Monday, July 16, 2007


Adding a new blogger to the roll, we at TBA salute the comprehensive work of Islamic Expansion And Decline. Here is an excerpt refuting a peculiar piece of information the average Islamic zealot himself, even if aware of his own historical underpinnings, nevertheless will refuse to accept not only as reality unblemished by myth, but as also directly related to his own religion's serious constrictions on free and inquisitive thought which have led to such "outbreaks" of greater knowledge, the sciences, and finer works of art:

Chapter 11: The Parasitic Civilization
Islam’s “golden age” and “splendors” is a topic of incessant fascination. It would, of course, be more accurate to speak of Islam’s “golden ages” since there were a number of such intellectual and artistic flowerings. The high civilizations of Abbasid Baghdad and of Moorish Spain, as well as the magnificence of the Ottoman and Mogul courts are well-known.

However, the Muslim efflorescence, like the financial underpinning for the Muslim military campaigns, depended on the wealth expropriated from, and on the continuing economic exploitation of, conquered non-Muslim populations. In addition, it must be acknowledged that the Muslim invaders were not, in general, total barbarians; they were not Huns or Mongols or Vandals. They valued the level of civilization that they encountered in their invasions and maintained a cultivated and often comfortable existence. However, one thing about the historical record is noteworthy; the various golden ages of Islamic civilization always occur early in the first few centuries in which a new territory is occupied. Wherever the various Muslim vanguards invaded, the vast majority of the population was non-Muslim. It would take many years for this population to be converted and assimilated. These non-Muslims or recent converts are the ones who carried on the work which many historians are prone to attribute to "Islamic" civilization. Thus, a distinction must be drawn between the so-called high Islamic civilization and the religion of Islam. Eventually as the process of Islamization proceeds the non-Islamic component of the population becomes a small minority and stagnation sets in. This process is evident in the first centuries of the Arab conquests where the process of Arabization and conversion to Islam took a few centuries to complete; this was the "Arab" golden age, a product of unconverted or recently converted Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians. In Spain the golden age lasted longer, perhaps because the process of Islamization was never as complete in Moorish Spain as in the Arab East.

It is remarkable how closely this pattern was repeated in the subsequent expansions of Islam as a consequence of the Turkish and Mogul conquests. The initial splendors of the Seljuk and Ottoman empires were the result of unconverted or recently converted subjects. When the Islamization of the newly conquered territories was complete intellectual stagnation once again set in. Similarly, an initial flowering as an extension of the ancient Hindu culture followed the Mogul conquest of India.

It must, however, be granted that Islamic civilization did serve a valuable purpose as a bridge between the West and the ancient civilizations of India and China. This resulted in the transmission of science and technology from China and mathematics from India. It must also be noted that, as will be shown below, the so-called Arabic numerals are really Hindu in origin; algebra is a combination of Indian, Greek and pre-Islamic Mesopotamian mathematics. And while it is true that Muslim rulers did enable some of the knowledge of the classical world to be preserved, the importance of this work has been greatly exaggerated. In addition, the actual work of transcribing and preserving this classical knowledge was done by non-Muslims or by recent converts.

Plunder and Economic Exploitation
The first Muslim invaders were always invariably motivated by the desire for loot and, as we have seen in Chapter 7: Culture of the Harem, the lust for concubines. The Prophet himself “skillfully couched his worldly objectives in divine terms” and this “fusion of the sacred and the profitable was endorsed by future generations of Islamic leaders.”[1] Thus, Islamic scripture contains explicit promise of, and religious sanction for, plunder from infidels:

Read it all.

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