Muslims Were The First To Manufacture Paper At International Level? Impact Of Paper In The Islamic World

Did you know that Muslims were the first to manufacture paper at international level? That Muslims were the people who spread paper to the entire globe, from India to Europe though they didn't invent it. They perfected it and they popularised it. 
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The History And Impact Of Paper In The Islamic World:

Where did it come from? In the battle of Tal'as in 751 CE, which is in the first century of Hijrah, under the Caliphate of early Abbasside dynasty; in the battle of Tal'as Muslims fought against a small group of what now call a Chinese nation. And the paper had been Invented by Chinese. However, they didn't understand its significance, and it was something the elite did. It wasn't mass produced and the Chinese as a nation still use papyrus. Now papyrus is thick, papyrus has to be folded up. Papyrus is very awkward to deal with. Paper as we all know is thin, paper last forever. Papyrus only lasts for few decades. The Chinese invented paper but they kept it as state secret. They didn't want anybody to know about it.

Desperate For Art Of Paper Making:

In the battle of Tal'as, the Muslims captured two prisoners of wars who were a part of this secret guild of paper manufacturers. New technology! What did they do? They embraced it. They understood the significance of this. So they took these two prisoners of war, treated them like royalty, brought them back to Baghdad and the Khalifah said, "You shall be free to leave back to China as soon as you teach us you teach us how to build paper,  how to manufacture paper. So these Chinese taught Muslims the art of paper manufacturing and the first manufacturing mil in the entire Mediterranean world was set up in Samarkand. There was no paper in Europe at that time. There was no paper in India at the time. And the Muslims experimented and they produce a better quality of paper and eventually Baghdad, eventually Andalusia, the entire Muslim world produced different types of papers. Once upon a time there was Sulaimaani paper, there was Dawoodi paper, there was Samarkandi paper. And by the way, the ancient Chinese used to call paper Kaghaz and us Muslims, preserved the heritage call the paper, Kaghaz. This term is ancient Chinese. So we still call paper Kaghaz from the ancient Chinese to show where it actually cane from. Eventually the government, the Islamic government adopted paper as its official means of communication. So paper spread throughout Muslim land from Andalusia on the one side, on the west, all through Algeria, Morocco, Egypt. All the way through  Arabia, Syria, Damascus, Palestine, Iraq. All the way down to the borders of what  is now China, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, paper became the norm.

The Birth Of Revolution With Paper:

What comes with paper?
Books, education, universities, institutions, libraries because paper is the medium of education and it is not a coincidence that Islamic science flourished, the writing of books flourished, scholarship flourished when paper was discovered. And with paper came the largest universities in the world. 
The first universities and the largest libraries were Islamic libraries and the fact of the matter is that Muslims were the first to have something that we now understand as being a university and this is not a bragado claim. It is a claim that has been documented by researchers. A famous scholar, George Maqdesee has an entire book called the "Rise Of Colleges In Islam". You can find it in Amazon, and it in he documents the first colleges and the first universities were those produced by the Muslims. 
The notion of adults getting an education was something that Islam did and of course, it's not a coincidence all of this is happening with the medium of paper flourishing. The west eventually discovered paper in the first crusade and the second crusade when they entered Jerusalem and they found the Muslims with paper, they brought it back to Europe and Europeans, their appetite was wetted for paper. When they conquered Andalusia, they found the first printing press they had ever seen in their lives, the first paper manufacturing mills. And this is an interesting fact of history, they expelled all the Muslims of Andalusia except for a handful who could teach them sciences they didn't know; and those sciences they didn't know, how to make paper? So of the Muslims who were forced to remain were those who owned the paper manufacturing mills. Those who knew the art of paper making. And from Andalusia, the Europeans acquired the art of making paper. And it spread throughout all of Europe until eventually they set up paper presses, paper mills in Italy. And guess what? The Europeans started making paper better than the Muslims. For 200 years, paper was sold to Europe around 1500 or so. The Europeans began producing better paper and from that point on, many of our manu scripts that we still find are actually being written on European paper and we here the beginning of rise and decline, the beginning of the fall. Paper is coming from Muslim land to Europe, 1300, 1400. Around 1450, 1500, what happens? The Europeans discovered better ways to make paper, better quality paper, stronger paper. So what happens? They began selling to Muslims. You see, the tide had changed slowly coming along and Europe excelled in the art of manufacturing paper. Eventually of course paper also moved to India in the 13th century.
Now, paper is always the sign of civilization and education. Not coincidentally, when paper flourished in Europe. What happens? The Rise of knowledge, The protestant reformation, the renaissance, all of this was happening around the same time that paper was being introduced to Europe, and Europeans had a surplus of paper, and when you have a surplus of commodity, what happens? You begin thinking what to do with it. What can we do? How can we better utilize what we have an excess of? And therefore not coincidentally around 1450 who comes along, Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of printing press and the printing press is considered to be one of the most technological advancements in the history of humanity along with the wheel. With the printing press what happens? You can mass produce books and with mass producing books you are teaching a generation of people knowledge. They don't have to write entire book by hand. What happens? The bar is raised. Knowledge becomes an easy commodity and when everybody is knowledgeable, the bar continue to rise. Now, we have the advent of printing press. This is the second technological advancement we are going to talk about. When the printing press is introduced to Muslim lands, what happens now? This is where we see the alternative model; and that is the bubble, that is the shutting off. 600 earlier when paper was introduced, the Muslims embraced it, they islamisized, they made it a part of their curriculum. Everything is made on paper after 750 C.E. (150 Hijrah). Before 150 Hijrah, everything is written on papyrus, vellum and leather.

Muslims Rejected The Newly Invented Printing Press:

Muslims heared of the printing press but then they had a 1000 years of history. Then they thought they knew everything. Then they are not interested in change. So what happened? Many of you are not aware of this, when the Muslims first heard of printing press. They banned it. They prohibited its importation into the Muslim lands. They said this is something, the kuffar have invented. We didn't it. It can't be good, and printed book was banned. Why? There is a lot of reasons, my time doesn't allow me to go into all of them but one simple reason, they didn't want change. They wanted to somehow opposed modernity. They wanted to live in a shell because they were so confident, our ways are the right ways. We are the right religion, we have the true teachings of prophet Muhammad ﷺ, so we don't care if they invented the printing press.
It was the enthusiasm that was misdirected. Yes, we are the Ummah of prophet Muhammad ﷺ. Yes, we are Muslims. But where does Allah tell us not to accept modernity? Where does Allah tell us don't accept technology? But there was a sense of supreme power, there was a sense of arrogance. There is a mentality that is reflected that the Muslims were so confident of their cultural heritage that they mixed up religious glory with cultural glory. Yes we are supposed to be proud we are Muslims. Of course, we are! Yes we are supposed to be thankful that Allah gave us the Quran and Sunnah. But where does the Quran and Sunnah oppose modernity and change? 
Yes we are not going to change belief in Allah but paper and the printing press is something else.

So the Muslims couldn't distinguish between that which should not change versus that which must change!
Transcribed from the lecture of Sheikh Dr. Yasir Qadhi.

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