· In Philosophy, he was scientific in his approach. Some of his most important treatises are that, he denied that any man had privileged access to intelligence. He also said that: "Reason alone can enable us to know God".
Abu Naser Al-Farabi
(Alpbarabius or Avennasar)
870- 950 A.D.
Political science , philosophy & music (Turkistan)
· Abu Naser Mohammad Ibn Al-Farabi, was born in Turkistan in 870 A.D.
· He was of Turkish origin and was brought to Baghdad by his father to seek higher education. He taught in Baghdad.
· Al-Farabi was a political scientist whose main interest was the happiness of the community. He discussed how the community must be ordered so that its members attain happiness as citizens, rather than isolated human beings. This theme is later echoed by Rousseau.
· One of his major works is "Ara Ahi Al-Madina Al-Fadila" (The views of people living in a virtuous city) is a significant contribution to sociology and political science. It is analogous, although not similar, to Plato's "Republic".
· He saw the Qur'an as the poetic expression of truths known more directly through the insights of philosophers.
He defined the opinions that members of the community must hold, and actions they must perform, to attain happiness in this world and the next.
· He was a prolific writer and although many books have been lost. 117 are known to exist.
43 on logic
11 on metaphysics
7 on ethics
7 on political science
17 on music
11 are commentaries, mainly on works by Aristotle.
* Al-Farabi was responsible for translating Greek philosophy into the Arabic language.
Abu Al-Qasim Al-Zahrawi (Abul Casis)
963- 1013 A.D.
Physician & Surgeon
Zahra, Spain (Andalusia)
· Abul Qasim Khalaf Ibn Al-abbas Al-Zahrawi (Abulcasis in the West, was born in 963 A.D. in Zahra, not far from Cordova, Spain.
· Best known for his early and original work in surgery, he also published a medical encyclopedia, Al-Tasrif, which is composed of thirty volumes covering different aspects of medical science.
· He was also the inventor of several surgical instruments including:
a- An instrument of the examination of the internal ear.
b- An instrument of the examination of the Urethra.
c- An instrument for removal of foreign bodies from the throat.
* He specialized in the use of cautery, and used it in as many as 50 different operations.
* Al-Zahrawi was also knowledgeable in dentistry.
* He published on the problem of non-aligned teeth and how to rectify it, and the use of artificial teeth made from animal bones.
* He was the first to describe the disorder to Hemophila.
* According to DR. Cambell (History of Arab Medicine), his principles of medical science surpassed those of Galen in the European medical curriculum.
Gerard of Cremona (1114- 1187) translated "Al-Tasrif" into Latin. It was than translated into Hebrew, French and English. It was used in Venice (1497), Basel (1541) and at Oxford (1778).
· Al-Tasrif" was taught for approximately five centuries in Europe.
Ibn Sina (Avicenna)
980- 1037 A.D. (Turkistan)
Philosophy Medicine, Mathematics
Astronomy, Music, Geology & Physics
· Abu Ali Al-Hussain Ibn Abdullah Ibn Sina (Avicenna) is the Aristotle of the Islamic World.
· Born at Afshana near Bukhara (Turkistan), where he received his early education and studied the Qur'an. He traveled to Bukhara, Ray and finally to Hamadan, where he died.
· He was a prolific reader and worked for various dignitaries as an administrator and physician by day. In the evening, he gathered students around him for various philosophical and scientific discussions.
· Medical Works: His most famous work is Al-Qanun Fi'l-Tibb "The canon of Medicine", a systematic encyclopedia in which he described some 760 drugs and the diseases that they could cure. This work was very popular in the Islamic World. It was translated and studied in European universities for centuries.
· His second book, Kitab al Shifa "The Book of Healing" deals with logic, natural sciences, psychology and the art of healing.
· Physics: he wrote several books on the different forms of energy, heat, and defined concepts such as: force, vacuum, and infinity. He explained the interconnection between time and motion. He discussed the specific gravity of certain elements and invented an air thermometer.
· Geology: He wrote a book describing the various minerals.
· Astronomy: He made several astronomical observations.
· Philosophy: For Avicenna, philosophy was the true path of understating. He discussed the dualism of mind and matter. He saw matter as passive, and creation as the act of instilling existence into this passive substance. "only in the divine are being existence one".
