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.
After secularism, what?
In the beginning of December 2016, Angela Merkel called for a burka ban during the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party’s congress. Specifically, she said “The full veil must be banned, wherever legally possible. Showing your face is part of our way of life,” and “Our laws take precedence over honor codes, tribal customs and sharia.”
It is really interesting to demonstrate a case where the cross as a European value has the dominant position: the Lautsi case. Lautsi case proved us that religion still travels hand by hand with politics and that political coalitions are still very powerful when cultural memory has to be protected. An Italian national, Ms Soile Lautsi accused Italian Republic for the compulsory display of crucifixes in Italian public schools. According to ECHR’s decision there was no violation of any right derived from the Convention. As Marco Ventura has pointed out: “The Grand Chamber has designed a Europe in which every country is free to decide which place to give to religion and to favor Christianity, or rather the dominant churches. For this reason, Italy has been supported by the more confessional of European countries, Russia and Greece, Bulgaria and Cyprus, which the European Court has repeatedly condemned for the oppression of minority religions.” The coalition of Vatican State — Italian governments with other Eastern States formed a new ecumenical movement against radical secularism which according to the religious leaders, ECHR tried to promote during its first decision on Lautsi case. His Holiness Patriarch Kirill in a letter to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi expressed the following opinion: “Christian religious symbols present in the public space in Europe are part of the common European identity without which neither the past nor the present or the future of this continent are thinkable”.
However, does this new ecumenism of Christianity or ultra — secularism lead to Islamophobia? Religious pluralism a new social fact with which European states have yet to come to terms, and, country by country, they are plunging into national debates about religion and public policy. Indeed, Europe has made many efforts to cultivate the interreligious dialogue and to bridge (at least, a theoretical) gap between the relations between Christianity and Islam. The Vatican’s effort to reach Islam culminated in a March 2001 visit to Damascus where John Paul spoke about the neighborly relations over the centuries between Christianity and Islam and delivered a message of interfaith peace. On 16th April, Pope Francis with the Ecumenical Patriarch visited the island of Lesvos in show of support to refugees. Leaving for Vatican, the Pope was accompanied by some families of Syrian refugees as a symbolical gesture towards Europe and its strict policies for asylum seeking and the closing of borders. An anti — Muslim sentiment is increasing by placing the blame on Islam’s antiliberal tenets and Muslims presumed obedience to those doctrines. Muslims feel that they are second class citizens and victims of discriminatory attitudes and that their religion becomes more important than their education, personal and professional skills, qualifications and virtues in the eyes of the Western community. Are they really free and first class citizens when their religious leaders cannot be educated in Western and national institutions such as Christian clergy? Is this a true religious expression? Many imams are educated in Muslim countries and most probably they have traveled abroad before their religious mission to Europe. This may cause a lot of problems as the majority of those imams does not speak the national language and brings in his suitcase attitudes and traditions totally incompatible with Western values. In many cases, these imams come to carry fundamentalist and extremist messages which may find very welcome ears from disappointed, conservative or marginalized individuals. Beginning in September 2004, New Home Office rules for “overseas ministers of religion” came into effect in Britain. The rules require “imams and priests..to show knowledge of, and engagement, with British civic life, including an understanding of other faiths.”
Inside Muslim communities various attitudes towards the position of sharia have been formed. Many scholars, especially Muslim scholars have tried to strike a balance between the implementation of sharia in private affairs and of National Laws in their public life and activities. Furthermore, a movement within Islam, called “Moderate Islam” sees the today context as an opportunity for an Islamic revival movement that focuses on jihad-the individual’s believers efforts to master scriptural reading and reinterpretation and aims to redefine all core Islamic concepts, in particular the balance between religious law and individual spiritualism. As Tariq Ramadan, a representative of Moderate Islam writes in his article “Europe’s Muslims find a place for themselves” in “Le Monde Diplomatique”: Five basic principles were arrived at, and these now provide the basis of a virtual consensus among both Islamic experts and the Muslim communities of Europe : 1) a Muslim, whether resident or citizen, should see himself as involved in a contract, both moral and social, with the country in which he lives, and should respect that country’s laws, 2) European legislation (which is secular in nature) allows Muslims to practice the basics of their religion, 3) the old concept of the dar al harb — which does not derive from the Koran, and is not part of the prophetic tradition — is seen as outdated; other concepts have been suggested as ways of reading the Muslim presence in Europe in more positive terms, 4) Muslims should see themselves as citizens in the full sense of the term, and should participate (while at the same time seeking respect for their own values) in the social, organizational, economic and political life of the countries in which they live, 5) in European legislation as a whole, there is nothing to prevent Muslims, or any other citizens, from making choices that accord with their religion.
Our secular societies found themselves in front of a big challenge: the revival of religion and the un-secularization of the world. The most crucial problem is the balance that both individuals and societies have to create in order to avoid a situation of “survival of the fittest”. The priority is a society where human rights will not be crucified in the name of religion and where individual spirituality will not be beheaded in the name of National Law or in the name of media.
