The Convenient Omissions From Islamic History

This is an insightful and intelligently argued article sent to us by Miss Mahnoor Khan. She makes a very pertinent point that the present Muslim mindset and for that matter to some extent even extremism, are outcomes of the way Islamic history is being taught. In our part of the world history instead of acting as a rational guide for future behavior ends up instilling false illusions about glory. Moreover biased history stalls the ability to self introspect in a critical manner and in fact becomes the basis for state of denial according to which everything is just a grand conspiracy of the foreign forces.

By Mahnoor Khan

 Do you really know Islamic history? From school to universities, Pakistanis are taught Islamic history through multiple subjects, it is part of syllabi of Islamiat, Pakistan Studies, some Urdu texts, and of course actual History course also. In my opinion history is an important subject and should definitely be part of the curriculum.  If taught well, history can be a wonderful and enjoyable subject, as it opens the bygone worlds to us, and provide links to our own roots as human beings. The problem is that over here history is taught as a badly written propaganda. I am not sure how other countries teach history to their school children, but in Pakistan it is repetitive and sanitized to level of being boring. Emphasis is on learning names, ands dates; plus extra focus is on battles won by different rulers so that warriors are glorified excessively. Most importantly the constant underlying theme is that Muslims of the past were bastions of piety and goodwill. Moreover it is often implied that every Muslim dynasty fell when it parted ways from being good Muslims, and became under influence of British, French, and Hindus etc whoever were the local or colonial powers.

We have been learning this for years, and may continue to do so for another hundred years. It would have been all right to keep doing that, if it was just a feel good mechanism for masses of today who face a much bleaker outlook than Muslims who lived for example in Abbasside times. But that nostalgia for lost status has converted into a dangerous desire to bring back those times again through all means possible. In an extreme form this desire gets manifested in Taliban rule.  In the general public the desire is the undercurrent in the conspiracy theories e.g. “if only Hindu and Jews stop meddling in our affairs, we can achieve the past glory back”, and in socio-political positioning “ if we become more religious, particularly by bringing orthodox to power, we will be in that old golden age” etc. Essentially it prevents rational analysis of modern-day problems and seeking new solutions.

So how should we teach Islamic history to our youth? My answer- Be honest. Honesty is tricky though. You can be dishonest without being untruthful; just omit the uncomfortable truths without committing an actual lie. The narrative presently in vogue, ignore the fact that the real reason why Muslim empires were dominant in the past ages was due to better governance of the state affairs compared to  their counterparts in the Christian world, not because of some kind of superior Islamic conduct of the rulers. Their fortunes declined when governance deteriorated, and that process happened in full view of every one and not as part of some grand conspiracy. Moreover we have to tell our youth that rise and fall of these empires had worldly causes and was not due to changes in the rulers’ religiosity.

Let’s consider the example of emergence of British rule in sub-continent. Our textbooks normally play out a scenario that British conspired with various non-Muslim maharajas to undermine the Mughal emperors which ultimately resulted in the downfall of Bahadur Shah Zafar. The way everything is written, it appears that Mughal emperors were victims of a grand conspiracy in which every other force in the subcontinent was out to get them; sounds quite familiar in present day also. One can discover with more detailed reading of our history, that main reason British were able to make such gains simply due to inept rule of the Mughal rulers over a period of at least a hundred years. Translation; if you have poor leaders for a large number of years, be prepared to be taken over by another power. Did British conspire against the Mughals? Of course what else can you expect, but it was no secret, while East India Company was solidifying its position in Bengal in the eighteenth century, our emperors were busy in enjoying women and shikaar expeditions. William Dalrymple books “The White Mughals” and “The Last Mughal” are excellent reading for a Pakistani. In one chapter of White Mughals he described the daily routine of the Nizam of Hyderabad in early 1800s; the day was spent mostly on trivial pursuits, and hardly any time was spent on governing. This was the time when British Residency had actually become the de facto center of power in Hyderabad.

The Last Mughal is the sad tale of Bahadur Shah Zafar, and how helpless the Mughal king had become over the years. This fate could have been prevented, not in Zafar’s time because it was too late by then, but over a period of a century. There were critical concessions granted to East India Company by these rulers, particularly the permission to keep its own troops to protect its establishment, and management of ports which strengthened the Company. It never occurred to Mughals to consider promoting any Trading Company from Indian side at all. Those were the days when mastering the ocean was key to success, but a huge empire like that of Mughals never bothered to develop shipping. Science was alien, and hardly any notable attempt was made to learn about the world outside of the subcontinent. The main failure was in gauging the changing times and inability to adapt. We appear to keep repeating our mistakes.

On the religious angle, at least Mughal emperors were honest enough not to project themselves as overzealous Muslims, with exception of Aurangzeb. But some of the other Muslim empires were comfortably hypocritical. The biggest hypocrisy was to call these Caliphates when they were lineage based empires. The sultan/Caliph palaces were hotbed of extreme conspiracies and manoeuvres, and murders and summary executions were blatantly common. It was in these Caliphates, that even fratricide was practiced with tacit agreement of the clergy. The ruler ascending to the throne would get his brothers and nephews murdered, and not just those who actually challenged him, but everybody. Ottoman caliphate of Turkey practiced for hundreds of years.  Interestingly, it was unlawful to spill royal blood, so these princes were strangulated with a silken cord. In later generation killings were replaced with lifetime imprisonment. Sometime in an ironic twist, if a sultan died without any male offspring of his own, one of the imprisoned brother or nephew was brought out to be the king. One such sultan was Ibrahim I. The guy was actually mentally unstable due to his years of confinement, and yet he became a sultan. The intriguing for power was the prime occupation of the sultan, his sons, and the sons’ respective mothers. In process beside killing brothers, one could end up killing own father or even sons.

