Ibn Sina (980-1037) a link to a Al Jazira documentary

Ibn Sina also known as Avicenna in Europe (980-1037) was a famous physician, a philosopher and a respected scholar of the golden age of Islam…

Here is a link to an Al Jazira documentary hosted by professor Jim Khalili on Al Razi and Ibn Sina

Farid Uddin Attar(1150-1222) an overview of that period.

Continuation  of posts introducing a few scholars of the *Golden age of Islam (8th to 13th century), by giving a short overview and a sample of their work

Farīd ud-Dīn (Attar) a physician, a pharmacologist, a scholar of Islam and a Sufi was born in Nishapur, Iran  in 1150. At the age of 72 he was killed during the massacre of the people of Nishapur by invading Mongols.  The killing and destruction of cities, libraries, institutions of learning and Mosques was wide spread from Bokhara to Syria. In Baghdad a city of over one million*, over 500,000 people were killed. Merv, a city of 500,000 was totally destroyed and most of its inhabitants killed and it exists only in ruins today. Bokhara and Samarkand were attacked by Jochi Khan in 1220. Balkh, Nishapur and others cities were targeted in 1222, followed by Merv after that, Isfahan in 1237 and Baghdad in 1258 by Hulagu Khan. Cities in Syria were next to be invaded until Hulagu Khan was stopped by the Mamelukes of Egypt in 1260. Mongols destroyed the centers of Muslim Civilization east of Egypt, converted to Islam, rebuilt Samarkand and Bokhara and became patrons of art, science and architecture.

Hulagu Khan died at the age 40 in 1265. His mother was a Nestorian Christian.  Berke Khan, his cousin and a grandson of Genghis Khan, was an early convert to Islam. The destruction of Baghdad angered him and he had a role in the defeat of Hulagu.

Here is a selection from the writings of Attar.

“Loghman of Sarrakhs cried: “Dear God, behold Your faithful servant, poor, bewildered, old– An old slave is permitted to go free; I’ve spent my life in patient loyalty, I’m bent with grief, my black hair’s turned to snow; Grant manumission, Lord, and let me go.” A voice replied: “When you have gained release from mind and thought, your slavery will cease; You will be free when these two disappear.” He said: “Lord, it is You whom I revere; What are the mind and all its ways to me?” And left them there and then —– “Who am I now? The slave I was has died; What’s freedom, servitude, and where are they? Both happiness and grief have fled away;.. I neither own nor lack all qualities; I know not whether You are I, I You; I lose myself in You, there is no two.”


Important to note that after the destruction by Mongols, a revival in science, architecture, irrigation, Governance, literature  and other fields in the Muslim areas did take place and continued to the onset of the colonial period. The colonial occupation stifled all the creative energies and since then revival is spotty and only a few countries show sign of hope. The burden of intellectual colonialism was most severe on Muslim populations and it still lingers in some from the older generation. The focus now is on cultural domination.

It is also noteworthy that at the onset of the colonial era the quality of life in Muslim countries for an average person was better than what existed in the lands of occupiers.


Omar Khayyam (1040-1134) an overview.

Continuation  of posts introducing a few scholars of the *Golden age of Islam (8th to 13th century), by giving a short overview and a sample of their work
Omar Khayyam (1040-1134) a Mathematician, a philosopher, scholar of Islam  and a Sufi was born in Naishapur, Iran. He Wrote a treatise entitled “Demonstration of Problems of Algebra” (1070) and on the “Triangular array of binomial coefficient known as Pascal’s triangle”. In 1077 he produced another work, “Explanations of the Difficulties in the Postulates of Euclid”, and on “theory of proportions”. He also wrote on religion, music and astronomy.
Contemporaries included Al Bairuni (973-1048) a philosopher and scientist, who calculated the circumference of the earth quite accurately. He wrote widely on topics including Hindus(religion, Medicine,  philosophy etc.). Abu Sina (Avicenna 980-1057) a great physician, a philosopher and a Sufi, wrote on Islam, Philosophy and the famous Canon of Medicine. Al Ghazali (1058-1111) was a philosopher and a great teacher of Islam.
Omar Khayyam is best known for his Rubayats translated by Edward Fitzgerald in the 1880s. Sufi poetry has lot of references  to wine and love, more so in Hafiz(1325–1389) and Omar Khayyam. However their wine did not come from a bottle but a mystical experience.  Love is Love of God (Ishque Allah). Sufis were not on a full time mystical  mode. They were teachers, writers, scientists, Philosophers, Physicians, and scholars of Islam. Not all Sufis were poets and not all scholars of Islam were .


The Worldly Hope men set their Hearts upon
Turns Ashes—or it prospers; and anon
Like Snow upon the Desert’s dusty Face
Lighting a little Hour or two—is gone.


Think, in this batter’d Caravanserai

Whose Doorways are alternate Night and Day,
How Sultan
(king) after Sultan with his Pomp
Abode his Hour or two, and went his way.


 *Golden age (8th to 13th century) was an age of  enlightenment  and Knowledge.It produced numerous scholars in nearly every field. In addition to Muslims there  were many Christian and Jewish scholars who held high positions and received recognition for their abilities from rulers. For example St John of Damascus a theologian(676-749) worked as a Minister Of Finance for the Caliph in Damascus(the capital was moved to Baghdad in the 8th century by Abbasides). He was the first christian to write a book  on Islam. In spite of his close contacts with Muslims, the book demonstrated his ignorance of the religion. He like Dante treated Islam as a Christian heresy. 
The Muslim ruled areas were a multi religious, multi lingual and multicultural society. Muslim Rulers of that era valued scholarship and invested heavily in education at all levels. Accordin g to some estimates, their funding in higher learning institutions in proportion to their revenue was much higher  than that of advanced countries today. This was an important factor that contributed to the golden age.