Saturday, 12 February 2011




 Science and Islam, Jim Al-Khalili - BBC Documentary

Andalusia one of the routes of Islamic civilization to Europe

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Written by Dr. Ragheb Elsergany


Andalusia mapThe eternity of civilizations is measured by the amount of the everlasting contributions they offer to the history of humanity in various aspects of thought, sciences, and morals. As we learned about the great role Islamic civilization played in the history of human development, we can identify these contributions through what Europe or the European renaissance and civilization has achieved. This is because the accomplishments of European civilization have been influenced by Islamic civilization which preceded it. Without exaggeration, the modern European history is the natural extension of the history of Islamic civilization when it was flourishing. There was no separation between them.

Routes of Islamic civilization to Europe

Historians are almost unanimous that Islamic civilization came in contact with the Christian European West during the medieval times, when Europe was going through total darkness, through three main routes. These routes, which varied in the level of activity and cultural impact, were Andalusia, Sicily, and the crusades.

Andalusia one of the routes of Islamic civilization to Europe

Andalusia is the main route of Islamic civilization and the most important bridge through which Islamic civilization moved to Europe and had an impact on various scientific, intellectual, social, and economic fields. Andalusia, part of Europe, remained for eight centuries (92 - 897 A.H/ 711-1492 A.D) a radiating beacon of civilization during the time when Muslims were there, even when it was politically weak, and when the party kingdoms appeared. That was owing to the universities, schools, libraries, factories, palaces, gardens, scientists and men of letters in Andalusia which attracted the attention of Europeans with whose countries Andalusia had close and continuous contacts[1].
Soon after the Muslims settled in Spain they devoted themselves to gaining knowledge and focused their attention on sciences, literature, and arts. In this, they excelled their brothers in the Mashreq. The Muslims invented new and great things in all sciences which provided Europe with fresh resources which it continued to use from the late 11th century until the Italian renaissance in the 15th century.
Gustav Le Bon says: “No sooner had the Arabs completed the conquest of Spain than they started to carry out the message of civilization there. In less than a century, they managed to give life to dead lands, reconstruct ruined cities, set up magnificent buildings, and strengthen close trade relations with other nations. They then started to dedicate themselves to studying sciences and arts and to translate Greek and Latin books and set up universities which continued to be a place for culture in Europe for a long time.[2]
The policy of Islamic tolerance had a great impact on Ahl al-Zimmah (non-Muslims living under protection), including Jews and Christians as the Arabized Spanish people took interest in studying the Arabic language and using it in their everyday lives. They even preferred it to the Latin language. Many Jews studied at the hands of Arab teachers.

Translation in Andalusia

Translation from Arabic in Andalusia flourished greatly, particularly in Toledo during the 12th and 13th centuries. Translation used to be from Arabic into Spanish and then into Latin or from Arabic into Latin directly. Translation was not restricted to books written by Arab scientists about all branches of knowledge only but covered great Greek books which were translated in the Mashreq two centuries earlier. Some books by Greek writers, such as Galen, Hippocrates, Plato, Aristotle, Euclid, and others were translated.
One of the most famous translators of Toledo was Gerard of Cremona. Called the Toledan, he came to Toledo from Italy in (1150 A.D). Gerard of Cremona is said to have translated about a hundred books, including 21 about medicine, including Al-Mansuri by Al-Razi, Al-Qanun (The law) by Ibn Sina. Some of the books seem to have been translated by his students under his supervision and some in collaboration with others, particularly (Galipus). He was Arabized. During the 12th century, translation was also practiced by Spanish people and others who came to Spain. Alfonso X, the king of Castilla (1252-1284 A.D), set up a number of higher education institutions and encouraged translation from Arabic into Latin and sometimes into the Castilian language.[3]
Sarton says: “Muslims, the geniuses of the Orient, made the greatest achievements in the Middle Ages. The most valuable, original, and informative books were written in Arabic. From the middle of the 8th century till the end of the 11th century Arabic was the elevated science language of human race to the point that any person who wanted to be familiar with the culture of the age and its latest form had to learn  Arabic. Many non-Arabic speakers did so. I do not think we need to point out the scientific achievements of Muslims in the fields of mathematics, physics, astronomy, chemistry, botany, medicine, and geography.[4]

Influence of Cordova on European renaissance

Speaking about the status of Cordova, particularly in the movement of Islamic civilization, Juan Brand Trand John said: “Cordova, which was more civil than all European cities during the 10th century, was in fact the focus of the world’s admiration and astonishment, such as Venice in the eyes of the Balkan states. The tourists coming from the north used to show almost piety and fear when they were listening to what was being said about this city, which had seventy libraries and 900 public baths.
If Leon or Navarre or Barcelona governors needed a surgeon, engineer, or architect, tailor, or musician they would only go to Cordova[5].
The thinker Leopold Weiss[6] or “Muhammad Asad” underlined the role of Cordova in paving the way for the age of renaissance, saying: “We would not be exaggerating if we said: The modern scientific age in which we live did not start in European cities, but in Islamic centers; in Damascus, Baghdad, Cairo, and Cordova.”[7]
Speaking about Andalusia in general as a bridge between Islamic civilization and the West, Sigrid Hunke says: “The Pyrénées Mountains were not to prevent these contacts. Therefore, the Arab, Andalusian civilization found its way to the West.”[8] 
She adds: “The torch of Arab civilization was carried across Andalusia by thousands of European captives who returned from Cordova and Zaragoza and the other Andalusian culture centers. Also, the traders of Leon, Genoa, Venice, and Nuremberg played the role of mediator between the European and Andalusian cities.
On their way to Santiago, millions of European Christians got in contact with Arab traders and Christian pilgrims coming from northern Andalusia. The flow of horsemen, traders and religious clerics coming annually from Europe to Spain contributed to moving the foundations of Andalusian civilization to their countries. Jewish traders, doctors, and learned people carried the culture of Arabs to Western countries. They also participated in translation works in Toledo and translated from Arabic a large number of stories, myths and legends.[9]
Andalusia was therefore an important centre for Islamic civilization and was one of the most important routes via which this civilization moved to Europe.

[1] - Hani al-Mubarak and Shawqi Abu Khalil: Dawr al-hadarah al-Al-Arabiyah Islamiyah fi al-nahda al-urubiyah (Role of Arab, Islamic civilization in European renaissance) pp 51,52
[2]- Gustav Lebon: Civilization of Arabs p 273

[3] -  Look: Mahmud al-Galili: Ta’thir al-tib al-arabi fi al-hadarah al-urubiyah (Impact of Arab Medicine on European Civilization), the link:
[4]- Hassan Shamsi Pasha: Hakaza kanu yawm kuna (That was how they were when we were) p 8, look: Ahmad Ali Al-Mulla: Athar al-Ulama al-Muslimin fi al-hadarah al-urubiyah (Impact of Islamic scholars on European civilization) pp 110,111
[5] - Juan Brand Trand: Spain and Portugal, study published in Turath al-Islam (Heritage of Islam) book under the supervision of (Arnold) p 27
[6] - Leopold Weiss: (1900-1996 A.D) An Austrian of Jewish origin, who studied philosophy and arts at University of Vienna and then turned to journalism where he did a fantastic job and became a correspondent in the Arab and Islamic Orient. He converted to Islam and was called Muhammad Asad.
[7]-  Muhammad Asad: Al-Islam ala muftaraq al-turuq (Islam at crossroads) p 40
[8] - Sigrid Hunke: Shams al-Arab (Allah's Sun Over the Occident) p 31
[9] - Sigrid Hunke: Ibid, p 532

Islamic Golden Age - العصر الذهبي الأسلامي

Top 10 Maps from Muslim Civilisation, when North was South and South was North, towards Mecca

1001 Inventions reveals 10 marvellous maps from Muslim Civilisation that include one of the earliest known maps of South Amercia and maps where the world appears upside down! A time when North was South and South was North, towards Mecca...

Left: Original Al-Idrisi 12th century map with Mecca (Makkah) center north above Arabia and Europe lower right.
Right: Map flipped to visualise our modern view, Europe in upper left and Mecca in the centre south.
We tend to take many things for granted. Today, we are equipped with numerous means of communication and transport over land, sea and air. We have such freedom to swiftly travel around the globe, so much so that we tend to travel far and wide without ever considering the immense contributions others have made for our convenience. Great scholars from Muslim Civilisation, indeed, turned the world upside down with their maps; not just metaphorically but world maps once were literally upside down (with south dipicted at the top).
As more people began to travel the world 1,000 years ago for trade, exploration and religious reasons, the demand for good maps increased. Some of the world's most precious maps were drawn then by scholars, geographers and seafarers who assembeld the geographical knowledge known to them - they carried out detailed mathematical analysis, measured and charted the Earth's features, used sophisticated astrolabes to help assess height and distance - to construct intricate maps of the world. Here we introduce ten key examples.
Let the countdown begin!

Ali Macar Map
16th century

The "Ali Macar Reis Atlas" is housed in the Topkapi Palace Museum Library (Hazine 644) in Istanbul. As a work of art, this atlas certainly ranks among the most successful. It consists of six portolan charts and one mappamundi, all on double pages, i.e., there are fourteen pages. They are drawn on parchment leaves and bound in leather, forming an appealing small volume.
The artist-cartographer who drew these charts must have been professionally connected to those who drew other similar maps in Christian Europe; and the artistic perfection of this atlas strongly argues against it being the isolated work of a captain who would only have been imitating such models; the author must have been a craftsman with great experience of this type of work.
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Al Istakhri Map
10th century

A world map by Abul Qasim Ubaidullah ibn Abdullah ibn Khurdad-bih al Istakhri (934 CE) aka Estakhri. The map is oriented with South at the top as was common of maps at the time. Picture displayed on "Old Manuscripts and Maps from Khorasan".  It was beilieved that Estakhri created the earliest known account of windmills. His Arabic language works included masalik al-mamalik "Traditions of Countries" and Suwar al-Aqaaleem "Shapes of the Climes".