These Muslim caliphs from Ummiades to Ottomans, created top of the line luxuries for themselves. They engage in all kinds of excesses, that any king would enjoy, lots of women, booze, killing undesirables at whims etc. Yet they were called caliphs and they used religion to keep the large Muslim population in check.  I have come to the conclusion that failure to analyze Muslim history critically has been one of the root causes of Muslims present plight. We must understand how different rulers used religion as a tool for their own purposes. How it was used to ensure strict confinement of women in the guise of protection require a separate article, but needless to say all laws and customs were designed to keep women under control. The rulers kept multiple wives and hundreds of concubines but were incredibly jealous of any possibility of their women going astray. So the guards and overall administrators of Harems were castrated soldiers/slaves,   the head of harem guards was known as Khawaja Saraa in case of subcontinent. By the way castration is condemned in Islam and yet it was practiced for the benefit of the ruling class.

Another ugly aspect we hardly read in our textbooks, is rampant racism and slavery. There were open racism against blacks, and preference for whites. In the slave market, white slaves, normally captured from central Asia, were much more pricy than slaves captured from Africa. The blacks were given more menial tasks as compared to whites. The slave traders of Americas and Europe are so much maligned, but in some parts of the Muslim world, slaves were traded until the early 20th century. Racism still exists within us against blacks right here in Pakistan, just ask the Makrani community.

The purpose of this article is not to deny the good points of those eras. The Muslim empires, particularly in their heydays, promoted arts, sciences, and architecture; build public infrastructure, set up effective administrations and armies, and had reasonably well functioning courts. Tolerance towards people of other faiths was much better than what was practiced in Christian countries in those times. The point is that we should not omit to mention the darker aspects of the past, otherwise we will make false analyses. History will show that what makes a nation accomplished and respected in the world is its ability to put in place a superior governance system, and its adaptability to changing times. It would also tell us that excessive patronising of religion by the state ends up compromising the process of innovation and adaptability.

55 Comments

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55 responses to “The Convenient Omissions From Islamic History

  1. P. Vengaayam

    ” It would also tell us that excessive patronising of religion by the state ends up comprising the process of innovation and adaptability.”

    Thanks for the nice article. Just wanted to note that this last sentence has a typo — the phrase should be “compromising the process” not “comprising the process”.

  2. Nusrat Pasha

    I believe we need to review our use of terms such as “Islamic History”, “Islamic State”, “Islamic Summit” and “Islamic Rulers”. Alternative terms such as “History of Muslims”, “Muslim-majority States”, “Muslim Countries Summit” and “Muslim Rulers” would be more rational usages. The history of kings and rulers, who happened to be Muslim does not rationally become “Islamic History”. Islamic History or the history of Islam, in my opinion, is a term more appropriately applicable to the history of spiritual and intellectual progress of Islam.

    The ultimate glory of Islam is not the so called “Islamic State” that supposedly existed over the ages. Strictly by definition, the “Islamic State” functions either under the direct supervision of the Prophet or a rightly guided Khalifa (Spiritual Successor) of the Prophet. Thus in the truest sense of the word, the Islamic State came into being with the migration of the Holy Prophet to Madina, when the Holy Prophet himself began administering the affairs of the state, as its Cheif Executive and ceased to exist with the death of Hazrat Ali. 12 years of the Prophet’s stay in Medina, followed by 30 years of Khilafat-e Raashida – that makes a total of 42 years of the “Islamic State”. If we were to believe that the Islamic State continued and carried on during periods of the subsequent dynasties of monarchs who were incidentally Muslim, we would be intellectually obliged to accept Yazid as a Khalifa and his repressive regime as Islamic and his atrocities as doings of an Islamic State.

    As far as “Islam” is concerned, it has nothing to do with having a state to harbour it. Islam existed even before the State of Medina was conceived and continued to last throughout the following 14 centuries. The true glory of Islam has always been and will forever remain its spiritual and celestial beauty. The most glorious Muslims were not rulers who were incidentally Muslim, they were the saints and sufis – the men of God that Islam produced. These were the men who conquered hearts instead of lands, and inspired love instead of hatred. Their history would be the true “History of Islam”.

  3. Raza

    “But that nostalgia for lost status has converted into a dangerous desire to bring back those times again through all means possible. In an extreme form this desire gets manifested in Taliban rule. In the general public the desire is the undercurrent in the conspiracy theories e.g. “if only Hindu and Jews stop meddling in our affairs, we can achieve the past glory back”, and in socio-political positioning “ if we become more religious, particularly by bringing orthodox to power, we will be in that old golden age” etc. Essentially it prevents rational analysis of modern-day problems and seeking new solutions. ”

    I think this para says it all. I think the biggest mistake what Muslims have been making is to link golden age of islam with religous fervor. I have actually heard this several times that islam has lost its golden age because it gave up fundamentalism.

