Aristotle and Western Civilisation

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By Ahmed Housuf Moosa for VT

Aristotle Man or Myth (link to free PDF version of whole book)

The Western World[1] is proud of its roots in Greek Philosophy, and prides itself with persons of the calibre of ‘Aristotle’ and ‘Plato.’ Today, in the western world [and also in the minds of some Muslims] it has become a common belief that the writings of “Aristotle” ought to be quoted, as if one could derive from it some useful information. Yet, if “Aristotle” really existed, then he could not have been such a knowledgeable scholar / philosopher; as will be observed from the following statement made by a great scholar, an embryologist, Professor Keith Moore, states the following:

“As far as we know, Aristotle wrote the first embryology book in the 4th century BC. In it he recorded some observations on comparative embryology, especially on the general progress of the developing chick. He promoted, however, the incorrect idea that the human embryo developed from a formless mass that resulted from the union of semen with menstrual blood. Scientific knowledge of embryology did not progress significantly for nearly 2000 years.” [Africa Events, May 1985, p. 16.] [Our emphases]

Interview Link on the Quran and Bible:  https://drive.google.com/file/d/1aaRoD0TVO2pdbZGEjOnGhJQxK68vqlXW/view

This statement is a clear indictment of Aristotle’s ignorance of Divine Guidance, if he really existed. In other words, if he existed, then he was either a pagan or an atheist, and also an unknowledgeable person.

However, it appears as if the writer of ‘The Classical Heritage in Islam’ became too busy promoting Greek philosophy and dreams. Therefore, to understand their reasoning, let us look at the condition of the people in one of the most advanced Christian countries today, where Christianity at that time may have been established for about one thousand two hundred and seventy-five years. In the book ‘Religion and the Decline of Magic’ we find a well-documented account of their religious activities. We refer to the historical comment made in it, which highlights the important mental condition of the English people during the ‘sixteenth‑ and seventeenth-century.’ On the very first page of the book, it states:

“Witchcraft, astrology and every kind of popular magic flourished in sixteenth‑ and seventeenth-century England. At the same time men began to reach for a scientific explanation of the universe, and the Protestant Reformation attempted to take the magic out of religion.” [Our emphases]

These opening remarks made in support of the author, a great historian, proving the weakness of Christianity and the effect it had on the minds of the Christians after about sixteen hundred years, could be the reason for attacking the Muslims. We must, therefore, be aware of the mind-set of these people who concocted the history books. It could be argued that these conditions were applicable only to the poor and uneducated. Keith Thomas, however, gives an example of some the traditions of the élite:

“The one kind of magical healing to which official indulgence was liberally extended was the cure by the royal touch. At a special religious service conducted by leading Anglican clergy the monarch laid his hands upon each member of the long queue of sufferers. The patients approached one by one and knelt before the monarch, who lightly touched them on the face, while a chaplain read aloud the verse from St Mark: ‘They shall lay hands on the sick and they recover’. They then retired and came forward again so that the King might hang round their necks a gold coin strung from a white silk ribbon. This was the healing ritual for the King’s Evil, the name given to scrofula or struma, the tubercular inflammation of the lymph glands of the neck. In practice the term was employed more loosely to comprehend a wide variety of complaints affecting the head, neck, and eyes, particularly swollen lips, tumours, sores and blisters. Scrofula itself was probably caused by infected milk, and a steady stream of deaths from the evil was recorded in the seventeenth-century London Bills Mortality.” [Our emphases]

With this background knowledge of Christian history of the 1700’s, it is clear why the Muslim discoveries and their progress had to endure the onslaught of the Christians. In other words, knowing their own ignorance, they believed that the best defence was to attack and kill the Muslims. What we Muslims cannot understand today is why they continue with their attacks against Muslims, after knowing the truth. Their utterances are mind boggling, for example the following comment made by Martin Plessner:

“Islamic science was of course not the only factor that led to the revival of Western science…”

This statement is an attempt to make it appear as if the ‘Western science’ was in place at the time when the Muslims began their analysis and developments. What they refuse to admit is the fact that the pre-Muslim Arabs [who were pagans] were arguably the most primitive and barbaric people of the world at that time. And it was their acceptance of Islâm, [accepting the Arabic Glorious Qur’ân as the revealed word of Allâh, and implementing the orders therein] which led directly to their amazing transformation into the world’s leaders in every facet of human progress. Paul Johnson chastises the modern Western historians:

“Unfortunately, historians are rarely as objective as they wish to appear. Biblical history, which for Christians, Jews and atheists alike involves beliefs or prejudices which go to the very root of our being, is an area where objectivity is peculiarly difficult, if not impossible, to achieve.” [Our emphasis]

And so does John William Draper in his momentous work, “The History of the Intellectual Development of Europe”:

