? By Amb. Abdulrazaq O Hamzat

In the name of Allah, the most beneficent and the most merciful. The
restorer of peace and bestowal of understanding, the creator and he
who has indeed made Islam a source of world knowledge and
I decided to write on this topic ACHIEVEMENTS, IMPACTs AND
be most daring and expository, especially to some of us who haven?t
taken the time to look at the contribution of Islam to what the world
celebrate and enjoy today in terms of civilization, urbanization,
technology, art and science.
Let me start by saying, The first positive impact of Islam in the
world can be seen in the encouragement of Muslims to the pursuit of
knowledge, as prophet Mohammed said, the best form of worship is the
pursuit of knowledge.
History shows that, the rise of Muslims which later translated the
rise of the world to the zenith of civilization in a period of four
decades was based on Islam?s emphasis on learning. This according to
scholars is obvious when one takes a look at the Qur?an and the
traditions of Prophet Muhammed which are filled with references to
learning, education, observation and the use of reason.
Are those who have knowledge and those who have no knowledge alike?
Only the men of understanding are mindful (Qur?an 39:9).
Through education, Muslims became founder of most major
accomplishments in the world which later leads to western and world
civilization in
and moral culture.
It has also been established that, the Islamic empire for more than
1000 years was said to have remained the most advanced civilization in
the world. The main reasons for this according to history was that,
Islam stressed the importance and respect for learning, forbade
destruction and cultivated respect for authority, discipline and
tolerance for other religions. The teaching of Islam inspired many
Muslims to their accomplishments in science and other great
achievements which had today became the source of world civilization.
It was recorded that, by the tenth century, Muslims zeal and
enthusiasms for learning resulted in all essential Greek medical and
scientific writings being translated into Arabic in Damascus, Cairo
and Bagdad, and Arabic became the international language of learning
and diplomacy. The centre of scientific knowledge shifted eastward and
Bagdad emerge as the capital of the scientific world. The Muslims
became scientific innovators with originality and productivity through
It is worth to note that, it has been stated that, some of the best
and most eloquent praises of science came from the pens of Muslims
scientists who consider their work to be acts of worship. The same
motives which led to the establishments of Al-Azhar (800 AD) the first
university in the world. As Campbell describes it, the European
medical system is Arabia not only in origin, but also in its
structure. The Muslims are the intellectual forbearers of the
Furthermore, Carly Fiorina, the CEO of Hewlett Packard gave a speech
defining the relevance of leadership in today?s world which stated
that, We are Often Unaware of our Indebtedness to the Islamic
CEO of Hewlett Packard  stated that, there was once a civilization
that was the greatest in the world. It was able to create a
continental super-state that stretched from ocean to ocean, and from
northern climes to tropics and deserts. Within its dominion lived
hundreds of millions of people, of different creeds and ethnic
origins. One of its languages became the universal language of much of
the world, the bridge between the peoples of a hundred lands. Its
armies were made up of people of many nationalities, and its military
protection allowed a degree of peace and prosperity that had never
been known. The reach of this civilization?s commerce extended from
Latin America to China, and everywhere in between. And this
civilization was driven more than anything, by invention. Its
architects designed buildings that defied gravity. Its mathematicians
created the algebra and algorithms that would enable the building of
computers, and the creation of encryption. Its doctors examined the
human body, and found new cures for disease. Its astronomers looked
into the heavens, named the stars, and paved the way for space travel
and exploration.
Its writers created thousands of stories. Stories of courage, romance
and magic. Its poets wrote of love, when others before them were too
steeped in fear to think of such things.
When other nations were afraid of ideas, this civilization thrived on
them, and kept them alive. When censors threatened to wipe out
knowledge from past civilizations, this civilization kept the
knowledge alive, and passed it on to others.
While modern Western civilization shares many of these traits, the
civilization I?m talking about was the Islamic world from the year 800
to 1600, which included the Ottoman Empire and the courts of Baghdad,
Damascus and Cairo, and enlightened rulers like Suleiman the
Carly noted that, Although we are often unaware of our indebtedness to
this other civilization, its gifts are very much a part of our
heritage. The technology industry would not exist without the
contributions of Arab mathematicians. Sufi poet-philosophers like Rumi
challenged our notions of self and truth. Leaders like Suleiman
contributed to our notions of tolerance and civic leadership.
