Islam's Gifts To The World - Light of Islam


Islam stands for harmony and perfectibility with an
unmatched depth and breadth of scope that comprises all
aspects of spirit and life. It knows all the roads that
lead to blessing and happiness. It has the cure for human
ills, individual and social, and makes them as plain as
the wit of man can devise or comprehend. It sets out to
develop all sides of each person:
and therefore perforce includes every reality which
impacts human existence. It has not given way, in its
doctrine of man, to modern errors or corrupt
institutions. It does not set man in God's place. To do
so is to leave man with only himself to rely on in all
his pride and egotism: or else to reduce him to the
slavery of being a beast of burden for his fellows,
powerless, will-less, helpless before nature's and
matter's tyrannies. This is precisely what modern
heresies do with man. But Islam vindicates man's unique
nature vis-a-vis all other living creatures, affirming
that he is a special creation with a lofty calling all
his own.

Islam holds that a man's personality does not cease to
exist with death, but is continuous and eternal.
"Worldly" and "other-worldly" are an
indivisible unity. Body and soul can therefore not be
dissolved into disparate elements. Islam, on these
grounds, presents both worlds in shining terms. It both
trains a man for eternity and also finds the guiding
principles for its public institutions on earth in the
sublime destiny inherent in man's creation.

Eternity dictates universal principles, unchanging and
unchangeable. These Islam proclaims as tenets,
convictions, commandments, statutes, in its school of
contentment, in its thrust for progress. It offers man
the perfection of freedom for thought, for concern, and
for exegesis of the divine law on matters of social
necessity. It reverts to first principles which provide
the sure and unshifting basis of rock-bottom truth in all
the chances and changes of this mortal life.

Islam holds that man has certain characteristics which
are his link with the material world and certain others
which connect him with realities that are non-material
and which motivate desires and aims of a more sublime
nature. Body, mind and spirit each has its proper
propensities. Each must be duly weighed, so that what one
of these indivisible elements desires does not conflict
with the desire of another. Islam takes all the elements
and facets of human nature into account and caters for
the compound essence of man's combined material and
spiritual propensities. It draws him upward towards the
highest without cutting his roots in the material. It
demands absolute purity and chastity without denying the
flesh and its needs. Its current flows from pole to pole
over a network of live wires - convictions and
regulations which preserve the integrity of all the
innate human instincts while rejecting the Freudian
doctrine of total freedom which treats man as nothing but

Islam is not a mere set of ideas in the world of
metaphysical speculation : nor did it come into being
simply to order man's social living. It is a way of life
so comprehensively meaningful that it shapes education,
society and culture to heights none other ever aimed at.
It forms a supreme court of appeal and rallying-point for
East and West alike, and offers them an ideology which
can answer their divisive materialisms. It can replace
their inequities and contradictions with a more
universal, more perfect and more powerful idea.

Islam does not concede priority of any kind to
material affluence or to hedonistic comfort as basic for
happiness. It finds its principles in an analysis of
man's true nature. With these principles it constructs a
plan for individual , social and international living,
framed by fixed and all embracing moral standards, aimed
at a goal for humanity far loftier than the modern world'
s limited materialist aims.

Islam does not imprison man in the narrow confines of
the material and the financial. It sets him in a spacious
and expansive air. There morality, principle and the
spirit reign. Its statutes are those which spring from
the nature of man himself. They encourage mutual help and
team-work. They pursue values outside the straitened
boundaries imposed on individual and on community by the
petty pusillanimous pedestrian patterns of materialist
purposes. Instead it yokes man's strength and striving to
the change, advance, progress and perfecting inherent in
his creation.

Islamic training sets out to refine and enhance human
qualities and to harness them to right and reasonable
objectives which direct and dictate every forward step to
the desired end. It focuses a man's motives, which arise
from his natural desires and basic needs, in such a
concentrated and streamlined beam that each talent is
called in to exercise its function in due succession and
order. Impetuous uncoordinated impulses are thus
controlled so that no single instinct overrule
commonsense nor momentary urge replace reason. Instead
man is made master of his fate and captain of his soul.
Excess is obviated and every person is accorded his or
her legitimate share in the common triumph of all. In
this employment every need of body, mind and soul is met
and satisfied.

Whenever in history individuals have united in
harmonious pursuit of such aims, persons and communities
have found themselves. "What is right" has
ruled thoughts, conduct and character; human living has
been orderly and secure. Reason dictates this training,
and calls to a religion with convictions
superstition-free, canons practical, statutes feasible
and excellencies virtuous. The God-given human
intelligence intuitively and logically perceives their

No man is asked to perform a task above that which he
is able. But his powers are put at full stretch. Every
possibility within him is expressed to the full. And each
is, at doomsday, judged; then the fire itself shall prove
each man's work of what sort it is.

and Political Theory

Modern political theory exalts "the general
will" Democratic government attempts to put that
general will into practice by making law out of the
policy voted for by «'the majority" (which need
only be 51%) leaving null and void the will of the
minority (which may be that of as many as 49% of the
voters). The minority is thus not "free" at
all, even though in some cases its will may be sensible,
and in the circumstances right. But '«Government by the
Will of the People" will never voluntarily strip off
the sanctity and splendour with which it has endowed
"the general will", giving that concept
precedence over all other material and spiritual values.

Islam, on the other hand, gives precedence to the Will
of the Lord of this world, rather than to the
uncontrolled inclinations and sentiments of a majority of
humans. Islam refuses to strip the Godhead of control of
the legislative and jurisdictional power Islam's
conception of Godhead and of divine government is wide
enough to comprise everything that goes to make up human
life everywhere on this planet. This makes Islam man's
unrivalled guardian. It demands total obedience to its
statutes on the ground that these are God-given and that
therefore no human being has a right to allow his own
desires to dictate any action in breach of these statutes
and rules of life.

How can God be proclaimed worthy of total commitment
by people who arrange their lives on precepts deriving
from other sources than God Himself? No person dare claim
divine authority for a partner for God, nor substitute
another lawgiver for Him. Islam's aim is to champion
truth and right in everything in human society, since
truth does not specialise exclusively in social,
political and financial matters but also clothes the
stature of man himself in its most beautiful vestments.

The human physique is fearfully and wonderfully made.
So are the rules and rights that govern human living.
No-one can claim a complete knowledge of all the
mysteries of man's make-up, or of the complicated social
structure it generates. For this structure comprises the
specialised areas of the body and the spirit of all its
individuals as well as of all their relationships with
each other Nor dare anyone claim to be innocent of sin,
of a shortcoming, a fault or an error. No-one is aware of
all the elements which go to make up human happiness and

Despite all the devoted efforts of scientists to
penetrate the mysteries of human being, the area they
have succeeded in covering is still extremely limited. To
quote Dr. Alexis Carrel again ("'Man, the
Unknown" p.4): "'Mankind has made a gigantic
effort to know itself. Although we possess the treasure
of the observations accumulated by the scientists, the
philosophers, the poets, and the great mystics of all
times, we have grasped only certain aspects of ourselves.
We do not apprehend man as a whole. We know him as
composed of distinct parts. And even these parts are
created by our methods. Each one of us is made up of a
procession of phantoms, in the midst of which strides an
unknowable reality."

Without insight into the human make-up man cannot
frame laws 100% suited to the human condition, nor justly
cure the troubles that arise : witness the bewilderment
of legislators, their constant alteration of their own
statutes in face of today's new problems and unexpected
blind alleys. Motives of personal advantage,
self-interest, profit, ambition, power, and even of
environmental predilections, intrude to distort the
legislators' outlook consciously or unconsciously.
Montesquieu said of legislation that "none is ever
wholly objective and impartial, for the personal ideas
and sentiments of the legislator influence his
drafting". Thus Aristotle, because he was jealous of
Plato, influenced Alexander to denigrate his great

Modern slogans of "Liberty and Equality" and
"the Public Will" are empty words used by
politicians to win support for their laws, laws which in
fact represent the interests not of the masses but of the
landowners and capitalists.

Henry Ford wrote of England, which boasts itself
"the Mother of Democracy". "We cannot
forget the 1926 general strike or the way the government
tried to break it with every means in its power.
Parliament, tool of the capitalists, proclaimed the
strike unconstitutional and illegal, and turned police
and army out against the strikers with bullets and tanks.
Meantime the media of radio and press declared the
government to be the servant of the workers, a plain
subterfuge contradicted by the fines imposed on the trade
unions and by the imprisonment of their leaders as soon
as the opportunity offered."

