The exhibit is almost unfailingly dishonest. As Adams explains, even if everything it says about Muslim inventions were true, it does not and cannot explain why Muslims never followed up on these inventions. If Firnas was really the first to fly, why did it fall to the Wright Brothers 1000 years later to follow up on what he supposedly discovered about how to do it? Why weren’t Muslims flying around in airplanes centuries before the Wright Brothers were born?
If, as Adams also recounts, Muslims really invented the camera as the exhibit claims, why don’t we have snapshots of Saladin and Suleiman the Magnificent? Why did we have to wait for Daguerre and Niepce?
1001 Muslim Inventions raises more questions about the decline of Muslim civilization than it answers, yet projects like 1001 Muslim Inventions have support at very high levels. Remember in June 2010 when Charlie Bolden, the NASA chief appointed by President Obama, revealed that Obama had asked him to “find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with predominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering”?
The truth: what contributions?
Islamic scholar Robert Spencer points out that much of what are considered Muslim inventions today, including many that 1001 Muslim Inventions celebrates, have been wildly exaggerated if not outright fabricated, “often for quite transparent apologetic motives.” You’ve heard Muslims invented the zero, right? Actually, as Spencer writes:
The zero, which is often attributed to Muslims, and what we know today as “Arabic numerals” did not originate in Arabia, but in pre-Islamic India.
They preserved Greek philosophy when Christian Europe had thrown it away, correct? No. Spencer:
Aristotle’s work was preserved in Arabic not initially by Muslims at all, but by Christians such as the fifth century priest Probus of Antioch, who introduced Aristotle to the Arabic-speaking world. Another Christian, Huneyn ibn-Ishaq (809-873), translated many works by Aristotle, Galen, Plato and Hippocrates into Syriac. His son then translated them into Arabic. The Syrian Christian Yahya ibn ‘Adi (893-974) also translated works of philosophy into Arabic, and wrote one of his own, The Reformation of Morals. His student, another Christian named Abu ‘Ali ‘Isa ibn Zur’a (943-1008), also translated Aristotle and others from Syriac into Arabic.
Aristotle’s philosophies would be prohibited under Islam; Muhammad most likely would have beheaded him. He stands for everything Islam is against. Ayn Rand wrote this of Aristotle: “Aristotle’s universe is the universe of science. The physical world, in his view, is not a shadowy projection controlled by a divine dimension, but an autonomous, self-sufficient realm. It is an orderly, intelligible, natural realm, open to the mind of man.” These very ideas are anathema to Islam; they are blasphemy.