South Caucasus

From Al-aqalim

Persian Gulf's coast

Tarih-i Hind-i Garbi Map
16th century

The book entitled Tārih-i Hind-i Garbī (History of the West Indies), probably written by Muhammad b. Amir al-Suûdī al-Niksarī (d. 1591) in the 16th century, contains information about the geographical discoveries and the New World (America). This work, based on Spanish and Italian geographical sources, was presented to Sultan Murād III in 1573.
The book tells the amazing stories of the explorations and conquests of Columbus, Cortes, Pizarro, and others, and it also endeavours to incorporate the new geographic information into the body of Islamic knowledge. It presents a major effort by an Ottoman Muslim scholar, almost unique in the 16th century; firstly, to transmit through translation information from one culture (European Christendom) to another (Ottoman Islam), and secondly, to correct and expand Islamic geography and cartography.
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Ibn Hawqal Map
10th century

World map by Ibn Hawqal, commentated by Shiva Balaghi
A map (also oriented with South at the top) by the widely travelled Abu al-Qasim Muhammad b. Hawqal, originally from al-Jazira region in Turkey, north of Mardin. He is also referred to as al-Nusaybini, after Nusaybin town located in the region.
Very little is known about Ibn Hawqal but he is believed to have been a Baghdad-based trader who loved traveling. Researchers attribute the dearth of information on Ibn Hawqal to the fact that he spent a substantial part of his life in traveling and never stayed put in a certain region. It is his book, Surat al-Ard, from which we can derive some information about him while to the effect that he was fond of reading especially books by Khurdadhebah, Qudadamah and al-Jihani, which might have been the reason behind his keenness to travel and see the places he read about.
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Kâtip Çelebi Map
16th century

Tuhfat Al-Kibâr fî Asfâr Al-Bihâr (The Gift to the Great Ones on Naval Campaigns) was written by Kâtib Çelebi in 1657 and emphasises the importance of the Turkish activities in the seas and the Ottoman contribution to the navigational history.
Kâtib Çelebi emphasised the importance of the science of geography at the introduction of Tuhfat al-kibâr and explained that the rulers of the state should know the frontiers and borders of the Ottoman State and the states in this region even if they do not know the whole of the Earth.
Çelebi valued history like we do in a modern sense today and asserted that most people did not know the real value of this branch of knowledge and thus viewed history as if it were a tale. He expressed his complaint about this saying "who reads and listens to a letter of love and faithfulness?".
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Other World Maps in Müteferrika edition of Tuhfat al-Kibar

Al-Balkhi Map
9th Century

A map by Abu Zaid Ahmed ibn Sahl al-Balkhi (850-934), a Persian geographer who was a disciple of al-Kindi and also the founder of the "Balkhī school" of terrestrial mapping in Baghdad. Picture displayed on "Old Manuscripts and Maps from Khorasan".
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Mahmud of Kashgar Map
11th century

Mahmud of Kashgar completed his famous book Divânu Lügati't-Türk in 1074. Famous for being a linguist, he wrote the book in order to teach Arab speakers Turkish and to prove that the Turkish language was as important as Arabic.
Mahmud stated that the regions of all the Turkish tribes from Europe to China were included in full detail within a circular map, which, as he pointed out, was drawn in order to indicate the regions the Turks inhabited.
The western, northern and southern parts of Asia were left undrawn but despite the fact that the map was full of errors, the data about the eastern regions were correct. Mahmud showed the Great Wall of China on his map and mentioned that this wall and high mountains acted as natural obstacles preventing him from learning the Chinese language. He also stated that Japan shared the same fate, being an island in the eastern part of Asia.
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Book of Curiosities Map
11th Century

The Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford has purchased the medieval Arabic manuscript Kitab Gharaib al-Funun Wa-Mulah Al-Uyun popularised under the title the Book of Curiosities, an exceptionally rich text on cosmography. The treatise is one of the most important recent finds in the history of Islamic cartography in particular, and for the history of pre-modern cartography in general.
The manuscript, a highly illustrated treatise on astronomy and geography compiled by an unknown author between 1020 and 1050, contains an important and hitherto unknown series of colourful maps, giving unique insight into Islamic concepts of the world. The copy owned by the Bodleian library is the only nearly complete copy and the one to have been extensively studied and released in an electronic edition.
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Mediterranean Sea


 Indian Ocean

Piri Reis Map
16th Century

Piri Reis is a well known Ottoman-Turkish admiral, geographer and cartographer from the 16th century. His famous world map compiled in 1513 and discovered in 1929 at Topkapi Palace in Istanbul is the oldest known Turkish map showing the New World, and one of the oldest maps of America still in existence.
The half of the map which survives shows the western coasts of Europe and North Africa and the coast of Brazil with reasonable accuracy in addition to various Atlantic islands including the Azores and Canary Islands.
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Al-Idrisi Map - The World Upside Down
12th Century

This is one of the most famous maps from Muslim Civilisation. It was drawn by Muhammad al-Idrisi who was born in Ceuta (Morocco) in 1099-1100 CE, and died in 1166 CE. The map is oriented with South at the top as was common at the time.
Al-Idrisi studied at Cordoba, and although he died in his birth place, he spent his working life at the Norman court of Palermo. At the age of 16, he travelled through Asia Minor, Morocco, Spain and the South of France and even visited England. His description of most of Western Europe is lively and, on the whole, quite accurate. The same is true of his treatment of the Balkans, whilst for the rest of Europe and for most of the Islamic world (with the exception of North Africa, with which he had a firsthand acquaintance) his account is based on the writings of others.
Al-Idrisi was a noteworthy and original geographer. He used in a creative way the system of cylindrical projection of the Earth's surface, which was to be claimed some centuries later, in 1569, by the Flemish Gerard Mercator. Al-Idrisi's other merit, according to Udovitch, is the extensive information he provides about contemporary Western Europe. Hitti also notes that Al-Idrisi's map places the sources of the Nile-supposedly discovered in the latter part of the 19th century in the equatorial highlands of Africa...
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Left: Original Al-Idrisi 12th century map with Mecca (Makkah) center north above Arabia and Europe lower right.

Right: Map flipped to visualise our modern view, Europe in upper left and Mecca in the centre south.

Further Information

Geography in Muslim Civilisation
It was during the Abbasid Caliphate when Islamic civilisation was said to have reached its peak. The Caliphs commissioned reports on roads to help their postmasters deliver messages to addresses within their empire. These accounts which initially resulted in the Book of Routes, laid the foundation for more intensive information gathering about far-away places and foreign lands with their physical landscape, production capabilities and commercial activities. With the development of more accurate astronomy and mathematics, map plotting became a respected branch of science.
Geography became an important field of study especially with the work of Al-Khwarizmi, one of the earliest scientific descriptive geographers and a highly talented mathematician. His famous book, The Form of the Earth, inspired a generation of writers in Baghdad and Muslim Spain (Al-Andalus). It became a major source of inspiration to unearth, analyse and record geographical data among many well-known scholars after him.
More Maps
There are other maps that were not included in the countdown. Some examples include:
1. Ibn al-Wardi's maps.

Ibn al-Wardi World Map 14th Cent.
Image is from "The world geography by al-Wardi (died 850/1456), accompanied with a coloured world map and a picture of Ka'aba. It sums the geographical knowledge of the Arabic world of the time, referring to climate, terrain, fauna and flora, population, way of living, existing states and their governments in individual regions of the world. The author also speaks about Slavs and their lifestyle and mentions al-Mahdiyya as the residence of the Fatimid dynasty. Therefore, the book is older than the city of Kairo (founded in 698 C. E.). Al-Wardi makes reference in his work to the book by al-Mas'udi." (Source)

2. Gangnido/Kangnido map:

Gangnido/Kangnido map early 15th Cent.
This world map was created in Korea and produced by Yi Hoe and Kwon Kun. The Kangnido map predates Zheng He voyages and suggests that he had quite detailed geographical information on much of the Old World.
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3. Al-Masudi's map:
Abu al-Ḥasan ʿAlī ibn al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī al-Masʿūdī was an Arab historian and geographer. The image below is sadly of a replica of his map.

Al-Masudi's atlas of the world 10th Cent.
4. Matrakci's beautiful maps:

Istanbul by Matrakci Nasuh 15-16th Cent
He would have been in the top ten if it was a world map. Matrakci Nasuh was a famous Ottoman polymath, writer and knight who produced important books in several fields. He made contributions in the fields of mathematics, geography, history and calligraphy. He also invented a military lawn game called "Matrak", a kind of animation of battle.
Read More:




More Contributors to Geography
There many more names that contributed to the geograpghy field from Muslim Civilisation to the Modern World such as:
  • Al-Razi, known in Europe as Rhazes. He compiled a basic geography of the Iberian Peninsula
  • Mohammed Ibn Yousef Al-Warraq committed to paper the topography of North Africa. 
  • Al-Bakri who was an accomplished scholar and litterateur, wrote an important geographical work devoted to the Arabian Peninsula and the names of various places.
  • Ibn Baitar of Malaga was driven by his genuine interest in pharmaceutical herbs and flowers to explore every nook and cranny of the Iberian Peninsula and the Maghreb (Morocco).
  • Ibn Khaldun, a Tunisian adventurer, university professor and diplomat, is known for his works of sociology, economics, commerce, history, philosophy, political science and anthropology. He wrote his famous History of The World during a period of enforced exile. 
  • Ahmad ibn Majid, a poet and a navigator, also known for assisting Vasco da Gama in his quest of South Africa and for his Book of Useful Information on the Principles and Rules of Navigation.
  • In addition to other travellers like famous Ibn Battuta, Ahmad ibn Fadlan, Ibn Jubair, Zheng He or other know or unkown geographers from diffent backgrounds such as Miskawayh, Ibn Rustah, al-Tartushi, Ahmad al-Ya’qubi, Ibn Qutiya, al-Maqqari, Ibn al-Athir, Yaqut al-Hamawi, Abu al-Fidaand, ibn Abi Bakr al-Zuhari and many more...
Erzurumlu ibrahim Hakki's World Map in his Marifetname book (Source)

 BBC Science and Islam 1 - The Language of Science

Islamic Golden Age

Testimonies of impartial Orientalists about Islamic civilization on science

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Written by Dr. Ragheb Elsergany


Many Westerners try to belittle the importance of Islamic civilization and its role in the progress and advancement of human civilization. Some of them claim that Muslims were only copying from the ancients. Some others claim that this civilization does not deserve all this attention, attributing the credit to the Greeks and Romans only, saying they are the only masters of Westerners. Those people, therefore, disregarded the role of Muslims, claiming that they made no contributions to anything. Other people try to detract from the impact of Muslim civilization, claiming that Muslims excelled in some branches of science that need no thinking or use of mind, such as history and geography, and in any other branches they only copied from and quoted others without much criticism, correction or addition!
In fact, this is the case of the ungrateful opponents of Muslims who are ignorant of the status of Muslims and their role in the march of humanity. This fact is reinforced by another group of people, namely the Orientalists and historians who highlighted the great contributions by Muslims to human civilization. They said the word of truth, acknowledged it, and gave the credit to the right people and wrote many impartial books and studies that praised the undeniable contributions of Muslims. One of those said: “It is time to talk about people who had a strong impact on the course of the world events, to whom the West and the entire humanity are indebted.” [1]

The field of science

Perhaps the field of science attracted the greatest attention from impartial Westerners. This is related to two main factors; the first is the greatness of the contributions of Muslims and Islamic civilization in this area. The second is responding to the fanatics and populists who deny any creativity and innovation in the Muslim mind, something which is reflected in the experimental sciences, such as mechanics, engineering, astronomy, and others.

