CAIRO: Before Uzbekistan observes next month the 16th anniversary of its independence from the former Soviet Union, Tashkent, the capital, will celebrate being chosen as the capital of Islamic culture in Asia in 2007 by the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Isesco) mid-August.
More than 100 celebrities, academics and public figures are to attend a conference on Aug. 14 and 15 hosted by the city on the occasion, entitled: Uzbekistan s contribution to the development of the Islamic civilization.
The participants at the conference, which President Islam Karimov will open, include Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, Isesco Director General Abdul Aziz Othman Al-Twaijri, Azhar University President Ahmed Al-Tayeb, Union of Arab Universities Secretary General Saleh Hashem, and Mufti of Kyrgyzstan Muslims Muratali Aji Jumanov, according to official sources at the Uzbek Embassy in Cairo.
Speaking on the occasion, Al-Twaijri said that Uzbekistan is famous for its great scholars and scientists who left a rich legacy and contributed to Islamic enlightenment. Those scholars and scientists include Imam Muhammad Ibn Ismail Al-Bukhari who wrote Al-Jame As-Sahih (Sahih al-Bukari) which documented Prophet Mohamed s Hadith, Umar Az-Zamakhshari who wrote The Rules of Diagnosis and Disease Treatment and Rare Plants and Abu Rayhan Beruni who is famous for his book On India and Avicenna.
Al-Twaijri also lauded the trend to restore monuments in Tashkent, Bukhara, Samarkand and Khiva as a shining example.
Halit Eren, director general of the Centre of Analysis of Islamic History, Art and Culture at the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), said the cities of Transoxiana (Ma Wara un-Nahr), especially Bukhara, were the centers of storing Islamic manuscripts. These later found their way to Europe through trade routes.
In the ninth century, a scholar named Al-Fergjani (Alfraghanus) was born in the city of Ferghana, Uzbekistan. Al-Ferghani wrote a book on astronomy entitled Elements. The book was translated into Latin and studied in Europe in the 12th and 13th centuries AD, Eren said.
Abu Ali Ibn Sina (Avicenna) is another famous scholar who lived in Bukhara in the 11th and 12th centuries, Eren added, noting that Ibn Sina, an astrologist and a physician, is famous for a lot of works that include his book The Laws of Medicine and the Book of Recovery.
The Book of Recovery, he said, covers a wide range of sciences known at that time, beginning with philosophy, physics, mathematics and metaphysics and ending with ethics, economics and politics. Eren also mentioned the well-known philosopher Abu Nasr Al-Farabi of the eighth century who became famous as the second mentor after Aristotle.
Saleh Hashem, secretary general of the Union of Arab Universities, described modern Uzbekistan as being a crossroads of different cultures and civilizations. Old Tashkent was the land of great Islamic scholars, such as Khaffol Shoshi who contributed to collecting the Hadith and explaining the Quran, and Khojan Akhror Vali and Khoja Zayniddin, founders of a Sufi movement, he added. Uzbekistan is also famous for housing Osman s edition of the Quran, which was written in the seventh century. This edition of the Quran is the only Islamic manuscript available from the seventh century, he added.
Ahmad Manzoor, rector of the Islamabad International Islamic University, said that Tashkent, Samarkand and Bukhara are famous all over the world as the pearls of Islamic culture, being recognized as the centers of science in ancient times with the help of great mentors from Transoxiana (Ma Wara un-Nahr).
Yoshiaki Sasaki, senior academic at Tokyo Foundation, said that he was impressed with the masterpieces of Uzbek architecture and historical monuments when he visited Uzbekistan in the 1990s.
I witnessed the beauty and grandiosity of Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiba and Taskhent. I was deeply impressed by the fact that despite facing different challenges in their history, the Uzbek people have been able to fully preserve their history, culture, and scientific legacy, he elaborated. He was referring to the efforts of the Uzbek government to restore the peace-loving and tolerant nature of Islam at a time when different forces are trying to undermine Islamic values in their pursuit of certain goals and interests.
Akber Ozgen, president of the Pakistan-Uzbekistan Cultural Society, spoke of two periods of prosperity of Transoxiana (Ma Wara un-Nahr). First was during the Abassids Khalifat in the eighth and ninth centuries, when Bukhara became the leading centre of education, science and culture in the Muslim world, ranking alongside cities such as Baghdad, Cairo and Cordoba. Second, during the golden age of Amir Temur (Timur Lenk (1336-1405) aka Tamerlane) who founded the Timurid Empire in Central Asia.
Mirzo Ulugbek, Amir Temur s grandson, was the greatest astronomer of that period, Ozgen said. He referred as well to the peaceful coexistence between the Muslim communities of Uzbekistan and other religious groups, including Christians and Jews.
Sheikh-ul-Islam Allahshukur Pasha-Zade, chairman of the Caucasus Muslim Department, referred to the great Muslim scientists and theologians of Uzbekistan. These scientists included Al-Bukhari, Al-Termizi, and Al-Khorezmi, aka Algorithumus, from whom the term Algorithm derived. In its choice as Tashkent to be a capital of Islamic Culture in 2007, the Isesco, an offshoot of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), has taken into consideration Uzbek policies aimed at reviving the cultural and spiritual values of the Uzbek people as well as their efforts to preserve their Islamic monuments.