Thursday, October 25, 2007

More Than What We Think We Are

The Islamic Golden Age from the 8th century to the 13th century witnessed a fundamental transformation in agriculture known as the Muslim Agricultural Revolution, Arab Agricultural Revolution, or Green Revolution. The global economy established by Muslim traders across the Old World, enabled the diffusion of many crops and farming techniques among different parts of the Islamic world, as well as the adaptation of crops and techniques from beyond the Islamic world. Crops from Africa such as sorghum, crops from China such as citrus fruits, and numerous crops from India such as mangos, rice, and especially cotton and sugar cane, were distributed throughout Islamic lands, which previously had not grown these crops. Some writers have referred to the diffusion of numerous crops during this period as the Globalisation of crops. These introductions, along with an increased mechanization of agriculture, led to major changes in economy, population distribution, vegetation cover, agricultural production and income, population levels, urban growth, the distribution of the labour force, linked industries, cooking and diet and clothing in the Islamic world.

Muslims introduced cash cropping and the modern crop rotation system where land was cropped four or more times in a two-year period. Winter crops were followed by summer ones, and in some cases there was in between. In areas where plants of shorter growing season were used, such as spinach and eggplants, the land could be cropped three or more times a year. In parts of Yemen, wheat yielded two harvests a year on the same land, as did rice in Iraq. Muslims developed a scientific approach based on three major elements; sophisticated systems of crop rotation, highly developed irrigation techniques, and the introduction of a large variety of crops which were studied and catalogued according to the season, type of land and amount of water they require. Numerous encyclopaedias on farming and botany were produced, with highly accurate precision and details. The earliest cookbooks on Arab cuisine were also written, such as the Kitab al-Tabikh (The Book of Dishes) of Ibn Sayyiir al-Warraq (10th century) and the Kitab al-Tabikh of Muhammad bin Hasan al-Baghdadi (1226).

For more reading on our Age of Discovery, please click here.

We are indeed, more than even what we think we are. The challenge for us now, is to produce another Ibn Batutta, Imam Ghazali, Ibn Sina, Ibn Khind etc ... all that we proudly speak about of the past, needs reliving in the present and in the future. That spirit of excellence that once was the hallmark of being Muslims must be upheld. We should do more, talk less.

Masya-Allah! What happened to us since then?


blue said...

There are countless discoveries made by Muslims in those times.

This should continue till the end of time.

Muslims should never remain shallow.

Totally agree with you ustaz!

Anonymous said...

Seems that our Renaissance has long gone! To think that Islam's contribution to knowledge (over and above the religious aspect) was so much more substantial in the past... Alchemy, Algebra, Algorithms... and that our current position is limited to looking back fondly at the golden ages.

Surely the tone is always set at the top. Saudi Arabia is opening a new King Abdullah University for Science and Technology, for example. Hopefully it will be a model for other Muslim leaders to change their attitudes towards education - as well as provide the necessary funding and a renewed emphasis on the quest for knowledge :)