Freethinkers of Islam
Today Islamic countries are the most backward countries in the world. If it was not for the oil they would also be the poorest countries. But the Muslims keep recalling the great scientific luminaries of the so-called “golden age” of Islam. They name great minds like Zakaria Razi, Abu Ali Sina, Ibn Rushd, etc who have contributed so much to the science and human understanding and pose the questions that have become cliché, “If Islam was wrong, could these great men not have noticed it?” “Isn’t it enough proof of the truth of Islam that so many great minds have been Muslims?”
However, the truth is that these men, though born within Islam, were not Muslims.
”Zakariya ar Razi (865-925) for example was perhaps the greatest freethinker in the whole of Islamic world. He was one of the great physicians of all times. He wrote over two hundred books on a wide variety of subjects. He is the author of the monumental encyclopedia al Hawi, on which he worked for fifteen years. Ar Razi was an empiricist, who instead of following the standard procedures dogmatically carefully recorded the progress of his patients, and the effects of the treatment on them. He wrote one of the earliest treatises on infectious diseases—smallpox and measles.
Almost all of Ar Razi’s philosophical books are destroyed. His views on religion in general and Islam in particular earned him public condemnation for blasphemy. Only bits and pieces of his refutation of revealed religion are left in a refutation of his book by an Ismaili author. From this, it is clear that the greatest mind of the Islamic golden age was not sympathetic towards Islam at all. Here are his audacious thoughts on religion:
“All men are by nature equal and equally endowed with the faculty of reason that must not be disparaged in favour of blind faith; reason further enables men to perceive scientific truths in an immediate way. The prophets—these billy goats with long beards, as Ar Razi disdainfully describes them—cannot claim any intellectual or spiritual superiority. These billy goats pretend to come with a message from God, all the while exhausting themselves in spouting their lies, and imposing on the masses blind obedience to the “words of the master.” The miracles of the prophets are impostures, based on trickery, or the stories regarding them are lies. The falseness of what all the prophets say is evident in the fact that they contradict one another: one affirms what the other denies, and yet each claims to be the sole depository of the truth; thus the New Testament contradicts the Torah, the Koran the New Testament. As for the Koran, it is but an assorted mixture of ‘absurd and inconsistent fables,’ which has ridiculously been judged inimitable, when, in fact, its language, style, and its much-vaunted ‘eloquence’ are far from being faultless. Custom, tradition, and intellectual laziness lead men to follow their religious leaders blindly. Religions have been the sole cause of the bloody wars that have ravaged mankind. Religions have also been resolutely hostile to philosophical speculation and to scientific research. The so-called holy scriptures are worthless and have done more harm than good, whereas the writings of the ancients like Plato, Aristotle, Euclid, and Hippocrates have rendered much greater service to humanity.”
“The people who gather round the religious leaders are either feeble-minded, or they are women and adolescents. Religion stifles truth and fosters enmity. If a book in itself constitutes a demonstration that it is true revelation, the treatises of geometry, astronomy, medicine and logic can justify such a claim much better than the Quran”
The next great luminary of the Islamic world is Abu Ali Sina, known as Avicenna in the West, his “major contribution to medical science was his famous book al-Qanun, known as the “Canon” in the West. The Qanun fi al-Tibb is an immense encyclopedia of medicine extending over a million words. It surveyed the entire medical knowledge available from ancient and Muslim sources. Due to its systematic approach, formal perfection as well as its intrinsic value, the Qanun superseded Razi’s Hawi, Ali Ibn Abbas’s Maliki, and even the works of Galen, and remained supreme for six centuries” (1) This book was taught as the textbook to the students of Medicine in the University of Bologna until the 17th Century.
“Avicenna’s philosophy was based on a combination of Aristotelianism and Neoplatonism. Contrary to orthodox Islamic thought, Avicenna denied personal immortality, God’s interest in individuals, and the creation of the world in time. Because of his views, Avicenna became the main target of an attack on such philosophy by the Islamic philosopher al-Ghazali and was even called apostate.”( 2 )
Next is Al-Ma’arri, (973-1057) the greatest Syrian poet. He referred to religion as “noxious weeds” and called it a “fable invented by the ancients”, worthless except for those who exploit the credulous masses. Ma’arri’s contempt of all religions including Islam is clear from the following verses.
