History witnessed, the peoples who put knowledge and its acquisition on the top of their priorities list, led the world by the nose. Pharaohs came by to rule Egypt and left behind indelible prints on the pages of the history; Caesars established their sway over Greek and Roman Empires; Alexander ravaged more than half of the world and left the generations to come in shock as to whether to consider his story a myth, a legend or else reality. Countless civilizations made their marks on the pages of history. Greek, Byzantine, and Latin civilizations impressed the whole world during and long after their heyday. All the fame they carried was sheer the result of making knowledge the torchbearer.
Greeks were special appreciators of knowledge. They established a city of sages, philosophers, litterateurs, and leaned away from the urban hustle bustle in the congenial city of Elia. They were given total freedom of thought. This was an enchanting town in the lap of mountains and beside a river. Residing here in small wooden huts was the learned strata of Greece and kept busy in new and newer inventions, discoveries and in putting forward new ideas and philosophies. King was responsible to bear the living expenses of the people. No one was allowed to enter this city in shoes; nor was any soldier neither a trader allowed entry. Beautiful servants and maids were at the becks and calls of these wise men. This was the city of knowledge and wisdom. Such magnificent city in return gave to Greece, the legends like Hippocrates, Socrates, Aristotle, Plato, Pythagoras and Homer etc. This is the reason why we reach Greece whenever we try to find the roots of any field of knowledge.
Muslims ruled over Spain for eight centuries sheer by dint of knowledge and creativity. When Abdurrahman-I entered Cordoba as a conqueror, he exiled all but two Jews from the city. He rather pled those two with folded hands to stay because of their being sages. He made Baghdad, the brides of the cities due to his massive ventures into knowledge, research and education. Europe was buried in the darkness then. Muslims were the torch bearers of knowledge and research. The Muslim ruler of Andalus of Ummayad Dynasty Al-Hakam was himself a scholar of high merit and had written commentaries on numerous books. Whenever he would know about any book newly written, he would send his scholars there to read the book and make exact copy of that in the native tongues. This is enough to judge their love and value for knowledge and the strong memories of theirs. All the great universities of the known world then were lying in the countries under the sway of Muslims .i.e. University of Cordoba, Nizamia University of Baghdad, Al-Azhar University of Egypt which kept quenching the thirst of the seekers of knowledge for centuries.
Alkhwarzmi was the one to give the concept of algorithm which made possible the concept of computer. In fact, Daniel David Levering, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and author and of The Golden Crucible points out that there would be no Renaissance; there would be no Reformation in Europe without the role played by Ibn Sina and Ibn Rushd and some of the great Muslim theologians, philosophers, scientists in bringing Greek texts to Europe.
In short, Europe is ruling over the world due to its intolerance towards ignorance. It has most of its countries with no illiteracy. The problem with us Muslims and the reason behind our problems is none other than the lack of literacy. Revolutionary steps need to be taken to wipe up ignorance, frustration and problems from Muslim societies. Education should be free and in the access of every child. We should follow USA’s “No Child Left Behind” kind of bill to literate all and sundry.
By Prof. Kaleemullah