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Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2020-09-07 00:07:30
Typefacelarge in Small

Even before Sept. 11 forced the West to face the cultural friction between it and the Arab/Islamic world, there was an unwarranted sense of superiority. The renowned Italian journalist and interviewer Oriana Fallaci wrote Arab culture off as a few interesting architectural flourishes and the Quran. Apparently, it's easy to forget that history is cyclical and the roles were once reversed. A millennium ago, while the West was shrouded in darkness, Islam enjoyed a golden age. Lighting in the streets of Cordoba when London was a barbarous pit; religious tolerance in Toledo while pogroms raged from York to Vienna. As custodians of our classical legacy, Arabs were midwives to our Renaissance. Their influence, however alien it might seem, has always been with us, whether it's a cup of steaming hot Joe or the algorithms in computer programs. A little magnanimity is called for.

"Wise and ignorant are at one in appreciating history, since in its external aspect it is no more than narratives telling us how circumstances revolutionize the affairs of men, but in its internal aspect it involves an accurate perception of the causes and origins of phenomena. For this reason it is based on and deeply rooted in philosophy, worthy to be reckoned among its branches."Human society in its various manifestations shows certain inherent features by which all narratives must be controlled . The historian who relies solely upon tradition and who has no thorough understanding of the principles governing the normal course of events, the fundamental rules of the art of government, the nature of civilization and the characteristics of human society is seldom secure against straying from the highway of truth . All traditional narratives must invariably be referred back to general principles and controlled by reference to fundamental rules."

Necessity being the mother of invention, the Arabs were the first to distill water, for long journeys across areas (such as the Sahara) where supplies were uncertain. Their experiments with various chemical compounds also gave us ethanol alcohol, sulfuric acid, ammonia (have you ever noticed the uncanny resemblance between Mr. Clean and the genie in "Thief of Baghdad"?) and mercury. In applied chemistry they discovered better and more efficient ways for tanning leather and forging metals. Messing around with mortars and pestles produced camphor, pomades and syrups.

"Wise and ignorant are at one in appreciating history, since in its external aspect it is no more than narratives telling us how circumstances revolutionize the affairs of men, but in its internal aspect it involves an accurate perception of the causes and origins of phenomena. For this reason it is based on and deeply rooted in philosophy, worthy to be reckoned among its branches."Human society in its various manifestations shows certain inherent features by which all narratives must be controlled . The historian who relies solely upon tradition and who has no thorough understanding of the principles governing the normal course of events, the fundamental rules of the art of government, the nature of civilization and the characteristics of human society is seldom secure against straying from the highway of truth . All traditional narratives must invariably be referred back to general principles and controlled by reference to fundamental rules."

Necessity being the mother of invention, the Arabs were the first to distill water, for long journeys across areas (such as the Sahara) where supplies were uncertain. Their experiments with various chemical compounds also gave us ethanol alcohol, sulfuric acid, ammonia (have you ever noticed the uncanny resemblance between Mr. Clean and the genie in "Thief of Baghdad"?) and mercury. In applied chemistry they discovered better and more efficient ways for tanning leather and forging metals. Messing around with mortars and pestles produced camphor, pomades and syrups.


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