Khrushchev declared in the 22nd Supreme Soviet
Congress: "In the era of the personality-cult (i.e.
under Stalin) corruption infiltrated our Party's
leadership, government and finances; produced decrees
which trod the masses' rights underfoot; lowered
industrial output; filled men with fear in their work;
and encouraged sycophants, informers and

Thus both Eastern and Western systems of government
falsely appear in the guise of the public will,
Parliamentary rule, representation of the masses: while
capitalism and communism alike frame inequitable laws
because they neglect the heavenly decrees which establish
fast what is best for man.

and Legislation

Jean Jacques Rousseau wrote ("Social
Contract" Book II: Chapter 6: "The

"To discover the rules of society that are best
suited to nations, there would need to exist a superior
intelligence who could understand the passions- of men
without feeling any of them, who had no affinity with our
nature but knew it to the roots, whose happiness was
independent of ours but who would nevertheless make our
happiness his concern, . . . in fact a divine lawgiver is

By these standards the most competent legislator is
the Creator of man Himself, He knows all the mysteries of
man's being, makes no profit out of any human society,
and needs no man. Hence the principles which can shape
equitable social regulations must be learnt from a person
who receives direct guidance from the Creator, whose
teachings are the inspired revelations of that unique
Source, and who is wholly reliant on that Infinite

Human laws aim only at the ordering of human society.
They do not stray outside those limits, nor touch
non-social matters like personal conditions, attitudes of
mind, spiritual excellence. They do not try to cure
internal pollutions within the personality. It is only
when personality problems issue in social disorder in
action that they enter the scope of legal measures. A
person may be filthy in thought and spirit and still good
in the eyes of Western law, which looks only upon outward
acts and not upon the heart. Islam with its wide outlook
aims not just at redressing what has been done wrong but
primarily at putting individual and society right from
inside, regarding the ethical personality as the basic
unit, and its perfecting as the priority. Islam aims at
an orderly society composed of sound morals, sane
thinking, sensible action, serene psyches. It therefore
legislates for the inner life of the individual in as
much detail as for the outer life of society. It brings
order and congruence between large and small in creation,
the natural laws and the spiritual, the material and the
metaphysical, the individual and the social, creeds and
philosophies. It helps man not to come into collision
with the natural laws which underlie the orderliness of
the universe; disobedience to which collapses and
confounds all human affairs.

Man-made institutions pursue performance of the law.
but in Islam the trustee for the law's performance is a
deep-rooted faith; and a Muslim duly performs his
obligations by the force of morality and faith, even in
matters where he is seen by no one save by God alone.
Armed force is only needed to control the tiny minority
of criminal-minded hypocrites. Islam thus pays due regard
both to inner purity of heart and to outward purity of
action. It calls those deeds good, laudable and
meritorious which spring from sincerity and faith.

USA's Attorney General, in his introduction to his
book on Islamic Law , wrote: "American law has only
a tenuous connection with moral duty. An American may be
accounted a law-abiding citizen even though his inner
life is foul and corrupt. But Islam sees the fount of law
in the Will of God as revealed to and proclaimed through
His Apostle Muhammad. This Law: this Divine Will, treats
the entire body of believers as a single society,
including all the multifarious races and nationalities
which go to make it up in a far-scattered community. This
gives religion its true sound force and makes it the
cohesive element of society. No bounds of nationality or
geography divide, for the government itself is obedient
to the one supreme authority of the Qur'an. This leaves
no place for any other legislator,. so that no
competition or rivalry or rift can arise. The believer
regards this world as a vale of soul-making, the
ante-room to the next : and the Qur'an makes perfectly
plain what are the conditions and laws which govern
believers' behaviour to each other and towards society;
and thus makes the changeover from this world to the next
a sure and sound and safe transition."

Despite Westerners' small acquaintance with Islam, and
their often mistaken ideas, far removed from reality, a
comparatively large number of their thinkers grasp some
of the depth and profundity of Islamic teaching and do
not conceal their admiration for its clear exegesis and
estimable doctrines.

A Muslim scientist's respect for Islam's laws and
ordinances is no surprise. But if a non-Muslim savant,
despite his slavery to his own religious bigotry, yet
recognises Islam's grandeur and greatness and its lofty
leading, that is a real tribute, especially when it is
based on a recognition of the progressive nature of
Islam's legal systems and their legacy to mankind. This
is why this book quotes foreign verdicts on Islam. We do
so, not because we need their support, but because they
can help to open the road for seekers and enquirers so
that who reads may run its way.

Dr. Laura Vacciea Vaglieri, Naples University
professor, wrote: "In the Qur'an we come across
jewels and treasures of knowledge and insight which are
superior to the products of our most brilliant geniuses,
profound philosophers and powerful politicians. How can
such a book be the product of the brain of a single man -
and that of a man whose life was spent in commercial, not
particularly religious, circles - far removed from all
schools of learning? He himself always insisted that he
was in himself an ordinary simple man like other men,
unable, without the help of the Almighty to produce the
miracle of such work. None other than He whose knowledge
compasses all that is in heaven and earth could produce
the Qur'an."

Bernard Shaw in his "Muhammad, Apostle of
Allah" said: "I have always held the religion
of Muhammad in the highest esteem simply from the marvel
of its living vigour. To my mind it is the sole religion
capable of success in mastering the multifarious
vicissitudes of life and the differences of culture. I
foresee (it is manifest even today) that, man by man,
Europeans will come to adopt the Islamic faith. Mediaeval
theologians for reasons of ignorance or bigotry pictured
Muhammad's religion as full of darkness, and considered
that he had cast down a challenge to Christ in a spirit
of hatred and fanaticism. After much study of the man, I
have concluded that Muhammad was not only not against
Christ, but that he saw in Him despairing mankind's
saviour I am convinced that if a man like him would
undertake leadership in tile new world, he would succeed
in solving its problems, and secure that peace and
prosperity which all men want."

Voltaire, who at the beginning was one of Islam's most
obdurate opponents and poured scorn on the Prophet, after
his 40 years of study of religion, philosophy and history
frankly said: "Muhammad's religion was
unquestionably superior to that of Jesus. He never
descended to the wild blasphemies of Christians, nor said
that one God was three or three Gods were one. The single
pillar of his faith is the One God. Islam owes its being
to its founder's decrees and manliness; whereas
Christians used the sword to force their religion on
others. Oh Lord! if only all nations of Europe would make
the Muslims their models."

One of Voltaire's heroes was Martin Luther. Yet he
wrote that "Luther was not worthy to unloose the
latchets of Muhammad's shoes. Muhammad was a great man
and a trainer of great men by his example of virtue and
perfection. A wise lawgiver, a just ruler, an ascetic
prophet, he raised the greatest revolution earth has

Tolstoi wrote: "Muhammad needs no other claim to
fame than that he raised a barbarous bloodthirsty people
out of their diabolical customs to untold advances. His
Canon Law with its intelligence and wisdom will come to
be the world's authority."

and Ideologies

Our world is split into two blocs. They hold
contradictory ideologies, each backed by its own
scientists and savants who, in a spate of pamphlets and
books, prove it right and its opponents wrong. Each
claims to be the sole sure road to happiness, and says
its adversary is the sole cause of confusion and

Both cannot be right. Both may be wrong! Each may be
missing a vital point. Yet both have made large
contributions to human progress through the brilliance of
some of their scientists and technologists. Progress in
one field is no proof of equal progress in every field of
human life, any more than an individual's possession of
one set of talents indicates a competence in all
occupations. An outstanding physician is not ipso facto a
brilliant musician! Nor does technological advance ipso
facto imply equal advance in thought, wisdom, religion,
government, morality .

Dr. Alexis Carrel writes ("Man, the Unknown"
p. 27 and 28) : "The applications of scientific
discoveries have transformed the material and mental
worlds. These transformations exert on us a profound
influence. Their unfortunate effect comes from the fact
that they have been made without consideration for our
nature. Our ignorance of ourselves has given to
mechanics, physics and chemistry the power to modify at
random the ancestral forms of life. Man should be the
measure of all. On the contrary, he is a stranger in the
world that he has created. He has been incapable of
organising this world for himself, because he did not
possess a practical knowledge of his own nature. Thus,
the enormous advance gained by the sciences of inanimate
matter over those of living things is one of the greatest
catastrophes ever suffered by humanity The environment
born of our intelligence and our inventions is adjusted
neither to our stature nor to our shape. We are unhappy.
We degenerate morally and mentally. The groups and the
nations in which industrial civilisation has attained its
highest development are precisely those which are
becoming weaker, and whose return to barbarism is the
most rapid."

The perfection and subliminating of man in a whole
series of different areas requires a body of sound and
universal teachings based on realities of human life and
free of all faults and errors. Such is only to be found
in the teachings of the prophets of God to whom
revelation was granted concerning the origins of the
world's being.

Morality, to rely on sanctions higher than the natural
and to be inspired by what is beyond the material, must
build solely on fundamental and basic instructions.

From the moment that man was set upon the globe and
laid the groundwork of civilisation, a cry rose to heaven
from his inward depths.

This cry we call religion. Its truth is indissolubly
connected with a moral order.

