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.