The likely next UK Prime Minister said that Islam has kept Muslims 'centuries behind the West'
Monday 22 July - Boris Johnson’s recently-unearthed observation that Islam kept Muslims centuries behind the West prompted a series of letters to the Left-wing Guardian newspaper taking issue with this, claiming instead that the West owed an 'immense debt to Islam.' One such letter read as follows:
'Johnson is painfully ignorant of the immense cultural, economic, and scientific contributions of Muslims. Western civilisation owes an immense debt to Islam, whether in the form of algebra or the saving of ancient Greek heritage'
The following rebuttal is courtesy of Hugh Fitzgerald of Jihad Watch:
'Algebra' always heads the list of supposed 'Muslim' contributions to civilization. The word 'algebra' comes from the Arabic 'al-jabr'. From that we are expected to believe that 'algebra' was first developed by Muslim Arabs.
The word 'sugar' also comes from the Arabic (sukkar), but this does not mean that Muslim Arabs discovered sugar.
Algebra was not invented by Arabs or Muslims, but in India, by Sanskrit mathematicians. Muslims then translated and commented on these Indian works.
Many of those who like to claim 'algebra for the Muslims also insist that 'Arabic numerals' were invented by Muslim Arabs, but here, too, it is the Indian mathematicians who came up with these numerals.
They were transmitted from India to the West by the Arabs — hence their misnomer 'Arabic numerals.'
Often cited as examples of the inventiveness of Muslims are paper and gunpowder. But both were invented by the Chinese and then brought to the West by Muslims, who are often credited with inventing what they merely transmitted.
What about Muslims’ 'saving of ancient Greek heritage'? That’s a nonsensical claim too.
Muslim rulers, in Baghdad, Toledo, and Cordoba, commissioned the translation of certain Greek works — not the entire 'ancient Greek heritage.'
Works of rhetoric, poetry, histories, and dramas were not translated into Arabic, since they were viewed as serving political ends which were potentially dangerous in the eyes of such rulers.
Instead, philosophical and scientific works were almost the entire focus of translation into Arabic. The translations were done not by Muslims, but by Arabic-speaking Christians (including Nestorian, Melkite, and Jacobite monks in Palestine and, later in Baghdad, and by Catholics in Cordoba and Toledo), and Jews in Cordoba,Toledo, and Baghdad.
The word 'saving' implies that these Greek works from classical antiquity would otherwise have disappeared.
But that misstates the case. Translation did not 'save' that heritage, but made these Greek texts more accessible, for once they had been translated from Greek into Arabic (sometimes being put first into Syriac, and then from Syriac into Arabic), they were then made accessible to a large Arabic-speaking (but not necessarily Muslim) population.
They could then be translated yet again, by these Christian and Jewish translators, from the Arabic into Latin, and these Latin texts would then be transmitted to the West.
There was no 'debt to Islam' for 'saving ancient Greek heritage.' The debt was to those Christian and Jewish translators for first producing Arabic translations of Greek philosophical and scientific works, and then to still other Christians and Jews who translated those Arabic texts into Latin, thus making them more accessible to scholars in the West.
Author's comment: It is extremely important that we do not allow Leftists and Muslim apologists to paint an incorrect picture of Islam without robustly challenging their viewpoint. Islam is a totalitarian ideology that is the antithesis of everything that we know and love in enlightened Western civilisation, and yet without the ability or willingness to criticise such an obviously false narrative, our own civilisation may follow that of the Persians and the Byzantines into oblivion.
We simply cannot allow this false narrative to succeed, and we must fight unceasingly to make sure the light of truth and freedom, made possible by virtue of our Judaeo-Christian civilisation, is passed on, unblemished, for the sake of future generations.