The West owes credit to Islam's historical feats


POSTED: Saturday, October 04, 2008

The relationship between Islam and the West has been depicted as one of confrontation and indifference, but there is more to Islam and its relation with the West than violence and confrontation.

Islam teaches that God is one with no partner and that the prophet Muhammad, like earlier prophets, was no more than a messenger of God. It also teaches its followers to worship God through prayer, almsgiving, fasting and performing the pilgrimage to Mecca, in addition to high moral character and excellence in conduct toward humans and animals.

Historical and theological facts easily repudiate the claim that Islam is intolerant of Christianity and Judaism. Muhammad signed treaties of peace with the Christians and Jews. In the year 631, he received a delegation of 60 Christians from Najran, about 450 miles south of Medina in present-day Saudi Arabia, who were received in the prophet's mosque, and they were allowed to pray in the mosque.

The Islamic civilization has in the past proved capable of, for the times, astonishing feats of tolerance and acceptance. Under the Muslims, medieval Spain became a haven for diverse religions and sects. Following the Christian re-conquest, the Inquisition eliminated all dissent.

The idea that Islam or Islamic civilization is inherently less capable of tolerance and compassion than any other is hard to square with the facts.

In a 2008 book, “;God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe,”; one of America's greatest historians, David L. Lewis, states that Muslims “;accomplished the greatest revolution in power, religion, culture, and wealth in history”; - all of which created the European civilization. There would be no Europe without Islam.

The Islamic civilization has made an enormous but largely neglected contribution to the way people live in the West. The contributions are so immense that three major universities in Australia will be teaching a third-year course titled “;Islam and the Making of Europe.”;

Mohamad Abdalla has been visiting scholar and guest speaker at the Muslim Association of Hawaii mosque during the month of Ramadan, which ended this week. He is the co-director of the National Centre of Excellence for Islamic Studies in Brisbane, Australia, and founder of the Islamic Research Unit at Griffith University. His most recent books are “;Islamic Science: The Myth of the Decline Theory”; and “;Islam in the Australian Mass Media.”;