Navigation key

The Article Archives

The Muslim Rebuttal and the Islamization of Knowledge

February 4, 2008
tweet this  share this on facebook  

Last week I briefly summarized the differences between the Christian and Islamic worldview and their corresponding effects in society and culture. Suffice it to say that the Muslim response to my commentary was less than “agreeable.”

A more cordial Muslim reader from Turkey wrote:

No doubt, the Arabs and the Muslims in general are not living up to their religion and are suffering for it but your comparisons are self-serving to prove that only Christianity is responsible for Western progress. …The Mongol invasion, the colonial exploitation after the decline and defeat of the Ottoman Empire brought the Muslim world to its present state. Islam encourages literacy, frugality and the acquisition of knowledge from any source. Civilizations fall into decline and it was the Islamic culture that preserved knowledge when Europe was in the Dark Ages. Advances in science, mathematics, philosophy, sociology were characteristics of Islamic Civilization before it became stagnant for a number of reasons other than Islam.

This response reveals a number of increasingly popular myths that have resulted from a deliberate process by modern Muslims to “Islamize knowledge” in order to enlarge and elevate the place of Islam in history. Examples of this include claims that Muslims led the fields of science and medicine during the Middle Ages; Muslims founded the first hospitals; Muslim explorers reached America before Columbus, the Crusades were an unprovoked European assault on the peace-loving Muslims of the Holy Land, etc.

These themes are now being introduced into America’s public schools by means of various curriculums, including some, published by the Council on Islamic Education in conjunction with dawa, the Muslim doctrine of introducing “non-Muslims to accept the truth of Islam.” One website, reminds Muslims that “Schools are fertile grounds where the seeds of Islam can be sowed inside the hearts of non-Muslim students.”

You may recall that following 9/11, schools in California began requiring students to attend classes on Islam in which they were subjected to Islamized representations of Islam. Course work required students to learn the tenets of Islam, study the important figures of the faith, and adopt a Muslim name, Additionally, students memorized verses in the Qur’an, were taught to pray “in the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful” concluding with the chant, “Praise to Allah, Lord of Creation.”

So how does the response from my Turkish reader reveal this “Islamized knowledge?”

First, the victimization assumed in the phrase “the colonial exploitation after the decline and defeat of the Ottoman Empire brought the Muslim world to its present state” is the basis for much of the Islamic world’s animosity toward the West. This is essentially the jihadist argument that Western “oppression” is the cause of all that ails the Islamic world. For the Muslim, this is certainly more palatable than the idea that Islam itself may be a false and therefore inadequate interpretation of reality or worldview.

To say that Western expansion is the reason for the Islamic world’s failures is to admit the inadequacy of the Islamic worldview. Dynamic and productive cultures are never overcome by less dynamic, less creative and less productive cultures. Islamic culture achieved the peak of its productivity and expansion after 750 AD and was already in decline by the middle of the 13th century—a decline from which it has never recovered. Conversely, Christian Europe had already experienced the 12th century Renaissance, which would be followed by the Italian Renaissance of the 14th-17th centuries, the 16th century Protestant Reformation, the Enlightenment and so on.

All of these movements propelled Western civilization forward in many positive ways and the Christian ideological influence was a persistent reality despite what modern historical revisionists claim. Suffice it to say, the so-called “oppression” of the Islamic world by the West would be better described as a natural succession. The Western world simply passed the Islamic world by due to its inability to modernize.

In the past, the statement, “Islam encourages … the acquisition of knowledge from any source” might have been true however this has also been the limitation of Islamic science.   

While it is true that the Islamic world experienced some level of success in the areas of mathematics and science; this was due largely to the recovery and preservation of Classical Greek thought by Muslim scholars. However the Muslim approach to Greek learning was that it was something to be known rather than pursued and thus they were unable to progress Classical thought any further. It simply stopped where Greek learning ended.

The Greek approach to science, for example, was stagnated by empiricism, i.e. the mere observation of natural phenomenon. The weakness in Greek thought was the absence of theory, which went beyond observation to ask “why” the phenomenon occur and “what” are the causes. What little theory did exist was non-empirical. For example, Aristotle taught that the speed at which objects fall to earth is proportionate to their weight—that a stone twice as heavy will fall twice as fast.

However, Aristotle never actually tested his “theory” by tossing two stones off a nearby cliff! If he had he would have quickly proved his theory wrong. This was the fatal flaw in Greek learning and being that Islamic science continued in the same approach; it was the limitation to Islamic science.  So, while the Islamic world may “encourage the acquisition of knowledge from any source;” it is apparently unable to generate new knowledge.

It is the theoretical element of Western science that enabled its preeminence and this unique facet owes its existence to the Christian worldview. Why? Christianity produced faith in human reason to explore and understand an orderly universe that was created by a rational God. It was this fact that facilitated the Western eclipse of Islamic science.

With all due respect, the sooner Muslims awaken to the shortcomings of the Islamic interpretation of reality and stop blaming the West for its apparent failure, the sooner it will open the door to real and lasting progress as well as the Truth.

