left biblioblography: GIVE CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE: CONTRIBUTIONS OF ARABIC CULTURE TO WESTERN CIVILIZATION

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

GIVE CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE: CONTRIBUTIONS OF ARABIC CULTURE TO WESTERN CIVILIZATION

Doing some research on the web, stumbled across some interesting factoids.

As an atheist, I despise stereotypes. As a human being, I fall prey to foolish concepts on occasion. Lately, my fellow atheists, in their zealousness, overlook important contributions that many religions have given us, and this does indeed include the Arabic culture.

No, not an apologist, so shut yer piehole.

So the next time you sit your fat American ass on a sofa, stop and think about where that piece of furniture came from. Yep: you guessed it - the Middle East. Likewise, when you sit down and play a game of chess, or backgammon. Or even play cards. Or have a strong cup of java.

And while you're at it, consider this: the concept of ZERO originated in India, transmigrated to Arabia, and from there was introduced to Europe. Before you dismiss that with a wave of your hand, remember the binary language? It consists of ZEROS and ONES. So consider that next time you boot up your PC, and start ranting and raving about them 'savage Muslims'.

Let's throw animal husbandry into the list. Or have we forgotten that Arabian horses are about the best in the world? Let's include spices, perfumes, carpetry. Oh, and falconry.
And architecture. And clocks and mirrors. Let's include pharmacology, botany, chemistry, gemology, medicine. And they had bathhouses while most of our ancestors practiced little or no hygiene whatsoever.

And here's a small list of Arabian folks who kept the light alive in the Dark Ages:

Averroës , Arabic Ibn Rushd, 1126-98, Spanish-Arab philosopher. He was far more important and influential in Jewish and Christian thought than in Islam. He was a lawyer and physician of Córdoba and lived for some time in Morocco in favor with the caliphs. He was banished for a period, probably for suspected heresy. Averroës's greatest work was his commentaries on Aristotle. The Averroistic interpretation of Aristotle remained influential long after his death and was a matter of intellectual speculation well into the Renaissance. He attempted to delimit the separate domains of faith and reason, pointing out that the two need not be reconciled because they did not conflict. He declared philosophy the highest form of inquiry. He had the same Neoplatonic cast to his metaphysics as Avempace, to whom he was certainly indebted for his ideas on the intellect. Averroist doctrines on personal immortality and the eternity of matter were condemned by the Roman Catholic Church. St. Thomas Aquinas was respectful of Averroës, but he attacked the Averroist contention that philosophic truth is derived from reason and not from faith

And here:

750 First public pharmacy opens in Baghdad.

800 Al Batriq translates the works of the 2nd century Greek Galen into Arabic.

10th century Ar-Razi used mercurial compounds as topical antiseptics, described the function of the veins and their valves. Writes critique of Galen.

Muslim chemists, pharmacists and physicians produced thousands of drugs and/or crude herbal extracts. In the 14th century Ibn Baytar writes a monumental pharmacopeia listing some 1400 different drugs.


Ibn Zuhr correctly described the nature of pleurisy, tuberculosis and pericarditis. Az-Zahrawi (d. 1013), accurately documented the pathology of hydrocephalus (water on the brain) and other congenital diseases and performed hundreds of surgeries under inhalation anaesthesia with the use of narcotic-soaked sponges.

Ibn al-Quff and Ibn an-Nafs
describe the diseases of circulation.

973 -1048 Abu Rayhan al-Biruni, the Persian polymath, in the train of Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi, the conqueror of India, writes the Kitab-al-Saidana, an extensive compendium of Arab and Indian medicine. He describes various 'monstrosities', including 'Siamese' twins. He also writes the first scientific work of comparative religion Kitab al-Hind (India).

From the 9th - 15th century, the Medical School of Salernum (Salerno), Italy, reestablishes in Europe the medical science of antiquity that had been preserved and refined by the
By the end of the 13th century there are flourishing medical schools at Montpellier, Paris, Bologna and Padua and, as a result of contact with the Arab world, the first apothecary in Europe in Florence.

979-1037 The Persian/Turkish Ibn Sina (aka 'Avicenna') produces a compilation of Hippocrates and Galen. His major work is an encyclopedic compilation of ancient medical wisdom which forms the curriculum of European medical schools until the 17th century.

As an alchemist Ibn-Sina improves the distillation process and 'essential oils' are used extensively in his practice.

