Greeks Pythagoras (570–495 BC), Aristotle (384–322 BC) and Hipparchus (190–120 BC). Eratosthenes (275–194 BC) measured the circumference of the earth to a figure very close to what we know of at present. The Greek philosopher and mathematician Aristarchus (320–230 BC) even knew the Earth revolves around the Sun and not the other way around. Indian astronomer and mathematician, Aryabhata (476–550 AD), also deal with the sphericity of the Earth, the motion of the planets, and that its circumference is 39,968 km, which is close to the current equatorial value of 40,075 km. He also calculated the length of the day to be 23 hours, 56 minutes, and 4.1 seconds.
Gunpowder. According to Vallely, though the Chinese invented saltpetre gunpowder, and used it in their fireworks, it was the Arabs who worked out that it could be purified using potassium nitrate for military use. By the 15th century they had invented both a rocket and a marine torpedo. However, indeed the Chinese invented saltpetre gunpowder, and saltpetre is in fact potassium nitrate. The Chinese were also the first to fire cannon in war, gun, grenade, and fire arrows carried flammable materials or sometimes poison-coated heads. By the end of the 13th century, armies of Japan and India are believed to have acquired sufficient knowledge of gunpowder propelled fire arrows. At the same time,scientific papers on the subject of the preparation of gunpowder and its application in weaponry were being published in Europe. Notable works were prepared by Roger Bacon, Albertus Magnus, and Marchus Graecus before the close of the 13th Century. In 1379, an Italian named Muratori used the word “rochetta” when he described types of gunpowder propelled fire arrows used in medieval times. This was the first use of rocket.
Gardens. According to Vallely, Medieval Europe had kitchen and herb gardens, but it was the Arabs who developed the idea of the garden as a place of beauty and meditation. The first royal pleasure gardens in Europe were opened in 11th-century Muslim Spain. Flowers which originated in Muslim gardens include the carnation and the tulip.However, gardens were in Middle Eastern tradition long before Islam, to mention the legendary Hanging Gardens of Babylon around 600 BC. It also ignores the beautifully artistic Chinese Suzhou gardens (770–476 BC) which were designed for relaxation. The Roman tradition of gardens and fountains used for meditation. The oldest pictorial records of gardens are from Ancient Egyptian tomb paintings.
It is much more important, to accredit inventions to a religion is complete nonsense. Inventions are the result of ingenuity on the part of one or more people. In fact, what have the Arabs invented lately? The answer is not much in the last one thousand years. Moreover, many Islamic nations are stuck in the dark ages because of their corruption, religion and wars. Millions of people live in squalor with inadequate toilets and water. The West patents hundreds of thousands of inventions a year whereas the entire Muslim world has only a handful in its entire history, if any. The reason for this is plain: Islam forbids creativity and ingenuity. It discourages resourcefulness and innovation. It promotes strict observance of religion instead. How is that, the Science Museum publish and exhibit these mere lies? Simple again: money. Big money is being used to propagate these lies to the public in the name of diversity and multiculturalism. Unfortunately, Muslim strategy to conquer the world and to subdue humanity is highly successful, also due to the policies of ignorance, appeasement and oblivion.
For those who wish to balance: imagine history of the Arab life in Arabia, tribes with two main occupations of day by day living: Ghazawāt (raids) and Ghanā’im (booty). This was also their main occupation during Muhammad’s times and the conquest eras (al-Khulafā’ ar-Rāshidûn, the Umayyad and the Abbasid Dynasties). These tribes were not acquainted with sciences and culture. Their religion does not recommend investigation, criticism, open-mindedness, rationalism, skepticism and free thinking. Were from one suddenly expects the Arabs to dwell with sciences?
Philip Carl Salzman sketches out two patterns of rule that historically have dominated the Arab-Muslim Middle East and are key to understanding it: tribal autonomy and tyrannical centralism. Tribal autonomy means, tribal confederations seize control of the political system and exploit their power unabashedly to forward their own interests, and cruelly exploiting their subject population. Tyrannical centralism means autocratic rule, political mercilessness, and economic stagnancy that account Islam’s “bloody borders:” widespread hostility toward the infidels, non-Muslims.
