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  #1  
Old March 7th, 2012, 02:08 PM
fahim mohammed fahim mohammed is offline
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Default Of Stars and stars...

It was few years ago that I undertook a journey, with my family, across Spain. We spent a whole summer there..three months. It was too short for me. Many lifetimes, would be too short.

Two images are shown below:




The first one from Toledo in Spain and the second from Fez in Morocco. What do these two cities have in common is what interests me.

It is the late 12th century. Seville, Cordoba, Toledo are intellectually and economically at their Zenith. There are thinkers, masters of medicine, economics, astronomy, music..a crucible of intelligent thought, the results are what we see today.

I mention only three names from there..brilliant minds on earth..Musa Bin Maymun, Ibn Rushd and Al Bitruji. From Toledo to Fez they had to go. And all three died within 8 years of each other. Not many know of them. The interested reader shall be rewarded with many not very well known facts.

Toledo, home of Miguel De Cervantes and El Greco. Seville, where the palace shall become the Alcazar. Ibn Rushd would later be depicted by a future Renaissance painter named Raphael in the fresco ' The School of Athens' as the greatest philosopher of all times.

All things must pass. Even brilliant minds and great civilizations.
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Old March 8th, 2012, 02:27 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fahim Mohammed
The first one from Toledo in Spain and the second from Fez in Morocco. What do these two cities have in common is what interests me.

It is the late 12th century. Seville, Cordoba, Toledo are intellectually and economically at their Zenith. There are thinkers, masters of medicine, economics, astronomy, music..a crucible of intelligent thought, the results are what we see today.

I mention only three names from there..brilliant minds on earth..Musa Bin Maymun, Ibn Rushd and Al Bitruji. From Toledo to Fez they had to go. And all three died within 8 years of each other. Not many know of them. The interested reader shall be rewarded with many not very well known facts.
Fahim,

The fruit in the picture grow, because they are cultivated and valued. That's what's needed for the free intellectual curiosity of these great men. Most countries then and now do not foster the conditions for such human achievements to be possible. Why did they flourish in those "in between" the forces of the East and West kingdoms and principalities? The answers could be key to our advancement.

I'm convinced that out of any 10,000 really well educated children conditioned and funded to have unfettered enquiry, we'd reap a harvest of another 5 such unusually great thinkers and 3 of them might women, LOL!

Asher
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Last edited by Asher Kelman; March 8th, 2012 at 08:38 AM.
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  #3  
Old March 8th, 2012, 03:21 AM
fahim mohammed fahim mohammed is offline
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I agree with what you say Asher..mostly. So long as
' unfettered ' for one does not mean ' fettering ' for me!!

Anyway let me plagairize and paraphrase an interesting story. Apologize for the length of this narration:

The figure is clad in Grecian dress. Is it a dream?
The man is afraid.

' who are you ' asks the frightened man.
' Aristotle '
' I have heard of you', ' many speak of you to this day, but why are you here ?' asks the man.

' To answer your question ' replies the spirit.
' My question '? ' and what might that be '?
' That which has bothered you, your entire life '?
Silence.

The dimly visible spirit continues, smiling:
' What is better for society and man..reason or revelation?'

The man sits up. Now he is interested..very interested.
' And your answer ?' asks the man. The riddle that has haunted him all his life.

Dawn breaks. From the minarets beckons the voice for prayers.
The spirit is no more.

The man gets up, looks down below from his window, a sight
he is used to. Tigris and Eupharates flow quietly below. As they shall for thousands of years
more. He is unware of what might happen thosands of years from then.

He dresses for prayers.
The man picks up an old, weathered pad. Dips the wooden
tip in the ink holder. Scribbles a few words. Goes of to pray.

Dateline, reads the entry. Baghdad 813 CE.

Regards.

The picture of the fruits, yes. The little visible water in the upper left corner. There is a dam there.
Hundreds of years ago a man built a dam.

I might talk of dams and damsels, some other day!!
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Old March 8th, 2012, 04:06 AM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is offline
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It would seem that the man in your story was Ibn Jarir al-Tabari. But the opposition between reason and revelation is not unique to Islam and scholars in probably every religion came to the same question.
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Old March 8th, 2012, 04:26 AM
fahim mohammed fahim mohammed is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerome Marot View Post
It would seem that the man in your story was Ibn Jarir al-Tabari. But the opposition between reason and revelation is not unique to Islam and scholars in probably every religion came to the same question.
Hi Jerome.