'Saint' Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) Benedictine nun and 'visionary' writes 'Causae et Curae', an early compendium on herbalism. She records that cannabis relieves headache.

The 13th-century Arab physician al Samarqandi writes on aromatic baths, aromatic salves and powders. For sinus or ear congestion he suggests steams, vapours, and incenses of marjoram, thyme, wormwood, chamomile, fennel, mint, hyssop and dill and the burning of herbs in a gourd.

By the end of the 9th century, Abbasid administrators had amassed a great deal of information on their the vast empire. Official reports were mixed with geographies, travellers' journals and tales of natural marvels. Historical interpretation became possible.

Historical writing began with accounts of the life of the Prophet. Regard for 'authoritative' sources ('isnad' ) rather than creative embellishment provided a measure of accuracy.

Idrisi, in 12th century Sicily, was commissioned to compile the 'Book of Roger' for the Norman King of Palermo, with accompanying maps. 13th century Yaqut wrote a large geographical dictionary, compiled from many sources.

15th century Ibn Khaldun, a Tunisian government official, who served at Arab courts all the way from Granada to Egypt, established a new standard of historiography with his great work 'Muqaddimah,' in which he noted sociological and natural influences - climate, social customs, food, superstitions - as well as rulers and battles.

Oh, and while we're at it, let's not forget the Sufis, an apparent offshoot of the Meccan (non-jihadist) branch of Islam. I will be reviewing a book on the matter in the very near future.

So the next time you start in with the 'savage barbarian' Muslim schtick, bear in mind: they were obviously WELL ahead of the xtian nations during the Middle Ages, far more tolerant of other religions than is thought, and we owe them a tremendous debt, philosophically, scientifically, and for that matter, in many, MANY other ways.

No, nobody gets a free pass. No excuses for the events transpiring. This is an effort to shed some light, in the dark shadows cast in our society.

I leave this with the reader to consider: so be honest with yourself, and ask this: what changed? Think about that, and get back to me.

Till the next post, then.

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13 comments:

PastaLaVista said...

Reluctant why do I get the distinct impression that this topic was inspired by comments I made concerning the ice cream truck Arab on NGB? I am fully aware that people of Middle Eastern heritage have made many contributions to the world. It's Middle Eastern religion that is casting a dark shadow over any contribution they ever made and it will probably end up destroying them. Will religion end up destroying us too? Not that I'm happy about it but yes it probably will. I think you judge too harshly with the savage barbarian Muslim schtick comment. I'm sorry but a good majority of Muslims do fit the "savage barbarian" stereotype perfectly and it's not without foundation. I think it's evident from my comments on the NGB that I don't automatically brand everyone I encounter of Middle Eastern culture a barbarian. I will always be on my guard when I encounter someone of Middle Eastern heritage. You can call me prejudiced if you want. In the end I judge people by their actions. I'll treat anyone as they treat me. That goes for any race, creed or color of human being. I have never persecuted or harmed anyone of Middle Eastern or any other heritage.

Krystalline Apostate said...

PLV:
Reluctant why do I get the distinct impression that this topic was inspired by comments I made concerning the ice cream truck Arab on NGB?
No, it's an ongoing thing. I see a lot of atheists get caught up in it. I've fought TW on this subject (tooth 'n nail) on more than 1 occasion. I saw 1 atheist get bent out of shape because of an Arabic wordplay on his name. I've seen a lot of folks misquote the Koran.
I think you judge too harshly with the savage barbarian Muslim schtick comment.
Hey, sometimes you gotta bonk people on the head.
I'm sorry but a good majority of Muslims do fit the "savage barbarian" stereotype perfectly and it's not without foundation.
Well, that depends on how far 1 trusts the media. I don't. We don't hear about the imams who wade into a crowd trying to calm them down, or the moderate muslims who are indeed protesting the idiocy of their fellow adherents. Why? Doesn't make for a good news story.
I will always be on my guard when I encounter someone of Middle Eastern heritage.
As well you should be. I for 1 am going to make the effort to distinguish between Sikhs & Muslims.
In the end I judge people by their actions.
The true litmus test.
Not enough people do that. Kudos.

PastaLaVista said...

My apologies for being so touchy. Thought you were singling me out for some reason. Guess I completely misread that. All your points are well made and well taken.

Krystalline Apostate said...