    Moreover, biased presentation creates this illusion that for even scientifc greatness adherence to religion is a prerequisite. It also strenghtens the belief that Muslims are superior in virtue and calibre than the rest.

  4. Mnoor

    #Nusrat Pasha
    Conceptually I agree with you.

    But there are two problems, firstly the term Islamic History and Muslim history is used interchangeably, at least in our syllabus. Secondly in rhetoric about golden age of Islam, most speakers include all the large Muslim empires that have existed over time and rightly so because these were the times of political and territorial dominance of Muslims.

    Here I would like to make another point; power politics encourages intrigues and connivance. Even in the times of the Khilafat-e Rashida different groups among the Muslims of that time started conspiring against the pious Caliphs for one reason or the other. It is of historical relevance that three out of four of the Caliphs were martyred by assassination. We need to study in depth what was going on in the socio-political scene after the demise of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) that resulted in this strife, in spite of the piety and goodwill the Caliphs possessed. You will find very superficial writing on this topic. Many very conveniently put the blame of most of these conspiracies upon Jews of Medina. Moreover Sunnis put the blame on Shia and vice versa. Researched analysis is lacking. The majority of the Muslims do not want to hear any criticism of that time. Whatever one thinks of politics of Maulana Maududi, his book Khilafat-o-Malukiat does provide considerable information of that period. Unsurprisingly this book is considered heretical by a number of clerics and even the present day leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami do not make much reference to it.

  5. J.Krishnan

    This article should be published in PUSPAB languages.

    PUSPAB = Panjabi, Urdu, Sindhi, Pashto And Baloch.

    History narration with many falsifications, creation/imposition of a faked neo-identity, politics of arrogance-hate-and-anger, nationalism tending to fascism, equating criticism with blasphemy – such are the travails of Pakistan today.

  6. AA Khalid

    – such are the travails of Pakistan today.

    Indeed this is true, but India is not far behind and indeed the whole of the sub-contienent suffers from these epic distortions of history from the likes of JI in Pakistan to Hindu nationalists in India.

    Hindu nationalism and the sort of pan-Islamic bent of certain religious parties in Pakistan have very much in common. Indeed take away the differing religious labels and you are encountering the same beast.

    This article has been excellent, it reminded me of the article I read on newsweek , ”The Battle over Hindu History” (type into google):

    I leave you with a snippet which I think can apply to Muslim extremists aswell:

    ”””People are being killed in India today because of misreadings of the history of the Hindus. In all religions, myths that pass for history–not just casual misinformation, the stock in trade of the internet, but politically-driven, aggressive distortions of the past–can be deadly, and in India they incite violence not only against Muslims but against women, Christians, and the lower castes.””””

  7. J.Krishnan

    To A A Khalid

    Could we bring up names of indians and pakistanis who could sit together and write a multiple-view history of this tortured peninsula?
    We have to start somewhere – we can’t just keep talking/blogging.

    I am myself no historian. I read the various presentations from various sources as an amateur person and see there is some truth here and there – but how to bring it together?

    Hindus believe in the law of karma. It doesn’t make them better humans always but they feel if someone is suffering them it is a result of his own past bad deeds. This is the explanation that many hindus (and, BTW, even many indian muslims) give about what is happening in Pakistan. They say it is a land based on many deceits, created through many deceits, nurturing many deceits and it serves them right. This makes the task of honest history-writing either totally superfluous or all the more urgent.

    You wrote: “Hindu nationalism and the sort of pan-Islamic bent of certain religious parties in Pakistan have very much in common. Indeed take away the differing religious labels and you are encountering the same beast.”

    I don’t agree with this equation. The hindu nationalist fights as a defender of his home-land – the muslim fights as an expansionist, with expansionist-totalitarian intentions vis-a-vis the whole world. The muslim momin has to fight to bring India under the rule of islam (otherwise he is a munafik), the hindu nationalist does not fight in order to bring Makkah/Arabia under the rule of hindus. If you fail to make this crucial diffrentiation then you are not being fair. The aggressor’s (expansionist’s) violence is not to be equated with the defender’s violence – even the kuran does not do that.

  8. AA Khalid

    Please Krishnan do not sink into this Hindu exceptionalism about the use of xenophobic rhetoric clearly evident in Indian politics, you sound like an apologist for JI here in Pakistan!

    Confront the xenophobic nationalism in your nation, don’t make excuses for it. Again you deal in crass stereotypes:

    ”The muslim momin has to fight to bring India under the rule of islam”’

    THE muslim, who is this ”THE” muslim, what nonsense are you talking about man? Jeez……

    What are you talking about???

    I reject the use of Karma in the context you have just utilised , its repulsive and undermines the notions of moral autonomy and free will. Its deterministic and many in India use it to justify the caste system and the hopeless discrimination which ensues from it.

    As for your multi-national project of history, its a good concept and I like it, but in the current climate any sign of intellectual empathy towards the other in Pakistan and India is seen as betrayal. Just see what happened to Jaswant Singh……….

    And in Pakistan a similar sort of event would happen.

  9. AA Khalid

    In India, a great number of people continue to deny the existence of Pakistan, as if denying your fellow neighbour is the way to peace.

    Until this section of Indian society gets to grips with reality and stop denying the existence of Pakistan or dream of ”what ifs”, then we can move forward.