“I have to deplore the systematic manner in which the literature of Europe has contrived to put out of sight our scientific obligations to the Mohammedans. Surely they can not be much longer hidden. Injustice founded on religious rancour and national conceit can not be perpetuated forever. What should the modern astronomer say when, remembering the contemporary barbarism of Europe, he finds the Arab Abdul Hassan speaking of tubes, to the extremities which ocular and objective dioptres, perhaps sights, were attached, as used at Meragha? ……The Arab has left his intellectual impress on Europe, as, before long, Christendom will have to confess; he has indelibly written it on the heavens, as any one may see who reads the names of the stars on a common celestial globe.” [Our emphasis]

He goes on to say that: The Arabs have given the world advanced knowledge in every field, be it in Botany; irrigation; textile fabrics; iron; steel; rice; sugar; breeding of sheep, cattle and horses; flood gates; wheels; pumps; the compass; time keeping pieces and the list goes on and on.

Both submissions are truthful! It is for this reason that we ought to verify the claims made by most of the old and modern non-Muslim Western writers. One would like to believe that the pagan Greeks, whom the Western world claims inspired intellectual and scientific developments in Europe, could not have been in the same state (after becoming Christians), as that of the English in the 1700’s. However, the following was documented:

“The revenue from the property of the Greek Church in 1877 was £10,571. The prelates receive a salary from the state, ‑ the bishops £145, and the archbishops £180. The inferior clergy receive none, but are entirely dependent on the fees they earn for various spiritual services and superstitious observances, ‑ praying for the sick, exorcising the evil eye, consecrating a new house or fishing boat, or purifying one bought from a Turk.” [Our emphases]            [J. W. Draper: The History of the Intellectual Development of Europe, 2nd Edition, 1864]

Clearly they are not regarding the aforementioned facts as a history of their own ignorance and superstitious beliefs. About superstition, it is said that the pre-Muslim Arabs were not inclined to it. Our opinion however, is that this is true of the early Muslim Arabs:

“Nor are Arabs, generally speaking, superstitious in other respects: of dreams and omens they make little account; nor does the apprehension of ghosts, spectres, apparitions, demons, and the like often disquiet their hours of loneliness or darkness; stories of such a character, though embodied here and there in Arab literature, in the Thousand and one Nights for example, are less frequently of Arab than of foreign origin, generally Persian.”

This fact reveals an important trait of the Arabs. It uncovers a part of the reason for their amazingly rapid progress. Muslims are not shy to reveal that they were ignorant before they became Muslims, which is opposite to the pagan European nations. This is made clear from what follows:

The Contrast

Muslims are commanded in the Arabic Glorious Qur’ân to be just, even if it is against them. The guidance of the Divine Book states:

 

“O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allâh[2], as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just; that is next to piety; and fear Allâh, for Allâh is well acquainted with all that ye do.” [Al-Qur’ân chapter 5 verse 8]

The non-Muslims [especially Christians] never mention this command, especially when they write about the Muslims. It is clear that the non-Muslim Europeans suppressed the achievements of the early Muslims. [Refer to Draper above]. The original documents of the Europeans, which chronicled their earlier achievements, were not preserved. In fact they are untraceable. Is it not convenient to quote from lost books? To be blunt the non-Muslim European claims cannot be substantiated by the production of original works. It is claimed that the Muslim Arabs were awakened by the works of the “great” men of Greece, namely Plato and Aristotle. Today, Plato (427-347 BC?) – Aristotle (384-322 BC?) are quoted freely and yet there are no original works of them in existence. They were only acclaimed to have been great Greek “philosophers” from the 12th century CE. Their “works” seem not to have been preserved in its original form but some claim that part of it was preserved in the language of the Muslim Arabs, who made these translations from some lost originals and preserved only the translations. What is of importance to know is the following, – although it causes great problems:

“Honesty and accuracy, as we understand them, did not exist in those days. For three hundred years prior to Nicæa no historical records existed, so there was no great difficulty in deluding the people as to the past story of the cult. Anything could be added to or subtracted from its past beliefs without undue comment.” (The Unfolding Universe or The Evolution of Man’s conception of his Place in Nature, 1935, p. 144) [Our emphasis]

[1] “The generation of 1789 had seen Europe come to exercise an ultimate hegemony over the Islamic peoples. Whether a European power ruled directly or whether there was merely a generalized dependent relation to the European social order as a whole, it was in the power of the Europeans, if they were agreed on a policy, to enforce their will in most Muslim lands. In any case, no independent general Islamic leadership was to be tolerated.”[The Venture of Islam, Vol. 3, 1974, p. 223.]

