Can Waqf-e-Nau revive the golden age of Islam?

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Hamaad Muin Ahmad, Medical student, Czech Republic

The eighth century to the fourteenth century world witnessed an exponential increase in advancements in science, particularly in the Islamic empire, an empire stretching from Spain to Persia.

Whenever an empire makes social and economic advancements, there is always a group effort involved. In the case of the Islamic empire, numerous scientific game changers were responsible. Individuals like Al-Khwarizmi, the founder of algebra; Al Zahrawi, developer of several surgical procedures and the Persian originating physician Avicenna (Ibn-Sina), author of The Canon of Medicine.

Can Waqf-e-Nau revive the golden age of Islam? Is this question preposterous or is it easily attainable? Indeed, it is very possible.

This is one of the many reasons why this blessed scheme was launched in 1987, for the Waqf-e-Nau to be at the front line of every field. Our aim should not be any lower than this.

For the sake of argument, let us say that today, each occupational field has an Ahmadi Muslim Waqf-e-Nau working in it. The world would not fail to see that this is not a coincidence. Should this happen, and Insha-Allah it shall, the world will be held on the shoulders of dedicated servants of Allah.

Originally, in medieval times, Baghdad was the world centre of knowledge. Hence, Arabic was the central language of education in those days. Why was this so? Why was it only Islam focusing so much on education?

In a hadith, the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, has said, “You should seek knowledge [wherever you go], even if you have to go as far as China”. Therefore, seeking knowledge was a central part of Islamic teachings.

In another place, our beloved Holy Prophetsa is reported to have said, “Allah has not sent down a disease without also sending its cure.” Certainly, this motivated Muslim scientists to go out in the world and make scientific breakthroughs, whilst acting upon the true teachings of Islam.

During the lifetime of our beloved master, the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa, he frequently sent letters to major political leaders at the time. Letters destined for the Jews were translated by Hazrat Zaidra bin Thabit from Arabic into Hebrew and Persian.

During the Umayyad period (661-750 AD), translation of Greek literature into Arabic took place. This provided Muslims the capability to investigate and extrapolate the deep knowledge the Greeks possessed. The translation of various empires’ literature continued.

From the early 800s AD, a vast amount of money was invested in a new project: The Translation Movement. In this revolutionary period, a man called Ibn Wahshiyyah (ninth to tenth century AD) performed a legendary task. He translated Egyptian hieroglyphs into Arabic by providing the conversion of hieroglyphic signs into Arabic phonetic letters. Despite common thought of Egyptology being first deciphered in the 19th century, it was actually achieved by early Muslims, over 1,000 years before the Western world were able to do it.

The Muslims would not feel ashamed by the idea of gaining knowledge from other cultures. They were different. They did not want to sit in seclusion arrogantly in their empire whilst knowing that there was an entire world to be discovered. They sought to seek it.

Muhammad ibn Musa Al-Khwarizmi (780-850 CE) was born in modern-day Uzbekistan. After his basic education, he moved to Baghdad and was appointed the astronomer and head of the library of the House of Wisdom in Baghdad. Here, Al-Khwarizmi wrote the book Al-Kitab al-mukhtasar fi hisab al-jabr wal-muqabala in 820 CE (The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing).

In this book, the first idea of algebra was described. The word derives from the name al-jabr, meaning restoration referring to balancing both sides of an equation. Students who have studied algebra in high school would know that this is the basis of this mathematical technique. The world was so intrigued by this new technique that it was later translated into Latin in 1145 CE. Little did we know that it was created by a fellow Muslim scientist.

Abu al-Qasim Khalaf ibn al-Abbas al-Zahrawi (936-1013 CE), popularly known as Al Zahrawi, did not receive the title “The Father of Surgery” for any old reason. His book, Kitab al-Tasrif (The Method of Medicine) was written in the year 1000 CE and served as a strict guideline for all surgeons for the next 500 years. Again, due to Muslims of that time captivating the attention of the Romans of the Byzantine Empire, it was translated into Latin and kickstarted the imperfect science of surgery, which is still progressing to this day.

Donald Campbell, a historian on Arabic medicine, writes:

“The chief influence of Albucasis [Al Zahrawi] on the medical system of Europe was that his lucidity and method of presentation awakened a prepossession in favour of Arabic literature among the scholars of the West; the methods of Albucasis eclipsed those of Galen and maintained a dominant position in medical Europe for five hundred years, i.e. long after it had passed its usefulness. He, however, helped to raise the status of surgery in Christian Europe; in his book on fractures and luxations, he states that ‘this part of surgery has passed into the hands of vulgar and uncultivated minds, for which reason it has fallen into contempt.’ The surgery of Albucasis became firmly grafted on Europe after the time of Guy de Chauliac (1368 CE).”

By 700 CE, the Islamic empire was taking its first steps towards mass production. In their world, where knowledge of materials and metals was ever-growing, one particular technique prevailed: Alchemy. In those times, in medieval Europe, Alchemy was thought to be an act of magic and sorcery. However, the keen Muslims knew better. They utilised chemistry. In the late 700s CE, a form of currency was required. Muslims turned to alchemists to produce coins. Their process was so intricate and precise that they used to engrave the Kalima on coins.