PLV:
My apologies for being so touchy.
De nada, mi amigo. De nada.

Rosemary said...

Reluctant:

I was aware that the Arabs kept learning alive during the "dark ages" in Europe, and I knew about the 0, but didn't know it came through India. It, the 0, seems so obvious now it odd to think that it had to be invented.

And, I agree that we must not judge all muslems by the actions of the extremists. My last shrink was from Pakistan and muslem and was most personable. He was very proud of being an American, and if asked where he was from, his first answer was "Kansas." I was sorry when he moved to some other location. My new shrink is also
Arab. I've only seen him once, so the jury (me) is still out on him. (I only have to see them every six months to get scrips for my meds so it takes a while to get to know a new one.)

By the way, what's with the letters we have to type in when we post here?

Krystalline Apostate said...

rosemary:
It, the 0, seems so obvious now it odd to think that it had to be invented.
Yeah, we take it for granted now. You'd think a clenched fist would suffice (or maybe that got the 1st inventor killed?).
And, I agree that we must not judge all muslems by the actions of the extremists.
Hey, I worked w/a lapsed Muslim some time back. A wunnerful person.
By the way, what's with the letters we have to type in when we post here?
That's to keep out those pesky spammers, you know, the 1's who advertise "You too, can have a bigger mortgage! Just take these pills!"
I've seen them pop up on blogs w/lesser traffic than I get.
How'd you manage to get your name instead of 'anonymous' BTW? Just curious.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Rosemary, how'd you do that?

I hate the way the letters all run together. Even when i double-check what I type against what's there, I hardly ever get in on the first try. But you're worth the effort, ra!

And how come your blog ends up being such small print on my friend's computer, when everyone else's is just the same way as I view it at home?

Mysteries of the universe...

On topic,
PBU the muslims for java (Praise Be Upon IT)!
I don't know any muslims personally. Have run across a few in business settings.
There just aren't many in my neck 'o the woods.
I haven't regarded them with any more or less suspicion than anyone, as far as I recall.
My former gynocologist was Egyptian, (have no idea about his religious persuasion) and he was quite comfortable to be around, considering the circumstances. His heavy accent was difficult for me to understand at times, but we still managed to deliver three babies together. After him, I had a Jewish gyno, whom I wish hadn't moved back to Kansas.
My family doc is Korean(love him), my therapist is a lapsed Catholic
(absotutinlutely love her!).

As with anything else, it's the lunatic fringe that needs to be watched. I think if the media was honest, Americans of all stripes would look as barbaric as the "savage muslims" who are portrayed in the news of our illegal war.

karen

Krystalline Apostate said...

karen:
I hate the way the letters all run together. Even when i double-check what I type against what's there, I hardly ever get in on the first try.
Oh, that happens to me occasionally (retype the letters, I mean).
But you're worth the effort, ra!
Oy, bless your little heart, m'love.
And how come your blog ends up being such small print on my friend's computer, when everyone else's is just the same way as I view it at home?
Does my blog look that way on your computer as well? Sorry about the small print: will look into it.
I think if the media was honest, Americans of all stripes would look as barbaric as the "savage muslims" who are portrayed in the news of our illegal war.
Here, here! Cheers to that. Kompai!

Rosemary said...

RA,Karen:

Where it says "Choose an Identity" I click on "Other" and type in my name. I didn't know it wasn't supposed to show my name.

Krystalline Apostate said...

rosemary:
I didn't know it wasn't supposed to show my name.
Oh, hey, I've never used it: just askin'. That's too easy, ain't it?

karen said...

ra
Your blog is a decent, "normal" size on my home computer, which uses dial-up. On my friend;s computer, where I work, and it's DSL, it's teeny-tiny print.
But michael's, udon's, and bf's blogs, among others are the same as on my home computer.
Can't imagine why.
Wouldn't worry about it, hon.

rosemary,
thanks! Thought I'd tried that before, but will again.

karen said...

woo-hoo!!!
Now I don't have to remember to sign all those anonymous posts!

(doesn't take much to make me happy, does it? ;) )

Krystalline Apostate said...

karen:
(doesn't take much to make me happy, does it? ;) )
Hey, color me jealous. I wish I were that easy to please. ;)
Your blog is a decent, "normal" size on my home computer, which uses dial-up.
Maybe it's the screen resolution? *Shrug*. Was it like that before I started using w.bloggar?
No big thing.