We are either nostalgic about our own golden history (linked to Pan-Islamism) or enamored of Euro or American civilisations. Of course there are bright spots in Islamic history as also in other civilisations. Contemporary countries were slumbering, when Muslims ruled Andalus for over six centuries. In fact, it was vendetta against pagans (Muslims) that united Europe into a cohesive region (Henri Pirenne). Remember that while Islam was at its pinnacle Europe, with different languages and cultures, was at war with one another. The fragmented Europe progressed by leaps and bounds by availing themselves of knowledge of science and technology from Muslim world or China. 

Historians, like Ibn-e-Khaldun, Toynbee, and Arrighi, have postulated a life cycle for fall of nations. For instance, Arrighi thinks wealthy hegemonic centres of civilisation last for about a century and then collapse. During heyday of Soviet Union, Russian was the lingua franca from Prague to Hanoi. After demolition of the Berlin Wall, Germans began to take pride in speaking German at international forums. People follow language of the dominant power. English language supplanted Persian, the language of the Moghuls. When, around 2050, China displaces USA, English is likely to give way to mandarin as the world’s new lingua franca. Popularity of a language rises or falls pari passu with a country’s place in comity of nations. Trump’s granddaughter sang a mandarin song before Chinese dignitaries. Hong Kong’s effervescence for mandarin is due to rise of China. Now is the time to excel in science and technology. Otherwise we may end up slaves to Chinese language and culture. 

Let us read the writing on wall. We need to readjust lens of our vision according to trajectory of history. 

TS BUTT, Lahore, 

August 18.