Rev Jules Gomes: BBC rewrites history to make Islam the font of civilisation

Why is the BBC spending taxpayers’ money to perpetuate the fairy tale of a golden age of Islam? Why is the Beeb peddling a PC myth that is skewed and reductionist at best and ideologically freighted and erroneous at worst?

The BBC’s re-creation of the Middle Ages depicts Cordoba in Muslim Spain with ‘street lighting and running water.’ In contrast Londoners ‘lived in timber-framed houses and used the river as their sewer.’ ‘Muslims were going to beauty parlours, using deodorants and drinking from glasses, at a time when English books of behaviour were still telling page-boys not to pick their nose over their food, spit on the table, or throw uneaten food onto the floor,’ says Auntie, brainwashing school children in her history lessons.

The West was in the gutter while the Muslim world was bathing in perfume. That’s right, says the BBC. Islamic civilisation extricated Europe from the Dark Ages and brought her kicking and screaming into the Enlightenment. Is the Beeb telling us the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

Any logician will tell you that it is a fallacy to confuse causation with correlation. This is the Achilles’ heel of the Beeb’s revisionist history, which by implication attributes the achievements of the Abbasid Empire to the religion of Islam.

But was the Abbasid Empire really Islamic? When the BBC outlines the wars of conquest it does not label them ‘Islamic’. Fighting wars is attributed to the Seljuk Turks, nomadic Turks, and Ottoman Turks. In Auntie’s world of Alice in Blunderland historical fantasy, Islamic imperialism is praiseworthy as it led to universal enlightenment but Western imperialism is evil as it led to colonialism.

But don’t all empires conquer, colonise, exploit, as well as energise their peoples by drawing on previously existing indigenous skills and exporting them across its territories? The Muslim empire was spread over three continents. It included Persians, Syrians, Egyptians,Turks, Spaniards, and Indians, who practised Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Judaism, and Christianity.

In fact, for the first several centuries of the progressive Islamic empire, Muslims were numerically few. Ironically, when conversions to Islam steeply rose in the 10th century therewere ‘negative consequences for the pursuit of the natural sciences and intellectual life in general,’ writes historian Toby Huff in The Rise of Early Modern Science: Islam, China and the West.

Why? Muslims viewed the natural sciences as ‘foreign sciences’. ‘From the outset, devout Muslims were inclined to think that all wisdom was contained in the Quran and that therefore all true sciences must be found therein,’ says Huff. Islamic sciences were those devoted to studying the Koran, the Hadith, jurisprudence, theology, poetry, and the Arabic language. One major source of foreign science was the classic Greek works following the Aristotelian tradition. The vast majority of these were translated into Arabic by colonised Christian or Jewish scholars. Other sources of learning were borrowed from India and Persia.

Arabic numerals and the symbol zero were imported from India. The compass and paper were imported from China. Muslim sailors made use of the Greek knowledge of latitude. The golden age was thefruit of intellectual collaboration. A synthesis of Greek, Persian, Indian, and Armenian learning traditions had already taken place within the pre-IslamicSassanid Persian Empire. Islam’s contribution was its imperialism, which brought these diverse groups together.

Many of the scholars who made significant contributions to medicine, science, geometry, astronomy and logic, did so in spite of Islam and not because of Islam. The Persian polymath Al-Razi, perhaps the greatest Muslim-born scientist in the then Islamic world, made lasting contributions to medicine, alchemy, and philosophy, recorded in over 200 books and articles. He considered the Koran as an assorted mixture of ‘absurd and inconsistent fables.’

The philosophy of the Uzbek born Avicenna or Ibn Sina who wrote al-Qanun—an encyclopaedia of medicine—was based on a combination of Aristotelianism and Neo-Platonism. The Islamic philosopher al-Ghazali called him an apostate for dismissing some of the central doctrines of Islam. The Syrian poet, sceptic and freethinker Al-Ma’arri despised religions in general and Islam in particular. The great Omar Khayyam of Iran whose Ruba’iyat are world famous was an epicurean philosopher and a rationalist sceptic who scorned Islam. The Spanish philosopher and scientist Averroes or Ibn Rushd considered Aristotle as the ‘perfect man’. He was condemned for heresy by the Christian, Jewish and Islamic hierarchy and his works were frequently burned.

The tide began to turn when Muslim intellectuals began to reject the wisdom of the ancient Greeks and the epistemology of their contemporaries and returned to the orthodox message of Islam. One of the best known was the theologian, jurist and philosopher al-Ghazali, who turned the tide of progress in his influential book The Incoherence of the Philosophers. He rejected Aristotle and Plato and attacked the “Islamic” philosophers who drew on the Ancient Greeks.

This is one reason why the golden age of Islam did not give rise to modern science—a question the BBC conveniently ignores. Professor Huff answers the question by arguing that the modern scientific revolution was born from a fusion between ‘Greek philosophy, Roman law, and Christian theology’ that ‘laid a foundation for believing in the essential rationality of man and nature.’

I first came across the re-writing of history while growing up in India. Suddenly ultra rightwing “historians” sponsored by the saffron brigade of the militant Hindu Sangh Parivar (family organisation) were re-writing school textbooks and claiming that the Vatican, Westminster Abbey and the Taj Mahal were once temples to the Hindu god Shiva. Another historical achievement of the golden age of Hinduism, they announced, is the “fact” that the first airplane was invented in India when the mythological Hindu god Ram flew from Sri Lanka to Ayodhya. I had grown up in India believing that I could trust the BBC for its commitment to fairness and objectivity. That, I now realize, was a myth of my own making.

(Image: NoirKitsuné)

Rev Jules Gomes

  • Alan

    So, no change in BBC editorial policy then?

