Saturday, March 11, 2006

Muslim Heritage Exhibition

From the Guardian's education section yesterday:
The Islamic civilisation, according to the curators of a national exhibition that opened this week, has made an enormous but largely neglected contribution to the way we live in the west.

The project, 1001 Inventions: Discover the Muslim Heritage of Our World, supported by the Home Office and the Department for Trade and Industry, uncovers the Islamic civilisation's overlooked contribution to science, technology and art during the dark ages in European history.

Based on more than 3,000 peer-reviewed academic studies, the exhibition charts Islamic innovations during ten decades (sic) of "missing history" spanning from the 6th to the 16th century and covering an area stretching from China to southern Spain.

Tailored to appeal to school children and their teachers, and accompanied by a book and online resource, the project was launched at Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry and will tour the country.
Here are a few highlights from the online resource “tailored to appeal to schoolchildren and their teachers” which, it is emphasised, is “a non-religious and non-political project”.

Discover the Muslim Heritage in Our World website:
chess was originally a Persian game with pieces including Shah as King
Well, yes, but...
The oldest known chess pieces have been found in excavations of Moen jo Daro in Sindh dated to the 3000 BC, during this time the Persians inhabited the area.
Stretching it a bit to claim that’s a Muslim invention, isn’t it? And it might be worth pointing out to the kids that many Muslims believe that Mohammed prohibited chess. For example, it was banned by the Taliban, and Grand Ayatollah Sistani has decreed “it is not permissible because it is a means for debauchery”.

Discover the Muslim Heritage in Our World website:
Did you know that cheese was first made in the Middle East? The earliest type was a form of sour milk which was created when it was discovered that domesticated animals could be milked.
Now here’s Wiki:
The exact origins of cheese-making are unknown, and estimates range from around 8000 BC (when sheep were domesticated) to around 3000 BC…. The earliest archaeological evidence of cheese-making has been found in Egyptian tomb murals, dating to about 2300 BC.
This reminds me of the character Mr "Everything Comes From India" from the comedy sketch show Goodness Gracious Me who used to claim all things originated from India. Chess? Muslim! Cheese? Muslim! Egyptian tombs from 2300 BC - Muslim!

Discover the Muslim Heritage in Our World website:
Did you know that way back in the 10th century Muslim doctor Al-Zahrawi pioneered plastic surgery.

The history of cosmetic surgery reaches back to the ancient world. Physicians in ancient India including the great Indian surgeon Susrutha were utilizing skin grafts for reconstructive work as early as the 8th century BC and performed nose reconstruction, using a portion of the forehead, during periods where amputation of the nose was a punishment for certain crimes. The Romans were able to perform simple techniques such as repairing damaged ears from around the 1st century BC.
Discover the Muslim Heritage in Our World website:
If you've ever had an allergic reaction to something you may be interested to know that this problem was first studied by a Muslim scolar, Al-Razi, who also discovered asthma.
The word asthma is derived from the Greek aazein, meaning "sharp breath." The word first appears in Homer's Iliad; Hippocrates (460 BC–c. 380 BC) was the first to use it in reference to the medical condition. Hippocrates thought that the spasms associated with asthma were more likely to occur in tailors, anglers, and metalworkers. Six centuries later, Galen (131-201AD) wrote much about asthma, noting that it was caused by partial or complete bronchial obstruction.
Discover the Muslim Heritage in Our World website:
While the toothbrush may appear a modern invention the Prophet Mohammed made popular the use of a piece from the Meswak tree to clean the teeth and freshen the breath!
History of the toothbrush:
The early history and evolution of the toothbrush has its origin in the "chewingsticks" used by the Babylonians as early as 3500 BC. Ancient Greek and Roman literature even discusses primitive toothpicks that were chewed on to help clean the teeth and mouth.
As the years passed, toothpicks matured into the chew stick which was about the size of a modern pencil. One end was chewed into and became softened and brush-like while the opposite end was pointed and used as a pick to clean food and debris from between the teeth. The twigs used were carefully chosen from aromatic trees that had the ability to clean and freshen the mouth. The earliest literature showing the use of these twigs is found in Chinese literature at around 1600 BC.
Discover the Muslim Heritage in Our World website:
Did you know the first operation to remove cataracts was carried out as early as the 10th century Iraq.
An early technique to remove cataracts was couching, which involved using a thin needle or stick to remove the clouding. This technique is known to have existed in Roman times and continued to be used throughout the Middle Ages and continues to be used in underprivileged "Third world" countries today.
Discover the Muslim Heritage in Our World website:
Did you know that the popular Spanish music and dance of Flamenco comes from the phrase 'Fallah Mango', meaning the running farmers, a singing style developed by Moorish farmers facing the injustice of inquisition.
Flamenco is a song, music and dance style which is strongly influenced by the Gitanos, but which has its deeper roots in Moorish and Jewish musical traditions.
And it's a shame that today there are some Muslims too intolerant to embrace the dances of other cultures.