Following are some testimonies of impartial Westerners:

American historian Briffault says that Muslims are definitely to be credited for every single aspect of European civilization. [2]

Sigrid Hunke said: "Arabs developed with their experience and scientific research the material they took from the Greeks and then they reshaped it. In fact, Arabs created the right scientific research based on experience... The Arabs not only saved Hellenism from transience, organized it and then granted it to the West, but also founded the experimental methods in chemistry, physics, arithmetic, algebra, geology, trigonometry, and sociology. In addition to countless individual discoveries and inventions in various branches of science – most of which were plagiarized and attributed to others – Arabs presented the most precious gift, namely the correct way of scientific research, which paved the way for the West to learn the secrets of nature."[3] Hunke added: "In fact, Roger Bacon, Bacon Von Verulam, Leonardo Da Vinci and Galilei are not the founders of scientific research, but it was the Arabs who founded it first. The achievement of Ibn Al-Haytham – known for the Europeans as Alhazen – was nothing but the modern physics, thanks to theoretical meditation and precise experiment." [4]
Hunke also said: "Ibn Al-Haytham was one of the most influential Arab teachers in Western countries... The impact of this Arab genius in the West was great and significant. His theories in physics and optics have left their impact on European science until now. On the basis of Ibn Al-Haytham’s book ‘Opticae Thesaurus’ everything related to optics was established, starting from the English (Roger Bacon) to the German (Vitello). The Italian Leonardo Da Vinci, the inventor of the (Camera obsecura), the pump, the turning machine and allegedly the first plane was directly influenced by Arabs. Ibn Al-Haytham’s achievements inspired him with many ideas. When Johannes Kepler in Germany examined during the 16th century the laws which Galileo used to see unknown stars through a great telescope, Ibn Al-Haytham’s marks were there. Until now, there is still the difficult mathematical and physical problem which Ibn al-Haytham solved by a fourth-degree equation, proving his excellence in algebra. This problem, which is based on the point of contact between the image reflected by a convex mirror and the circles at a certain distance, is still called the Ibn Al-Haytham problem (Alhazen's Problem).” [5]

In his book “History of physics”, Florian Cajori said: "The Arab and Muslim scientists were the first to launch and defend strongly the experimental method. This method is one of their prides. They were the first to recognize its usefulness and its importance to natural sciences. On top of them comes Ibn Al-Haytham." [6]

Max Vintejoux said: "All facts confirm that the Western science owes its existence to the Arab Islamic civilization. The modern scientific method based on research, observation and experiment, which was adopted by European scientists, was nothing but a result of the contact between Europeans and the Islamic world through the Islamic state Andalusia.” [7]

Robert Briffault said: "Since 700 A.D, the splendor of the Arab Islamic civilization has extended from the eastern Mediterranean to Persia in the east and Spain in the west. So, a large part of the old science was re-discovered, and new discoveries in mathematics, chemistry, physics and other sciences were recorded... In this respect, as in others, the Arabs were teachers for Europe. They contributed to the renaissance of science in that continent." [8]

German researcher Dr Peter Pormann said: "The achievements of Muslims in the world are evident in every aspect of science and culture. Moreover, their achievements in the field of medicine are undeniable. This is what prompted me to write a book entitled: (Islamic medicine in the Middle Ages)." He also said: "What prompted me to write this book is the fact that I – as a Christian German – am indebted in part of my culture to Islamic culture, and this is what I am trying to clarify and confirm, despite attempts by some to blur the important role played by Muslims in Europe and the world. I have been searching along with my colleague Emilie Savage–Smith[9] to spot the achievements of Muslims in the field of medicine in the Middle Ages." He added: "Islamic hospitals were endowment and provided medical service for all people regardless of their religion, as there were Jews, Christians, Sabians, Zoroastrians, and others. Islamic hospitals treated all people. This means great Islamic tolerance with non-Muslims." On the main diseases which Muslims helped people get to know new things about, he said: "A lot of diseases, but the most serious one was Melancholia." [10]

Will Durant said: “Chemistry as a science was almost created by Muslims. In this field, where the Greeks (as far as we know) had only industrial experience and vague hypothesis, the Saracens introduced precise observation, controlled experiment, and careful records.” [11]
Donald R. Hill said: "Al-Razi was truly considered to be one of the main founders of modern chemistry, thanks to his methodological comparison and his insistence on the need for experimental work." [12]
In another statement, he said: "Muslims knew the scheduling of specific weights before the Europeans. Due attention was given to this issue in Europe during the 17th century, and it reached its climax in the work of Robert Boyle (died 1691) who defined the specific weight of mercury - for example - in two different ways, giving the two amounts of 13.76 and 13,357. Both weights are less accurate than the weight recorded by Al-Khazini, most of whose results were fully accurate." [13]

Gustav Lebon said: "Jabir’s books consist a scientific encyclopedia that contains the digest of what Arabs achieved in chemistry at his time. These books include a description of many chemical compounds that were not mentioned before, such as the silver water (nitrous acid), without which we can not imagine chemistry."[14]

Famous historian of science Florian Cajori said: "One is astonished when he thinks of the work of Arabs and Muslims in algebra. Al-Khwarizmi's book on algebra was a reference for Muslim and European scientists alike. They relied on it in their research and adopted a lot of theories from it. Therefore, it can be said that Al-Khwarizmi founded algebra on right bases." [15]

Juan Vernet, said: "If we want to be accurate, we will find that the scientific development of mathematics by Muslims started with the Qur’an, which included complex provisions on inheritance. Al-Khwarizmi is the first Muslim mathematician, and we are beholden to him for the attempt to set up an Arabic system for all branches of knowledge. We are also beholden to him for the Spanish term (algorithm), which means the numbering (i.e. numbers, their cases and the zero). Algebra was the second field in which Al-Khwarizmi worked. It is a branch of mathematics, which did not have a plan at the time for any serious systematic study." [16]

Draper said: "Arabs used to observe and examine. They rendered geometry and mathematics as media for measurement. Notably enough, they did not rely on looking in what they wrote on mechanics and optics, but they also relied on observation and examination using available tools. This helped them create chemistry, and led them to invent tools of filtration, evaporation, and weight lifting... Therefore, they opened a great door to developing geometry and trigonometry." [17]

In the second volume of his book "History of mathematics", David Eugene Smith said: "They claim that the pendulum law was set by Galileo; however, Ibn Yunus observed it before him. The Arab astronomers use the pendulum to calculate the time periods during monitoring". In his book "Introduction to the history of science", George Sarton said: "Ibn Yunus is undoubtedly one of the giants of the 11th century, the greatest astronomer in Egypt, and the discoverer of pendulum."[18]

Jotie said: "The Arabs taught us how to make books, gunpowder and the needle of the ship (the compass). So, we have to think how our renaissance would be without these things which we received from the Arab civilization." [19]

Seignobos said: "The Arabs brought together all inventions and knowledge of the ancient world in the East (such as Greece, Persia, India and China), and then they passed them on to us. The many words that came into use in our language are a testimony to what we borrowed from them. Through Arabs, the Western world, which was barbaric, entered the middle of civilization. If our thoughts and industry have connection with the old, the combination of inventions that make life easy and nice came to us from the Arabs. Europeans learned from Arabs how to make broadcloth. The people of Pisa city in Italy used to stay in Bijayah city in Algeria, where they learned the making of wax and then transferred it to their homes and Europe." [20]

Rison said: "The spread of Arabs' construction and power in the world made us know the status of the Arab civilization. This brilliant civilization in the Middle Ages was a mix of Byzantine and Persian civilizations. This civil mix was made through two things; Arabs' love for trade and their adoration of construction. Thanks to their intelligence and their instilled desire to know and understand anything, Arabs excelled in physics and mathematics. They have done a favour to all nations with their Arabic numerals and their excellence in algebra and geometry."[21]

The British Encyclopedia said: "Many names of drugs, many compounds known now and the general structure of modern pharmacology – with the exception of modern chemical modifications of course – were initiated by Arabs." [22]

[1]  - Sigrid Hunke: "Allahs Sonne über dem Abendland"(Allah's Sun Over the Occident), p11.
[2]  - Robert Briffault: Making of Humanity, quoting Anwar Al-Jindi: Muqaddimat Al-Ulum wa Al-Manahij (Introductions of sciences and methods) 4/710.
[3] - Sigrid Hunke: op cit, p401, 402.
[4]  - Ibid: p148, 149.
[5]   - Ibid: p150.
[6]  - See: Ali Abdullah Al-Daffa: Al-Ulum Al-Bahtah fi Al-Hadarah Al-Arabiyah Al-Islamiyah (Exact sciences in Arab and Islamic civilization), p303.
[7]  - Max Vintejoux: In his speech to the Arab and Islamic civilization conference in Princeton University in Washington in 1953. See: Shawqi Abu-Khalil, Hani Al-Mubarak: Dawr Al-Hadarah Al-Arabiyah wa Al-Islamiyah fi Al-Nahdah Al-Urubiyah (The role of Arab and Islamic civilization in European renaissance), p125.
[8]  -  Robert Briffault: Making of humanity, p84.
[9]  - Emilie Savage–Smith: British historian and expert at St Cross College at Oxford University.
[10] -  Interview with Egyptian daily Al-Akhbar on 13/4/2007.
[11]  - See: Abu-Zayd Shalabi: Tarikh Al-Hadarah Al-Islamiyah wa Al-Fikr Al-Islami (History of Islamic civilization and thought), p356.
[12]  - See: Donald R. Hill: Islamic science and engineering, translated by Ahmad Fu'ad Pasha, p102.
[13]  - Ibid, p98.
[14]  - Gustave Le Bon: Civilization of Arabs, p475.
[15] -  See: Ali Abdullah Al-Daffa: Rawa'i Al-Hadarah Al-Arabiyah Al-Islamiyah fi Al-Ulum (Wonders of Arab and Islamic civilization in science), p64.
[16]  - Juan Vernet: Mathematics, astronomy and optics; a study published in the book "Turath Al-Islam" (Heritage of Islam), p168.
[17]  - Muhammad Kurd Ali: Al-Islam wa Al-Hadarah Al-Arabiyah (Islam and Arab civilization), 1/227, 228.
[18]  -  See: Ali Abdullah Al-Daffa: Al-Ulum Al-Bahtah fi Al-Hadarah Al-Arabiyah Al-Islamiyah (Exact sciences in Arab and Islamic civilization), p302.
[19]  - Muhammad Kurd Ali: Al-Islam wa Al-Hadarah Al-Arabiyah (Islam and Arab civilization), 1/226.
[20]  - Ibid: 1/233, 234.
[21] - Ibid: p231.
 [22] - The British Encyclopedia 18/46, eleventh edition.

Testimonies of impartial Orientalists about Islamic civilization on morality

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Written by Dr. Ragheb Elsergany

Some testimonies of impartial Orientalists about morality

Morality stems from religion, and there is no morality without a religious motivation that supports virtues and stands against vices. Perhaps the testimonies of impartial people about Islamic civilization in the area of morality were mostly about the religion of Islam.
Following are some testimonies of impartial Westerners in this regard:

Glyn Leonard said: "Apart from all those weighty considerations, the attitude of Europe towards Islam should be one of eternal gratitude instead of base ingratitude and forgetfulness. Never to this day has Europe acknowledged in an honest and wholehearted manner the great and everlasting debt it owes to Islamic culture and civilization. Only on a lukewarm and perfunctory way has it recognized that when, during the Dark Ages, its people were sunk in Feudalism and ignorance. Muslim civilization under the Arabs reached a high standard of social and scientific splendor that kept alive the flickering embers of European society from utter decadence. Do not we, who now consider ourselves on the topmost pinnacle ever reached by civilization recognize that had it not been for high culture, civilization and intellectual as well as the social splendor of the Arabs, and to soundness of the school system, Europe would to this day have remained sunk in the darkness of ignorance?" [1]

English historian Wells said: "Any religion that does not cope with civilization in all its stages should be brushed off. The true religion which I found coping with civilization all the time was Islam… Any person who needs evidence should read the Qur'an and its insights, scientific methods and social laws. It is a book of religion, science, sociology, morality, and history. If one asks me to set the meaning of Islam I would say this phrase: (Islam is civilization)." [2]

Briffault said: "Bacon was only one of the messengers who carried Islamic science and method to Christian Europe. He never stopped announcing that the Arabic language and the sciences of Arabs were the only way to know the truth[3]... Islamic civilization emerged naturally from the Qur'an and was characterized from among other human civilizations by justice, morality, and monotheism. It was also characterized by tolerance, humanity, and universal brotherhood." [4]

