The heart of wisdom is rooted back in the centuries, in the vibrant tradition of Islamic learning. It narrates the fascinating story of the various ways in which this learning was transferred to the West and how it helped to transform profoundly Western civilization in the later Middle Ages. One of the most significant historical landmarks of Islamic wisdom was the emblematic Abbasid academic institution Bayt al-Hikmah or the House of Wisdom, founded in the early 9th Century. Let’s go beyond this early episode of Islamic civilization and lays a profound focus on the encounters between the East and West and how these encounters shaped the rise of the West.
Since the middle of the 7th century, the rise of the civilization under the rule of Muslims from the historical context and the outlook of the intercultural transmission of knowledge and wisdom around the Mediterranean Sea can be explained further. For hundreds of years subsequent to the downfall of Rome, Western Europe was lost in the Dark Ages. They were hardly adept enough to tell the time and date. Europe was benighted also because of Augustine’s lack of wisdom and feeble leadership. Unfortunate Europeans lead a lifestyle of minimal literacy and subsistence farming as Augustine doctrine that belief, not reason or judgment should be the guiding light of Christian mindset. Science and medicine were replaced by necromancy, superstition, and blind faith. The Crusades were also the result of budding nascent aggression amongst the people. They purposely embedded the seeds of violence. This exploitation ended up in cruel holy wars.
On the other hand, Islamic civilization turned into a power of intellectualism. Islamic wisdom encouraged exploration and logic which dazzled English philosophers like Adelard of Bath. He rambled all around the east in the cities like Baghdad, Cairo, Tarsus, and Antioch. Islamic culture poured scientific riches. The libraries housed an enormous collection of thousands of books whereas the most esteemed libraries in the west held several dozen. In the frame of a dynamic scientific and intellectual tradition, the scholars of Islam could measure the earth’s circumference, a feat not matched in the West for eight hundred years; they discovered algebra; were adept at astronomy and navigation, developed the astrolabe and other astronomical instruments, translated all the Greek scientific and philosophical texts, including the whole corpora of Aristotle, Galen, Ptolemy, etc.; they made paper, produced lenses, and mirrors, and developed theoretical as well as practical branches of knowledge. Without them, and the knowledge that travelers like Adelard brought back to the West, Europe would in all likelihood have been a very different place over the last millennium.
This is a small peek into our majestic history. I wrote this article as not just a reminder but a point to ponder for our wise audience that how Hikmah made us conquer the world. Stay tuned we will keep bringing you more to explore and learn from our history!
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