Iran and Egypt at the cross roads of history today. Both children of five thousand years old civilisations who nurtured the desert Islam and regions that were nurseries of nascent Islam who helped introduce inside Islam the intricacies of innovation. Islam have come out of barrenness but an intense intellectual interaction with rich civilisations that included Hellenistic, Sassanid and Vedic established itself as a philosophy that was prevalent at the time; the desert armies incorporated values of spirit and civilisations of that of Vedic, Pharaohs, Hellenistic and Zoroaster.
It is a combination of all these that helped a great era of revitalization that was nipped in the bud as the original dogma of scripture took control. With victory in the battle of Yarmuk the spirit of Greek science, literature and philosophy fell into the hands of Muslims. In the spring of 633 CE, a grandson of Khosrau called Yezdegerd, ascended the throne, and in that same year the first Arab squadrons made their first raids into Persian territory. With the conquest of Persia and eastern Byzantine, the treasure chest of knowledge of old twin civilisations—Byzantines and the Sassanids—had fallen in the hands of the Arab armies. Instead of burning them, they made these treasures the mainstay of their governance. Desert Islam intermixed with the strains of old civilisations to survive.
Once again as distant beat of drums of war approaches deafening clatter, isn’t it worth the while of Akhoonds to renounce the path of oncoming catastrophe at all cost. National patriotic pragmatism demands that at all cost the falling bombs from skies should be avoided. Dreams and hallucinations of a nuke may be part of the ‘Mullahcracy’ routine, but Iranian nation is far too sophisticated to think of a nuke usage.Every contemporary war in the Middle East fought in the name of defence of national reputation and honour has resulted in wiping out of the entire infrastructure of energy and public amenities.
Akhoonds and Ikhwans all over from Egypt to Iran and within the instable crescent of Islam should recognize that the war path and continual prodding of the alleyway of altercation will only lead to collective national suicide and self-annihilation. Times gone by are the best adjudicator to evaluate collective action of puritanical intransigence. Iran is a sitting pet target of those who would love to take the chance to mop Iran out.
Akhoonds and Ikhwans today needs integration with the world, Islam needs to realise that days where ‘Moguls and Ottomans’ could rule the world in the name of Allah are gone. Islamic majorities are simmering with ravaging conflicts trapped between wars to impose dogmatic ‘back-to-basics Allah-ordained constitution’ or western-based secularism, the hearts of the fruitful are with Allah, but their economies are tied with the world. This dichotomy makes them quite unsure as the road they need to take.
Decline is ensured when nations go on a war path and useless confrontation. Invasions of Mongols and crusades may not be the only two major factors to expedite the decline, what destabilized the Islamic world the most was suffocation of independent reasoning in the 12th century in favor of institutionalized imitation and blind following of dogma. This resulted in the writ of scriptures as the ultimate arbiter of the affairs of man.
Akhoonds and Ikhwans should comprehend that if they refuse to coexist with other members of global society in peace and harmony there is no future for their nations. It was the desert Arabs’ amalgamation of cradles of eastern civilisations that spewed elite luminaries responsible for the enlightenment of an whole era. Ibn Battuta, Averroes, Nasir al-Din al-Tusi, Mo’ayyeduddin Urdi, and Ibn al-Shatir were few of these scholars who benefitted from Vedic mathematics and helped the age of enlightenment within Moorish Spain and Abbasid Baghdad. Islamic scholars owed their knowledge of a moving earth and ‘zero’ to Vedic Hindu philosophy. Centuries earlier Aryabhata held to a view in which the Earth rotated. (Zero was invented by the ancient Indian scientists; most people accept that it was invented by great mathematician Aryabhata). If zero was not discovered mankind would be zero. The rules governing the use of zero appeared for the first time in Brahmagupta’s book Brahmasputha Siddhanta (The Opening of the Universe), written in 628. Here Brahmagupta considers not only zero, but negative numbers, and the algebraic rules for the elementary operations of arithmetic with such numbers.
Without numbers below ‘zero,’ risk could not be ascertained. Insurance would not have evolved and so trade would have remained in infancy. The world, subject to vagaries of weather and anger of seas, would not flourish. Zero that symbolises ‘nothingness’ is one of the major discoveries for western thought and sciences. Arab contributions to human civilization are noteworthy. In arithmetic, the style of writing digits from right to left is an evidence of its Arab/Hindu origin. For instance, the numeral for five hundred in English should be written as 005, not as 500 according to English’s left-to-right reading style.