Inhumanity, faction, inequity, tyranny, war, all
testify to the truth that governments and their laws have
never sufficed to control the sentiments and beliefs and
feelings of man nor to establish an order of justice,
happiness, peace and quietude in society. Science and
knowledge can never solve the problems of human life nor
prevent its derailment except in alliance with religion.

Will Durant, American sociologist and philosopher,
writes in his "Pleasures of Philosophy"
(pp.326/7): '"Has a government such power in
economic and ethical matters to preserve all the heritage
of knowledge and morals and art stored up over
generations and woven into the warp and woof of a
nation's culture? Can it increase that heritage and hand
it on to posterity? Can a government, with all the modern
machinery at its disposal, bring the treasures of science
to those depressed classes who still think of scientific
utterances as blasphemy and witchcraft? Why is it that
such small men govern America's biggest cities? Why is
our administration conducted in such a way as to make one
weep over the lack of noble policies and true patriotism?
Why do corruption and deception enter into our elections
and make havoc of public property? Why has government's
basic task dwindled today to an attempt merely to prevent
crime? Why do governments not seek to understand the
causes of war and the conditions of peace? Churches and
families ought to undertake the imposition of
civilisation on such governments."

Western society can only continue to tolerate moral
confusion and its ways of destruction because of its
limited powers to take reform into its own hands. But the
continuation of this state of affairs already tolls a
warning bell. Peril lies close at hand, for civilisation
stays stable only so long as there is a balance between
ends and means, between authority and aspiration. When
this equilibrium breaks down, such violence ensues that
no goodness can stop it. It rushes headlong to an
inevitable disruption. You will find no nation throughout
human history which survived the corruption of indulgence
and permissiveness.

Rome perished. The glory of Greece collapsed. France,
because of the indulgent lives of its citizens, turned
soft and gave way to the first Nazi assault. One of their
most famous generals himself wrote that the reason for
their weakness was the inner erosion of character.

Spengler foresaw the downfall of Western civilisation
and said that other lands would in the future see great
cultures arise. Perhaps the East will be one of the first
to return to its ancient heritage. This will not come by
worshipping at the false shrine of misguided
civilisations. But the decline of one civilisation can
awaken men to the divine plan and inspire them to follow
it; and so, by means of this sublime truth, to found an
entirely new social life on sound foundations.

and Nationhood

Today, alas, the symptoms of an inferiority-complex
over Western industrial prowess and its deadly
consequences mark everything in Eastern nations' life.
Many a Muslim is so impregnated with Western ideas that
he wishes to see everything through Western spectacles,
in the belief that progress demands manners and morals,
laws and legislation, which copy Western styles. This
total surrender welds the ring of slavery in our ears. We
spread the red carpet of our self-respect, our material
and moral wealth, our religious and national heritage of
good-breeding, before their feet. This is what saps
Muslim nations' strength, both physical and spiritual.
Muslims they may be: but they have lost the art of
thinking on Islamic lines, cast aside their Muslim
outlook on world events, alienated themselves from
Islam's creed and culture, and want to Westernise all
Muslim ways. Mankind's greatest problems are not those
which can be solved in the laboratory.

Shall a foreign force prevent our taking our place in
civilisation's caravan? Suppose we follow neither the
capitalist nor the communist trail. Suppose perfect
social justice rules the interior of our land, and wins
us an international regard, restoring our ancient
prestige amongst the assembly of national governments.
Might this not save us and mankind from further horrors
of wars?

Why do we not let our religion's laws and statutes
solve our internal problems? If it can prevent us
occupying the seat of a beggar at the table of humanity,
and instead install us as masters in that house to the
benefit of all, is this a small thing? Can a rich and
generous giver turn beggar? Can a man born to command
turn submissive, cringe and crawl as an inferior, and
give up his right to choose the road he knows is proper?

Our inherited treasures have blessed humanity in the
past. Neither West nor East dare disregard that fact, and
despise us as backward and helpless, however much they
strive to turn our confidence into confusion and our hope
into hopelessness, so that we fall easy prey. Our long
experience over three thousand years of history has left
us tired. We have culled habits, thought, laws, manners
from here and there over centuries, and donned them in
indiscriminate combination, so that we make ourselves
more like figures in a ridiculous carnival procession
than the dignified personalities that we should be,
wearing our own national garb with distinction and
consuming our national dishes with conscious nobility.

Take our present constitution. We first copied French
models : then those of other European nations were added
; and later, on each occasion when new legislation was
called for, sought our mould in some other place again,
so that there is an endless conflict between the spirit
of the laws which we have borrowed from outside, and the
national spirit for which the laws are made. As a result,
a transgressor of the law gains national renown,
hero-worship, and help unstinted in every way. Why?
Through ignorance in the community? Not so! For the
educated do not respond to the laws. No! It is the
inconsistency between the national spirit and the
borrowed laws, unrelated to social needs, historical
antecedents, national consciousness, personal convictions
that emerged from an environment entirely alien to the
spirit of our people. Each borrowed law came from a
community with its own history, religion, needs and
peculiar realities. Yet none of them can even give a
wholly positive answer to its own people, as continuous
insurrectionary conditions show.

Professor Hocking of Harvard in "The Spirit of
World Politics" writes: "Islamic lands will not
progress by merely imitating Western arrangements and
values. Can Islam produce fresh thinking, independent
laws and relevant statutes to fit the new needs raised by
modern society? Yes! - and more! Islam offers humanity
greater possibilities for advance than others can. Its
lack is not ability - but the will to use it. In reality
the Shar'iya contains all the ingredients needed."

Iran's national daily "Keyhan" on 14th Dey,
1345 reported: "Yesterday, anniversary of the
martyrdom of the Imam Ali, all Tehran practised Islam's
laws 100%. Result: - no crimes; forensic offices
unemployed; no murders; no violence; no ripple on the
calm surface; borough officers and police untroubled by
any calls; even family quarrels within the homes were
quickly hushed in reverence for the martyred Leader of
the Faithful."

The Persian "Reader's Digest" (No. 35, Year
25) corroborated this, saying. "The average number
of corpses in Tehran mortuaries on any one day of last
year was 6 - fewer of course on religious holy days and
more on some other days. Last week's anniversary (Dey
13th) of Ali's martyrdom was total peace - a proof of the
persistent strength of religious conviction, and of the
calm and sanity society attains on days when sale of
alcohol is banned and amusement houses are closed."
Such is the result of Muslims practising their religion's
laws for 24 hours. Could a single Western city report, if
not 24 hours, even 60 minutes, without an accident, a
theft or a murder? When will mankind attain the adult
maturity to learn the simple lesson from which so easily
comes the peace, the quiet, the unity that all want? It
is plain serendipity for us for, in the poet's words,

"I round the globe in search of Heaven did

Returned, and found my Heaven was here at home."

and Economics (1)

Man has always had to wrestle with the task of
exploiting nature's resources to extract his livelihood
therefrom. In the primitive centuries, as Aristotle said,
life organised itself socially "to make it possible
to live: and continued, to make it possible to live
well." In the last four centuries a "science of
economics" has been deduced from the statutes
regulating human relations and the exchange of goods
which developed through this social organisation. Faced
with the vast expansion of a technology and affluence,
this "science" has broken into two opposing

On the one side "Capitalism" or "free
enterprise" believes that nature should take its
course in economics, so that an enlightened self-interest
causes the genius of some finally to level out to the
benefit of all. This is the doctrine for which the
Western bloc stands.

On the other side "Communism" holds that the
means of production must be controlled by a proletariat
state, so that a just and equal sharing of all the
benefits of human endeavour is imposed on society.

The rivalry for absolute power between these two
ideologies hangs over the modern world with a menace like
the sword of Damocles.

We must ask Marxists whether their "classless
society" can be ensured by the single measure of
making the means of production joint property and
abolishing a moneyed class, when in fact a diversity of
classes exists arising from other than economic causes.
While in Soviet Socialist Republics no bourgeois
propertied class exists, other classes distinguished by
occupational and environmental differences do exist: e.g.

factory-workers, agriculturalists, civil servants,
clerks, party officials and numberless others. Do
physician and nurse receive equal pay? Or navy and

There are yet other differences amongst people which
exist in reality- Lenin's "reality in which we have
to orient ourselves." People differ in age, sex,
inclinations, tastes, physical strength, appearance,
reasoning powers, ideas and outlooks.

A Soviet economist recently wrote
("Economics" Vol. 2, p.216): "It is
impracticable to impose absolute equality right across
the board. If we were to pay professors, thinkers,
politicians and inventors exactly the same as manual
workers, the only end-result would be the abolition of
all incentives to brainwork of any kind."

