The fanatical mind is there.
Caliph Omar reached Alexandria, and Alexandria had the greatest library in the world. It is said that it contained tremendous treasures from all the ancient civilizations which have disappeared: the Assyrian, the Babylonian – and even civilizations which have totally disappeared. Even their names have disappeared. It had all the scriptures belonging to the continent of Atlantis, which has gone down into the ocean – the whole continent has disappeared. Now it is the Atlantic Ocean, but once it was a great continent; one of the greatest civilizations flourished there. Alexandria has never been surpassed as far as ancient scriptures are concerned.
Omar reached there with a torch in his hand – a burning torch in one hand and the Koran in the other hand. And he said to the chief librarian, “I have to ask you two questions. First, is there anything more in this library, more than the Koran?” And before the librarian could answer, he himself said, “If there is more then I am going to burn this library, because the Koran is enough. Anything more than that is not needed. If it was needed in the first place it would have been in the Koran itself. So I am going to burn it. And the second question: Is there anything in this whole library but that which is written in the Koran itself?” And again he himself answered before the librarian could answer. He said, “If you say that this library simply repeats the Koran in different ways, then too I am going to burn it because it is not needed. The Koran is enough. Either way I am going to burn the library.”
This is fanaticism. And he burned it. The library was so huge that it is said that it took six months for the library to be completely burnt. The fire continued for six months to consume the library.
Compared to the library of Alexandria, the British Museum or the Library of Moscow are nothing. They are now the biggest libraries. If the Library of Moscow were spread around the earth, if the books were arranged in a row, one book followed by another book just like on a shelf, the books of the Moscow Library would go three times round the earth. But this is nothing compared to the library of Alexandria.
And the British Museum has even more books. They would go seven times around the earth. But it is said that even both libraries together are not comparable to the library of Alexandria. It contained the whole past. Now we know only two thousand years of history, but it contained at least one hundred thousand years of history. It was of immense value, but a fanatic burned it.