Rateeba Ahmad, Canada
The vital role that Muslim scholars have played in the advancement of knowledge has not always been appreciated or given its due value. The eight to thirteenth centuries have been described as Europe’s dark ages while in contrast, science was thriving in Muslim lands. For example, Avicenna’s 11th century text, “Canon of Medicine”, remained a standard medical text in Europe for hundreds of years. Muhammad al-Khwarizmi laid down the principles of algebra, while Al-Hasan Ibn al-Haytham transformed the study of light and optics. Al-Jazarī, was the Muslim inventor famed for his automaton designs, including water-operated pumps and clocks while Al-Idrisi was a geographer and explorer who created a world map.
Muslim scientists also went to great lengths to ensure the translation of important works from Greek to Arabic in the 8th and 9th centuries particularly around the period 750-850 CE. In fact many of these Arabic translations and commentaries of Greek works became the basis for translations into Latin, centuries later.
In his book ‘Pathfinders’ Jim Al-Khalili states that by second half of the 10th Century, “All the great works had been translated, retranslated, studied and commented upon and were by this point being replaced by original Arabic works that took the sciences even further. “
Al-Khwarizmi ( algebra) Al-Razi, (chemistry) Omar Khayyam: ( poet and mathematician ) Ibn Sina ( medicine ) are but a few of the famous Arab scholars who had a major impact on the advancement of knowledge and understanding.
This drive for scholarly advancement is not surprising. The acquisition of knowledge has been stressed by the Holy Qur’an and various hadith ( sayings ) of the Holy Prophet(saw).
The importance of learning was also the theme of the recent keynote address by Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) the world wide head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community to the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.
His Holiness said “Since it was founded in 1889, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has always promoted education amongst its members”.
” … Islam teaches that spiritual advancement is instinctively linked to serving humanity; spiritual progress therefore cannot be complete with acts of worship alone. It is in light of this very principle that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community continues to establish schools, hospitals and clinics in some of the deprived communities of the world, without any form of discrimination”.
His Holiness has constantly stressed how education is the path to a successful and peaceful society. In order to eradicate the representation of Islam as a violent religion, it is necessary to educate the general public on Islam’s true representation of peace and unity.
October 28th presented the Ahmadiyya Community in Canada with such an opportunity when the month was declared ‘Islamic Islamic Heritage month.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jam’aat took this opportunity to provide an insight into Islamic heritage and history, by having an open exposition. The event featured many aspects of Islamic heritage, including Al-Jazari’s water pump and the Idrisi world map of the 11th century.
The purpose of the Expo was to educate the public on Islamic heritage, and many political figures mentioned how important educating the public is, including King-Vaughan MP, Deb Schulte.
“Islamic History, right here in Canada, and around the world, needs to be shared; so that we understand each other better. So, it’s these kinds of events, bringing everyone together, sharing this information, that will help us have a future of peace, which is very much, what the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jam’aat is all about.”
By opening this exposition to the public, many were able to learn about the fascinating heritage behind Islam, and enabled the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jam’aat to inform and educate attendees about about the true significance of Islamic teachings and contributions to civilization as a whole.
The National President of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jam’aat Canada, Lal Khan Malik said “Today’s event is an attempt to give a glimpse of what Islamic civilization has contributed in it’s golden time”.
The event also featured calligraphy demonstrations , which provided the opportunity for visitors to see how it is done, and its significance in Muslim art and architecture.
The event was also attended by the Mayor of Vaughan, Maurizio Bevilacqua. In a tweet written following the event, he expresses his gratitude to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jam’aat, for the organization of the event, and for the fundraising they also held for Veterans, in honour of Canada’s upcoming Remembrance Day.
The event was also mentioned by other political figures, including Councillor Mario Ferri.
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