2.2.4 Islamic Civilization

Tiles inside the Jame Mosque of Yazd in Iran by Wikimedia Commons user Dreirik.
The story of Islam’s role in the preservation and transmission of ancient science, to say nothing of its own lasting contributions, is truly fascinating—and a bit of a puzzle. Why is it that so many ancient Greek texts survive only in Arabic translations? How did the Arabs, who had no direct contact with the science and learning of the Greeks, come to be the inheritors of the classical tradition? The answers to these questions are to be found in a unique conjunction of historical forces… (Middle East Institute, 2012).
This chapter from the late professor Cherif Bassiouni’s Introduction to Islam provides a synthetic survey of the topics on cultural influences we have been reading in this section.

Read: Introduction to Islam // Middle East Institute

Guiding Questions:
  1. How did the tradition of mu’allaquat influence early Islam?
  2. What historical events made possible the transmission of Greek knowledge to Muslim thinkers?
  3. What role did Muslim thinkers and theology play in the European renaissance?
  4. What practice were you most surprised to learn began as a Muslim practice but later influenced the West?
  5. What is “enlightened Islamic fundamentalism?”


Photo: Tiles in the Jame Mosque in Yazd, Iran. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons user Dreirik. Public domain.