Friday, 27 June 2014

Muslims, The Middle East And Civilisation

I have never broached the topic of Islamic civilisation being taught in history class with any of my Malay/Muslim friends.

In hindsight, I can't think why not. Perhaps I assumed that they approved of the laborious detail with which we were taught Sejarah Islam in Form 4 and then later in university, Tamadun Islam.

Perhaps I did not want to let on that I loathed the very subject of Islamic history, firstly because I didn't believe any of it was true - just grandstanding by the Muslim government to exert their alleged superiority.

Secondly, I had a Muslim history teacher who felt compelled to preach to the entire class how much superior Islam was to Christianity. Til today, I am not sure why Christianity was singled out as there were numerous Hindus, Buddhists and Taoists in the classroom.

Obviously, that is not a thing of the past. Malaysia's greatest Islamic warriors are out in full force, more so these days than ever.

But, I don't live in Malaysia anymore. And therefore, I am freed from the grudges that I would have borne against Islam, had I still lived in Kuala Lumpur.

So I am driven to find out why people act as they do. What made the Middle East the screwed up place that it is today. Who were they a century ago?

Baghdad in 1965

Iraq (or Mesopotamia), believe it or not, was a major centre of civilisation back in the 9th century. I kid you not.

From the New Yorker:

Baghdad had become the storied and romantic place it would forever be in popular imagination. Under enlightened, poetry-loving caliphs like Harun al-Rashid, Mansour’s grandson, Baghdad attracted scholars from all the domains of Islam, in keeping with Muhammad’s teaching that educated men are next to the angels and that “the scholar’s ink is more sacred than the blood of martyrs.”

A Chinese method for making paper from flax and hemp appeared in the Middle East at about the time of the city’s founding, and the new technology produced books in quantities impossible before. Almost everybody in ninth-century Baghdad could read and write.

While Europe still moiled in its Dark Ages, Baghdad was a city of booksellers, bathhouses, gardens, game parks, libraries. Harun al-Rashid was the first chess-playing caliph; Baghdadis also played checkers and backgammon.

Translators took Greek works and rendered them into Arabic, in which they were preserved to be translated into European languages several centuries later.

Today, we use Arabic words in our daily conversations: From Baghdad’s best years we get words like “zenith” and “nadir,” as well as “algebra,” “algorithm,” “alcohol,” “alembic,” “alchemy.”

There are numerous accounts of Baghdad's glory from different people of different origins.

It was a golden era, and while they heard rumours of invasion by the Mongols, they did not appear to be perturbed. The Mongols did eventually show up and brutalise the nation, destroying its buildings and taking away the women.

I think nations never recover from catastrophes like that. I have never understood why nations, be they Mongolia, Russia, Spain, Britain or the USA, feel compelled to invade and destroy. But they do - shame on them - and the consequences are long-lasting.

America has not quelled its war-mongering nature just yet. Apparently, they need to go back into Iraq to "sort things out". The people calling for these measures are mainly Republicans who think that Obama is a coward and that everything could and should be resolved by war.

There is massive brainwashing by Fox News (a Republican-funded news channel that is similar in nature to broadsheet Utusan Melayu) that feeds lies and propaganda to the feeble minds of white Americans who believe everything they're told and support the call for war.

Apparently, the displays of the previous "shock and awe" tactics in Iraq are not enough. For the record, I don't feel any awe, just revulsion. About 10,000 Americans have died since 2003, and God knows how many Iraqi civilians - never mind their military.

It is ironic, however, that the Republicans are happy to send America's youth out to war only for them to return in body bags, but they would never dream of sending out their own children. These people are UMNO to the core.

How will the Middle East ever regain its glory days when they are besieged by so much violence and terror? Saddam Hussein was a bad man with an evil regime, but his assassination has not brought any improvement to the nation of Iraq.

I hope that the people in power today realise that life is a cycle and change can happen when you least expect it.

Like the complacent and possibly cocky Caliph of Baghdad who did nothing despite hearing rumours of a Mongol invasion, an overly confident America should not expect to remain forever in power.

Golden eras fade very quickly.


Amir Muzhaffar said...

I couldnt agree more , i really appreciate someone who sees these things and write about it so that others can also see these things , others who are blinded by the "world as it is today "

Crankster said...

Thank you. There is so much propaganda out there, that I felt compelled to give a balanced view.