Thursday, May 19, 2022

Role Of Ulema In Bringing Down Muslims From The Height Of Enlightenment To The Morass Of All-Round Backwardness: The Imperatives For Muslims Today

By Dr. Mohammad Ghitreef, New Age Islam 19 May 2022 --------------------------------------------------------------- Ulema in Khilafat-e-Osmania did not allow printing presses to be imported from Europe for close to four centuries, heralding Muslim backwardness in Education that continues till today. Even the great scientists and philosophers and theologians of the Abbasid period and Muslim Spain were often called heretics and their books burned and destroyed. We do not find today any trace of rationalist theology of Islam that had received patronage from a few caliphs in early 9th century CE. --------------------------------------------------------------- Islamic Spain (Andalusia) was a unique state because it did marvellous things in its zenith of political power. In particular, in the reigns of the caliphs; Abdur Rahman Al-Salis, (the third) Hisham, Nasir, Al-hakam, and of course, caliph Al-Mansoor the great. These were the great sultans of Islamic Spain politically and on cultural and civilizational planes too. During their rule, Muslims (Arabs), the ruling minority of the country, had been doing best to promote all kinds of knowledge, religious and secular. This resulted in phenomenal advancement in philosophy, logic, and translation, from Greek arts and sciences on the one hand and a great leap in agriculture, trade, and industry. Bringing about an era of prosperity, happiness and well-being in the lives of ordinary people. They had built big and beautiful cities full of significant buildings, palaces, grand mosques, seminaries, libraries, etc. For instance, Zahra city(مدينة الزهراء) on the outskirt of Cordova (قرطبه), Granada ( غرناطه), and Seville can be cited. To their model seminaries and great seats of learning, students and learners would flow and come from neighbouring France, Portugal, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Austria, Holland, Florence, Italy, etc. The governments were spending much on promoting sciences and arts such as algebra, history, geography, mathematics, medicine, fine arts, poetry, painting, songs, and music. They spent much on artefacts, beautiful buildings, and palaces still there, showcasing their reminiscent grenadier, such as Alhambra palace in Granada and Jam e Qartaba (Cordova mosque) latterly converted into a cathedral as monumental pieces to the world today. According to many historians the European renaissance was a by-product of the rich cultural and civilizational legacy of lost Muslim Spain. For, both of the fountainheads of the European renaissance, France and Florence, directly benefited from exchanging ideas with Muslim Spain. Next to Muslim Spain was Sicily (صقلية), wherein Arab arts, sciences, academic adventures, and new findings had remained flourishing even after Arabs had lost their political power. As new Christian Norman conquerors went on their mentoring for that. Thanks to their generous guardianship, great scholars in geography like Sharif Al-Edrisi, a prominent master in making graphics and geographical maps, continued his work and could produce his magnum opus Ahsanut Taqasim Fi Marifat Aqaalim dedicating it to the great Norman ruler Roger the second. Likewise was the Abbasid caliphate also, which had established a Darul Hikmat (Wisdom house) in the reign of Al-Mamoon, the learned and intellectual caliph, very fond of Greek knowledge. In the first phase of the Abbasid caliphate, Baghdad was the abode of philosophers, translators, writers, and experts in medicine, astronomy, geography, mathematics, geometry, trigonometry, physics, chemistry, history, literature, etc. Scholars and experts in various branches of human knowledge come from India, Egypt, Rome, Greece, Anatolia, Syria, etc. Their academic works were welcomed, translated into Arabic, and applauded. Furthermore, because of all that, Baghdad gained fame and accolade throughout the world as a multicultural and multinational legendary city wherein had been accomplished the timeless literary works of Arabian Nights(الف ليلة وليلة) and Kalila w Dimna an Arabic rendering of original Indian Panjtanrta. Along with government-sponsored good hospitals called Beemaristanat in Cairo, Damascus, Samarkand, Bukhara, etc. Muslim Spain and Abbasids were rivals and had no loved lost, yet both were good competitors in rich mosaic culture and development. After the Mongol invasion on Muslim world and destruction spree in ninth century, there was a growing fascination with occult sciences, astrology, sorcery, black magic, witchcraft, superstition, and incantation among the Muslims. Experimental medicine was replaced with occultism and divination. Therefore, the movement of rational sciences among the Muslims under this wizardry shadow died down. They burned the books of great philosophers and great minds of rational sciences, as happened with Ibn Hazm and others. This Andalusian and Mid-Eastern rich legacy is the only thing Muslims can proudly present to the world today as an enormous contribution to world civilization. For, unlike both of them, the Ottomans, unfortunately, in their four century-long sultanate and the great Mughals in their three century-long rule, did not contribute much to world civilization. Under the influence of Ulema, they built only mosques, mausoleums, forts, splendid palaces, and pompous superfluous things such as the Taj Mahal, Red Fort, and Jama Masjid Delhi in India and similar many monumental Ottoman palaces, forts, and grand mosques in Istanbul and Ankara. Both the empires did not leave good examples of human civilizational works as good seminaries, great seats of learning, best libraries, wisdom houses, research centres, and observatories. Contrary to that, the Ottomans blindly following their rigid and narrow-minded