Capitalism claims that only by private enterprise and
personal property can an economy be achieved such that
the standard of living of all classes constantly rises
and the difference between rich and poor constantly
diminishes. Against this claim must be set the report of
an enquiry arranged by Walter Reuther, President of the
U.S.A. United Auto Workers Union, in his capacity as
chairman of the "American Society to Combat
Hunger." This committee affirms that ten million
Americans suffer from undernourishment; and asks the
president of the republic to declare a state of emergency
in 256 cities, situated in 20 of the states, where the
danger is most grave. As causes of this undernourishment,
the committee cited the aftermath of World War II coupled
with a number of defects in America's internal economy
The Secretary of Agriculture took extreme measures to
purchase from abroad and commandeer from within all
foodstuffs he could lay hands on to fill the gap (UP).

We are bound to ask, therefore, how far any regime,
whatever its claims, has succeeded in equalising the
classes, eliminating differences and building a sound and
just society?

Both Socialist and Capitalist regimes base their
systems on theories which are reverenced without any
regard to moral and spiritual values. The aim of each is
to increase affluence, and nothing more.

Islam's philosophy reverences the whole man in his
world setting. It orders society's material behaviour and
benefits, while at the same time legislating for moral
virtues, spiritual perfections, and a higher standard of
living. By this it means, not simply the material, but
the mental, the spiritual, the moral, the altruistic, the
philanthropic standards which enable all men to live each
for all and all for each.

Western law supports property-rights and gives
preference to those of capitalists over those of workers.
Soviet law, in their own words, exists to strip the
individual of all property rights and to extirpate
capital as a personal possession, giving preference to
the workers' group throughout. Both systems are grounded
in human reasoning and judgment.

But Islam's law is grounded in Divine Revelation. Its
legislation is not a human expedient. It does not set
class against class; but helps each group to respect the
excellence of other groups. Dictated by the Lord of all
creatures for the general good and for the good of all,
it permits no class to lord it over others nor allows
injustice to break in. A ruler is in it only an ordinary
person with a particular set of duties, himself under
law, wielding power solely to ensure that the Divine
commandments are obeyed in society. Since confidence
reigns that God's Law is sovereign, peace and quiet

Islam on the one hand opposes Capitalism's doctrine
that the rights of property-ownership lie outside the
limits of state control, and its permitting "free
enterprise" to exercise aggression and tyranny of
the stronger over the weaker in an exaltation of the
rights of the individual to the detriment of the rights
of society as a whole: and, on the other hand, does
regard the sanctity of property as a fundamental.

Prosperity is the stone on which independence and
freedom are built within a social order. The common good
must be the regulating principle governing personal
ownership of property. Islam therefore equally opposes
the Communist total rejection of private enterprise and
property, which entrusts the key of bounty to the state,
reducing the individual to so subordinate a position that
he is left with no intrinsic value in himself as a
person, being regarded as a state tool - a stomach for
the state to fill and thereafter exploit, as a farmer
does his horses and cattle.

Communists hold that private property is not natural
to man. They aver, without advancing evidence to support
the thesis, that the first communities of primitive man
held all things in common in cooperation, love and
brotherhood, neither did any man say that aught that he
had was his own. The human "community" started
as communist with everything in common and parted to each
as his need required. The claim to personal ownership of
anything, they contend, only developed by slow degrees
until it reached the terrifying excesses it manifests in
today's world.

Their utopian "Golden Age" is, alas, a
pipe-dream : for the facts show that personal ownership
is not a result of the development of acquisitive
tendencies in a particular environment. Property is
coeval with the appearance of man on earth: it is as
germane to human nature as all the other innate urges,
and no more to be denied than they are. Modern economists
say that the universal sense of ownership of property,
which is found in every tribe on earth and in every
epoch, can only be explained if it is a primal instinct.
Man wants to be the sole master of the goods that
minister to his needs, in order to feel truly free and
independent. Further, a man feels that goods which owe
their existence to the hard work of his hands are in a
way an extension of himself, deserving of the same
respect as he demands for the integrity of his
personality. Finally, he feels the inner urge to build up
a store to ensure his future and that of his family,
developing thereby a thrift and economy which make him
lay up a provision against a rainy day: This store he
thereafter guards jealously as "his own". The
community's wealth grows with the increase in private
property and productivity, for a social unit subsists by
the industry of its individual members. The incentive to
hard work lies in its rewards in personal ownership and
in increased ease of living. Wherefore society must
concede to the individual the right to own what his toil
has created, since society's own welfare is itself a
product of that toil.

Islam, with its practical and realistic approach to
man as he is, recognises the importance of the urge to
own as a creative factor for all social progress; and
therefore legislates to secure a man possession of all
that his hand has won for him by proper and lawful means,
regarding his productivity as the guarantee of his right
to ownership.

Islam rejects the contention that oppression,
exploitation and violence are inevitable concomitants of
private ownership; for they only appear where the
legislative power is held by the richest class, and by
them, as in Western lands, directed solely to the
protection of their own interests. Since Islamic Law
derives solely from the supreme overarching Authority of
God, it is wholly impartial : so no law can be devised by
it with the aim of protecting the rich or injuring the
poor. From its inception, Islam has recognised private
property, but always only under such conditions that
violence and oppression are ruled out of court. Islam
holds that it is wrong to wrest factories out of the
hands of those who founded them and who, by patient
endurance of hardship and toil, built them up to give
labour to many, goods to society, and, of course, also
profit to themselves. For Islam holds that such resort to
violence in removing the means of production from the
hands of men of initiative is injurious to social
security and to respect for the rights of the individual.
It discourages the spirit of invention and initiative and
enterprise. Nonetheless the government can and should so
control the administration of great industries and the
establishment of factories that social justice, equity in
profit, public benefits and the government's own finances
are properly cared for.

In sum, Islamic economics gives joint primacy to both
individual and community. It equably balances the
interests and rights of these two elements by
guaranteeing a free economy while safeguarding the
freedom of the individual member and the benefit of the
whole community simultaneously by certain reasonable and
necessary regulations on private ownership. The urge for
such ownership it recognises as innate, and therefore
germane to human nature, so that the only limits which
may be imposed upon it are those dictated by the general
interests of the whole society, which of course contains
the best interests of each single member. Islam regards
the instinct to possess as an incentive divinely
implanted to inspire men to hard work for the improvement
of the means of livelihood and of their increased
production: yet regulates the expression of this
incentive with conditions that obviate violence,
oppression, exploitation, extortion and other forms of
misuse of freedom. These conditions safeguard the
interests of society and are limits on individual
independence in no way injurious to liberty, since both
communal living and individual freedom must impose those
limits on behaviour which will guarantee the survival of
both individual and community. and must therefore outlaw
profiteering, embezzlement, malversation, hoarding,
miserliness, avarice, usury, forcible seizure of other
people's property and all similar criminal and
anti-social methods of amassing capital.

and Economics (2)

Economic historians tell us that at its inception the
capitalist system was simple and beneficent : but that
the habit of granting loans at interest step by step grew
to its present harmful excess. With this came the
bankrupting of small concerns and their amalgamation into
huge complex companies and financial structures. Islam
labels such usury '"sin", as it does also the
crises of boom and slump inseparable from the system.

Islam has legislated for a payment of
"Zakat" (the Poor Rate) of 20% on capital gains
by the rich for the support of the indigent. This helps
to level out differences, to draw economic extremes
closer together and to curb excessive piling up of
wealth. Another Islamic regulation with the same aim and
same results is the government's right to tax wealth for
national finances, since Islam holds that God has put His
good gifts into this world for the benefit of all, as may
be seen by the forests, reedbeds, pastures, desert lands,
mountain ranges, mines.*

Estates, too, become public either through the
intestacy of a deceased owner or because they are paid as
fines in restitution; so that they are as much the
property of all as God meant all things to be. Islam's
testamentary laws also curb undue accumulation of
property in the hands of one family from generation to

The conditions, therefore, by which Islam limits its
respect for the rights of private ownership, are those
which are dictated by the need to assure that the
individual's privileges never menace the wellbeing of the
Islamic community. Therefore, in emergency or disorder,
the just Islamic government can employ the legal powers
put at its disposal both to avert dangers which threaten
the future and also so to administer society as to meet
the needs of the Muslim masses, any time it sees fit.

A country's land may not fall into the possession of a
small handful of proprietors. Indigence and malnutrition
of the masses may not be ignored. These points are fixed
principles, frankly and firmly, faithfully and
forcefully, propounded by Islam. The Faith condemns the
injurious intrusion of modem capitalist practices into
the Muslim world and bans the greed and avarice which
lead to enslavement, war and imperialism.

In the Qur'an it is written (Sura
59-"Al-Heshr"-"The Gathering of
Troops" verse 7 in part): "The dispositions we
have revealed for the distribution of property . are
ordained that capital may not merely circulate round the
group of capitalists amongst you."