By now, we are knowledgeable enough that if any word begins with “al”, it is most likely to be Arabic derived.

Another well-known chemistry term is Alkali. This lays the basic foundations of modern day chemistry. It is derived from the word Al-Kali, meaning the ashes. In those days, Muslim scientists obtained alkali from the ashes of roots of some specific plants. Surely, we know now what the Muslims would do after having this knowledge. They would develop it further. Islamic chemists discovered that they could change the colour of glass using newly discovered chemicals like manganese salts.

Today, in the Western world, almost every day we witness this being used by Christians. Their stain glassed windows of churches would not be coloured, had it not been for the genius of Muslims.

All these scientific advancements took hold for a simple reason. The Muslims of that time adhered to the true teachings of Islam. The reason why this golden age declined was simple – they steered off the right path.

In chapter 32, verse 6 of the Holy Quran, Allah Almighty says:

یُدَبِّرُ الۡاَمۡرَ مِنَ السَّمَآءِ اِلَی الۡاَرۡضِ ثُمَّ یَعۡرُجُ اِلَیۡہِ فِیۡ یَوۡمٍ کَانَ مِقۡدَارُہٗۤ اَلۡفَ سَنَۃٍ مِّمَّا تَعُدُّوۡنَ

“He will plan the Divine Ordinance from the heaven unto the earth, then shall it go up to Him in a day, the duration of which is a thousand years according to what you reckon.”

In this verse, reference has been made to a very serious crisis that was destined to come over Islam. Islam was to go through a period of sustained progress and prosperity during the first three centuries of its life. The Holy Prophetsa has been reported to have alluded to this fact in a very well-known saying:

خَیْرُ الْقُرُوْنِ قَرْنِی۔ ثُمَّ الَّذِینَ یَلُوْنَھُمْ، ثُمَّ الَّذِینَ یَلُونَھُمْ۔۔۔الخ

“The best century (for Islam) is the one in which I live in, then the next century, then the century after that. Then there will spread falsehood at the hands of people who will take pride in their wealth and riches and will grow fat on the earnings of others” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Shahadat).

Just as the Holy Prophetsa said, the very same happened, which is why these revolutionary scientists were only around for a few centuries after the birth of Islam. Furthermore, returning to the verse stated above, Allah Almighty says, “The duration of which is a thousand years”. It is to this period of a thousand years that reference has been made when the Promised Messiah would come.

So, let’s do the maths. The Holy Prophetsa was alive in the seventh century. He talks about three blessed centuries, i.e. up to the end of the ninth century, then if we add 1,000 years to this, we reach the end of the 19th century, which is the exact time of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’sas appearance, the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi.

So currently, according to Hadith and the Quran, we are living in a prosperous time of Islam due to the new dawn of Ahmadiyyat, just as the ground-breaking scientists were during “The golden age of Islam”. They made their simple ideas a reality, which evidently changed the world.

So why can’t we be the ones to reignite this blessed era?

In “Pre-Zia” Pakistan, Ahmadis were at the top of their secular fields. Ahmadi politicians, scientists and military lieutenants gained the attention of Pakistani society. Hazrat Sir Chaudhry Muhammad Zafarulla Khanra was, as well a companion of the Promised Messiahas, the first foreign minister of Pakistan and served as the president of the UN General Assembly. Professor Mohammad Abdus Salam Sahib is very well known as the first Pakistani and first Muslim to receive the Nobel Prize in physics.

The success of Ahmadis in Pakistan worried the government. In response, Ordinance XX was put into place, stripping Ahmadis of their right to practice Islam and alienated all Ahmadis from society.

However, now Allah the Almighty has introduced this holy scheme. Waqifeen-e-Nau are spread throughout the world and, Insha-Allah, will create a huge change in the world.

The reason why this article was written was due to the dream and wish of our beloved Khalifa. On 28 October 2016 in Baitul Islam Mosque, Toronto, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V, may Allah strengthen his hands, dedicated his entire Friday Sermon for the Waqf-e-Nau around the world.

All readers are urged to listen to this Friday Sermon. Again, I emphasise, all Waqf-e-Nau must listen to this Friday Sermon as it serves as a basis on how we should spend our lives. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa states:

“Some Waqifeen-e-Nau have more of an interest in particular fields, and when they ask me, taking into account their interest, I allow them to study [in that particular field]. But here, I wish to inform students that they should pursue various fields of scientific research – and this includes Waqifeen-e-Nau and other students.

“If we produce the best scientists in various fields of scientific research, then in the future, Ahmadi Muslims will be the ones to provide religious knowledge. And where the world will be in need of you for religious knowledge, they will also be in need of you for secular knowledge. In this context, Waqifeen-e-Nau will have secular jobs, but the purpose of their work and knowledge will be to demonstrate the oneness of God Almighty and the spread of His religion.”

May Allah enable all Waqifeen-e-Nau to keep the true teachings of Islam close and dear to their hearts. May He illuminate our hearts with knowledge from the Divine. May He bless this scheme so abundantly that in the future, people look at us and wish to be part of this. May He infinitely exalt our Jamaat to new, unforeseen heights so that we may save this world and mankind from the pit of destruction. Amin!

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