    Jinnah spoke of peace from the earliest days in the creation of Pakistan, outlining his vision of India and Pakistan as the US and Canada, I ask has that spirit been reciprocated by a prominent Indian leader?

  10. J.Krishnan

    To Khalid

    One has to face reality as it is – with no wishful thinkings.

    The kuran says: “Fighting is prescribed to you. You do not know what is good for you”. The kuran calls those muslim who do no participate in such wars as munafiks – these are not my terms.

    There is no generally xenophobic nationalism among hindus in India – it is anti-muslim (anti-islam) only. It is specifically directed against muslims. Not against parsis or jews. Against christians, only when they carry out missionary activity using deceitful propaganda or bribes. The christian padre/priest in my city told me explicitly that he fears the muslims far more than the hindus.

    I have not joined hands with hindu nationalists – but I do not wish to be unfair to them. Even your kuran justifies defensive violence – and the hindu nationalist is in deed the home-turf defender in India. The muslim represents an alien expansionist ideology from the west.

    A A Khalid may not have expansionist intentions – but that is not true of many other muslims.

    Let us argue on the basis of reality and not pious anger.

  11. Tilsim

    @ J Krishnan

    How much longer do Muslims have to remain and assimilate into India before they are no longer regarded as an alien expansionist ideology from the West?

  12. Tilsim

    @ J Krishnan

    How much longer do Muslims have to remain and assimilate into India before they are no longer regarded as representatives of an alien expansionist ideology from the West?

  13. AA khalid

    Krishnan is no sincere partner in dialogue, first time I have come across someone who says we must be nice to bigots. Please grow up, Hindu bigots are bad as Muslim bigots.

    Your prejudice is showing Krishnan better cover it with something…….

    Still regards Muslims as ”aliens”, bigotry unfortunately has claimed one more pawn………….

  14. AA khalid

    Krishnan if I were to be cruel I would shudder to think you represent the urbanized, ”enlightened” generation of Indians…..

    But I know some great Indian thinkers and writers who would laugh (or even cry) at your prejudice and would support peace and dialogue. Hence I retain hope.

    I hope sincerely you represent a minority of Indian thinking, indeed I think you do …….

  15. AA khalid

    First I had to deal with vengayaam’s bigotry, now Krishnan.

    Pak Tea House seems to be invaded by some (hopefully only a few) angry and confused Indians……….

  16. AA Khalid

    ”Against christians, only when they carry out missionary activity using deceitful propaganda or bribes.”’

    Because that makes it okay to destroy churches and persecute Christians?

    Dear oh dear………….

  17. J.Krishnan

    1) “How much longer do Muslims have to remain and assimilate into India before they are no longer regarded as an alien expansionist ideology from the West?”

    Muslims must answer this question through their deeds and the long-term results of their deeds. I can’t answer this question for them. Fact is: the past 1200 or 600 or 60 years are not convincing. If you like honesty then this answer will make you thoughtful (instead of retaliating with pious anger or ridicule directed at me).

    2) “Because that makes it okay to destroy churches and persecute Christians?”

    No, it doesn’t.

  18. AA Khalid

    What about Hindus Krishnan, just because they are ”indigenous” they can perpetrate all sorts of atrocities?

    You really lack a basic sense of humanity, Muslims are human beings too prone to error and brutaility just like Hindus.

    You can’t bring yourself to accept Muslims as fellow human beings can you? If you can’t then its okay just join the ever burdgeoning bandwagon of hate……

    To think Pakistan alone has problems of bigotry, keep this up Krishnan you can start a Hindu version of JI…….

    You have got some issues………..

    I can’t help you anymore, if you take the line of far right nationalists and bigots, because they are resistant to scholarly debate and reason…..

  19. Mustafa Shaban

    @Mahnoor Khan: Well written. A good point of view. We really need to re study our history and separate facts from propoganda. However, you cannot say what happened in Islamic history because its so messy and full of propoganda. Extremists from different sects have tried to twist history one way or another. The only way we will ever know what happened is if sunni and shia scholars sit down together and separate fact from fiction and tell the true version of events.

    Saying that I feel that the history of caliphate was not all bad like some people believe niether was it all glorious like others believe. I geuss its a mix of good and bad, while muslims made amazing progress, the most in human history in terms of science and technology, there were major problems in the political front.

    @Nusrat: You are right, we need to becareful at what terminology we are using. I agree with you completely. However Mnoor makes a good point about how there were various problems duriing the reign of the first 4 caliphs as well. Though things got worse with the start of monarchy.

    @Raza, Mahnoor Khan : There is a mistake you guyz are making. Given that there were major problems during the 1400 years of muslim rule, during the first 800 years muslims made much progress. In those times there was very little fundamentalism, in fact those muslims were mentally much more modern than the muslims today and much more intellectual to. In order to be a scholar or maulana you had to be a polymath. In those times like we did not have single specialties like physics, chem, BBA etc. In those times there was a concept of multiple specialties like being an Islamic scholar, physicist, pharmacist, chemist and 10 other things at exactly the same time! These people were super scholars, they had multiple expertise and linked them together with Islam. They wrote many books as well. They were advanced. At one point however the corruption in the Islamic countries had reached to ssuch an extent that muslims began to experience intellectual corruption and started going through a period of 700 years of intellectual coma. They focused on stupid trivial things, fundamentalism appeared and began to dominate thier lives, thats when things started going downhill and has been so since 700 years, especially after losing Spain and the fall of Baghdad to the Mongols. All our libraires and boooks were burned. Thats when we stopped moving forwards and went backwards and being going backwards ever since. Some of this analysis was done by an athiest scholar in Moscow who learns about religions so that he can debunk them. He is very knowledgeble, can even quote the Quran and Hadith.

