Beside the historical triumphs of Sultan Salahuddin Ayyubi over fanatic crusaders, the distinguished Muslim Contribution in the sphere of Mathematics, Architechture, Geography, Agriculture, Medicine and Astronomy to distant Europen countries is a great reality and a remarkable event of ancient Western history.
And that is the main subject of this valuable book, a brief sketch but a bulk of information, such as, cultivation and gathering of knowledge under the patronage of Khilafat and transmission of Muslim learning to Christian Europe through various channels including translation from Arabic to Latin to their vernacular languages etc.
Last but not least, it should not be, merely, a lovely story of golden past but a sort of treasure to rejuvenate the characteristic of Muslim Ummah.
Modern research has established the fact that the human race built up its civilization some six thousand years ago on the banks of the Shatt al- ' Arab and the Nile; whence it spread gradually through various channels all over the world. Knowledge gathered from patient observations, experience and accidental discoveries was disseminated through Khaldia, Babel, Egypt, India and Phoenicia and ultimately reaching Ionia and Greece, found there a most congenial atmosphere to develop and systematize for six or seven centuries before the birth of Jesus Christ.
Greek enterprise in colonization brought the fruits of Hellenic research within the reach of various communities bordering on the Levant. But decentralization imperceptibly led to deterioration and decay and Greece lost her initiation in the cultivation of Arts, Science and Literature. Alexandria and Syracuse upheld, however, for a time the traditions of Greece, but succumbed eventually to the iron discipline of Rome, which, while it ensured order and administration, failed to encourage originality and scientific investigation.
On the downfall of Rome by the Barbarians chaos and intellectual stagnation once more held sway over the civilized world. The masterpieces of Greek science and culture lay buried in tottering libraries or museums and might possibly have disappeared altogether from the face of the earth but for the miracle of Arab rise to power and its subsequent patronage of learning.
Islam not only bound the nomadic tribes of Arabia in a common bond of brotherhood, it gave them a book, the Qur'an which taught them how to lead a life of purity and righteousness. The beauty of its language and the grandeur of its inculcations inspired the desert people to share the blessings of their faith and Shari'at with the rest of mankind.
We are not concerned here with the territorial conquests of the early votaries of lslam. These will be referred to in a cursory manner merely to trace the transmission of Muslim culture and learning to distant countries and nations.
After the subjugation of practically the whole of Arabia during the lifetime of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and the conquest of Syria, Iraq, Persia and Egypt in the days of the four Orthodox Khalifas, the Umayyad regime (of about eighty-nine years from 661 to 750) brought the whole of North Africa (with extensions into the Iberian Peninsula), Central Asia right up to the borders of China proper, modern Afghanistan, Baluchistan, Sind and parts of the Punjab under Muslim sway. Most of these acquisitions occurred during the time of' Abd al-Malik and his son al- Walid, under the generalship ofMaslarnah, Musa Ibn Nusayr, Muhammad bin Qasim al- Thaqafi and Qutaybah Ibn Muslim. Had the Umayyads refrained from petty tribal jealousies and, above all, followed in the footsteps of the Orthodox Khalifas as did 'Umar bin Abdul Aziz, they would probably have made further conquests and certainly continued much longer in power. As it was, they made bitter enemies amongst both the Arabs and the Persians and were finally crushed by Abual-' Abbas al-Saffah, the champion of the Abbasid cause, in 750, and practically the entire Islamic world (with the exception of Andalus) passed under the sovereignty of Bani 'Abbas.
The third Khalifa 'Usman had already put together the various Surahs revealed to the Prophet and ensured the unalterability of the text and pronunciation of the Qur'an. The basic principles of Arabic grammar were framed by the great exponent of Islamic learning, Ali Ibn Abi Talib. During the Umayyad regime Hajjaj Ibn Yusuf introduced at Basrah the use of dots to discriminate between letters of different sounds but similar form and of diacritical marks to serve as vowels. Arabic thus systematized and endowed with natural flexibility was ready to assimilate the ideas and expressions ofthe most fully developed languages of the time, Greek, Sasanid and Sanskrit.
As pointed out by AI- Tha 'alibi (d. 1038) in Lata 'if al-Ma 'arif, the real opener of the Abbasid regime was Abu Ja 'far al-Mansur (754-775), the mid-comer was 'Abdullah al-Ma 'mun (813-833) and the 'closer' was al- Wathiq (842-847), though the dynasty continued till the thirty-seventh and last representative, Al-Musta'sim, who perished in the sack of Baghdad by Hulaku in 1258. It is not so much for its conquests and military glory that the Abbasid Khilafat is famous, as for its achievements in peaceful pursuits such as commerce, arts, science and architecture, though the struggle with Byzantium continued intermittently and, on one occasion at least, brought the victorious Abbasid armies to the very gates of Constantinople, humiliating Empress Irene (782)1 and later enforcing a tax on the person of her successor Nicephorus I (806).
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