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Spotlight on: Anonymous Abu Ali Al-Muhammad Ibn Al-Rahman

The intent of starting this series of alcohol-fueled diatribes was to initiate some intellectual discussion, and for the most part, I've received those in the form of one-line comments ("you suck" or "you're a nutjob") or emails suggesting that I perform a reverse bowel movement with my keyboard.

However, the one-man-furor over a recent post (resuting in 15 or so anonymous comments) has prompted me to respond with this article, rather than keep expanding the comment thread. If you'd like to read the entire exchange, point your clicky thingy here.

In any case, here's my response to Mr. Anonymous (if that is in fact his real name) concerning the "achievements" of the Muslim world in both a modern and historical context:

"What I find most interesting, despite your obvious verbosity, and penchant for intelligent discourse, is that you keep refering to these ancient scientists as "Arabic". If we are to use your terms, then yes, I must concede many points, as there were many scientists and thinkers working in the Arab world. "Arab" of course, does not mean "Muslim" per se; Albategnius, for instance, was considered to be a Sabian, a sect devoted to studying astrology. And even if you think I'm reaching on that one, the Muslim religion of the year 800 is not the Muslim religion of the year 2006. It's like the move of the Brooklyn Dodgers to LA - same name, but in no way the same team.

But notwithstanding the fact that you seem to be using the same webpage for all of your references, one that smacks suspiciously of propoganda, (I won't even mention the page that asserts that Muslims from Spain had sailed to the Americas 500 years before Columbus, despite the fact that there is absolutely no physical evidence for such a claim other than geographical names which share a tenuous coincidence), let's assume for a second that you are correct, that whatever 101-level history course you've taken (apparently at Hofstra University) has succeeded in modern liberal academia's universal goal of discrediting Western achievment with the elevation of alternate theories of history on the back of that odious beast, "Multiculturalism." The fact remains that modern Islam (for this argument's sake, we'll say modern is any time after the European Renaissance) has done absolutely nothing to advance either itself, or the rest of the world (which, if you remember correctly, was my original point). Your education, and in some cases rightfully so, and in some cases out of sheer desparation, has made it a point of highlighting ancient Islamic scientists, perhaps at the expense of ancient western scientists. And if you'd like, I can make the same spurious argument that if it wasn't for Greek and Roman mathematicians, there would be nothing for the Muslim scientists to attempt to "correct." You say tomato, I say Konstantin Tsiolkovsky.

You say that Islamic anger is the result of a myriad events - The fall of the Ottomans, OPEC, etc, etc - and yet its anger seems directed towards Europeans who print humorous caricatures in their local paper. The University-educated crowd can sit around all day long with their Starbucks and iPods and attempt to discern the historical reasons behind the backlash, many of which may be credible. However the people burning flags and lobbing Molotov cocktails at embassy buildings don't have the same frame of reference as the "educated folk." To them, a great atrocity has been committed against their most sanctified icon, and now they must destroy his defilers with any means neccessary. Not because they have extensively studied the root causes behind their culture's frustration, but because a handful of psychopaths masquerading as "holy men" are fanning their fires (forgive the pun) with Fatwahs and Jihads and using other such superstitious nonsense from a 1400 year old book to justify their violence. Muslim scholarship is gone, regardless in the capacity in which it may have once existed, and has been replaced in the past 800 hundred years by a mutation of its former self.

You may claim that you are not apologizing for Muslim violence, but your historic rationalizations will make you a liability in this war. When the fires are burning through the streets of your hometown, will you stop and discuss the achievments of Avicenna a millenium ago with the rampaging horde, or will you defend the culture that has given you the voice with which you speak, the technology with which you express it, and the freedoms permitting you to open your mouth in the first place?"

Wow, I can almost see the flag rippling in the background as I read that last bit back to myself...

"Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future."

--John F. Kennedy

(And that's the one and only time you'll ever see a quote from that overrated prettyboy. I blame him for all this "diversity" mumbo-jumbo.)

Comments

Moni said…
"To them, a great atrocity has been committed against their most sanctified icon, and now they must destroy his defilers with any means necessary. Not because they have extremely studied the root causes behind their culture's frustration, but because a handful of psychopaths masquerading as "holy men" are fanning their fires(forgive the pun) with Fatwahs and the Jihads and using other such superstitious nonsense from a 1400 year old book to justify their violence."

...and the winner by a knockout. Valannin.
Anonymous said…
Valannin embarrasses himself by attempting a switcheroo, which fails.

