By Dr Farrukh Saleem
The writer is an Islamabad-based freelance columnist.
Knowledge is power. Knowledge is 'possession of information, facts, ideas,
truths and principles.' If knowledge is power then who has knowledge has power.
If knowledge is information, facts and ideas then who possesses information,
facts and idea possesses power.
Imagine, when the Vikings were busy plundering Europe Al Khwarizmi was busy
producing mathematical knowledge (calculus of resolution and juxtaposition or
hisab al-jabr w'al-muqabala). Ibn Sina produced medical as well as philosophical
knowledge. Fatimid caliph Al-Hakim had set up Dar al-Hikmah or the House of
Knowledge. The Abbasids had set up a research institute called Bayt al-Hikma.
Jabir ibn Hayyan was the first chemist to have produced sulphuric acid. Al
Zahrawi became the 'Father of Modern Surgery'. Al Zarqali invented the astrolabe
(historical astronomical instrument).
When we were producing knowledge we were powerful. We overpowered Spain. We
overpowered Constantinople, Nimes (in France), North Africa, Cypress, Sardinia,
Sicily (Italy), Egypt, Jerusalem, Syria, Walachia (Romania), Serbia, Bosnia and
Herzegovina, Albania, Persia, Venice and Hungary (in that order). We occupied
Sicily for 264 years. Our occupation of Spain lasted for 700 years.
Alas, we stopped producing knowledge a thousand years ago. Then, the Ummah's
directors directed the Ummah to stop consuming knowledge produced by
Now we are powerless, absolutely powerless. Powerless because we produce no
knowledge. Powerless because we consider the consumption of knowledge produced
by non-Muslims a sinful activity. Powerless because we have failed to diffuse
knowledge. Powerless because we have failed to apply knowledge.
Just when we stopped producing knowledge they founded University of Bologna
(founded 1088) followed by the University of Paris in 1150, University of Oxford
1167, University of Cambridge 1209, University of Salamanca (Spain) 1218,
University of Montpellier (France) 1220, University of Naples 1222, University
of Toulouse (France) 1229, University Complutense de Madrid 1293, University of
Rome La Sapienze 1303, University of Pisa 1343, University of Vienna 1365,
University of Leipzig (Germany) 1409, University of Catania 1434, University of
Glasgow 1451, University of Copenhagen 1479 and University of Aberdeen 1494
(University of the Punjab was established in 1882 by the British Empire).
Fast forward to 2006. Question: Who has produced the most knowledge so far this
year? Answer: Harvard University; founded 1636, the oldest institution of higher
learning in the US (as measured by 'highly cited researchers', 'articles in
science citation index', 'alumni and staff winning Nobel Prizes' and 'articles
indexed in major citation indices'). Next to Harvard is the University of
Cambridge (formed 1209).
Imagine, of the top-100 universities on the face of the planet, 51 are based in
the United States; less than five per cent of the world population with 51 per
cent of the top-100 universities. Imagine, of the top 400 universities not a
single -- not even one -- is in a Muslim-majority country. Amazingly, of the top
500 universities on the face of the planet six are based in Israel and two in
India (Source: Academic Ranking of World Universities 2006; conducted by an
institute run by the Ministry of Education and Shanghai Government;
Why are we powerless? When was the last time we invented something? When and
what was our last contribution to human civilisation? Is this also a Jewish
conspiracy? Perhaps, an American one? Did the Jews stop us from producing
knowledge? Did the Americans stop us from applying knowledge?