Openness of mind and scientific progress are interrelated phenomenon. There is a reason that the strong comprehension of Astronomy became palmistry and sorcery in the lands of Islam; and it is for a reason that Al Hazen born in 965 C.E. in Basrah the time-honored father of modern optics could not translate his theoretical success into magnifying glasses, there is a reason science of chemistry became alchemy. (Although discovering the theory of magnifying glasses that could have led to reading glasses 300 years before magnifying lenses developed in Italy; this was 600 years prior to Law of Sines was proposed by Snell and Descartes)
“…How much more of the mosque, of prayer and fasting? Better go drunk and begging round the taverns. Drink wine, for soon this clay of yours will make a cup, bowl, one day a jar….” Khayyam
Moustapha Safouan in “Why the Arab World is not free?” wrote ‘‘Copernicus was an influential priest in Poland; Kepler who studied theology at the University of Tubingen but was sent by his professors to teach mathematics at the University of Graz; Newton wrote more on theology and the Old Testament than on physics and mathematics. ‘‘ I would like to add to the weighty evidence some of my thoughts to the idea why a student from Qom or Al-Azhar did not go on to discover new frontiers of science. Monasteries of Salamanca, Oxford, Paris and Bologna graduated to become universities and high seats of learning; whereas Islamic seat of learning preferred to stay pious and devout. The University of Salamanca is the oldest university in Spain; founded in 1218 by King Alfonso IX, it was acknowledged in 1254 by Pope Alexander IV as being one of the four great Universities in the world, along with the universities of Oxford, Paris and Bologna. It has had many distinguished professors throughout its history, including Luis de León, Beatriz de Galindo, Melchor Cano, Francisco de Vitoria and Miguel de Unamuno and many well known citizens have walked along the University’s corridors, like Miguel de Cervantes, Hernando Cortes and Christopher Columbus.
This is very interesting to help develop why Renaissance within the Islamic world was nipped in the bud and who was responsible, was there a golden age and why our intellectual heroes have become our heretics and heretics our heroes.
Modern Nobel laureates like Mahfouz, Ebadi and Salam within the world of Islam refer to Abul-‘Alaa’, Ma’ari, Avicenna or Farabi, Khayyam or Razi in their Nobel addresses; these rationalists of Islam are nearly forgotten in the maddarassas.
Najib Mahfouz in his Nobel prize acceptance speech said:
“Permit me, to present myself in as objective a manner as is humanly possible. I am the son of two civilizations that at a certain age in history have formed a happy marriage. The first of these, seven thousand years old, is the Pharaonic civilization; the second, one thousand four hundred years old, is the Islamic one. One day the great Pyramid will disappear too. But Truth and Justice will remain for as long as Mankind has a ruminative mind and a living conscience.
I will, instead, introduce that civilization in a moving dramatic situation summarizing one of its most conspicuous traits: In one victorious battle against Byzantium it has given back its prisoners of war in return for a number of books of the ancient Greek heritage in philosophy, medicine and mathematics. This is a testimony of value for the human spirit in its demand for knowledge, even though the demander was a believer in God and the demanded a fruit of a pagan civilization.
It was my fate, ladies and gentlemen, to be born in the lap of these two civilizations, and to absorb their milk, to feed on their literature and art. The truth of the matter is that Evil is a loud and boisterous debaucherer, and that Man remembers what hurts more than what pleases. Our great poet Abul-‘Alaa’ Ma’ari was right when he said: “A grief at the hour of death is more than a hundred-fold Joy at the hour of birth.”
When Islamic Armies emerged from Arabian isthmus, seizing territory from Spain, Persia to Vedic- India, they took possession of the works of Plato, Aristotle, Pythagoras, Archimedes, and other Vedic-Greek thinkers. One of the prime reasons attributed to Muslims’ intellectual enhancement throughout the Middle Ages is the considerable contact of Greek rationalistic Philosophy on Muslim intellectuals. Scholars say science found such goodwill in medieval Islam for numerous reasons. Part of the charisma was based on experience of the unity of creation that was the essential meaning of Islam.
For all their wisdom and skills as mathematicians, the Greeks and Indians turned to the orFacles and psyche instead of consulting their wisest philosophers when it came to predicting the future. Numbers by Indians were used to forecast future. The Arabs used the numbering system developed by the Hindus, but they too believed that men’s worldly destiny is always determined by Allah. For Arabs, science remained limited to the ‘direction of Mecca’ for prayers and ‘will of God.’ The insurance required by any trader to go beyond known shorelines remained dutifully an infidel scheme.