Gustav Lebon said: "The civilization of Arabs and Muslims made the barbaric European nations enter the world of humanity, as Arabs were our teachers... The universities in the West did not know scientific references but the works of Arabs. Arabs modernized Europe materially, mentally, and morally. History mentions no nation that produced what they produced… Europe owes the Arabs its civilization... It was the Arabs who first taught the world how the freedom of thought is consistent with the integrity of religion… It was they who taught people Christianity, or you can say: They tried to teach tolerance, which is the most precious quality of humans… The morals of Muslims in the early period of Islam were much higher than those of all nations in the world." [5]

Andrew Dickson White[6] said: "Since Caliph Umar and afterwards, the Muslim treatment of the insane has been far more merciful than the system that prevailed in the Christian world throughout eighteen centuries, during which the insane were considered possessed of devils, thus being subject to the severest torture and atrocity."
He also said: "Certain monks, who had much to do with redeeming Christian slaves, found in the 15th century what John Howard found in the 18th century, that the Arabs and Turks made a large and merciful provision for lunatics, something which was not seen in the Christian lands of Europe. It is true that Muslims highlighted the necessity of exerting efforts – that started in Europe as of the 18th century – to treat the insane mercifully." [7]

In his book "Discovery of India", Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru[8] said: "The entry of invaders who came from northwest of India and the entry of Islam are of great importance to the history of India. It exposed the corruption that had spread in the Hindu community. It also showed the division of classes and the love of isolation from the world, which India experienced. The theory of Islamic brotherhood and equality, in which Muslims believed and experienced, had great influence on the mentality of Hindus, especially the poor people who the Indian society deprived of equality and human rights." [9]

Professor Hawking said: "The passion for knowledge and the permanent thirst for reaching its resources are qualities of those Arabs. These qualities provide them with creative power. They love freedom and always look forward to ideals without intolerance or fanaticism... When the blight that afflicted the Arabs and anesthetized them vanishes, we will see that the elements of the dormant scientific heritage and the intellectual courage will be unleashed to return quickly to occupy their position on the ground, as evidenced by the first Arab renaissance and the scientific heritage and the eternal impact they left behind for the coming generations." [10]

[1]  Muhammad Ali Kurd: Al-Islam wa Al-Hadarah Al-Arabiyah (Islam and Arab civilization), p82.
[2]  Abd-al-Mun'im Al-Nimr: Al-Islam wa Al-Mabadi Al-Mustawradah (Isalm and the imported principles), p84.
[3]  Robert Briffault: Making of Humanity, quoting Anwar Al-Jindi: Muqaddimat Al-Ulum wa Al-Manahij (Introductions of sciences and methods) 4/7710.
[4]  See: Abd-al-Mu'ti Al-Dalati: Rabihtu Muhammadan wa lam Akhsar Al-Masih (I won Muhammad, but did not lose the Christ), p128.
[5]  Gustave Le Bon: the Arab civilization, p26, 276, 430, 566.
[6]  Andrew Dickson White: (1832-1918), American diplomat and writer, and one of the best founders of Cornell University.
[7]  See: A. D. White: A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom Vol. 11/123.
[8]  Jawaharlal Nehru: (1889-1964), one of the leaders of the independence movement in India and the first prime minister of India after independence.
[9]  Quoting Abu-al-Hasan Al-Nadwi: Maza Khasira Al-Alam bi Inhitat Al-Muslimin (what did the world lose by the decadence of Muslims), p107.
([10])  The principles of international politics, p25; quoting Muhammad Al-Sadiq Afifi: Tatwur Al-Fikr Al-Ilmi inda Al-Muslimin (the development of scientific thought of Muslims), p19.

Sicily one of the routes of Islamic civilization to Europe

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Written by Dr. Ragheb Elsergany

Islamic civilization in Sicily

Sicily air mapSicily together with southern Italy was also one of the most important routes of Islamic civilization to Europe. The Muslims conquered Palermo, the capital of Sicily in (216 A.H / 831 A.D), and continued to rule it until (485 A.H / 1092 A.D), approximately 260 years during which life in Sicily had an Arab, Islamic character.
During those years, the Muslims were interested in development and construction and were keen to introduce aspects of civilization, such as mosques, palaces, baths, hospitals, markets, castles, into Sicily. Important industries, such as that of paper, silk, and ships and mining were introduced.
Sciences and arts made headway in Sicily. Students came from Europe to Sicily in pursuit of knowledge. Sicily then turned into an important centre via which Islamic heritage moved to the Occident. Activities of translation from Arabic into Latin, similar to those done in Andalusia, began in Sicily.

Impact of Islamic civilization in Sicily

Although the Islamic rule of the island had ended in the late 11th century, Islamic civilization there continued under the care of their Norman successors under whose protection many Muslim scholars, such as geography expert Mohamed Idrissi, lived. Idrissi drew for Roger II (1130 -1154 A.D) the map of the world as it was known at his time on a flat silver circle. He also wrote for him the book Nuzhat al-Mushtaq fi ikhtiraq al-afaq (The journey of those aspiring to penetrate the horizons) which describes this map.
In his book Tarikh al-adab al-arabi al-jughurafi (The history of Arabic geographic literature), the Russian Orientalist Kratchkovski[1] commented on this book.
Speaking of Roger, he said:"…and his commissioning of an Arab scientist in particular to do a description of the world as it was known at the time is shining evidence of the excellence of Arab civilization in that era, and of the recognition by everyone of this excellence. Half, if not more, of the court of Normans in Sicily was Oriental.[2]"
The new Islamic culture attracted Europeans, and its impact continued during the rule of the Normans. Life in the court of Sicily - especially during the reign of Roger II and Frederick II – was prosperous and elegant which was intended to get closer to Cordova. The two kings adopted the Arab style of dress and way of life. The Norman rulers of Sicily had Arab and Muslim advisors and employees. They were joined by scholars from Baghdad and Syria.  Moreover, three Norman kings in Sicily had Arab titles.  Roger II carried the title of «Al-Mo'tazbillah», William I held the title of “Al-Hadi ba’mrallah", and William II "Almusta’izbillah,". These titles appeared in their inscriptions.[3] Frederick II (1194 - 1230 A.D) was crowned emperor of the Holy Roman Empire (1220 A.D), but he preferred to live in Sicily and had a special interest in sciences. He encouraged scientific and philosophical discussions.
It was him who founded the University of Naples (1224 A.D) which had a large number of Arabic manuscripts. The Arab and Islamic culture spread in European universities, including that of Paris and Oxford. A number of books were translated from Arabic into Latin.  Translators included Stephen of Antioch (1127 A.D), English Adelard[4] (about 1133 A.D)[5], and Michael Scot[6], who translated books for King Frederick II, including Ibn Rushd’s.
  The King of Naples Charles I was interested in translating Arabic medical books into Latin and established an institution comprising the actual translators; such as Faraj Bin Salem, Musa of Salerno, as well as scribes and proofreaders. The books Al-Hawi by Al-Razi and Taqwim al-Abdan by Ibn Jizla were translated.
Sicily was prepared for the transfer of ancient and contemporary thought. Arabic and Greek speakers lived in Sicily together with some intellectuals who knew Latin. Sicily was affiliated to the Byzantine Empire and had some Greek cultural aspects. The existence of the three languages at the same time had greatly facilitated the transfer of knowledge. Before that, Salerno school was a centre for teaching medicine for nearly three hundred years (900-1200 A.D). It is located in southern Italy and was closely connected to Sicily. The most important thing in its history was Constantine, the African of Arab origin, who was born in Tunisia, and became famous from 1065 to 1085 A.D. He translated a large number of medical books from Arabic into Latin. He was credited with the translation of forty books, including Kamil al-Sina’ah al-Tibiyah (The entire medical industry), Al-Kitab al-Malaki (The royal book) by Ali Ibn Abbas (died in 1010 A.D), and other books by Ibn al-Jazzar, Isaac Ibn Imran, and Isaac bin Sulayman, all three from his home country Tunisia.
Constantine omitted to mention the names of the original authors of some Arabic books. There are different reasons for this, but that does not detract from his importance as the first translator who introduced Islamic science into Europe and was behind the flourishing of the school of Salerno. The Arabic language was one of the languages taught at the school. The great Arab Muslim doctors and authors, such as Al-Razi (died in 925 A.D), Ibn Al-Jazzar (died in 975 A.D) and Ali Ibn Abbas (died in 1010 A.D)[7],were contemporaneous to that school. Mr. Cowel Yong said about Sicily: “Sicily was a field for free competition between the languages of the Greeks, the Latins, and Arab Berbers and their acquaintances. The result was the birth of a different culture. Thanks to encouragement from Roger II and Frederick II, Sicily played a great role in the transfer of the best of the Islamic city to Europe through Italy. Palermo became in the 13th century, like Toledo in the 12th century, a great centre for the translation of Arabic books into Latin."[8] The Normans kept Muslim professionals as they had great trust in them[9]. The Normans also maintained the same administrative, financial systems used by Muslims starting from the financial management Divan, the treasury Divan to the land sale registration Divan. The registers of these departments were written in Arabic.[10] In the field of military arts, the Normans were keen to recruit many Muslims. That was a fertile ground for the transfer of fighting skills and even military industries, such as catapults and siege towers.[11]
As such, Sicily and southern Italy represented another important route of the routes of Islamic civilization to Europe.

[1]  He is a Russian Orientalist born in March 1883. He studied the classic Greek and Latin languages. He himself started to learn Arabic. He joined the Faculty of Oriental Languages in Saint Petersburg University. He studied Islamic history at the hand of Orientalist Barthold.
[2] Quoting Mustafa al-Siba’i: Min Rawa’i Hadaratna (From the masterpieces of our civilization) p 28, look at book (Nuzhat al-Mushtak) authored by  by Al-Idrissi, also Sigrid Hunke: Shams al-Arab tasta’ ala al-gharb (Allah's Sun Over the Occident) pp 416,417
[3] Aziz Ahmad: Tarikh Saqallyah (History of Sicily)p 76
[4] English Adelard: He is Adelard of Bath (1070-1125 A.D), who born in Bath. He sought knowledge in Tour, Andalusia, and Sicily. When he returned to England, he was appointed teacher of Princess Henry, who later became King Henry II.
[5] Najib al-Aqiqi: Al-Mustashriqun (The Orientalists) 1/111
[6] Michael Scot (1175-1235 A.D), Scottish researcher, mathematician, doctor, and astronomer. He translated a number of Aristotle’s works from Arabic and Hebrew. He studied with Arabs in Andalusia and worked in Sicily in the court of Emperor Frederick II.
[7] Mahmud Al-Galili: op cit.
[8] Quoting Mustafa al-Siba’i: Men Rawa’i Hadaratna (From the wonders of our civilization) p 28
[9] Ibn Jubayir: Rihlat ibn Jubayir (Journey of Ibn Jubayir) p 298
[10] L. Jinwardi: Al-Dafatir Al-Normanyah (Norman books) 1/159-164
[11] Aziz Ahmad: Tarikh Saqallyah (History of Sicily) p 77

