Skip to comments.What, Exactly, are the Great Achievements of the Islamic World?
Posted on 01/11/2002 8:52:14 AM PST by ml/nj
Today in the WSJ, Karen Elliot House reviews a new book from Bernard Lewis entitled What Went Wrong. She begins this way:
How has it come to pass that a civilization that for centuries led the world in science, medicine, and the arts ...Does anyone know what contribution the Islamic world made to science besides giving us our number system (admittedly a biggie) and naming a bunch of stars (less big)? Algebra may have Arabic roots linguistically, but I cannot think of a single concept or theorem that we credit to the Arabs. The Greeks are all over geometry. The Arabs supposedly preserved this and passed it along, but did they contribute? I don't know. I'm asking.
Ditto for medicine. What did they do? (Stop the bleeding when they chopped off someones hand?)
And if House just said "Art," maybe, but Arts? The Islamic architecture should certainly be considered "leading," but is there any philosophy or literature that anyone pays attention to along the lines of Maimonades or Aquinas?
Of course, the "victimization" crowd within Islam blame the Crusades, western colonialism, and the Jews for every failure within their own societies.
Led the world in medicine? - How to sleep with camels and not get camel VD!
Led the world in art? - Camel dung art, perhaps!
I'd have to say only one thing.
They were the librarians for the West during the Dark Ages.
invented algebra?...damn them Arabs!...I for one can't think of a better reason for bombing them!!!
The achievements of Islamic civilization are all on the far corners of the Islamic world, products either of non-Arab peoples long ago(the mosques of Sinan in Turkey; the poetry and painting of Persia; the Taj Mahal in India) or in synthesis with other peoples (as with the Muslim/Christian/Jewish culture of Moorish Spain).
"Arabic numbers" are of Hindu origin.
Maybe so. But you have to admit it hasn't exactly caught on throughout the rest of the world.
Bingo! As I understand it, the Greek and Latin classics were actually translated into those languages from Arabic.
Folks are just too fast to give the "camel jockeys" credit for things that the "camel jockeys" JUST APPROPRIATED for themselves.
They liked to fight, seize other folks homes because they WERE NOMADS...with the arrival of mohamed, he wanted them to settle down and also,to spread his POWER/religion by the sword. They did..and now we have had 9/11 and other jihad cr@p!!
Look for more "fun" and thrilling exploits of "super camel jockey" in the coming weeks...darn it.
Next they will claim to have invented FLYING GREAT BIG AIRPLANES INTO VERY TALL BUILDINGS IN ORDER TO KILL OR MAIM PEOPLE IN THE U.S.A.....or perhaps, even sending anthrax through the mail.
AH, progress....jihad style...
The fact that all the "Great Achievements" are PC figments of someones imagination, if that's what they are, isn't a reason to bomb them to kingdom come. The WTC Massacre is the reason to bomb them to kingdom come.
Without Islam, we would not even know half of the Greeks we know today. After the Romans fell, no one in Europe gave a damn about the Greeks, but Islam kept the knowledge alive.
Islam also produced the world's first real "Historian/Social Scientist" in the sense that prior to Ibn Khaldun, history was a mere retelling of facts without explanation. Ibn Khaldun demonstrated that there were natural cycles in the history of empires and regimes. Everything was ultimately caused by Allah, but there were many explained intermediary effects due to causes.
I would also wager based on similarities in reasoning that Adam Smith, the first "economist" had read Ibn Khaldun at some point. Their explanations for the division of labor are quite similar.
Islam's Golden Age may have been a LONG time ago, but it was a true golden age with MANY, MANY accomplishments.
How the Irish Saved Civilization : The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe
I think the credit for preserving written records could more fittingly be given to Church archivists on the coast of Ireland during that time period. Erin go Bragh!
Yes, that's what I learned by reading that lovely little book "How the Irish Saved Civilization" by Thomas Cahill.
Let's get the timeline straight: Rome falls when, 400 AD? Mohammed is 2-300 years later. IIRC, Constantinple and Alexandria were the centers of learning at the time. Just because the Muslims conquered and stole knowledge from others doesn't mean we should credit them with learning and scholarship.
A lot of English words that begin 'al' are of arabic origin: alcohol, algebra, alchemy
Utterly false. It was Pythagoras (or someone in his school) who proved that the square root of two is irrational; the proof is in Euclid. The Pythagoreans did try to keep it secret, and legend has it that a guy who revealed it died under mysterious circumstances at sea.
REally? didn't the Byzantines? There weren't any Muslims at the time.
Abd al-Malik ibn al-Quraib al-Asmai left writings that contributed to the development of what we now know as Zoology, Botany and Animal Husbandry
Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi - recognized as the founder of Algebra, as he not only initiated the subject in a systematic form but also developed it to the extent of giving analytical solutions of linear and quadratic equations. The name Algebra is derived from his famous book Al-Jabr wa-al-Muqabilah. He developed in detail trigonometric tables containing the sine functions, which were later extrapolated to tangent functions. Al-Khwarizmi also developed the calculus of two errors, which led him to the concept of differentiation. He also refined the geometric representation of conic sections
Yaqub idn Ishaq Al-Kindi - the first physician who systematically determined the dosage for most drugs. It greatly helped in the development of dosage standards (prescription) for patients.
Thabit ibn Qurrah pioneered extending the concept of traditional geometry to geometrical algebra and proposed theories that led to the development of non-Euclidean geometry, spherical trigonometry, integral calculus and real numbers. He used arithmetic terminology to study several aspects of conic sections (parabola and ellipse). His algorithm for computing the surface area and volume of solids is in fact what we came to know later as the integral calculus.
