Inter-cultural Respect through Cultural Roots of Science

The important lecture presented by Professor Salim Al-Hassani at the 15th Euro-Asian Economic Forum held in Istanbul and Izmir, Turkey in April 2012 addressed an assembly of eminent political representatives of fifty countries. His focus was on the roots of science as a fundamental fact or in intercultural respect and world peace. Based on the rich experience of FSTC and its mission, Professor Al-Hassani endeavoured to show how the edutainment, academic and electronic works and projects launched and developed by FSTC fill a gap of 1000 years of amnesia and rehabilitates a true view of history in which all nations, communities and cultures participated. His plea is best represented by the call he launched at the end of the lecture to the leaders of the countries participating in this summit "to give a serious thought to using the cultural roots of science and sports to enhance respect and appreciation between their peoples."

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Professor Salim T S Al-Hassani*

Note of the editor

This lecture was presented by Professor Al-Hassani at the 15th Euro-Asian Economic Forum held in Istanbul and Izmir, Turkey, on 11-13 April 2012. The summit, which started in Istanbul and ended in Izmir, was attended by 13 presidents etc, one Prime Minister, one Speaker of the Parliament, three Deputy Ministers and 30 Ministers from 50 countries. See the Final Declaration of the Forum.

* * *

Chairman and Honourable Guests Greetings to you all.

Delightful thanks to Marmara Foundation for inviting me to address this esteemed Gathering. I bring you greetings from the United Kingdom.

We see much effort being expended on Inter-faith dialogues, which is important. But there is a new space for dialogue which we believe may have effective results in bringing cultures closer. Our Foundation is a non-religious and non-political Institution based in the United Kingdom.

By using world class research and surveying of the traditional media, social media and school curricula, we discovered startling results. There is 1000 years amnesia in the public mind and in particular amongst the future generation. This amnesia affects the identity and behaviours of people towards themselves and towards other communities.

Figure 1: The gap of the so-called the "Dark" or "Medieval Ages.

Figure 2: Rehabilitation of a logical continuity in history by eliminating the 1000 years amnesia.

Almost all people have perception that after the fall of the Roman Empire there was an extraordinary dull period of a 1000years called the "Dark Ages". This is a misnomer, as for the thousand years after 600 CE there was an extra-ordinary amount of scientific and intellectual activity that radiated from Baghdad and along a glittering crescent through North Africa and into Spain and Southern Italy. For many years, people associate Baghdad with stories such as the 1001nights (or Arabian nights) and no information in the schools' curricula or media about the enormous inventions and innovations from that period which still affect our lives. Science and sport are projected as entirely European with only European names of scientists, jumping a 1000 years from the Renaissance back to the Romans and the Greeks. This gap is normally called "Dark Ages" or "Medieval Ages". This is demonstrated in fig.1.

Figure 3: Professor Al-Hassani presenting his lecture.

This amnesia brings a big problem, as it breeds superiority Complex amongst Europeans and Americans but it causes Inferiority Complex amongst other cultures. We believe there is a need for a new language based on cultural roots of science to discover connections between cultures to create social cohesion and inter-cultural respect. If we look at history using a religious lens we see conflict and hostility. If we look at history using a political lens we again see wars and struggle for authority. If, however, we use the lens of science, we see cooperation and respect throughout humanity. Hence when we eliminate the 1000 years amnesia (see fig.2), we not only have a logical continuity but also dependence of cultures upon each other in the efforts to build the civilisation of the present day. It demonstrates the famous saying by Isaac Newton: "If I have seen further than others, it was because I was standing on the shoulders of giants".

Figure 4: Professor Al-Hassani and Dr Gjorge Ivanov, the President of Macedonia at the conference.

One of our recent initiatives is the "1001 Inventions" project. It took up the challenge of using edutainment techniques to transfer historical information trapped in library archives into the popular domain, in particular the Global Digital Audience. An interactive touring exhibition, accompanied by a book, a teachers' pack, a website www.1001inventions.com, a set of educational posters and a series of lectures were launched in March 2006. The information is conveyed by taking the viewer/reader/visitor into a journey through zones showing such inventions, which we currently find or use, in the home, school, hospital, market, town, world and universe. The academic material is conveyed through a web portal www.MuslimHeritage.com after the usual peer reviewing and rigorous scrutiny for correctness and neutrality. This web portal has become the number one source on all aspects of Muslim civilisation in particular those relating to science, technology, art and sport.

Figure 5: View of the audience of the Forum.

I call upon the leaders of the countries participating in this summit to give a serious thought to using the cultural roots of science and sports to enhance respect and appreciation between their peoples.

Figure 6: The audience of the Forum listening to the presentations.

For more information I invite you to visit our websites indicated by the links below:

* Emeritus Professor at the University of Manchester and President of The Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilisation (FSTC), Manchester, UK.

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