House of Wisdom - (بيت الحكمة)

The terms Muslim world and Islamic world commonly refer to the Islamic community, which is also known as the Ummah. This consists of all those who adhere to the religion of Islam, or to societies where Islam is practiced. In a modern geopolitical sense, these terms refer to countries where Islam is widespread, although there are no agreed criteria for inclusion.

The history of the Muslim world spans about 1,400 years and includes a variety of socio-political developments, as well as major advances in the fields of music, dance, arts, science, philosophy, and technology, particularly during the Islamic Golden Age.

The term "Islamic Golden Age" has been attributed to a period in history wherein science, economic development and cultural works in most of the Muslim-dominated world flourished.

The age is traditionally understood to have begun during the reign of the Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid (786–809) with the inauguration of the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, where scholars from various parts of the world sought to translate and gather all the known world's knowledge into Arabic, and to have ended with the collapse of the Abbasid caliphate due to Mongol invasions and the Siege of Baghdad in 1258.

The House of Wisdom (Arabic: بيت الحكمة‎, romanized: Bayt al-Ḥikmah), also known as the Grand Library of Baghdad, refers to either a major Abbasid public academy and intellectual center in Baghdad or to a large private library belonging to the Abbasid Caliphs during the Islamic Golden Age.

The House of Wisdom is the subject of an active dispute over its functions and existence as a formal academy, an issue complicated by a lack of physical evidence following the collapse of the Abbasid Caliphate and a reliance on corroboration of literary sources to construct a narrative. The House of Wisdom was founded either as a library for the collections of the Caliph Harun al-Rashid in the late 8th century (then later turned into a public academy during the reign of Al-Ma'mun) or was a private collection created by Al-Mansur (reign 754–775) to house rare books and collections of poetry in both Arabic and Persian.

The House of Wisdom was made possible by the consistent flow of Arab, Persian, and other scholars of the Islamicate world to Baghdad, owing to the city's position as a center of science and learning. This is evidenced by the large number of scholars known to have studied in Baghdad between the 8th and 13th centuries, such as Al-Jahiz, Al-Kindi, and Al-Ghazali among others, all of whom would have contributed to a vibrant academic community in Baghdad, producing a great number of notable works, regardless of the existence of a formal academy.

The fields to which scholars associated with the Golden Age contributed include, but are not limited to include: music, philosophy, mathematics, medicine, astronomy, and optics.

Under the sponsorship of caliph Al-Ma'mun (r. 813–833), economic support of the House of Wisdom and scholarship in general was greatly increased. His love for science was so great that it was said that he preferred scientific texts a the spoils of war.

Furthermore, Abbasid society itself came to understand and appreciate the value of knowledge, and support also came from merchants and the military. It was easy for scholars and translators to make a living and an academic life was a symbol of status; scientific knowledge was considered so valuable that books and ancient texts were sometimes preferred as war booty rather than riches. Translation of various texts was one of the most important jobs of the day.

Indeed, Ptolemy's book the Almagest was claimed as a condition for peace by Al-Ma'mun after a war between the Abbasids and the Eastern Roman Empire.

Furthermore, he would often organize groups of sages from the Bayt al-Hikma into major research projects to satisfy his own intellectual needs. For example, he commissioned the mapping of the world, the confirmation of data from the Almagest and the deduction of the real size of the Earth (see section on the main activities of the House). He also promoted Egyptology and participated himself in excavations of the pyramids of Giza.

Al-Ma’mun built the first astronomical observatories in Baghdad, and he was also the first ruler to fund and monitor the progress of major research projects involving a team of scholars and scientists. His greatest legacy to science is that he was the first ruler to fund "big science".

The various Quranic injunctions and Hadith ("Sayings") and Actions of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), which place values on education and emphasize the importance of acquiring knowledge, played a vital role in influencing the Muslims of this age in their search for knowledge and the development of the body of science.

The Abbasids were influenced by these Quranic injunctions and hadiths that stressed the value of knowledge. The major Islamic capital cities of Baghdad, Cairo, and Córdoba became the main intellectual centers for science, philosophy, medicine, and education, while Esfehan was a center of trade and commerce. In fact following the Persian model each city had a specific purpose and was a center for something to contribute to the Islamic empire.

By the second half of the ninth century, Al-Ma'mun's Bayt al-Hikma was the greatest repository of books in the world and had become one of the greatest hubs of intellectual activity in the Middle Ages, attracting the most brilliant Arab and Persian minds.

