Friday, August 24, 2012

The Mothers of Invention and the Fathers of Fiction: D.C. Museum Touts "I001 Muslim Inventions"

While short on specifics, it is invention of a certain kind (i.e. pure PR puffery intended to endear Islam to the infidel:
Instead of a list of 1001 inventions, there was more slippery language throughout the exhibit. Consider the station boldly entitled “Creating the Chemical Industry.” It starts, “some sources say” that in the 8th Century Jabir ibn Hayyan used an Islamic alembic for distillation. How does distillation, a process that existed for 2,800 years before Jabir, have any bearing on “creating the chemical industry”? The exhibit gets around to that question, sort of.

“Scientists of this period laid important foundations of the modern chemical industry.” These include new ways of “classifying substances,” sort of like Aristotle classifying Earth, Air, Fire and Water a millennium before Jabir. But other Muslim scientists developed varnishes, synthetic chemicals, paints and pesticides, we are told. No details are provided for these very specific inventions.

Other “inventions” or skills used (and therein lies the riddle) described in the exhibit are windmills, water pumps, and crop rotation. One exhibit entitled “Home Life” claims that the influence of Muslim civilization on modern living is ubiquitous. “From gardens to games, fashions to fabrics, clocks to cameras, today’s home life is packed with influences from early Muslim civilization.”

The Soviets were notorious for claiming communists were the first in everything...
Had the curators asked, I'd have gladly let them use my song:

Thanks for the minarets.
The muezzin's call to prayer,
I sure wish I was there
To hear that "Allahu Akbar" shouted
Here and ev'rywhere.
We thank you so much.

And thanks for the algebra.
It's such a groovy math.
It set us on our path.
So what if there were times when we
Experienced your wrath?
We thank you so much...

Update: From the National Geographic Museum website:
The 'Global Strategic Partner' for 1001 Inventions is Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiatives, which has sponsored the exhibition and its international tour.
Quel shockeroo--the above-named sponsor is 100% pure Wahhabi.

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