16 November, 2009

Thesis - Chapter 2 - The Coming of New Ideas

I have been making slow progress on the actual writing of Chapter 2 (Chapter 1 is the Introduction and will be written last). This chapter will be an historical overview of the Abbasid Caliphs - al-Mansur, al-Rashid, and al-Mamun - and how some of the new knowledge found its way into the Arab/Muslim world. I have three pages written and am on the fourth and so far it is sounding fairly good. The true test will be when I submit it for peer and instructor review at the end of the month. Anyway, I think what I will do is post the first paragraph from each chapter within the blog itself. This will show some progress and give my audience an idea of the general direction (I hope) that I am going. Here is the first para of Chapter 2:

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[1], 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…”.[2] 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”[3].

[1] From this point forward, I will refer to this being as “God” as all three monotheistic religions worship the same entity.

[2] Howard R. Turner, Science in Medieval Islam, p18.

[3] Hugh Kennedy, The Great Arab Conquest, p295.

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