In this February 19th post, he pretends his original thesis was this: "...modern Islam (for this argument's sake, we'll say modern is any time after the European Renaissance) has done absolutely nothing to advance either itself, or the rest of the world (which, if you remember correctly, was my original point)."

But that was not Valannin's original point. On February 10th, Valannin originally wrote, "...since its inception in the 7th century, Islam has done absolutely nothing for the greater good of humanity except to attempt (and succeed) at conquering land for the sole purpose of spreading its misguided dogma through fear and intimidation."*

There were some six or seven centuries between the establishment of Islam and the European Renaissance, which Valannin now prefers to omit.

Classical scholarship and sciences thrived in the Islamic world for five or six centuries. That level of muslim scholarship collapsed with the fall of Bagdad to the Mongols (1258) and that of Granada to the Christians (1492). The European Renaissance occurred when Arab texts arrived at the universities and royal courts of Europe, arriving fortuitously during the expansion of the European middle class thanks to the opening of world trade.

A popular modern bestseller credits Irish monks for reintroducing European scholarship to the classical tradition. I dunno. man. Those guys were fun calligraphers and cartoonists who transcribed Greek and Roman texts, but Irish monks did not engage and develop the ideas they found in those texts. It was muslim philosophers and scientists who fashioned strict mathematical logic out of the Greco-Roman discipline of dialectics, and who fashioned strict modern scientific method out of Aristotle's less exacting ideas on the subject.

This historical data stands.

When Valannin fails to refute the historical data, he seeks instead to undermine its authority -- apparently ascribing to me all sorts of nonsense that I never, ever proposed. Nowhere do I suggest the same level of scholarship persists today in the muslim world as before the Mongol invasion. Nowhere do I suggest a muslim discovered the New World before Columbus. Nowhere do I stump for "multiculturalism."

And that's roughly where Valannin flies off the tracks completely, accusing me of ... undermining ... American virtue? ...through my supposed ...collaboration with coffee drinkers and graduate students?

Dude, pull it together.

Yes, there are some propagandists in the middle east posing as "holy men," who use the vocabulary of Islam to persuade desperate fools to commit terrorist acts. No, those desperate fools are ignorant of the historical derivation of their hatred of the west, and yes they can be easily duped into thinking the conflict is religious. But the cause of the conflict is the ongoing historical squabble over money and power.

Valannin (and remember, kids, it's much cooler to post pseudonymously than anonymously) is similarly ignorant of the historical derivation of the conflict, and bawls that the conflict is religious. Valannin, you are once again exercising your venom against an enemy outside your range. Go back to those villainous carpetmongers and plastic surgeons. It makes you sound funnier.

*Bolds are mine.
Moni said…
Mr Anonymous,

Valannin doesn't need me to defend him in any respect, for he is certainly capable of doing so on his own.

I doubt that he is embarassased by his so called "switcheroo" because for as long as I've been reading his blog he has always over indulged in research and in the facts. His writing is brilliant. I don't agree with everything he says, I just agree to disagree. Still you have to admit that he gets his point across in a very articulate, sucinct; albeit acerbic, way.

For this reason I do enjoy reading his blog. But if you want my opinion, both of you are being pretentious and close minded and I do believe both of you got a thesaurus for Christmas...er, in your case, Ramadan. You both think you're above the common intellect and above reproach, and that my friends makes you very narrow minded. This particular row wreaks of uppercrust, old money, and ivy league education. Okay which one of you has lived in an Islamic country....? Third world country.....? Outside the U.S....? uh huh.

Plus, what religion/nationality rests on laurels won early in history, besides the Greeks and Romans? We all know what happen to them. Yeah, yeah...that's the whole post. Who cares what has happened unless we learn from it(we haven't)? It's doesn't matter. We live in the present.

The world sings the words of the immortal Janet Jackson, "What have you done for me lately?!" (this is me being funny) ;P

Sincerely,
The simple minded

Hugs Valannin, hugs Anonymous...you guys really are smart. :)
Valannin said…
I wish I could continue this back and forth discussion of the relative merits of Islam, but I'm too busy watching the civil war erupt in Iraq on CNN. Great thinkers always burn down their own places of worship after arguing over from whose line they have descended, the dirt merchant or the oppressive caliph.

And pretentious? Moi?

Ha! To take the sting out of that jab, I'll have to crack open a bottle of 24 year old Scotch and peruse the pictures I took while I was living in Cairo.

Some of us live through the books, others write them.

