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.