30 December, 2009
I did find that my school's library has an online version of Gutas' Greek Thought, Arab Culture through eBrary. Yay!!! I can read that one in it's entirety and not have to read the Google Books version.
Ok, back to research I go!
Have a wonderful New Year......
27 December, 2009
The first scholar I will be discussing is al-Khwarizmi. He is responsible for bringing the number "0" into our mathematical systems. He is also responsible for the heinous algebra that every teenager loathes! LOL!!! I am finding him to be a most fascinating person in the little bit of reading I have done on him already.
This is a picture of what he is to have looked like in his day. The Russians have even used his image on a postage stamp in honor of him and his achievements!
This is a page from one of his texts on algebra. The equation he is discussing is as follows:
14 December, 2009
The House of Wisdom was established under the Caliph al-Ma’mun in the year . For the most part, the House served as a place of intellectual inquiry where scholars from around the known world came, often at the invitation of the Caliph, to conduct research and translate the classical texts into Arabic. It was the ‘Abbasid’s hunger for knowledge that inspired the House of Wisdom and fueled the drive to learn as much as possible about the world around them.
Many scholars came through the House of Wisdom, leaving their touch and establishing their place among the elite. It is from many of these scholars where we get our modern sciences including chemistry, algebra, astronomy, and geography. Much of the works written by the scholars are from the translation of works by the Greeks, Indians, and Persians. Yet much more is due to the House scholars’ continuous research and experimentation on this existing material and the discoveries and improvements made upon them. One such scholar is Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi (783-850) who was considered one of the leading Muslim astronomers and mathematicians of his day.
I have also selected and began translating a handful of my poems for my experiential learning portion. More to come...
04 December, 2009
The top fabric is a suede-like fabric and the color is kind of a dark olive green. The bottom fabric is leather-like and black. I will be using the dark color as the main binding fabric and the green as accent color. I am planning to use typical geometric and floral patterns throughout.
I am now in the process of choosing the poems. They will be rather short, no more than 10 lines. Each translation will be accompanied by the original English version. The pages will be embellished with geometric and floral patterns (either through stamps or my attempt to be artistic - I am not much for sketching, but as this style can be abstract it may look alright).
21 November, 2009
The purpose of this paper/document/text is to provide an historical overview of the translation movement during the early Islamic period; discuss the House of Wisdom (Bayt al-Hikmah) and the importance of the knowledge within; provide an understanding of the new ideas and way of thinking coming out of this region; and provide an overview of the desire of certain individuals, today, to return to this age.
The dawn of Islam not only brought a new monotheistic religion to the medieval world, it brought about a hunger for knowledge, new ideas, and a new way of acquiring these ideas, transforming the way sciences, mathematics, and arts are studied.
I look forward to your feedback!
16 November, 2009
It is natural for humans to be curious about the world around them. For that reason, many Muslims in the early years of Islam began to search for meaning in the things around them. Since everything, from a religious perspective, is made from God/Allah/Yahweh, then it makes sense that Muslims would be inquisitive on the natural order of things. Howard R. Turner says that motivation for scientific inquiry is not necessarily within the scholar, but through God “…as a means of gaining understanding of God…”. This natural curiosity, along with the pursuit of gaining knowledge about God, helped usher in an age of inquiry during these formative years. One of the first things these early Muslims learned was the art of paper-making, which in turn pushed the Muslim world into an era of book binding further allowing the spread of ideas. Paper was considered “cheap, easy to produce and use, and was to have a major impact on …the Muslim and later the European world”.
12 November, 2009
I think I may have finally worked out some of the kinks in my outline. Following is a draft (I won't include the thesis paragraph):
a) This section will be written last
b) This section will organize the paper
II) The Coming of New Ideas
a) The introduction of paper and a new capital city
(1) Around 751 c.e., the Muslims learned the paper-making technique from the Chinese. This led to the increased importance of learning in the Abbasid courts.