Same time period, same place but not the same person I was thinking of. Mr. Al-Tabari, I might
mention, some other time; but more famous would be his pupil!

In any case, My interest in History is driven primarily by my interest in the rise and fall of civilizations. Not about any faith, theology, or religious doctrine. That we are discussing, here and in this context, a civilization in which Islam had a leading role is coincidental. ( Edited: Although
this period of human civilization, in which Islam was the dominant religion, remains my main area
of historical study/pusuit ).

Civilizations can last a long time or very short. Some might leave a lasting legacy to be carried forward by others, while for others one has to really dig deep!! ( literally ).

Allow me to note in passing that Al-Tabari is from an old Jewish family of the Merv known as the Sahls, who converted to Islam. His full name is of course, Ali ibn Sahl Rabban al-Tabari. Most of his work is unfortunately lost and forgotten. A master physician skilled in the art of Greek and Persian
medical teahings and practice.

Thank you for your comments.

p.s. Now that Jerome has introduced Al-Tabari, let me see if I can dig up a photo of Queen Sofia
University hospital in Cordoba and find some associated story. I know there are some ruins not far away..Madina Azahara. Cordoba..Al-Wadi-Al-Kabir. See how civilizations effect and are affected
by others!! ).
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Old March 8th, 2012, 08:27 AM
fahim mohammed fahim mohammed is offline
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A view of the Grand Mosque ( now a Cathedral ) in Cordoba.


Not far from here lies Madina Alzahra.

A city yet to be unearthed fully. Only 10% was unearthed, the last I saw it. A city to rival Versailles.
A UNESCO World Heritage City. The excavations are strictly controlled as far as access for tourists.
Understandably.


But our story is not of the city; but something within the city that happened a long long time ago.

The year 1005 CE. The city Madina Al-Zahara.

A woman in labor. In attendance, a physician. If she gives birth to a male, the newborn might
become a king. The pain is intense. The doctor has warned her that her labor might
be difficult. The doctor fears that either the mother, the unborn or both could perish.


The woman is anxious. The pain gets worse. Will she see Cordoba again?
Will her child survive?

Unknown to her, and unknown then to all, in attendance is one whom history shall remember as the
father of medicine.

He is hard at work. The baby needs to be turned before it can pass through the birth canal. He brings out the surgical instruments. One he had invented almost 50 years ago. The doctor asks the nurse
to console the mother as he toils patiently..all the experience of the Greeks, the Persians, Ibn Sina, Al-Razi and Maimoun he knows. Plus his own knowledge and unrelenting work over the years are brought
to bear to save the mother and child.

The baby is delivered. It is a boy. The mother is alive and well. The doctor says
a silent prayer and places the instruments in a tray for cleaning. Amongst them is
one instrument; much later the medical world shall name it the 'forceps'.

In a hundred years his works shall be translated into Latin. Al-Tasrif, The method of Medicine. He shall become the father of Modern Surgery.

The woman and the unborn were in safe hands. Hands of Al-Zahrawi. He shall be known to the Europeans, a hundred years further on, as Albucasis.
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Old March 8th, 2012, 08:57 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerome Marot View Post
It would seem that the man in your story was Ibn Jarir al-Tabari. But the opposition between reason and revelation is not unique to Islam and scholars in probably every religion came to the same question.

Well put, Jerome!!

The apparently simple opposition of "Reason and revelation" complements Fahim's seemingly obscure but in truth, wise title to his thread, "Of Stars and stars".

I'll add your name to my short list of folk who have any clue and therefore respect for the importance of this fascinating period of history.

Asher
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Old March 8th, 2012, 10:02 AM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is offline
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I made an obvious mistake, because al-Tabari was not born in 813. The story refers to the Caliph Al-Mamun, as explained on this page from the BBC.