  • Shazza

    The Fall of the Roman Empire II

    Act 1
    The Left deliberately imports vast numbers of Muslim immigrants ‘to rub the Right’s noses in diversity’ cheered on by the BBC/Sky/Guardian and the rest of the ‘liberal’ MSM. All efforts to question this policy ruthlessly destroyed.

    Act 2
    The Left teams up with Islam to destroy the Right. The BBC goes into overdrive to mock, deride and deliberately distort facts regarding Judeo Christian history. Revisionist history deliberately taught in schools, children’s programmes effectively promote Islam over ‘Western’ values.

    Act 3
    Islam defeats the Left – BBC etc. becomes British version of Press TV.

    • James Chilton

      A comedy or a tragedy?

      • Shazza


        The BBC, who is so determined to bring about the demise of Judeo Christian culture should take note of one of its wisest sayings –

        ‘As ye sow, so shall ye reap’

        They will, along with the rest of us reap what the Left has sown.

        Oh the irony – they really, really believe that Islam is going to morph into some sort of ‘vanilla’ Christianity, undergo a ‘modernisation’ and all those homophobic/misogynistic/sexist etc. mores which are so fundamental to that ideology are going to disappear.

        To paraphrase President Erdogan – ‘it is an insult to talk about ‘moderate’ Islam, there is only Islam.’

        • James Chilton

          As you say, the lefties at the BBC who are sowing the wind, will reap the whirlwind. This would be a sort of “poetic justice” except that no one will survive with the liberty to appreciate it.

  • David Keighley

    This huge BBC ‘Bitesize’ section, aimed at kids, is truly shocking and is at the heart of their ‘worship Islam’ project. The same shocking, acid prejudice that underpins ‘the Islamic World in the Middle Ages'(analysed so brilliantly above) can also be seen in spades in the companion analysis of the Crusades: Here is a typical key sequence: ‘Writers in the 1800s portrayed the Crusades as great romantic adventures. In fact, the Crusaders were invading a foreign country, and many Crusaders committed what we would regard today as criminal atrocities.’ So that’s it then. those nice Muslim invaders brought enlightenment (and don’t forget the deodorant!) to the barbarians in Europe; Christian Europeans who believed that the Muslim subjugation of Bethlehem was repressive were common criminals. In this assault on civilised values, through a full-scale effort to re-write history, and thereby brainwash kids, the BBC has appointed itself as a holier-than-thou arbiter. Its villains are all those who are white, Christian, decent, and civilised.

    • This is exactly why discussing politics and history with the under 25’s an arduous (and depressing) experience.

    • Excellent comment!

  • Aaron D Highside

    We keep electing to Parliament career politicians who are scared of the BBC, scared of the NHS and scared of The Blob. Maybe we get what we deserve and before long Wellington, Nelson and Churchill will be thought of as evil, the way the BBC views Mrs Thatcher. The BBC quite simply despises Britain’s remarkable history and culture.

    • I do not think those career politicians are scared of the BBC et al. – I think they are all one of the same type.

  • Craig Martin

    “…Many of the scholars who made significant contributions to medicine,
    science, geometry, astronomy and logic, did so in spite of Islam and not
    because of Islam…”


    It was Islam that shut down the centers of learning and set out to bully (butcher) the brightest students and mentors.

    • Shazza

      Indeed. In fact, if you Google Nobel Prize winners in the fields of science/medicine etc. you will be astounded by the absolute dearth of winners that come from Islamic countries/Islamic cultures.

  • WFC

    Excellent analysis.

  • Greenlander

    What is the BBC? Jizya taxation with the threat of imprisonment if you refuse to pay, and accept, along with the dodgy logic of the herd that it is somehow superior to all alternatives.

  • Politically__Incorrect

    The BBC should carry a health warning:”May seriously damage your intellect”

  • Andy

    I’ve often thought that as Islam was so great, we should import it’s taxation system.

    Lets make Muslims pay tax at a higher rate that Christans, after all this is what the enlightened did all those years ago!

    Don’t pay the TV tax. Simples.

  • Vox Populi

    Around five years ago I stopped paying the BBC Licence Payers Fee on principle. I urge other readers to do the same.

    • John Thomas

      VP, my idea, which I can’t seem to promote, is that those of us who do pay (ie. by direct debit) then, when we receive the licence at the end of the year, promptly tear it up and send it directly to the Director General, with an explanatory note, and copies to local newspapers. Records will still show you paid – so no prosecution – and the protest will have been made.

  • Patrick Selden

    You’re being a bit tongue-in-cheek with your rhetorical question at the start of this article, aren’t you, Reverend? You know full well why the BBC’s pushing the myth of an Islamic golden age: it’s part of the metropolitan liberal clerisy’s propaganda project to allay the proles’ fears at having an ideology hostile to Enlightenment values foisted upon them against their will.

    • James Chilton

      Succinct and true.

  • Superb article! It is so important that people write intelligent articles to redress the balance. Such wanton distortions of reality as spouted from the BBC on a daily basis must not just be allowed to stand unchallenged. Keep up the great work!

  • Vox Populi

    And three guesses for who is the Head of Religion and Ethics for the BBC? A certain Muslim by the name of Aaqil Ahmed.

  • derek

    Maybe someone at the BBC should listen to this guy..

    • Vox Populi

      Spot on!

    • TheStoneMan

      Who would have thought he would be allowed to air these views?

      If only there were more like him, especially in this country.

  • D J

    I would also recommend the Myth of the Andalusian Paradise by Fernandez-Morera.
    A tour de force, and even mentions Barbary slavers taking people from the British Isles ,including the Isle of Man.
    The really excellent part is how he shows the dishonesty of his academic colleagues who have been taking Arab money to fund their research while they produce propaganda.