And perhaps we can learn a lesson from his example: It was leadership
based on meritocracy, not inheritance. It was leadership that
harnessed the full capabilities of a very diverse population?that
included Christianity, Islamic, and Jewish traditions. This kind of
enlightened leadership ? leadership that nurtured culture,
sustainability, diversity and courage ? led to 800 years of invention
and prosperity.
The Hewlett CEO concluded that, In dark and serious times like this,
we must affirm our commitment to building societies and institutions
that aspire to this kind of greatness. More than ever, we must focus
on the importance of leadership? bold acts of leadership and decidedly
personal acts of leadership.?
Also contributing to the discus is Jim Fry in his publication titled,
Positive Impact of Islam on Europe. Jim stated that, Historians are of
the point of view that Islam laid the foundation of modern Europe and
it is it fact the reality. History has noticed Europe dominating the
world in the past centuries through its knowledge and power but if we
study early invention of mathematics, physics and astronomy, not
surprisingly; all the credit goes to Muslim world of science. Muslim
mathematicians worked in every field of mathematics such as Al-Jabir
founded algebra. Galileo and Newton, the great scientists of their
time, would never have been able to formulate the modern theories of
mathematics and physics without the basic and important tools invented
by Muslim scientists. Plato and Aristotle laid the institution of
classical writing and texts in ancient Europe but these sculptures
were lost in the history and were almost doomed during the Dark Age.
It was again Muslims who acted as the caretakers of those important
writings and preserved them. Even some of that work was present only
in Arabic. Ibne-Rushd, a Muslim, known as Averroes in Europe, had a
major name in this regard. European explorers are famous for their
voyages and explorations but it was only made possible by the accurate
maps produced by the Muslim mapmakers. These maps paved the way for
European explorers to discover new worlds in minimum time span. This
is only the tiny amount of donation made by Islam to Europe directly
or indirectly.

Jim Fry also noted that, Although Islam was manipulated to be the
religion of extremism and terrorism but when people began to study
Islam after the 9/11 attack which was blamed on the Muslims, their
views changed and they found Islam to be the complete code of life and
the best religion of the world. So they adopted it after their vast
researches. The Muslim immigrants from the Muslim world to Europe
living there for decades are clear symbols of peace loving Muslim
??Today media, in Europe especially, talks alot about the the
disrespect given to women in Islam, but in fact, this is not true.
Islam is the only religion that has raised the prestige of women from
one of the poorly humiliated creature, to that of a respectful being
possessing equal rights to man. Under the wrong ideological concept of
child marriage by the non-Muslims, the Muslims have been criticized by
the western media but in fact there is no concept of child marriage in
Islam and such incidents are purely restricted to few old customed
tribes. Jim said.
A professor of Islamic, Mr. Al-Allaf, the University of Toledo?s first
professor of Islamic Studies cited numerous verses from the Qur?an,
the Islamic holy book, to support his assertion that Islam has been a
positive influence on human culture.
For example, he said, the Qur?an, written by the Prophet Mohammed in
the 7th century as a revelation from God, states in chapter 24, verse
31, that women should wear veils or head coverings, called hijabs, to
assert their equality with men and keep them from becoming sexual
objects. Since at that time, women are merely seen as such. Islam
remains the religion which liberated women from being an object of
possession to a worthy and equal partner.
The rights of women and men are equal. Al-Allaf in his presentation
displayed a slide showing the visual similarities between Islamic
women in hijabs and a portrait of the Virgin Mary with a head scarf
and a photo of a Catholic nun in a habit. He added that Islam promotes
reverence for Mary as ?a woman obedient to God.? He said the West has
put too much emphasis on materialism, and said it also has created a
gap between science and religion that is not found in Islam.
