69 million page views

Response to Mohammed Mohammed: The Golden Age of Islam as turning against superstition

Reader comment on item: [Pakistani Christians and] A War Against What?
in response to reader comment: Ever wonder why?

Submitted by JW (United Kingdom), Apr 17, 2004 at 22:54

There is one urge, one instinct, besides the other so called 'base instincts', that seems ever prevalent in humanity, and especially in smaller numbers of personalities labelled as 'schizoid' and 'rational-masterminds/architects etc' by psychologists, semi autistics by some psychiatrists - that one urge is to know.

The ancient greeks slowly turned against their common knowledge, superstitions, religions, and taking things for granted - we saw the advent of xenophon, xenophones, aristotle, democritus, plato, and others. I am not saying I agree with everything these men proclaimed, all I am pointing out is that these inquirers into human nature and nature in general existed and promoted change, progress and improvement of our lot.

In the European Renaissance, we saw a decline of church authority, also we saw the church introduce its final book of revelations as the conclusion to the bible in order to scaremonger the poverty stricken (church indulgence taxes to get to heaven didn't help) into remaining faithful. Furthermore we saw the age of enlightenment, men like Galileo, then Descartes, Locke etc, demanding in their works honest scientific and social enquiry in order to improve life. To save their lives, their flesh from the fires favoured by the church against heretics, these men always had to write a prologue to their philosophic works claiming they are certainly not against god/church/not atheistic and 'it is the churches divine right to protect humanity from heresy' etc. That is, they had to subscribe to the religion, to save themselves and get published, just to implement change against that which hindered humanity and its wellbeing on the little time it has on earth. Pontiffs and caliphs always seem to like to charge high prices for a poorly defined eternity - or an eternity defined in purely earthly terms (gardens with virgins).

It is not entirely true that 'all scientific knowledge' came purely from Baghdad through spain etc. There were and still are many odd cracks, fissures, and jumps in what is called change, progress, scientific progress etc. Modern social historians and philosophers give this the unusual term 'archaeology' to indicate that there is no linear path forward - no teleology (a system of attainment to absolute knowledge etc, which on close analysis never exists).

If we give a little attention to the scientists, mathematicians, scholars and philosophers of the 'islamic golden era', we see them writing similar prologues to their very secular works as their future 'christian' successors (I don't mean superior, just later on), had to do to save their own wellbeing.

Baghdad in the 12th century was an unusual time for Islam, it was very reflective of any modern democratic society, I'm sure it also had its problems such as crime and prostitution. It was an age of secularisation, an age when thinkers could claim the quran was corrupt or 'just another book' without facing the reprisals of fatwas as modern writers do.

All the innovations and advances that occurred during this period were very much in contrary to what any wahhabist sect would tolerate today... It was an age of change and movement away from superstition and staunch conservatism that we see in many cultures at some time or another.

It is a pity then, that the mongol holocaust had to happen. After this horror, the Islamic world never recovered, perhaps due to understandable psychological reactions to the catastrophe and a slow increment in what we now call wahhabism or fundamentalism that reached its first apogee in the 19th century against the changes the new oil wealth was bringing about that threatened the power of a minority. The second apogee, culminated probably late 2002 onwards for similar reasons.

It is also interesting to consider that prior to around 150 years ago, this islamic empire that once was, was little more than a barren wasteland for almost 700 years. It was western businessmen who helped discover and get the oilwells going, gave the bedouin more money than they ever saw in their lives, and introduced other luxuries such as wireless radios - evening around the campfire were filled with more music and less prayer and psalms.

It is unfortunate a second time, that the middle eastern sheikhdoms and other powers that be, give only basic facilities and distribution of wealth to their people, keeping them veiled in cloaks and bhurkas of superstition and fear and loathing, using virtue and vice police and antiwestern propaganda to uphold this, so these men in power may live lives of billionaires debauchery or simply wield an ascetic rod of totalitarian dominance (as a caliphate does, similar to the european cardinals of old) for the sake of his own pride 'in the name of God'.

One must smile then, as the west is blamed purely for the palistinan crisis, as well as other social and economic crises that are prevalent in islamic countries, and these countries never consider it ever to be the fault of their governments or themselves. They cannot seem to 'let go', they cannot move forward, give up old systems that simply don't work - systems reflective of mental illness: delusions, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, neurosis and bordeline personality disorders.

One more point. Islamists claim to be bereft of the problems 'peculiar to the corrupt capitalist west'. One of the side effects of christianity, although inevitably secularised, is the penchance for introspection and attempts at improvement. Modern western societies, since the 18th century, enjoy taking statistics of everything, crime, delinquency, credit problems, prostitution etc: in order to attempt to resolve the problem albeit in a modern secular context. Rather than punish as ancient regimes preferred, modern western society prefers to 'correct' and 'resolve'.

With these points in mind, it is not simply a matter of 'fighting fundamentalism', be it islamic, christian, jewish, or whatever - the threat isn't just 'islamic'. It is a matter of educating overt, egoistic (yes, proud of its creed), blatant stupidity. Proof of stupidity? Why believe in adam and eve when there is unequivocal historical, archaeological and scholastic proof that it was a babylonian myth embraced by the enslaved jewish population around the 7th century bc??? Then there are the biological facts, astronomical facts, geophysical facts (these also leave christianity on its knees), as well as psychiatry (which leaves no 'religion' with a leg to stand on), sociology and modern philosophy with its highly skilled discursive methodology (which completely obliterates the concept of religion - it is now proven as a socio-political institution with a few odd descriptors (superstions, myths, gods and devils)).

Peace and Pleasure and Enlightenment to Humanity.

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Follow Daniel Pipes

Facebook   Twitter   RSS   Join Mailing List

All materials by Daniel Pipes on this site: © 1968-2024 Daniel Pipes. daniel.pipes@gmail.com and @DanielPipes

Support Daniel Pipes' work with a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum.Daniel J. Pipes

(The MEF is a publicly supported, nonprofit organization under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Contributions are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law. Tax-ID 23-774-9796, approved Apr. 27, 1998.

For more information, view our IRS letter of determination.)