Crusades one of the routes of Islamic civilization to Europe

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Impact of Islamic civilization on Europe during crusades

the crusadesThe crusades are wars that continued for about two centuries starting from the end of the 5th Hijri century/11th Gregorian century in (490 A.H/1097A.D) until the fall of the last bastion of crusaders in the hands of Mamelukes in (690 A.H/1291 A.D). That period is considered to be one of the most important liaison points or points where influence and copying took place. Although the crusaders came to the Islamic Mashreq seeking war rather than knowledge, they were influenced by Islamic civilization. The crusaders copied as much as they could of the Muslims’ achievements to Europe, which was suffering from backwardness and degeneration at the time.
Gustav Lebon says: “The link between the Occident and the Orient for two centuries was one of the strongest factors for the development of civilization in Europe… those who want to know the influence of the Orient on the Occident have to understand the state of civilization of the peoples of both sides. As the Orient was enjoying flourishing civilization thanks to the Arabs, the Occident plunged into barbarism.”[1]
In this regard, Al-Maqrizi[2] says that when Emperor Frederick II left Jerusalem for Acre on his way to his country in (626 A.H/1228 A.D), he sent to the Ayyubid sultan Al-Kamil with questions in engineering and mathematics he found too difficult to answer. Al-Kamil used to love science and bring scientists closer to him, test them and award them generously. The Ayyubid sultan gave these questions to one of his scientists, Sheikh Alam al-Din Qaysar, who was a mathematician and engineer. Al-Kamil then sent the answers to Frederick. The questions raised by the emperor included:
- Why does a spear not appear straight if part of it was plunged into water?
 - Why do people with poor sight see threads that appear like flies or mosquitoes in front of the eyes?[3]
Europeans came to Islamic countries in subsequent waves and caused wide bloodshed and waded through the blood of innocent people with no mercy or pity until they were encountered by Muslim soldiers who showed them how they had great sword fighting skills, kind hearts, and merciful souls not part of their message to enslave, oppress, and do injustice. The crusaders had, therefore, seen equality, justice, and fraternity. So, they rebelled against the feudal system and the humiliation of man in their countries and denounced the sway and dominion of the church. The crusaders struggled against the transfer of wealth to some princes and brokers of kings. The crusaders copied massively from science, arts, and civilization. So, many industries, plants, medicines, dyes, the art of architecture and engineering, and the building of forts and castles, made their way to them. Also, many Islamic traditions, including those related to dress, food, and family, made their way to Europe. The crusaders went back dazzled as if they had an electric shock that alerted them to their bad conditions, ignorant thinking, and insignificant society. So, the crusaders rolled up their sleeves to search for knowledge and science, seeking social reform and intellectual, industrial and moral progress.[4]
Gustav Le Bon says: “The impact of the Orient on the civilization of the Occident was very great, thanks to the crusades. That impact was greater in arts, industries, and trade than in sciences and literature. If we looked at the steady progress of commercial relations between the Orient and the Occident and the development in arts and industry that resulted from the contact between the crusaders and people in the Orient, we would find that people in the Orient were the ones who extricated the Occident from alienation and prepared souls to progress, thanks to the sciences and literature of the Arabs which European universities relied on, which made the renaissance era start from there one day”.[5]

[1] Gustav Lebon: (Civilization of Arabs) p 334
[2] Al-Maqrizi: Al-Suluk le maarifat duwal al-mamalik (Behaviour for knowing the states of the kings p 354/1
[3] Look: Abdallah bin Abd-Rahman Al-Ribai: Ather Al Sharq Al Islami Fi Al Fikr Al Oropee Khelal Al Horoob Al Salebyah (Influence of Islamic Mashreq in the European thought during the crusades) p 98
[4] Look: Tawfiq Yusuf al-Wa’i: Al-hadarah al-islamiyah muqranatan bi al-hadarah al-gharibyah (Islamic civilization in comparison with Western civilization) pp 531/1,532
[5] Gustav Le Bon: Civilization of Arabs, p 339

Testimonies of impartial orientalists about Islamic civilization on thought

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Some Orientalists' testimonies on thought

Thought.As previously mentioned, thought is one of the pillars of faith in this religion. It is one of the pillars on which Islamic civilization was built. The whole universe is the visible book of Allah, while the Qur'an is His legible book. In many verses, the legible book (Holy Qur'an) asked people to look into this visible book. It is surprising that after all that some people deny the importance Islam and Islamic civilization attached to thought and the use of mind!
Therefore, these testimonies by impartial Westerners came to respond to this:
Etienne Dinet[1] says: “The credit should go to the Muslim philosopher Ibn Rushd - who lived in Andalusia (1120-1198 A.D) - for the introduction of freedom of opinion - which we should not mix with atheism - to Europe. In the middle age in Europe, free thinkers showed enthusiasm for his explanations of Aristotle. These explanations had a strong Islamic nature. We can truly consider that the intellectual trend which resulted from this enthusiasm towards Ibn Rushd was the basis of the modern logical thinking, in addition to being part of the foundations for religious reform.”[2]
Sigrid Hunke says: “A torrential stream of Arab thought and the material of truth and science was refined by Arabs who put it in order and presented in an ideal way that swept through Europe… In the European centres of science, every single scientist extended his hands to these Arab treasures to take from them a lot… every single book published in Europe at the time drew greatly upon Arab sources whose impact was very clear not only in the translated Arabic words but in the content and ideas as well.”[3]
Sigrid also says: “This astonishing quick jump on the ladder of civilization - which the sons of the desert made from scratch - deserves to be taken into consideration in the history of human thought. Their subsequent scientific achievements which made them masters of civilized peoples were so unique that they were too great to be compared with others. This invites us to wonder: How has this happened?”[4]
M. Sedillot says: “Islamic society did not witness the narrow-mindedness, paralysis of thought, barrenness of soul and the fight against science and scientists that Europe witnessed. History says that 32 thousand scholars were burnt alive! There is no argument that the history of Islam did not see this horrible persecution of freedom of thought. Indeed Muslims had an exclusive knowledge of science in these dark ages. No religion had ever obtained exclusive control of authority, and at the same time gave those who hold different faiths all means of freedom as Islam did.”[5]  
Carra de Vaux: “The Arabs elevated rational life and scientific study to the highest level at the time when the Christian world was struggling desperately for freedom from the stratagems and shackles of Barbarism. The Arabs reached their peak of activity (which continued till the 15th century) in the 9th and 10th centuries. From the 12th century and onwards, Marrakesh and the Middle East were the destination for every Western who was interested and had a taste for science. In that period, the Europeans started to translate the works of Arabs, as the Arabs had translated the works of the Greeks.”[6]
French writer Maurice Bucaille says in his book (The Torah, the Bible, The Qur'an, and science): “We know that Islam looks at science and religion as twins, that the refinement of science was part of the religious instructions from the beginning, and that application of this rule led to the astonishing scientific advancement in the era of great Islamic civilization, from which the West benefited before its renaissance.”[7]
On the impact of the Islamic faith of monotheism on the mentality of the Indian people and its religions, the former Indian ambassador to Egypt, Bani Karr, says: “It is quite clear that the impact of Islam on the Hindu faith was deep in that (Islamic) era. The idea of worshipping God in Hindustan is indebted to Islam. The leaders of thought and religion in that era, though they gave their gods different names, called for worshipping God and stated that God is only one, that He deserves to be worshipped, and that the survival and happiness are sought from Him. This impact appeared in the faiths and calls which appeared in India in the Islamic era, such as the (Bhagti) faith and the (Kabir) call.[8]
After reviewing most of the aspects of Islamic civilization, the great French historian Sedillot concludes: “As such, the impact of the Arabs on all branches of modern European civilization appeared.”[9]
These are the statements and testimonies of impartial Orientalists and Western historians on the contributions and impact of Islamic civilization. I will conclude this chapter with a lecture delivered by Prince Charles, Britain's heir to the throne, in Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, under the title "Islam and the West" in which he literally said:
 “If there was a great deal of misunderstanding in the West of the nature of Islam, there is also a similar amount of ignorance of what our culture and civilization owe to the Islamic world… Spain in the era of Muslims not only collected and kept the intellectual content of the Greek and Roman civilization, but explained this civilization and expanded on it. It offered important contributions in many fields of human research in sciences, astronomy, mathematics, algebra – which is derived from Arabic itself - law, history, medicine, pharmacology, optics, agriculture, and architecture. In the 10th century, Cordova was the most civilized city in Europe. Also, many of the advantages which modern Europe is proud of came originally from Spain during the Islamic rule. Diplomacy, freedom of commerce, open borders, academic research methods, human science, code of behaviour, development of fashion, alternative medicine, and hospitals all came from that great city.
Moreover, Islam can teach us a way to understand and live in the world, something which the Christian faith has lost which caused it to be weak. In its essence, Islam maintains a comprehensive view of the universe. Islam rejects separation between man and nature, religion and science, mind and material. That important feeling of monotheism and guardianship over the holy and spiritual nature of the world around us is an important thing that we can learn again from Islam.”[10]
Those who wish to read more about the impact of Islamic civilization on the modern European renaissance should check chapter six of Tarikh al-arab al-a’am (General history of Arabs) by Sedillot, which is entitled (Description of Arab civilization), chapter five with its 10 sections from Hadarit al-arab (Civilization of Arabs) by Gustav Lebon, and Sigrid Hunke’s Shams al-arab tasta’ ala al-gharb (Allah's Sun over the Occident) which is entirely about the acknowledgement of the contributions of Islamic civilization to Western civilization. The list of sources and references collected by the great scientist George Sarton for his book Muqadimat fi tarikh al-‘ulum (Introductions to the History of Science) may also be checked.
Perhaps this and a lot more unquestionably shows the originality, boom, and excellence of Islamic civilization which was particularly comprehensive and developed and was realistic and open. This may also show the great contributions Islamic civilization made in the journey of human civilization and in the foundation of the modern Western civilization. Perhaps it is time for us to remember these facts, in the hope that they will be benefited by so as to rise up again.

[1] - Etienne Dinet: (1861-1929), French Orientalist, painter, and internationally known writer

[2] - Etienne Dinet: Muhammad, Messenger of Allah, p343
[3] - Sigrid Hunke: Shams al-Arab Tasta’ ala al-Gharb (Allah's Sun over the Occident) pp 305,306
[4]-  Sigrid Hunk: Ibid, p354
[5] - Hassan Shamsi Pasha: (That was they were when we were) p 83
[6]- Carra de Vaux: Astronomy and mathematics, a research published in the Turath al-Islam (Heritage of Islam) book under the supervision of (Arnold) p564
[7]-  Waheed Eddin Khan: Al-Islam Yatahda, (Islam challenges), P, 14
[8] - A Survey of Indian History p. 132
[9] - Sedillot: General history of Arabs, p 381

[10] - Lecture: Islam and the West, which was delivered in Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies on 27th October 1993. The British embassy in Damascus distributed the text translated which was then published at the expense of Prince Charles in a small booklet

Impact of Islamic civilization on European civilization in the field of faith and legislation

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no god but allahIt is striking that in the sequence of civilizations the latter builds on the former, and that there is no civilization that starts from scratch.
Therefore, Islamic civilization had the greatest impact on modern European civilization, which followed it. The impact of Islamic civilization on Europe covered many fields and dominated several aspects until it spread across all areas of life in Europe. This impact reached most activities and systems, mainly faith, science, language, literature, legislation, society, politics, and others.