(i) Al-Mansur began the quest for knowledge with the establishment of his Royal Library in 765 c.e.
(ii) In 795, the first paper-making factory was built in
(3) Al-Mansur’s son, Harun al-Rashid, had an affinity toward learning and knowledge.
(i) Love of poetry
b) The House of Wisdom was established as a place of scholarship and translation.
(1) It is also called Bayt al-Hikmah or Dar el-Hikmah, depending on where you are from.
(i) Tthe Qur’an uses the term “hekmah” when speaking about “wisdom” and speaks of Gods call to acquire knowledge
(2) The Abbasid caliph Ma’mun was highly interested in seeking knowledge, therefore he established a special place for the study of knowledge to take place.
(i) Scholars from around the known world were invited to the House of Wisdom in order to translate works into Arabic from their native tongue.
(ii) In 771 c.e., a Hindu delegation visited the Abbasid court bringing with them their system of astrology/astronomy and various texts.
c) Review of the Literature
(1) Jonathan Lyons, The House of Wisdom
III) The House of Wisdom and the Arabic Translation Movement
a) New ways of thinking brought new discoveries in the maths and sciences
(1) Where earlier works were based on theory, the scientific and mathematic works by Arab/Muslim scholars in the House were based on observation and experimentation, making them more useful and sound than their predecessors.
(2) al-Khwarizmi and his work on algorithms, astronomy, and astrology
(3) al-Jabr and his work in mathematics, particularly algebra
(i) The Introduction to Astrology, written in
(ii) Considered a leading authority in the science of the heavens (as quoted by
IV) The European Translation Movement ~ The Spread of Knowledge
a) The Crusades brought the west into contact with the east
(1) Masons who were also crusaders incorporated much of what they saw into their own work
(2) New knowledge brought to the West was in complete conflict with what the norm was at the time creating heated theological debates as well as banishment and excommunication of leading authorities (i.e. Master Amaury, David of Dinant, etc.).
(3) New writing forms emerged from contact with the east: the framed tale - a story within a story.
(i) Chaucer adopted this style in The Canterbury Tales
b) Adelard of Bath and his translations
c) Stephen of
d) The monastic scriptoria where monks copied and/or translated important works in math and science
a) Why was the House such an important institution?
(1) Significance within Islam
(2) Scientific inquiry/findings
b) Summary of the paper
c) Osama bin Laden, et. al., seeking a return to the Arab golden age
d) Importance of preservation
11 November, 2009
09 November, 2009
One of the books I am reading is Science in Medieval Islam by Howard R. Turner. I have it on loan from the Gary Library (Vermont College) until the end of the month. I am really enjoying this book! It is more of a text on an exhibit put together several years ago with many, many pictures. The reading is going rather quickly, but I decided to purchase a copy through Barnes & Noble for my shelf. Having my own copy will also allow me to make notes within the book, which is my reading style when in the research mode. I am also reading Lost History: The Enduring Legacy of Muslim Scientists, Thinkers, and Artists by Michael Hamilton Morgan. This one is also on my bookshelf on this blog (Shelfari).
I am still working on the timeline (previous post) and will probably not have it completed until near the end of the writing process. That only makes sense because I want to use it as an appendix. One of the other things I have decided to do is incorporate, just after the Chapter #, a quote relating to the chapter. For instance, the Introduction will start with the title of the chapter (i.e. "Introduction") and immediately following a snippet from a Beatles song. Then I will write the actual introduction following that quote. I think, and hope, it will add a little something to my work.
I will leave you with that, wondering which song...
05 November, 2009
04 November, 2009
Jonathan Lyons breaks his book, The House of Wisdom: How the Arabs Transformed Western Civilization, into four sections: night, morning, mid-day, and afternoon. Each of these sections represents a specific time in the day of a Muslim – that is a specific time of prayer. In contrast, they also seem to represent a specific time in Muslim or Arab history. The first section, night, represents the end of a “golden age” while at the same time the coming of new ideas into
The next section, “morning”, could be equated to the dawn of the new intellectual age in the
The third section, “mid-day”, goes back to the time of the Crusades and Adelard of Bath. Here,
The final section, “afternoon”, pushes forward with the continuing of translation into Latin those works from the East.
