Islam by contrast had the notion of ijtihad (independent thinking). Ancient India and China, too, had systems of rational philosophies and social conduct in the marrow of religious beliefs. Moreover, the struggle between orthodoxy and progressive innovation was a constant theme. Islam had Mutazilites (rationalists) as early as the 10th century. Islamic empires produced scientists, scholars and philosophers like Ibn Sina, Ibn Rushd, Al Farabi and Al Kindi. Known as Avicenna in the West, Ibn Sina laid the foundation of modern medicine. Ibn Rushd rediscovered Plato and Aristotle; Al Kindi and Al Farabi broke new ground in hydraulics and discovered the symphony, the cornerstone of western classical music.
These four scholars represent just a tiny spectrum of intellectuals who created the Arabic renaissance and enlightenment. Western societies were barbaric, superstitious and bigoted at that time. The Arabic renaissance laid the basis of the western renaissance — something recognised by Dante, the father of the western renaissance.
Everyone knows that modern science evolved out of the helio-centric concept of the universe. If Galileo had not challenged the Christian idea of a geocentric universe, the West would have still been grappling with the absurd notion of the sun revolving around the earth. But was Galileo the first helio-centrist? "The earth rotates around its axis [27:88], rotates around the sun [7:54], is not flat but is like a ball [39:5] or an egg [79:30]". This Qur'an quotation predates Galileo by eight hundred years. [...junk about 'expanding heavens' predicting the big bang theory - lil too far-fetched...]
Similarly, 'Brahminical' Indians, even before Islam, were aware that the universe is helio-centric. Arab and Iranian adventurers refined the knowledge gained basically from India, China and older pagan western civilisations. In contrast to the West, Arabs and Iranians never hid their sources. Algebra was called Al-Hind and Arabic prescriptions Unaani (Greek) medicine. During the mediaeval era it was Bhava Misra who propounded the circulation of blood theory, much before William Harvey. The democratic idea in the sense we understand it now was expressed first in Emperor Akbar's Sulh-i-Kul (peace and fraternity with all). Ideas of social equality, individual freedom, and peasant Inquilab (revolution) were all worked out in an indigenous lingo by social reformers like Shah Waliullah, Pandit Jagannath and leaders of 1857.
The game played by the West has been to deny the East its own science, its own rationality. The game has further involved creating modern Islamic fundamentalism and other forms of fascism [the direct destruction of secular nationalism (e.g. Mossadegh), funding Islamism as a counter to secular nationalism (e.g. Israeli support for Hamas to ween support from the PLO), supporting Islamist tyrants because they weren't communist (e.g. Sudan), and building global, decentralized networks of Islamist terrorism (e.g. Bosnia, Afghanistan) -- ed.], which keep the East ignorant of its past and present. Western conservatives actually want to impose a reinvented 'enlightened' Christian bigotry on the East. If George Bush wanted to combat tyranny and prejudice in West Asia, why were American soldiers in Iraq forced to carry the Bible and not the works of the Mutazilites, Ibn Sina or even rationalist treatises by Benjamin Franklin or Thomas Paine? Today, cynical, half-baked eastern modernists emerge as pro-West leaders. Anti-West forces, in response, resort to blind bigotry. The scenario is scary; if the West does not learn that there is an indigenous path to eastern or Asian enlightenment, the result would be the triumph of barbarism in both East and West.