Tribesmen and subjects, not citizens, populate the region. Middle Eastern countries retain “us-versus-them mentality” which dooms universalism, the rule of law, and constitutionalism. Trapped by these ancient patterns, Middle Eastern societies “perform poorly by most social, cultural, economic, and political criteria.” As the region fails to modernize, it falls steadily further behind. For Fouad Ajami it is clear: under the modern cover, the reality of clans and tribe persists and the calling voice of antagonism.
André Servier, historian of North Africa, has related to the issue boldly: “Islam was not a torch but an extinguisher.” Conceived in a barbarous brain for the use of a barbarous people, it was and it remains incapable of adapting itself to civilization. Wherever it has dominated, it has broken the impulse towards progress and checked the evolution of society. Islam is all the unimaginative brain of a Bedouin that copies, and in copying it distorts the original. The Arab has borrowed everything from other nations, even religious ideas. Incapable of rising to high philosophic conceptions, It has distorted, mutilated and desiccated everything. This destructive influence explains the decadence of the Muslim nations and their powerlessness to break away from barbarism. Islam is a doctrine of death and it formally forbids any change, any evolution, and any progress. In the history of the nations, Islam has never been an element of civilization and the Islamic nations have been stricken with intellectual paralysis and decadence.
Bertrand Russell, the British philosopher and historian, also relates to this issue: “Mohammedanism and Bolshevism are practical, social, unspiritual, concerned to win the empire of the world. It was the duty of the faithful to conquer as much of the world as possible for Islam… The first conquests of the Arabs began as mere raids for plunder, and only turned into permanent occupation after experience has shown the weakness of the enemy… The Arabs, although they conquered a great part of the world in the name of a new religion were not very religious. The motive of their conquests was plunder and wealth rather than religion… In modern politics this embodied in imperialism.”
Von Grunebaum, the distinguished orientalist, suggested that Islamic science was a mimic of Greek science. Islam failed to put natural resources to such use as would insure progressive control of the physical conditions of life. Inventions, discoveries, and improvements might be accepted but hardly ever were searched for. Ernest Renan, the French philologist, believed that Islamic science could only flourish in association with heresy, and that Islam was simply a vehicle transmitting Greek philosophy to the Renaissance in Europe. Pierre Duhem, the physicist-philosopher-historian believed: “There is no Arabian science. The wise men of Mohammedanism were always the more or less faithful disciples of Greeks, but were themselves destitute of all originality…”
The truth is simple: the Arabs conquered the most cultured scientific peoples, in Iraq, Persia, India, and the Hellenist-Roman Christianity. Their peoples came under Islamic rule and were Islamized. They were forced to write in Arabic, they were forced to convert to Islam. Does that mean their scientific contribution is Islamic? Science does not emerge out of nothing, science is a continuous process of thesis, anti-thesis and synthesis. How that relates to the situation in Arabia? There were admittedly few Arabs that accepted and absorbed the age of scientific development, but they unfortunately were few and negligent. Even Ibn Khaldun refers with contempt to the retarded savage “Bedouins of the desert,” as compare to the city dwellers.
To the Islamic falsifications, Assyrians reacted to what they call “Islamic imperialistic expropriation behavior.” Arab-Islamic civilization is not a progressive, but regressive. It does not give impetus, but retards. The great civilizations in the Middle East have never been Arab-Muslim, but Babylonian, Persian, Pharaonic, Buddhist, Jewish and Christian. Arabs-Muslims were plundering Bedouins, engaged in an explicit ongoing campaigns of destruction and expropriation of cultures, identities and ideas, of ethnic cleansing and Arabization and Islamization. Wherever Arab-Muslim civilization encounters a non-Arab-Muslim one, it attempts to destroy it, to Arabize and Islamize it, and to expropriate its achievements. This is a pattern that has been recurring since the advent of Islam, 1400 years ago.
If the “foreign” culture cannot be destroyed, then it is expropriated, and revisionist historians claim that it is an Arab. This is exactly the case of the Land Israel, when the so-called “Palestinians,” a new invention of the second half of the 20th century, expropriate the Jewish history and rights over the land. This is the case of the Assyrians in Babylon, who first settled Nineveh in year 5000 B.C. Even the word ‘Arab’ is an Assyrian word, meaning “Westerner” (‘Ma’rabiyeh’), first used by King Sennacherib, 800 B.C. The Assyrian group end their declaration by claiming: one must be very sensitive not to unwittingly and inadvertently support Arab-Islamic Imperialism, with its attempts to wipe out all other cultures religions and civilizations by expropriating their cultural scientific achievements.
