What Arab Civilization?
Dear Madame Fiorina:
It is with great interest that I read your speech delivered on September 26, 2001, titled "Technology, Business and Our way of Life: What's Next" [sic]. I was particularly interested in the story you told at the end of your speech, about the Arab/Muslim civilization. As an Assyrian, a non-Arab, Christian native of the Middle East, whose ancestors reach back to 5000 B.C., I wish to clarify some points you made in this little story, and to alert you to the dangers of unwittingly being drawn into the Arabist/Islamist ideology, which seeks to assimilate all cultures and religions into the Arab/Islamic fold.
I know you are a very busy woman, but please find ten minutes to read what follows, as it is a perspective that you will not likely get from anywhere else. I will answer some of the specific points you made in your speech, then conclude with a brief perspective on this Arabist/Islamist ideology.
Arabs and Muslims appeared on the world scene in 630 A.D., when the armies of Muhammad began their conquest of the Middle East. We should be very clear that this was a military conquest, not a missionary enterprise, and through the use of force, authorized by a declaration of a Jihad against infidels, Arabs/Muslims were able to forcibly convert and assimilate non-Arabs and non-Mulsims into their fold. Very few indigenous communities of the Middle East survived this -- primarily Assyrians, Jews, Armenians and Coptics (of Egypt).
Having conquered the Middle East, Arabs placed these communities under a Dhimmi (see the book Dhimmi, by Bat Ye'Or) system of governance, where the communities were allowed to rule themselves as religious minorities (Christians, Jews and Zoroastrian). These communities had to pay a tax (called a Jizzya in Arabic) that was, in effect, a penalty for being non-Muslim, and that was typically 80% in times of tolerance and up to 150% in times of oppression. This tax forced many of these communities to convert to Islam, as it was designed to do.
You state, "its architects designed buildings that defied gravity." I am not sure what you are referring to, but if you are referring to domes and arches, the fundamental architectural breakthrough of using a parabolic shape instead of a spherical shape for these structures was made by the Assyrians more than 1300 years earlier, as evidenced by their archaeological record.
You state, "its mathematicians created the algebra and algorithms that would enable the building of computers, and the creation of encryption." The fundamental basis of modern mathematics had been laid down not hundreds but thousands of years before by Assyrians and Babylonians, who already knew of the concept of zero, of the Pythagorean Theorem, and of many, many other developments expropriated by Arabs/Muslims (see History of Babylonian Mathematics, Neugebauer).
You may have encountered this text/letter before, but it's worth reading again!
Now, I have nothing against arabs or muslims for that matter, but whenever discussing historical matters with muslims or their apologists some of these matters are drawn in to the conversation. They just can't get in to their mind what an failed ideology they have their beliefs in!
Think of it. If we take the oil- rich countries out of the equation, the whole of the muslim umma have a GDP comparable with Italy! In 2006 the whole arab umma were granted 370 some patents while - take South Korea for example were granted 57000- take or give a few.
What are arab civilization- Indeed!