Saturday, 14 May 2011

Openness to others and translation all of the fundamentals of Islamic civilization

Openness to others and translation all of the fundamentals of Islamic civilization


As the peoples of the world who embraced Islam were an important factor that enriched the human civilization, openness to the cultures of previous nations and taking advantage of them were also of the most important fundamentals of the Islamic civilization and a factor of its development.

Openness to others

For the first time in human history, Muslims adopted the principle of openness to other civilizations and borrowing from the efforts of ancients. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) advocated the approach of openness, and he had an unbigoted view. He kindly asked Sa'd ibn Abu Waqas (May Allah be pleased with him) to go for an atheist physician, Al-Harith ibn Keldah Al-Thaqafi, for treatment! He saw no qualm in what he did, as medicine is a life science, which is a heritage of all humanity. Sa'd narrated: I suffered from an illness. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) came to pay a visit to me. He put his hand between my nipples and I felt its coolness at my heart. He said: "You are a man suffering from heart sickness. Go to Al-Harith ibn Keldah, a Thaqif tribesman . He is a man who gives medical treatment. He should take seven ripe dates of Medina and grind them with their kernels, and then put them into your mouthَ"[1].

Splendidly enough, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) urged Zayd ibn Thabit to learn Syriac! Zayd learnt it in sixty days time, and he also learnt Persian and Roman languages.

This was reflected clearly on the history of Muslims thereafter. When Muslims left their Arabian peninsula to spread the message of Islam, which they were authorized to spread in the east and west, they came across various civilizations. They did not hush up or destroy these civilizations. Rather, they were interested in studying them and benefiting from them. They took from these civilizations what benefited them and what was approved by their religion at a time when Greek civilization addressed its people only and took from nobody but its scholars as was the case in the Persian, Indian and Chinese civilizations. Perhaps this was kept until recently in some of these civilizations, such as the Chinese and Indian civilizations.

Umayyad caliphate and openness to others (translation)

Muslims in the era of the Umayyad Caliphate had started. The movement of translation was launched by Khalid ibn Yazid Al-Umawi[2], who translated Greek science into Arabic, and then took advantage of this science and developed it, especially in the field of medicine and chemical equations.


As the Umayyad Caliphate stabilized – and flourished politically and economically and inherited foreign science from the Persians, the Romans and others after their countries demised – an intellectual movement rose up. Many books of old civilizations, including ancient Greek, Persian, and others, were translated into Arabic. This was considered an important event in terms of civilization, as it opened a window for Arab and Muslim scientists to oversee for the first time the knowledge and science of others.

Experimental sciences had an important share from among these translated sciences. Medicine came on top of all. In the beginning of that period, Islamic medicine was based on the instructions of the Prophet (peace be upon him), herbs, medicinal plants, cauterization, phlebotomy, cupping, circumcision and some minor surgical operations. As Muslim and Arab doctors began to recognize the Greek medicine through the schools of Alexandria and Jundaisapur[3], they were keen to translate medical books into Arabic[4]. In this regard, Jewish doctor Masirjuweh, who was one of the most prominent translators at that time, translated to Caliph Marwan ibn al-Hakam (64 - 65 AH) a Greek medical encyclopedia called "Al-Kunnash"[5].

Translation during Abbasid Caliphate


In the era of the Abbasid Caliphate, the movement of translation increased greatly, especially at the time of the fifth Caliph Harun Al-Rashid (170-194 AH), who established Bayt Al-Hikmah (the House of Wisdom) and was keen to provide it with books that were brought from Asia Minor and Constantinople, as well as the seventh Caliph Al-Ma'mun (198-218 AH), who increased care about Bayt Al-Hikmah, doubled grants for translators, and dispatched missions to Constantinople to bring as many Greek works of various colors of knowledge as possible. Muslim caliphs clinched great treaties with leaders of other countries. These treaties stipulated that Muslim scholars should be allowed access to the libraries of churches and Byzantine palaces to translate the books therein. Sometimes, Muslims swapped prisoners of war for books[6]!

