Channel: Adnan Rashid
Libraries, Coins and the Islamic Civilisation – Cape Town 2022
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thank you so much for inviting me once again. And you're really wondering why I'm smiling and smiling, because a lot of these things said about me are actually not true.
I find it amusing that people feel that way about me. Nothing special. I'm just a student of Islam. Student almost a mystery, I'm trying my best to raise awareness about the great magnificent Muslim civilization. And it's true achievements. Tao is one of the ways we do that. Now, why is multifaceted, it comes in different forms and different shapes for different people, as I say, different strokes for different folks.
We have intellectual domain we have the masses to deal with. But it has to go on. It cannot stop. I've talked about it today, on multiple occasions,
and I wasn't prepared for this particular interaction. But I will each other share some some ideas I
at the moment in my own mind. But when I do share this idea, hopefully, we'll find supporters. One of those ideas I discussed today with Dr. aliased, and other friends and brothers who are present is to establish Islamic museums. And one of the reasons why I love this particular library. Last time when I came here, actually was the first time if I'm not mistaken.
I was fascinated by this idea. It is a very, very important aspect of the Muslim civilization, the great Forever Living in Muslim civilization.
And one of the greatest achievements of the Muslim civilization was bookmaking, book, production, bookbinding, book writing,
calligraphy, transcribing manuscripts in the hundreds of 1000s. And Muslims pioneered this field
in unprecedented ways, what I mean by that the amount of books that were produced during the Muslim period of let's say, 1000 years, is absolutely immense.
Despite all the wars, all the catastrophes, all the burdens of libraries around the world, from Spain to Baghdad, let's say, we still have hundreds of 1000s of manuscripts and global libraries that survive.
And that indicates
that Muslims produced an immense number of books,
an immense number of books, that we still find such a large collection of books around the world. Now, it is said that after the Catholics, Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella took the last stronghold of Muslims in Spain in the year 1492. Over a million books were banned
by the Congress, their intention was to wipe out any trace of Islam from the Iberian Peninsula. And in that burning, we have no idea what we may have lost, okay.
after that burning, we had 10,000 manuscripts in one of the Spanish libraries, and there was a fire
in the early 20th, century 19, early 1900s that burned much of that library, much of that collection in Spain. I don't remember the exact location of that library. But why am I mentioning these things to highlight the point that despite all that destruction, and burning of books and removal of that legacy, that the existence survives and lives on? Very stubborn, very sticky legacy. You see, Islamic civilization was the flower that left its fragrance in the hand that crushed it.
And that's the case for this day. Okay. It was a flower that was crushed repeatedly again, and again. I mean, before 1492 We had the catastrophe, catastrophe of the Mongol invasions. So in toll 58 We have Hulagu Polanco
who attacked Baghdad.
as a result we lost the library of about
it just said in reports that books were
thrown into the river tickets, and the river became black. The water was blocked due to the ink
blend dissolved in that river.
And the manuscripts ministers found in that library could be, you know, from the first century, all the way up to that very, very tall 58. So we lost a huge chunk of our legacy in books in that particular catastrophe are during that particular episode of art history, the destruction of love.
I'm a medical collector, I collect Islamic manuscripts. And the reason why I do that is because I believe this is our heritage, it has to be preserved and protected. And if it's not protected, it will be further lost and our future generations will never forgive us, for being negligent to it. And we are criminally negligent, collectively, not individually. Of course, there are exceptions. There are individuals who are very dedicated to this particular cause. In fact, some of them are non Muslims.
I, I cannot thank enough one person who's Jewish. He's from Iran, who then is down Felipe
Tao Kalia is one of the best collections of Islamic manuscripts. And we thank you for that for preserving collecting all those manuscripts for posterity.
And even the British Museum, as bad as colonialism was, we are aware of colonial history, those who do read,
one of the great things that came out of colonialism was the British Museum. Okay, many people complain about it that a lot of the artifacts are stolen. They were robbed from the original countries. And
now they are, they are kept in the British Museum, I'm of the opinion that the British Museum,
if not, the colonial establishments of the time, did us a favor. At least we can go and see these artifacts well kept preserved, protected.
