Friday, November 26, 2010

"Knowledge is the Solution"

I oppose the Brotherhood's "Islam is the Solution" slogan because I don't want to see a religious state in Egypt. As I strongly reject the Zionists' practices of hiding behind religion to justify illegal land appropriation & committing atrocities against the Palestinians, I equally reject an Islamic state in Egypt were non-Muslims could be considered second class citizens or where any opposition could be accused of heresy.

And although I have no problem with the slogan "Democracy is the Solution", launched by Alaa al-Aswani in a dual rejection of the Brotherhood's & the government's non-democratic practices but, and despite the increasing number of voices calling for change, I think that we are still years away from seeing a truly democratic political system in Egypt. This is due to the lack of a collective will to implement or force change coupled by the government's systematic and sometimes brutal crackdown on  opposition.

Accordingly, I propose adopting the slogan "Knowledge is the Solution." And as a first step to  spread and propagate knowledge in Egypt, I call upon Egyptian intellectuals and scholars living in Egypt or abroad to develop integrated curricula for all school grades and also for all university programs. This will give Egyptians the long awaited common national project which has been absent from our lives for years.

I am hopeful that this peaceful project which proposes working with and not against the government would gain the support of all the Egyptians. Why not when it is inline with every Egyptian's aspirations and dreams, is not in conflict with the principles and believes of any political, religious, or intellectual group, and does not cross into the complexities of domestic & international politics.

My evidence that in knowledge lies the desired solution is the stunning prosperity achieved by the Muslims in the Middle Ages. The Abbasids in Baghdad, the Umayyads in Damascus and Spain, and the Fatimids in Egypt understood and believed in the importance of science and knowledge. They did not see any contradiction or incompatibility between faith and science, but on the contrary, the need to face the exact direction of the Qibla, to accurately calculate prayer times, and to locate the shortest route to Mecca to perform pilgrimage from any location in the vast Muslim empire, was the primary motivation for the translation and understanding of the works of the earlier scholars of Persia, India, China, and Greece. They then corrected and add to those sciences and by doing so they the whole human civilization to a new level of enlightenment.

When the sciences of the Arabs (studia Arabum) reached Europe via Spain, Sicily and Palestine, European students embarked on learning Arabic, then translated and studied the Arabic books, inventions, and research. Those students and translators transferred this knowledge to dedicated science centers, and accordingly became the beacons that illuminated Europe's road to the Renaissance.  Unfortunately, Arabs gradually lost interest in the sciences, and we all known the outcome of this fatal mistake.

This slogan and associated project formalized in my head after reading two books covering the scientific achievements of the Islamic civilization and the scientists & scholars who lead this Awakening. We should shed light on these top-level scientists, who have excelled in more than one field, so they would emerge as role models & bright examples for our children. al-Khwarizmi, Ibn Sina, Ibn Rushd, al-Birouni, al-Idrisi, al-Kindi, al-Farabi, Almajriti, Ibn Hayyan, al-Razi, Omar al-Khayyam, and many others are just a few examples of those scholars and should become household names in every Egyptian family.

We must also remind ourselves and our children that reviving the glory of those greats is not impossible as demonstrated by the likes of Samira Moussa, Mustafa Musharafa, Taha Hussein, Yehia al-Mashad, Ahmed Mostageer, Magdi Yaqoub, Farouk El-Baz, Ahmed Zowail, Mohamed Ghoneim, Mustafa al-Sayyid and others who have excelled and succeeded, no matter what difficulties they faced, because they had believed that knowledge is the solution.

Books I have mentioned above are:

Lost History -Michael Hamilton Morgan
The House of Wisdom - Jonathan Lyons

I salute both authors for their remarkable courage in highlighting the western debt to medieval Arabic learning and for their extremely positive portrayals of Muslims in an age when the media is filled with negative stereotypes of Arabs and the Islamic world.


Anonymous said...

"Knowledge is the Solution", great idea... as always!

Limner said...

You are very brave. You are a thinker. You have interesting views.

nahoul said...

Thank you for your support and kind words. But just between the two of us, I blog cause I discovered that it is the most effective therapy for frustration & depression.