THE CAPITALS AND MAJOR CITIES
Today we are passing through the fifteenth century of the Hijrah or the twentieth century of the Christian era. Now we shall cast a cursory look at some of the cities of the Islamic world of its days of glory, and some big cities of the western world of the period. The reader shall find a great difference between the two. He will be surprised to see on the one side life, vitality and civilization, that is, in the Islamic world,....and on the other side a backward region of the primitive period, where there is neither any trace of learning, nor that of life and civilization....that is in the west. We want to compare the big towns of these two regions of the world, and present before you the situation existing in the cities of the western world so that you may be able to form an idea of their economy, the expanse of their cities and the standard of life of their inhabitants.
England - Seventh to Tenth Century
La Face and Rombo write in their world history:
"Anglo Saxon England of the seventh to the tenth century and even later, was a very poor country, cut off from the rest of the world. Ignorance, wildness and barbarism were rampant. Houses were built of unhewn stone, cemented together with mud. And the floors too were plastered with mud. The houses were small and their outlets and ventilators were very small, the doors very fragile, and the animal enclosures were entirely lacking in windows or ventilators. Cattle that were the only wealth of the land were dying constantly due to different (Systemic,Tr.) diseases and epizootics. In the matter of residence and shelter the condition of the people themselves was no happier than that of their beasts. The chief of the tribe lived in his hut with his tribe, servants and others connected with him. All these people assembled in a large room in the centre of which there was a hearth and a hole exactly in the centre of the roof was provided for the exit of the smoke. They all ate off the same table, the head of the family and his wife occupying one side (as heads) of the table. Knives and forks were unknown in those days. The bowls were pointed at the bottom and had to be held in hand, or the person eating out of it had to take its contents at a gulp. Having taken their dinner early in the evening the head of the family retired to his room and the rest drank themselves to drunkenness in that same big room. After that every one took his pillow and sword and slept on the floor on a raised platform in that open hall. Every one kept his weapon handy since robbery was so common and the thieves were so bold that every one had to remain alert so that he might not be caught on the wrong foot.
"Most of the land in Europe was covered with dense continuous forests. Agriculture was in a primitive stage. Around the towns there were pools of stagnant dirty water, whose noxious odor, so injurious for health made the atmosphere stinking all around, and poor people fell prey to so many diseases and died in large numbers. In Paris and London houses were built with mud mixed with straw and wood, as we find them in our villages during the last half century. There were neither windows nor doors to their rooms. Bedding was something unknown to them. Their bedding was straw and dried grass which made the hard surface of the ground a little less uncomfortable. They were totally ignorant of cleanliness and other hygienic measures. The animal excretions and kitchen refuse were thrown before their own houses and were stinking. The entire family slept under the same roof, men, women and children all huddled together. And so often the domesticated animals also found refuge in the same room. The thing they called bed was a bag stuffed with straw and raised from the ground. And with some sort of pillow they used it as their bed. Gutters were not provided with the roads, nor were they properly made even (cobbled with awkward boulders, Tr.), nor were the streets lighted. The largest town in Europe could not boast of more than fifteen thousand people."
These were the conditions rife in Europe up to the eleventh century and even after, as admitted by the European authors themselves.
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Excerpted from English translation of Dr. Sibai's book "Min Rawa-i-Hazaratuna".