Unfortunately the battle of enlightenment that Averroes lost to Ghazali was won by the philosophers of the west in Italy and the continent. My analysis of the present backwardness of any individual and a society is his preoccupation with established custom and wisdom. Read the syllabus or the environment of a decadent mind and you will see that, unlike Newton, he is happy with the equivalent of his Aristotelian age mindset.
Moreover as a result of the influence of Greek philosophy, the vast majority of the Muslim intellectuals of the middle Ages preferred reason over faith as a guiding philosophy. It is this interaction with the rich past, which makes our present day Noble Prize her winners associate themselves with the rationalists of the past.
Islam’s vanished golden era cannot be treated in an academic vacuum. In a patent symptom of dismissive generalization, noted clerics make sweeping statements like “Muslims could regain their lost place with the promotion of book reading culture, as distance from knowledge caused downfall of the Muslims in the world.” Everyone seems to mourn the lost glory; however the real excruciating causes of decline are rarely argued. Rationalism was an essential inclination amid the Muslim thinkers during the Golden Age of Islam; it was toleration of ideas in which the so-called golden age of Islam flourished. Thinkers then were more led by their own conscience than any provincial dogma, a belief system they might have inherited from their ancestors. Decreed by the Koran to seek knowledge and enthused by the riches of ancient Greek knowledge, Muslims created a civilization that in the Middle Ages was the scientific centre of the world. Jews, Christians and Muslims all contributed in this flowering of knowledge and thinking, which lasted for at least 500 years and covered the region from Spain to Persia.
One needs to look at the reasons why the entrenched clergy from the very beginning of Islam to present day has always frowned at any attempt of “enlightened moderation.” Those who meditated science and logic came up with a lot of questions and those questions are more often than not nipped in the bud. Decline of the Islamic golden age was due to supremacy and ascendancy of dogma over rationalism – for example, the lack of separation between faith and reason – that is why the Muslim Arab world fell into scientific slumber just as the Christian world woke up. Internecine wars, infighting and murder of rationalism were the main causes for the decline of Islam. It is often disputed why Muslims being 19.6% of the world’s population, i.e. 2 billion, only have three Nobel laureates in Science and literature, whereas Jews being only 0.2% of the world’s population, i.e. 14.1 million, have received 122 Nobel prizes in science, economics, medicine and literature.
Maybe enlightened and freed minds from dogma had a lot to do with discerning new frontiers of science and technology; a closed mind’s progress is arrested; limitations of surroundings inundated by puritanical doctrine kill independent investigation. Undoubtedly if Nobel Prize had existed 1400 years ago, Muslims would have scored very highly in many fields. Islam did give to science (790-850) Khwarizmi, (800- 860) Jawhari, (805-873) Kindi, (870-950) Farabi, (920-980) Uqlidisi, (953-1029) Karaji, (965-1039) Haitam, (970-1036) Mansur, (980-1037) Avicenna, (973-1048) Biruni, (1048-1122) Khayyam.
The history of the philosophical debate that was started by al-Ghazali and Ibn Rushd would continue at the hands of authors in the Islamic East in general, and in the Ottoman lands after the eclipse of the Muslim rule of Andalusia. In fact the famed sultan, Mehmet II (a.k.a. fatih [conqueror] r.(1451-1481), ordered two of the empires’ scholars to compile books to summarize the debate between Ghazali and Ibn Rushd. Both of these works have been published one of which in a critical edition. This part of history needs yet to be written, but there are no takers yet. Orthodoxy in Islam rarely allows the treatise of Ibn Sina (Avicenna) (980-1037), Kindi (800-865 and Ibn Rushd (Averroes) to become the syllabus of mainstream thought process.
A talib today rarely knows about the real heroes of Islam; only in a selective reverence we refer to Avicenna and Averroes, but their thinking is not part of the Islamic milieu. We own them as success of Islam but we down their thoughts. If Avicenna and Averroes’s thinking were to be the dialogue within Islam, the sun of the golden era would have never set. We cannot cite Khayyam as an example of a great poet and completely forget the message he gave. We may disagree with him, but introduction of his thinking will help us to determine what pluralism is all about. These thinkers of the golden era need to be revived and their books should form an integral part of our academia. Khayyam is described as an atheist, philosopher, and naturalist. The constant themes of Khayyam’s poetry are the certainty of death, the pointlessness of asking unanswerable questions, the mysteriousness of the universe, and the necessity of living for and enjoying the present. This is clearly reflected in the following verses taken from Rubaiyat:
“…How much more of the mosque, of prayer and fasting? Better go drunk and begging round the taverns. Khayyam, drink wine, for soon this clay of yours will make a cup, bowl, one day a jar….”
