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‘Renaissance Couldn’t Have Happened Without Muslim Input’
Hassna’a Mokhtar, Arab News —


Tuesday 15 January 2008 (07 Muharram 1429)


JEDDAH, 15 January 2008 — The history of science and civilization, as taught by many institutions in the West, often fails to include more than 1,000 years of Islamic heritage and civilization, according to Dr. Salim Al-Hassani of the UK-based Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilization.

“The Renaissance couldn’t have happened out of nothing,” said Al-Hassani while speaking at Dar Al-Hekma College here yesterday. “In the West, there’s total ignorance of the contributions of other civilizations. Did modern civilization really rise from nothing?”

Al-Hassani explained how many Western discoveries are of Muslim origin. There was a lost age of Muslim innovation and invention that Muslims are not communicating to the West, he said. It is not included in the their history syllabus or textbooks either.

During Umar ibn Al-Khattab’s reign in 634 A.H., Muslim women took the lead in different ways. He appointed Samra bint Nuhayk Al-Asadiyya as a market inspector in Makkah and Ash-Shifa bint Abdullah as an administrator of the market in Madinah. “Later, Ash-Shifa was appointed as the head of health and safety in Basra,” said Al-Hassani.

Al-Qarawiyyin, a spiritual and educational center that led the Muslim world for over 1,200 years, was founded and built in 859 C.E. by a young princess, Fatima Al-Fihri, who migrated with her father Mohammed Al-Fihri from Qairawan (Tunisia) to Fez in Morocco.

“Fatima vowed to spend her entire inheritance on building a mosque suitable for her community. This remarkable story is a typical example shedding some light on the role and contribution of women to Muslim civilization. Such a role is the subject of widely held misconceptions about Islam,” said Al-Hassani.

In 1993, Prince Charles said in a public speech at the Oxford Center of Islamic Studies that if there was much misunderstanding in the West about the nature of Islam, there was also much ignorance about the impact of Western culture and civilization on the Islamic world.

“It is a failure which stems, I think, from the straitjacket of history which we have inherited. The medieval Islamic world, from Central Asia to the shores of the Atlantic, was a world where scholars and men of learning flourished,” said Charles. “But because we have tended to see Islam as the enemy of the West, as an alien culture, society and system of belief, we have tended to ignore or erase its great relevance to our own history.”

Al-Hassani founded www.muslim attracting 60,000 visitors daily in order to change misperceptions about the role of Muslim inventions in today’s schools, universities, homes, hospitals, market, cities and the world. He was one of the key speakers at the first Arab Knowledge Economy conference that was held in Jeddah on Jan. 12-13.

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