In a publication titled, transfer of technology from the Islamic world
to the West, O.A. Joseph stated that, Technology is the tool of
civilization, and for Islamic civilization to have been such a leading
force in the world for several centuries, it must have been based on
important technological achievements. The blossoming of science and
culture in Islamic civilization was the result of the increasing
quality of material life in its cities. The material prosperity, the
varied local industries, the local and international trade, and the
flourishing science and culture, in these cities, were all linked
together, and would have been impossible without a developing
technology. If Islam was the force behind the rise of cities, as is
frequently asserted, then it was also the force behind all aspects of
the prosperity of these cities and hence the technological efforts
associated with it. Joseph  explained that, In addition to the
positive effects of the ideology of Islam as a religion, Islam
achieved a unique effect in the history of mankind. It united the
civilizations and populations of the vast expanse of territory which
lies between the borders of China and the Atlantic. This area
comprised the lands of those ancient civilizations which were also the
seat of later civilizations in the Near East, such as the Hellenistic.
It remained under one government during the first centuries of Islam.
Moreover, even after the rise of various dynasties, the region
benefited from the cultural unity Islam provided. Islam abolished the
barriers which had isolated these countries from each other, so that
the whole area now had one religious tradition and one literary and
scientific language. The cultural unity also ensured free passage and
free trade from China in the east to Spain in the west. Scientists and
men of letters were free to travel, and crossed vast distances to meet
other scholars. Moreover, although the Umayyads in Spain did not
acknowledge the Abbasid Caliphate in Baghdad, there always exited
links between Spain and the Eastern territories under Islamic rule.
Research shows that, the traditional view of Western historians is
that European culture is the direct descendant of the classical
civilizations of Greece and Rome. According to this theory as
established by Joseph, the works of classical authors?mostly in Latin,
but some in Greek?were preserved by the Church during the centuries
that followed the fall of the Roman Empire, to re-emerge as a potent
source of inspiration in the later middle Ages and the Renaissance.
Few would deny the strong influence of classical literature on
European thought. Until recently, the works of Homer, Thucydides and
the Greek dramatists, of Tacitus, Virgil and Horace, to name but a
few, were part of the cultural background of every educated European.
In science, however, the situation is very different. During the sixth
century after the Hijra (twelfth century CE) the writings of such
scholars as al-Farabi, al-Ghazali, al-Farghani (Afragamus), Ibn Sina
(Avicenna) and Ibn Rushd (Averroes) were translated into Latin, and
became known and were esteemed in the West. The works of Aristotle,
soon to become the predominant influence on European thought, were
translated from the Arabic together with the commentaries of Ibn Sina
and Ibn Rushd to the medieval Europeans.  These commentaries were as
important as the works of Aristotle himself in forming European
scientific and philosophical thought. Many other scientific works,
which had originally been translated from Greek into Arabic centuries
earlier, were now translated into Latin. However, most of these were
from the Hellenistic period, and though they were written in Greek,
their authors came from all the countries of the Near East and eastern
Mediterranean. It seems, therefore, that some European writers, being
deeply appreciative of the literary masterpieces of Greece and Rome,
have been led to believe that Western civilization, in all its
aspects, was based upon Greek and Roman foundations. This is not the
case with science and technology.
Joseph  continued that, Charles Singer has discussed some of the
points already touched upon. The Graeco-Roman heritage was built upon
the great civilizations of the Near East and, furthermore, the major
achievements in science and technology that are called Hellenistic and
Roman were mainly Near Eastern achievements due to the scholars and
artisans of Egypt and Syria. The pre-Islamic civilizations from Spain
to Central Asia and northern India were inherited by Islam. Under the
influence of Islam and the Arabic language, the science and technology
of these regions was developed and improved. Referring to the
Eurocentrism of Western historians, Singer wrote: ?Europe, however, is
but a small peninsula extending from the great land masses of Afrasia.
This is indeed its geographical status and this, until at least the
thirteenth century CE, was generally also its technological status.?
In skill and inventiveness during most of the period CE 500 to 1500,
Singer continues: ?the Near East was superior to the West? For
nearly all branches of technology the best products available to the
West were those of the Near East? Technologically, the West had
little to bring to the East. The technological movement was in the
other direction.? The adoption by Europe of Islamic techniques is
reflected by the many words of Arabic derivation that have passed into
the vocabularies of European languages. In English these words have
often, but not always, entered the language from Italian or Spanish.