Shirin Ebadi in Iran is another Nobel laureate suffering at the hands of the radicals. Shirin Abadi, Islam’s most famous daughter and a Nobel Prize winner in her speech to accept the prize referred to her rich cultural integration with Islam. She said,
“Allow me to say a little about my country, region, culture and faith. I am an Iranian. A descendent of Cyrus The Great. The Charter of Cyrus the Great is one of the most important documents that should be studied in the history of human rights. I am a Muslim. In the Koran the Prophet of Islam has been cited as saying: “Thou shalt believe in thine faith and I in my religion”. That same divine book sees the mission of all prophets as that of inviting all human beings to uphold justice. Since the advent of Islam, too, Iran’s civilization and culture has become imbued and infused with humanitarianism, respect for the life, belief and faith of others, propagation of tolerance and compromise and avoidance of violence, bloodshed and war. The luminaries of Iranian literature, in particular our Gnostic literature, from Hafiz, Mowlavi [better known in the West as Rumi] and Attar to Saadi, Sanaei, Naser Khosrow and Nezami, are emissaries of this humanitarian culture.”
A dark age within any civilization is characterized with dogmatic extremism that denies civil liberties, including freedom of religion and justice or the right to a fair trial. ‘Golden age’ on the other hand should be about the freedom of expression and availability of justice for the downtrodden. A society is judged not by its standards of the richest but by the way the under privileged and the poorest live. A minor renaissance within the regions under the influence of Islam can be traced but the conditions that help ‘seeds of reason’ to take roots that are essential for freethinking were just not allowed to be nurtured.
Unfortunately in the Arab world, the true values are rarely ever discussed freely, during the glorified ‘Golden Age’ there was particularly strong tradition of rationalists, the Mutazilites. They stressed a human being’s inherent free will countering the predestinarians, who taught that everything was foreordained. The Mutazilites carefully cultivated an ‘enlightened moderation’ and allowed for the growth of knowledge and in their active promulgation and acceptance of Science as a part of the religion doctrine they brought to the Islamic world her Golden Age.
Muslim countries supply 70 per cent of the worlds energy requirements and 40 per cent of its raw material exports. It’s appalling statistic that with all of their oil wealth, two-thirds of the world’s poorest people live in Muslim countries? This state of misery is unparalleled; Islam’s inability to translate its economic prowess into general good has baffled the intelligentsia of the world. Perhaps one can argue that why, in the last 20 years, have over million people died in conflicts involving intra Muslim wars? Why are democracy and the rule of law nonexistent in most Muslim states? Why are most of the worst acts of terrorism carried out in the name of Islam? Whenever wicked fundamentalists have taken over reins of affairs they have gone for the jugular. Extremists have a single point agenda whereby ‘worldly decadence’ needs to be abolished for blessings and rewards of the after world. None of devotion but their kind can gratify them, every strain of deviancy over times have its own brand of virtuous approach, these anarchists at one point have inflicted devastation on embryonic societies of Islam.
Renaissance cannot be tainted with colour of ideology, it cannot be ‘Islamic or Christian,’ it is collective effort of minds to seek freedom from dogma and seek answers to complex questions of purpose of existence on this planet. Free thinking, logic and rationalism have to be the foundation stone of any serious attempt to induce renaissance in the Islamic world. Pluralism of Ideas and the prosperity of any land are intertwined. Freedom of minds and skill of intellect to ‘think the unthinkable’ is how humanity has progressed; when minds are incarcerated nothing endures.
Renaissance within all three monolithic religions was built around norms of free mind; renaissance was about literature, architecture, arts and chiseling of marble to exquisite forms. David could only be created by the love of the free labor of Michelangelo an enslaved mind cannot be an artist or a creator. Enslaved man can be a revolutionary and many a enslave people have helped changed the world but their minds were free they accepted death instead of compromise with totalitarian or dogmatic despotism.
The first and foremost challenge nations of Islam faces is freedom of intellectual enquiry, ability to ask the unthinkable and still be able to live in peace within a society is the ultimate hall mark of any efforts of kindling renaissance.