    Zaid Hamid makes a similar analysis and points to fundamentalism and intellectual corruption at one point, which is when the downfall of muslims began.

    There is nothing wrong with aspiring to acheive what the first 4 caliphs and the intellectual scholars achieved in Islamic history, even though 1400 years old Islam as a religion and a code of life is very modern and its performance and delivery in terms of economics, administration, humanity, stability can be considered as modern and advanced as the current political and social structures present in the world today. Those aspiring for the good things that Islam has given us dont want to go back , they want to go forward.

    Extremism and fundamentalism are at fringe and do a lot of damage, but once we have open intellectual discourse and open debate these things will cease to exist! Ideas are fought with ideas.

  20. P. Vengaayam

    AA Khalid:”First I had to deal with vengayaam’s bigotry, now Krishnan.”

    Ah, right, accuse the other person of bigotry before indulging in such luxuries. Very Smart. I am sorry that you are unable to comprehend the very basics of modern governance and are still stuck in proving to yourself and your ilk that religious law is where it is at…which is a futile direction for questioning, but then, this is not my problem.

  21. AA khalid

    ””””Very Smart. I am sorry that you are unable to comprehend the very basics of modern governance and are still stuck in proving to yourself and your ilk that religious law is where it is at…which is a futile direction for questioning, but then, this is not my problem.””””””

    Still haven’t received any answers to all my referenced and comprehensive posts, I just got an analogy about ties and underwears, and some disjointed incoherent rambles……

    Very very weird, oh well that’s life, you meet all sorts of characters……

  22. AA khalid

    ”””before indulging in such luxuries”””’

    Can you provide some evidence?

  23. P. Vengaayam

    Mustafa Shaban:
    ” Given that there were major problems during the 1400 years of muslim rule, during the first 800 years muslims made much progress. In those times there was very little fundamentalism, in fact those muslims were mentally much more modern than the muslims today and much more intellectual to.”

    Given the conflicting versions of history going that far back, anyone making such claims is also the secret inventor of the Time Machine.

    It is hard enough to figure out the political ideology of a living person even after knowing them.

    So it is a matter of no small wonder that people who share the above sentiments, who *KNOW* that muslims in the past were not fundamentalist, not “suspect” or “conjecture”, but “know”. To have such knowledge, you have to be there.

    It is no wonder that people nowadays are unable to know what is knowledge even when it is right in front of them, given that they are so confused with what that word means. Everything from nonsensical religious texts to training manuals for laundromats is called “knowledge”.

  24. P. Vengaayam

    AAKhalid:”Still haven’t received any answers to all my referenced and comprehensive posts,”

    That is because your questions are irrelevant trash not pertinent to the real problems that Pakistan is trying to comprehend and hopefully “solve”. But as I said, this is not my problem. It is yours and your fellow countryman’s problem, so good luck with all your thinking.

  25. P. Vengaayam

    AAKhalid:”Can you provide some evidence?”

    Let me just say that I have provided as much evidence for my claims as you have for yours. Anyway, I won’t keep you from discussing serious pakistani islamic issues so close to your heart with my chit-chat. Good luck.

  26. AA khalid

    ””’Let me just say that I have provided as much evidence for my claims as you have for yours”””

    Ummmm…….no you haven’t.

    Is that baloney for ”I don’t have any evidence or proof so I am going to blag my way in order to cover my hideous accusation which are baseless”?

    Because if it is, why didn’t you just say so, as I say I will forgive and forget if you were just saying things willy nilly without thinking them through…….

  27. AA khalid

    ””””That is because your questions are irrelevant trash ”””””’

    Evidence please, or you are going to have to say sorry like a naughty boy whose just done something very bad but is now trying to hide it……

  28. Mustafa Shaban

    @P Vengaayam: My friend, not all of history is a vague or a mystery. Some of Islamic history is well recorded and established by relaible sources. Looking at the historical accounts and analysts of both Islamic and Western historians we can see the massive progress in those areas. These things are common knowledge, infact many western museums are actually making special displays for islamic contributions to science.

  29. P. Vengaayam

    AAKhalid:”Ummmm…….no you haven’t.

    I say I will forgive and forget if you were just saying things willy nilly without thinking them through.”

    Look, I am very familiar with people spouting religious mumbo-jumbo and pretending they are talking sense, so you can quit pretending you were actually talking sense. Your direction of questioning and so-called “inquiry” is futile, that is all I have to say to you. Good luck.

  30. Mustafa Shaban

    Islamic contributions to science are well recognized by academics and historians.

  31. AA khalid

    ”””””””’Look, I am very familiar with people spouting religious mumbo-jumbo and pretending they are talking sense, so you can quit pretending you were actually talking sense. Your direction of questioning and so-called “inquiry” is futile, that is all I have to say to you. Good luck””””””””

    I am going to take that as ” I have no idea how to rebut or to debate, I don’t how to responsd so I am going to hide behind this feeble argument which I call my get out of jail card when I get into situations like this, which is religious people=stupidity and atheists=rationality ploy”.

