As Muslims congregated towards cities, being ruled under one ruling class, they moved towards a oneness in spirituality under one God as well. Between the 8th and 13th century the Islamic empire was a beacon of intellectual growth during the dark ages of Europe and were the light bearers of the west. Arabic was the language of learning for the whole of the civilised world, and they contributed much towards human progress. Universities were established in Cairo, Baghdad and Cordova in Spain. Christian Europe learned its earliest lessons in science, astronomy, chemistry, and mathematics from the Mussulman. They invented the first telescope, measured the size of the earth and grew their noble philosophy, that all is from God and that there is no love in the heart of man there if there is not the breath of God.
Bertrand Russel, a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, writer, social critic, and political activist, wrote in his History of Western Philosophy, “In our dark ages during 699 to 1000, Islam flourished from India to Spain. What was lost to Christendom was not lost to civilisation. To us, western European civilisation is the only civilisation but this is a narrow view.”
That all being said, just as in Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity, we can also critique verses in the Quran, just as in the Bible, where we find verses inspired by an apparently loving God that are quite highly charged in violence. In Islam, this finds its root in how the religion grew and spread while it was under persecution as the new oneness and culture gained more and more followers. We find some questionable verses in the Bhagavad-Gita too, where Lord Krishna during battle, orders some rather controversial statements if placed in modern time. We could and should ask though, why do some Muslims read the Quran and become suicide bombers and others not? Do we blame the book or the people?
Whilst no religious book is perfect, it is unfortunately, biased, human interpretations that undertake to perform acts of violence because the belief in their faith has become fanatic. Westerners blame fundamentalist terrorism on some of the highly questionable verses in the Quran, but the Christian bible also has questionable verses. It is just perhaps fortunate, that in our modern world, there are none that take a Biblical verse such as “those who are not with us are against us,” literally, and act to embody an age-old book’s’ supposed wisdom.
To conclude, it remains dangerous and ignorant to interpret ancient literature, and apply it to modern day society. Whether we believe in God or not, taking others’ lives to enforce our belief is not what any God or peace loving prophet such as Mohammad would have advocated. It is certainly also not what the majority of peace-loving Muslims believe either. It is a shame therefore, that a small group of radical fundamentalists, taint their own people with a reputation that they do not deserve. One can only hope that ancient texts are updated and modernized so that those who desire faith in an ancient religion, are not mislead by past history to live their beliefs in the now. In fact, this is what Majidd Nawaz, a Muslim, BBC columnist and talk show presenter is trying to achieve. Just as the Bible, the Quran needs some updating if it is to be applicable to contemporary society. I am certain, God would not disapprove.