Impact on Islamic civilization in the field of faith

Islam came with the faith of monotheism in the middle of a society and a world that was rife with polytheism and idolatry. Islam said that Allah is the only God and He was far above any physical characteristics or shortcomings. Islam liberated man from worshipping anyone but Allah, Exalted be He. Islam gave no room to any mediator or priest to act between man and Allah. As soon as the world, particularly during the era of European renaissance, knew this pure faith, “the followers of every religion started to provide explanation for polytheism, or aspects of polytheism and idolatry and their customs and traditions, which existed in their religious system. They used to distort it with their tongues and make an effort to express it and explain it in a way that is close to and similar to Islamic monotheism.”[1]
Ahmad Amin says: Trends showing the impact of Islam appeared among Christians. In the 8th Gregorian century/2nd and 3rd Hijiri centuries, a movement appeared in Septimania[2] calling for rejecting the making of confession before a priest on the basis that a priest had no right to this. The movement said that man should supplicate only Allah to forgive him for the sins he committed. Islam has allowed no room to priests, monks, or bishops. It is, therefore, normal that Islam has not allowed confession making.
Influenced by Islam, another movement also appeared calling for destroying pictures and religious statues. In the 8th and 9th Gregorian centuries, a Christian doctrine appeared and it rejected the glorification of pictures and statues. The Roman Emperor (Leo III) issued an order in (108 A.H/730 A.D) forbidding the glorification of pictures and statues and another order (112 A.H/730 A.D) considering doing this an act of idolatry, and so did Constantine V and Leo IV. There was also a Christian sect that explained the faith of trinity in a way that was similar to monotheism and denied the divinity of the Christ.[3]
Those who read about the religious history of Europe and the history of the Christian church can feel the rational impact of Islam on the trends of reformists and those who revolted against the dominating Episcopal system. But the great reformist call (by Luther) was, in spite of its weaknesses, the most outstanding manifestation of the impact of Islam and some of its beliefs as historians[4] admit. Islamic faith with its clarity and purity was, therefore, of a very great impact on many faiths of non-Muslims and led to the correction of a lot of concepts, which took a wrong turn with time, everywhere in the world.

Impact on European civilization in field of law and legislation

faith and legislationThe contact Western students had with Islamic schools in Andalusia and elsewhere played a great role in transferring a set of fiqh and Shar’iah rulings to their all languages. Europe was not adopting a perfect system or fair laws at the time. During the Napoleon era in Egypt, the most famous books of Al-Maliki school of fiqh were translated into French. The first of these was (The book of Khalil) which was the nucleus of the French civil law. It was similar to the rulings of Al-Maliki school of fiqh to a great extent.[5]
The prominent scholar Sedillot[6] says: “The Al-Maliki school in particular is the one that attracts our attention, owing to the contacts we have with the African Arabs. The French government asked Dr. Peyron to translate into French the book Al-Mukhtasar fi al-fiqh (The short compendium on fiqh) by Al-Khalil Ibn Isehaq Ibn Ya’qub who died in (776 A.H/1374 A.D).[7]
Islamic civilization had even made contributions to the laws of Europe itself. Writing about that in his book "The Outline of History", British historian (Wells[8]) says: “Europe is indebted to Islam for the bulk of its administrative and commercial laws.”[9]

[1] Abul-Hasan al-Nadwi: Maza khasar al-alam bi inhetat al-Muslimin (What has the world lost with the degradation of Muslims?) p 105
[2] Septimania is an old French province in southwestern France overlooking the Mediterranean
[3] Look: Ahmed Ameen: Doha Al-Islam (the Forenoon of Islam), 1/381-382
[4] Look: Abu Al-Hasan al-Nadwi: What has the world lost with the degradation of Muslims? P 106
[5] Mustafa al-Siba’i: Min raw’i hadaratna (From the wonders of our civilization) p 44
[6] Sedillot: (1223-1292 A.H/1808-1875) a French Orientalist, born and died in Paris. One of the Arabic works of Sedillot is his publication of the book Jamie al-mabadi wa al-ghayat fi al-alaat al-falakiyah (The collection of principles and objectives of astronomical devices) by Ali Al-Marrakeshi with a French translation.
[7] Sedillot: General history of Arabs, with translation by Adel Ze’atar p 395
[8] Wells: Herbert George Wells (1866-1946 A.D) a British man of letters, thinker, journalist, sociologist, and historian, considered to be one of the founders of scientific fiction literature.
[9] Quoting Muhammad Uthman Uthman: Muhammad fi al-adab al-alamiyah al-munsifah (Muhammad in the impartial international literature) p 76

The impact of Islamic civilization on that of Europe over education and dealings

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Written by Dr. Ragheb Elsergany


Copying in the field of science, arts, and poetry is something tangible and clear because it is a purely material impact that can be detected clearly and accurately. But the social and human impact (education and dealings) can be detected less clearly. The longer the time space the clearer the social development is. Also, social issues are usually related to culture, philosophy, and religion which are still battlefields between Islam and the West till now. For this reason, we refrained in this article from citing many of the comparisons. We have indeed found out that much of what Islam approved has not been reached by Western civilization so far owing to the remaining difference in opinion, concepts, and philosophies. We discuss here the manifestations of the impact of Islamic civilization. Jolivet Castaoi says in his book (Law of History): “Europe is indebted for the useful atmosphere it enjoyed during those ages to the Arab thoughts. Four centuries had gone and they had no civilization other than the Arab civilization. The scholars of Islamic civilization are the carriers of its hovering banner.”[1] In a very logical process, any development in modern Western civilization, compared to the Roman civilization, up till to the Middle Ages can be attributed to the age of Islamic civilization.

Impact on European civilization in the field of education and dealings

In previous articles, we have presented examples of these contributions which Islamic civilization has offered to rights, liberties, education, and dealings. We will highlight here the impact of these contributions on Western civilization.
In 890 A.D, Alfonso, the Great, wanted to bring someone to discipline his son and his heir to the throne. He brought two Muslims from Cordova as he was keen on having him well-behaved. He did not find among the Christians at the time a competent person for the job.[2]
When Muslims conquered Andalusia, some people preferred to immigrate to France in order not to live under Islamic rule. Thomas Arnold[3] writes about the nature of the treatment the Christians who accepted to live under the umbrella of Islamic state received and compares it to the treatment received by those who had emigrated. He says: “Those who emigrated to France to live under Christian rule was in fact in no better position than their brothers in religion whom they left behind (referring to those who accepted to live under Islamic rule). In 812 A.D, Charlman stepped in to protect the exiled that caught up with him when he defected from Spain over the coercion of the empire employees and their persecution of them.
After three years, the pious Lewis found no other way but to issue another decree to improve the conditions of those exiled who soon, despite this, complained again about the nobles who usurped the lands allocated to them. It was not long after the attempt to resolve these problems until they started to complain again. Those royal decrees and orders which were issued to improve the conditions of the exiled brought no result. We will find in the late ages, among the Spanish community, which fled the Islamic rule, a looked down upon class that was badly treated and put itself under the mercy of their fellow Christians.”[4]
What emphasizes the fact that dealing with Muslims had made Christians well-behaved is Arnold’s statement that Azidor, a historian from Andalusia, “reproached the Muslim conquerors severely”, but “he wrote down the issue of the marriage of Abd-al-Aziz Ibn Musa Ibn Nusayir and the widow of the king Roderic, without mentioning a single word denouncing this act.”[5]
Arnold adds: “Many Christians had Arabic names and imitated their Muslim neighbours in setting up some religious systems. So, many of them were circumcised. They followed the same way of (Muslims) in terms of food and drinks.”[6]
Crusaders who occupied the Levant countries during the crusades were an example of fanaticism to the extent that Montgomery Watt[7] wondered: “It is strange that the nomads who participated in the crusades believe that their religion is the religion of peace.”[8]
But their state after they mixed with Muslims was narrated by Will Durant who said: “The Europeans who settled in these two countries (Syria and Palestine in the crusades) had gradually adopted the Oriental style of dress…their contact increased with the Muslims who lived in that kingdom. Therefore, the aversion and hostility between the two sides reduced. Muslim traders started to enter Christian areas completely freely and sell their goods to people there. Christian patients used to prefer Muslim and Jewish doctors to Christian doctors. Christian religious men allowed Muslims to go to mosques for worship. Muslims started to teach their children the Qur’an at Islamic schools in Christian Antioch and Tripoli.”[9]
Of course, it did not stem from original tolerance, for we have seen how the crusaders in Spain dealt with the different doctrines, let alone the different religions, five centuries after that in Spain. The treatment by Saladin of the crusaders after he liberated Jerusalem has a special appreciation and special recognition as well in the West. 
Maxime Rodinson[10] says: “The archenemy Saladin was greatly admired by Westerners. He launched a war with humanity and chivalry although only a few reciprocated with similar stances, mainly Richard the Lionheart.”[11]
Thomas Arnold says: “It appears that the manners of Saladin and his life which featured heroism caused in the minds of Christians in his age a special magical influence to the extent that a group of Christian knights were so attracted to him that they deserted their Christian religion and left their people and joined Muslims.”[12]
Durant also reports the surprise shown by Christian historians at the greatness of Saladin: “Saladin was committed to his religion to the largest extent. He allowed himself to be absolutely tough on the knights of the temple and hospitalers, but he was normally kind with the weak and merciful with the defeated. He used to rise above his enemies in his fulfillment of his promises in a way that made Christian historians wonder how the Islamic religion, “the wrong” in their minds, could bring a man who was so great to such an extent.”[13]
After 13 centuries of the slogan of Islam, “You are the children of Adam, and Adam was made of dust. There is no preference for an Arab over a foreigner, a black over white, white over black, except by piety”[14], Abraham Lincoln liberated slaves in the mid 19th century in critical circumstances. He faced fierce resistance from those who benefited from the class of slaves to such an extent where he was about to retreat. However, he issued the legislation. It is to be noted that he himself did not believe in equality between races.

Racial discrimination in Europe

Racial discrimination in EuropeIt is worth saying: Racial discrimination in treatment still exists until now in Europe at the level of dealings, particularly in countries, such as France and Germany. Lebon says: “Arabs have the spirit of absolute equality in line with their political systems. The principle of equality which was announced in Europe, in words rather than actions, was completely well-established in the nature of the (Islamic) Shari’ah. Muslims did not know of these social classes whose existence led and still leads to the most violent revolutions in the West.”[15] After 14 centuries of the slogan of Islam about the treatment of prisoners, {thereafter (is the time for) either or ransom} [Muhammad: 4], and the will of the prophet:
"[16]Take care of women"
The Geneva agreement on treatment of prisoners in 1949 came to discuss the rights of prisoners and has not reached yet the rights of prisoners under Islam.
The same applies to the Geneva agreement on the treatment of civilians during war which was signed on 12 August 1949 after 14 centuries of the prophet’s statement:
Invade but do not act treacherously, do not misappropriate, do not amputate, and do not kill children[17]
Abu Bakr said: “Do not disobey, do not misappropriate, do not be cowardly, do not destroy an inhabited place, do not remove a palm tree, do not burn cultivated lands, do not kill an animal, do not cut down a fruit-bearing tree, and do not kill an aged person or a child..."”[18]
The same thing applies divorce. Fourteen centuries after Islam brought it, civil laws were passed in Europe to allow divorce (civil law was issued in Britain in 1969 A.D)
It is very clear that the international declaration on ending discrimination against women was influenced by Islamic Shari’ah. The statements about women’s right to own and inherit and their legal competence are almost a copy of what is in Islamic jurisprudence. That declaration was issued in 1967 A.D.
This was after the West witnessed, during recent crises, strange incidents. One such an example was when the church found it was much of a burden to provide for a woman, so it sold her for two shillings (1790 A.D). Women continued until the early 19th century (1805 AD) to belong to their husband who could sell them and at a specific price of (six cents). When one English man sold his wife in 1931, he found a lawyer to defend him with a law that dated back to before 1805 A.D. The court then punished him with ten months in prison. Women had their right to own a property only in the late 19th century (1882 A.D). Women had been regarded as minors in France just like the insane and children up till 1938 A.D.[19]