“Do not suppose the statements of the prophets to be true. Men lived comfortably till they came and spoiled life. The “sacred books” are only such a set of idle tales as any age could have and indeed did actually produce.”
— Al-Ma’arri, poet, 973-1057
And in another place:
“Hanifs ( Muslims) are stumbling, Christians all astray
Jews wildered, Magians far on error’s way.
We mortals are composed of two great schools
Enlightened knaves or else religious fools.”
And as for the prophets he wrote:
The Prophets, too, among us come to teach,
Are one with those who from the pulpit preach;
They pray, and slay, and pass away, and yet
Our ills are as the pebbles on the beach.
Mohammed or Messiah! Hear thou me,
The truth entire nor here nor there can be;
How should our God who made the sun and the moon
Give all his light to One, I cannot see.
Another great mind of the Islamic world is Omar Khayyam. He was one of the greatest mathematicians, astronomers, and poets of Iran whose Ruba’iyat (quatrains) are translated into most of the languages of the world and who has earned a universal recognition by everyone. Khayyam was an epicurean philosopher, scornful of religion and in particular of Islam.
Edward Fitzgerald sums up the delightful nature of Omar and his philosophy thus:
“…Omar’s Epicurean Audacity of thought and Speech caused him to be regarded askance in his own time and country. He is said to have been especially hated and dreaded by the Sufis, whose practice he ridiculed, and whose faith amounts to little more than his own, when strips of the Mysticism and formal recognition of Islamism under which Omar would not hide.”
Khayyam did not believe in any other world except this one. He was more concerned to enjoy the simple pleasures of life than confused world of the unknown. He was an agnostic par excellence “preferring rather to soothe the soul through the senses into acquiescence with things as he saw them, than to perplex it with vain disquietude after what they might be.” (see reference)
Here are some examples Omar’s quatrains translated by Fitzgerald
Some for the Glories of This World; and some
Sigh for the Prophet’s Paradise to come;
Ah, take the Cash, and let the Credit go
Nor heed the rumble of a distant Drum!
Why, all the Saints and Sages who discuss’d
Of the Two Worlds so learnedly, are thrust
Like foolish Prophets forth; their Words to Scorn
Are scatter’d, and their Mouths are stopt with Dust.
Dreaming when Dawn’s Left Hand was in the Sky
I heard a Voice within the Tavern cry:
‘Awake, my Little ones, and fill the Cup
Before Life’s Liquor in its Cup be dry.’
Next of these great minds of whom Muslims brag so much is Ibn Rushd.
“Ibn Rushd was an important philosopher and scientist, known in the Western world as Averroes. He lived from 1126 to 1198 in Andalusia and Marrakesh. His influence on European thought tends to be forgotten by Arabs and Europeans alike. But in the 13th and 14th century Averroism was as influential as was Marxism in the 19th century. Ibn Rushd worked as a mediator between the Arabic and the Western world by commenting and interpreting Greek philosophers such as Aristotle and Plato, making them accessible to Arabic culture. In many of his works, he also tried to mediate between philosophy and religion. Religious leaders did not always praise his works; he was condemned for heresy by the Christian, the Jewish and the Islamic orthodoxy and his works were frequently banished and burnt.” ( 3 )
Ibn Rushd was called to Marrakesh to work as a physician for the Caliph there but fell out of favor with the Caliph due to the opposition that theologians had raised against his writings. He was accused of heresy, interrogated and banned to Lucena, close to Cordova. At the same time, the Caliph ordered the books of the philosopher to be burnt, with the exception of his works on medicine, arithmetic, and elementary astronomy.
The works of Ibn Rushd also aroused admiration in Europe, even among those theologians who saw a danger for religious faith in his writings. In the XIIIth century, Ibn Rushd was condemned by bishops from Paris, Oxford and Canterbury for reasons similar to those that had caused his condemnation by the orthodox Muslims in Spain.