Recognition of Macedonian schism by Constantinople – Threat Remains
After the publication in Macedonian news agency Sloboden Pecat, many believers of Serbian Orthodox Church gave a sigh of relief supposing that the common sense prevailed and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew discarded his intention to grant autocephaly to the schismatic Macedonian Orthodox Church (MOC). But it appeared that such hopes were premature.
The article in Sloboden Pecat reads that Patriarch of Constantinople had sent a letter to MOC that admitted Serbian Orthodox Church’s (SOC) jurisdiction over Macedonian archdioceses and thus he had no rights to satisfy Skopje’s request for autocephaly. Ironically Greek mass media used this as an pretext to accuse Fanar of bribery.
A few days ago Ecumenical Patriarchate issued a refutation on its official cite, claiming that they didn’t sent a letter to the MOC and haven’t even heard of the Serbian gold.
While Serbians keep praying, Constantinople continues secret negotiations with the MOC. According to some sources this is why Metropolitan Amphilochios of Adrianople carries out frequent trips to Macedonia. At the same time statements of Fanar’s clergymen and Patriarch Bartholomew demonstrate phyletic intentions with a purpose of establishing the superiority of “Greek” church over all others as “the first without equals”. So the threat of the recognition of Macedonian schism by Constantinople is still relevant.
But the Fanar’s primary aim now is to force SOC into recognizing the autocephaly of Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) – such a precedent will path the way for Macedonian tomos of autocephaly in the future.
Obviously our Church shouldn’t trust fake publications of the mass media. On the other hand there’s no point in passive expecting of “His All-Holiness” Bartholomew to declare his will. Considering that the community temporarily believed in a possibility of a “fair verdict” from the Fanar, Serbian Patriarchate’s position must be based not only on historical truth and church canons but on public opinion as well. In this regard the separatists’ worst nightmares of Constantinople going back to the canonical path can come true.
Constantinople has the right to revoke the tomos of autocephaly of any Slavic church at any time. Recently Archbishop Job of Telmessos. In the same interview he said that the name “Serbian Orthodox Church” is uncanonical and is a sign of ethnophyletism. If it’s not a declaration of war, then it’s at least a direct threat to Serbian Patriarchate. History shows that accusations of ethnophyletism sound when Greeks need to infringe the rights of Slavic Churches or deprive them of independency.
The Ukrainian example proves that Constantinople easily revokes the historical signatures of its patriarchs and no matter how much gold they were paid and how long ago the papers were signed – 100 or 300 years ago. Will Constantinople be allowed to go on rejecting its own decisions unilaterally and broaden its borders in the future? It mostly depends on the position of Local churches including ours. If we don’t react now then Serbian Church will face the fate of Moscow which is losing its territories land by land.
Patriarch Irinej needs Constantinople to officially recognize that the tomos of 1922 still has legal power despite the changing historical circumstances and that the extension of SOC jurisdiction over Macedonian archdioceses is no discussion point. We need a document that will be undoubtedly canonical and impossible to cancel at a moment’s notice. At least personal signatures of patriarch Bartholomew are still more trustworthy than fake mass media publications.
The Jews of Chalkida
“When we returned, we had no bed to sleep, no pots to cook, nor clothes to dress. We went to our house and it was confiscated by others. We rented a room in our house and the whole family lived there.”
At Kotsou Street
Mair Maissis is in the Synagogue of Halkida, eager to guide anyone who passes itsdoor and wants to learn more about the Jewish community and the Jewish cemetery of Chalkida. Willing and full of energy, he would start explaining me the architecture of the — the Romaniote type — Synagogue.
“The two columns of our Synagogue prove its antiquity. A large number of scholars regard the Synagogue of Chalkis as the oldest of Europe and many believe that the first presence of Jews in Evia dates back to 586 BC. Around the Synagogue was the Jewish ghetto, the Jewish quarter where most Jews lived until the end of the Ottoman domination.
“On Good Friday in 1854, a great fire broke out which destroyed the biggest part of the Synagogue. Of course it was an arson. Nearly all community archives, books, heirlooms and manuscripts were destroyed. Only three Torah scrolls of the 13th & 14th century have survived until today. The Synagogue was rebuilt in 1855 with the donation of the Dutchess of Plakentia. Luckily today, we do not have any anti-semitic incidents here in our city. We are completely asssimilated.”
“We came from Italy. We were doing business with cornflakes and in italian mais means corn. So we were named after the profession. We left when the persecutions of Ferdinand and Isabella began. We crossed the city of Patras, then Mystras and finally Chalkis. At that time, we were traveling in enormous groups. They did not leave each other back. “
With the annexation of Thessaly to the newly established Greek state, several Jews in Chalkida moved to Volos. There, they found a new dynamic community. The mother of Mr Mair came from this community.
“My mother was Sephardi and she was speaking Ladino. Of course, at our house in Chalkida we only spoke Greek, neither Ladino nor Hebrew.”