One has to look into the history of Islam of the occupied territories. What happened to the ancient Middle East that has become Arabized and Islamized? What happened to the glorious Christian centers of Alexandria in Egypt and Antioch in Syria; what happened to the great Babylonian scientific achievements led by the Assyrians; what happened to the wondrous of Persian civilizations; what happened to the Buddhist achievements and glorious sites? Why all these and many others magnificent civilizations have disappeared? Indeed, they all had gone with the wind of the stormy desert of Arab-Islamic primitive invasions. And today, what is the fate of the minorities during the last 1400 years in the Middle East under the so-called Islamic “tolerance”? What is the fate today of the Nubians in Egypt; the Berbers in North Africa; the Negroid in Sudan; the Assyrians in Iraq and Syria? Can one really imagine the existential threats posed on Israel as a Jewish nation and a Zionist state if it fails?
*part of a larger book titled, Why Islam is a Danger to the World: A Scholarly Rebuttal of Muslim Propaganda, be published by Mellen Press.
Fostering Inclusivity: Spiritual Discovery in International Ethics and Diplomacy
The concept of inclusion and understanding is not a new-age phenomenon but an essential aspect of any discussion and dialogue that aims to unite diversified perspectives. In the international sphere, especially diplomacy, this inclusivity and understanding take a prime role in fostering meaningful conversations, leading to significant breakthroughs in relations.
Spirituality significantly influences diplomatic interactions. Intrinsically human, spirituality shapes our values, beliefs, and visions. In diplomacy, this force becomes influential as countries shape their national ethos influenced by dominant spiritual or religious sentiments. And the teachings of TheosU about inclusivity and multi-religious dialogues may lead to increased harmony.
Spirituality varies across cultures and nations, shaping unique patterns of thoughts and behaviors. Understanding these dynamics aids in comprehending international ethics and its application in diplomatic scenarios.
Here’s where we delve into the realm of spiritual diplomacy. This involves integrating an understanding of various religious sentiments into diplomatic practices.
Essential aspects of spiritual diplomacy involve fostering cross-cultural dialogue and creating relationships through mutual respect for religious beliefs.
As a proponent of spiritual diplomacy, one key goal is to maintain harmony amidst what is known as heterogeneity – keeping peace in the face of conflicting religious or spiritual views requires careful negotiation within ethical boundaries.
A good negotiator understands meeting ethical implications involves grasping unspoken norms that are part and parcel of societal standards formed by dominant religions.
Technology will play a big part in ethical considerations also. There are now online Bible lessons and lectures on religious scriptres. However, care must be taken to foster inclusivity and non-religious spirituality.
Mindfulness techniques can be your aids to provide balanced judgments while facilitating negotiations between contrasting faiths. Developing compassionate awareness helps you form an enlightened understanding essential for meaningful interfaith encounters.
Walking the tightrope between various faiths requires careful, respectful navigation to avoid discord or antagonism. Migration is a hot topic. And making a plan for inclusion for all regardless of nationality or religion is a worthy goal.
Understand the need to unpack biases posing as significant hurdles to foster unbiased dialogues while at the same time planting seeds of empathy over intolerance.
Understanding how different religious practices can affect daily political affairs is integral to handle international relations effectively. Promoting balance within global interactions infuses inclusivity into standard diplomatic routines ensuring valuable room for diverse perspectives.
Spirituality may not strike as a critical aspect when one thinks about diplomacy; however, it plays a crucial role in bridging gaps that ideological differences may bring. The aim of diplomacy is to further one’s goals.
With nations often defined by their unique spiritual and cultural ethos, failing to incorporate these valuable insights can run the risk of misinterpretation and conflicts.
Therefore, spiritual diplomacy emerges as a bridge that connects these different ideologies through a common route of mutual respect.
Inclusion starts with acknowledging diversity. Recognising that religious beliefs are deeply personal yet universally present in various forms provides individuals the strength to appreciate diversity. Religious diplomacy has come to the forefront in recent times.