[1] Jolivet Castaoi: Law of History, quoting: Muhammad Kurd Ali: Islam wa al-hadarah al-arabiyah (Islam and Arab civilization) p 544

[2] Muhammad Kurd Ali: Islam wa al-hadarah al-arabiyah (Islam and Arab civilization) p 548
[3] Thomas Arnold: Famous English historian (1864-1930) one of the great Orientalists, and one of his most famous writings is the book the Call to Islam.
[4] Thomas Arnold: The Call to Islam, p 159
[5] Ibid,  P,160
[6] Ibid: P,160
[7] Montegmery Watt: (1909-2006 A.D) is an English Orientalist specializing in Islamic studies and dean of the Arabic studies department in the University of (Edinburgh) and writer of many books about Islamic philosophy, comparison of religions, Islamic history and Islamic civilization
[8] Montegmery Watt: Contributions of Islam to Western Civilization, p 102
[9] Will Durant: Story of civilization, 15/34
[10] French Orientalist, one of the most important specialists in history of religions. He wrote many books about Islam and the Arab world, including Muhammad, Capitalism and Islam, Marxism and Islamic World, Greatness of Islam
[11] Maxime Rodinson: Western image and Western and Islamic studies, p 41.
[12] Thomas Arnold: The Call to Islam, p 111
[13] Will Durant: Story of Civilization, 15/45

[14] Ahmad (23536), Shu’ayib Al-Arna’ut said: Well-transmitted. Al-Tabarani: Al-Mu’jam al-kabir (14444), Al-Bayhaqi: Shu’ab al-Iman (4921), Al-Albani said: Authentic. Look: Al-Silsilah al-Sahiha (2700)
[15] Gustav Lebon: Arabs’ Civilization, p 391
[16] Al-Tabarani: Al-Mu’jam al-kabir (977), Al-Mu’jam al-Saghir (409), Al-Haythami said: Well transmitted. Look: Mu’jama al-Zawa’id (10007)
[17] Narrated by Abu Dawud, authenticated by Al-Albani in Sahih Abu Dawud
[18] Ibn A’sakir: History of Damascus 2/75

[19] Dr. Abd al-Wadud Shalabi: Fi Mahkmat al-tarikh (Court of History) p 60 and the following pages

Impact of Islamic civilization on European civilization in the field of sciences

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Written by Dr. Ragheb Elsergany


The impact of Muslims on the West in the field of sciences, including medicine, pharmacology, mathematics, chemistry, optics, geography, astronomy, and others was one of the best manifestations of the influence on European civilization. Many impartial Westerners admitted that Muslims continued to be the teachers of Europe for no less than 600 years.

Translation of Muslim scientists’ books

Translation of Muslim scientists’ booksOne of the manifestations of this impact was the translation of the books written by Muslim scientists more than once and adopting them as basic sources and principal reference books for many centuries for teaching at Western universities. For example, when medicine reached its peak at the hands of Muslims, the European church was preventing treatment because disease was (a punishment from Allah)! They learned about medicine and treatment afterwards through the translation of the books written by Ibn Sina, Al-Razi, and others. This included, but was not limited to, the book Al-Qanun fi al-Tibb (The law of medicine) by Ibn Sina in the 12th century. The book was published several times and was the basis for studies at French and Italian universities![1]
The UNESCO newsletter mentioned in 1980 that the book Al-Qanun fi al-Tibb by Ibn Sina continued to be taught at the University of Brussels until 1909. The article cited a comment by the writer Osler[2] in which he said: The book Al-Qanun continued to be a sole reference in medicine for a period longer than any other book. It was published 15 times in the last 30 years of the 15th century.
Osler added: “Ibn Sina enabled Western scientists to embark upon a scientific revolution in the field of medicine, which indeed started in the 13th century and reached its principal stage in the 17th century.[3]
Just like Al-Qanun, the book (Al-Hawi) and (Al-Mansuri) by Al-Razi were translated at the end of the 13th century. In recognition of his contributions, the US Princeton University called its biggest wing Al-Razi. Also, the research work done by Abu Al-Rayhan Al-Bayruni on qualitative weight had such an important impact on Western civilization. Al-Khazini was a scientific lead for Torricelli in doing research on the weight and condensation of air and the pressure it causes. Al-Khazini invented a barometer to weigh matter in the air and in water which Europe had continued to use up till the middle ages. Europe also used the accurate scales of Muslims in the field of qualitative weight, the weight of air, lifting apparatuses, and gravitation.
Al-Khazini’s book Mizan al-Hikmah (Scale of Wisdom) benefited Western scholars to a great extent as it was translated from Arabic into many various languages. Books by Jabir Ibn Hayyan, Al-Hasan Ibn Al-Haytham, and Al-Khawarizmi were also translated and continued to be a reference for Europe for centuries!
The prominent Orientalist Sedillot says: If we look at what the Latins had copied from the Arabs in the beginning, we will find that Gerbert who later became Pope Sylvester II brought to us, between (359 A.H / 970 A.D) and (369 A.H / 980 A.D), the mathematical sciences he studied in Andalusia. Moreover, the British author O'Hallard toured Andalusia and Egypt, for some time between (493 A.H / 1100 A.D) and (522 A.H/1128 A.D) and translated from Arabic "Al-Arkan" by Euclid, which had been unknown to the West.
Platon de Tivoli translated from Arabic Al-Ukar by Theodosius. Rudolf Brugie translated from Arabic Ptolemy's book (Geography of the inhabited Earth). Leonard of Pisa wrote in about (596 A.H/1200 A.D) a treatise on Algebra which he had picked up from his Arab teachers. Johannes Campanus translated Euclid’s book from Arabic and provided good explanation in the 13th century.
In addition, Polish Witelo drew upon Al-Hasan Ibn Al-Haitham's book Al-Basariyat "Optics” in that century. Gerard of Cremona propagated the real astronomical science in that century as well through his translation of Ptolemy's Almagest and (Al-Sharh) by Jabir…etc. In (648A.H / 1250 A.D), Alfonso X of Castile ordered the publication of astronomical almanac which were named for him. Roger I encouraged the study of Arabic sciences in Sicily, particularly the book by Al-Idrissi. Emperor Frederick II was no less keen on encouraging the study of the Arab sciences and arts. The sons of Ibn Rushd stayed at the court of that emperor and taught him the natural history of plants and animals.[4] It is clear from Sedillot’s statement that Muslims not only transferred their sciences to Europeans but also strongly helped Europeans to know the history of their Greek ancestors who were completely isolated from them. As such, the impact was manifested in all types and fields of sciences.

Impact of Islamic industries in Europe

sciencesWith regard to Islamic industries in Europe, which were connected with several sciences, there was the paper industry which Muslims spread across the world at the time. But for that industry, sciences would not have developed, writing would not have flourished, and Europe would not have been civilized.
Muslims transported a number of Chinese prisoners to Samarqand around the mid 8th Gregorian century. Among them were those who were good at paper industry. It was at their hands that the paper industry appeared and flourished in Samarqand. Improvements were then introduced into it, as linen and cotton were the raw material of this industry. Soft paper, the best type of paper, appeared. As papyrus paper was expensive, there was a high demand for the new paper to the extent that the Abbasid Caliph Al-Mansur, who was known for his saving, ordered the departments of his state not to use the papyrus paper and use only the ordinary paper for its cheap prices.[5]

Paper factories were set up in Baghdad in the era of Al-Rashid, then in Damascus and Tripoli, and then in Palestine and Egypt. The paper industry moved to Morocco and from there to Sicily and Andalusia until the West knew this industry, which was in fact one of the pillars of culture and spiritual life. Muslims, therefore, marked the start of a new era when science was no longer the monopoly of a certain group of people. It even became, as Sigrid Hunke said, available to everyone and an invitation for all minds to work and think.[6]

Tourists, visitors, pilgrims, traders, and students used to come from their countries in Europe to Barcelona and Valencia, where soft paper was produced, to return, as Al-Idrissi mentioned, carrying quantities of this paper which had no match in the world whatsoever. [7]
Sigrid Hunke says: The building of mills (paper mills) was an Arab specialization achieved by the Arabs themselves who gave Europe all kinds of water and air mills.[8]
Apart from the paper industry, there was also the magnetic needle (compass) which for some Europeans was invented by the Italian Flavio Gioia. In this regard, Sigrid replies by saying that that Italian “had known this device through (Muslim) Arabs”.[9]
“Researchers have disagreed as to whether the Arabs were the first to use the compass or copied it from China… Sedillot denies that the Chinese had used the compass although until 1850 A.D they still had the belief that the south pole of the earth was a raging fire. He emphasizes that the (Muslim) Arabs were the first to use it. He was supported by Sarton who had the same opinion. Everyone emphasizes that the Arabs had used it, and that Europe learned about the compass through the Arabs.”[10]
There is no question on the impact of this compass on the life of Europeans in general.

[1] Gustav Lebon: Arabs’ Civilization, p 490
[2] Sir William Osler, a Canadian doctor, considered to be one of the greatest symbols of medicine in modern times. He was described as the father of modern medicine. He specialized in the science of illnesses and was a teacher, specialist in diseases, intellectual, and historian
[3] UNESCO newsletter, October issue, 1980
[4] Quoting Mustafa Al-Siba’i: Min Raw’i Hadaratna (From the wonders of our civilization) P,42
[5] Sigrid Hunka: Shams Al-Arab (Allah's Sun Over the Occident), p.46 and Hany Al-Mubarak & Shawqi Abu Khalil: Dor Al-Hadara Al-Arabyah Al-Islamyah Fi Al-Nahdah Al-Ourobeyah, P.57.
[6] Ibid p 46
[7] Ibid p 44
[8] Ibid p 45
[9] Ibid p 47
[10] Anwar al-Rifa’i: Al-Insan Al-Arabi wa al-hadarah (The Arab man and civilization) p 487

Impact of Islamic civilization on European civilization in the field of language and literature

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Written by Dr. Ragheb Elsergany

Impact on European civilization in literature and poetry

language and literatureWesterners, particularly Spanish poets, were greatly influenced by Arabic literature. The literature of chivalry, bravery, figurative expression, and imagery made its way to Western literature through Arabic literature in Andalusia in particular. The famous Spanish writer Ibanez says: “Europe did not know chivalry, or its adopted literature or sense of honour before the arrival of Arabs in Andalusia and the wide presence of their knights and heroes in the countries of the south.”[1]
The Andalusian Ibn Hazm and his famous book “Tawq al-Hamamah” (the ring-neck dove) had a great impact on poets in Spain and southern France after the Islamic community blended with the Christian community. The Arabic language was the language of the country and the language of the high-class people. In many Christian Spanish provinces, Christian and Muslim poets used to meet at the court of the governor. One such an example is what used to take place at the court of Sanko which comprised 13 Arab poets, 12 Christian poets, and a Jewish poet. A manuscript dating back to the era of Alfonso X, the king of Castile, was found and it contained a portrait that represented the meeting of two moving poets, one Arab and one European, singing together on lute. Even more, the European poets at the time were good at composing Arabic poetry. For this reason, Henry Maro says: “The Arab impact on the civilization of the Roman peoples did not stop at fine arts only, but extended to music and poetry as well.”[2]
What also helps us realize the extent of the impact of the Arabic language and its literature on Western men of letters during those times is the quotation by Dozy[3] in his book about Islam of the message of the Spanish writer Al-Faro, who was greatly embittered at the neglect of Latin and Greek and the enthusiasm for learning the Muslim language. He said: “Our intellectual class has been charmed by Arabic literature, and have consequently neglected Latin and written solely in the language of their conquerors”. Another more patriotic contemporary was embittered at that state of things and wrote:  ‘My Christian brothers are enchanted by the Arabs' poems and narrative. They, therefore, study the works written by Muslim philosophers and scholars. They learn, not to rebut and refute, but to imitate the style of classical Arabic. Who else other than theologians that read interpretations of the Gospel and Bible? Who reads these days the testaments and prophets' scriptures?
Alas, the rising generation of intelligent Christians masters no other literature and language than Arabic. They voraciously read Arabic books and heap up stocks of these books in their libraries at the highest prices. They chant everywhere the praises of the Arabic treasures, whereas they refuse to hear of Christian works when they are mentioned. They allege that Christian works are worthless and do not deserve to be given attention. How sad the Christians have forgotten their language. You seldom find one among a thousand Christians who writes to a friend in Christian language. As to Arabic, how innumerable are those who can give its best expression and excel the Arabs themselves in the composition of poems.”[4]

