31 January, 2010

Wrapping Up this Semester

Well, this semester is nearing a close and I feel that I have accomplished quite a bit on my thesis. I still have quite a bit to go. Keep checking in for updates as I progress into al-Andalus and Europe. For the remaining two weeks of this term, I will be busily finishing Chapters 2 and 3. Over the break, I plan to continue my readings in preparation for Chapter 4 – The House of Wisdom and the West. This is the chapter that will focus on the scientific advancements coming into Europe from Baghdad. I plan to highlight some of those Arab/Muslim scientists that worked in al-Andalus and the European scientists who worked with the Muslim contributions and improved upon them. This will pave the way for the concluding chapter where I plan to discuss the importance of reclaiming this “golden age” to various regimes (such as the Taliban and Osama bin Laden) and why it is important to preserve what little is left of the primary source materials including illustrations such as a partial physician’s license.

22 January, 2010

Translation Project complete

I have finished the translation project I was working on this past week. When I first began this project, I intended to select some poems and translate into Arabic. I found the Arabic to be a bit daunting (I have only taken 1 year of the language and that was 2005-6), so I switched to a language that I am more familiar with: français! So, I chose the poems - 9 to be exact - and spent most of last weekend translating them from English into French. I asked my best friend, and native of France, to edit my translations, which she happily did. I received her edit back on Wednesday evening and was a bit surprised at how many mistakes I made. After careful review of my errors, some of which were just plain stupid mistakes, I set about to try my hand at calligraphy. I have a little practice in this writing craft, but decided for the sake of time and continuity that I would print (I know, I know, a bit too modern, but it works) the poems out onto the card stock I planned to use for the inside of the book. Here is a picture of the pages:

The font is Old English Text MT. The poem in the picture above has been published by the International Library of Poetry in the anthology "Clouds Across the Stars".

I prepared the covers using a faux leather material, the same card stock, and some spray-on adhesive. This adhesive worked out really well all the way around, although it was a bit sticky! Here is a picture of the covers before the design element was applied:

And here is the cover after the design:

I chose a traditional, simple Islamic design for the cover. I used a blue cotton fabric and overlayed that with green (almost an olive green) faux suede-like fabric.

The binding itself is a “shoelace” style binding using the faux leather material to tie the pieces together.

This was a fun project and quite simple to put together once all of the pieces were collected. I really have to thank my best friend, Christine, for her editing and my father for punching the holes into the covers for me.

20 January, 2010

The House of Wisdom, Ch 3

Well, chapter 3 is nearly complete. I am content with what I have at this point in the semester. I will be adding to it later, as there are still a few holes I want to fill. I have written, in this chapter, on

al-Hazan (al-Haitham)

Thabit ibn Qurra,


al-Kindi (a little),

Hunayn ibn Ishaq,


and al-Battani.
During the research and writing of this chapter, I have learned more about algebra, optics, and other areas of science than I ever thought I would. I have formed a new appreciation for al-Khwarizmi and have been toying with the prospect of writing an article on him for one of the scholarly journals I enjoy.

Now, it is on to finish Chapter 2 - The Coming of New Ideas and resubmit my work to my thesis professor. My next post will include pictures of my completed translation project for my Applications II class. Until then...

14 January, 2010


As I get more into the scientists I have chosen to focus in on, I am finding things that I knew and things that I didn't. I am also finding things that are most interesting. Such is the case in Alhazan.

He is considered the Father of Modern Optics. This is a good thing as we all use optics in some fashion. As children, we learn about refraction and reflection of light through the use of mirrors and prisms.

Photographers use optics in their work all the time.

Even advertisers have gotten into the optic bandwagon, so to speak. Remember that commercial where the little girl explains to her father why the sky is blue? Yup, that's optics at it's elementary!

12 January, 2010

Arab Scientists

Well, after some more in-depth research, I have come up with a list of "scientists" (including mathematicians, astronomers, and physicians) that I would like to focus on for my Chapter 3 of my thesis. They are:

  • Mohammad al-Khwarizmi
  • Yaqub ibn Ishaq al-Kindi
  • Thabit ibn Qurra al-Harrani
  • Muhammad ibn Jabir al-Battani
  • Muhammad ibn al-Hasan Nasir al-Din al-Tusi
  • Ali ibn Rabban al-Tabari
  • Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi
  • Abu al-Nasr al-Farabi
  • Jabir ibn Hayyan
  • Abu Ali Hasan ibn al-Haitham
  • Abu Marwan abd al-Malik ibn Zuhr (born in Seville)

Out of these, I am finding Abu Marwan ibn Zuhr to be the only scientist never to have visited Baghdad or associated with the House of Wisdom. However, he made some discoveries and wrote some treatises that are relevant to my study.