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Bringing to fore the glory days of Islam

10/18/2006 11:51 PM

By Abbas Al Lawati, Staff Reporter  of Gulf News

Dubai: A group of academics are set to reverse what has been termed as a historical "amnesia" of 1,000 years in the West's account of world history a period known in the Muslim world as the glory days of Islam.

The ambitious project, backed by the British foreign office, aims to contest the very notion of a period that is known in the West as the Dark Ages, and highlight what has been called by Prince Charles of Wales as the "indebtedness" of Western civilisation to the Muslim world.

"We are told that nothing happened between the Roman Empire and [the Renaissance]. How can we accept that humanity went to sleep for that long?" asked Salim Al Hassani, the Iraqi-born British professor of mechanical engineering behind Muslim Heritage, which held a lecture about 1001 Muslim inventions at the Madinat Theatre on Tuesday, also featuring an address by the British consul general in Dubai, John Hawkins.

The term 'Dark Ages', Al Hassani told Gulf News, is losing ground and the period is more commonly referred to as the 'Middle Ages', which according to him is also misleading.

"'Middle Ages' refers to a period between two ages. Why don't we just give that period a name?" he asked, adding that the only appropriate name for the period would be the 'Islamic' or 'Muslim' age. Al Hassani said it is time for historians in the West to give due credit to Muslim academics.

Richard Brown, spokesperson for Muslim Heritage, said the response the programme has received has been overwhelming. A recent exhibition held by Muslim Heritage in Manchester, UK, attracted 80,000 visitors and was extended from three months to six, due to popular demand.

According to Brown, there is growing interest in the project's work in the West. Interestingly, he said, the largest number of requests for the exhibition came from the United States.

"'Middle Ages' refers to a period between two ages. Why don't we just give that period a name?" asks Al Hassani.





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