Impact of Arabic language on European languages

Regarding the impact of the Arabic language on European languages, Dieter Meissner[5] says: The impact of the Arabic language, the language of the upper class in the languages spoken in the Iberian Peninsula, gave the Castilian, Portuguese, and Catalan languages a special place among the romance languages.
The Arabic impact was not restricted to the Iberian Peninsula only, but was a medium to take it to other languages, such as French.[6]
There is no need for us to recall all Arabic words that made their way to different European languages in various aspects of life. They almost have the same form as in Arabic, such as, cotton, damask, musk, syrup, jar, lemon, and zero. There is an infinite list of such words. In this regard, we may only highlight the statement of Professor Michael: “Europe was indebted for its novel writing to the Arab countries and to the Arab peoples that lived in the Arab Syrian area. Europe is indebted for the most part to these active forces which made the European middle centuries different in spirit and imagination from the world that was subject to its spirit.”[7]

Impact of Arabic novel on European novel

European novel was influenced in its birth by the narrative arts of the Arabs in the middle centuries, which included Maqamat (a genre of Arabic rhythmic prose), news of chivalry, and adventures of knights for the sake of glory and love. After it was translated into European languages in the 12th century, The Thousand and One Nights had a very great impact in this field to the extent that more than three hundred editions in all European languages have been published since then. A number of European critics believe that the Gulliver's Travels authored by Swift and the Robinson Crusoe authored by Defoe is indebted to The Thousand and One Nights and Risalat Hayy Ibn Yaqzan by the Arab philosopher Ibn Tufayil.[8]

Boccaccio stories

In 1349 A.D, Boccaccio wrote his novellas which were called Decameron, which followed the same suit of The Thousand and One Nights. Shakespeare copied the topic of his play (All's well that ends well). The German Lessing copied his play (Nathan the Wise). Chaucer, the leader of modern poetry in the English language, was the one who copied most from Boccaccio in his time. He saw him in Italy and composed afterwards his collection of stories which are widely known as (Canterbury Tales).[9]

Divine Comedy by Dante

Many critics stress that Dante in (The Divine Comedy) where he described a journey to the afterlife was influenced by Risalat Al-Ghufran by Al-Ma’ari and Wasf Al-Jannah (Description of Paradise) by Ibn Arabi. This is because he lived in Sicily during the era of Emperor Frederick II who was fond of Islamic culture and its studies in its Arab sources. He and Dante had discussions about the Aristotle thought some of which was derived from an Arab origin. Dante had a fair amount of information about the biography of the prophet. So, he read in the biography about the story of Al-Isra wa Al-M’iraj (Night Journey and Ascension) and the description of heavens.[10]
Sigrid Hunke says: “Similarity between Dante and Ibn Arabi looks big; Dante copied from him his comparisons after about two hundred years.”[11]

The poet Petrarch

The poet Petrarch lived in the era of the Arab culture in Italy and France. He studied at the universities of Montpellier and Paris, both of which were set up on the writings of the Arabs and their students in Andalusia’s universities.[12]
For this reason, he said to his people: “How strange! Ciceron managed to be an orator after Demostene and Vergil managed to be a poet after Homer. So, why were we not destined to write after the Arabs? We were equal with, and sometimes ahead of, the Greeks and all peoples, except the Arabs, How foolish! How mistaken!...”[13]
This is how the Arab Islamic civilization was the firebrand that lit the corners of humanity in the field of language and literature.

[1] Musata al-Siba’i: Min raw’i hadaratna (From the wonders of our civilization) p 42
[2] Ahmad Darwish: Nazaryat Al-Adab Al-Moqaran, (Theory of comparative literature and its manifestations in Arabic literature), pp 194, 195
[3] Reinhart Pieter Anne Dozy, (1235-1300 AH 1820-1883 AD), an orientalist from Dutch Land.
[4] Mustafa al-Siba’i: Min raw’i hadaratna (From the wonders of our civilization) p 43
[5] Professor of Romance language science in Salzburg University
[6] Dieter Meissner: Arab, Islamic civilization in Andalusia, p 651
[7] Mustafa al-Siba’i: Min raw’i hadaratna (From the wonders of our civilization) p 44
[8] Jack Risler: Islamic civilization, p 223
[9] Mustafa al-Siba’i: Min raw’i hadaratna (From the wonders of our civilization) p 44
[10] Mustafa al-Shuk’aa: Ma’lim al-hadarah al-islamiyah (Features of Islamic civilization) p 263-265
[11] Sigrid Hunke: op cit. p 521
[12] Mustafa al-Siab’i: Min raw’i hadaratna (From the wonders of our civilization) p 44
[13] Sedillot: Arabs’ Civilization, p 569
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Carly Fiorina: Islamic Civilization was “Greatest in the World”

Lots of people are losing their minds over Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, but apart from her terrible record at Hewlett Packard, the 60-year-old seems to believe the Islamic Ottoman Empire civilization was the greatest in the world.

Americans, and people in general, often have short memories. This is why it is important to remind people of those who are asking for your vote. While the majority of Democrats at the federal level are not worth mentioning simply because they are so far from being worthwhile candidates, those that claim they love the Constitution and America under the Republican banner should warrant extra scrutiny. Fiorina is one of these candidates.
In a speech that was given a mere two weeks after Islamic jihadists attacked America, (Holy shit!) the former HP chief executive officer gave a speech on technology, business and our way of life. She concluded her speech with the following:
There was once a civilization that was the greatest in the world.

It was able to create a continental super-state that stretched from ocean to ocean, and from northern climes to tropics and deserts. Within its dominion lived hundreds of millions of people, of different creeds and ethnic origins.

One of its languages became the universal language of much of the world, the bridge between the peoples of a hundred lands. Its armies were made up of people of many nationalities, and its military protection allowed a degree of peace and prosperity that had never been known. The reach of this civilization's commerce extended from Latin America to China, and everywhere in between.

And this civilization was driven more than anything, by invention. Its architects designed buildings that defied gravity. Its mathematicians created the algebra and algorithms that would enable the building of computers, and the creation of encryption. Its doctors examined the human body, and found new cures for disease. Its astronomers looked into the heavens, named the stars, and paved the way for space travel and exploration.

Its writers created thousands of stories. Stories of courage, romance and magic. Its poets wrote of love, when others before them were too steeped in fear to think of such things.

When other nations were afraid of ideas, this civilization thrived on them, and kept them alive. When censors threatened to wipe out knowledge from past civilizations, this civilization kept the knowledge alive, and passed it on to others.

While modern Western civilization shares many of these traits, the civilization I'm talking about was the Islamic world from the year 800 to 1600, which included the Ottoman Empire and the courts of Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo, and enlightened rulers like Suleiman the Magnificent.

Although we are often unaware of our indebtedness to this other civilization, its gifts are very much a part of our heritage. The technology industry would not exist without the contributions of Arab mathematicians. Sufi poet-philosophers like Rumi challenged our notions of self and truth. Leaders like Suleiman contributed to our notions of tolerance and civic leadership.
Though Fiorina did acknowledge Christianity and Judaism in culture, she did not call them "a civilization that was the greatest in the world." (???) She failed to recognize the long track record of Islam and its culture in the Middle East. (???) In fact, understanding that we are a Christian nation, one would think that she would reference the rich heritage of Europe or even our early founding, but instead, two weeks after Islamists attacked America (Holy shit!) , she decided to praise the culture that spawned them.  (Holy shit!)
Not only that, but she apparently has bought into the lie that it was Islam was very important with regards to mathematics. Nothing could be further from the truth.  (Holy shit!)
Enza Ferreri points out:
The word "algebra" stems from the Arabic word "al-jabr", from the name of the treatise Book on Addition and Subtraction after the Method of the Indians written by the 9th-century Persian mathematician Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi, who translated, formalized and commented on ancient Indian and Greek works.

It is even doubtful whether al-Khwarizmi was really a Muslim. The Wikipedia entry on him says:

Regarding al-Khwārizmī's religion, Toomer writes:

Another epithet given to him by al-abarī, "al-Majūsī," would seem to indicate that he was an adherent of the old Zoroastrian religion. This would still have been possible at that time for a man of Iranian origin, but the pious preface to al-Khwārizmī's Algebra shows that he was an orthodox Muslim, so al-abarī's epithet could mean no more than that his forebears, and perhaps he in his youth, had been Zoroastrians.

In all likelihood he was a Zoroastrian who was forced to convert (or die) by Muslim rulers because Persia had been conquered by the Islamic armies, and that was what Muslims did (and still do wherever they can). That could easily explain the "pious preface to al-Khwarizmi's Algebra".
Ferreri goes on to list the fact that algebra has its roots in ancient Babylon and later developed in Egypt and Greece. Advances were even made among the Chinese and Indians in algebra.
Even Bertrand Russell wrote in The History of Western Philosophy:
Arabic philosophy is not important as original thought. (Holy shit!) Men like Avicenna and Averroes are essentially commentators.  (Holy shit!) Speaking generally, the views of the more scientific philosophers come from Aristotle and the Neoplatonists in logic and metaphysics, from Galen in medicine, from Greek and Indian sources in mathematics and astronomy, (Holy shit!) and among mystics religious philosophy has also an admixture of old Persian beliefs. Writers in Arabic showed some originality in mathematics and in chemistry — in the latter case, as an incidental result of alchemical researches. (Holy shit!)

Mohammedan civilization in its great days was admirable in the arts and in many technical ways, but it showed no capacity for independent speculation in theoretical matters. (Holy shit!) Its importance, which must not be underrated, is as a transmitter. Between ancient and modern European civilization, the dark ages intervened. The Mohammedans and the Byzantines, while lacking the intellectual energy required for innovation, (Holy shit!) preserved the apparatus of civilization — education, books, and learned leisure. Both stimulated the West when it emerged from barbarism — the Mohammedans chiefly in the thirteenth century, the Byzantines chiefly in the fifteenth. In each case the stimulus produced new thought better than any produced by the transmitters — in the one case scholasticism, in the other the Renaissance (which however had other causes also).
So, Fiorina has promoted lies from an anti-Christ religion and culture. (Holy shit!) Is this really the kind of person conservatives, let alone Christians, should be getting behind? If she does this with Islam and history, what do you think her mindset would be when it comes to the Constitution?

UPDATE: In case you think she has changed since her speech, check out the politically correct way she addressed Pamela Geller's (Holy shit!) Muhammad Exhibit.

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