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Why Islam DeclinedAuthor of this text: Bernard Katz
In his new book, What Went Wrong? Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response, a fine
scholar of the Near East, Bernard Lewis, has given us a marvelous insight — an
insight our secular humanist movement has been pointing out to one and all for
Lewis holds that by all modern
measures — industrial output, artistic achievement, and political freedom — Islam
has bit the dust. „For many centuries," Lewis writes, "the world
of Islam was in the forefront of human civilization and achievement. [By the
medieval era, it] achieved the highest level so far in human history in the arts
and sciences, [and offered a culture] polyethnic, multiracial, international."
By comparison, „Europe was a pupil and in a sense a dependent of the
Islamic world." So what happened to change all this?
As Europe approached the
Renaissance, it advanced „by leaps and bounds, leaving the scientific and
technological and eventually the cultural heritage of the Islamic world far
behind." As his second reason, Lewis gives us the very essence of what
we've been saying since the founding of our country — its
failure to disentangle religion and the state: „[In Islam, from the beginning,]
the state was the church and the church was the state, and God was head of both."
better example do we need in order to convince others to stop those Christians
who want to incorporate their religious dogmas into our secular institutions of
government, medicine, education and welfare?
in the 2002 November/December issue of the American Rationalist ©.
« Islam (Published: 02-06-2003 Last change: 21-09-2003)
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