In addition to the legal enactments which ensure the
correct use of finances and resources by punishing
transgressions, Islam also brings entirely new motives to
bear, as our Qur'anic quotation hints, by directing men's
aspirations towards God. It therefore streamlines their
conduct within the confines of the road that leads to
Him. This road has moral fences on either side over which
the aspirant desires not to stray. The road is paved with
philanthropy, affection, and sentiments of charity and
self-sacrifice, which mean that no Muslim will
voluntarily be a party to courses of action which lead to
injustice to others. Thus the individual's conscience
refuses to pile up excessive capital, and the employer
refuses to use tyranny or oppression to compel his
workers to produce.

This lofty spiritual challenge, directed towards
helping the individual come to a knowledge of God and so
to love of his neighbour, is deeply planted within the
conscience, so that a man finds his pleasures and his
treasures in pleasing his Creator; and these excel all
other values for him.

In truth it is the decline of faith today, and the
diminution of belief in doomsday and judgment, which led
to the greed and cupidity and maleficence and the forms
of injustice and oppression which we see around us.
Unless men's relationships are right with God, their
relationships will not be right with one another. A
revolution of conscience produces a revolution in the
soul, in society, and in the world. Such is the lesson of
history in practice, as well as the doctrine of religion.

The same considerations apply to the ideology of
Communism, and it will be readily seen that Islamic lore
is superior to both the Western and Eastern materialist

Modern philosophers like William James, Harold Laski,
John Strachey, Walter Lippmann, criticise Communists'
total abrogation of personal and social affairs in favour
of the state authority, saying that the individual's
personality and initiative are suffocated in such an
ambience. While on the other hand capitalist democracy
over-emphasises individual freedom to the detriment of
social progress. This creates an oligarchy of the rich,
making them masters of the means of production and
turning all men into slaves of economics. From opposing
angles they come to a common conclusion that individuals
must impose an inner discipline on themselves if they are
to enjoy true freedom, contradictory as that may seem,
and that the welfare of society depends upon the
responsible exercise by its members of that
self-disciplined freedom. What is their conclusion other
than a restatement of the doctrine which Islam has been
preaching for 14 centuries? It is time that the lessons
of history, the conclusions of the philosophers and the
doctrines of religion were made the guidelines for the
conduct of men and communities everywhere.

In AD 1951 the Paris College of Law devoted a week to
the study of. the Islamic "Feqh" (Canon Law).
They called in experts from Islamic lands round the world
for elucidation of particular points, e.g.:

1. Islamic Canon Law on property;

2. Conditions for filing deeds of exchange on property to
preserve the welfare of society and the public;

3. Criminal responsibility;

4. The reciprocal influence of Islamic faith and Canon
Law on each other.

The head of the Parisian Lawyers' Society chaired the
conference and summed up at the end thus: "Whatever
our earlier ideas about Islamic law and its rigidity or
incompetence in documenting transactions, we have been
compelled to revise them in this conference. Let me sum
up the new insights - new I think to most of us - the
conference has given us, in this week devoted
particularly to the Feqh, Islamic Canon Law. We saw in it
a depth of rock-bottom principle and of particularised
care which embraces mankind in its universality and is
thus able to give an answer to all the emergencies and
events of this age. In our final communique we say.
'Islam's Canon Law should be made one of the formative
elements of all new international legislation to meet
present-day conditions, since it possesses a legal
treasure of stable universal value which fits its Feqh,
amongst the modern welter of religious views and
pronouncements, to cope with the exigencies imposed by
the new forms of living arising in the modern


* The arid sunbaked expanses of the Islamic belt
of territory which stretches from the Mauritanian
Atlantic coast nearly 6,000 miles through the Soviet
Muslim Republics of the Western Gobi, can support only a
scant human population, while the paucity of vegetation
forces a nomad migratory way of life upon
livestock-owners, if they are to find pasturage. Hence
our author's list of the publicly owned benefits of God's
gifts : while his omission of sunlight and rain. which
are natural in the thought of Westerners as free for all,
are not mentioned because that belt has always too much
sunshine and too little rainfall (Translator's note)

and Intellectual Advance

Most Westerners are ignorant of the debt their
civilisation owes to Islam, even for modern industrial
transformation, scientific advance and philosophical

Islam came into the world in the bosom of one of the
most backward of peoples. In a very short time it had
raised those tribes to pre-eminence in every field.

Its greatest miracle was its appearance as a fullgrown
adult of the spirit in so degraded and poverty -stricken
an environment.

Its second miracle was the raising of that
environment, by sheer force of inspiration, without any
extraneous aids, to an unmatched destiny.

Its third was to create a cultural focus from which
strong waves radiated, stimulating renascence in other
peoples of every background throughout the world.

The changes it wrought compose history's greatest
revolution so far, a revolution in sense and sensibility,
in thought and intellect, in relations of individuals and
communities, and indeed in every department of human

By the end of its first millennium Islam stretched
from the Atlantic coast of Africa in the west to the
Great Wall of China in the east, from the Mediterranean
to the Sahara in Africa. In Spain its troops took first
Andalusia, then all Spain up to the Pyrenees, and even
penetrated the south of France as far north as Tours. All
the "Jezirat-ul' Arab" was of course Muslim.
From Muslim Iran and Afghanistan other troops took Sind,
the Punjab and the Gobi - and this within a few short

In all its dominions the principles worked out in the
Arab homeland were applied to the new societies under its
sway. In particular its justice, equality and
brotherhood, humane fruits of its meticulous care for the
individual and his place in society, which are the
distinguishing marks of Islam, set their stamp on the
communities over this entire vast area.

The first task was the overthrow of tyrannies : the
second was the establishment of sound Islamic rule and
respect for human rights : the third was the illumination
of intellect, research and thought: the fourth was the
propagating of the faith by its calm appeal to reason and
logic and by its profundity and breadth of vision: the
fifth - and perhaps the most glorious because the most
anonymous-was the infection of other nations, of all
creeds and none, with its own superior moral, mental and
spiritual outlook.

This last achievement not merely raised the general
level of peoples of every religion throughout the world,
but also drew many proselytes to itself from the
idolaters of Arabia, the animists of Africa, the Magians
and Zoroastrians of Iran, and the Christians of Egypt and

Pre-Muslim Arabia had no trace of culture, no science,
no erudition, no economics; for geographical reasons
Arabs lived in penury and squalor, the prey of
superstitions, isolated from world currents. Islam
changed all that, and went on to open the hearts and
brains of men everywhere to new possibilities.

In far-off Andalusia a school of scholars, writers,
mathematicians, scientific researchers and philosophers
arose, inspired by Islam to revive the level of thought
reached by the Greeks 1500 years earlier, and to move on
up from there to heights never before touched by man.

Modern scholars in every country,. even those whose
prejudices would make them prefer to maintain a critical
and hostile attitude to Islam, more and more draw
attention to the speed of the spread of the Muslim faith,
to its beneficent results for mankind's prowess in
thought and study, and the progressiveness of the ideas
which it brought to other stagnant civilisations.

It should be noted by all our "progressives"
everywhere, that this brilliant advance for all humanity
was the concomitant of a moral self-discipline, of an
eschewing of the dissipation which follows upon loosing
the reins of passion, and of a deliberate control of the
creative instincts, which channelled them into works of
artistic, intellectual, and social creativity worthy of
mature human beings. This inner discipline, which man
needs, promotes the inner freedom he desires; and it is
one cause of Islam' s wide dominion over the minds of men
of the early Middle Ages. For it offered not merely
sounder outward forms of living but reassurance to the
inner core of the spirit. It abolished the wild
persecutions brought about by purblind bigotry and by
narrow-minded fanaticism.

It was for this reason that the Sultan Kemal-ul-Mulk,
nephew of Saladdin, talked as man to man, and as scion of
the same spirit, to Francis of Assisi when the Saint
crossed the lines from the camp of the Crusaders under
King Louis, whom the Muslims had halted before Damietta.
It was the same universal humanity which caused the vast
contrast between Omar's merciful treatment of the
Christians in Jerusalem when he conquered it, and the
barbarous massacre of Jerusalem's Muslim inhabitants by
the European Crusaders who took it back for a brief
period 300 years later. Islam replaced such savagery with
a constitutional rule, a humanely regulated society, an
overarching philosophy embracing all mankind.

In Europe's Dark Ages, while the Church established
its power over the different nationalities, and fettered
them in restraining bonds in a status quo, Islam was
building up a many-sided culture which laid the basis for
that flowering of science, knowledge, and artistic and
technological creativity which is called the
"Renaissance". This was while the Church was
condemning Galileo for confirming Copernicus' theory of
the orbiting of the earth round the sun, and forcing him
to his famous recantation: "I, Galileo Galilei, in
the 70th year of my age (1633 AD), on my knees before
your Reverences (the Pope and Bishops) with the Holy
Scriptures before my eyes, take them in my hands and kiss
them while repenting and denying the foolish claim that
the earth moves, and regard that claim as a hateful
heresy," even while he muttered rebelliously sotto
"Eppure si muove".