Discover the Muslim Heritage in Our World website:
As far back as the 8th century potters working in what is now Iraq developed a mysterious process called lustre. This was described as an 'extraordinary metallic sheen, which rivals even precious metals in its effects, all but turning objects of clay to gold'.
Not quite the whole story:
The first lustre pottery appeared around Baghdad and Samarra in about the ninth century AD. Baghdad, then probably the world's largest city, was centre of the vast Abbasid Arab empire. The city's rulers prized the fine porcelain of China and set captive potters to imitate it.
Discover the Muslim Heritage in Our World website:
Did you know that the tent is the symbol of ancient Arabia?
Hardly a Muslim symbol though. Loads of cultures have been big on tents. For example, Trajan's Column (113AD) in Rome had loads of tents on it.

There are more of these erroneous claims on the website if you want to look. I'll just draw attention to one more item which appears under the heading Tolerant and Humane Aspects of Muslim Civilisation. Remember, this is “a non-religious and non-political project”:
Muslims, as a minority in Western societies, have come under severe strain since September 11th, 2001, in particular. The Italian Prime Minister, just like the deceased Dutch right winger Pym Fortyn and scores more in their wake, have engaged in open diatribes against Islam
Updated. That's "deceased" by five bullets fired by a deranged left-winger for his views on Islam. (Thanks to Grumpy for pointing out that I got my murders of Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh mixed up).


Blogger Grumpy Troll said...

That's actually deceased by five shots in the back and the head, shot by a loony leftist for condemning Islam.

6:46 pm  
Blogger Charles Martel said...

its even more amazing that the UK goverment is behind such propaganda. Then again, New Labour has a long track record in spouting falsehoods (the "dodgy dossier"). Factual analysis is obviously something they arent too concerned about.

Has anyone pointed out this exhibition to Melanie Philips or Peter Hitchens yet?

3:16 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The English claim to have invented football, are you telling me that no one kicked a ball with their feet until the English came along. Just like the English formalised the rules of football and invented a structural sport from it, the Arabs took from the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians and Indians who most likely took and borrowed from civilisations that came before them. But don’t let facts and common sense get in the way of having a racist anti-Arab rant.

7:28 pm  
Anonymous Trofim said...

I think it is vital to help people see through Islam and all those who propagate this and similar propaganda.
I have often toyed with the idea of announcing, in the organisation I work for, a day of Celebrating Islamic Technology, when everyone would be exhorted to boycott any technology devised or manufactured by non-Muslims. That would be a fun day.

7:39 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Try organising a day when muslims (better still asians) don't turn up for work. London would come to a standstill.

9:02 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous (1) writes: "But don’t let facts and common sense get in the way of having a racist anti-Arab rant."

A couple of things Anon. Given that dfh is debunking the untruths put forward in the MHE (snigger). You really ought to get your ducks in a line before you expose your ignorance any further.

Moslem does not equal Arab. There are a number of Arabs who are Christian and incidently, suffering serious and deadly persecution at the hands of moslems.

Persian does not equal Arab, many Persians are moslem, but every Persian will take no time in correcting you should you call him/her an Arab.

There are also a few persians that are christian.

Anonymous: "...are you telling me that no one kicked a ball with their feet until the English came along.2

No, I don't believe [dfh] is!

9:37 pm  
Blogger DFH said...

Thank you for your defence, most recent Anonymous. Of course there’s nothing anti-Arab or racist in what I’ve written. I’m just pointing out inaccuracies in a supposedly educational, government-funded, project. We still live in a society where that’s allowed, even when it concerns Islam.

Anonymous: "...are you telling me that no one kicked a ball with their feet until the English came along.2

No, I don't believe [dfh] is!

No, of course I’m not. However, had Howard Carter discovered a hieroglyph in Tutankhamun’s tomb showing the boy king volleying a camel bladder past Anubis then you can be pretty sure football would be in the Muslim Heritage Exhibition as an example of Islamic invention. In fact, it would have probably claimed the invention of the foot as well. And then the invention of inventing just for good measure.

9:38 am  
Blogger Hare said...

The word "flamenco" (acording to Real Academia Española, the Academy of the Spanish language sited in Spain) comes from the flemish word flaming, meaning native from Flanders. The word started to be used also meaning "a soldier fighting in Flanders" and by the end of the XVIII century it ment also "braggart" (the word is used with this meaning still today).

The word started to be applied to cultural and musical expressions around 1836 (after 350 of the conquest of Granada... very long to be a moorish word, don't you think?)

A longer (and better) explanation in Spanish here:

2:56 pm  
Blogger Manuel Delgado said...

Following up on Hare's comment (above), I wonder where they got this sentence from: "Moorish farmers facing the injustice of inquisition". Sounds to me like a copycat of the origin of gospel music (or, was it blues? Sorry, I might be wrong) among the enslaved Africans in America. It is the firt time I ever here that flamenco was developed by Moorish farmers, although its origin is unquestionably rooted to the Arabs that lived in our Peninsula for 700 hundred years. Using the Inquisition in the same sentence is absurd, as it has got absolutely nothing to do with the subject.

As Hare said, the origin of the word comes from Dutch flaming, and there is no doubt about this.

Is this as much accurate as the organizers of the exhibition can get? Will they still be paid for their work? Will they keep their jobs? I bet they will.

4:07 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There are also a few persians that are christian."

There are also Persians who are Jewish, of which the current Israeli defense minister is one.

5:18 pm  

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