Abu Yaqub, the Caliph of Morocco, called him to his capital and appointed him as his physician in place of Ibn Tufail. His son Yaqub al-Mansur retained him for some time but soon Ibn Rushd’s views on theology and philosophy drew the Caliph’s wrath. All his books, barring strictly scientific ones, were burnt and he was banished to Lucena. However, as a result of intervention of several leading scholars he was forgiven after about four years and recalled to Morocco in 1198; but he died towards the end of the same year.
Obviously these great men upon whose shoulders rests the glory of the golden age of Islam were not Muslims and even were critical of it. Yet the Muslims who persecuted them in their lives are not abashed to list them among their own, now that they are dead and cannot defend themselves. Now these Islamic apologists brag about these luminaries and thus try to gain acceptance and credibility. “Could all these great minds be wrong?” is what they keep raising.
Today the Islamists are set to conquer the West and their attention is focused on the white man. But the “logical” arguments of convincing them of the truth of Islam have not changed. They are still using the belief of others as the proof of Islam. Among their big stars is of course the ever-appearing name of Cat Stevens (now Yusuf Islam) and to persuade the white women that Islam is good for them they have Maryam Jameelah to name.
But these people were not scientific minds. In fact there are no scientists that support the jumbo mumbo of Quran. Any school child can see the gross errors of Quran just by reading that book. So to counter this deficiency Muslims have bought two Western scientists to support the absurdities of Quran and call that book scientific. Dr. Maurice Bucaille and Dr. Keith Moore were just what Islamists needed. These two men who quoted the most bizarre verses of the Quran claiming that they are in accordance with modern scientific discoveries with logic that would make a child laugh, and said that Quran is miraculous, never became Muslims. This raises the question of their sincerity. But they loved enough the money that the oil rich Arabs offered them to step on their professional integrity and write absurd thesis about the scientific nature of Quran.
Why should two “doctors” write such stupid books is clear: They liked money more than their professional integrity. But why should Muslims hire them for such a task? The answer is that they know that the testimony of people, especially if they are famous or carry the title of doctor in front of their names, about Islam goes a long way in influencing others to become Muslims. They can use the same old argument “All these people must have seen something in Islam” and lure the young and unlearned into blindly accepting it.
The importance of the conversion of the Westerners to Islam for the Islamists is such that if there are no such conversions they invent them. They would circulate rumors that this or that celebrity has converted to Islam. Since these claims are just rumors no one will report them officially or take responsibility for them but they have their effect on the less informed investigator of Islam and will give him/her more confidence to take the plunge and take his shahadah.
Some of the most famous names alleged by Muslims propagandists to have converted to Islam are; Neil Armstrong, Jaques Cousteau, Michael Jackson, Maurice Bucaille, King Offa, Abdu’l-Ahad Dawud (Professor David Benjamin Keldani), a former Catholic Bishop?, and The Coptic Cardinal Abu Ishaq
In the ridiculous story of Neil Armstrong’s conversion, it is said that he heard a strange sound when he landed on the moon. When later on the earth he heard the same song, he enquired and found out it was Adan (the Islamic call to prayer) and hence accepted Islam at once. It is amazing that some people are so naïf to make such tales and other so foolhardy to believe in them. The truth is that none of the above is Muslim or has shown any interest to become one.
The stories of the conversion of the Westerners to Islam have another effect on Muslims themselves. It strengthens their faith and makes them more zealous and fanatical. These stories are shared joyfully among the Muslims of birth and it gives a new breath of life into their languishing faith. Muslims do not care whether these stories are true or false. They don’t think it is up to them to make an independent search of the truth and find the facts on their own. If they hear stories of the conversion of others it is enough proof to them of the truth of Islam. And the old mantra rings in their ears once more: “not all these people can be wrong”. Then they go about applying the atrocities that are prescribed in Quran and hadith as they already have got the confirmation that they need to live the teachings of Islam to the fullest.