And if they are kept in the same way, they will be preserved for the future as well. Now those countries that complain about the artifacts being stolen and lost, if you look at the state of history and historic objects and archaeological sites in those countries, today, you will cry tears of blood, because I have seen the state of history keeping in those countries. So they have they have no right to complain about these things. unless you can prove a strong or prove me wrong by resurrecting museums, where you can actually preserve your history and heritage. So I am for protecting heritage.
Whoever does it, I'm with them. Because heritage is a collective legacy of humans. In particular, our Islamic heritage is our source of pride, our source of honor, if we lose our history, if it's lost, to destruction, to set to vandalism towards then we have nothing to look back to. We have nothing to look up to. Allah subhanaw taala tells us in the Quran in clear words, only language you're going to redeem see rueful? Fun, good, okay, if I can argue with them Academy go in the land and see what happened to those who came before you. Though virtues that that can be repeated, and they were errors and mistakes that are to be avoided, if we do not have what was left behind by
those who came before us and what lessons are to be learned.
So these are my grandma reports, I want you to share with you that this is one of the reasons I was very, very much fascinated by this project. This is a revival in the making.
People may not realize the importance of libraries this index and you know, a book can never be replaced by PDF.
Okay, no matter how beautiful that PDF looks to you, and how convenient it may be to you because it's it comes in your device and you can easily click and start reading but that book that hardcopy will never be replaced. Never, at the British Library understand that more than anyone else they have over if I'm not mistaken. 70 million documents in the possession. Yes, it's one of the greatest or the biggest libraries in the world. Okay, and there are one of the best collections of ancient manuscripts. Codex synbiotic is one of the oldest complete Bibles is in their possession. It was taken from Egypt in the 19th century by a man called Tischendorf. He stole it.
Okay, as things were fine, it took it from the Monastery of St. Catherine with almost eight
the region of Sinai, just at the bottom of Mount Sinai. There's a monastery there Christian monastery, and this manuscript was kept there and now just found in the British Library and is well kept. It is available available to scholars and students alike. Then they have other fascinating books. One of the oldest Quran in the world is there. It isn't the Hejazi script, well kept, people can go and see it and other artifacts. And this is something we ought to do we have to do for our future generations. This is something we have neglected real resurrected mosques upon mosques, some of them they look like palaces, right? Chandeliers, beautiful carpets, beautiful calligraphy and
design and all that beautiful. I mean, it's a great tradition to celebrate, not out. But let's make two or three less mosques, and make museums instead, make libraries where our youngsters, our future generations can come and take inspiration from what has been left behind by their predecessors. That's very important, a highly neglected obligation and duty,
which is, again, going through a revival here, right here in front of you. Some of these books are absolutely fascinating. They're amazing, because I have some of them in my library, my personal library.
And I informed on books, even though I haven't read most of them in my personal library, but I just look at them, you know, my, I believe my children take inspiration from looking at those books.
And when I die, my grandchildren when they look at those books, at least thought you know, gives me some some sort of piece that they will think Oh, Grandfather read all these books.
so it's one of those things. Okay, so there is something that has totally been random from 1914. Wow, absolutely amazing. But this is a this is an antiquarian volume which has been handed to me this no one has afforded me a copy published in London in 19 4014. Now imagine, this is
book on a shelf in jurisprudence by mama NaVi her beloved, I just published in London in 1914.
this is an example how others have come forward to protect our legacy for us. And this is why I value even Orientalism as negative as a tradition it was they did some great things for us even Orientalist in the 19th century who will many of whom lived in Germany in Britain. They do some great work for the Muslims to take benefit from one of those works is Edward William lanes lexicon I don't know if Dr. Lee asked for this is that particular collection that dictionary? Lanes lexicon sorry for putting you on the spot. If you do it, you have a very unhappy okay. That's one of the greatest achievements of an of an oriental is to translate Arabic terminology into the English
language is still I think it's still on the best library. So you dictionaries in the world. It was a product of Orientalism Edward William Lane was a man who lived in Egypt in the 19th century, if I'm not mistaken 1830s 1840s And he compiled this great dictionary. And there are other works that were produced by Orientalist for our benefit.
