How Islam Won, and Lost, the Lead in Science

Discussion in 'Philosophy, Religion and Spirituality' started by drapetomaniac, Jan 14, 2010.

  1. drapetomaniac

    drapetomaniac Premium Member Premium Member

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    Nasir al-Din al-Tusi was still a young man when the Assassins made him an offer he couldn't refuse.

    His hometown had been devastated by Mongol armies, and so, early in the 13th century, al-Tusi, a promising astronomer and philosopher, came to dwell in the legendary fortress city of Alamut in the mountains of northern Persia.

    He lived among a heretical and secretive sect of Shiite Muslims, whose members practiced political murder as a tactic and were dubbed hashishinn, legend has it, because of their use of hashish.

    Although al-Tusi later said he had been held in Alamut against his will, the library there was renowned for its excellence, and al-Tusi thrived there, publishing works on astronomy, ethics, mathematics and philosophy that marked him as one of the great intellectuals of his age.

    But when the armies of Halagu, the grandson of Genghis Khan, massed outside the city in 1256, al-Tusi had little trouble deciding where his loyalties lay. He joined Halagu and accompanied him to Baghdad, which fell in 1258. The grateful Halagu built him an observatory at Maragha, in what is now northwestern Iran.

    Al-Tusi's deftness and ideological flexibility in pursuit of the resources to do science paid off. The road to modern astronomy, scholars say, leads through the work that he and his followers performed at Maragha and Alamut in the 13th and 14th centuries. It is a road that winds from Athens to Alexandria, Baghdad, Damascus and Córdoba, through the palaces of caliphs and the basement laboratories of alchemists, and it was traveled not just by astronomy but by all science.

    Commanded by the Koran to seek knowledge and read nature for signs of the Creator, and inspired by a treasure trove of ancient Greek learning, Muslims created a society that in the Middle Ages was the scientific center of the world. The Arabic language was synonymous with learning and science for 500 hundred years, a golden age that can count among its credits the precursors to modern universities, algebra, the names of the stars and even the notion of science as an empirical inquiry.

    full article:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2001/10/30/s...nd-lost-the-lead-in-science.html?pagewanted=1
     
  2. drapetomaniac

    drapetomaniac Premium Member Premium Member

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    A number of important institutions previously unknown in the ancient world have their origins in the medieval Islamic world, with the most notable examples being: the public hospital (which replaced healing temples and sleep temples)[31] and psychiatric hospital,[32] the public library and lending library, the academic degree-granting university, the astronomical observatory as a research institute[31] (as opposed to a private observation post as was the case in ancient times),[33] and the trust (Waqf).[34][35]

    The first universities which issued diplomas were the Bimaristan medical university-hospitals of the medieval Islamic world, where medical diplomas were issued to students of Islamic medicine who were qualified to be practicing doctors of medicine from the 9th century. Sir John Bagot Glubb wrote:[36]
    "By Mamun's time medical schools were extremely active in Baghdad. The first free public hospital was opened in Baghdad during the Caliphate of Haroon-ar-Rashid. As the system developed, physicians and surgeons were appointed who gave lectures to medical students and issued diplomas to those who were considered qualified to practice. The first hospital in Egypt was opened in 872 AD and thereafter public hospitals sprang up all over the empire from Spain and the Maghrib to Persia."

    The Guinness Book of World Records recognizes the University of Al Karaouine in Fez, Morocco as the oldest university in the world with its founding in 859.[37] Al-Azhar University, founded in Cairo, Egypt in the 10th century, offered a variety of academic degrees, including postgraduate degrees, and is often considered the first full-fledged university.

    A number of distinct features of the modern library were introduced in the Islamic world, where libraries not only served as a collection of manuscripts as was the case in ancient libraries, but also as a public library and lending library, a centre for the instruction and spread of sciences and ideas, a place for meetings and discussions, and sometimes as a lodging for scholars or boarding school for pupils. The concept of the library catalog was also introduced in medieval Islamic libraries, where books were organized into specific genres and categories.[38]

    Another common feature during the Islamic Golden Age was the large number of Muslim polymaths or "universal geniuses", scholars who contributed to many different fields of knowledge. Muslim polymaths were known as "Hakeems" and they had a wide breadth of knowledge in many different fields of religious and secular learning, comparable to the later "Renaissance Men", such as Leonardo da Vinci, of the European Renaissance period. Polymath scholars were so common during the Islamic Golden Age that it was rare to find a scholar who specialized in any single field at the time.[39] Notable Muslim polymaths included al-Biruni, al-Jahiz, al-Kindi, Abu Bakr Muhammad al-Razi, Ibn Sina, al-Idrisi, Ibn Bajja, Ibn Zuhr, Ibn Tufayl, Ibn Rushd, al-Suyuti[40] Geber, al-Khwarizmi, the Banū Mūsā, Abbas Ibn Firnas, al-Farabi, al-Masudi, al-Muqaddasi, Alhacen, Omar Khayyám, al-Ghazali, al-Khazini, Avempace, al-Jazari, Ibn al-Nafis, Nasīr al-Dīn al-Tūsī, Ibn al-Shatir, Ibn Khaldun, and Taqi al-Din, among many others.[39]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_in_medieval_Islam#Scientific_institutions
     
  3. drapetomaniac

    drapetomaniac Premium Member Premium Member

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  4. JTM

    JTM "Just in case" Premium Member

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    does this include how they lost it?
     
  5. drapetomaniac

    drapetomaniac Premium Member Premium Member

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    If you read the first article.

    It's worth noting, outside the generic rhetoric against Muslims - their most prosperous time was when the population was actually in conquest mode.
     

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