Sunday, March 05, 2006

What did Islam do for us?

1001 InventionsWith the current state of global political affairs, it is frustrating to see the world polarised by the media into Christian or Muslim, Religion or Politics. The hard time Tony Blair is getting the UK media for comments he made about his beliefs is another aspect to this. Not only are things not this black and white, but actually we should celebrate the rich cultural diversity, look at our common ground and remind ourselves at how all our collective histories have come together to create the society we live in.

Although the organisers could not publicise the event with this sort of preamble, 1001 Inventions at The Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester looks like just the tonic. At a time when many consider Islamic countries to be technologically inferior to those in the west, it is perhaps a useful reminder that after the collapse of the Roman empire and the rise of a relatively dictatorial Chritianity, Europe was plunged into a dark age. It was cities like Bahgdad and Cairo that became the hotbeds of scientific progress, nutured by the spirit of enquiry enshrined in Muslim teachings.

The headline inventions, as published to the excellent website, are " to clocks, from a 1000 year old cook book to how the camera works.", but my favourite is cheese!

The website even has a blog and some excellent comment features which, rather than being sidelined to a forum, are right at the heart of the content. One comment sure to raise eyebrows is that in the 13th Century, Ibn Al-Shatir figured out that the earth rotated round the sun- long before Copernicus or Kepler.

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