For centuries following the fall of Rome, Western Europe was a benighted backwater, a world of subsistence farming, minimal literacy, and violent conflict. Meanwhile Arab culture was thriving, dazzling those Europeans fortunate enough to visit cities like Baghdad or Antioch. There, philosophers, mathematicians, and astronomers were steadily advancing the frontiers of knowledge, as well as keeping alive the works of Plato and Aristotle. When the best libraries in Europe held several dozen books, Baghdad's great library, The House of Wisdom, housed four hundred thousand. Jonathan Lyons shows just how much "Western" ideas owe to the Golden Age of Arab civilization.
Even while their countrymen waged bloody Crusades against Muslims, a handful of intrepid Christian scholars, hungry for knowledge, traveled East and returned with priceless jewels of science, medicine, and philosophy that laid the foundation for the Renaissance. In this brilliant, evocative book Jonathan Lyons reveals the story of how Europe drank from the well of Muslim learning.
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About the Author
Jonathan Lyons served as editor and foreign correspondent - mostly in the Muslim world - for Reuters for more than 20 years. He is now a researcher at the Global Terrorism Research Center and a PhD candidate in sociology of religion, both at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.
Table of Contents
Note to Readers ix
Significant Events xi
Leading Figures xv
Prologue: Al-Maghrib/Sunset 1
Part I Al-Isha/Nightfall 7
1 The Warriors of God 9
2 The Earth Is Like a Wheel 28
Part II Al-Fajr/Dawn 53
3 The House of Wisdom 55
4 Mapping the World 78
Part III Al-Zuhr/Midday 101
5 The First Man of Science 103
6 "What Is Said of the Sphere …" 125
7 "The Wisest Philosophers of the World&rldquo; 142
Part IV Al-Asr/Afternoon 163
8 On the Eternity of the World 163
9 The Invention of the West 186
Selected Bibliography 229