He was born in 1935 a few years before the great disaster. His father Solomon was a merchant like most of the Jews at that time.
“Then the Community consisted of about 300 people. All merchants, spinners, craftsmen, etc. The weekly market in Kriezotu street was 90% Jewish. “
When the war broke out, he had only been able to go to school for a few weeks. The Jewish community had its own Jewish school where students were taught all the lessons and additionally the Hebrew language and Jewish religion.
“We were only able to learn about two or three songs and to dig out some scribbles. Nothing else we’ve got. “
The Partisans and the Orthodox Church
“We were almost all saved. With the help of the partisans and of the local Bishop Gregory. Without them we would have followed the others. The Bishop saved Jews whohad been prisoned and hide the Sacraments of the Synagogue in a place of the Central Church.
The partisans mobilized the Jewish families to leave Chalkida and go to the mountains. They were hidden in villages such as Steni and Gides.
“We left before the invasion of Germans. We had already been aware for the incidents in Thessaloniki and Athens, and there was no possibility to follow the same fate. The partisans told us to pick up things and by horses, we went up to the mountains. We were hidden in Steni like many other Jews, although this was extremely dangerous. There we stayed in Christian homes. But we knew these Christians. They have been our customers for so many years, we have had personal contact with them. “
Even the Italian Commander urged them to leave as soon as possible. On March 24, 1944, the Germans announced that all the Jews would gather in the synagogue to give them flour to make the enzymes for their Easter. They opened the door and they only saw Rabbi.
“They believed we would follow Rabbi and stay there. But we had chosen to be mobilized and save ourselves. “
22 Jews were lost from the Chalkida community. But how did they get lost?
“Mainly by German traitors”, Lili Kosti answered to me.
“So they captured my father and his sister. My father stayed in Chalkida to look after his parents who could not move. A Nazi partner betrayed him and caught him immediately. His sister descended from the mountain to take him out and so caught her. We could not leave our families.”
Who were the traitors, I wondered? I asked her to describe me the profile without telling me the name.
“Everything is now publicly available. I can tell you the name if you want. But do not imagine that their traitors and associates were reputable individuals, with family and educated. They were just criminals.”
Jews entered the guerrilla I asked them?
“Of course, havent’t you heard about Sarika?” And I had never heard her.
“17, 5 year old girl. Sarah or else Sarica Geoshoua. At first she entered the guerrilla and helped with chores. She slowly became a leading figure and propagated in the villages to get everyone into the guerrilla. She focused on girls and after a while she got teamed and had her own team of 12 young girl partisans. “
After the end of the Occupation and with the civil war, Sarica was led to the prosecutor. He told the prosecutor, “I am not with either communists or the right side. I went up there to fight the Germans. “The prosecutor released her with the condition of leaving Greece for ever. She left for Israel and never returned to Greece.
After the Occupation
“When we returned we had no bed to sleep, no pots to cook, nor clothes to dress. We went to our house and they were already others. We rented a room in our house to stay the whole family, “says M. Maisis.
America was first helped by the first time. Huge balls with clothes, beds, kitchen utensils, books for children.
“Many left for Athens, others for Thessaloniki because they thought they would find opportunities there. Others fled for Israel. As early as 1944, 160 people of ours had left for Israel. We then had a Chalkidiki lawyer, Sotiris Papastratis. He organized the mission for Israel. Free spirit, democrat. Later, he was honored with the Yad Vashem Prize for the Law of Nations. “
His family had nothing when he turned from the mountain to Chalkida.
“We went with my father to Athens to get some goods and start over again. As soon as he entered the shop and saw him the merchant shouted: Solomon lives! Download and give whatever he wants. “He knew his money was for sure. We had such a relationship of trust between us.”
The community saw a significant reduction in the number of its members. The day-to-day operation of the Jewish school ceases, and the rabbi was stopped in the early sixties.
The current community
“Today we are about 50–60 people. All older in age and we have only 2–3 children. Of course we keep all traditions and customs. We do it as we did before. “
When does the synagogue come to life?
“Every Friday we normally do our Shabbat service. We gather about 20–25 people. For the needs of the function we have a hazzan, that is, a cantor.
But in the great feasts, Ross Ashana, Pesach and Kippur, we bring a rabbi. “
Entering the Synagogue, my eye fell on a shelf with his books. He writes about the history of the Jewish community and the Synagogue and in a few days he will present his second book entitled “The History of the Jewish Community of Halkida since 580 BC. until 2001 The Cemetery. “
“ Do tourists and people visit the place in order to learn more about the Jewish community?” I asked.
“In recent years we have a lot of people to visit us. This month, you are the fourth who comes to learn information. Not just tourists. Many local Halkidians are coming too. “
We are preparing to lock down the Synagogue and go tothe exit where we would say goodbye.
“This year, on the anniversary of the Holocaust on January 27, I went to talk to 7 schools. Halls were filled with 350–400 children and neither one stood up. They first heard about all this. Teachers are now mobilized. If nothing is done through education and school, nothing can be done. “
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