Yet 500 years previously our own great astronomer and
mathematician Omar Khayyam of Nishapur (floruit 2nd half
of 11th century AD, when William the Bastard was
conquering England) had provided Iran with the Jalali
Calendar which to this day enables us to start our new
year not merely on the day, but on the exact hour,
minute, and second that the earth terminates one orbit
and starts another round the sun at the vernal equinox!
How few Westerners know this! They think of him as a
poet, though he was an indifferent one, but do not
realise that if they had picked up his wisdom they might
have avoided all their Gregorian alterations of the
Julian calendar, and the loss of their "11

Roger Bacon (1214-1292 AD) the Franciscans'
"Doctor mirabilis", was in the reign of Edward
I of England compelled to give up the experimental
research into science to which his lectures in Paris on
Aristotle's works and in particular on the " Liber
de Causis" had led him', and was driven out from
Oxford back to Paris to be kept under the Church's eye-an
eye too narrow and bigoted to see the wealth of the
scientific treasures he was offering them. He was
arraigned as a dabbler in devilish and satanic alchemy:
and the mob was incited to yell for this sorcerer's hand
to be cut off and this Muslim' (!) to be exiled."

Nowadays European and American historians and scholars
all recognise and relate the fundamental contributions
made by Islam to all modern advances in science,
mathematics, technology, philosophy, in many ways of
which this brief chapter has only been able to touch the


No better evidence of the passion of Islam for the
spread of erudition, from its very inception, can be
given than the words of the Prophet himself who said,
after the battle of Badr and the Muslims' victory, to the
huge crowds whom they had taken prisoner, that any of
them who wished to buy their freedom but had no cash for
a ransom could employ their literacy as their resources;
and any polytheist who trained ten Muslims to read and
write should win freedom. His pronouncement was put into
practice; and it was thus that a large number of his
original adherents were started on the road of education.

His nephew and successor, the Imam Ali, on whom be
blessing, declared that the spreading of science and
knowledge and culture and intellectual ability was one of
the merits to be coveted and achieved by every Muslim
government. In the record of his words it is reported
that he said: "O people! I have rights over you and
you have rights over me. Your right over me is to insist
that I shall always give you guidance and counsel. and
seek your welfare, and improve the public funds and all
your livelihoods, and help raise you from ignorance and
illiteracy to heights of knowledge, learning, culture,
social manners and good conduct."

215 years after the Hejra the Abbasid Caliph Ma'amoun
founded a "House of Wisdom" in Baghdad to be a
centre of science, and furnished it with an astronomical
observatory and a public library for which he set aside
200,000 dinars (the equivalent of some 7 million
dollars). He gathered together a large number of learned
men who were acquainted with foreign languages and
different disciplines, like Honain and Bakht-eeshoo' and
Ibn Tariq and lbn Muqafa' and Hajaj bin Matar and Sirgis
Ra'asi, and others too numerous to mention, and set aside
a large sum for them, dispatching many of them to all the
different countries of the world to collect books on
science, medicine, philosophy, mathematics, and fine
literature, in Hindi, Pahlevi, Chaldean, Syriac, Greek,
Latin and Farsi. It is said that the vast collections
they sent to Baghdad exceeded 100 camel loads!

Europe had not one university or cultural centre to
show for itself in those centuries when Islamic lands had
large numbers staffed by experts and specialists in all
branches of knowledge. These Islamic centres were
beginning to radiate waves of brilliant new thinking to
the world at the very moment when the Crusades were
launched. In fact it might be said that it was the new
learning fostered by Islam which itself furnished the
Europeans with some of their new thinking that made
possible whatever prowess they achieved in those
disastrous wars and fired the passion of jealousy and
cupidity which made the West wish to seize for itself the
treasures which they saw Islam bringing to the nations
under its sway.

Dr. Gustave Le Bon writes on page 329 of volume III of
his "History of Islamic and Arab Civilisation".
"In those days when books and libraries meant
nothing to Europeans, many Islamic lands had books and
libraries in plenty. Indeed, in Baghdad's 'House of
Wisdom' there were four million volumes ; and in Cairo's
Sultanic Library one million; and in the library of
Syrian Tripoli three million volumes; while in Spain
alone under Muslim rule there was an annual publication
of between 70 and 80 thousand volumes."

G. l'Estrange in his "Legacy of Islam" page
230 writes: "The Mustansariyya University was
furnished with equipment and built in a huge campus with
college edifices of such splendour that its peer exists
neither in the Muslim world nor elsewhere. Its four
law-colleges, each with 75 students and a professor who
taught the pupils gratis, paid its professor a monthly
salary, while each of the 300 students was given a gold
dinar a month. A college kitchen provided the daily
meals. Ibn-el-Farat says that the library contained
priceless and unique volumes, on many branches of
science, for any student to borrow. Pens and paper were
provided for the notes anyone might wish to take. The
university had hammams (baths) and infirmaries. Its
doctors conducted a daily inspection of the colleges, and
wrote prescriptions for any who were ill. The college
stores were able to dispense drugs prescribed,
immediately. All this at the beginning of the 13th
century AD!"

Dr. Max Meyerhof writes: "In Istambul the mosques
possess between them more than 80 libraries, with tens of
thousands of books and ancient manuscripts. In Cairo,
Damascus, Mosul, Baghdad, and in cities of Iran and of
India there are other great libraries full of treasures.
A proper catalogue of the precious volumes in all these
has not yet been published complete in print. Moreover
the Escorial library in the Iberian Peninsula contains a
huge section filled with books and manuscripts produced
by the Islamic scholars of the West, which also awaits
completion of its cataloguing."

Dr. Gustave Le Bon writes on pages 55778 of his
"Islamic and Arab Civilisation". "The
Muslims pursued the sciences with profound application.
In any town they took, their first act was to build a
mosque and thereafter a college. This led to the
production of majestic institutions of learning in a vast
number of cities. Benjamin Toole (ob. 1173 AD) said that
in Alexandria he found more than 20 colleges at work.
Baghdad, Cairo, Cordova, and other places all had great
universities with laboratories, observatories, huge
libraries and all the other requirements for tackling
intellectual problems. In Andalusia alone there were 70
public libraries. The library of Al-Hakem II in Cordova
contained 600,000 volumes and it took 44 volumes to
catalogue the library' s contents. When Charles the Just,
four centuries later, founded the Bibliotheque Nationale
of Paris he was only able to assemble a total of 900
volumes, and that after great labours, while one-third of
that 900 were books on religion."

The same author on page 562 adds: "The Muslims
launched science on the road of exactitude, experiment
and forward-looking discovery by hypothesis, with a
particular enthusiasm, while producing books and
treatises and high schools that spread their intellectual
prowess to all corners of the world. They thereby opened
for Europe the road to its renaissance. So it is with
justification that the title of "Europe's Professor'
is given to the newly-arisen Islamic power, since it was
through them that the treasures of ancient Greek and
Roman science were rediscovered and enhanced and given
back to Europe as she began to emerge from the Dark

Josef Marc Kapp writes, concerning the first centuries
of Islam's progress in culture, in his book '"Muslim
Splendour in Spain" (p.170). "Even the lowest
classes in society were athirst to learn to read; and
humble workers limited their expenditure on food and
clothing and spent their last sou on buying books. One
worker collected such a library that men of learning
flocked to him. Freed slaves and the children of slaves
entered the ranks of the learned; and men like V
afyat-ul- A'iyan lbn Khalkan laid the foundations for
great progress".

Nehru wrote concerning the benefits conferred on
social progress and the cultural revolution of the
Muslims in Andalusia in his book "A Glimpse at World
History" (p.413): "Cordova had over a million
inhabitants, a magnificent public park of about 20
kilometres and suburbs stretching40 kilometres, with
6,000 palaces, mansions and great houses, 200,000 smaller
houses of beauty, 70,000 stores and small shops, 300
mosques, 700 hammams with hot and cold baths for public
use. There were innumerable libraries of which the most
comprehensive and important was the Royal Library, which
contained 400,000 volumes. Cordova University was famous
throughout Europe and in western Asia. At the same time
education was provided for the poor. Indeed one of their
contemporary historians writes that nearly everyone in
Spain in those days could read and write, while in the
rest of Christian Europe, apart from the monks and
clearly persons who were educated through religious
houses, no one, including the highest members of the
nobility, thought it worth his while even to attempt to
master basic arts of reading." To illustrate these
claims I append eight extremely brief chapters, each on a
different branch of science or culture; my debt I gladly
acknowledge to Arnold and Guillaume's ."Legacy of
Islam" (publ. O U.P. 1931) to which I refer any
reader who wishes to extend his information.