Overall, this book has a lively read to it and the subject matter is crucial to the understanding of Arab thinkers during the Abbasid Caliphate.
I formatted as if I would submit it to a scholarly journal in order to get the practice. I am still waiting on feedback from both professors (as I submitted to both classes for different purposes). Next on my reading agenda is a book by Dr. Bernard Lewis, The Arabs in History, as well as a book by Howard R. Turner, Science in Medieval Islam.
01 November, 2009
During my time in the DC area, I did manage to visit Arlington National Cemetery and the opening day of the Falnama exhibit at the Sackler Gallery. I enjoyed my trek through the cemetery, although I do recommend tennis shoes! HA!! The Gallery was not allowing photography in the exhibit, so I don't have any of my own to share. I did purchase the lovely $40.00 book that contains pictures of everything in the exhibit. Maybe the book is their way of getting us to buy something?! Anyway, here are a few pics from Arlington:
The Eternal Flame and Opposite the flame looking toward DC
Bobby Kennedy and Ted Kennedy
Since my return, I have been steadily working on some papers I need to turn in - soon. I am almost finished reading the Lyons book and will begin on the next book immediately following. Look for an update on the Lyons Book Review in the next day or so.
23 October, 2009
I will post more of my thoughts after the conference is over. I just wanted to stop by and say I am having a good time and learning about other areas of the Middle East and Africa.
18 October, 2009
The Book of Restoring and Balancing (aka Kitab al-jabr wa'l-muqabala) ~ al-Khwarizmi
The Determination of the Coordinates of Cities ~ al-Biruni (use of spherical trigonometry)
Canon of Medicine ~ Ibn Sina (Avicenna)
The Book of Roads and Kingdoms ~ Ibn Khordadbeh
The Best Divisions for Knowledge of the Regions ~ al-Muqaddasi
With the exception of the first two, these books are primarily on the broad subject of geography. Human geography (ethnography) seems to be one of the driving forces behind much of the geographical work done during this time (9th-11th centuries and beyond). There is also much use of the scientific method (Question, Research, Hypothesize, Experiment, Analyze, Report), which has its roots to the Arab's quest for knowledge.
It is also fair to say that much of this quest for knowledge - an intellectual revolution, if you will - is based in religion and not just learning. Going back to the astronomy/astrology of a previous post, it was - and is - important to know precisely when the "call to prayer" takes place. This lead to the quest for precise measurements in time further leading to more accuracy in locations around the "known world".
16 October, 2009
09 October, 2009
Simply put, the diving board of Ptolemy and Brahmagupta was in place and the Arabs, specifically al-Khwarizmi, sprung from this board into deeper waters of understanding within the sciences. This deeper understanding soon spread throughout the rest of the world and gave us many of the mathematics and sciences we now use.
Side note: In school we often wonder what use algebra will have for us in the "real world". A few years ago, Charmin came out with a campaign for it's double size rolls - X + X = 2X. If that's not using algebra in the "real world", I don't know what is!!! I just wish I could find a picture of it.
08 October, 2009
Further reading brought me to a breakdown of what the House of Wisdom might have looked like inside. Held within were a translation bureau (as the translation movement was rampant at this time), a library and book repository, and an academy of scholars and intellectuals (p. 63). This is as far as I have gotten with my reading, which is about halfway through the book. The first two chapters focused more on the Crusades and the coming of new ideas from the East and how the Christian West responded to this new thinking.
