The story I’m about to tell is only tangentially related to the rest of the blog, but it’s worth sharing given the atmosphere of hate that’s permeated the American media as of late. Almost every Friday I do a radio show on WBIG called The Big Wake Up Call. You can use the first link to stream live and the second to listen to recordings in case you miss it. Anyway, I got a call today from a nice man. He’d emailed me and asked if we could talk. He got my number simply because I sent it to him. He was hesitant to talk at first, I have that effect on people, but finally told me why he contacted me. About a year and a half ago a friend of mine got a job working on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. During one episode I mentioned that, during a rare a break in production schedules, she and her wife were finally able to take their honeymoon. That’s it. That’s all I said. But to this man it was an earth shattering revelation. You see, he and his boyfriend at the time had just come out to their parents and they were not well received. They were told how society would shun them forever. And yet, on this silly little radio show I do, here were a couple of, annoyingly straight, dudes calmly talking about superheros and lesbians and being much more interested in the superheros. It hit them they were normal too. That their relationship was no big deal. Sure there were, and are, very important things people cared about, like whether or not Ben Affleck was going to be a good Batman, or whether Gal Gadot was going to honor the heritage of Wonder Woman. Yes to both, by the way. But on that list of very super really fucking important things, whether or not two people loved each other didn’t make the rankings. Inspired by this, I guess not everything needs to be a Facebook meme to inspire someone, they said “fuck it” and got married. They hope their families will see them for what they are; a happy, committed, couple. But, if not, it’s no longer their concern. They’ve staked a claim to their own lives and are going to do the best they can.
I’m leaving their names out since they still have family issues and it’s not my job to cause them grief. Even so, it’s nice to know that sometimes, once in a while, doing what I do doesn’t suck.
So let’s move on. This week, because only pretending to be a fascist wasn’t good enough any more, Donald Trump proposed the, gloriously unconstitutional, idea of exiling all Muslims who are currently abroad for any reason and then doing something – camps, ID badges, anything – to the rest until he and his cowardly minions felt safe.
Ignoring, for a moment, how this idea is even less possible than his Mexican wall, what would be the ramifications? Closest to home it would mean my buddies Akmed, Rahan & Dayan wouldn’t be having morning coffee with me any more. Since Trump is an idiot I also imagine my Coptic and Hindu friends would be rounded up and trucked off to God knows where. But even more broadly than that, what if his fever dream came true? A world without Muslims.
It would be a shitty planet, I can tell you that.
The nice people over at Islam Web were kind enough to share a brief overview of some of the contributions Muslims have provided our little planet.
Let us do a brief review of the contribution of Islam to civilization as we know it.
Trigonometry, Sine, Tangent, Co-Tangent
The Arabs developed these functions in trigonometry and Ibn Moosaa’s work Hisaab-Al Jab-Wal Muqaabala (The Calculation of Integration and Equation) presented 800 examples in the 8th century CE. His work was translated from Arabic into Latin and until the 16th century CE, it wasEurope’s main textbook on the subject.
Algebra and Geometry
Muhammad bin Moosaa Al-Khawaarizmi is considered to be one of the founders of Algebra. The word ‘Algorithm’ or ‘Algorizm’ is a corruption of his name or the name of the town Khwaarizm (Kheva), in what is now Uzbekistan, where he was born. He adopted the use of ‘cipher’ (zero), that was devised in India some centuries earlier, a numeral of fundamental importance, leading up to the so-called arithmetic of positions and the decimal system. The very word ‘zero’ is a derivative of the Arabic ‘sifr’ or ‘cipher’. His pioneering work on the system of numerals is well known as “Algorithm,” or “Algorizm.” In addition to introducing the Arabic numerals, he developed several arithmetical procedures, including operations on fractions.
Another great mathematician was Omar Khayyaam, who offered to the world geometric and algebraic solutions of the second degree. Naseeruddeen wrote the treatise on quadrilateral trigonometry, as well as plain and spherical geometry.
Physics and Chemistry
Kamaaluddeen examined the refraction of sunlight in raindrops and offered an explanation of the genesis of primary and secondary rainbows. The story of the invention of the pendulum and the presentation of a water clock to Emperor Charlemagne by Haaroon Ar-Rasheed is well known.
