Several days ago, the InventorSpot online magazine published a story about an exhibition at the London’s Museum of Science (January – July, 2010). The story was titled Golden Age Of Islam Presents the World With 1001 Inventions.
It is well-known that The Golden Age of Islam (8th – 13th centuries) had charmed the whole world with amazing fairy tales known as One Thousand and One Nights. (It was, by the way, one of the first books that I read in my long-ago-vanished kindergarten years). But I must confess that I have never ever heard of One Thousand and One Islamic scientific discoveries – neither in my childhood, nor in my adult years.
The pompous heading of that article caught my sceptical eye. Having some firsthand experience with frivolous handling of reality in the Islamic world (I have, after all, lived for eight years in Uzbekistan and five years in Israel), I immediately suspected that the exhibition was a collection of fairy tales, and I was right – it was indeed an attempt (funded, by the way, by British taxpayers) to lull gullible visitors with fairy tales of “great Islamic inventions”.
Being unable to present any real scientific and engineering achievements (like, for instance, inventions of radio, TV, airplanes, cinema, computers, telephone, automobile, discoveries of Newton’s laws of motion and Einstein’s theory of relativity), the organizers of the exhibition displayed instead dozens of insignificant inventions (and even pseudo-inventions), dating back 500-700 years – the inventions that have not influenced at all the modern science and technology. Anyone interested in those “brilliant” achievements can find them on the site www.muslimheritage.com.
- The exhibition organizers claim that the ideas of modern taxation (and even supply-side economics) had been introduced by the great Islamic scholar Ibn Khaldun 400 years ago. (Maybe, President Obama should read the works of Ibn Khaldun before imposing new taxes on us?)
- They insist that the ideas of automation and robotics had been first explored more than 700 years ago by the Arabic scientist and engineer Al-Jazari;
- They proclaim that the first smallpox inoculations had been carried out in the Muslim Turkey, long before Edward Jenner introduced them in the Christian England in 1796.
Etcetera, etcetera… It certainly looks like a collection of colorful fairy tales from One Thousand and One Nights, isn’t it?
The main mission of the exhibition is to obscure the hard fact that for the last several centuries the vast Islamic world has contributed almost nothing at all to the great treasury of human civilization!
Open please the magnificent book Human Accomplishment, by Charles Murray. The list of people who have created the greatest works in science, technology, economics, arts, and literature includes slightly more than 4000 names – and only a handful of them are Muslims.
Let’s take a look at the best indicator of scientific accomplishments – the number of Nobel Prize laureats. Starting at the beginning of the 20th century, 809 people have become Nobel Prize winners. And only eight (!) of them are Muslims; 801 are either representatives of Christian nations (approximately, 620), or Jews (close to 180).
Why is it so? Why such a huge discrepancy between the number of the Muslim and non-Muslim Nobel Prize laureats? Is it because Arabs, Iranians, Pakistanis, and Indonesians are inherently stupid?
I categorically reject that notion! It is my firm conviction that there is a single culprit of the backwardness of the Muslim world – and this is the reactionary teachings of Islam.
As the great Englishman Winston Churchill wrote in 1899, in his book The River War:
Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world.