The House of Wisdom eventually acquired a reputation as a center of learning, although universities as we know them did not yet exist at this time—knowledge was transmitted directly from teacher to student without any institutional surrounding. Maktabs soon began to develop in the city from the 9th century on and, in the 11th century, Nizam al-Mulk founded the Al-Nizamiyya of Baghdad, one of the first institutions of higher education in Iraq.

The House of Wisdom included a society of scientists and academics, a translation department and a library that preserved the knowledge acquired by the Abbasids over the centuries. They also researched and studied alchemy, which was later used to create the structure of modern chemistry. Furthermore, linked to it were also astronomical observatories and other major experimental endeavors.

Institutionalized by Al-Ma'mun, the academy encouraged the transcription of Greek philosophical and scientific efforts. Additionally, he imported manuscripts of important texts that were not accessible to the Islamic countries from Byzantium to the library. The House of Wisdom was much more than a library, and a considerable amount of original scientific and philosophical work was produced by scholars and intellectuals related to it. This allowed Muslim scholars to verify astronomical information that was handed down from past scholars.

Muslim scientists placed far greater emphasis on experiment than the Greeks. This led to an early scientific method being developed in the Muslim world, where progress in methodology was made, beginning with the experiments of Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen) on optics from circa 1000, in his Book of Optics. The most important development of the scientific method was the use of experiments to distinguish between competing scientific theories set within a generally empirical orientation, which began among Muslim scientists.

Ibn al-Haytham is also regarded as the father of optics, especially for his empirical proof of the intromission theory of light. Jim Al-Khalili stated in 2009 that Ibn al-Haytham is 'often referred to as the "world's first true scientist".

Al-Khwarzimi's invented the log base systems that are being used today, he also contributed theorems in trigonometry as well as limits. Recent studies show that it is very likely that the Medieval Muslim artists were aware of advanced decagonal quasicrystal geometry (discovered half a millennium later in the 1970s and 1980s in the West) and used it in intricate decorative tilework in the architecture.

Muslim physicians contributed to the field of medicine, including the subjects of anatomy and physiology: such as in the 15th-century Persian work by Mansur ibn Muhammad ibn al-Faqih Ilyas entitled Tashrih al-badan (Anatomy of the body) which contained comprehensive diagrams of the body's structural, nervous and circulatory systems; or in the work of the Egyptian physician Ibn al-Nafis, who proposed the theory of pulmonary circulation.

Avicenna's The Canon of Medicine remained an authoritative medical textbook in Europe until the 18th century. Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi (also known as Abulcasis) contributed to the discipline of medical surgery with his Kitab al-Tasrif ("Book of Concessions"), a medical encyclopedia which was later translated to Latin and used in European and Muslim medical schools for centuries. Other medical advancements came in the fields of pharmacology and pharmacy.

In astronomy, Muḥammad ibn Jābir al-Ḥarrānī al-Battānī improved the precision of the measurement of the precession of the Earth's axis. The corrections made to the geocentric model by Al-Battani, Averroes, Nasir al-Din al-Tusi, Mu'ayyad al-Din al-'Urdi and Ibn al-Shatir were later incorporated into the Copernican heliocentric model.

Heliocentric theories were also discussed by several other Muslim astronomers such as Al-Biruni, Al-Sijzi, Qotb al-Din Shirazi, and Najm al-Dīn al-Qazwīnī al-Kātibī. The astrolabe, though originally developed by the Greeks, was perfected by Islamic astronomers and engineers, and was subsequently brought to Europe.

Some most famous scientists from the medieval Islamic world include Jābir ibn Hayyān, Al-Farabi, Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi, Ibn al-Haytham, Al-Biruni, Avicenna, Nasir al-Din al-Tusi, and Ibn Khaldun, Muḥammad ibn Mūsā Al-Khawrazmi, Arabized as Al-Khwarizmi and formerly Latinized as Algorithmi, was a Persian polymath who produced vastly influential works in mathematics, astronomy, and geography. Around 820 CE he was appointed as the astronomer and head of the library of the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, he played a significant role in the development of algebra, arithmetic and Hindu-Arabic numerals. He has been described as the father or founder of algebra.

Another Persian mathematician, Omar Khayyam, is credited with identifying the foundations of Analytic geometry. Omar Khayyam found the general geometric solution of the cubic equation. His book Treatise on Demonstrations of Problems of Algebra (1070), which laid down the principles of algebra, is part of the body of Persian mathematics that was eventually transmitted to Europe.

