1001 reasons for Muslim pride

[Common Ground News Service] Washington, DC – In his best-selling novel, The Museum of Innocence, Turkish author and 2006 Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk speaks eloquently of the importance of museums to society.

“With my museum I want to teach not just the Turkish people but all the people of the world to take pride in the lives they live,” Pamuk writes. “I’ve travelled all over, and I’ve seen it with my own eyes: while the West takes pride in itself, most of the rest of the world lives in shame. But if the objects that bring us shame are displayed in a museum, they are immediately transformed into possessions in which to take pride.”

The power of museums lies in their ability to shed light on accomplishments that may not have been captured in the histories of Western civilization. In Washington, DC, two very different museums are doing this with exhibitions that focus on the forgotten impact of Islam.

A National Geographic Society exhibition reveals that the Dark Ages were not quite as dark as history books would have us believe. “1001 Inventions: The Golden Age of Muslim Society,” which runs through mid-February, shows the era between the end of the Roman Empire and the Renaissance was filled with innovation and illumination in every field – medicine, mathematics, cartography, science, astronomy, agriculture, architecture and more. So why is this missing from our history books? How can these contributions have been overlooked?

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First appeared in Common Ground News Service, November 2012 as

1001 reasons for Muslim pride