1044- 1123 A.D.
Poet, Philosopher, Mathematician & Astronomer
· Ghiyath Aldin Abulfateh Omar Ibn-Ibrahim Al-Khayyam (Al-Khayyam means tent-maker).
· He was educated in Mishapur and lived there and in Samarqnad.
· He was probably the first "Ecistentialist" philosopher and published his poetry in verses of four lines (Rubaiyat= Quatrains). In 1839 Edward Fitzgerald published an English translation of his Rubaiyat and they have now become one of the most popular classics of world literature.
· He was ordered by the Sultan to develop a correct Solar Calendar. Omar introduced a calendar that was remarkably accurate and was named Al-Tarikh Al-Jalall, it had an error of one day in 3770 years.
· This was superior to the Gregorian Calendar which has an error of one day in 3330 years.
· He made several contributions to Algebra and Geometry that were used in later years by Descartes.
· Omar wrote 10 books and 30 monographs. His most famous are: four in Mathematics.
Three in physics three is Metaphysics
One in Algebra one in Geometry
· Despite being an accomplished Scientist, he is better known for his Rubaiyat
Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali
1058- 1128 A.D.
Philosopher, theology, Astronomer & Sufi Khorasan, Iran
· Abu Hamid Ibn Mohammad Al-Tusi Al-Shafii Al-Ghazali, was born in Khorasan, Iran in 1058 A.D.
· His father died when he was very young, but he continued his education in Nishapur and Baghdad.d he was appointed Professor at the Nizamiyah University of Baghdad. This was the most reputed center of learning in the golden era of Islamic history.
· Ghazali's major contributions are in religion (sufism) and philosophy. He rid Sufism of its excesses, and he stressed the logic associated with mathematics and exact sciences. However, he discussed the inability of reason to comprehend the absolute and the infinite.
· His immortal books include: Tahafat Al-Falasifa (The incoherence (pettiness) of the Philosophers) – Ihya Al-U'lum Al-Islamia (The revival of the Islamic sciences).
- He also wrote a summary of astronomy.
- Several of his arguments were used by St. Thomas Aquinas.
- He is one of the greatest theologians of Islam.
1099- 1166 A.D. Cueta, Spain
Botanist & Geographer
· Abu Abdullah Mohammad Ibn Abudullah Ibn Idris Al-Quatabi Al-Hasani, was born in Cueta, Spain in 1099 A.D.
· He was educated in Cordova and traveled far and wide in connection with his studies. He settled in Palemo, Sicily, in the court of the Christian king Roger II.
· He was a botanist and his major studies were in medicinal plants. He wrote several books on the subject notably "Kitab Al-Jami fi Sifat Ashtat Al-Nabata" (A compendium of the properties of plants).
· He made original contributions in geography and published two major encyclopedias. The first was called "Al-Kitab Al-Rujari" (Roger's book), also called "Nuzha Al-Mushtaq fi Ikhtiraq" (The delight of him who desires to journey through the horizons).
· The second geographical encyclopedia was called "Rawd ul-nas wa Nuzhat al-nafs" (Pleasure of men and delight of souls).
· His works were translated into Latin and remained popular in the East and West.
Ibn Rushd (Averroes)
1128- 1198 A.D.
Philosophy, Theology, Astronomy,
Llaw & Medicine
· Abu Al-Walid Mohammed Ibn Rushd.
· He was born in Cordoba (Andalusia, now Spain). He came from a long line of aristocratic and distinguished kadi's or Judges. He was a great authority on the work of Aristotle, and made several comments on his work. In Europe, he was known as "The Commentator".
· Ibn Rushd is a very powerful philosopher who developed the theory of "Two Truths". In his doctrine he believes that there is one truth for philosophers which is philosophy – and another for the masses which is religion. Ibn Rushd sought to harmonize the Qur'an and revelations with philosophy and logic. For this he was persecuted and left Spain for Morocco. Ibn Rushd quoted several verses from the Qur'an exhorting believers to think for themselves. He contended that religion contained philosophical truths but explained in allegorical terms. By allegorical interpretations, a philosopher might advance to purer knowledge, white the masses hold to the literal sense, His most famous book it "Tahafat al-Tahafa" (Incoherence of the incoherent).