Shaikh ul Islam committed the crime to shutting down in 1580, an observatory established by a noted astronomer Taqiuddin in Istanbul. It was the world's largest observatory. It was demolished due to the insistence of traditional Ulama and public support. Due to their strong notion that this unnecessary interference in the Divine secrets because of the existence of the observatory, there has been an outbreak of great plague, so in order to prevent this, it is necessary to demolish the observatory brick by brick. (Rashid Shaz Kitab-ul-Arooj, p. 2 Milli Publications New Delhi 2012) And their counterparts in India, Bakhtiyar Khilji, to be more specific, is accused, rightly or wrongly, of setting ablaze the ancient Nalanda Vidyalaya (mini university ). Many mosques built by Mughals in India are vulnerable now to being demolished, ransacked, recaptured, or modified as temples by right-winger Hindutva forces ruling the country nowadays. Since, after Babri, now they are hell-bent on snatching Gyanvapi masjid in Varanasi and Mathura Shahi Eidgah. They are not even in a mood to spare secular monuments like Taj Mahal at Agra and Qutub Minar in Delhi too. In coming days the threats are looming large upon these monumental Mughal constructions because the vulnerable Muslim community is not in a position to defend and protect them from vandalism if done in connivance of state machinery and national media. Had Mughals and other Muslim dynasties before them invested their resources in the promotion of scientific research and technological advancement, instead of their great expenditure on construction, fine arts; poetry, paintings, and dance and music parties, their heirs and the Muslim community at large would have been in better standing in India and in the world today. Ulema in Khilafat-e-Osmania did not allow printing presses to be imported from Europe for close to four centuries, heralding Muslim backwardness in Education that continues till today. Even the great scientists and philosophers and theologians of the Abbasid period and Muslim Spain were often called heretics and their books burned and destroyed. We do not find today any trace of rationalist theology of Islam that had received patronage from a few caliphs in early 9th century CE. Muslims can not revive their past glory to which they keenly aspire only by wishful thinking. Instead, for that purpose, they have to have once again revive, revisit, revise and rethink their civilizational legacy. This is the law of nature as revealed by the holy book: "Then as for scum, it departs as rubbish, and as for that which benefits mankind, it lasts on the earth."Quran-13:16) Moreover, this sublime task cannot be done without rejuvenating, moderating, and revising the rotten educational system taught in seminaries, madrasas, and even community-run schools and colleges. Today, among Muslims the most desirable and most wanted theme is the conspiracy theories or the baseless concepts of the coming of Mahdi and the messiah. A lot has been written in both Arabic and Urdu on this theme. Dr. Asrar Ahmad, Mufti Abu Lubaba in Pakistan, and Asrar Alam in India, along with so many Saudi Salafi scholars, are most sought after writers in this regard among the new generation. Asrar Alam is keen to seek the hidden Jewish hand behind every past or present mis-happening in the Muslim world. He has even very absurdly seen that hand behind the holy prophet's demise. This conspiracy literature leaves very bizarre imprints on young Muslim minds impending their intellectual growth and rational credibility. There are thousands of antichrists among them at all times, yet Muslims are looking for the antichrist like many orthodox Jews and Christians. Similarly, most Muslim Ulama and mullahs are waiting for the false Mahdi and messiah and doing nothing. Because, among the Ummah, they have spread the idea that Mahdi and the messiah will come and take away all their sorrows, resolve all their issues, making them victorious over the world. Centuries have gone waiting for the Mahdi and messiah to come, yet the Mahdi and messiah do not seem ready to come yet. Furthermore, many false Mahdis have proclaimed their arrival and still keep claiming to be Mahdi in different times and places. Yes, colonialism was the source of many problems and agonies, yet the "colonialism acceptance mentality," to quote the Algerian writer Malik Bin Nabi is the most lethal disease. We have to shun the victimhood mentality and get out of conspiracy theories altogether to eliminate this disease. Because of negative thinking, Muslims cannot learn from others to go on the development path. Their religious superiority complex is another hurdle. They have to give up the bad habit of living in the past and not accepting new realities. Their sectarian divide is also a significant root of suffering as we see there is no Islamic mosque or Islamic madrasa per se. Instead, there are Sunni mosques, Sunni madrasas, Shia mosque Shia madrasa, Hanafi mosque, Hanafi madrasa, Ahle Hadis mosque, and Ahle Hadis madrasa! There is anarchy in the world of Fatwas. Takfir (declaring someone as a disbeliever) is on its high speed. Muslims have been waging an uncalled-for jihad against their real or imagined enemies for the past two centuries, to which Ulama and community leaders had pushed and led them in, so now they are on the wrong side of history. Because it is the age of dialogue and interfaith and intra-faith understanding. Muslims have to eliminate this battle cry mentality. Without that, Muslims, or any other nation, cannot go ahead with other nations and cannot walk side-by-side with others in modern world. -------- Dr. Mohammad Ghitreef is a Research Associate with the Centre for Promotion of Educational and Cultural Advancement of Muslims of India, AMU Aligarh. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

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