While discussions can reinforce stereotypes or misunderstandings about other faiths, they also have the potential to be valuable tools in debunking these biases and promoting an inclusive environment where diverse religious outlooks can coexist.
Emphasising inclusivity goes hand-in-hand with ensuring equality across all faiths amidst diplomatic relations. It helps condition the diplomatic realm into more than merely a negotiation table but transforms it into an arena where sacred values are exchanged and appreciated.
This advocacy sets a precedent in international relations valuing human dignity over regional divisions.
Understanding one’s biases is the first step towards cultivating inclusive dialogues based on empathy rather than contention in today’s interconnected world.
Familiarising oneself with mindfulness techniques can aid diplomats in maintaining equanimity while navigating sensitive interfaith discussions. Inculcating compassion even beyond personal beliefs fosters an atmosphere of dialogue rooted in tolerance, leading towards prosperous international ties.
The initiative towards promoting inclusive spirituality is not free from obstacles. Culture resistance, societal prejudices, and stereotypes serve as formidable challenges to implementing inclusive spirituality in diplomacy.
These factors require persistent efforts to dismantle. It involves replacing age-old misconceptions with facts and maintaining open-mindedness for welcoming wisdom from all religious circles.
In conclusion, nurturing the harmony between spirituality, ethics, and diplomacy emerges as a potent tool in international relations. It attests to the power of collaboration and mutual respect in an increasingly diverse world.
By embracing this inclusive spiritual diplomacy, countries can create spaces for genuine dialogue and understanding among different faiths, encouraging peaceful collaborations and productive resolutions.
Congeniality Between Islam and Democracy
In the contemporary era, compatibility between Islam and democracy is one of the most recent and controversial debate. Diverse opinions are found but to effectively compare the congeniality between the two, one should first understand democracy and its features then compare this political system with Islamic governance. Democracy as a model of self-government can co-exist with Islam because they have principles like separation of powers, checks and balance, legitimacy, constitution, accountability and protection of human rights in common.
About half of the states today have democratic form of government. Starting as Athenian form of direct democracy in 15th century to today’s representative and liberal forms of democracy (indirect democracies), a number of states have gone through democratization. It has spread beyond Western Europe to Southern Europe, Eastern Europe, Latin America, (most) Asia and Africa. When Soviet Union collapsed, democracy trampled communism. The soviet allies, that practiced communism, adopted democracy as solution for modernity and freedom. Democracy also advanced to Middle East in the hopes of end of dictatorship, but there, it got rejected. It led to the idea that Islam can never be compatible with democracy. However, recent happenings in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt have raised this question once again. This leads to the assumption that democracy is static and cannot adopt other cultures, which is not true because we see evolution in west which embraced of democratic principles.
In theoretical application of Islam, Middle Eastern Countries do understand and appreciate democratic process and its meaning in their own unique way. Then why Muslims Countries have not been democratized? This leads to question of the compatibility between Islam and democracy. West believes that attachment of religious values to democratic government is contagious but there are a number of values common in Islam and democracy which make them compatible. For this reason first we should understand what is democracy and its features and then what similarities exist between Islam and Democracy.
According to President Abraham Lincoln, in his famed 1863 Gettysburg Address may have best-defined democracy as a “…government of the people, by the people, for the people…”.The core principle of democracy is self-rule. The basic features of democracy are separation of powers, checks and balances, existence of constitution, periodic elections and protection of fundamental rights.
There are a number of Muslim like Ahmad Moussalli and Muhammad Asad and Non-Muslim scholars who talk about compatibility of the two. They give importance to the principles of consultation, people’s will, transparency, and Accountability. For example, Robin Wright, a well-known American expert on the Middle East and the Muslim world writes: “neither Islam nor its culture is the major obstacle to political modernity”. John O. Voll and John L. Esposito, two bridge-builders between Islam and the West articulate: “The Islamic heritage, in fact, contains concepts that provide a foundation for contemporary Muslims to develop authentically Islamic programs of democracy.”
Below are the similarities between Islam and Democracy.
