The Culture of Islam World History/Napp “The Abbasids governed during a prosperous period of Muslim history. Riches flowed into the empire from all over Europe, Asia, and Africa. Rulers could afford to build luxurious cities. They supported the scientists, mathematicians, and philosophers that those cities attracted. In the special atmosphere created by Islam, the scholars preserved existing knowledge and produced an enormous body of original learning. Muslims had several practical reasons for supporting the advancement of science. Rulers wanted qualified physicians treating their ills. The faithful throughout the empire relied on mathematicians and astronomers to calculate the times for prayer and the direction of Mecca. However, their attitude also reflected a deep-seated curiosity about the world and a quest for truth. Muhammad himself believed strongly in the power of learning. Muslim interest in astronomy developed from the need to fulfill three of the Five Pillars of Islam – fasting during Ramadan, performing the hajj, and praying toward Mecca. A correct lunar calendar was needed to mark religious periods such as the month of Ramadan and the month of the hajj. Studying the skies helped fix the locations of cities so that worshipers could face toward Mecca as they prayed. Extensive knowledge of the stars also helped guide Muslim traders to the many trading cities of the ancient world. The Prophet’s emphasis on study and scholarship led to strong support of places of learning by Muslim leaders. After the fall of Rome in A.D. 476, Europe entered a period of upheaval and chaos, an era in which scholarship suffered. The scientific knowledge gained up to that time might have been lost. However, Muslim leaders and scholars preserved and expanded much of that knowledge. Both Umayyads and Abbasids encouraged scholars to collect and translate scientific and philosophical texts. In the early 800s, Caliph al-Ma’mun opened in Baghdad a combination library, academy, and translation center called the House of Wisdom. There, scholars of different cultures and beliefs worked side by side translating texts from Greece, India, Persia, and elsewhere into Arabic.” ~ World History - When did the Abbasids govern and how did its riches benefit scholars? - Why did Muslims have practical reasons for supporting the advancement of science? - What did mathematicians and astronomers calculate for the faithful? - Which three of the Five Pillars depended on astronomers? Why? - What happened to Europe after the fall of Rome? - What did Muslims preserve? - Why was the House of Wisdom significant? - What did scholars translate in the House of Wisdom?
Role of Women
Art and Architecture
- The Qur’an also declares that men and women, as believers, are equal - The shari’a gave Muslim
women specific legal rights concerning marriage, family, and property - But Muslim women were still expected to submit to men - When a husband wanted to divorce his wife, all he had to do was repeat three times, “I dismiss thee” - The wife of a poor man would often work in the fields with her husband - Wealthier women had access to education, and among them were poets and scholars - Over time, Muslim women were forced to live increasingly isolated lives and were veiled in public
- Muslims believed that only Allah can create life and so images of living beings were discouraged - Thus, many artists turned to calligraphy, or the art of beautiful handwriting - Others expressed themselves through the decorative arts, such as woodwork, glass, ceramics, and textiles - It is in architecture that the greatest cultural blending of the Muslim world can be seen - In the Great Mosque of Damascus, there is the huge dome and vaulted ceiling of the mosque blending Byzantine architecture with Muslim ideas
- Muslim contributions in the sciences were most recognizable in medicine, mathematics, and astronomy - A Persian scholar named al-Razi wrote an encyclopedia called the Comprehensive Book that drew on knowledge from
Greek, Syrian, Arabic, and Indian sources as well as on his own experience - Al-Razi also wrote Treatise on Smallpox and Measles - He believed patients would recover more quickly if they breathed cleaner air - Muslim scientists preferred to solve problems by conducting experiments in laboratory settings - Al-Khwarizmi, a mathematician, wrote a textbook in the 800s and called his technique
al-jabr – today called algebra
- What does the Qur’an declare about men and women? - Who were Muslim women expected to submit to? - How did a husband get a divorce in the Islamic world? - What were Muslim women forced to do over time? - How is Islamic art and architecture similar to yet different from European art? - Why was Al-Razi important?
- Why is algebra Islamic?
- How does art reflect the values of a people?
… It was during the Arab period, particularly under the Umayyads (756–1031), that Qurtubah [Cordova] enjoyed its prime and grandeur and took its place as the most civilized city in Western Europe. None of the other Spanish historic cities — Toledo, Seville, and Granada — approached it in material prosperity and intellectual attainments. When Christendom was deep in its Dark Ages, Moslem Cordova was rearing men, evolving ideas, writing books, erecting buildings, and producing works of art that constituted a unique civilization. In the West it had one peer in Constantinople and in the East another, Baghdad. At no time before or after did any Spanish city enjoy such distinction.…
~ Philip K. Hitti, Capital Cities of Arab Islam A student could use the information above in an essay to support which of the following topics?
1. Warfare between Muslims and Christians during the Dark Ages was extremely common.
2. There were many lasting effects of the spread of Islam on the people of Constantinople.
3. The growth of Christianity in Spain led to its golden age.
4. There were Arabic cities in Spain that flourished during the Dark Ages of Europe. What was one effect of the expansion of Islam between 632 and 750?
1. Armed conquest was forbidden by the caliphs.
2. Cultural and commercial connections were established over a sizable region.
3. A majority of the western European population converted.
4. A single centralized authority governed an area from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indus River.
The Abbasid and Umayyad empires are most closely associated with
1. causing the fall of the western Roman Empire
2. creating an Islamic Golden Age
3. controlling trade in the Strait of Malacca
4. inventing the compass and gunpowder Which achievements are most closely associated with the Golden Age of Islamic culture?