Professor Ahmed H. Zewail, the only Arab to ever win a Nobel prize for science and, since the death of the Pakistani physicist Abdus Salam, the only one among the 1.2 billion Muslims with that honor, quoted Dr. Taha Hussein in his Nobel acceptance speech and said: “The end will begin when seekers of knowledge become satisfied with their own achievements.” Unfortunately the embryonic renaissance in the late 700’s to 1300 of Islam was not extinguished by the satisfaction of its scientist’s queries, rather it was killed on the altar of dogma.
Prof. Ahmad Zewail’s use of the fast laser technique can be likened to Galilei’s use of his telescope, which he directed towards everything that lit up the vault of heaven. Zewail tried his femtosecond laser on literally everything that moved in the world of molecules. He turned his telescope towards the frontiers of science. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry because he was the first to conduct experiments that clearly show the decisive moments in the life of a molecule – the breaking and formation of chemical bonds. He has been able to see the reality behind Arrhenius’ theory. His acceptance speech like Ebadi’s referred to his richness of twin civilisations that of Islam and Egyptian.
“Let me begin with a reflection on a personal story, that of a voyage through time. The medal I received from his Majesty this evening was designed by Erik Lindberg in 1902 to represent Nature in the form of the Goddess Isis – or eesis – the Egyptian Goddess of Motherhood. She emerges from the clouds, holding a cornucopia in her arms and the veil which covers her cold and austere face is held up by the Genius of Science. Indeed, it is the genius of science which pushed forward the race against time, from the beginning of astronomical calendars six millennia ago in the land of Isis to the femtosecond regime honoured tonight for the ultimate achievement in the microcosmos. I began life and education in the same Land of Isis, Egypt, made the scientific unveiling in America, and tonight, I receive this honor in Sweden, with a Nobel Medal which takes me right back to the beginning. This internationalization by the Genius of Science is precisely what Mr. Nobel wished for more than a century ago.”
Dr.Abdus Salam Noble Laureate and another proclaimed heretic from Pakistan once wrote: “The Holy Quran enjoins us to reflect on the verities of Allah’s created laws of nature; however, that our generation has been privileged to glimpse a part of His design is a bounty and a grace for which I render thanks with a humble heart.” Sad and tragic is the reality that this scion of Pakistan was not allowed to be buried in his homeland. His has been one of the most touching speeches; an orphaned son of a nation thanked the luminaries on behalf of a nation who had disowned him.
“… I thank the Nobel Foundation and the Royal Academy of Sciences for the great honor and the courtesies extended to us, including the courtesy to me of being addressed in my language Urdu. Pakistan is deeply indebted to you for this. The creation of Physics is the shared heritage of all mankind. East and West, North and South have equally participated in it. In the Holy Book of Islam, Allah says:
‘Thou seest not, in the creation of the All-merciful any imperfection, Return thy gaze, seest thou any fissure. Then Return thy gaze, again and again. Thy gaze, Comes back to thee dazzled a weary.'”
On the global stage, it is these heretical scientists disowned by us who have earned the greatest respect for Islam and not the orthodox clergy. Historically, we have distorted our real heroes into heretics, and the witch-hunt still continues. Dr. Abdus Salam is not the only one treated as a heretic, we have the modern rationalist, Naguib Mahfouz – Nobel laureate in literature. Citation of his work, ‘Awlad Haratina,’ in the Swedish Academy’s declaration of award of the Nobel Prize to Mahfouz in 1988 greatly angered the Islamicists. His novel appeared in English under the title, “The Children of Gebelawi.” Shortly after the eruption of the Rushdie affair, the leading fundamentalist, Omar Abd al-Rahman currently imprisoned in the US for his role in the attack on the World Trade Centre—declared that if they had killed Mahfouz in 1959 for writing ‘The Children of Our Alley,’ Rushdie would never have dared write his novel. This was taken as a fresh fatwa to kill Mahfouz. In 1994 an attempt on his life failed, although the assassin plunged a dagger into his neck, leaving him paralyzed in his right arm. The crime of association of present day heroes of Islam with their past intellectual ancestors has marginalised them. It was same Mahfouz who presented the case of his twin civilizations so adequately in the august forum of ‘Swedish academy of sciences’ and quoted great Muslim rationalist poet Abul-‘Alaa’ Ma’ari, who was a supreme rationalist and asserted everywhere “the rights of reason against the claims of custom, tradition and authority.”