As to the opposition between "Reason and revelation", it is inevitable that scholars came to that point when studying sacred scriptures. I won't talk about the Quran, but for example the old and the new testament were not written as a single piece and, as a consequence, are not self consistent (on recent archeological evidence on the writing of the old testament, the interested reader may wish to read The Bible unearthed by Israel Finkelstein and Neil Silberman). It is thus impossible for a logical, reasoned analysis to agree on a text which is supposed to be true to the coma but is internally inconsistent. Resolving that dilemma in the direction of "reason" was one of the main drive for the development of our modern world at the end of the 18 century.

As to why civilization rise and fall, the explanations may not necessary have to do with religion or their technical development. I am not sure that I have already cited this text, but it gives insight on the collapse of the civilizations of what is present day Iraq and Iran from the point of view of a geologist. It makes an interesting reading, especially when one considers how much our present civilization depends on irrigation itself.
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Old March 8th, 2012, 11:31 AM
fahim mohammed fahim mohammed is offline
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Thanks for the input Jerome.

Continuing with the story:


An astronomer, a philosopher and a physician. He wrote about ten volumes on medicine, disease and treatment. He wrote about strokes, liver disease, diabetes.
He wrote about hepatitis. He shall be remembered for his philosophy rather than for his vast medical knowledge. A great mind would move from Toledo, to Fez and then to Cairo.

In Cairo he would be a physician to the nephew of Salahuddin Ayubi, a man from
Iraq; from Tikrit, not far from Baghdad.


In the West, he is known as Maimonides. I know him as Musa bin Maymun. A brilliant Star.

btw, the first image in this post is from the Al-Azhar Mosque ( next to the Al-Azhar University ) in Cairo.
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Old March 8th, 2012, 12:00 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Thanks for the input Jerome.


An astronomer, a philosopher and a physician. He wrote about ten volumes on medicine, disease and treatment. He wrote about strokes, liver disease, diabetes.
He wrote about hepatitis. He shall be remembered for his philosophy rather than for his vast medical knowledge. A great mind would move from Toledo, to Fez and then to Cairo.

In Cairo he would be a physician to the nephew of Salahuddin Ayubi, a man from
Iraq; from Tikrit, not far from Baghdad.


In the West, he is known as Maimonides. I know him as Musa bin Maymun. A brilliant Star.

btw, the first image in this post is from the Al-Azhar Mosque ( next to the Al-Azhar University ) in Cairo.
Maimonides, Moshe Ben Maimon, was one of the leading lights in Jewish thought and also wrote the "13 Principles of Faith" and "Guide to the Perplexed" and other critical scholarship on beliefs and logical derivations. My elder son, in fact is named after him, Maimon. Maybe that was a mistake as he charmingly defeats me in most arguments!

Maimonides was the greatest Jewish figures since Moses. To have an idea of how hard he worked, read this Quote about his daily life in Cairo.

"Maimonides was the first person to write a systematic code of all Jewish law, the Mishneh Torah; he produced one of the great philosophic statements of Judaism, The Guide to the Perplexed; published a commentary on the entire Mishna; served as physician to the sultan of Egypt; wrote numerous books on medicine; and, in his "spare time," served as leader of Cairo's Jewish community. It is hardly surprising that when Shmuel ibn Tibbon, the Hebrew translator of The Guide to the Perplexed (which had been written in Arabic), wrote Maimonides that he wished to visit him to discuss some difficult points in the translation, Maimonides discouraged him from coming:

I dwell at Fostat, and the sultan resides at Cairo [about a mile*and*a*half away].... My duties to the sultan are very heavy. I am obliged to visit him every day, early in the morning, and when he or any of his children or any of the inmates of his harem are indisposed, I dare not quit Cairo, but must stay during the greater part of the day in the palace. It also frequently happens that one of the two royal officers fall sick, and I must attend to their healing. Hence, as a rule, I leave for Cairo very early in the day, and even if nothing unusual happens, I do not return to Fostat until the afternoon. Then I am almost dying with hunger. . . I find the antechamber filled with people, both Jews and gentiles, nobles and common people, judges and bailiffs, friends and foes-a mixed multitude who await the time of my return.