The great historian Gibbons wrote in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Volume 5) that the science of chemistry owes its origin and improvements to the Muslims.
Science of Mechanics
The development of the science of mechanics in Islam is an act of genius. Moosaa bin Shaakir described one hundred pieces of mechanical equipment in his book of artifices. Other outstanding Muslim treatises included Al Kitaab Fi Ma`rifat Al-Hiya Al-Handasiyyah (The Book of the Knowledge of Ingenious Geometrical Contrivances) by Abul Fiaz bin Al Raz and Al Kitaab Meezanal-Hikmah (The Book of Balance and Wisdom) by Al-Khazini. He also did work on accurate weighing, and determination of the specific gravity of substances.
In the field of optics, Camera Obscura was invented by Ibn Haytham in 1038 CE.
Theory of Relativity
Qaadhi Abu Bakr had developed the theory of relativity in the 8th century CE in terms of time and space by means of mathematical equations and astrophysics. Imagine, Einstein was not even born in the Western world, who propounded the same theory of relativity much later in the 20thcentury CE.
As far as geography was concerned, Muslim scientists established that the world was round in the 9th century CE, and the first map of the globe was made during the Caliphate of Ma’moon.
This was one of the earliest skills attained by the Muslims. As early as the 8th century CE, high quality paper was being manufactured in Samarqand.Egypt was known to have its first paper mill in the year 900 CE. The earliest Arabic manuscript written on paper that has been discovered is theGhareeb Al Hadeeth by Abu ‘Ubayed, dated 837 CE. It can be seen inHolland preserved in the library at the University of Leyden.
Advances in Industry
Under Islamic rule, Spain was an industrial center. It was one of the wealthiest and most thickly populated of the European countries. Muslims were leading in weaving wool, producing silk, pottery, jewelry, leather and perfume industry. In the Middle Ages, world trade was commanded by Muslims and Baghdad, Bukhaara and Samarqand remained centers for world fairs until the 16th century CE. The Bayt Al-Hikmah at Cairocontained two million books, the library at Tripoli contained some three million, but this library was burned down by the Christians during the first Crusade.
Miracles of the Quran
Let us consider the hundreds of scientific facts mentioned in the Holy Quran. For example, the fact that the earth was previously a part of the sun and after its separation, it became a habitable place for humankind, as mentioned in chapter 21, verse 30. That matter is made up of sub-atomic particles (chapter 10, verse 61). That the embryo in the mother’s womb in enclosed by three epithelial coverings (chapter 39, verse 6). That each human being has a unique fingerprint (chapter 75, verse 4) etc. There are thousands of other scientific facts in the Holy Quran.
Keep in mind the Holy Quran was written in 650 AD so some of its science is a hair off. However, Islam allows for science to correct itself. An Imam might have thought the world flat but, when proven that such a belief is fundamentally wrong, that Imam changed his beliefs.
As in Buddhism facts are facts and are not open to opinions. And all those accomplishments came about because of that fact.
Go ahead and read that list again and think about when Islam began to spread. When Europeans were trying to figure out how to grow stable crops, before the English language was invented, while ignorance of proper hygiene allowed a horrible plague to spread, Muslims were laying the bedrock for all the world’s scientific and mathematical knowledge.
Did they get some of that knowledge from the Greeks? Yes. The Romans and Chinese too. But they missed the whole “hexes and omens” culture so they didn’t fear any of it. They studied it, corrected it, added to it, and shared their results with everyone else.
Are there bad people in the world? Of course. There are bad people everywhere. I’ve already broken down what Daesh’s, a/k/a ISIS’, a/k/a ISIL’s, actual military threat is. It’s nowhere near what you think. All they can really do is cause fear.
Something the cowards seem very willing to let them do.
Look at it this way, we didn’t throw out all the accomplishments of Christianity, and lock all its adherents in camps, when the KKK claimed they were God’s chosen. Don’t let yourself be conned into thinking the violent assholes of the world are any worse, or any different, than the ones we grew here at home.
You’re better than that.