By Dr. Zakir Hussain
The Latinisation of legendary Muslim stalwarts’ names – whose pathbreaking contributions in different aspects of human life enlightened the world – has probably eroded the sense of affinity the Muslims ought to have with their legendary coreligionists.
The incessant decline of Muslims on one hand and the process of orientalism effected the whole set-up, leading to changes in names and nomenclature. Today, only a small number of Muslims are aware of the real names of many top Muslim scientists, philosophers, scholars whose inventions served as base for further development in science and arts, theology and philosophy.
Take for example, Ibne Sina (the father of modern medicine) is known as Avencena , Ibne Rushed is Averroes, Ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi (father of Aljebra ) became Algorithmi , Abū al-Qāsim al-Zahrāwī (the father of modern surgery in the world) had been made Abulcasis, Jābir ibn Ḥayyān (the father of Chemistry ) is known as Geber and Abu Nasr Al-Farabi became Alpharabius.
Presumably, these names had been Latinised to conceal their Islamic identity. As a result, few Muslims know about them because they don’t read 800 years of history which is aptly called ‘Muslim Period’ when they ruled the world. Changing Muslim scholars’ names made the West easy to declare 800 years of Muslim rule as ‘Dark Age’.
They also changed the names of prophets mentioned in the Quran. So ordinary Muslims did not even associate with their terminologies.
However, one thing has been positive about the growing Islamophobia in the world. Curious minds of all communities across the world in general and West in particular have started digging out our past, including Islam and nearly 1000 years of Muslim rule. Some are really amazed, while some have now started doubting and questioning the rumours. Many of them now writing truth about Islam and Muslims.
However, it is again painful to understand few Muslims are into the research. They will again be dependent upon others to know the glorious past.
Unlike in past, the Muslims today cannot afford to be in deep slumber and allow others to tamper with the Muslim history. They should understand their responsibility in the age orientalism without being victim of Occidentalism.
Three steps must be immediately included in our agenda.
1-Encourage Muslims to study history. The new education policy which allows interdisciplinary approach makes it easy. Now it will allow a person doing medical engineering, commerce or humanities, natural science, social science or any subject and choose other subject of other discipline. As it has been popular in US and western education system. Interdisciplinary approach. So we can choose Islamic history as one subject while we pursue natural science.
2-Read Quran and Hadith. Don’t rely on mouth saying and commit to never forward or quote any Islamic content without verifying or confirming from scholars. If do forward or quote without cross checking, we are digging our graves by our own hands.
3-Try to form groups scholars and knowledgeable persons – the number could around 50 – and start portals, especially in Hindi and Urdu.
Fatwa issued against printing press by clergy during Ottoman empire pushed Muslims centuries back. Let it not happen this again. We must move according to the time and grow with enlightened opinions on new development than sitting and watching what others are doing to damage us.
Even some opportunists of our community too have joined hands with the enemy. Only one example I can cite here. When in most of the Muslim countries triple talaq is banned or condition applied why we remained dump so long. Our silence, I call it reluctance, gave the govt opportunity to intervene. If we behave like this, others will intervene and impose on us their versions.
Time has come for action, not to keep accusing one another on every trivial issue. Start portals in popular lingua franca. English speaking section is more or less aware of issues. But the illiterate and poor people are ignorant. Are we ready to play constructive role? Our pronouncement should be “from community building to nation building. This will save the entire humanity from falling back to parochialism.
Dr Zakir Husain is Research Fellow at Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA), New Delhi. He is a political economist. His research focus is Middle East, Pakistan, US and China.