CNN Misleads Readers about Muslim Inventions

Washington, D.C. (February 10, 2010) - HAF sent in the following Letter to the Editor to CNN regarding it's misleading article entitled "Muslim inventions that shaped the modern world." The LTE was not published by CNN.
 
Dear Editor, 
CNN's article Muslim inventions that shaped the modern world, published January 29, presents ideas that clearly mislead its readers.  The introductory statement that "the first university ... is among surprising Muslim inventions that have shaped the world we live in today" is not only misleading, but incorrect.  An "invention" is defined as a "new composition, device, or process."  However, this university is far from being the "first" outright university.  While the article later clarifies that the invention was granting of a degree, the initial inaccurate claim has already been made.  This is insulting to ancient Greek, Chinese, Korean, and Indian civilizations all of whom had universities prior to 859 CE.  The Hindu and Buddhist center of higher education in Takshila (Taxila) dates as far back as the 7th century BCE.  There a student could effectively "major" in subjects such as literature, science, law, and medicine.  The university in Fez, Morocco is hardly an "invention" in that respect.  
 
Secondly, the "invention" of surgery by the Muslim doctor Al Zahwari is yet another example of misleading information, when in fact surgeries of many kinds were performed by several civilizations long before Al Zahwari.  The Hindu text Sushruta Samhita, written in 600 BCE, is filled with detailed seminal descriptions of surgical procedures and instruments that are conceptually used today.  How, then, can CNN reliably credit Al Zahwari with this "invention"?  If Al Zahwari's inventions were limited to dissolving cat gut stitches, c-sections, and forceps, then implying that the field of surgery was "invented" by Muslims is blatantly incorrect.
 
We request CNN to republish this article in a more forthright and accurate manner so as not to make false implications and thereby, diminish the contributions of various ancient civilizations.  We also urge CNN to publish similar articles highlighting the contributions of ancient civilizations mentioned above.
 
Thank you,
Sachi Lamb
Executive Council, Hindu American Foundation