· He was also a Lawyer and judge.
· In medicine, he wrote on the diagnoses, cure and prevention of disease in a book called Kitab Al-Kulyat Fi Al-Tibb-called in Europe "Colliget".
Ibn Al Nafis
1213- 1288 A.D.
Alaa-al-din Abu Al-Hasan Ali Ibn-abi-al-Hazam al-Aarashi al-Damashau al-Masri, was born in 1213 A.D. in Damascus, Syria.
· After acquiring degrees in medicine and jurisprudence, he moved to Cairo and was appointed principal at the famous Masri Hospital. He also served at the Mansuriya Hospital.
· His major contribution to medicine lies in his description of the constitution of the lungs, and the exchange of gases that occurs inside the alveoli.
· He also described the coronary circulation and the function of the coronary arteries.
· His most voluminous book was "Al-Shami Fi Al-Tibb" (An encyclopedia of medicine), which was 300 volumes, but was not completed at the time of his death.
· He also a book on the effect of diet on the health of an individual, which was a very original Contribution. It was entitled "Kitab Al-Mukhtar Fi Al-Aghziya" (Encyclopedia of nutrition).
1332- 1395 A.D.
History, Soclogy, philosophy & Political Science
· His name was Abdel Rahman Ibn Mohammed, but was generally known Ibn Khaldun.
· His parents were originally Yemenite Arabs who had settled in Spain, but after the fall of Seville, had migrated to Tunisia.
· He was born in Tunisia. He lived in Tunisia, Egypt Morocco (Fez), Alegria, and finally Cairo where he spent the last 24 years of his life.
· He was appointed as the Chief Malakite Judge and lectured at Al-Azhar University. He was controversial and was removed from his high judicial office five times.
· His chief contribution lies in the philosophy of history and sociology. He wrote renown book "Muqaddimah" (Prologue). This classical work identified the psychological, economic environmental and social factors that contributed to the advancement of woman and the currents of history.
· He described how group feelings, Al-Asabiyya, gave rise to the ascent of a new civilization.
· He identified the rhythmic repetition of the rise and fall in human civilization, and analyzed factors contributing to this.
· He revolutionized the science of history and laid the foundation for the study of Social Sciences (Umraniyat).
· He was an acute observer of human nature. He noted people's tendency to admire and respect power. "Conquered people often adopt the habits and customs of the conquerors, even to the extent of adopting their dress".
· He noted that city dwellers tend to fall into decadence and moral corruption, whereas the nomads are preserved by the arduous nature of their daily lives.
· He wrote Kitab Al-l'bar which dealt with the history of the Arabs, Jews Berbere and Europeans.
· Al-Tassrif was his autobiography.
· He is considered the Father of Social and Political Science, and his views paved the way for Machiavelli's "The Prince" and Hehal's views on history.
Crusaders and Mongols
· The Crusaders:
The crusaders were a turning point in relations between the Moslems and Christian Europe. The Moslems armies and fleets had achieved resounding victories marking a golden age for Islam. The conquests of Andalusia and the island of Sicily in southern Italy were the climax of the Moslem expansion. However, hen the second Abbasid Dynasty became weak, the Europeans took the offensive.
Several crusades were successful in seizing the greater part of Syria and threatening Egypt and Tunisia. There has always been debate among historians concerning the genuine reasons behind the crusades. The reality is that there were various reasons that belied the obvious religious one: that the Christian Europe wanted to restore the holy sites in Jerusalem to Christianity. In fact economic reasons, on a large scale, represented the aim of Christian Europe to control the trade routes linking the East to the West which were under the Moslem flag. The strong spirit of adventure among European princes and their knights urged them to conquer the Moslem world.
The diffuse disputes among the European states, Pope Urban II encouraged the kings of Europe to undertake a military expedition to invade the Moslem World. The knights of Europe thought that this would give them an opportunity to display their heroism. Besides, the idea of a crusade gave the lower classes hopes of ridding themselves of the feudal system, reversing their poor standard of living, as well as escape from the spread of disease and famine. Eventually, the crusaders established a kingdom in Jerusalem as well as three other crusader states in 'Antioch, Tripoli and Odessa.
