Islamic Academia, Enlightenment Versus Self-Immolation Like Growing Fundamentalism: In Search of a Paradoxical Truth
During medieval days when the ‘Dark Age’ reigned the Europe, an all-round cultural awakening emerged in the Islamic Arab world. The Arab once ruled an empire of that stretched from Central Asia to Spain, and this empire reached its zenith between the eighth and thirteenth centuries Christian era. Muslim scholars of that period knew more especially about science, technology and the arts than any other contemporary people. They also studied and translated many classical (Greco-Roman and Sanskrit) works of literature and science. Scholars like Westgate rightly argue that it is generally speaking that Muslim people of earlier days were very much interested in books and learning which almost led to a renaissance like intellectual environment there. Such intellectual and scholastic endeavour prepared the ground of the Italian Renaissance to some extent. But unfortunately, this truth was always remained unrevealed or denied. But in contrary, in modern times, a section of Muslim people assembled under Islamic fundamentalists followed the opposite path of self-immolation. This is nothing but a complex paradox. The present paper humbly attempts to throw light on both these aspects--- Islam-induced enlightenment in earlier days and widely spread Muslim fundamentalism and sporadic Islamic terrorism.Under this perspective the present study should highlight especially the data and evidences corroborating the significant contribution of early Muslimscholars towards to development of modern sciences, such as physics, chemistry, mathematics, astronomy and medicine. The Arab Muslims, although a fierce, conquering race in the historical context, were also intellectually curious and enthusiastic. Unlike the illiterate destructive Huns who besieged the ailing Roman Empire, Muslim scholars preserved, translated and developed the philosophical and scientific legacy of the ancient classical world. A large number of universities, research institutes and observatories emerged in the leading cities of Baghdad, Damascus, Jerusalem, Cairo, Alexandria and Cordoba during the golden period of enlightenment in Islamic world. Unfortunately, those who had demolished in near past the remains of ancient civilizations in the Middle East in the name of Islam had become distracted and deviated from original Islamic teachings. According to the Holy Quran and Hadith among the five kinds of jihad-fi-sabillah (struggle in the cause of Allah) the important one is jihad by pen and knowledge (jihad bilqalam/ilm)—a struggle for good against evil forces through scholarly study of Ismal, Ijtihad (legal reasoning), and through sciences.
Keywords - Islam, Enlightenment, Study of Sciences and Fundamentalism