An amazing outcome of Orientalism was a book defending the spread of Islam. Amazingly, right. There was a man called Professor Thomas Arnold, who taught in India to talk about the famous point. Okay, the famous philosopher point of the Indian subcontinent. The point of the East, as is often referred to was a student of Professor Thomas Arnold who was a philosopher par excellence. And he taught at a university and taught the government closed in the hole,
and in both studied under him and he was inspired.
A ball was inspired by the teachings of Professor Tozawa Tozando. To see that some British Orientalism are deliberately writing hostile works on Islam. People like me will review was a British colonial officer
in the Indian subcontinent, who was actually present at one of the debates
between shared parameter luckier honoree, who authored the book is out of luck later on, and founder who was a German
Trinidadians working in India, in particular the city of Agra, preaching the gospel, okay. And religion of Christianity in the streets of Agra challenging Muslims, Muslim scholars backed by the colonial establishment of India. So, one of the outcomes was this great debate in 1854 in the city of Agra fairly very important historical event directly relevant to your
the legacy of your hero in South Africa or from South Africa comedy that was the connection. So I'm gonna do that. If you know his story found a copy of his Harold Huck. The book authored the very book authored by Sheikh Abdullah corollary, in a storeroom, when he was used as a punching bag by missionaries to practice the arguments on this young man called leaders. Right? And he found this book. And this book changed the face of doubt in the 20th century, this very young man who later on became the old man ship of Medela,
kickstarted or revived
the time obligation of down in the 20th century, and what you see around the world on social media tick tock YouTube, and our debates and discussions and dialogues are a dream of Sheikh Abdullah and his example, I have no doubt about that. Because most people I've met, who are major dollar figures in the world, they have been directly inspired by check this out. So such was the doing of that book show of Chitra Hunter lockira. Right. So coming back to the viewer, really viewer basically was present in that very debate. It was a very disturbing experience for the British colonial establishment as well as those who were of that persuasion. People like William Miller, who was a
Christian missionary of a kind as well.
He wrote a biography of the Prophet sallallaahu Salam in four volumes. He wrote a book on the history of Caliphate, Muslim caliphate, starting from the four killers and going onwards, he wrote a history of the memory of dynasty in the 19th century, so he was very deeply involved in Orientalism writing books on the history of Islam. So there were individuals like that right in a negative work hostile works on Islam. So Professor Thomas Arnold was a very sympathetic
philosopher towards Islam. He had sympathy towards Islam, he liked the Muslim legacy. He was friends with many Muslim scholars like Maulana Chablis. Milani was a personal friend of his and saw the volleyballs on its students. So he decided to write a book.
And the book is titled, The preaching of Islam.
And it was a classic, published for the first time in 1896, the first edition, and the second edition was published, and large, expanded edition was published in 1914. For mistaking the preaching of Islam, it's a must read. For every Muslim even though it was a product of Orientalism. It is a must read. So Orientalism wasn't all that bad as negative or tradition.
It was, it wasn't all that bad, it gave a lot of positive
things for us to take benefit from.
So why am I mentioning these things, these random thoughts is because I'm just completely inspired by this example. And this needs to be repeated all over the Muslim world, this, and museums that display our legacy, that protect our legacy, that educate our youngsters, primarily our youth are future generations about the great Islamic civilization, the positives and the negatives. So someone like that, who has that kind of appreciation for the Islamic civilization. I love everything to do with the Islamic civilization, whether it's positive, or negative, because it's our story.
The positive just like a person who has good things to remember and bad things to remember. But you've got to remember those things so that you can take lessons from them. So I collect everything and anything that comes from Islamic civilization and if I have the ability to get my hands on it, in all legal ways, if possible, I will definitely get my hands on it, somehow. Okay. So
it is, I believe, a forgotten obligation general to protect our heritage and legacy. That's why I would like to congratulate Dr. Loss and his endeavor. I mean, very, very, very important. Very important. We cannot thank people like you enough. I don't want to praise you to your face. You know,
But you know, I'm truly inspired. This is one of the examples I mentioned everywhere I go, that South African Muslims have done something amazing. Okay. We may have other examples like this. I'm not aware of them. In particular the Western world, there are institutions that a smiley center in London, they've done good work in this regard. That probably some reason, but they focus on the smiley ism, right? Mainly, their main focus is to, to revive the history of smiley thought, okay, which is like a fringe element of the Muslim civilization, no doubt. Okay. But it is a great endeavor to protect and to preserve our heritage for our future.