I get around. It's the wings.
Anonymous said…
This thread was never about the relative merits of Islam. This thread was about your proposition "...since its inception in the 7th century, Islam has done absolutely nothing for the greater good of humanity except to attempt (and succeed) at conquering land for the sole purpose of spreading its misguided dogma through fear and intimidation."

If you'd like to change the topic, I recommend a new thread. It would be tidier.

How many hits have you been getting, Valannin?
Anonymous said…
Valannin wrote, “Some of us live through books; others write them.” Some write them sloppily:
Anonymous said…
The intent of starting this series
[WRONG – Use either “The intent of this series…” or “My intent in starting this series…” – “Starting” cannot have “intent”.]
of alcohol-fueled diatribes was to initiate some intellectual discussion, and for the most part, I've received those
[AMBIGUOUS PRONOUN – You have received “those” what?]
in the form of one-line comments ("you suck" or "you're a nutjob") or emails suggesting that I perform a reverse bowel movement with my keyboard.
[WRONG – superfluous “that” serving as neither relative pronoun nor conjunction – To suggest “that” you perform a reverse bowel movement with your keyboard would be an accusation you already do so, or have done so at least once. Instead: “I’ve received … emails suggesting I perform a reverse bowel movement with my keyboard.”]
Anonymous said…
However,
[WRONG – Even acceding to the newfangled use of a conjunction at the start of a sentence, we disallow conjunctions at the start of a new paragraph. Each new paragraph opens as a new complete thought: “One recent visitor stands as an exception, and his one-man fervor…has prompted me…”]
the one-man-furor
[SUPERFLUOUS HYPHEN – hyphenate adjective: “one-man furor”]
over a recent post (resuting [sic] in 15
[WRONG – Spell out all single-word numbers: “fifteen”.]
or so anonymous comments) has prompted me to respond with this [new] article, rather than keep expanding the comment thread. If you'd like to read the entire exchange, point your clicky thingy here.
Anonymous said…
In any case, here's my response to Mr. Anonymous (if that is in fact his real name) concerning the "achievements" [MISATTRIBUTION– Nowhere does your respondent use the term “achievements”.]
by of the Muslim world in both a modern and historical context:
Anonymous said…
"What I find most interesting, despite your obvious verbosity,
[SUPERFLUOUS COMMA]
and penchant for intelligent discourse,
[AMBIG. – You find it “most interesting, despite (your respondent’s) obvious… penchant for intelligent discourse”? A penchant for intelligent discourse usually quells your interest?]
is that you keep refering [sic] to these ancient scientists as "Arabic". If we are to use your terms, [WRONG – singular – There is only one term in question.]
then yes, I must concede many points, as there were many scientists and thinkers working in the Arab world. "Arab" of course, does not mean "Muslim" per se; Albategnius, for instance, was considered to be a Sabian, a sect devoted to studying astrology.
[FALSE DISTINCTION – Regardless of Albategnius’ practices in astrology, he identified publicly as Muslim, as indicated by his full Arabic name: “Abu Abdallah Mohammad ibn Jabir ibn Sinan al-Raqqi al-Harrani al-Sabi al-Battani”. Furthermore, Sabian and Muslim populations were overlapping sets, not exclusive.]
And even if you think I'm reaching on that one, the Muslim religion of the year 800 is not the Muslim religion of the year 2006.
[AD HOC ARGUMENT – Your premise was that Islam has done nothing for the good of humanity since its inception in the 7th century.]
It's like the move of the Brooklyn Dodgers to LA - same name, but in no way the same team.
[NON SEQUITUR and FALSE COMPARISON]
Anonymous said…
But notwithstanding the fact that you seem to be using the same webpage for all of your references, one that smacks suspiciously of propoganda, [sic]
[FALSE ASSUMPTION – See the following additional references:

