There was a time in the history of the world where Islam stood in a position that was above all. The Islamic Empire was the most magnificent and powerful in the world. It produced the greatest scholars, rulers, scientists, architects, and citizens that flourished in all areas of life.
It wasn’t until much later that we strayed from our teachings and the result of that is what made us a misunderstood nation that is lagging behind.
Today we journey back to dig in the history of the Golden Era of Muslims. Modern day Muslims may not realize how many things; objects and concepts alike, were actually brought into existence by our ancestors whose heritage we are supposed to be carrying. But over the course of thousands of years, the original names were lost and benefitting from that, Europeans who were good at adapting saw the chance and gladly took it, they took the discoveries and inventions and evolved into the successful, developed nation that they are now. In the past, Muslims ruled over Spain, North Africa, the Middle East, and much of Central Asia.
Education was made compulsory on all men and women by Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him), as he said, “Seek knowledge even if it is in China.”
In those times China was considered the farthest geographic state recorded. When the prophet said this, he tried to encourage the Muslims to try everything that was in their power to acquire knowledge. Following his teachings, centers of learning were founded in Baghdad, Damascus, Cairo, and Cordoba. These centers of learning and study later served as models for European universities.
Allah instructs His servants to contemplate, to look at the wonders in the universe and to try to understand.
“And on the Earth are signs for the certain in faith. And in yourselves. Then will you not see?” (Qur’an, chapter 51, verse 20-21)
The Muslims of that time had a thirst for knowledge and curiosity of what Allah had hidden for them on the Earth and in all of space and time. That led the Muslim scientists to establish that the world was round in the 9th century. The early expeditioners learned how to navigate by looking at the stars. The use of navigation tools and weather forecasting was the expertise of the Muslims. By studying the stars, they would make calendars and decide on the times of prayers.
Modern medicine also has its roots planted in that golden era. In fact, Muslim doctors established the world’s first hospital, which originally was adjacent to the mosques. Also, there were hospital caravans that brought medical care to the people in villages, which evolved into the units that today we call ambulances.
Al-Khwarizmi was given the title of the “father of algebra”. The word algebra came from one of his books. Al-Khwarizmi was the one who introduced the concept of “0” in mathematics and started using it for calculations.
Ibn Sina commonly known as Avicenna is still the most famous and influential scientist in medicine. The Canon of Medicine was his most celebrated book that contained the summary of all the medical knowledge of his time. His book was primarily used as a text book in medical universities for 500 years after he had originally written it. His work on optics was phenomenal and way ahead of its time. He had written a total of 450 books, unfortunately only 240 of these books survived. He was a mathematician, physicist, astronomer, and much more.
Muslims believe that only Allah can create something alive, so they turned to shapes and patterns found in nature, and recreated them using geometry. This brilliant art of geometric shapes and arabesque patterns was used decorate a wide range of objects from every day items such as plates and candle sticks to large scale places like mosques and castles.
Arabesque is a method of art that uses basic tools like rulers and compasses to create symmetric abstract art, which is then commonly used to decorate mosques, pottery and textiles.
Calligraphy is the art of writing beautifully which came into being because the Muslims thought that the word of God when written must be as beautiful as can be made. For this reason, they would only let the most professional calligraphers to write God’s name and verses from the Holy Qur’an in buildings and different places. Calligraphy is now taught in universities as a subject.
The contributions of Muslims to all the areas of the world are innumerable, we owe so much to them, that I could not possibly mention all of them here. This is just the tip of the iceberg. But it gives me pride to say that we are people of such a beautiful, rich, and intelligent heritage. We had pride, glory, and respect.
What happened to us? And what can we do to earn our name and place in this world back?