Dr. Meyerhof writes in "The Legacy of Islam"
(p.132). "Muslim doctors laughed at the Crusaders'
medical attendants for their clumsy and elementary
efforts. The Europeans had not the advantage of the books
of Avicenna, Jaber, Hassan bin Haytham, Rhazes. However
they finally had them translated into Latin. These
translations exist still, without the translators' names.
In the 16th century the books of Averroes (Ibn Rushd) and
Avicenna (Ibn Sina) were put out in Latin translation in
Italy and used as the basis of instruction in the Italian
and French universities."

On page 116 of the same work he writes that after
Rhazes' death the works of Avicenna (AD 980-1037) were
taken up. His influence on thought and philosophy and
general science was profound, and his medical works
(based on the works of Galen which he had found in the
Samarqand library in Arabic translation) had a
sensational outreach. Other scientists followed -
Abu'l-Qais of Andalusia; lbn-Zahr of Andalusia; Abbas the
Irani ; Ali ibn-Rezvan of Egypt; Ibn Butlan of
Baghdad-Abu Mansur Muwaffaq of Herat. Ibn Wafeed of
Spain; Masooya of Baghdad; Ali Ibn-Esau of Baghdad; Ammar
of Mosul; Ibn-Rushd (Averroes) of Andalusia. whose works
translated to Latin were used in European universities.
Europe knew nothing of the cholera bacterium when Islam
entered Spain, and the people there regarded the disease
as a punishment sent from heaven to exact the penalty of
sins : but Muslim physicians had already proved that even
the bubonic plague was a contagious disease and nothing

Dr. Meyerhof writes of Avicenna's book "The
Canon" that it is a masterpiece of medical science
which proved its worth by being printed in a series of 16
editions in the closing years of the 15th century AD, 15
Latin and one Arabic. In the 16th century more than a
score of further editions were published, because of its
value as a scientific work. Its use continued throughout
the 17th and 18th centuries, so that it became the most
widely known. of all medical treatises. It is still
consulted in medical schools.

Will Durant writes that Mohammad ibn Zachariah Razi
(Rhazes) was one of Islam's most progressive physicians,
author of 200 treatises and books well worth studying
today. in particular his

1. "Smallpox and Measles" (published in
Latin and other European tongues in 40 editions between
1497 and 1866), and 2. "The Great Encyclopedia"
20 volumes mostly unobtainable nowadays: five volumes
were devoted to optics; translated into Latin AD 1279.
printed in five editions in 1542 alone; known as the most
authoritative work on the eye and its ailments and
treatment for centuries; one of the nine basic works on
which Paris University composed its medical course in
1394 AD.

Surgery made similar progress in the hands of Islamic
practitioners, who even used anaesthetics, though these
are assumed to be of modern origin. They employed a
henbane base.

Among Rhazes' innovations was the use of cold water to
treat persistent fever, of dry-cupping for apoplexy, of
mercury ointment and animal gut for wound sutures, and
many others. Further information on Islamic medicine can
be sought from the many books on the subject. The
diagnosis of tuberculosis from the fingernails, the cure
of jaundice, the use of cold water to prevent hemorrhage,
the crushing of stones in bladder and kidney to
facilitate their removal, and surgery for hernia are
among advances too numerous to mention in detail. The
greatest of Islamic surgeons was Abu'l-Qasem of
Andalusia, affectionately called Abu'l-Qays, and
sometimes Abu'l-Qasees, floruit 11th century AD inventor
of very many surgical instruments and author of books to
describe them and their uses - books translated and
printed in innumerable editions in Latin and used all
over Europe, the last such edition being in 1816.


Gustave le Bon writes : "Besides the use of cold
water to treat typhoid cases - a treatment later
abandoned, though Europe is taking this Muslim invention
up again in modern times after a lapse of
centuries-Muslims invented the art of mixing chemical
medicaments in pills and solutions, many of which are in
use to this day, though some of them are claimed as
wholly new inventions of our present century by chemists
unaware of their distinguished history. Islam had
dispensaries which filled prescriptions for patients
gratis, and in parts of countries where no hospitals were
reachable, physicians paid regular visits with all the
tools of their trade to look after public health."

Georgi Zeidan writes: "Modern European
pharmacologists who have studied the history of their
profession find that Muslim doctors launched many of the
modern beneficial specifics centuries ago, made a science
of pharmacology and compound cures, and set up the first
pharmacies on the modern model. So that Baghdad alone had
60 chemists' shops dispensing prescriptions regularly at
the charges of the Caliph. Evidence of these facts can be
seen in the names given in Europe to quite a number of
medicines and herbs which betray their Arabic, Indian or
Persian origin." Such are "alcohol, alkali,
alkaner, apricot, arsenic," to quote some 'a's


Georgi Zeidan continues: "Within two centuries of
the death of the Prophet, Mecca, Medina and the other
great Muslim cities all had hospitals, while the Abbasid
governors and their ministers competed each for his own
region to have the best such institution for the care of
the sick. Baghdad alone had four important hospitals. By
three centuries after the Hejra the governor
Adhud-ud-Dowleh Deylamy had founded the Adhudi Hospital
with 24 specialists, each master of his own particular
field, a hospital which soon earned the reputation of
excelling all hospitals throughout Islam, though in the
course of time it too was surpassed.

The order and arrangement of Islamic hospitals was
such that no distinctions of race, religion or occupation
were recognised, but cure was administered with
meticulous care to any patient. Separate wards were
allotted for patients of specific diseases. These were
teaching hospitals where the students learned theory and
observed practice. In addition, there were travelling
hospitals which carried doctors and their gear by camel
or mule to every district. Sultan Mahmoud the Seljuk
travelled with a hospital which required 40 camels for
its transport."

Dr. Gustave le Bon writes: "Muslim hospitals went
in for preventive medicine and the preservation of health
as much as if not more than for the cure of the already
diseased. They were well-aired and had plenty of running
water. Muhammad bin Zachariah Razi (Rhazes) was ordered
by the Sultan to seek out the healthiest place in the
Baghdad neighbourhood for the construction of a new
hospital. He visited every section of the town and its
environs, and hung up a piece of meat which he left while
he looked into infectious diseases in the neighbourhood
and studied climatic conditions, particularly the state
of the water. He balanced all these various experimental
tests and finally found them all to indicate that the
place where the portion of meat was the last to putrefy
and develop infectious bacteria was the spot on which to
build. These hospitals had large common wards and also
private wards for individuals. Pupils were trained in
diagnosis and brought observation and experience to the
perfecting of their studies. There were also special
mental hospitals, and pharmacies which dispensed
prescriptions gratis."

Marc Kapp writes: "Cairo had a huge hospital with
playing fountains and flower-decked gardens and 40 large
courtyards. Every unfortunate patient was kindly
received, and after his cure sent home with five gold
coins. While Cordova, besides its 600 mosques and 900
public hammams, had 50 hospitals."


Jaber ibn Haiyan, disciple of the sixth Imam
Ja'afar-i-Sadeq, became known world-wide as "the
Father of Chemistry" and of Arab alchemy. His
influence on Western chemistry and alchemy was profound
and long lasting. Some hundred of his works survive. Of
him the late Sayyid Hebbat-ud-Din Shahristani of
Kadhemain, once Iraq's Minister of Education, writes:
"I have seen some 50 ancient MSS of works of Jaber
all dedicated to his master the Imam Ja'afar. More than
500 of his works have been put into print and are for the
most part to be found among the treasures of the National
Libraries of Paris and Berlin, while the savants of
Europe nickname him affectionately 'Wisdom's Professor'
and attribute to him the discovery of 19 of the elements
with their specific weights, etc. Jaber says all can be
traced back to a simple basic particle composed of a
charge of lightning (electricity) and fire, the atom, or
smallest indivisible unit of matter, very close to modern
atomic science."

The blending of colouring matters, dyeing, extraction
of minerals and metals, steelmaking, tanning, were
amongst industrial techniques of which the Muslims were
early masters. They produced Nitric Acid, Sulphuric Acid,
Nitro-glycerine Hydrochloric Acid, Potassium, Aqua ,
Nitrate, Sulphuric Chloride, Potassium Ammonia, Sal
Ammoniac, Silver Nitrate, Alcohol, Alkali (both still
known by their Arabic names), Orpiment (yellow
tri-sulphide of arsenic: arsenic is derived from the
Persian zar = gold, adjective zarnee = golden, Arabised
with article "al" to "al-zernee"
pronounced "azzernee" and so taken into Greek
where it was turned to the recognisable word
"arsenikon" which means "masculine"
since the gold colour was supposed to link it with the
sun, a masculine diety!): and finally - though this does
not close the list we might cite-Borax, also an Arabic
word booraq. Further, the arts of distilling,
evaporation, sublimation, and the use of Sodium, Carbon,
Potassium Carbonate, Chloride, and Ammonium were common
under the Abbasid Caliphate.


