The Call for a New Intellectual ‘Islamic Golden Age’

His Holiness (aba) quoted the Second Caliph (ra) of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community during his keynote speech in October 2019 (Germany), when he defined civilization as being ‘the material progress and development of society.’ He further quoted, ‘Factors that indicate the strength of a civilization include…the intellectual progress of the society’

By Ibrahim Manto

The Golden Age of Islam is recognised by numerous advancements made in various fields including mathematics, astronomy, medicine and philosophy, of which all have influenced the world we live in today. The Worldwide Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba), calls upon all Ahmadi Muslims to excel in their respective fields and bring about a new intellectual ‘Golden Age’ of Islam. This would see Muslims becoming pioneers in intellectual progress once again and the only way to achieve it would be to hold strong to the rope of God and trust in the guidance of the true Caliph of Islam.

Addressing the audience at the International Ahmadiyya Muslim Research Association Conference (2019), His Holiness (aba) spoke about the individuals in the previous Islamic Golden Age, stating: ‘Their pioneering efforts brought about a remarkable revolution in the world and their research and discoveries continue to be the basis for modern science and mathematics.’ It is evident that Muslims were once dominant in the pursuit of knowledge, innovation and imagination, but where do we stand now?

Unfortunately, Muslims are far from the intellectual momentum that was set over the period of the Islamic Golden Age, which spanned between the 8th and 14th century. Something that we as Muslims must reflect upon in order for the world to see the truthfulness of the teachings of Islam. The key reason to have fallen from such academic heights is encapsulated by the words of His Holiness where he said: “Over time, as Muslims moved away from God Almighty and the qualities associated with a believer diminished rapidly amongst them, the Muslims, who had previously led the world in science and research, gradually moved to an age of intellectual ignorance that persists to this day.” It is evident from this that Muslims must reconnect with God Almighty and act true to the teachings of Islam to reach the intellectual heights again. It must be the mission, duty and firm determination of the academics, scientists and researchers among us in the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community to follow the examples of Dr Abdus Salam, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1979, as well as all the Muslim researchers and scholars of the golden age, namely, Ibn Sina, Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi, Ḥasan Ibn al-Haytham, among many others. The dedication towards work and love for God as many have expressed in the past should be an inspiration for us to witness a new Golden Age of Muslim intellects.

His Holiness also went on to say that “the difference ought to be that the pursuit of knowledge of an Ahmadi must be based upon Taqwa– righteousness.” This highlights that the knowledge and understanding of the universe and what is within it should be constructed upon a foundation of truthfulness and sincerity of having a connection with its Creator. Only then will the true secrets of the universe be revealed to a person; being divinely guided by Him who created it. Furthermore, His Holiness elaborated upon the true aim of research, saying: “Ahmadi Muslim researchers, especially those who pursue the sciences, should not only have the intention of enhancing the understanding of their chosen field but should also maintain an everlasting resolve to find proofs of the existence of God.” Therefore, through the discovery of truths in scientific research, should there also be proofs for the existence of an Almighty God and hence win the hearts of those who are not already Muslim. This is similar to the thinking of Ibn Sina (Avicenna), considered one of the great polymaths of the Islamic Golden Age, whose wish was to use logic and reason to prove the existence of God. A style of thinking that should certainly be adopted by all Ahmadi Muslims.

Finally, as Muslims, it is also our duty to serve mankind and the outcome of our research or the use of our intelligence should be to “develop new technologies or systems through which humanity can benefit”.  Through our service to mankind may we be recognised as the true Muslims of our time and act upon the teaching of the Holy Qur’an, whereupon it states “You are the best people ever raised for the good of mankind because you have been raised to serve others; you enjoin what is good and forbid evil and believe in Allah.” (3:111).

We must act sooner rather than later to bring about another Golden Age of Islam and it is the desire of the Caliph of our time that we fulfil this need of intellectual advancement required of the Muslim world, particularly in these times when Islam can be the subject of such scrutiny. There is no Muslim leader on par to His Holiness (aba), who has addressed UNESCO, where he touched upon the same topic of intellectual advancement, as well as having written to world leaders regarding various other topics such as world peace; his actions and words proving that he truly is the chosen Caliph of our time. From the examples of our proofs of God through logic and wisdom, our compassion, and contributions to society, we might be able to inspire those who may not believe in an Almighty God to also accept Him and also inspire individuals from all walks of life to also become pioneers of wisdom and intellect. Insh’Allah.

Ibrahim Manto is a first-year medical student at the University of East Anglia and is currently serving as the Vice President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Students Association (AMSA), UK.