While Western society takes pride in its present-day scientific, technological and cultural advancements, few realize the significance of the intellectual stepping-stones provided by Muslim scholarship and innovation, especially during periods of European oppression and stagnation. The Muslims of the Middle Ages and earlier were instrumental in keeping the flame of civilization and advanced learning alight at times when other societies were unable to do so. And because of that intellectual perseverance, we all benefit.Even were it true that Muslims kept civilization's homefires burning brightly until the kafirs got their act together during the Renaissance, one might well be tempted to ask, paraphrasing a Jackson, "what have you done for us lately?" But, as Robert Spencer has written,
retailing the idea that Islamic culture was once a beacon of learning and enlightenment (is) a common myth, and one that is ultimately meant to make non-Muslims relax and love the jihad.
But in fact, much of the most common claims about the great achievements of Islamic culture have been exaggerated, often for quite transparent apologetic motives. The astrolabe was developed, if not perfected, long before Muhammad was born. The zero, which is often attributed to Muslims, and what we know today as "Arabic numerals" did not originate in Arabia, but in pre-Islamic India. Aristotle's work was preserved in Arabic not initially by Muslims at all, but by Christians such as the fifth century priest Probus of Antioch, who introduced Aristotle to the Arabic-speaking world. Another Christian, Huneyn ibn-Ishaq (809-873), translated many works by Aristotle, Galen, Plato and Hippocrates into Syriac. His son then translated them into Arabic. The Syrian Christian Yahya ibn 'Adi (893-974) also translated works of philosophy into Arabic, and wrote one of his own, The Reformation of Morals. His student, another Christian named Abu 'Ali 'Isa ibn Zur'a (943-1008), also translated Aristotle and others from Syriac into Arabic. The first Arabic-language medical treatise was written by a Christian priest and translated into Arabic by a Jewish doctor in 683. The first hospital was founded in Baghdad during the Abbasid caliphate -- not by a Muslim, but a Nestorian Christian. A pioneering medical school was founded at Gundeshapur in Persia -- by Assyrian Christians.
The point here is simply that the great achievements of Islamic culture are being exaggerated for political and apologetic reasons today.Nice try though, CIC.