The Moslem's defeat was attributed to the weakness of the Abbasids and the disputes between the Moslem states which undermined their ability to face the crusader threat. However, a number of rulers in Aleppo and Mosul such as Imad Al-Din Zangi and his son Nur Al-Din Mahmoud were able to halt the Crusader advance in Syria. They launched several attacks against the crusaders and managed to recapture Odessa in 1144 A.D.
· The Crusaders A successful jihad (Holy War) was launched by Saladin, who recaptured Jerusalem. The Mamluk sultans were also able to drive the crusaders out of Syria.
· Even that occurred during the Crusades:
The following events are representative of several crusades launched by Christian Europe and met by the Moslems. Both parities experienced victories and deafest.
· The first crusades (490 A.H./ -1096 A.D.)
The first crusades is divided into two phases. First was the expedition of the masses, followed by the Expedition of the Nobles. The first was not very well-organized. It was mainly made up of those motivated by religious fevor to restore Jerusalem to the Christians.
This expedition was led by Peter the Hermit and Bishop Edimar de Monte. Because the soldiers were poor and ill-equipped, they plundered as they advanced through-Eastern Europe on their journey east. Consequently, the inhabitants of those countries rebelled against the crusaders and killed most of them.
Those who survived headed for Constantinople and then Asia Minor. The expedition of the Nobles, having achieved its goals, established four crusader kingdoms in Jerusalem. Tripoli, Antioch and Odessa. The Moslem reaction was manifest in Imad Al-Din Zangi, the Atabeg of Mosul, who stopped the crusaders' advances and succeeded in capturing Diar Bakr in 524 A.H./1129 A.D. He also attacked Damascus in 534 A.H. / 1139 A.D.
· The second Cruseade (539 A.H./1145 A.D.)
The second crusades set out after Imad Al-Din Zangi had succeeded in recapturing Odessa. The crusader armies gathered in Antioch under the command of Conrad III. Emperor of Germany, and Louis VII, King of France, and headed for Odessa. Imad Al-Din Zangi was triumphant in repelling their armies. His son Nur Al-Din Mahmoud unified all Moslem forces and recaptured Antioch in 559 A.H./ 1163 A.D., halting the crusader advance towards Northern Iraq.
· The third Crusade (583A.H./ 1187 A.D.)
The third crusade was led by three European kings: Fredrick Barbarossa the Emperor of Germany Philip Augustus, King of France, and Richard the Lion-Hearted, king of England.
The aim of this crusade was to recapture the cities and ports seized by Saladin.
· The Treaty of Al-Ramlah:
The Emperor Frederick Barbraossa was drowned in Asia Minor while still on his way to Syria. Disputes between the kings of France and England enabled Saladin to recapture Jerusalem. Richard the Lion-Hearted saw no alternative but negotiation. Thus he and Saladin concluded the treaty of Al-Ramlah in 588 A.H./ 1192 A.D. by which Moslems retained Jerusalem.
After the rise of the Ayyubids in Syria and Egypt, Saladin consolidated the Moslem front and confronted the crusaders.
· Among his important achievements were:
Aborting the attempt made by Arnat, the prince of Antioch, Shaubak, Jordan and Kerak, to seize the Moslem holy sites in the Hijaz in 577 A.H./ 1181 A.D.
· the seizure of the Fortress of Kerak in 582 A.H./ 1186 A.D., thus securing trade routes between Syria and Egypt.
· Defeating the crusaders at the battle of Hattin in 583 A.H./ 1187 A.D. and capturing the king of Jerusalem.
· The seizure of Tiberias, Acre, Caesarea, Haifa, Jaffa, Sidon and other coastal cities, as well as, many fortresses and castles.
· The Fourth Crusade (595 A.H./1198A.D.)
After Jerusalem fell to the Moslems, disturbances erupted among the Christians of Europe Pope innocent III preached a crusade to recover Jerusalem, the expedition conquered Constantinople in 600 A.H./ A.D. then a part of the army headed for Syria, joined the crusaders there and decided to invade Egypt. They raided Rosetta and Fuwwah but failed to seize them.
· The Children's Crusade (608 A.H./ 1212 A.D.)
