I do not know about why this thesis is so prevalent amongst a certain class of Muslims. It goes something like this. Jews have come up with so many Nobel prizes, inventions and discoveries while the Muslims have not. So Muslims should do the same and hark back to some mythical golden age. I am sure you must have read this before. What these frankly silly people do not understand is that if they are identifying excellence with a particular religion, then they are also identifying mediocrity or failure with another religion. If just belonging to Judaism was sufficient to start punching out Nobel Prizes and inventions, then is belonging to Islam sufficient reason for not getting Nobel Prizes and inventions? What follows is that the Muslims should convert to Judaism and viola', Nobel Prizes and inventions galore will come tumbling out of the sky. Or else there is something wrong with the religion. See what I mean? This is why this argument is so fallacious and the worrying thing is that this argument is usually made by quite highly educated people. Frightening, if this is what the educated masses are thinking. Stop beating yourself up for a made up argument.
Here's the latest epistle which got me moaning and whining. See how the issue is confused between religion, public policy, education, innovation and the rest? I quote some rather interesting snippets from this article:
The attitude explained above speaks volumes about love and care Muslims have for knowledge and research. Even in the 21st Century, in Pakistan millions of people have no access to education, and where schools are built they are systematically burnt down or blown out by bombs. Muslims are fast losing interest in education and benefits it could provide because they think they can become rich by other means which might not be legal. Also value of our education is constantly declining; and our ability to provide quality training and produce knowledge is shrinking. As a result of this Muslims are becoming less competitive in every field.
There are 57 Muslim Countries in the world with enormous resources, and yet there are only 500 universities in the Muslim World; and none of the universities in the entire Islamic World rank in the top 500 universities of the world. On the other hand the USA alone has 5,758 universities. In Christian countries 40% of population attend university; and in Muslim countries only 2% make to universities.
Even Pakistan's neighbour and Third World country, India has 8,407 universities; and Indian scientists, doctors and engineers are performing crucial role in advanced societies of the world. It is on strength of this, after the Mumbai carnage one USA based Indian wrote to me that India has softwere engineers, scientists and doctors to 'export', and Pakistan can only 'export drugs and terrorists'.
So problem is lack of educational and high tech training facilities, our failure to learn new knowledge; and our wrong priorities and failure to provide resources for education and research has put us where we are today. And instead of learning from our past mistakes and sorting out our priorities we Muslims, especially Muslims of South Asia like to shift blame to others by saying that it is Jewish, Hindu or American conspiracy.
A prominent Kashmiri journalist, Sardar Zia Mahmood who has kindly provided me this data, while talking to me said, 'One cause of extremism and terrorism is our inability to educate our young people and provide adequate opportunities for those who worked hard to get qualifications'. He further said, 'If we want to combat terrorism and extremism then we have to divert resources to educate and train people and promote culture of tolerance and democratic values'.
Not good, Dr. Shabir Choudhry, if you do have a doctorate or a medical degree, this kind of pap was not expected from you. Science and innovation is not driven by God or religion, but by human beings.