The Question is? Myths and Fallacies Surrounding the Decline of Muslim Civilisation

by Salah Zaimeche Published on: 5th May 2004

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Why did Islamic civilisation fall into decline? This article seeks to correct some misunderstandings and open the debate about what went wrong and what can be done to put it right.

Summarised extracts from a full article:
The Question is…? Myths and Fallacies Surrounding the Decline of Muslim Civilisation by Salah Zaimeche

If the Muslims are so good, and did so much, as this web site is arguing, then, why is the Muslim world locked in the poor state it is? Why is the Muslim world a significant part of the under-developed world? And why do all current scientific studies not originate from the Muslim world? Furthermore what has caused the Muslim world, which brought up Western Christendom out of barbarism, to be replaced by its successors? .

These are abstruse matters, impossible to answer adequately here in view of the many diverse variables relevant to this issue. Notwithstanding, the full article aims to look at some of the reasons given by Western writers for the steep decline of Islamic civilisation. Many such reasons are refuted in the course of the text. Then, some of the underlying reasons for the decline of Islamic civilisation are suggested.

The full article discusses Western history interpretations of the causes of decline of Islamic civilisation. It shows that the forces and factors blamed by such a history are untenable. It also explains some of the real and true reasons for Islamic decline.

The full article specifically looks into a number of claims; that Islam was the cause of ignorance in the Muslim world; that Islam obstructs progress; that Islamic Orthodoxy played a destructive role; that Turks and Berbers, portrayed as dim fanatics by Shaw, played a damaging role in the Islamic World entering it into – as Renan put it -a period of ignorant brutality.

Reasons for the destruction of the Islamic Caliphates in both East and West are provided. These include the destruction, which the Mongols inflicted, and the subsequent slow progress of Muslim civilisation due to the lack of a solid foundation to further progress in the various fields of knowledge. The decadence of Islamic rule is shown to be a reason for internal collapse. The destruction of the Muslim economic system at the hands of crusading Christian forces through constant devastating raids on wealthy ports, preventing the formation of any stable base for exchange, is detailed.

In conclusion, the full article, through a historical analysis, demonstrates a number of commonly expressed Western interpretations for the reasons behind the decline of Islamic civilisation, to be false. The promotion of knowledge and understanding in Islamic civilisation is confirmed. The devastating effect of successive invasions by the Mongols and Crusades is also demonstrated. The role played by the Seljuks, Turks and Berbers commonly blamed for the demise of Muslim civilisation is proven to have been positive; with the Almoravids in Spain protecting North Africa and the Seljuks helping unite the Muslim armies against the Crusaders. The argument that Ashari was mainly responsible for the decline of science is refuted. The dismantling of the economic system due to invasions from the Portuguese in the sixteenth century is seen to have also contributed to the destruction of the social environment in which science thrived.

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