Constitutional Government: Like democracy, Islamic governance is fundamentally a “constitutional” government, in which the constitution reflects the agreement of the governed to govern according to a specified and agreed-upon framework of rights and duties. For Muslims, the constitution is based on the Qur’an and Sunnah. No authority, other than the governed, has the authority to repeal or amend such a constitution. As a result, Islamic administration cannot be despotic, hereditary, or militaristic in nature. Such a government structure is egalitarian in nature, and egalitarianism is one of Islam’s defining characteristics. It is also commonly agreed that the Islamic republic in Medina was founded on a constitutional foundation and a pluralistic framework that included non-Muslims.
Participatory: An Islamic political system is participative. The system is participatory from the establishment of the institutional structure of governance to its operation. It means that leadership and policies will be implemented with complete, gender-neutral participation of the governed through a popular electoral process. Muslims can use their ingenuity to institute and continuously enhance their systems, based on Islamic precepts and human experience to date. This participation feature is actually Islamic Shura (consultation).
Accountability: This is a necessary corollary to a democratic system. Within an Islamic system, leaders and those in positions of responsibility are held accountable to the people. According to the Islamic framework, all Muslims are answerable to Allah and his divine guidance. However, this is more in a theological sense. People are the focus of practical accountability. Thus, the Khulafa ar-Rashidoon were both Khalifat-ur-Rasool (representative of the Messenger) and Khalifat-ul- Muslimeen (representative of the Muslims)
Legitimacy: Just like in democracy, the people are allowed to select who to govern them i.e. give legitimacy to administer their affairs, in Islam, Jurists have the authority to approve any political decision made by the monarch and the power to protest to the ruler’s decision if it is contradictory to Shariah. As a result, the political elite required the legitimacy of legal professors. Thus, in the ancient past, we can observe how jurists and kings work together constantly. That close historical relationship between religious interpretations and the political arena explains why Islam attempts to establish norms and laws that govern not only the personal life of the believer but also the public domain.
Separation of powers: Islamic constitutions, like the one Iran uses, establish the executive and the legislature branches of government. Legislature functions under the sole supervision of the Imam and Muslim jurists of the Ummah in accordance with new legal provisions. This demonstrates that all three institutions of government are free to carry out their respective duties without outside intervention and practice effective decision making among them without victimization of any individual or organization.
Protection of fundamental rights: Islam and democracy are also compatible because both promote and protect fundamental rights of individuals. Islam, as a welfare state, stresses on provision of basic human rights (food, shelter, security) with equality, justice, freedom, self-determination for all. It also provides rights of private ownership. It creates laws and principles for assurance of these rights. Civil rights movements are permitted in both Islam and democracy hence ensuring that these rights are promoted in an effective and clear manner.
In conclusion, by comparing the basic values of democracy and Islam, it is evident that there is congeniality between the two. Understanding this compatibility can help Muslim states better grasp the purpose of democracy and work towards the welfare of their citizens. The common principles of separation of powers, checks and balances, legitimacy, constitution, accountability and protection of separation of human rights provide a foundation of a harmonious coexistence between Islam and democracy.
Shiites, not Jews, emerge as a touchstone of Saudi moderation
Saudi Arabia has removed anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli references from Islamic studies schoolbooks, according to an Israeli textbook watchdog.
The watchdog, the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), said the deletions were part of a broader textbook revision that also eliminated anti-Christian references and toned-down negative portrayals of infidels and polytheists.
Instead of explicitly referring to infidels and hypocrites, the revised textbooks asserted that on the Day of Judgement. Hell, “the home of painful punishment,” would be reserved for “deniers,” rejecting Mohammed’s prophecy. Deniers replaced the term infidel or hypocrite.
In its 203-page report, Impact-se further noted that problematic concepts of jihad and martyrdom were also deleted, while two newly released ‘Critical Thinking’ textbooks stressed notions of peace and tolerance.
The report acknowledged an improved approach to gender issues, including removing “a significant amount of homophobic content.“ Nevertheless, the textbooks maintained a traditional approach to gender, the report said.
However, the review suggested that progress was limited in altering attitudes towards Shiite and Sufi Muslims, considered heretics by Wahhabism, the austere ultra-conservative strand of Islam that was dominant in the kingdom until the rise in 2015 of King Salman, and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
“Some problematic examples remain…in the approach to perceived heretical practices associated with the Shi‘a and Sufism,” the report said.