Due to the failure of the earlier crusade to recapture Jerusalem, discontent prevailed among the Christian in Europe. A charismatic child alleged that he was divinely entrusted to command an army of children to recover Jerusalem. This legend spread among German and French children Clergymen gathered a huge number of children who headed for Italian ports to travel to the East. It was said that slave merchants betrayed the children and sold them as slaves.
· The fifth Crusade (614A.H./ 1218 A.D.)
The fifth crusade was headed by Jan Beryn, king of Palestine, who attempted to seize Egypt in order to secure his kingdom. Due to the illness of Al-Kamil, king of Egypt, Damietta fell to the crusaders in 615 A.H./ 1219A.D.
The crusaders next marched to the city of Faraskur at the time of the Nile flood. The Egyptians opened the dams and flooded the area, allowing Al-Malik Al-Kamil's to attack the crusaders and defeat them. Thus the Moslems recaptured Damietta in 618 A.H./1221 A.D. and seized numerous battleships and weapons as spoils of war.
· The sixth crusade (625A.H./ 1218 A.D.)
The sixth crusade was led by Fredrick II, the German Emperor who was encouraged by the Pope to retake Jerusalem. This expedition gained a diplomatic conquest. The emperor corresponded with the Ayyubid sultan. Al-Malik Al-Kamil, a weak sultan disabled by illness and at odds with members of the Ayyubid family. Al-Malik Al-Kamil agreed to conclude a peace treaty with the German emperor when he arrived in Palestine.
The treaty provided for the restitution of Jerusalem of Fredrick II on condition that the Aqsa Mosque remained under Moslem control. It was a humiliation treaty for Moslems.
· The Seventh Crusade (647 A.H./ 1249 A.D.)
The seventh crusade was led by Louis IX, king of France who known as "Saint Louis. He hoped to seize Egypt because of its strategic location and its commercial and military importance. The crusaders easily seized Damietta as a result of Al-Malik Al-Salih Najm Al-Din's illness. They also advanced towards Mansura and Cairo.
After Al-Malik Al-Sallih died, his wide Shajar Al-Dur concealed his death to keep the soldiers in high spirits. She confronted the crusaders with the assistance of Izz Al-Din Aybeg, the commander of the Mamluk army. The crusaders were defeated in Faraskur and Louis IX was captured and imprisoned in Mansura in 647 A.H./1250 A.D.Louis IX was released in return for a huge ransom. Afterwards Luis IX tried to invade Tunisia but felt off his horse resulting in his death.
· The End of the Crusades:
The European kings were preoccupied with internal struggle which halted further expeditions to the Moslem East. At the same time, a powerful government emerged in Syria and Egypt. i.e. The Mamluks, who took over the responsibility of Jihad and determined to rid the Middle East of crusaders.
· The Results of the Crusades:
The crusades were considered on episode in a chain of conflicts between Moslems and Europeans which lasted for about two centuries.
· They revealed the deteriorating condition in the Islamic countries which now made defensive rather than offensive stands. This was due to the political disunity which befell the Islamic states after the rise of the Fatimids in Egypt, the Ummayads in Andalusia and their rivalry with the Abbasids.
· The crusades resulted in the rise of Moslem military states such as the Atabegs, the Ayyubids and the Mamluks. Some of these states tried to gain the allegiance of the Abbasids, others, such as the Mamluks, tried to restore the caliphate in Egypt after the fall of the Abbasids. The Crusades had disastrous effects on the economy of the Moslem East due to widespread destruction and bloodshed. Trade witnessed a period of recession after the European controlled international trade.
· With the seizure of Acre, Tyre, Haifa and Beirut by the Sultan Khalil Ibn Qalawun in 691 A.H./ 1291 A.D., the crusaders were entirely driven out of Syria.
· The Circassians Mamluks invaded Cyprus and Rhodes to drive out the Hospitallers and Templars. Their efforts were not completely successful.
· The most important achievements of Mamluks were:
· Baybars seized the Fortress of Kerak in 622A.H./ 1263 A.D. and Caesarea, Arsuf and Safad in the year 664A.H./ 1265A.D. He also conquered Jaffa, Antionch and the Fortress of the Kurds two years later.
· Sultan Qalawun blockaded and eventually seized the port Latakia and captured Tripoli.
