Does The Christian West Owe Anything To The Islamic East?

Does The Christian West Owe Anything To The Islamic East?

Mohamad Mostafa Nassar


Science and Islam, Jim Al-Khalili – BBC Documentary

Below some quotes fo some Western intellectuals

David Self, 21st Century Christianity and 21st Century Islam

We are indebted to the Arabic world not only for arithmetic but also for algebra and trigonometry. Logarithms were invented by a mathematician called Al-Khwarizmi in the 7th century. Test tubes, the compass and the first surgical tools were all pioneered by Muslim inventors. A thousand years ago, it is said, Baghdad had 60 hospitals.

This scientific flowering was accompanied by the establishment of the first universities – or madrassahs. In a madrassah, the sheik or professor taught, literally, from a chair. He was assisted by readers. When the west eventually replicated such places of learning, we borrowed such terms. The curriculum in a madrassah was wide-ranging.

Knowledge embraced not only mathematics, science, and medicine but technology and engineering. This pursuit was also faith-driven. In Islam, study and the acquisition of knowledge is an obligation for every male and female: the Prophet is quoted as saying: “Go even to China in pursuit of knowledge.” An open mind and the acquisition of new ideas, are requirements of the faith.

The House of Wisdom: How the Arabs Transformed Western Civilization by Jonathan Lyons

The remarkable story of how medieval Arab scholars made dazzling advances in science and philosophy–and of the itinerant Europeans who brought this knowledge back to the West.

For centuries following the fall of Rome, western Europe was a benighted backwater, a world of subsistence farming, minimal literacy, and violent conflict. Meanwhile Arab culture was thriving, dazzling those Europeans fortunate enough to catch even a glimpse of the scientific advances coming from Baghdad, Antioch, or the cities of Persia, Central Asia, and Muslim Spain.

There, philosophers, mathematicians, and astronomers were steadily advancing the frontiers of knowledge and revitalizing the works of Plato and Aristotle. In the royal library of Baghdad, known as the House of Wisdom, an army of scholars worked at the behest of the Abbasid caliphs. At a time when the best book collections in Europe held several dozen volumes, the House of Wisdom boasted as many as four hundred thousand.

David Levering Lewis, God’s Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215

Lewis’s narrative, filled with accounts of some of the greatest battles in world history, reveals how cosmopolitan, Muslim al-Andalus flourished – a beacon of cooperation and tolerance between Islam, Judaism, and Christianity – while proto-Europe, defining itself in opposition to Islam, made virtues out of hereditary aristocracy, religious intolerance, perpetual war, and slavery.

Maria Rosa Menocal, The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain

[It] is no exaggeration to say that what we presumptuously call ‘Western’ culture is owed in large measure to the Andalusian enlightenment….This book partly restores to us a world we have lost, a world for which our current monotheistic leaderships do not even feel nostalgia.–

James Johnston, Medieval Script Shows Islam’s Role in Learning

The manuscript stands as a uniquely important monument to the central role of Jews and Muslims in the spread of knowledge and learning throughout medieval Europe, as well as being possibly the earliest known example of Latin script of any kind written on paper. Sotheby’s says that only four other copies of this work are known.

Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel

In the Middle Ages the flow of technology was overwhelmingly from Islam to Europe, rather than from Europe to Islam as it is today. Only around A.D. 1500 did the net direction of flow begin to reverse. — p. 253

“The Adventures of ibn Battuta: A Muslim Traveler in the 14th Century.” by Ross E. Dunn

In it, author Ross E. Dunn, a San Diego State University history professor, tells the story of an amazing, 24-year road trip that took Battuta, a young legal scholar, from Morocco to China in the 1300s.

The irony is that I found Dunn’s book and started hankering to see Dar al-Islam’s landmarks at an inopportune time for traveling there.

“The Adventures of ibn Battuta” was first published in 1986 and came out this year in a new, revised edition. It spins a wild but apparently true yarn about a trip that roughly paralleled but in many ways surpassed that of Marco Polo, the Venetian merchant who took to the road a generation before Battuta. Both left books about their wanderings — the “Book of Marco Polo” and Battuta’s “The Rihla.”

According to Wikipedia,

From the 11th to 13th centuries, medieval Europe absorbed knowledge from Islamic civilization, which was then at its cultural peak. Of particular importance was the rediscovery of the ancient classic texts, most notably the work of the Greek natural philosopher Aristotle, through retranslations from Arabic.

Also of note is the reception of advances in astronomy and mathematics made in the Islamic world during the 10th century, such as the development of the astrolabe.

Islamic world contributions to Medieval Europe

Islamic contributions to Medieval Europe