    Nice, I like your style Vengayaam, spout nonsense, say some shocking things and then run for cover.

    Good plan just skip the first two steps next time and just stick to the last stage……

    Oh yeah can I still have some evidence?

  32. AA khalid

    Just a note that the frutiful interchange between Muslim and Hindu scholars in the field of sciences but especially mathematics is a great reminder about the human odessy of civilization as an inter-woven narrative of different faiths and creeds merging to produce new fields of knowledge and progress.

  33. P. Vengaayam

    “which is religious people=stupidity and atheists=rationality ploy”.”

    The problem is not with religious people, but religious people who pretend that real world issues of human behaviour can be settled by waffling about “hermeneutics” and pretending all that human behaviour is equally acceptable, when that is not the case.

    As for your “evidence”, you seem to have missed what I wrote — you have no evidence to call me a “bigot” but you still did, so I just returned the favour and I have provided exactly as much evidence as you did, i.e., none.

  34. Tilsim

    To most humbly sum up:

    Vengayaam: religion in itself (in particular Islam) equates to mumbo jumbo. State should be secular (in the French or Turkish sense, I think), period. Liberal muslims are just propagandists. No possibility of an alliance with religious liberals – meaningless.

    Khalid: a secular state (in the Madisonian tradition) as well as a liberal read of religion, in particular Islam, can be a source of transformation towards an enlightened, liberal and fair society. Islamic world has deep problems but an Islamic reformation is underway. An alliance of liberal forces is desirable.

    Gents, you are poles apart. I see no possibility of meaningful dialogue.

  35. AA khalid

    ””””’ you have no evidence to call me a “bigot”””””’

    Okay how about the manner in which you kept assigning to me false positions I did not hold such as:

    ””If the rights of a muslim are different from the rights of a non-muslim, you do not have a constitutional democracy in real terms, just a theocracy pretending to be a democracy.”””

    ”””””’Maybe, depending on what you mean by “egalitarianism” (I suspect you are just using that word like you use “democracy”).””””’

    When I provided consistently textual evidence, from religious texts and writings, you kept hammering on about these things. Why? Why ascribe false positions to me?

    You also thought:

    ”””’This will essentially change the face of the religion itself — that is, the Quran would have start claiming that non-muslims are identical to muslims, which is obviously not tenable from the standpoint of the immutability of those religious tests.”””

    This mean you obviously think all Muslims as instructed per their religion are xenophobes and fanatics, since non-Muslims are valued less than Muslims (when I consisitently produced evidence to the contrary).

    You recycled stereotypes about Muslims and tried to use them against me, and never responded to any of my posts in relation to the substance, but kept repeating the ”religion is bad, religious people cannot be humanist” line.

  36. AA khalid

    @ Tilsim

    Thank you for your crisp analysis. You are right we start from totally different positions, where vengayaam sees rationality as the preserve of the godless, and where I see it as a universal capacity inherent in all human beings (hence my support for natural law).

  37. Ali Abbas

    The apologia for Yazid is part of Pakistan’s biggest and most dangerous Islamist militia’s, the Sipah-Sahaba-LeJ-Punjabi Taliban-Ahle Sunnah Wal Jammah-Asian Tiger’s central tenet. Anyone questioning this militia’s version is quite simply liable for death; not just that, their bloodthirtiness simply extends to everyone who does not agree with them. For them, the “reign” of the first four caliphs is a “Golden Era”; never mind that 3 out of 4 caliphs were assasinated, there were civil wars and civil unrest and that muslims were killed and falsely labelled as apostates simply for not paying Zakat and recognizing the political authority of the caliphs after the Prophet’s death.

  38. J.Krishnan

    To Mustafa Shaban

    There is no islamic science. {EDITED}

    Persons with muslim names did contribute to science – but that is not automatically islamic science.

    If a person with a muslim or arabic name commits an evil act then you muslims do not wish it to be called an islamic act. Then how can you call a scientific idea coming from a person with a muslim or arab name automatically as an islamic science idea? But many muslim terrorists and their mentors/handlers do quote from the kuran to justify their violent acts. As against that not a single muslim scientist of the past quoted from the kuran as the source of any of his scientific ideas or flashes.

    Scientific ideas in the muslim world came from the greeks, indians, chinese and ancient pre-islamic Egypt. {EDITED}

  39. Mustafa Shaban

    @J Krishan: Wht you have said is actually quite funny. First of all I never referred to it as Islamic science. Science is science, I was referring to the fact that muslims achieved a lot of things and were very progressive and also that scholars were very logical and progressive and also had deep knowledge of Islam and science.

    The Holy Quran has tons of scientific knowledge. The process of the developement of embryo are mentioned in Quran 1400 years ago and just got discovered by scientists just a century back. Many things like the formation of clouds, the nature of the sea , the biology of human body and the nature of the universe, the benefits of different foods, and many such things are mentioned in the Quran, to the extent that its unbelievable. Sent down 1400 years ago, these things were told to us. Scientists are only discovering these things in the past 2-3 centuries. Some of these things however were brought to light during the Islamic Caliphate as well during its progressive age as scientists and scholars brought forth many inventions, which actually form the basis of the technology we have today. But of course the Muslim nation did not ponder too long over the Quran which is why we did not discover the many things that were discovered by others. The Nahj Al Balagha by Hazrat Ali (A.S) and the Prophetic Hadith are full of scientific facts whose proof was given centuries later by both Islamic and non muslim scientists. This is evidence that the Holy Quran is a divine book.