I dismount from my animal, wash my hands, go forth to my patients and entreat them to bear with me while I partake of some slight refreshment, the only meal I take in the twenty*four hours. Then I go forth to attend to my patients, and write prescriptions and directions for their various ailments. Patients go in and out until nightfall, and sometimes even, I solemnly assure you, until two hours or more in the night. I converse with and prescribe for them while lying down from sheer fatigue; and when night falls I am so exhausted that I can scarcely speak.

In consequence of this, no Israelite can have any private interview with me, except on the Sabbath. On that day the whole congregation, or at least the majority of the members, come to me after the morning service, when I instruct them as to their proceedings during the whole week; we study together a little until noon, when they depart. Some of them return, and read with me after the afternoon service until evening prayers. In this manner I spend that day.
"

The full article and his influence in Western and Arabic culture too is found here and makes a delightful read. If one ignores his Jewish scholarly writings, one would consider him an Arabic Scholar as all his other works were in Arabic!

Asher
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Old March 8th, 2012, 04:09 PM
fahim mohammed fahim mohammed is offline
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I shall make this the last story of this thread.

We shall move away from the splendors of Andalusia to the desolate plains of Central Asia for this story.


The Silk Road. Rome on one end. The other end, China. The Steppes of Central Asia. Barren, cold, desolate. Caravans pass through here..rarely stopping for than a few days. Khorasan lies on the Silk Road.

A boy lives here. He is named Mohammed. From this desolate place
in the middle of nowhere, shall arise the knowledge that after more than a thousand years, enable space probes to calculate the intersections of their orbit with one of Jupiterís moons. Thousands of years after he is dead, scientists shall calculate cellular processes of biotechnology and nuclear reactions using this manís work. Kepler,Newton and Einstein shall use the work of this man to further human scientific knowledge.

Mohammed, from Khorasan, would have given the world the first and most important step in detaching the source of mathematics from the physical and moving it into the purely abstract.

Until around the 16th century, 700 years after his death, the European mathematicians, astronomers and scientists shall honor and dignify all their postulates with the concluding footnote Ď dixit algorithm Ď. His translated works shall be the core mathematics and astronomy textbooks in Europe and the Muslim world.

He shall be best remembered for his book Ď Al-Jabr Wa Al-Muqabala Ď. Translated into Latin as Ď The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing Ď.

The manís name is Mohammed Al-Khwarizmi. Mathematician, Astronomer, Geographer. When one thinks of algorithms, one thinks of Al-Khwarizmi. When one thinks of a mathematical equation, one puts Al-Khwarizmi's ideas into practice.
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Old March 8th, 2012, 04:10 PM
fahim mohammed fahim mohammed is offline
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I shall make this the last story of this thread.

We shall move away from the splendors of Andalusia to the desolate plains of Central Asia for this story.


The Silk Road. Rome on one end. The other end, China. The Steppes of Central Asia. Barren, cold, desolate. Caravans pass through here..rarely stopping for than a few days. Khorasan lies on the Silk Road.

A boy lives here. He is named Mohammed. From this desolate place in the middle of nowhere, shall arise the knowledge that after more than a thousand years, enable space probes to calculate the intersections of their orbit with one of Jupiterís moons. Thousands of years after he is dead, scientists shall calculate cellular processes of biotechnology and nuclear reactions using this manís work. Kepler,Newton and Einstein shall use the work of this man to further human scientific knowledge.

Mohammed, from Khorasan, would have given the world the first and most important step in detaching the source of mathematics from the physical and moving it into the purely abstract.

Until around the 16th century, 700 years after his death, the European mathematicians, astronomers and scientists shall honor and dignify all their postulates with the concluding footnote Ď dixit algorithm Ď. His translated works shall be the core mathematics and astronomy textbooks in Europe and the Muslim world.

He shall be best remembered for his book Ď Al-Jabr Wa Al-Muqabala Ď. Translated into Latin as Ď The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing Ď.

The manís name is Mohammed Al-Khwarizmi. Mathematician, Astronomer, Geographer. When one thinks of algorithms, one thinks of Al-Khwarizmi. When one thinks of a mathematical equation, one puts Al-Khwarizmi's ideas into practice.

p.s In post #3 of this thread, I introduced a dialog in which the question was asked ' reason or revelation'.
In post #8 of this thread Jerome commented and I quote " Resolving that dilemma in the direction of "reason" was one of the main drive for the development of our modern world at the end of the 18 century." That might very well be true.

