House of Wisdom
From approximately the 7th century to the mid-13th century when Muslim rulers established one of the largest empires in history, an Islamic Golden Age, a Civilization of faith, came into reality. Leading the fields of art, engineering, scholarship, poetry, philosophy, geography and trade, the Islamic world made contributions towards the arts, economics, law, literature, sociology, technology, and many more areas of learning.
Not only did the Muslim world preserve the earlier traditions, but they also added their innovations of their own. At the same time, the Muslim world became a major intellectual center for philosophy, medicine, science, and education.
In Baghdad, the “House of Wisdom” was developed where scholars, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, gathered to translate the knowledge of the world into Arabic, known as the Translation Movement. While there are many aspects to include in the Islamic civilization of faith, below you will find a few examples from some of the major concepts mentioned above.
The early Islamic world placed a strong emphasis on freedom of speech. In other words, it encourages thinkers to pursue rational and scientific discourses on their search for knowledge. However, with a strong basis of faith, always linked their knowledge to humanistic thought that was meaningful and valuable.
Opposition thinkers were told to bring forward all their arguments and speak your mind freely. Emphasis was placed that now they are safe and free to say whatever they want. Islam teaches “there is no compulsion in religion,” (Holy Qur’an 2:256) therefore open discourse and discussion is a core ethical principle in Islam.
The works and commentaries of Ibn Rushd, the founder of the Averroism School of Philosophy, has been credited for the rise of secular thought is Western Europe. He also developed the philosophical concept of existence preceding essence. (1)
Imam Ghazali, Ibn Sina, al-Kindi, and al-Farabi are all examples of great philosophers and thinkers that fused the ideas of philosophy, particularly Aristotelianism and Neoplatonism with ideas introduced through Islam.
Perhaps the most famous work of fiction from the Islamic is “Arabian Nights.” Although many imitations have been written since the 18th century, various characters from the stories have become cultural icons in Western culture, even today. Aladdin, for example, is a character introduced in “Arabian Nights.” Genies, magic carpets, magic lamps etc. are all examples of elements from Arabian mythology that are now commonplace in modern day literature.
Science & Medicine
Ibn Khaldun is considered to be pioneer of economics, cultural history, and sociology among others. However, there are many other Muslim scientists who made advances in biology, the earth sciences, psychology, and social sciences.
For example, Ibn Sahl originally discovered the Law of Refraction (2) and Ibn Al-Haytham introduced the experimental scientific method and drastically transformed the understanding of light and vision in his Book of Optics (3)
In regards to medicine, Islamic medicine was a genre of medical writing that has influenced different medical systems. Significant contributions were made in the fields of anatomy, experimental medicine, pathology, pharmaceutical sciences, physiology, and surgery. Muslims in the Islamic Golden Age opened some of the earliest hospitals, schools, and psychiatric hospitals.
Astronomy, chemistry, mathematics, architecture, peer review, and experimental physics are also areas of creation and progress for early Muslim thinkers. Urbanization, technology, industrial growth, and market economy were also developed and/or strengthened.
There have been many theories as to the decline of the Civilization of Faith. Whether it was a political and economical decline or fell to foreign involvement, there is no question that the many discoveries and continued work of the Civilization of Faith has made many implications on our way of life today. Islam is not just a religion, but it is a way of life, a culture, with religion as its unifying factor.