Yet another Persian mathematician, Sharaf al-Dīn al-Tūsī, found algebraic and numerical solutions to various cases of cubic equations. He also developed the concept of a function. Ibn Muʿādh al-Jayyānī is one of several Islamic mathematicians to whom the law of sines is attributed; he wrote his The Book of Unknown Arcs of a Sphere in the 11th century. This formula relates the lengths of the sides of any triangle, rather than only right triangles, to the sines of its angles

Islamic art makes use of geometric patterns and symmetries in many of its art forms, notably in girih tilings. These are formed using a set of five tile shapes, namely a regular decagon, an elongated hexagon, a bow tie, a rhombus, and a regular pentagon. All the sides of these tiles have the same length; and all their angles are multiples of 36° (π/5 radians), offering fivefold and tenfold symmetries.

The Islamic tiles are decorated with strapwork lines (girih / گره), generally more visible than the tile boundaries. In 2007, the physicists Peter Lu and Paul Steinhardt argued that girih from the 15th century resembled quasicrystalline Penrose tilings. Elaborate geometric zellige tilework is a distinctive element in Islamic architecture. Muqarnas vaults are three-dimensional but were designed in two dimensions with drawings of geometrical cells.

Islamic architecture comprises the architectural styles of buildings associated with Islam. It encompasses both secular and religious styles from the early history of Islam to the present day. Early Islamic architecture was influenced by Roman, Byzantine, Persian, Mesopotamian architecture and all other lands which the Early Muslim conquests conquered in the seventh and eighth centuries.

Further east, it was also influenced by Chinese and Mughal architecture as Islam spread to Southeast Asia. Later it developed distinct characteristics in the form of buildings, and the decoration of surfaces with Islamic calligraphy and geometric and interlace patterned ornament. New architectural elements like cylindrical minarets, muqarnas, arabesque, multifoil were invented and World Wonders were built such as the Taj Mahal in India.

The principal Islamic architectural types for large or public buildings are: the mosque, the tomb, the palaces, and the forts. From these four types, the vocabulary of Islamic architecture is derived and used for other buildings such as public baths, fountains and domestic private use architecture used to symbolize heaven on earth and closeness to Allah (swt).

Overall the Islamic Empires contribution to humanity in the fields of New technology & Education (based on the Holy Book and Principles of Learning from the Book) resulted in major advances in the sciences of Law, Theology, Philosophy, Metaphysics & Spirituality, Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Calculus, Astronomy, Physics, Chemistry, Geodesy, Biology, Engineering, Sociology, Historiography, Demography, Agriculture, Economics, Literature, Architecture, Art, Music and Medicine.

During this time Unversities, Hospitals & Pharmacies were established. Surgeries were conducted on the sick patients. Agriculture flourished, Literature and poetry were epitamized and some of the finest poetry were written. Manuscript illumination was an important art, and Persian miniature painting flourished in the Persianate world. Calligraphy, an essential aspect of written Arabic, developed in manuscripts and architectural decoration.

On February 13, 1258, the Mongols entered the city of the caliphs, starting a full week of pillage and destruction. With all other libraries in Baghdad, the House of Wisdom was destroyed by the army of Hulagu during the Siege of Baghdad. The books from Baghdad’s libraries were thrown into the Tigris River in such quantities that the river ran black with the ink from the books. Nasir al-Din al-Tusi rescued about 400,000 manuscripts which he took to Maragheh before the siege.

Prior to this event, the Muslim world was a collection of cultures that drew together and advanced the knowledge gained from the ancient Greek, Roman, Persian, Chinese, Indian, Egyptian, and Phoenician civilizations. Today the Muslim World Population is close to 1.8 Billion People, Insha'Allah they will be able to once again flourish and contribute to the advancement of humanity. Ameen Ya Rabul Alameen!

مکتبخونه هنرهای اسلامی درباری


I hope to one day establish an Islamic School (Maktab-Khooneh) of Music, Dance & Art which would encompass the following fields of humanities in a similiar setting where every corner some art form would be practiced:

Qari - قاری برای قرائت قرآن و خواندن اذان
Moosighi - موسیقی و طرب
Raghs Sharqi - رقص شرقی
Naqashi - هنر نقاشی
Tazhib - هنر تذهیب برای حفط دانشهای بدست آمده
Khattati - هنر خطاطی
Sanayeh Dasti - هنرهای صنایع دستی
and ... - و خیلی بیشتر

God Willing