About CE 1277 the secrets of Syrian glass-making were communicated to
Venice under the terms of a treaty made between Bohemond VII, titular
prince of Antioch, and the Doge. Such direct examples of technology
transfer are still comparatively rare but more will undoubtedly come
to light as research proceed. He concluded that, The contributions of
Islamic civilizations to science, notably mathematics and astronomy,
have long been recognized. The application of this scientific
expertise to technology, however, has been neglected. The story of
Islamic technology is far from complete. Research in this area is
still at an early stage and, notwithstanding what has been published
so far, contributions by Islam to science and technology have yet to
be fully revealed. Joseph said.
Furthermore, it has also been established that, During the nineteenth
and the first quarter of the twentieth centuries, Western research
into Islamic science yielded outstanding results, but only after a
long period of silence has that interest now been revived. There is
still a need for additional co-ordinated research if significant
results are to be obtained. The field of alchemy/chemistry and
chemical technology is a case in point. At present this is an almost
totally neglected area in which few seem to have taken even a slight
interest since the admirable research several decades ago of Kraus,
Ruska, Stapleton and Wiedemann.
Islamic civilization based on scientific disciplines with material and
mental cultural  concepts has no doubt proved the characteristic of
?scientific civilization?. Science means ?scientific thought? and
?scientific research method?. The source of this science and technics
is this method. This is ?the means of science? which all humanity
needs to improve for ages. Islamic scholars have applied this
?scientific methodology? and gained results, even stunning in today.
It is certain that the importance of Islamic science has resulted from
?scientific thought method? it used, namely ?scientific thought
principles?, not only from dazzling results. The main source of
Islamic civilization?s improvement and rise is positive study habit
and maturity of thought. The secret of Islamic civilization is
presented in here. ?Scientific methodology? which Islamic civilization
has suggested is the principles and methods which we have used now and
will need to use tomorrow. In a primitive age when humanity was
deprived of technical opportunities, it is really significant to
invent mechanical tools and at least to invent a watch. For, these
machines are not fungible things. Astronomical tools are not,
either? However, a watch or another machine belonging to those times
is of course deemed as something easy when compared to present
electronical machines. Therefore, where does the superiority of
Islamic civilization come from? From here; because the mentality
inventing a watch in those times used the scientific principles and
research methods discovering all mechanical marvels not only the
H.G. Wells exclaims, ?Islamic scholars gave the hope and opportunity
of dominating the nature to the people and developed ?experimental
sciences methods?.?Islam chemists used ?the experimental method? in a
planned and systematic way and literally became the founders of
experimental chemistry. Dr. Sigrid Hunke emphasizes this fact in the
book ?Allah?s sun over the Occident? by saying: ?Muslims first
initiated the planned observation method by repeating it masterfully,
modifying and controlling it. Thus they established the experimental
chemistry in sense of science. The English historian Custom stated,
?Muslims upgraded the experimental chemistry to a level which is
necessary for discovering modern organical and inorganical
The development of cities in Medieval Europe can be indeed greatly
attributed to the Islamic influence. The Islamic rule in the region of
al-Andalus saw the construction of many major cities as flourishing
trade outposts; the southern Spain had remained the most densely
populated part in the entire Iberian Peninsula, and still is one of
the most populous regions.
In conclusion, It is safe to conclude at this point that, the cars we
ride, the planes we fly, the drugs we take, the computers we use, the
watch, science and technology, medicine, mathematics, physics and
chemistry that we study were all made possible through the
contribution of Islam.
The best form of art and poetry, civilization and modernization, the
urbanization and education, observation and methodology all have
impacts of Islam.
The rights of children and women in the society, duty of parents to
children and vice ver sa, responsibilities of husband to wife and vice
ver sa, and the role of government to citizens and vice ver sa were
all well spelt out and protected by Islam when there was none in any
part of the world.
In view of this, I am proud to say that the achievements, impacts and
contribution of Islam to world civilization is the greatest in the
What is expected of us as Muslims is that, we continue to serve as
positive agents to the world, by contributing to make the world better
for all and attain peace.

Abdulrazaq O Hamzat  can be reached on [email protected]


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