The Legacy of Islam

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About the Book   Legacy of Islam is a book that seeks to give an account of those elements in the culture of Europe which are derived from the Islamic world. The reader will learn from this book that there is little that is peculiarly Islamic in the contributions which accidental and Oriental Muslims have made to European culture. On the contrary, the legacy has proved least valuable where religion has extracted the strongest influence, ...

About the Book

 

Legacy of Islam is a book that seeks to give an account of those elements in the culture of Europe which are derived from the Islamic world. The reader will learn from this book that there is little that is peculiarly Islamic in the contributions which accidental and Oriental Muslims have made to European culture. On the contrary, the legacy has proved least valuable where religion has extracted the strongest influence, as in Muslim Law. But Islam is the fundamental fact which made the Legacy possible. It was under the protection and patronage of Islamic Empire that the arts and sciences which this book describes flourished.

 

Preface

 

'The Legacy of Islam is a companion volume to 'The Legacy of Greece, 'The Legacy of Rome, 'The Legacy of the Middle Ages, and 'The Legacy of Israel. It seeks to give an account of those elements in the culture of Europe which are derived from the Islamic world. Broadly speaking, the Legacies of Greece and Rome are the legacies of two homogeneous and original cultures, each emanating from a definite geographical centre. The Legacy of the Middle Ages is the legacy of an epoch in the development of western European civilization. The Legacy of Israel is 'the contribution that has come to the sum of human thought from Judaism and from the Jewish view of the world'. The Legacy of Islam is to be understood in a different sense from any of these. It is a provocative title, the meaning of which is only fully explained by the book itself. The nearest parallel is the Legacy of Israel. But whereas it is from the religion of the Jews that the complexion of the Legacy of Israel is derived, in the Legacy of Islam we do not treat of the Legacy of the religion of Muhammad qua religion: the reader will learn from this book that there is little that is peculiarly Islamic in the contributions which Occidental and Oriental Muslims have made to European culture. On the contrary, the legacy has proved least valuable where religion 'has exerted the strongest influence, as in Muslim Law. But Islam is the fundamental fact which made the Legacy possible. It was under the protection and patronage of the Islamic Empire that the arts and sciences which 'this book describes flourished.

 

Arabia is the birthplace of Islam, and the language of Arabia lies behind all that has been written in this book. Islamic and Arabic have often' been used as interchangeable terms, and Language and Religion in the great days of the Muslim Caliphate were inseparable. Arabic is the Greek of the Semitic world, and it was a fortunate thing for Islam that its message was delivered at a time when Arabic was potentially at its zenith. Aramaic was a poverty-stricken tongue compared with Arabic, and not even classical Hebrew at its best could rival arabic in its astonishing elasticity. From its own inner resources it could evoke by autogenous processes the mot juste which new arts and new sciences demanded for their intellectual expression.

 

A fundamental characteristic of the Semitic languages is to have only three consonants to the verb. There are exceptions to this rule in the various languages, but such exceptions are combatively rare. It follows almost inevitably that compound words to express complex ideas 'are practically unknown in Arabic. Consequently, it is the more interesting and remarkable that a language which is so circumscribed should be able to cope with all the lore of the Greek world and so seldom give rise to a suspicion that any strain is being put upon its resources.

 

Arabic is fitted to express relations with more conciseness than the Aryan languages because of the extraordinary flexibility of the verb and noun. Thus, the ideas: break, shatter, try to break, cause to break, allow to be broken, break one another, ask some one to break, pretend to break, are among many variations of the fundamental verbal theme which can, or could, be expressed by vowel changes and consonantal augments without the aid of the supplementary verbs and pronouns which we have to employ in English. The noun, too, has an appropriate form for finally diverse things, such as the time and place of an action, bodily defects, diseases, instruments, colours, trades, and so on. One example must suffice. Let us take the root d-w-r, which, in its simplest form, means to turn or revolve (intransitive).

 

None of these forms is fortuitous, but is predetermined by the structural genius of the Arabic language.

 

It will be realized that with such manifold nuances at the disposal of every verb and noun the Arabic language could readily be adapted to express the scientific terminology of the classical world. The Arabs were an observant race. If analytical reasoning was not indigenous to their language they compensated for the lack of it by having a specific name for every different type of thing. A camel of so many years of age, the mother of so many foals, a good trotting beast, a milch camel, and so on, all these had their proper names, a fact which makes an exact and felicitous rendering of Arabic poetry notoriously difficult.

 

Contents

 

List of Illustrations

xiii

Spain and Portugal

1

The Crusades

40

Geography and Commerce

79

Islamic Minor Arts and Their Influence Upon European Work

108

Islamic Minor Arts and Their Influence Upon on Painting in Europe

151

Architecture

155

Literature

180

Mysticism

210

Philosophy and Theology

239

Law and Society

284

Science and Medicine

311

Music

356

Astronomy and Mathematics

379

Index

399

 

Sample Pages





















Item Code: NAJ615 Author: Sir Thomas Arnold Alfred Guillaume Cover: Hardcover Edition: 2009 Publisher: Kitab Bhavan ISBN: 8171512399 Language: English Size: 7.5 inch x 5.0 inch Pages: 432 (90 B/W Illustrations) Other Details: Weight of the Book: 470 gms
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