[2] A note on the use of Qur’ānic pronouns in reference to Allāh: Western critics of the Qur’ān frequently point to the allegedly ‘incoherent’ references to Allāh – often in one and the same phrase – as ‘He’, ‘Allāh’, ‘We’ or ‘I’, with the corresponding changes of the pronoun from ‘His’ to ‘Ours’ or ‘My’, or from ‘Him’ to ‘Us’ or ‘Me’. They seem to be unaware that these changes are not accidental, and not even what one might describe as ‘poetic licence’, but are obviously deliberate, a linguistic device meant to stress the idea t

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7 COMMENTS

  1. “…if “Aristotle” really existed, then he could not have been such a knowledgeable scholar/philosopher.”

    Modern understanding of embryology, which requires a microscope, is not necessary to be a knowledgeable scholar/philosopher. And this whole recent fashion of saying ancients like Jesus or Aristotle, etc may not have existed is extremely unscholarly.

    “…if he existed, then he was either a pagan or an atheist, and also an unknowledgeable person.”

    Aristotle, like almost all his Greek contemporaries, believed in a multiplicity of “gods” but as a philosopher reasoned to the existence of an “unmoved mover” of all things. And calling one of the greatest thinkers of all time (especially in Logic, Physics, Metaphysics, Poetics, basically everything but Biology) “an unknowledgeable person is egregiously deplorable and worthy of lashes.

    “Witchcraft, astrology and every kind of popular magic flourished in sixteenth‑ and seventeenth-century England. At the same time men began to reach for a scientific explanation of the universe, and the Protestant Reformation attempted to take the magic out of religion.”

    Sixteenth and seventeenth-century England was Protestant, and it was in Protestant countries that witchcraft, astrology and every kind of popular magic flourished, as well as the burning of witches and “heretics,” which occurred in Catholic countries extremely less.

    • Also, Islam is a human creation consisting primarily of elements of Judaism, Nestorian (heretical) Christianity, and indigenous Arab religions. St Thomas Aquinas, an immense scholar who knew Aristotle and Plato by heart, called Islam “a carnal religion for carnal men.” No offense, just stating facts, something in which this article is glaringly lacking.

      Keep in mind, too, that from about 400 to 1000 A.D., Catholic Europe and the Catholic Middle East (there were no Protestants until the 16th C, only heretical sects opposing Catholic orthodox teaching) were continuously devastated by various barbarous peoples, the followers of Muhammed being one of the most destructive.

  2. I might add too for the edification of our Muslim writer that in Orthodoxy, the threat of the Greek Philosophers and their paganism was and is quite understood, and that the teachings of true Christianity (as outlined by the Councils of the Church and the Orthodox Fathers) are largely in reaction against these false ”philosophies” so-called, that have been the origin of all the heresies that have afflicted the world.

    One would instead have to find in the Holy Scriptures and in the Koran the debate between Islam and Christianity. It is not a Philosophical and Pagan argument, and on a superficial level one would find much agreement between the true Christianity (which you are terribly misinformed about, relying on the Pagans and Atheists you otherwise decry!) and Islam.

    • Central to both Christianity and Islam are the teachings of Jesus. “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord’ and then not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46) Zionism is a perversion of the Gospel message of justice, compassion, and truth. The Rapture-me-outta-here crowd, who are the heart and soul of Trump’s base, long for a cataclysmic conflict that will bring their warrior Messiah back to Earth to smite all unbelievers, everyone but them apparently. This is why Trumpsters are totally on board with everything the Ashkenazim are doing in Palestine. May Heaven preserve us all from the wrath of the chosenites.

  3. Aristotle believed that the Sun went around the Earth. In the Aristotelian system, the spherical Earth is at the center of the universe, and all other heavenly bodies are attached to 47–55 transparent, rotating spheres surrounding the Earth, all concentric with it. In 1632 Catholic Church would burn anyone at the stake for thinking otherwise. Galileo had to keep his mouth shut, but muttered on his death bed, “And yet it moves.”

    Fully one quarter of Americans also think the Sun goes around the Earth. If you don’t believe this is true, Google it and see for yourself. My guess is that the vast majority of them voted for Trump in the last election.

    • See the recent documentary, “The Principle,” which shows scientifically that there is actually more evidence for geocentrism than for heliocentrism. Also the book (and some articles) on “Galileo Was Wrong.” BTW, no one was burned for believing in heliocentrism. Just one of many lies about the Catholic Church promoted by its enemies (who have actually taken over its visible structures after many years of infiltration, culminating in the takeover of the papacy at the 1958 conclave – see “Grave Reasons of State”). See Seven Lies about Catholic History, by Diane Moczar, pretty cheap at bookfinder. com

  4. In Russian Orthodoxy, there is the ”Feast of the Protection of the Mother of God”, in which ONLY the Russian Orthodox of the Christian world celebrate the miraculous destruction of the Pagan Russian fleet, after a vision by one of the Saints, a fleet of Pagans which placed the East Roman capital of Constantinople in peril. So no, criticism and introspection of a Pagan past is not foreign to the true Christianity which survives in the East.