Ali ibn Rabban Al-Tabari wrote the first known medical encycopedia and reference work.
Abu Abdullah Al-Battani - made several emendations to Ptolemy and rectified the calculations for the orbits of the moon and certain planets. He proved the possibility of annular eclipses of the sun and determined with greater accuracy the obliquity of the seasons and the true and mean orbit of the ecliptic, the length of the tropical year and the seasons and the true and mean orbit of the sun." His remarkably accurate calculation of the solar year as 365 days, 5 hours, 46 minutes and 24 seconds is very close to the latest estimates. He found that the longitude of the Sun's apogee had increased by 16o 47' since Ptolemy. It inferred the important discovery of the motion of solar apsides and of a slow variation in the equation of time.
Abu Bakr Muhammed bin Zakariya Ar-Razi physician who pioneered opthamology. He first described the operation for the removal of cataract and also the first scientist to discuss the pupillary reaction or the widening and narrowing of the pupil of the eye and what caused it.
Abd al-Rahman Al-Sufi astronomer who charted the heavens and was the first to describe a nebula. His book is still an important reference on the study of proper motions and long period variables.
Abul Qasim Al-Zahravi a surgeon. He invented instruments for internal examination of the ear, internal inspection of the urethra and for applying or removing foreign bodies from the throat. He introduced such new procedures as cauterization of wounds, crushing stones inside the bladder, the vivisection and dissection. He applied cauterization procedure to as many as 50 different operations. In addition, Al-Zahravi discussed the preparation of medicines and the application of such techniques as sublimation and decantation. He prescribed the use of diuretics, sudorifics, purgatives, the absorption of pure wine and hot baths. Al-Zahravi was the first to give detailed description hemophilia and was the first to use silk thread for stitching wounds. He is also considered one of the fathers of Oral Surgery for his work on the problem of non-aligned or deformed teeth and procedures to rectify these defects. In addition, he developed the procedure for preparing and setting artificial teeth made from animal bones.
Abu Ali Hasan ibn Al-Haitham the father of modern optics. He conducted experiments on the propagation of light and colors, optic illusions and reflections. He examined the refraction of light rays through transparent medium (air, water) and discovered the laws of refraction. He also carried out the first experiments on the dispersion of light into its constituent colors. In detailing his experiment with spherical segments (glass vessels filled with water), he came very close to discovering the theory of magnifying lenses which was developed in Italy three centuries later. It took another three centuries before the law of sines was proposed by Snell and Descartes.
Abu Raihan Muhammad Al-Birundi - discovered seven different ways of finding the direction of the north and south, and discovered mathematical techniques to determine exactly the beginnings of the season. He also wrote about the sun and its movements and the eclipse. In addition, he invented few astronomical instruments. Many centuries before the rest of the world, Al-Biruni discussed that the earth rotated on its axis and made accurate calculations of latitude and longitude.
Abu Marwan Abd Al-Malik Ibn Zuhr a physician who made several breakthroughs. He was the first to test different medicines on animals before administering them to humans. Also, he was the first to describe in detail scabies, the itch mite, and is thus regarded as the first parasitologist. He was also the first to give a full description of the operation of tracheotomy and practiced direct feeding through the gullet in those cases where normal feeding was not possible. As a clinician, he provided clinical descriptions of intestinal phthisis, inflammation of the middle ear, peri carditis, and mediastinal tumors among others.
Ibn Al-Nafis Damishqui a physician who is credited with the discovery of the blood's circulatory system, and was the first to describe the constitution of lungs, Bronchi, and the coronary arteries.
From an Islamic site, Meccacentric
And of course, Indian knowledge was also transmitted to West Asia, not only in the field of medicine and astronomy, but in mathematics. That's one of the reasons why today, we borrow from the Indians what is called the Arabic 'zero'. It came to us from India but it was popularized in the West by the Muslims. So it is now identified as the Arabic numerals, because the Arabic numerals carried to the West the concept of a 'zero'. We wouldn't have computers today if that civilizational knowledge was not borrowed from the Arabs by way of the Indians."The Arabs didn't invent "Arabic numerals" or algebra. They acted as a bridge for developments in India, as well as a library for Greek thought.
What will you conclude from what they did contribute and what will you conclude from what they did not contribute?
Does the culture, nation, or religion contributing more receive a proportionally greater consideration for the actions of the extreme among them than the culture, nation, or religion that contributed less? I dont know. Im just asking.
I know that's the PC version. My question really is: what is the evidence?
Two of the great Jewish bible comentators were Maimonades (RAMBAM) and RASHI. Maimonades lived in the Islamic World and was chased all over it. Rashi lived more or less peacefully in France. You can read about them in the Britannica or similar sources. I know it's anecdotal evidence, but it is evidence that maybe some Jews fared better under the European Christians than others did during the "Golden Age" under the Muslims.
What will I conclude?
Well, if I find some evidence it will increase my respect for them. If I do not, I may conclude that it is disinformation passed along intentionally or through ignorance. If it is disinformation then anyone who uses it is substantially discredited in all of their assertions the way I view things.
You believe incorrectly. Hypatia was a pagan philosopher and mathematician who was tortured to death by a Christian mob in 415 AD. Pretty tough to blame this one on Mohammed, since he wasn't born till a couple of centuries later.
This is truly one of the greatest inventions of all civilization.
Wrong! Al Gore invented the zero.
What contribution did the Normans and the Gauls make during the years after the fall of the Roman empire?
Admittedly, without the Scottish Enlightenment, we would all still be living in the sh!t of the monarchy, and Islam would still be a problem, but there did exist a golden age of Islam.