I don’t believe in god, and I don’t have religious faith, just as Westerners expected us Chinese people. However, I am not an atheist. I always believe that somewhere, whether self-acclaimed or created by people, there is a being higher above. In scientists’ eye, it maybe the law of nature; in muslims’ eye, it is God. Not much difference in there, isn’t it?
It never occurs to me clearly why I chose this class: Early Islamic science, because first of all, I knew literally nothing about Islam, let only early Islam, secondly, there’s no way I can know anything about science, especially science that was born within a religion that is almost a taboo in China or maybe most parts of the world. But, maybe it is exactly the mystery hovering around the things this class may touch upon that attracts and lures me into writing it down on my list. And I am much more interested in the religion part than the science part.
Everything about Islam is mysterious and forbidden to me, or maybe as I’ve observed, to most Chinese. People avoid talking it, pretending to overlook it, ignoring it so confidently as if they were ignoring the beggar crawling at their feet in the crowded subway. However, the moment some accidents happen involving anything of Islam, people explode. Soon the gossip and assertion are all over the place. Newspaper will have catchy headlines, pointing their fingers directly to the Muslims’ nose. It is one of the most sensitive part in this society.
If the above is still not enough, then terrorism can definitely be one of my biggest motives to learn something about Islam.
By saying this as one of my motivation, I’m not indicating that there is a direct link between Islam and terrorism. However, I’m sure that I’m not the only one to have red alert once encounter a bushy bearded man with a little white cap hanging on the street. And after 911, from old to young, no on can to ignore Muslims or Muslim-like people in public anymore.
But why should it be Islam? Why not Buddhism? Or Christianity? Or even Taoism? Why is middle east the rich soil for terrorism? Is it because of their nature? Or is there really something to do with the religion itself.
Before I came to Cambridge and opened this book: No god but God, I admit that I was wearing colored-glasses when talking about Islam and Muslims. I don’t like the way they “force” women to wear veils and turbans, I don’t like the institution that man can have up to 4 wives and have absolute control over them, I don’t like the social clubs they organize, and those which already degenerated into terrorist associations like al-Qaeda… They are so pious that they do everything in the name of God. Yet, it is this piousness that deeply intrigued me. So why is this religion so popular, even if it has so many obvious “wrongs”.
This book brought me a new wind, breathing my perspective afresh, or to be more precise, give me a perspective.
By tracing Islam from its very root, this book reveals a story in a very traditional but nonetheless intriguing way. And it is the story of Muhammad and everyone after him that makes all the difference to Islam, making it a religion so different from others but also blends in well into the Jewish and Christian tradition.