Algorizm (al-Khwarizmi) -- http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9045366?query=algorithm%20al&ct=
Nasir Al-Tusi (Nasir al-Din al-Tusi) -- http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9073899?query=Nasir%20Al-Tusi&ct=
Dreses (ash-Sharif al-Idrisi) -- http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9042038
Albategnius (al-Battani) -- http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9013772
Alhazan (Ibn al-Haytham) -- http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9005710?query=Alhazen&ct=
Thebit (Thabit ibn Qurra) -- http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9071897?query=Thabit&ct=
Albumasar (Abu Ma'shar) -- http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9005476?query=Albumasar&ct=
Alkindus (Yaqub Ibn Ishaq al-Kindi) -- http://www.trincoll.edu/depts/phil/philo/phils/muslim/kindi.html
Al-Fraganus (al-Farghani) -- http://www.trincoll.edu/depts/phil/philo/phils/muslim/farghani.html
Azophi (Abd Al-Rahman Al Sufi) -- http://experts.about.com/e/a/ab/Abd_Al-Rahman_Al_Sufi.htm
Alpetragius (Al-Bitruji/Al-Biruni) -- http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9066342?query=%22michael%20scot%22&ct= (in reference to Michael Scot)
Abdulfeda (Abu al-Fida') -- http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9003413
Anonymous said…
(I won't even mention the page that asserts that Muslims from Spain had sailed to the Americas 500 years before Columbus, despite the fact that there is absolutely no physical evidence for such a claim other than geographical names which share a tenuous coincidence),
[IRRELEVANT – Nowhere does your respondent make that claim.]
let's assume for a second that you are correct, that whatever 101-level history course you've taken (apparently at Hofstra University)
[IRRELEVANT]
has succeeded in modern liberal academia's universal goal of discrediting Western achievment [sic] with the elevation of alternate theories of history on the back of that odious beast, "Multiculturalism”
[NO CAPS.] [AMBIGUOUS – “”Let’s assume … that you are correct, that (your) history course … has succeeded … in discrediting Western achievement with the elevation of alternate theories of history on the back of that odious beast, “multiculturalism”??] [FALSE ATTRIBUTION, AD HOC ARGUMENT – Nowhere has your respondent discredited Western achievements. Nowhere has your respondent taken any position regarding “multiculturalism.”]
The fact remains that modern Islam (for this argument's sake, we'll say modern is any time after the European Renaissance) has done absolutely nothing to advance either itself, or the rest of the world (which, if you remember correctly, was my original point).
[AD HOC ARGUMENT, CHANGE OF PREMISE – Your original proposition was not “after the European Renaissance…” Your original proposition was “since its inception in the 7th century, Islam has done absolutely nothing for the greater good of humanity…”]
Anonymous said…
Your education, and in some cases rightfully so, and in some cases out of sheer desparation [sic]
[SUPERFLUOUS CONJUNCTION and SUPERFLUOUS COMMA – “Your education, in some cases rightly so and in some cases out of sheer desperation…”]

has made it a point,
[AWKWARD – anthropomorphizes “your education”]
of highlighting ancient Islamic scientists, perhaps at the expense of ancient western scientists.
[IRRELEVANT – The statements regarding ancient scientists remain true or false.]
And if you'd like, I can make the same spurious argument that if it wasn't for Greek and Roman mathematicians, there would be nothing for the Muslim scientists to attempt to "correct."
[FALSE ATTRIBUTION, AD HOC ARGUMENT – Nowhere has your respondent “discredited” Western achievements. In no way do the intellectual contributions by ancient Greeks or Romans discount from the further contributions by Islamic scholars.][FALSE ASSUMPTION -- You have no idea where your respondent was educated.]
You say tomato, I say Konstantin Tsiolkovsky. [FALSE ANALOGY, BECLOUDS THE ARGUMENT]
Anonymous said…
You say that Islamic anger is the result of a myriad events - The fall of the Ottomans, OPEC ,
[FALSE ATTRIBUTION – Nowhere did your respondent mention OPEC.]
etc, etc - and yet its anger seems directed its
[AMBIGUOUS PRONOUN – “Islamic anger’s anger seems directed…”]
towards Europeans who print humorous caricatures in their local paper. The University-educated
[NO CAPS.]
crowd can sit around all day long with their Starbucks and iPods and attempt to discern the historical reasons behind the backlash, many of which may be credible. However
[ADD COMMA]
the people burning flags and lobbing Molotov cocktails at embassy buildings don't have the same frame of reference as the "educated folk." To them, a great atrocity has been committed against their most sanctified icon, and now they must destroy his defilers with any means neccessary.[sic] Not because they have extensively studied the root causes behind their culture's frustration, but because a handful of psychopaths masquerading as "holy men" are fanning their fires (forgive the pun) with Fatwahs
[NO CAPS. – Use italics, not caps. to indicate foreign words]
and Jihads
[NO CAPS. – Use italics, not caps. to indicate foreign words]
and using other such superstitious nonsense from a 1400 year old
[WRONG – hyphenate modifier: “fourteen-hundred-year-old”]
book to justify their violence.
[INCOMPLETE SENTENCE]
Muslim scholarship is gone, regardless in the capacity in which it may
[PAST TENSE: “might”]
have once existed,
[AWKWARD]
and has been replaced in the past 800 hundred years by a mutation of its former self.
[AD HOC ARGUMENT and FALSE ATTRIBUTION – Nowhere did your respondent claim Islam today is equivalent to Islam eight hundred years ago. Your respondent stated several times “[the] level of Muslim scholarship collapsed with the fall of Baghdad to the Mongols (1258) and that of Granada to the Christians (1492).”]
Anonymous said…
You may claim that you are not apologizing for Muslim violence, but your historic rationalizations will make you a liability in this war. When the fires are burning through the streets of your hometown, will you stop and discuss the achievments [sic] of Avicenna a millenium [sic] ago with the rampaging horde, or will you defend the culture that has given you the voice with which you speak, the technology with which you express it, and the freedoms permitting you to open your mouth in the first place?"
[AWKWARD -- In America, we believe freedom of speech is an inherent right, not something “given”]
Anonymous said…
Wow, I can almost see the flag rippling in the background as I read that last bit back to myself... [ARGUMENTUM AD LUDUS – “I make myself laugh; therefore, I am right.”]
Anonymous said…
"Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future."
--John F. Kennedy
[IRRELEVANT]
(And that's the one and only time you'll ever see a quote from that overrated prettyboy. I blame him for all this "diversity" mumbo-jumbo.)
[NON SEQUITUR, IRRELEVANT]
Valannin said…
Anyone who uses the phrase "hyphenate modifier" is an OK kind of chap in my book! Can I buy you a drink, or would sitting on a barstool be difficult given the length of stick up your ass?