© 2008 by S. Michael Craven

Back to Top

Response from : Greg Williams  

February 4, 2008 10:55 AM

Mr. Craven

Once again an excellent, straightforward and provocative look at the "redefining and relativism of Truth" outside of Christianity! While 'Christianity' is certainly not innocent in its own past and at times forcing its Truth onto "adherents", for the most part it has thrived and prospered due to to the Laws of Love (Galatians and Romans 8 in particular)and of the Harvest from Gal. 6: 7 - 9. I include verse 7 for hopefully obvious reasons - it is our own "self-deception" as human beings that satan largely relies on to get us to believe, and then sow, in the "flesh"!

Having said that, as I'm sure you're aware as evidenced by your excellent essays and other writings on many issues, every "religion" outside the Faith and Relationship of Christianity and Christ is simply Humanism masked in some form. When you peel them down you will always find the human heart, mind, pride and flesh at the core - even if they express it in the name of a "god(s)" as their foundation for "truth", i.e., Humanistic relativism.

Isn't it interesting then that Islam follows much the same pattern of "indoctrination" through media and education that the Humanist apply and have been doing throughout history and extensively so with the onset of print and other audio/video media and public education since the early 20th Century! With both the Humanist (intentional and deliberate in Russia as pre-cursor to USSR and in US at about the same time - 1908 to be exact in US - and very close proximate timetable in Russia) and Islamic thought, the intent is to destroy the moorings and foundations of the Church and Christianity and, since they couldn't, at that time, directly attack the Church and marriage (as they were too strong) and to do so through an all-out assault on youth to get them to rebel against their parents (authority) and ultimately the Church and Christianity (God - Authority)! This was a very deliberate (and I might add, to this point, very successful) plan!

The trigger mechanism to do so - Sexual promiscuity of any/every kind! Your articles on this have been excellent as well! By the way, ungodly and thus unhealthy relationships and sexuality probably account directly and indirectly for about 90% of the diseases, ills and problems in our culture today - think satan knows what he's doing and what to attack?!?

Keep up the great work and thanks for all you do for the Kingdom of Christ! I believe we must prophetically call the Church back from the misconception of being just "saving stations" to the whole duty of leading people of all tribes, nations and tongues to Christ as Savior and Lord in order to build the Kingdom He has already established in every part of our lives and society!

God bless in Christ!

In His service

Greg Williams

Response from : Shannon M. Ross  

February 4, 2008 10:57 AM

I find it interesting, as a former middle school teacher who taught about the Islamic empires, how easily Islamn's dark side is erased from history books. The fascinating thing to me, was how all traces of Islam's violent past or forced conversions were presented. The textbooks made the jizya sound like a sales tax on a pop. They made it sound like Jews, Christians and Muslims sat around and lovingly talked philosophy, science and mathematics.
However, when I taught about the Byzantine Empire or even the Renaissance, the Church was vilified. The publisher Houghton-Mifflin went to great lengths to teach Islamic empires in a way which was palatable for all. Yet anytime Christianity was mentioned, it seemed to be done so with disdain. Continue to educate people and stay focused on Christ.

Response from : Jason Anderson  

February 4, 2008 11:03 AM

Absolutely fascinating article. Could you provide a brief bibliography for further study on these topics?

Response from : Gary McClintock  

February 4, 2008 11:05 AM

Question: Since, in your words, "Dynamic and productive cultures are never overcome by less dynamic, less creative and less productive cultures," why do we need to fear the usurping of our culture by that of the Muslims?

Your thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks,


Response from : Concerned  

February 4, 2008 12:57 PM

Excellent article. It's unfortunate that this very thing cannot or will not be said in secular media. The world is waking up to the truth but people are afraid to say it.

Hopefully your point won't be punctuated by a fatwah being pronounced to have you killed for insulting islam.

Thanks for your article and thoughts.

God Bless!

Response from : Janet  

February 4, 2008 3:00 PM

Your insight is wonderful and I pray for you when I read your articles.

Response from : Gerald K. Carrell  

February 4, 2008 4:42 PM

Dear Michael:

This is a very bold truth and is seldom told in arab circles. I wonder that my middle eastern brothers, who are so wise in many ways, are so slow to accept that which is truth. It is a rejection that is as old as the pharisaic traditions and probably older. The idea is that since we were once greater than the western world (see China, the Mayan calendar..) the old trumps the new and is the causation of all that is wrong in the world.

I think it stems from the rejection of Genesis 2 shown in Romans 3.23, all men have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.

It is easier, and part of human nature to blame what is outside your control as being responsible for your woes and your station. It is incredible that most people who accept this philosophy are quite content until they see someone else gaining or surpassing their station or situation.

In fact, it seems that when these individuals, whether they are hindu, mulsim, christian or budhist or taoist are all trapped in their own self pity. there is no way to help them because they do not want our help, nor do they want anyone else to receive help or get better off than them.