· The crusades led to the collapse of Arab power and the emergence of the Turkish Chorazmians and kurds. Intellectual and scientific advances were replaced by conservative Sunni and Sufi trends. The zenith of Islamic Arab civilization was over.
· Europe benefited from Moslem Arab civilization. As a result of more the two centuries of contact with Moslems, Europeans of the Middle Ages were strongly influenced by Islamic civilization.
Moreover, Islamic art, literature and philosophy were introduced to Europe and greatly contributed to the European Renaissance.
The Battle of Hattin
September 1187 A.D.
· In 1099, the first crusades had captured the city of Jerusalem and had slain most of the Arab Inhabitants.
· In September 187, Saladin and his army looked over Jerusalem and decided it was too fortified to be attacked.
· Instead Saladin attacked the town of Tiberias where Raymond of Tripoli's wife (Countess Eshiva) Lived in a fortress.
· This served to draw the crusaders out of Jerusalem. The Moslem army advanced out of the valley and took up position in the small village of Hattin. On both sides were two hills known as the Horns of Hattin.
· Saladin divided his army into a center which he commanded and two wings on the two hills.
· Saladin then retreated and the crusaders followed, and when they passed between the tw3o hills they were attacked.
· Between Jerusalem and Hattin the road was 25 Kilometers long with no water. The only water lay behind Saladin's army.
· Along the road, the crusades wearing their heavy armour in the summer heat were exhausted. They were also harassed by the Moslem arches.
· The armies met 3 kilometers south-west of Hattin. After discharging a hail of arrows, the Moslems charged. The hand to hand fighting was merciless.
· Saladin ordered his men to attack the horses. After the battle there were more dead horses than dead knights. A general description of the knights was: "clothed from head to foot with amour, he resemble a block of iron. He is not affected by repeated blows, but as soon as his horse is killed, the knights is thrown over and captured".
· 200 Templars and Hospitallers were killed, and finally the crusaders surrendered.
· Saladin laid seize to Jerusalem, and then offered the citizens a chance to leave the city peacefully and take their belonging if they paid a ransom. They city surrendered and Saladin entered with his army in October 1187 A.D.
· Reference: "Saladin in his time" – P.H. Newby, Dorset Press, N. Y.
Salah Al-Din Al-Ayyubi "Saladin"
1137- 1193 A.D.
* Saladin is probably the best-known of the Islamic military because of his involvement in the crusades.
* He was of Kuridish origin, bon in the city of Mosul in present day Iraq, on September 19, 1137 A.D.
* He was an excellent example of the "Noble enemy". He was considered so noble and chivalrous that it was popularly suppose by the French that he had a French mother. The English though she must have been English.
* He became Christendom's favorite Moslem. Dante gave him favorable mention in "The Divine Comedy".
* He was a Moslem Leader who released prisoners, pardoned enemies and gave away the wealth that fell into his hands.
* At the time, Egypt and Syria were under the domain of the Fatimids, out of the sphere of the Abbasids in Baghdad.
Nur Al-Din was the chief administration in Syria, and Installed Ayyub (Arabic for Job), the father of Saladin, as governor of Baalabek (Ledanon).
· When trouble broke out in Egypt, Nur Al-Din dispatched Shirkuh (Saladin's uncle) and Saladin (26 years old) to quell the rebellion in Egypt. At Ashmunein, the Moslems central army was led by Saladin and they defeated the Frankish – Egyptian army ending the Fatimid reign. They entered Cairo with no resistance.
· Saladin's uncle, Shrikuh, died and Saladin at age 30, united the forces of Egypt, Syria and Yemen against the crusaders.
· He was respected not only for his military strength, but also for his fairmess and generosity. After the battle of Hattin. Jerusalem surrendered. The Moslems took over the city in an orderly manner. There was no looting or violence.
· The evacuation of the Christian population went on for 40 days. Ransom was fixed at 10 dinars for a man, 5 for a woman and one for a child.
· Thousands who could not find the money were released, especially the older people.
· The patriarch Heraclius and his wife paid 15 dinars and took cartloads of the riches with them including chalices, monstrance's, gold plates and carpets and money. All told the church property that was taken was believed to be worth 200.000 dinars.
