The history of the Arab peoples is distinguished by impressive discoveries and developments in medicine, mathematics, philosophy, linguistics, geography, and astronomy. They made important contributions to the progress of civilization both by transmitting the great intellectual legacy of antiquity and by their own original research. Periods of unusual achievement were marked by an expanding spirit of open and free inquiry.

The same attitude should be cultivated today among all peoples, for it is a prerequisite of both social progress and personal discovery. And there is very little in the range of human experience to match the joyous excitement of one who makes a great discovery. Who can verbally recapture the thrill that swept over Columbus and his men when they discovered the New World, or the elation of Sir James Simpson when he discovered chloroform, or the near-ecstasy of Neil Armstrong when he became the first man to feel the solidity of the moon under his feet?

This book has been written because the first-person accounts it presents flow from the irrepressible excitement of those who have made a great discovery. The contributors to this volume all agree that their discovery is more than a great one - rather it is the greatest discovery any human being can make. It is little wonder, then, that each one felt that his story must be told.*

The reader is invited to reflect carefully on the nature of the discovery described - in each case the same, yet arrived at in different circumstances. While each individual has his own unique account to relate, he shares a common experience and a common conviction with the others. What the experience and conviction are will emerge as the reader follows the paths charted by these discoverers.

While it is difficult, if not impossible, to recapture the same joyful surprise felt by the great discoverers of the past, all of the contributors to this volume would like to emphasize that anyone can know the same tranforming joy that they have experienced. Their personal accounts are not merely interesting stories, they are also disclosures of the way you, the reader, can make the same discovery. Since this is the greatest discovery to be made, no loss can be greater than to go through life without it. In the final analysis, therefore, there is only one important question: Have you made this discovery?

A discovery of this kind cannot be made unless one is willing to take the appropriate steps. Who, today, does not deplore the unwillingness of certain medieval Scholastics to look through Galileo's telescope because they had their minds closed to everything but their own preconceptions? If one is sincerely interested in finding the truth, he will not be afraid to examine positions that do not conform to his own traditions and presuppositions. Indeed, the individual who is honest in his search for truth will be eager to learn all he can about the basic issues of life. He will subject his own beliefs and practices to careful evaluation and he will diligently seek to be open and objective, fair and impartial, in his assessment of claims to truth.

To derive the greatest benefit from this volume, each chapter should be read successively and the epilogue should be studied carefully. This book is like a telescope. By reading it, you will be looking through the lens of the experiences of others toward a reality that you too may discover. Will you look through this telescope and be honest with what you see?

*Although most of the contributors were gladly willing to be identified, the editor has deemed it advisable to omit their names. He personally gathered these testimonies, however, and he possesses documentation to verify the accuracy of these accounts.

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