A historical perspective on Arabic scholarship and its contribution to European reasoning and intellect

By Erica Sanders

Abstract of the thesis for Masters degree

The purpose of this thesis is to understand the intellectual and cultural conditions that existed in Medieval Europe and the valuable Arabic contribution to it. The aftermath from Northern invasions caused Medieval Europe to suffer economically. It was a time of turmoil. The Dark Ages was a time in history when people struggled with faith and reason. The Church controlled every facet of people’s lives. Europeans did not trust non-religious learning; but, the politics in the Holy Roman Empire made some Christians want a change. The Holy Roman Empire decided to divide itself into two parts; the Western Holy Roman Empire and Byzantium. Christians in Europe believed that there was no justification for learning how things worked or for knowing science; On the other hand, Eastern culture influenced their brethren in Byzantium. Islamic and Greek traditions influenced scholarship in the East. Islam wanted followers who were thinkers. Because of this, Islamic society valued knowledge and encouraged scholastic pursuits. To make knowledge accessible to the masses, Muslim rulers created the Houses of Wisdom. These institutions of academia preserved and translated ancient Greek texts, such as the works of Aristotle, into Syriac and Arabic. For humanists, the success of the Islamic Golden Age was a time of “darkness.” From the 5th century A.D. until the 15th century A.D., there was a darkness that fell upon Europe. Europeans described Arab knowledge as magic. The intellect and scholarship that came from the Houses of Wisdom, the Byzantines, and Al-Andalus did not have value or worth because it did not originate from the Holy Roman Empire of Europe. This research attempts to explain how Arabic scholarship and its contribution to European reasoning and intellect after the decline of the Roman and Byzantine Empires were valuable but forgotten over time.

Keywords: Arabic, Middle Ages, Medieval, Dark Ages, Houses of Wisdom(Grand Library of Baghdad), Petrarch, Humanist, Byzantium, Holy Roman Empire, Constantinople, Umayyad, Abbasid, Andalusia.

Read the thesis in PDF file: A historical perspective on Arabic scholarship and its contribution to European reasoning and intellect

Additional suggested reading

How Islam Taught Medieval Christian Europe Religious and Political Tolerance

How Europe came to forget about its Arabic heritage

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