In his book "Al-Fihrist", Ibn Al-Nadim[7] wrote about nearly seventy scholars, including interpreters, doctors, scientists, philosophers, architects and astronomers, in the third and fourth Hijri centuries. Most of them were Syriac or Muslims of Persian or Indian origins. This implies the importance of this step, namely openness to others and the ancient cultures that existed before Islam, in enriching and building the Islamic scientific civilization.

Openness and maintaining values of Islam

It is worth mentioning here that this openness to others was not blind, but it was mostly in accordance with the values and principles of Muslims and what was enshrined in their religion. They opened up to Hellenism, but they did not take its laws nor did they translate the Iliad or the masterpieces of pagan Greek literature. They sufficed themselves with learning how to codify books and translate natural science. They also opened up to the Persian civilization, but they avoided its destructive doctrines and benefited - for example - from the Persian literature, and the administrative ranks of Persians. They also opened up to the Indian civilization, but they avoided its philosophy and religions, and took its calculation and astronomy, which they preserved and developed.

What Muslims benefited from other cultures is an advantage not a shame. This means that Muslims are open-minded and willing to accept others. Contribution to the march of humanity begins with the point at which others stopped. Then, update should be introduced in order to complete the march which was initiated in earlier civilizations. This is what we will see in next chapters, God willing.

  [1] Abu-Dawud: Chapter of medicine, on ripe dates (3875). Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani said: good, as in the introduction. See: Hidayat Al-Ruwat (Guidance of narrators) part: 4 page: 159. Abd-al-Haq Al-Ishbili said in the introduction of Al-Ahkam Al-Sughra (Minor Rules) that it is well rooted. See: Al-Ahkam Al-Sughra, page: 837.

  [2] Khalid ibn Yazid Al-Umawi: He is Abu-Hashim Khalid ibn Yazid ibn Mouawya ibn Abu-Sufyan Al-Umawi Al-Qurashi. He was one of the most knowledgeable about science in Quraish. He had contribution to the chemical industry and medicine. He died in Damascus in (90 AH / 708 AD). See: Al-Safadi: Al-Wafi bi Al-Wafayat 13/164-166.

  [3]  Jundaisapur: A city in Khuzestan, which Sapur I took as a place for Roman prisoners.

[4]  See: Ali Abdallah Al-Daffa: Ruwwad Ilm Al-Tib fi Al-Hadarah Al-Arabiyah wa Al-Islamiyah (Pioneers of medicine in Arab and Islamic civilization) page 68.

[5]  See: Ibn Abu Usaybi'ah: Tabaqat Al-Attiba (Classes of doctors) 1/163, and Shams Al-Din Al-Shahrzuri: Tarikh Al-Hukama (History of doctors), page 80.

[6]  See: Ibn Al-Nadim: Al-Fihrist (Index), page 243, and Muhammad Al-Sadiq Afifi: Tatawur Al-Fikr Al-Ilmi Inda Al-Muslimin (Development of scientific thinking of Muslims), page 39.

[7]  Ibn Al-Nadim: He is Abu-al-Faraj Muhammad ibn Ishaq Al-Baghdadi (died in 438 AH/1047 AD), the narrator, man of letter, Shiite, Mu'tazili, author of book "Al-Fihrist". See: Ibn Hajar: Lisan Al-Mizan 5/72, and Al-Zirikly: Al-A'lam (Prominent figures) 6/29.

Now days we as Muslims have to spread the voice to learn quran online and so we could gain the true knowledge and the quran teaching that is give to us by our beloved prophet Muhammad peace be upon him and do quran reading. Do we as Muslim ask our self that why we are at the peak of destruction? The answer will be simple that we have left our roots the holy quran we should guide promote Islam from in our homes first and let learn our kids quran  and encourage them in doing quran memorization this should be our first goal for it we can do different stuff like let then participate in different online quran recitation competition to let them read quran from different online quran reciters and along with it we elders should learn quran also and improve our knowledge of quran and Islam and learn holy quran tafseer because to understand and learn quran Arabic and for this now a days there are many online quran tutor available who teach tajweed quran and its translation and tafseer so let us join our hands to be the voice of Islam and let improve the image of it as well and full fill our duty


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