The Abbasid Caliph Haroun-al-Rasheed sent Charlemagne
in Aix from Baghdad a present of a clock made by his
horologists which struck a bell on the hour every hour,
to the great wonder and delight of the whole court of the
newly'crowned Holy Roman Emperor.

The massacre and expulsion of the Muslims of Andalusia
by the Christians carried with it the closure of many of
the great factories that had existed under Islamic rule,
and the standstill of progress that had been made in
science, crafts, arts, agriculture, and other products of
civilisation. Towns began to fall into ruin because of
the lack of skilled masons. Madrid dropped from 400,000
to 200,000 inhabitants; Seville, which had possessed
1,600 factories under the Muslims, lost all but 300, and
the 130,000 workers formerly employed had no more jobs,
while the census of Philip IV showed a fall of 75% in
population figures.

It was the Muslims also who brought about the
substitution of cotton-wove paper for the old parchments;
and it was this invention which formed the basis for
Europe's later invention of printing, using an old
Chinese technique, and so for the vast uprush of learning
which came with the Renaissance. More, since monks were
starved for parchment on which to write their religious
works, they were tending more and more to scrape off
priceless ancient scientific texts from old parchments
and to use them again as palimpsests. The introduction of
paper put a stop to this disastrous practice in time to
save quite a number of texts which would have otherwise
been lost for ever, as, alas, too many were.

A paper manuscript of the year AD 1009 was found in
the Escorial library, and claims to be the oldest
hand-written book on paper still in existence. Silk-wove
paper, of course, was a Chinese invention, since silk was
native to China though rare in Europe; and the Musulman
genius lay in seeing the possibility of substituting
cotton for silk, and so giving Europe a plentiful supply
of a practicable material for the reproduction of books
by the monkish scribes.

Philip Hitti writes in his '«History of the
Arabs" that the art of roadmaking was so well
developed in Islamic lands that Cordova had miles of
paved road lit from the houses on each side at night so
that people walked in safety. while in London or Paris
anyone who ventured out on a rainy night sank up to his
ankles in mud - and did so for seven centuries after
Cordova was paved! Oxford men then held that bathing was
an idolatrous practice; while Cordovan students revelled
in luxurious public hammams!


Baron Carra de Vaux, author of the chapter on
"Astronomy and Mathematics" in "The Legacy
of Islam" (OUP 1931 pp. 376-398), points out that
the word "algebra" is a Latinisation of the
Arabic term Al-jabr ( = "the reduction". i.e.
of complicated numbers to a simpler language of symbols),
thereby revealing the debt the world owes to the Arabs
for this invention. Furthermore the numerals that are
used are "Arabic numerals'." not merely in name
but also in fact. Above all the Arabs' realisation of the
value of the Hindu symbol for zero laid the foundation of
all our modern computerised technology. The word
"zero", like its cousin "cipher" are
both attempts at transliterating the Arabic
"sefr", in order to convey into Europe the
reality and the meaning of that word in Arabic.

De Vaux writes: "By using ciphers the Arabs
became the founders of the arithmetic of everyday life;
they made algebra an exact science and developed it
considerably. they laid the foundations of analytical
geometry; they were indisputably the founders of plane
and spherical trigonometry The astrolabe (safeeha) was
invented by the Arab Al-Zarqali (Arzachel) who lived in
Spain AD 1029-1087. The word "algorism" is a
latinisation of the name of its inventor, the native of
Khiva called by the name of his home province
Al-Khwarizmi. The Arabs kept alive the higher
intellectual life and the study of science in a period
when the Christian West was fighting desperately with

This is not the place to go further into Muslim
achievements in mathematics and astronomy. Suffice it to
refer once again to the Jalali calendar of Omar Khayyam,
with its formulae for exact calculation of the timing of.
the earth's orbits round the sun, to which reference has
been made earlier.


The Arabian Nights' tales of Sinbad the Sailor, and of
his voyages to China, Japan, and the Spice Islands of
Indonesia, give quite enough evidence of the brilliance
of Arabic commercial shipping and the knowledge of
meteorology and geography which was at their disposal.
Small wonder that the Faith spread through them from
Morocco to Mindanao.

But, besides the SE Asian seas, Arabic sailors
penetrated far down the East coast of Africa, and also up
the rivers which are channels from the Black Sea into the
distant interior of Russia. The Safarname (Travel
journal) of Suleiman, a sea-captain of Seraf the port on
the Persian Gulf recently excavated by Dr. David Stronach
of the British Institute of Persian Stulies, was
published at the end of the 9th century AD with accounts
of his voyages to India and China. It was translated into
Latin, as giving some of the earliest first-hand
knowledge of China which ever reached Europe.

The geographer Ibn Hauqal (floruit circa AD 975) wrote
in his preface: "I have written the latitude and
longitude of the places of this earth, of all its
countries, with their boundaries, and the dominions of
Islam, with a careful map of each section on which I have
marked numerous places, e.g. the cities, the kasbahs, the
rivers, the lakes, the crops, the types of agriculture,
the roads, the distances between place and place, the
goods for commerce and everything else in the science of
geography which can be useful to sovereigns and their
ministers and interesting to all people in general."

Abu-Reihan al-Biruni, Ibn Batuta and Abu'l-Haussan are
amongst other names in the history of the science of
geography whose worldwide travels were accompanied by
meticulous observation and painstaking notes, which are
amongst the proudest achievements of science in our world
to this day.


Cordova Mosque is one of the finest monuments of
Muslim art in Europe. Its architect and masons were local
talent, who introduced a number of novelties. The Muslims
excelled at mosaic, inlay, fretwork and applique work of
all types. Marvellous doors, pulpits, and ceilings are
decorated in many of the ancient mosques all over the
Muslim world with a lacelike design of mosaic, carved
ivory and wood and plaster, and fitted pieces of carved
wood interlocking with each other with consummate
artistry. Chased and engraved wood and ivory are
everywhere. Thus the Altar of the Church of Saint Isidore
Hispalensis (archbishop of Seville in the first years of
the 7th century AD) the carved ivory jewel-case made for
Queen Isabella in the 11th century and the carved ivory
box now in the Church at Bayeux of the 12th century
(obviously some Crusader's loot from the East) inlaid
with silver in chased gold, are examples of that art
which was the glory of Eastern lands. All this delicate
and minute handiwork was carried out with the crudest and
roughest of tools, itself a further tribute to the skill
and artistry of the makers.

Jewel-studded boxes and cases and caskets are to be
seen in many places, though the best are on view in the
museums of Damascus and Cairo. Well said Sa'adi: "An
Eastern artist may take 40 years to make one porcelain
vase: the West turns out 100 a day, all alike : the
comparative worth of the two products can be easily

The Muslims were also past masters of the art of
carved and coloured plaster work, in a style which still
subsists though modern technologies are, alas, rendering
the skill rarer all the time. Tenth century examples,
some with enamelled work also, are to be found in
Andalusia. The Alhambra has 13th century masterpieces of
this work. They glitter like the later Italian Majolica.
The famous Alhambra flower-vase, 1½ metres high, is
unique in this line.


In this part of our book we have given the briefest of
sketches of some of the treasures of mind and spirit
which mankind owes to the rise of Islam.

They are not stated in braggadocio but as an
assessment of facts of human history. For too long they
have been neglected and forgotten not merely by those who
benefited from them indirectly but even also by the very
descendants of their authors themselves.

Yet if mankind is to attain the power to live as one
united family which is our calling and destiny, it will
happen on a basis of appreciation of each other.

This adult assessment is growing. Modern scholars are
now showing gratitude that the Arab General
Tareq-bin-Ziyyad in AD 711 landed his troops by the
mountain since called Jebel-al-Tareq (Gibraltar) after
him. His Moors were unwelcome invaders at the time. It
was a moment when Europe had lost most of the benefit of
Roman unification and cultural advance and sunk back into
the Dark Ages under the barbarian hordes overwhelming it
from the North. With the Moors came in the fresh stimulus
of lively minds, bringing in Arabic the best thinking of
ancient Greeks and Romans, the impetus of scholarship and
learning, the desire for scientific and philosophic
speculation, the aesthetic delight of artistic creation

Islamic universities as far apart as Baghdad and
Andalusia welcomed Christian and Jewish students, many of
whom profited by the instructions to be obtained nowhere
else in those days. They were received with generous
subventions and assistance by their Muslim hosts, who
treated them as honoured guests. Dynamics, Statistics,
Chemistry, Physics, were among the lessons.

In his "Making of Humanity" Brilioth writes:
"Modern European education in all branches stems
from the Muslims' curiosity and pertinacity in
investigating the secrets of nature."

If our brief summary opens the road for Westerners to
the exploration of Eastern discoveries we are content;
and can so proceed to Part 3 and an examination of
Islam's treatment of some of the social problems which
afflict every human community.