Seriously, I don't know what scares me more about anonymous posters: the death threats or the grammar lessons...

Sanctimony, thy name is Anonymous!
Anonymous said…
[AD HOMINEM]

[FALSE ATTRIBUTION -- No "death threat" has been made.]

SANCTIMONY -- 1. affected piety or righteousness: "Wow, I can almost see the flag rippling in the background as I read that last bit back to myself..."

"Can I buy you a drink...?"

Mail me a Macallan, and save us both some suffering. I prefer the '85.
Moni said…
Well Valannin I stand corrected on the part about you not living outside the U.S. But you are pretentious and that's why I just wanna pinch your cheeks(the ones on your face)!

And Mr Anonymous, dude I think you're just going to have to throw in the turban on this one. It doesn't like as if you're going to win. But I'm getting one hell of a grammar lesson out of it.

Yeah, yeah...you're both brilliant. I do however, agree with Valannin on this one. How can a relgion speak of truth and societal contribution and have such a violent presence in the world today? Hipocrisy at it's finest.

Oh and btw, I think Mr. Anonymous is fast approaching my standing record of being the one who's commented the most. Now, I can't let that happen. Ha! ;P
Anonymous said…
Moni, I have no control over your mind. It's yours to change -- or not to change -- as you find appropriate. You might find the Encyclopedia Britannica reference (above) too dull to read but please remember they exist, to show that great scholarship and Islam are not mutually exclusive.

I would certainly prefer to hear modern Muslim clerics decrying the abuse of Islam by terrorist ideologues -- as heresy, requiring reprisals far more serious than those earned by a silly cartoon. If those clerics are out there, I'm not hearing them. On the other hand, no one here expects much from clerics of any creed.

It is ugly that so few opportunities for higher education are available to middle-class families in the Arab nations. Maybe Abdullah of Jordan understands the necessity of an educated middle class; he's especially supportive of the IT department at The University of Jordan -- probably hoping to win some of those banking/telemarketing gigs that America has "outsourced" to India, Pakistan and so forth. Has the University of Jordan invented any room-temperature superconductors lately? No. Can it compete with Abdullah’s own alma mater, Oxford, in any department? No. Why not? It’s only forty-three years old -- and for the last few centuries, life has been a little tough in Jordan. Other regional countries would do well to follow Abdullah’s example, unless of course they hope to preserve the problems of their uneducated labor and lower classes.

Taking my cue from Valannin, I listed examples of Muslim scientists and mathematicians whose work preceded modern astronomy. If you’d like, I could list other examples -- in fields including medicine and pharmaceuticals, animal husbandry (preceding genetics), engineering, cartography and navigation. If either of you would read what I have offered, you would see that Islam and great scholarship are not mutually exclusive. No one here has shown that Islam itself is the cause of terrorist violence, and the argument that Islam itself causes weak scholarship is pure, unsupportable hokum.

Moni -- Valannin has the monopoly on brilliance here.
Valannin said…
See: http://www.bahai-faith.com/islam-uncensored.html

Yeah, no incitement to violence there...

Great men make history. Historians cannot make great men.

Period. End of story.

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