YOU GOTTA LOVE THOSE OLD MUSLIMS
You can’t stop learning from your travels: Even if it’s uncomfortable. Visiting Turkmenistan we confronted Abu bin Abdul, a ragtag Muslim chauvinist with few good words for Western culture. According to his interpretation of history,
“Absent the Muslim and Eastern World, Europe would have peeked out during the Pre-Christian Greek-Roman era and then would have declined and culturally fallen over the cliff.”
As any Western Christian, I had to argue. “We Westerners gave the world health, space exploration, the World Wide Web and emoji’s” I suggested. “We hold our own pretty well in the Pre-Christian as well as today. All the while, you guys living along the Silk Route are stuck in stagnant lives. Centuries have come and gone and no evolution. You are slugs.”
“Ah yes” he conceded “but all your Western progress in science and learning came from us. After the fall of Rome what happened? Europe went to sleep. Five hundred years, maybe 1,000 years passed and how much evolutionary progress did you slugs make?”
Abdul was just getting warmed up.
“ By the time you Europeans woke up from centuries of Middle Age intellectual hibernation, you had lost it. You’d forgotten your own learning. Thanks to our Muslim archives in Istanbul, Baghdad, and Alexandria; Greek literature, science, philosophy were preserved.”
This guy was on a role and couldn’t be stopped.
“ Take mathematics. How would your scientist and mathematicians calculate with your simpleton, clunky Roman numerals? You can’t even do elementary division- MCVII divided by IV. Algebra, calculus and computer programing are impossible today without our superior Arabic numerals? No, my smug Western friend, you owe us big time!”
“ From the very beginning we Easterners gave you agriculture and writing from the Tigris Euphrates 8,000 years ago. If we hadn’t given you agriculture you’d still be living caves or swinging up in the trees like monkeys. Then 600 years ago we did it again. All of your science, technology and learning today can be traced back to your Renaissance and that’s our second unappreciated gift to you. Take us out of the picture and you’re nowhere.
As a chauvinist myself I didn’t care much for his arguments but Abdul’s ideas were provoking and that makes travel worth the effort.