The era of Islamic civilization had began fourteen hundred years ago with the birth of Hazrat Muhammad (SM), the greatest man in this world, For whom Hazrat Ibrahim (AS) prayed as “Our lord, and send among them (among the descendents of Ibrahim (AM) a messenger from themselves who will recite to them your verses and teach them the book and wisdom and purify them”. The great prophet (SA) had been able to auspicate the great civilization by transforming the most uncivilized, discourteous, indecent, inhuman people into most civilized, humanitarian. After his departure, Islamic civilization has been witnessing so many acclivity and declivity till today. The era of Kholafaye Rashedin was the role model of Islamic civilization.
The golden age of Islamic civilization refers to the period between 8th and 14th century. The basis of building this golden history was knowledge and wisdom. The various Quranic injunctions and Hadith, which places norm on education and emphasize the appreciation of acquiring knowledge, played an important role in influencing the Muslims of this age in their search for knowledge and the development of the body of science. Every branch of knowledge, including philosophy, natural science, social science, law, theology, mathematics, medical science, astronomy etc, was perambulated by Muslims in the golden age. From the eighth to fifteenth century, Muslim mathematicians and astronomers furthered the development of almost all areas of mathematics. The civilization extracted thousands of scholars, scientists, doctors, philosophers, mathematicians; reversely we can say that the golden civilization had been possible by the dedication of these people.
Some of them, who are the founders of various field of knowledge, are (1) Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi: “father of modern surgery”, (2) Alhazen: the “father of modern optics”, the “father of physiological optics”, the “father of optics”, (3) Al-Biruni: “founder of Enology”,”first anthropologist”, “the founder of comparative studies in human culture” also known as the “father of Islamic pharmacy”. (4) Al-Farabi: regarded as the “founder of Islamic/Arab Neo-Platonism” and by some as the “father of formal logic in the Islamic world”. (5) Ibn Sina: regarded as the father of early modern medicine. (6) Ibn Khaldun: regarded as the father of “sociology, historiography and modern economics”, best known for his great “Al-Muqaddimah”. (7) Al-Khawarizmi- most renowned as the “father of algebra”. (8) Al-Kindi: known as “the Philosopher of the Arabs”, and the “father of Islamic/Arab philosophy”. (9) Ibn Rushd: the “father of rationalism”. (10) Hasan Ibn Al Haytham: a mathematician, astronomer and physicist and so on.
The civilization had been enriched through building modern bicultural institutions like Hospital, university, financial institution, commercial institution, arts institution etc. For instance, The earliest known Islamic hospital was built in 805 in Baghdad by order of Harun Al-Rashid. Arts, culture, literature, poetry, architecture, engineering were also not unsung in the medieval Muslim era. Mawlana jall-ad-din rumi, a 13th-century Persian poet, jurist, Islamic scholar, theologian, and Sufi mystic originally from Greater Khorasan whose influence transcends national borders and ethnic divisions: Iranians, Turks, Greeks, Pashtuns, other Central Asian Muslims, and the Muslims of South Asia have greatly appreciated his spiritual legacy for the past seven centuries. His poems have been widely translated into many languages and transposed into various formats, wrote some of the finest Persian poetry and he is still one of the best selling poets in America. One of the most well known satirist character to us, Molla Nasreddin Hooja was also a medieval poet and philosopher.
Engineering sector was also much enriched in that period. For example, in the book named ‘Book of Ingenious Device’, written by the Banu Musa brothers, there is a description of an automatic flute player which may have been the first programmable machine.
The cities like baghdad the house of wisdom, cairo, bukhara, samarkand, Isfahan, andalusia were centers of knowledge and wisdom and were widely used for procurement of knowledge by thousands of students from around the world. Magnificent architectures of these cities are still attesters of glorious history. Spiritual influence, government sponsorship, diverse contribution of thousands of Muslims, new technological advancement played important roles in building this civilization. Nitty-gritty is momentous change of human and different bicultural institutions, rural and agricultural advancement, building of planned towns, development of knowledge and science and building a dedicated generation were the momentum of this golden civilization.
Famous Muslim economist Dr. Mohammad Umer Chapra mentioned some reasons why we have lost our glorious past in his book “Muslim civilization: causes of decline and the need for reform”. Gist of his discussion is: Political reasons are illegitimating the political power, moral degradation of political leaders, fault in the selection of conscientious and proper leaders, abuse of power, nepotism, corruption among political leaders etc. Imbalance of fiscal budget of economy, imposition of illegal taxes upon residents and peasants, devaluation of currencies, foreign debt and economic decline are the main reasons of degeneration of dominant Islamic economy. Insufficient social and economic institutions had been built by later Muslim leaders; they rather built such luxurious institutions that didn’t help their next generation in facing challenges in the modern world. Reluctance in education and science, creating controversy about religious issues, conflict of rationalists and conservatives, failure of private institutions in playing momentous role expedited the corrosion in education sector which caused the inevitable decline of magnificent civilization. Infirmity in education may be result of lack of governmental assistance, inability of non-governmental sector to bear the whole circumstance, imposition of inadmissible views upon people.
Fall of enlightenment movement in Muslim world was one of the reasons of educational degradation; reversely westerns gained success from the decline of enlightenment movement. Fissure in relation of government and people, stoicism of many sufies because of corruption and misdemeanor of political leaders, aggravation of standard of female retrogressed the Muslim society. Famous Muslim historian, sociologist, economist Ibn Khaldun demonstrated an important theory of development and downfall, where he said that it’s not possible to conservative people without wealth; without development earning wealth is not possible; development is positively related to justice; it’s the responsibility of ruler to establish justice. So development, wealth, people, justice etc are the main element of a civilization that should be our first concern. Now it’s our turn to resurrect our civilization into its own ostentation.
The first arm should be knowledge and wisdom to build a civilization that is our traditional treasure. Famous law expert Abu Jarah says “A man should be educated so that he/she becomes beneficent rather than being maleficent”. Our new generation should be properly educated with moral and human education; where exists mixture of substantive and moral education. Justice, law, discipline should be our main weapons. Such an ambience should be created where not only relentless, efficient and creative activities but also reciprocal trust, assistance and social bonding would be encouraged. Nowadays efficacy of bicultural institutions is considered much more important than that of financial or economic institutions to build a nation living a decent, civilized life; which should in the regimen be prioritized. The assiduity to wear down the opponents should be people centric development that was ignored by the previous rulers and Muslims have been forfeiting of their blunder. So it can help building a nation great among any other nations. Our illustrious history of our ancestors reminds us their wistful endeavor in deconstructing civilization that can be our inspiration of resurrection.
The writer is a Student of Department of Economics at University of Dhaka