01 October, 2009
Well, I received this book from HistoryBookClub.com last week and am almost through the first chapter. So far, Lyons is talking about the Crusades - I think from a more eastern perspective although he doesn't really talk about it as a "jihad" per se. It is definitely holding my interest! I should be finished with it by the end of the weekend as it is a rather small book at around 200 pp. (in comparison to most that I comb through for research). I have done a little research on reviews of this book and they seem somewhat favorable. I think that one of the reviewers expected it to be much more than it is and blasted it throughout his review (I will not put a link to the review or this persons blog here as it is very anti-Muslim and biased).
I am planning a visit to the University of South Florida's Library during the next week to pick up several more texts that may be of help during my early research. I am thankful that while I seem to live in the "sticks" there is a university nearby - a research university to boot! - and that they allow non-students to purchase annual library cards. Yippee! I do, however, miss the library at Michigan State University - c'est la vie! The price to pay for a warmer climate year round and NO SNOW.
I will have a much lengthier review of the Lyons book in about a week...
03 September, 2009
Working Title: The House of Wisdom:
I. Descriptive Summary
Write one or more paragraphs on each of the following:
· The question or issue your final document will address.
The “House of Wisdom” (Bayt al-Hikma) as it pertains to the intellectual history of the
· Background about how you came to consider your question.
It was difficult coming up with one topic to address in the Final Document as there are many different areas of Middle Eastern history that interests me. Originally, I wanted to do some kind of a cumulative document of the writing I have already done adding one or two additional major papers to the set. From there, I began looking at different parts of Middle Eastern culture and history to determine what interests me the most right now. I kept looking at the early caliphates at the dawn of Islam. While I didn’t want to focus solely on Islam, the religion, I found that it was one of the dominate themes in my studies thus far. I narrowed down my ideas to the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates. This led me to look at the culture of these dynasties and what they contributed to the world (as they knew it). After several emails between myself and Dr. Daniel Metraux, we agreed upon looking at the “House of Wisdom”. This particular subject is extremely exciting to research because of what it represents: the intellectual history of the
· Historical context of the subject.
The House of Wisdom came about during the rule of al-Mamun in 8th and 9th century
· Major theoretical schools you will draw upon.
For my research, I will draw upon various theoretical schools including hisotrical, philosophical, and religious. I will also try to look into previous scholarship from other areas of the world such as
· Key research studies or critical works bearing on your study.
One of the key studies I intend to look at deals with the preservation of these institutions. With the current conflicts in the
· Discussion of research method(s) you will employ.
The research method for this document will primarily be the historical research method. I will make use of current wisdom from scholarly journals and other secondary sources. I will also attempt to research the types of documents stored within such repositories. I do not intend to use human subjects in my research, therefore I will not be making application to the IRB at this time.
· What your document will include (for example, review of the literature, presentation and analysis of original research, case studies etc.)
For much of the document, I will look to include presentation and analysis of original research. I will also include a review of the current wisdom/literature on the “House of Wisdom” and look to include illustrations where possible (whether from my own personal photographs/illustrations or from the public domain).
· Discussion of the social relevance of your study.
Study of the “House of Wisdom” is currently relevant in many social circles primarily because of the wars in the
20 August, 2009
In all of history, every civilization seems to have had a cultural revolution of some sort. For the Middle East - or Muslim civilization - this seems to have begun in Baghdad during the 'Abbasid Caliphate in the 8th century. The House of Wisdom (Bayt al-Hikmah) is the cornerstone of this cultural revolution. But, what is a cultural revolution? Further, how does it pertain to Baghdad and the Muslim world?
What I know (from selected readings):
The House of Wisdom was founded in the 8th century in Baghdad during the reign of al-Ma'mun (one of al-Rashid's sons). It was to be an intellectual center where scholars and academics would come to study and translate great works from their native language into Arabic. The Translation Movement was also a big player in this cultural revolution. Because of this revolution, Baghdad became a cultural world center. Knowledge and the transmission of knowledge became an important aspect in society. Universities began to "spring up" around the Arab/Muslim world - the first being in Baghdad. The caliphate - before and during - sponsored the arts and letters not just within their "castles" but around the Arab/Muslim world.