So coming to your request to talk about your bond really and about that. Maybe we can do it and do it. Just do that another time. But like you mentioned, I had an interaction with ancestry. And one, you must listen to her when she and she's a dynamic woman. She has amazing
experiences to share. She went through a lot. He went through a lot in the last 20 years. From the time she was captured by the Taliban. And then when she was in prison, she was poor by Taliban commander. So when I met her in London, soon after that,
at Regent's Park mosque, and I asked her this question when she was not a Muslim, that, are you contemplating Islam? And she said, Well, I'm reading, because I promised someone that I would read the Quran. And the person she was talking about that was that unknown Taliban commander when I was when we weren't allowed us, right. She raised reasons abroad and eventually accepted Islam. And not only that,
she becomes a very strong proponent of human rights for Muslims in particular, because Muslims, Muslim blood had become fair game.
Especially when we were facing the onslaught on media, immediately after the after the catastrophe of catastrophe of 911. So she was instrumental in defending the rights of many wrong and, and oppressed Muslims. One of those cases, we'll have a case of Orpheus and BP, very famous well known case. And she did a great job in bringing bringing her case to light. And that's one of the reasons why she was fine. He was found in Afghanistan, suddenly, she appeared. And then she was sentenced three to six years in the US. Her children were also found, eventually, her son was sent back to the grandmother. I have seen him personally.
His name is
her daughter was found separately speaking American English, and strong American accent, right. And then she was left on the street,
outside her Orpheus house in Karachi. And the third child, so the man was six months old at the time of her kidnapping hasn't been found. So why I mentioned this is because this is one of her legacies. In one Wrigley's legacy. This is something she did for this oppressed woman. And she continues to campaign for her. She's a great woman.
And I invite everyone to
listen to her, meet with her when she arrived in Charlotte. Different definitely worth spending time.
On that note, Please do forgive me if I was saying random things without planning a lecture or talk. So I love to talk about these things. I mean, I have a fascination with books. And I'm a keen book collector.
Some old, some new, some recent, some not so recent. And also coins I mentioned earlier. So I am very, very, very fascinated by Islamic numismatics to the extent that people who travel with me
and who know me smiling, because they know how crazy how mad I am about Islamic coins and preserving them. In fact, I quickly mentioned one of the gems I found, if I'm boring you Please do forgive me. But this is something I love to talk about. Right? You know, everyone has different interests. So my one of my interest is collecting preserving Islamic points, you know, and they vary from place to place time to time, beautiful artists, artwork on them, if you find early Islamic point and you find COVID Gallery from them, you know, the earliest form of the Arabic language right? Beautifully inscribed on these claims. And then when you move forward to the to the ambassador period from the
American period, the coin start to change and the Arabic script becomes more civilized, more elegant, in its in its, you know, in its form. So it's more kind of square and more rounded and more artistic. Right? When you move forward. And when you by the time you get to the 10th century CE some of the most beautiful Islamic
pieces of Islam
Make art you will find our own coins. This calligraphy, those dye engravers, those moneymakers. Because these are hammer struck coins, silver and gold dinars were gold in terms of silver. So when you look at some of these points, the engravings on them, the calligraphy, the ability to carve with such intricacy and such delicate work on these dice made of often made of bronze that were used to strike these coins, coins would be warmed, that would be basically
that would be made hot. And then this piece of code will be put between two dials and Hamilton. So you will see the inscription on them. So it's a huge field that is neglected by the
people think numismatics is just a joke. People who collect coins are just kids who haven't grown up, right? That's not the case. Okay? Some of these coins are worth millions of dollars if we talk in monetary terms, which is what gets the attention of most people nowadays, right? Yeah, not the historic value, but the monetary value, right? You can find points Islamic points worth millions of pounds, millions British pounds, right. There is a coin which is very rare form of the malignant but one that clearly is called the standing cave. The Standing clearly was one of the one of the earlier examples or experiments conducted by his moneymakers that the case is shown standing with the sword.