The report will likely be read against the backdrop of US efforts to persuade Saudi Arabia to follow the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Morocco in formalising relations with Israel and the recent Chinese-mediated Saudi-Iranian agreement to restore ties broken off in 2016.
In contrast with the three Arab states that unconditionally established diplomatic relations with Israel in 2020, Saudi Arabia has made formal relations dependent on Israeli moves to solve its conflict with the Palestinians.
Israeli media reported that Bahrain had mediated a recent telephone conversation between Mr. Bin Salman, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and Foreign Minister Eli Cohen.
Mr. Netanyahu has made diplomatic relations with the kingdom a priority. He has pressed Mr. Bin Salman to allow direct flights between Israel and Jeddah, the Saudi Red Sea gateway to the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina, during next month’s annual pilgrimage. Without direct flights, Palestinian pilgrims have to transit through a third country to reach the kingdom.
Prospects for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are dim, with Mr. Netanyahu heading the most religiously ultra-conservative and nationalist government in Israeli history.
Israeli-Palestinian tensions have significantly increased since the government took office in December. Earlier this month, they led to five days of Israeli airstrikes against targets in Gaza and Palestinians firing rockets into Israel in response.
Complicating matters, Saudi Arabia wants the United States to offer the kingdom more binding security guarantees, grant it unrestricted access to US weaponry, and assist in developing a peaceful nuclear program as part of any agreement to establish diplomatic relations with Israel.
Long in the making, the revision of Saudi textbooks constitutes a gesture towards the United States and Israel.
However it is, first and foremost, designed to counter the ultra-conservative, supremacist, and intolerant religious concepts that have shaped the education system since the kingdom was founded.
The revisions are also crucial to Saudi Arabia’s efforts to diversify its oil export-dependent economy, prepare its youth for competition in the labour market, and project the one-time secretive kingdom that banned women from driving as an open, forward-looking 21st-century middle power.
Furthermore, the revisions bolster Saudi Arabia’s quest for religious soft power as the custodian of Islam’s holiest cities and a beacon of a socially liberal moderate Islam.
Getting Saudi Arabia revamping its textbooks has been a long, drawn-out process. The United States and others have pushed for changes since the September 11, 2001, Al Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington. Most of the perpetrators were Saudi nationals.
The more limited progress in redressing prejudiced attitudes towards Shiite and Sufi Muslims compared to Jews and Christians suggests the continued influence of ultra-conservative religious thought in Saudi Arabia despite Mr. Bin Salman’s social reforms.
It also puts into perspective the kingdom’s reluctance to anchor the reforms in religious as well as civil law, an approach propagated by Nahdlatul Ulama, the world’s Indonesia-based largest and most moderate civil society movement.
On the plus side, Saudi Arabia’s revised textbooks no longer describe visitors to sacred figures’ tombs, a widespread Shiite practice, as “evil” and “cursed” by the Prophet Mohammed.
Nevertheless, textbooks still condemn such visits as innovations banned by Wahhabism. For example, one revised textbook implicitly described tomb visits to supplicate the deceased rather than God as a polytheistic practice to be punished in Hell.
“Students learn that polytheism is dangerous, as it is the ‘most heinous’ of sins. However, while the 2021 edition also taught that those who practice it will be punished with eternity in Hell, this was removed in 2022,” the report said.
At times, the Impact-se report conflated thinking among some Arab and Sunni Muslims with Islam in general, particularly regarding Shiite-majority Iran.
In one instance, the report noted that in the textbooks, “Islamic historical animus toward Persia is maintained through claims that the assassination of the second caliph was a Persian conspiracy.”
The animus is maintained by some Sunni Muslims rather than Muslims as such. It relates to the killing by an enslaved Persian of Umar ibn al-Khattab, the second of the first four 7th-century caliphs to succeed Prophet Mohamed.
On an optimistic note, the report concluded, “Saudi efforts to reform the curriculum reveal a reasonably consistent step-by-step approach…and one…hopes that the approach will be applied to the handful of problematic content remaining in some textbooks.”
The report did not say that tackling problematic attitudes towards Shiites and Sufis would constitute one indication of how far Saudi rulers are willing to venture in challenging ultra-conservative Muslim precepts.
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