However, and this is important from my point of view , I do not consider there to be a dilemma . Why?
Because the question ' reason or revelation ' is in and of itself, self defeating and in error. It is in conflict, as it is stated. That is not the only way to view this ' dilemma '. Conflict or only ' this or that ' does not have to be.
Proof. More than a 1000 years of accomplishments in all fields of human endeavor accomplished despite this so called ' dilemma. '
By any measure of analysis ( statistical/empirical ) a 1000 years of significant accomplishments cannot be put to chance. I might add that establishing a rigorous standard of empirical testing was also introduced, formulated and codified during this so called period living with the ' dilemma '. By one know as Ibn al-Haytham. His methods represent the first set of formal procedures of recording scientific enquiry and discovery.
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Old March 8th, 2012, 07:33 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Proof. More than a 1000 years of accomplishments in all fields of human endeavor accomplished despite this so called ' dilemma. '
By any measure of analysis ( statistical/empirical ) a 1000 years of significant accomplishments cannot be put to chance. I might add that establishing a rigorous standard of empirical testing was also introduced, formulated and codified during this so called period living with the ' dilemma '. By one know as Ibn al-Haytham. His methods represent the first set of formal procedures of recording scientific enquiry and discovery.
People still had to move in order to continue their rational studies without persecution. So what occurred was in a plane with moving currents. So it's far more complex than imagining that a connection between faith and logic works to yield intellectual and scientific advances. One also has to look at, political stability, agriculture, food production, natural resources and other factors which allow for the luxury of continued support of thinkers and logicians.

Asher
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Old March 8th, 2012, 11:10 PM
fahim mohammed fahim mohammed is offline
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People still had to move in order to continue their rational studies without persecution. So what occurred was in a plane with moving currents. So it's far more complex than imagining that a connection between faith and logic works to yield intellectual and scientific advances. One also has to look at, political stability, agriculture, food production, natural resources and other factors which allow for the luxury of continued support of thinkers and logicians.

Asher
Asher, of course it is complex. More complex than just to ascribe that ' reason' alone magically led to
a certain society to rise while another that choose another equation rather than ' reason' alone to
fail.

There has to be a support structure, myriad other details, not just say ok guys we have chosen ' reason'
and that's it. Everything shall be hunky dory.

Just as some other society could select ' reason And revelation ' and succeed. But the ancillary support system too has to be there.
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Old March 9th, 2012, 11:54 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Asher, of course it is complex. More complex than just to ascribe that ' reason' alone magically led to a certain society to rise while another that choose another equation rather than ' reason' alone to fail.

There has to be a support structure, myriad other details, not just say ok guys we have chosen ' reason'
and that's it. Everything shall be hunky dory.

Just as some other society could select ' reason And revelation ' and succeed. But the ancillary support system too has to be there.
Fahim,

It's long been my belief and assertion that the history of this period** should be taught in all education systems. It would have major benefits to all our futures. For Europeans, it would give insight into the richness of the Arabian led thinkers and creators in Medicine, poetry, navigation and science who carried the knowledge of the Greeks and those before them. They'd learn of the Jews who brought this to Europe, (who didn't even have the vocabulary for much of the knowledge that came to them. When agriculture dried up everything collapsed and the glorious culture and leaning was hidden and covered with dogma, feudalism and then the Crusades, raping and plundering a path to Jerusalem and the mediterranean*** There was not much more movement until Locke, Berkeley and Hume in the 17th Century! Funny that it took the blood of the French Revolution and the Armies of Napoleon to bring the edge of concepts of the logic that they should entertain the concepts of the "Rights of Man" to Europe. It really was resisted by Christian Europe and lingered, ingrained in language, custom and ritual and we had the tragedies of the Armenian Genocide, the Holocaust and countless other massacres. At least 100 million people altogether were this murdered in the name of race or religion in the 20th Century. Nothing like that had ever happened during the 1000 years of the Caliphates, even with the risk of slaughter or conversion by expanding Islamic influence****.

I'd like to have kids in Kentucky and in Kabul know of the bloom of scholarship radiating from Baghdad, Constantinople, Cairo and the Iberian peninsula. Who knows, some may be inspired to learn too.