Right. And there is an inscription around him lie in the lower shadow luxury car. Okay, and then on the other side, we find the date. So it was a copy, or the inspiration was taken from the Byzantine, the Roman solidus. That's why they experimented and then came the fully Islamic reformed coinage in the year 77. And I have a golden privilege to have a golden hour from the very next year 78 kg, which is one of the earliest Islamic coin in history. No, that is. So there is a lot we can learn from Queens, absolutely amazing amount of history and information. In fact, we have physical evidence on Islamic coins of Islamic great. You see a lot of these of these critics, we have a
tradition of Hadith we call him the Hadith, science, a lot of Western historians and scholars, they questioned the veracity of this tradition. So this tradition is not trustworthy. Okay, why they give their reasons. And our scholars on the other hand, Islamic traditional scholars, they argue that it is trustworthy it is not only trustworthy it is one of the most powerful if preserved historic traditions in human history. Okay, but amazingly, are at least tradition is directly supported
and confirmed by material evidence, such as inscription of rocks in the Arabian Peninsula. manuscript evidence from the first century of Islam and claims, you will be thinking coins how?
apart from finding Quranic verses on these points from the first century, we find Islamic rituals depicted on some of these claims. So there is a claim minted in the cemetery for hedging
in Iraq by an a way of governance called Bishop Midmar. One who was a brother of the bailiff of the management Marwan
on this coin, which is basically made upon assassinate model because virgins or 70s, the Sassanid Empire was, of course, dismantled by the Muslim early Islamic invasions. And the coinage was kept pretty much the same Muslims earlier Muslim rulers governors are very pragmatic about these things. They didn't come in and start they didn't start to introduce their own economic order. They didn't change the currency they kept the colonists dissent and then it should initially they start to pray and Bismillah on the margins of the assassinate coins to denote that this is an Islamic issue not assess anyone later on. Other experiments are conducted one of those was bishop in Milan Summit, you
originally minted a government in Iraq to basically signified the supremacy of the qlf and the masters who was undermining the Marwan how was that demonstrated? The case is seen to be leading prayer
saw right on that point.
And he has to attend I mean, attendance are most of these what we call mokhtari. The ones who pray behind the Imam. So he has two followers on this coin, you can see them depicted. So the Caleb is raising his hand to stop the prayer what we say Prophet Yoda and when we say when you say Allahu Akbar we raised the Imam raise his hand
and the followers have the hand folded on the breast on the chest, right. So this is clearly depicted on the claim. Not only that they have beards are shown to have beards, okay? And the clothes are above the handles, I mean, which is something, the thick your opinion right nowadays people wear the clothes about the ankles, right? So the cave has his clothes above his ankles, right? And He's raising his hand. And now in the Hadith literature, we are told in collections like Bukhari and Muslim, the Prophet prayed. And when he started his prayer, he raised his hands and split his fingers like that.
Okay, he raised his hands up to his shoulders, right? This was a nice refresher process. And we see that depicted on the coin, for the killer was raising his hand up to the shoulders and the fingers are split, they're actually shown split on the coin. So what does this show this shows that our salah,
described in the Hadith literature is exactly how it was practiced in the first century of Islam, very close to the time of the Prophet while his companions were alive. 70 or 80, many hundreds of companions were alive, including people like underspin Malik was alive. He died in 1940 died 20 years later. So coins are not to be the little candy ignored anymore. Ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, they can teach us a lot. They can teach us the amount of history we cannot imagine they are neglected they are heavily, highly neglected by our traditional scholarship. And this is a field we need to explore more carefully and we will find many more wonders in them. Thank you so much for
listening to me. I'd know I don't want to go on talking about my personal interest and my fascinations. I hope you took some ideas from me and inshallah hopefully we will continue to work together to make this world a better place by promoting book culture
and our heritage as preservation thank you so much.