Despite our best hopes, it seems that the new millennium will bear many resemblances to the one that just ended: injustice, poverty, personal and corporate greed, runaway development and scientific progress for its own sake, and a widely shared unease. Governments pursue their own agendas, scarce financial resources are spent on weapons instead of education and national development, corporate interests are placed over personal well-being, and worshippers still flock to the altar of materialism instead of religion. Many people, having wrapped themselves in a mantle of fear and worry, wonder what the future holds for them.
But it was not always this way. Centuries ago, when most of Europe was enduring the appalling ignorance and superstitions of its Dark and Middle Ages, when not even the thought of America existed, Islamic civilization burst upon the international scene. Like a magnificent rose unfolding layer upon layer of petals in the form of religious and scientific insights, scientific discoveries and progress, and a passion for justice and improving life for everyone, it flourished in lands that had never had a high civilization, such as the Arabian peninsula, Central Asia, and Spain.
Absorbing the accumulated knowledge of Greece, Rome, and the earlier civilizations that came under Islamic rule, Muslim, Jewish, and Christian scholars and scientists working within the Islamic worldview translated their works and absorbed their useful knowledge. However, contrary to popular Western belief, those scholars and scientists did not just transmit this knowledge to Europe. Rather, they built upon it, developed methods of observation and experimentation unknown to the earlier civilizations and now considered 'modern,' and made original contributions in many scientific fields. In other words, the West based its modern scientific foundation and Renaissance upon the knowledge it acquired from the Islamic world.
Unfortunately, due to the hostile relationship between the Catholic church in Rome and the newly emerging class of European scientists, much of modern science was based upon a materialistic worldview. The resulting side effects are still with us: a terribly polluted environment; the belief that science should progress regardless of the resulting controversy (e.g., cloning, developing nuclear and other horrifying weapons, and genetic engineering); and the illusion that humanity has no need for God.
Our main article discusses the contributions of those scientists who worked within Islamic civilization and its worldview regardless of their ethnicity or religion. The author relates some of their accomplishments and how they laid the groundwork for Europe's Renaissance. This topic is supplemented by several other scientific articles, each of which shows us the amazing nature of life and the universe, thereby reminding us that humanity does need God.
Another article shows us the reality behind the clichÃ©: 'It's a small world.' In these days of fear and pain in many lands, we would be well-advised to take its message to heart: Between any two people, there are, on the average, only six steps of separation. Thus, we are not separate from a starving child, a dying man, or a grieving woman, regardless of any artificial man-made considerations. All of us form one large extended family interconnected by interweaving ties of blood, acquaintance, friendship, and love. All revealed religions know this truth and call their followers to live according to it so that peace, love, and personal and social well-being will prevail.
Having recognized this truth, we should turn to God and implore Him to enable us to live as individuals overflowing with love and concern for their family members and neighbors, working together to ensure that everyone enjoys modern society's benefits, and to help us to prepare for our eternal existence in the next world. Our first article, 'Time to Pray,' is an eloquent appeal for us to petition God to enable all of us to do exactly that.
A little note for our online readers. The Fountain's new web site is 'www.fountainmagazine.com'.