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on Aug. 17, 2012 :
This book is not exactly what I had anticipated, yet it does create an interesting point for further discussion and exploration into the topic of Muslim contributions to society throughout history.
Not being a student of Islam myself, I found the many assumptions made throughout the book to leave holes in some of the "facts" presented. For example, the author paints a picture of the entire world living in darkness (with respect to knowledge of everything from science to mathematics, medicine, etc.) until the 20-something years that Islam's Prophet preached (610 to 632 CE according to the author).
No factual data is provided that would allow me to draw such a conclusion short of blind faith in the teachings of Islam. In fact, the author wants me to believe that famous scientists, mathematicians, etc. of various religious/secular beliefs stole credit from Muslims for their discoveries centuries later. I'm not convinced. What of Egypt's pyramids? Rome's ancient structures? Ruins of magnificent structures in Israel? - all predating Isalm by many centuries.
Over the generations - in every country where scientific discovery is encouraged - there have been/are scientists who stall (or die before their theory is proven) and someone else picks up where they left off. When a theory is proven or discovery is made by these scientists, are they to be discredited because someone else at some point in history had similar thoughts but either wasn't able to reach the conclusion or publish proof for other scientists to test and corroborate?
I was prepared to learn about unique contributions to the world by great Islamic minds, but instead I came away feeling that the author had an agenda to rewrite history at the expense of other great minds. I had difficulty finishing the book after that tone was set.
I look forward to a world where individual achievements in science, math, medicine, etc. can be documented and applauded without demeaning others or attaching the achievement to religious or lifestyle choice category.
A word about Sources: continual reference (in almost every chapter) to The Encyclopedia Britannica left me feeling like I was reading a school term paper rather than an informative book.
I hope the author will accept this critique to further improve and find success in her writing career. It is not my intention to hurt feelings, just to provide my honest opinion - my intuitive reaction to this work. I believe that reading this book has helped me to find fault with my own writings; when writing a piece intended to be factual, it's important to remove one's own personal beliefs/agenda and present only the facts (i.e., those that can be proven).
(reviewed long after purchase)
on July 08, 2012 :
If you want to get a Cliff's Notes version of what has been left out of the Euro-centric history cannon--and trust me, much of what we have been taught is sorely lacking in detail and even accuracy--this is a good book to read.
It's quick. It's navigable, so that you can find a topic area easily, and it has a good bibliography for further study.
Anjum's goal is to open the Western reader's mind to associate more than terrorism in connection with Islam and the Middle East in general.
Her thesis is well-supported in that Encyclopedia Britannica articles mostly ignore, the achievements of the Muslim Golden Age. If you accept that Britannica (and not Wikipedia) is a "premier source of information," then she makes a good case, as she says, in "simplest terms." A fourth grader could easily read this book and should.
The book is divided into different topic sections, but many sections are only one or two pages long and are basically introduced by a paragraph citing Britannica, showing how the relevant parts are missing, followed by paragraphs listing the inventions and inventors.
I am happy to know that "Avicenna" was really Ibn Senna, and that Caliph Haroun Al Rashid was a real person and a great leader.
Thank you to author Aliya Anjum for providing a copy of the book for me to review.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)