Books for the Burning



By Mr. Curmudgeon:

In AD 640, Muslim general ‘Amr ibn al-‘As informed Caliph Omar in Medina that his conquest of Alexandria included its “great library containing all the knowledge in the world.” Omar’s response was that the books would “contradict the Koran, in which case they are heresy, or they will agree with it, so they are superfluous.”

With written instructions in hand, ‘Amr ibn al-‘As sent men to the city’s bathhouses to collect kindling. They burnt what remained of the Alexandrian library where previous assaults by pagans and early Christians failed to do the job. The Muslims, however, were much more thorough.

Today, the Reuters News Service reported that French and Malian military forces retook the ancient city of Timbuktu only to discover that fleeing Muslim forces had set fire to the Ahmed Baba Institute and its library containing some 30,000 manuscripts – some dating from the 12th century. Ironically, most of the texts are Islamic, some brought to Timbuktu from Spain after the Muslim expulsion from al-Andalus in 1492.

Apparently, ancient Islamic manuscripts in agreement with the Koran are now “superfluous.”