Asher

** extending to the time of Islamic control of numerous city states in what's now Portugal and Spain, lasting in areas for up to 795 years.

***It may surprise lovers of the story of Robin hood and his Merry Men fighting for King Richard the Lionheart, to know what his fort in Bodrum, Southern turkey actually did! They were supposed to be Hospitaliers, to help Crusaders on pilgrimage to Jerusalem and take care of the wounded. Actually they used their boats to raid rich Arab and turkish trading vessels ply the Mediterranean! They really were pirates.

****At least in Muslim spain, although Christians and Jews had to pay special community taxes, had lower value in evidence ion court and had pressure to assimilate, the indigenous populations flourished, albeit with trouble building a new church or synagogue. Certainly the Jewish communities flourished on the whole under Islamic rule in Islamic Spain. At that time, other conquerors generally massacred or expelled the defeated people.


Asher
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Old March 9th, 2012, 01:49 PM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is offline
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At that time, other conquerors generally massacred or expelled the defeated people.
Some certainly did, but I would not make it a general rule. Actually, I think the opposite is true: it takes fanaticism to massacre conquered people instead of using them economically.
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Old March 9th, 2012, 01:52 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Some certainly did, but I would not make it a general rule. Actually, I think the opposite is true: it takes fanaticism to massacre conquered people instead of using them economically.
Better put!

Asher
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Old March 10th, 2012, 03:06 AM
fahim mohammed fahim mohammed is offline
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I have mentioned ' I shall make it is the last story...' and still continue to post!!

But it gets interesting when someone else posts.

Now the writeup by Asher on Musa Bin Maymun. Just to add that it is really interesting to read
about Cairo in those days.

Not to mention that Musa bin Maymun had a cabinet full of medicine for certain patients...
the percursor of sildenafil citrate!

Excellent write-up Asher.
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Old March 10th, 2012, 05:12 AM
fahim mohammed fahim mohammed is offline
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' It is admitted with difficulty that a nation..of nomads from the desert could have known any form of agricultural techniques or of science other than sowing wheat and Barley.

The misconceptions come from the rarity of works on the subject..if we took the bother to open up and consult the old manuscripts, so many views will be changed, so many prejudices will be destroyed. '

A. Cherbonneau. French Scholar and translator




Knowledge knows no nation, no boundaries, civilizations or cultures. It is gained slowly, painstakingly. The progress of humankind in the past and in the future shall depend on the cross fertilization of knowledge from across the globe; through various means of communication and/or through the migration of people. It has done so repeatedly throughout history.


History, if it would teach anything, would be the sublime quality of humility. That the progress of today rests on the shoulders and minds of the physical and mental work of those that lived in the past.It is only the arrogant that fail to learn fom the lessons of History.

All things must pass. Nations, cultures and civilizations. Some flourish and die in a short time. Others take a longer time and die a lingering death. Very few, even after they are long gone, leave behind a legacy to be carried forward by that which replaces them.

From Galen in Greece, to Ibn Sina from Southern Russia, to the John Hopkins Medical Center in the States; From Euclid to Brahmagupta and Musa Bin Maymun; from Kepler to Ibn Haitham to Stephen Hawkins; from Zheng He to Vasco de Gama to Ibn Battuta; fom Omar Khayyam to Rabindranath Tagore to Keats and Shelley.

Knowledge is not a province ( ! ) of a particular culture or a particular people. It is ours, collectively. To cherish, to value and to use. For good or for bad. That is our choice. The choice we make today, shall be our History for the future generations. The choice we make today shall be our legacy to our children and the children of our children.


' Here is a much simpler method for the determination of the circumference of the earth.
And it does not involve camels,caravans, walking in the desert. I Just use this ( pointing to his head!! ). Allah
makes it simple.'

Al-Biruni, dryly commenting on Eratosthenes and others.
One of his books ' Determination of the coordinates of cities'. 11th Century Polymath. Fluent in Arabic, Greek, Persian,Hebrew, Sanskrit. His method actually involves highly complex geodesic equations unknown at that time!!

Last edited by fahim mohammed; March 10th, 2012 at 08:18 AM.
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