Western writers have designated the term "dark ages" for a thousand-year era that was actually the brightest epoch in human history. The prejudiced (or ignorant) writer would want others to think that there was no great civilization between the Roman and the modern civilization. At best, he would admit that there was a "short" period of Islamic brilliance, or that the Muslim scientists merely "collected" previous knowledge and passed it over to the Renaissance.
Our response to the Western use of the term "dark ages" has been regrettably lukewarm. When answering the prejudiced Western writer, we tend to make statements such as "Islam was enjoying its Golden Age at a time when Europe was drowned in its Dark Ages". Such a well-meaning statement may seem quite ok at first sight, but implicit in that statement is the fact that we have come to accept the term 'dark ages' that Western historians want to use. This is a monstrous error and should never be made. If Northern Europe was in a dark period of its history, one shouldn't say that they were in "their" dark ages, for by analogy, we Muslims are in "our" dark ages today, yet we hardly use the term "dark ages" for the present times. I will add in parentheses that if Rome and Greece are a part of Europe, then so is Spain, and it would be outright hypocritical to say that Europe was in glory during the Roman and Greek civilizations, yet it was "in its dark ages" during Islamic Spain's 800-year wonderful civilization.
The civilization spurred by Islam in the medieval ages was undoubtedly the greatest civilization witnessed by humanity. The Islamic civilization of the medieval ages produced a social system that guaranteed the rights of the individual, including women’s rights and minority rights – something which has not yet been achieved fully by the West. The literacy rate reached an unparalleled 100% in Islamic Spain, which is unmatched by present-day America, which stands at 99%. One should study in detail about the banking system, the military system, the sewerage system, the education system, and what not, developed by the Islamic civilization of the middle ages. One will come to the straightforward conclusion that the Islamic social system of the medieval ages was the most advanced system ever developed.
(Adapted from a posting I made on the Muslim Heritage website. Please see the Muslim Heritage website for information about the rich intellectual Muslim heritage that has been stifled in history books.)