    Also if Muslim contribution to science is taken away then none of these high tech tools you use today would have come into existence. Many scientific discoveries made by non muslims who actually discovered these very things in the Quran

    Islam is very much in line with science.

    Now coming to your comments about terrorism, please don’t paint a picture of an entire race based on the acts of a few. All religions and ideologies have been misused for violent purposes.

    Muslims also did develop on the knowledge of Hindus , Greeks and other races. In the house of wisdom exchanges took place between Hindus and Muslims and Greeks and tons of knowledge was exchanged, Baghdad became the market place of scientific ideas and people from all around the world came to participate during the Caliphate of Mamun.

    Your ignorance is evident, you talk about Islam yet you have never studied it, your talk shows that all you know about Islam is what the Indian media, mainly star plus, zee tv and other channels especially Bollywood tell you. The manner in which you paint an entire religion and race as primitive and barbaric is proof of your ignorance and bigotry. Please don’t talk about things you have not thoroughly studied or have knowledge about. We are not manipulators or self glorifying people. This is not our nature. Islam teaches otherwise but I guess since you have not read one word of Quran or Hadith you wouldn’t know that. Islam is a vast religion and cannot be simplified so easily.

  40. Jamal

    No. 1 Nation in Sexy Web Searches? Call it Pornistan

    They may call it the “Land of the Pure,” but Pakistan turns out to be anything but.

    The Muslim country, which has banned content on at least 17 websites to block offensive and blasphemous material, is the world’s leader in online searches for pornographic material, FoxNews.com has learned.

    Link: foxnews.com/world/2010/07/12/data-shows-pakistan-googling-pornographic-material/

  41. Naeem Sahibzada

    A very good article and actually a reality check.

    Islam teaches us nothing but being good, tolerant human beings who live by example and can co exist with others. But unfortunately history clearly shows that in every era the motives and practices of particularly the rulers or more accurately forces of evil in their lust to grab power or for holding on to power have always invariably been totally contrary to the real dictates of our religion and more interestingly as always it has been falsely sanctioned and justified by the illegal entity of Mullah’s with fictitious and false “Fatwas” in the name of religion. What a shame.

    This illegal entity of so called orthodox Mullah which is not sanctioned by our religion in any way in the guise of false religious scholars have always invariably been the villains and co conspirators in league with the rulers to enjoy petty perks and sustain their illegal entity. They are the culprits who create these false illusions, mislead masses, create hatred and divisions and distort religion and history just to entrench themselves or just enjoy some perks of power. This has been going on for more than fourteen hundred years. Our great religion has nothing to do with it.
    Has it changed today. Certainly not. This time they are making a greater bid for power in the name of so called Taliban or the so called damed purists.

    Our problem is that like always out of sheer ignorance get carried away in the name of religion without getting to the actual motives or reality of things. We like to believe in here say instead of researching or reading our real and undistorted history.

    Cheers !!!!!

  42. Mahalingam Khan

    Naeem Sahibzada
    You have dissected the problem accurately. Lets hope may be some in near future do the miracle and fix the faults of every one so that only pristine Islam get practiced as it was in Arabia in 6-7th Century. It is so true that no one , especially Kuffar has seen the real peaceful and merciful and beautiful working way of the pure Islam . I can bet my last earned Rupee if any one can find comparative example of peace and tranquility prevaling in Arabia when Holy Prophet Mohamamd (SAWA) and Rashidun was guiding the early Muslims. Human civilization will be hard pressed to do any relgious or political comparison.
    Please shed some more light on who else can be at faulted at all the wrong doings in the name of islam , may be , one day real culprit might get pointed out. Like Chinese say, naming the problem correctly is the beginning of wisdom .

  43. simply61

    Thanks for a good article.The most confusing and oft used(and abused)term is that of a ‘good Muslim’.One hears it used all the time in the Gulf States also.What exactly are the attributes of a ‘good
    Muslim’? Who decides the parameters or is it just a convenient,but vague, term coined in the same vein as ‘the glorious past of the Muslims’?

  44. Mansoor Khalid

    A brave post indeed. Islam just like any other religion has dark sides also. Our history also contains horrific details, it’s not rainbows always. I applaud the author for coming up with such a brave article.

  45. Mahnoor,

    Interesting article. In his book “Murder of History” published by Vanguard Publishers (no connection with my name) K. K. Aziz raises similar observations that how we have distorted our history to suit our purposes.

    It is not limited to Islamic history or Muslim history. Lets take recent past. All of us have been told and I can assure you that if you ask around you will find that with the exception of a few, everyone believes that India attacked us unprovoked in 1965. Similarly, in 1971 there is no mention of mass scale rape (Bangladesh claims 300,000 women were raped. If you think that is exaggerated, for arguments sake take 10% of it) and murder carried out by Pakistan army and at their behest Al Badr and Al Shams. Lets try to introduce that in our Pakistan studies course.

    I am no educator but I believe that when a kid is growing up, he needs positive reinforcement about his roots, country, ancestors and life in general otherwise he will grow up to be a cynic. You don’t tell someone all the hard facts of life (life is unfair, cheating can get you ahead, crime can indeed pay). As he grows mature, he can be figure out that not everything is black and white provided he is trained to keep an open mind.