It is the easy way. Fellows who have chosen this route of thought to it's fullest development in history include Stalin, Lennnin, Hitler, Castro, the Ayatola Khomeni, Idi Amin (who was progressive in this respect) and others. These people would absolve themselves of any responsibility for their action or station. It is always someone else's fault they are in the boat they are in.

People who espouse the veiw that we control our own destinies include Muhatma Ghandi, Churchill, FDR, Ronald Reagan, John and Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa. Some of them were saint and some were bastards but they all held the view
the the world can be a better place.

This is important stuff, but it won't help my muslim friend who just lost his job after 25 years of working for the same firm. So I will leave it to the great debaters. It seems that the more I talk to them about truth the less they listen. In fact, most muslims, like most mormons, run from the truth whenever it is told.

Gerald K. Carrell

Response from : John Hubers  

February 4, 2008 11:18 PM

Michael, what I see in your writing is exactly what the Muslim critics have seen - that it is, indeed, self-serving. More than that it is based on a shallow reading of the history you purport to know much about. Serious studies of the period in question give more credence to Muslim objections. I would recommend here Marshall Hodgson's comprehensive, well researched three volume history of Islamic Civilization. This is serious history as opposed to your attempts to develop a Christian apologetic based on your own prejudices.

Response from : Michael Craven  

February 5, 2008 8:49 AM

Dear John,

While I appreciate you taking the time to share your opinion—I do not agree with your broad and frankly condescending accusations.

My article simply does not afford the time to delve into the details of history as my purpose is to give a general overview comparing two civilizations that have employed two distinctly different worldviews. The apparent results speak for themselves and I fully stand by that comparison. In addition, I am familiar with the work of Hodgson and while he may be a respected Islamic historian, (there are many) he was also known for his denunciation of western exceptionalism and he did not credit the rise of Western civilization with its a foundation in Christian ideas. He was openly motivated by an anti-Western bias and his work only became appreciated after his death when postmodern revisionism came into vogue. Historical analysis that does not occur in the light of God’s redemptive history is simply an inadequate account. Secondly, I only addressed, in any detail, the difference between the Islamic and Western scientific methodologies. Again, I see no error in the comparison. Third, you ignore entirely the theme of the article, which was the Islamization of knowledge. I can only assume that you are either unfamiliar with this process or you believe it not to be happening. Regardless, I am perfectly willing to accept “constructive” criticism, however yours does not seem to fall into that category.


Response from : Michael Johnson  

February 6, 2008 4:33 PM

absolutly correct. I have long known that Muslim science etc. were all stolen from their neighbors. Learned that in grade school 40 years ago.

Response from : Cole  

February 7, 2008 3:14 AM

Islamization of history

I wonder if anyone can add to this Wiki page - Islamization of History

It deals with the alteration of Islam’s history to either conceal its violent past - for example 80 million Hindus were killed to conquer India – or to exaggerate Islam contributions to fields of sciences and so on. If anyone can add or improve this page it would be helpful.

Response from : Debra  

February 8, 2008 4:05 PM

As a Christian-American mother I find these types of articles extremely distasteful and very damaging to America's reputation in this world. When my kids find it necessary to put each other down they get a good old-fashioned boot in the butt for thinking they're better than everyone else. I teach my kids to respect others who are different because Christ taught us "He who has sinned not may he cast the first stone". NOBODY IS BETTER THAN EVERYONE ELSE, case in point all the mothers in the good ol' US of A who let their daughters dress like whores and give them boob jobs as a graduation present! How's that for your American Christian renaissance? Trust me, the Muslims ARE NOT JEALOUS of that! Wake up, work to improve your own society before you bend over backwards to put down others for their's!!

Response from : Michael Craven  

February 8, 2008 5:01 PM

Dear Debra,

The Bible also teaches us to “make arguments against every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God … taking every thought captive, making them obedient to Christ.” It is neither loving nor Christ-like to allow people to suffer under fallacious ideas that ultimately consign them to eternal damnation. As a Christian you should know this. It is the duty of intelligent people, and certainly Christians, to examine and test the efficacy and truth of ideas. Practically speaking Islam is an idea that fails this test and has brought untold suffering to millions. Which is the more loving approach? Encouraging people to remain deceived under a false delusion so as not to offend, as you suggest, or a challenge to those ideas which hold people in bondage? Jesus Christ clearly thought and taught the latter.

Response from : Rev. Austin Miles  

February 10, 2008 7:51 PM

Excellent article. I am the one who broke the original story of the required course of Islam in our public schools. I am very glad to see stories continuing on this subject.
Blessings....Rev. Austin Miles


Return to topics Return to articles
Back to Top

Respond to This Article

Form Authentication: 

Refresh the page if  
image does not appear  

Please enter the form validation code
you see displayed above.

Your Information:
You must include your full name. Submissions that do not include both first and last names will not be posted.



Email Address:


Respond to This Article:

Your comments will be reviewed and either approved or denied publication.


Back to Top

Navigation Key

 Return to topics
 Return to articles 
 Read article with responses 
 Respond to this article