The world cannot remain hostage to medievalists, this modern fight has to be seen in its intellectual, historical and geographical context, the Islamic world today is trying to reignite its lost renaissance, this is the age of Islamic renaissance, people who are meant to cure our ills are out in the open to slaughter and maim thousands, apparently educated are mentally demented, this the age that was for 500 years escaped the region and hence helped establish a void of reason and rational. Respect of life is the first sign of an educated mind, the most important creation of providence being subject to dynamite is a work of an evil soul, let’s not mix it, any mind that plots to maim and kill has not evolved, it has remained stuck in medieval hatreds of the past.
The Arabic language was synonymous with learning and science for 500 hundred years, a golden age that can count among its credits the precursors to modern universities, algebra, and the names of the stars and even the notion of science as an empirical inquiry. Science flourished in the Golden Age of Islam because there was within Islam a strong rationalist tradition, carried on by a group of Muslim thinkers known as the Mutazilites. This tradition stressed human free will, strongly opposing the predestinarians who taught that everything was foreordained and that humans have no option but to surrender everything to Allah. Under the Mutazilites ‘enlightened moderation,’ knowledge grew. These rationalistic customs confronted its reverse when in the twelfth century, Muslim conventional Puritanism reawakened that was led by Ghazali who championed revelation over reason, predestination over free will. The Imam described mathematics and medicine as Fard-E-Kefaya; he decisively placed those as secondary to religious-ilm. It’s ironical that with the kind of Muslim thinkers we had in the past, many of today’s Muslim orthodox model themselves on perhaps Ghazali, and none on any of the great Muslim rationalists such as Al-Raazi, Al Ma’ari, Omar Khayyam.
The philosophical ideas that al-Ghazali was attacking were the ideas of Avicenna and Farabi, some of which came from Aristotle while the majority came from Plato and Plotinus. Ibn Sina (Avicenna) (980-1037), is one of the foremost philosophers of the golden age of Islamic tradition that also includes Farabi and Ibn Rushd. He is also known as al-Sheikh Rais (Leader among the wise men), a title that was given to him by his students. His philosophical works were one of the main targets of Ghazali’s attack on philosophical influences in Islam. In the west, he is also known as the “Prince of Physicians” for his famous medical text Qanun “Canon”. In Latin translations, his works influenced many Christian philosophers, most notably Thomas Aquinas. The spread of Hellenistic philosophy in the Muslim world would be first expounded on by the first Arabic philosopher Kindi (800-865). He wrote many works on Greek science and philosophy. He laid the foundation for others to follow in studying philosophical works. His main contribution was the firm conviction that Greek heritage contained important truths that Muslims could not afford to overlook. As a mathematician he realized the importance of Aristotelian Logic. Farabi’s ideal rulers would be chosen for their intelligence and carefully educated in science, philosophy and religion. According to Farabi, the best ruler for this Muslim state would be a “philosopher-king”, a concept described in Plato’s Republic. One of the most important contributions of Farabi, beyond his political views and scientific philosophies, was to make the study of logic easier by dividing it into two categories – Takhayyul (idea) and Thubut (proof). He wrote several sociological books, including his famous work – Ara Ahl al-Madina al-Fadila (The Model City).
The war of ideas where Islamic clergy, for its own limited interests, has tried to introduce elements of bigotry and fanaticism in mainstream Islamic thought is not new to Muslim societies. It has made them weak and backward and if it continues in its most dangerous form, such a schism will fragment any country whose only reason to exist as a nation is theological unity of belief.
Our modern day laureates depict equally a sense of great connectivity to the rich past and that has to become a standard. Most likely the Islamic Renaissance that was about to be born 1000 years ago did not. We shall never know the extent of the harm that some celebrated religious zealots caused to mankind and civilization. We are once again at the crossroads; the only ways forward is to connect with the world and help make ours a true charitable society, the only way prosperity of mind can be ensured is through pluralism of ideas.
The true heroes are heretics of Islam. Akhoonds and Ikhwans may need to re-learn’ from the ‘heretics’ of Islam! History is a bitch, you better treat it well otherwise it comes and bites real hard.
Socrates- Apology sums it up:
The difficulty, my friends, is not in avoiding death, but in avoiding unrighteousness; for that runs deeper than death. For if you think that by killing men you can avoid the accuser censoring your lives, you are mistaken; that is not a way of escape which is either possible or honorable; the easiest and the noblest way is not to be crushing others, but to be improving yourselves.