In South Africa, the 24th September is a public holiday, knows as Heritage Day. A day to celebrate out culture, and traditions. Its also a time to celebrate how we’ve successfully intersected and meshed different parts of what would look like contrasting heritage, to bring about something new, and authentically South African. And while we are part of this society, we belong to a bigger community as well. The Family of Islam!
While some might argue that emphasising the past is not of importance, and we should instead look to the future, I believe its of utmost importance to recognise, study and understand where our ancestors have come from, in order to draw from their experiences and move forward in a more enlightened manner.
Many Muslim discoveries and scientific breakthroughs are not properly accredited, and the more common message of Muslims of modern-day news reporting seems to be a very biased unequal, and judgemental one. (And I’m not discussing politics here, just making a point) How then, can we inspire ourselves and our children, without first learning about our own scholars and their accomplishments and achievements?
Muslim civilisation stretched from Spain to China. From the 7th century onwards, men and women of different cultures built on knowledge from ancient civilisations, making breakthroughs that have left their mark on our world.
Did you know:
•That in 1924, a manuscript revealed that a forgotten 13th-century Arab scholar had correctly explained a crucial aspect of how our blood moves around the body?
• That it was physician and scholar Ibn Sina, who advised against splinting a fractured limb straight away, but recommended waiting until five days later – a procedure now universally adopted?
•Al-Zahrawi, a 10th-century surgeon, was the first person to use catgut systematically to stitch internal incisions?
•13th-century doctor Ibn al-Nafis, who was the first to explicitly state that the blood moves from the heart, transits through the lungs to mix with air and returns to the heart
And these are only a few of the medical contributions of Muslim scholars…
Have you heard of:
•Ibn Battuta, who left home in 1325 to perform a pilgrimage to Mecca, and returned three decades later having explored the limits of Muslim lands?
•Discoveries in geology and geography made by scholars like Al-Biruni, who predicted the circumference of the earth and studied the tides in India and wrote 200 books?
•The colourful story of Kamal al-Din al-Farisi’s quest to unlock the mystery of the rainbow?
These stories can be more inspiring to our Little People can those of ‘Robinson Crusoe’ and ‘Around the world in 80 Days’
Muslims were leaders in so many different areas and fields of interest!
*Master-architect Sinan, who built the earthquake-resistant Suleymaniye Mosque in 16th-century Istanbul, designing the interior with a filter room to cleanse smoke from the air and collect the soot for ink-making.
*Towns of Muslim civilisation were surprisingly advanced, with paved roads, litter collection, covered sewers, and in Cordoba, even street lighting.
*There was detailed town planning a thousand years ago, in which public life centred around the mosque, market and public baths, with residential surrounding areas.
*You could tell the time from the Lions Fountain in the 14th-century Alhambra Palace in Muslim Spain
We can’t rely on others to glorify and speak in complimentary manners about out history, if we ourselves do not make an attempt to learn it!
This Heritage Day, my Little People and I will be celebrating by having, boerewors rolls (a type of South African sausage, in a roll; similar to hotdog), and Falooda(a type of milky Indian dessert) and reading about the Al-Hambra Palace in Spain. This way combining our South African, Indian roots, and emphasising our Islamic foundation. We also plan on reading through a few surahs in English, because there is no greater Islamic heritage than the miracle of Quraan!
*Topic inspired by a very special friend ♡