· After the battle of Hattin, Saladin with the United Arab army continued to fight the crusaders for another 6 years.
· On March 4.1193 A.D. Saladin died of a fever and intestinal aliment. He was 55 years old.
· He died penniless- no house, no goods, not even money for his funeral. At the time of his death he was truly mourned by his people.
· He was buried in Damascus next to the Ummayad mosque.
· When Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany visited Damascus in 1898, he had the neglected tomb of Saladin repaired, and then built him a new tomb.
· Saladin will always live in the hearts of Arabs and demonstrate what a united Arab front can do.
There are many arts that are of Islamic origin. These includes:
(i) Ceramics and Glazing. (vii) Perfume making
(ii) Calligraphy (viii) Ivory work
(iii) Woodwork and Marquetry (ix) Carpet making
(iv) Metalwork and jewelley (Silver) (x) Literature
(v) Glasswork (xi) Music
(vi) Embroidery (xii) Architecture
· Although various art works were present throughout the ages, they flourished during the Fatimid era, the Abbasid dynasty and the time of the Mamluks.
· Although the arts flourished in all Islamic countries, they were much more developed in Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Persia (during the Abbasid reign), and Andalusia (Spain).
· The earliest art from of the Arabs was poetry. Even in Pre-Islamic times they had competitions for poetry.
Art of Islam
Pottery is porous (water can seep through it). To make a pot non-porous it has to be glazed. This is done by covering the port with a glaze (a specially prepared mixture which becomes a thin, glass-like layer when the pot is fired in the kiln for a second time). The glaze can be quite ornate.
Manufacture of Tiles:
Most of the buildings in the Arab World are made of bricks. Bricks are made of earth and clay, which are either dried in the sun of fired in a kiln. Mosques are decorated with glazed pottery tiles. These tiles are made in carefully planned shapes so that when they are put together they form beautiful and intricate. Beautiful tile is often used to decorate domes fountains and prayer-niches.
Plaster consists of time, sand and a fine white powder called gypsum. It is used in buildings to decorate the walls and ceilings.
Plaster is a white paste when mixed with water. Before the plaster becomes hard, it can be carved into shapes and patterns. Window screen can be made of caved plaster. This softens the light and keeps out the heat.
This is an ancient Islamic craft Palm trees grow all over the Islamic world. The wood is used for making doors and beams. The leaves are used to cover roofs and are woven into baskets or simple mats.
Trees are not common in the Arab World. The olive tree has a very hard wood which can be used to make bowls and small pieces of furniture.
Mulberry trees are often used for making musical instruments. Cedar trees are grown in the mountains of Lebanon. Their wood is beautiful reddish color, and they are used in making expensive furniture and marquetry.
Marquetry: different kids of wood are used in marquetry. Small slices of different kinds of wood of different colors are glued together in a carefully way to form a pattern. Board games, chess and backgammon, are made in this fashion. More complicated forms of marquetry also include tiny pieces of metal, bone, ivory or mother-of-bearl. The best woodwork comes from Syria.
Metal like gold, silver, tin, zinc, and iron are found mixed with earth and rock. The metal must be heated until they melt to remove the impurities.
Copper can be hammered into various shapes, especially plates, which were very popular in Syria and Egypt. All the armoury-swords, daggers, axes, shields were made of iron-and then inlaid with silver and gold.
Jewelry is also made of gold and silver. This is especially true for earrings, necklaces, bracelets and anklets.
Various pots and jugs were made of iron, steel and copper in the shape of animals. This was common at the time of the Mamluks.
When sand is melted it forms glass Sand contains silica, which when mixed with lime, wood ash or various minerals-gives glass different colors.
The hot molten glass can be shaped by moulding it or by blowing air through a tube.
Colored glass is used to make drinking glasses, mosque lamps and jugs.
The painted glass can be used for windows. The pattern may be held together in a framework of wood or plaster.
Perfume and incense
The Islamic countries, especially the Arab countries, are known for their love of perfume.
Arabia is the home of two kinds of trees used in incense. The gum from these threes is used in making myrrh and frankincense, which when burnt on hot charcoal, produce a wonderful, scented smoke. The ancient Egyptians used myrrh and frankincense in embalming, to remove the foul smell from the body.
