Islam and the Printing Press

Though the print press was introduced in the Western World in the 15th century, it was not used in the Muslim World until the 19th century. The reason for this was that the Ottoman Sultan forbade its use out of respect for the Arabic language. They did not want to see the same letters in the Quran being beat onto something. Until then, copying books was tedious. Anyone who has done calligraphy knows that lined paper is required and people had to draw their own lines. Dipping reed pens into ink every one or two words is also tedious. Scholars would also have to prepare their own ink by boiling a certain part of sheep and bring sand to absorb it better. They also made their own pens. Then the process of copying hundreds of pages could begin. Despite the difficulty in this, this system was not without its advantages. Only the best of books survived. Nothing was copied unless a qualified scholar believed it to be worth copying. Things have changed since then. Anyone with enough money and an agenda can print whatever they want. Mass literacy has also taught people to read but the overwhelming majority lack the critical thinking skills to discern good texts from bad texts. And don’t think that undergraduate degree gives you the ability to think critically. What then happens is the simplest answer, right or wrong, prevails. Because of this, I am cautious of any book written less than 250 years ago. I’ll leave the rest up to you, dear reader, to figure out. Talk amongst yourselves.


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