The Islamic chronicles

Islamic civilization has been one of humanity’s greatest achievements. Though with a rich history, Islam has been obscured behind a curtain of misunderstandings and misrepresentations. Does Islamic history and past Islamic civilizations really show a deep intertwining with the advanced western civilization today?
Many people understand the start of Islam from the coming of Prophet Muhammad. However, it is an article of faith for Muslims to believe that Islam (submission to the will of God) was there since the first man, Prophet Adam, set foot on this Earth. Embedded in the belief is that every prophet and messenger — from Adam, up until and including Jesus — were all meant for a particular group of people for a specific time period. Muslims, however, stem from the fact that Prophet Muhammad was sent to all of humankind with his message meant to last until the end of time.
Born in Arabia, where people were locked in a constant state of tribal war, Muhammad is believed to have been orphaned by the age of six, with the death of both his parents. Receiving prophet-hood at the age of 40, as Muslims believe, unable to read or write and working as a merchant, Muhammad, a man of truthful humble nature sought out to change the very structure of humanity. It is for this reason that Alphonse De La Martine, a historian, wrote in his book, History of the Turks, “If greatness of purpose, smallness of means, and astonishing results are the three criteria for judging a human genius, who dare to compare any man in modern history with Muhammad?”
Further re-iterated by Michael H. Hart, author of The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, who chose the number one most influential person as Muhammad, stating, “He was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular levels.”
In only two centuries, Islam had spread its reach from Spain all the way to the edge of India, with its heart in ancient Baghdad. Known today as the Islamic Golden Age, success at that time was focused on a variety of categories that included magnificent architectural achievements, which, to this day, are among the pride of Islam. For example, with seasonal flow of water supplemented by desert climates, landscape architecture became an interesting area of focus. In depicting the heavenly rivers, shades, fruit-trees and gates of paradise described in the Qur’an, garden designers provided apt symbols for paradise on Earth in the oasis-like Islamic gardens.
From the eighth century on, with limited technological advances in the world, Islamic scholars placed Baghdad among the finest cities in the world by innovating what we today perceive as some of the most fundamental learning principles. Leaders of their time, Islamic scholars were responsible for the marketplace as well as answers to some pragmatic questions — all of which required the best minds to rise to the call. The call was heeded by many people — resulting in Christian, Jewish and Muslim Scholars under one umbrella of academic scholarship, all on a pursuit of a parallel goal of academic perfection. As the pursuit began, Muslims saw no paradox between their faith and the laws governing the natural world.
The Islamic Golden Age is traditionally dated from the 8th-13th centuries, a time that the mainstream world has sometimes depicted as the “Dark Ages.” Dark for whom? With the little technological tools available at the time, the amount of Islamic artists, engineers, scholars, poets, philosophers, geographers and traders contributing to agriculture, art, economics, industry, law, literature, philosophy, science and technology was immense.
Among the most notable people, Ali Ibn-Sina (a.k.a. Avicenna) was a Persian polymath, who initiated several great innovations. In his book The Canon of Medicine, which was the first book to deal with experimental medicine and efficacy tests, he laid out the rules and principles for testing the effectiveness of new drugs and medications, which still form the basis of clinical pharmacology today. The first person to present the earliest description of pulmonary circulation, and in due course, going on to initially describe the pulse was Ibn-Al Nafis, a Muslim Arab. Adopting the efficient Hindu decimal system, with the nine numerals and zero we use today, the Arabs, on the basis of Euclid’s geometry and Ptolemy’s astronomy, devised algebra and trigonometry thus making enormous observations about the universe in which we live today.
Howard R. Turner, in his book Science in Medieval Islam, wrote, “Muslim artists and scientists, princes and laborers together made a unique culture that has directly and indirectly influenced societies on every continent.” History makes it apparent that Islamic civilizations have shaped the very lives that are being lived today, and have done so with successful leadership and scholarship, not through ignorant and intolerant dictatorship. As De Lacy O’Leary wrote in his book, Islam at the Crossroads, “That the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of the sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myths that historians have ever repeated.”