Spices from the Far East, and flowers such as jasmine, rose and orange blossom, were distilled and the essence extracted. The dealers in perfume were called Attareen and were very popular and successful merchants.
Calligraphy is "beautiful handwriting" whereas many European languages are written beautifully. They are done so only in important documents or similar circumstances. In Islam, calligraphy was an art in itself and was used not only in documents, but also in porcelain and in architectural design, in carpets, metal works. Textiles and even coins.
There are several reasons why calligraphy became such an important art form in Islam.
Early Moslems tended to oppose figural art (and in some cases all art) as distracting the people from the worship of God.
Arabic is the official language of the Qur'an. It became the national language of North Africa and the Middle East. The language of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan are all written in the Arabic alphabet, as was the language of Turkey until some 50 years ago. It is also used in Kashmir, Malaysia, Somalia and Tanzania. Since Moslems are people of the Book, it was acceptable to glorify the written word.
Arabic language did not lend itself easily to printing. Thus, long after Guttenburg and the printing press, book in Arabic, and especially the Qur'an, were handwritten.
Moslem artists, who were forbidden to depict human or animal forms, resorted to calligraphy and geometric and floral- now known as Arabesque.
Calligraphy flourished during the Ummayad era, and it first began to be systematized during the Abbasids. It was, however, in Ottoman Turkey that calligraphy attained its highest development.
There are eight forms of calligraphy:
(i) Kufic: the earliest form, where the script is written at right angles to the line.
(ii) Thuluth: where the script is written all the letters joined, so that the entire phrase is written without lifting the pen from the paper.
(iii) Naskhi: the rounded script.
(IV) Ruq'ah: this is now used in everyday script in most of the Arab world.
(v) Ta'liq: Persian script, graceful and delicate.
(vi) Diwani, and Royal Diwani: developed by Ottoman calligraphers and used for official government business.
(vii) Tughra: this was the official monogram or insignia of the Ottoman sultans. It has elongated vertical drokes.
(viii) Muthanna: this means "double" in Arabic, where each half of the design is mirror of the other.
(ix) Pictorial: probably the prettiest of all calligraphy where the words appear in the shape of a bird, animal, tree, boat or other object.
Ivory carving began in the Fatimid era, and it reached its zenith in Andalusia (Spain) around the latter half of the tenth century A.D.
The most beautiful forms were in the form of circular caskets, with very profuse decorations of birds and animals.
Embroidery and fine textiles
One of the most beautiful handicrafts of the Arab world is embroidery, intricate patterns and decorations, and sometimes calligraphy can be sown onto pieces of cloth using colored threads of silver and gold.
This art form also includes "Sirma" where a gold or silver thread is woven onto black cloth.
Perhaps the most famous of these is the "Kiswa" (covering) of the K'abah. It is decorated with verses from the Qur'an.
The art of embroidery is a special art from of Syria, Egypt, Iraq and Andalusia and later Ottoman Turkey.
Carpets are important because they are used for prayer.
Nomads often made woven carpets on small, portable looms stretched over the ground. These carpets are called "Kelims".
The best carpets are made in Khorassan (Iran), followed by Turkey and Egypt, Expensive carpets are made of wool fiber and have many knots per square inch.
At the beginning of Islam, people viewed music with some reservation, since it was in pre-Islamic associated with singing and drinking, and the pleasures and Luxuries of life.
During the time of the caliphs Osman and Ali, Medina became the center of musical activity. The Persians who working in masonry brought this one.
Some of the Ummayad caliphs had a real passion for music. With the Abbasid dynasty, Islamic music attained its highest point.
The music of Andalusia (Spain) is cross-fertilization of Visigoth, Berber and the sophisticated Ummayad melodies. This led to the musical forms such as zajal and mawashah which survive till today in the Maghrib.
The Andalusia singing resembles, in many ways, the Arabic incantation.
The Sufis use singing whirling dancing and music in their mystical approach to the love of God.
The Islamic musical instruments include;
Wind instruments (Mizmar and Nay (flute).
Membranophones or tabla (drum)
Lodophones such as metal castanets or tiny cymbals.
Chordophones (stringed instruments) the Old, and the Qanun. These are plucked.