  46. J.Krishnan

    to mustafa shaban

    http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/editorial/education-and-bigotry-470

    Read the above article “Education and bigotry” in today’s (15.07.10) Dawn editorial

    Quote:

    “A FRIEND who runs a school for children from modest-income families tells me that very often she has fathers coming to her with a request she found strange when she was first confronted with it.

    They wanted to withdraw their sons from school for a year. When she probed into this unusual favour they sought, she was told that the boy was to be admitted to a madressah for a year.

    The period the child was in the madressah was to be a gap year to enable the boy to become a hafiz-i-Quran (one who has memorised the holy book). Thereafter he would return to regular schooling. Being a hafiz was calculated to bring him many advantages in this world, if one lives in an Islamic Republic, and the next.

    My friend’s observations on the child when he returned a year later are more intriguing. More than anything else, she found that the child’s mind was numbed and the initiative and interest he had shown in his studies previously was gone. His eyes had a blank look and for all practical purposes he was lost to her. She simply could not revive his erstwhile childhood buoyancy in spite of all her efforts.” ……………………….. so on.

    BTW I have my knowledge of islam-in-practice from pakistani newspapers not from bollywood or indian media.

  47. Mnoor

    Vanguard
    The point you make about giving positive reinforcement to children is very valid. Nearly all nations do that. The positives about the nation and its history should be highlighted at the early stages.

    However if even up to Masters level, the sanitized version of past events is continued, I think it would just be creating delusions. There is nothing wrong in acknowledging that mistakes and problems in the past, because they are learning tools, we may learn that some of the past actions may have been quite justified in their own time. More importantly by studying history objectively we remove the halo effect on the past.

  48. J.Krishnan

    for mustafa shaban

    read the article:

    Education and bigotry
    By Zubeida Mustafa
    in the Dawn (editorial) of Wednesday, 14 Jul, 2010

    BTW, thank god I do not get my knowledge of islam-in-practice from Bollywood or indian media (as insinuated by you) but mostly from Pakistani newspapers.

  49. Hayyer

    These are the serial trolls. I believe the RSS maintains a self sacrificing fidayeen division who perish in cyber wars against Muslims. They are robotically trained to respond in a hostile way to the names Pakistani and Muslim.
    The best way of keeping the party clean is to recognize them early and decline to acknowledge them. Programmed to respond only if challenged these bots soon go away.

  50. Mustafa Shaban

    @J Krishnan: To know Islam you have to read the Quran and Sunnah. Pakistani newspapers cant teach you about religion. Also the Quran needs interpretation, the uneducated who memorize Quran without understanding it cannot get anything out of it exccept for a few things so its obvious that without proper guidance you cant get anything from Quran.

  51. Moosa

    There’s an interesting quotation from Reverend Bosworth Smith: “Head of the State as well as the Church, he was Caesar and Pope in one; but he was Pope without the Pope’s pretensions, and Caesar without the legions of Caesar, without a standing army, without a bodyguard, without a police force, without a fixed revenue. If ever a man ruled by a right divine, it was Muhammad, for he had all the powers without their supports. He cared not for the dressings of power. The simplicity of his private life was in keeping with his public life.”

    This quotation is interesting for me, because many muslims today pine for an ideal perfect Islamic state which should be built on the model of the Islamic state of Prophet Muhammad (pboh). Of course, this is a fantasy, it’s not a historical reality. No modern state can be built on that model. As Bosworth Smith said, Prophet Muhammad (pboh) had none of the fundamental building blocks of a modern state. He had no standing army, no police force, no penitentiary system, no regular revenue, no healthcare or sanitation system. The problem with this sort of islamic idealism, is that it leads to complete shambles when these sort of muslims try to set up any governmental system.

  52. Sunial Sanyal

    Dear Mahnoor,
    God Bless you! May true knowledge prevail, may Pakistan realize that true history shapes true future. How much can past guide us if we do not continue to invest in the present for a properous future? To rule, achieve power, to be one up, is this the purpose of life in Islam? If so, then all Muslims are doomed by religious order never to live in peace.
    India, for the sake of peace, does not profess excesses by Muslims during the arrival and spread of Islam in the sub-continent. Forceful conversion, wreckless killings, taxes on non-muslims, wrecking/destruction of temples, destruction of centres of learning, etc. It exploded from the 7th century onwards in areas of high illitracy, today stuggles in a wastly literate world and has begun to implode. Some of its basic tenets have to change. They are, simply, anti-human!
    May your article bestow all Muslims more wisdom, true knowledge to support civilizations and not destroy them.

  53. Amna Zaman

    A very interesting article I must say. The author truly depicts how Islamic history way of teaching has enhances extremism in our country. Time demands educational reforms especially in seminaries.

  54. Ali Hamdani

    If these teachings were not preached in this manner how would the Taliban contain power of their areas?? True teachings of religion are a threat to their existence, we must not forget!

  55. rajasankar

    Why there is no mention of Maraths in the downfall of mughal empire? Mughal empires committed atrocities in unspeakable forms and hindus retaliated to bring down the empire.

    Entire indian history told as muslims ruled india for more than 800 years. The fact is they don’t. Only Aurangzeb is closed to achieve the ruling of whole india. But he failed to treat hindus as human beings and spent his entire life in fighting wars.