We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
To anyone familiar with this Golden Age, roughly spanning the eighth through the thirteenth centuries a.d., the disparity between the intellectual achievements of the Middle East then and now — particularly relative to the rest of the world — is staggering indeed. In his 2002 book What Went Wrong?, historian Bernard Lewis notes that “for many centuries the world of Islam was in the forefront of human civilization and achievement.” “Nothing in Europe,” notes Jamil Ragep, a professor of the history of science at the University of Oklahoma, “could hold a candle to what was going on in the Islamic world until about 1600.” Algebra, algorithm, alchemy, alcohol, alkali, nadir, zenith, coffee, and lemon: these words all derive from Arabic, reflecting Islam’s contribution to the West.
Today, however, the spirit of science in the Muslim world is as dry as the desert.
Interesting subject to try and develop some cohesive explanations. I have always had a bunch of disjointed ideas on the topic:
- Full implementation and cultural integration of Islam took a few centuries in the Middle East and North Africa. North Africa was still populated by Goths and Vandals (not Arabs) when Islam swept over it. The same culture and place that produced St. Augustine produced mathematicians and scientists a couple of centuries later. The new religion had not penetrated yet.
They had yet to say Insha'Allah (if God wills it) as an excuse for laziness and incompetence like modern Arabs.
- Cultural confidence. Until they were driven out of Spain and Southeast Europe, the Muslims assumed they would prevail over the primitive Christians to their north. Those reversals shook their confidence to the core.
- The usual decay and corruption. The same rot that set in on the Greeks, Romans, and now the Americans when they peaked. After a few centuries of idealism and success, the bureaucrats, theologians, and corrupt aristocracy takes over and malaise sets in.
The accomplishments of the Arab Empire in it's golden era were primarily the accomplishments of its conquered civilizations. They were primarily Byzantine or Persian and, to a lesser degree, Armenian in origin. After Islam had sufficient time to essentially obliterate these underlying civilizations, the golden age and the great achievements of Arab civilization came to an end.
“Nothing in Europe,” notes Jamil Ragep, a professor of the history of science at the University of Oklahoma, “could hold a candle to what was going on in the Islamic world until about 1600.”
Copernicus. While De revolutionibus orbium coelestium wasn't published until 1540, some forms of his heliocentric theory had been done as early as circa 1515.
Medieval philosophers - and clerics- in Christendom such as Roger Bacon and St. Thomas Aquinas helped lay the foundations for the subsequent scientific advancement in Europe. As a Catholic cleric, Copernicus would have studied them.
As Dr. Torch points out , the Dark Ages weren't all that dark, especially by 1300.
The dumb f'ks pissed off the Mongols. When your biggest city, the head of the caliphate and the center of learning and advancement is torched and the skulls of it's denizens mounded into piles 90 feet high scientific and philosophical advancement come to an end.
William O. B'Livion
Clearly, the degree to which the minds of the populace were captive to the religious authorities has varied as much over time as it does from place to place in the Muslim world.
My two cents... The "Golden Age of Islam", is very early in the history of Islam. In other words, "their" demonstrated learning and enlightenment was actually just the continuation of what was going on the Greek, Christian, and Persian areas they conquored. It took a couple of centuries for the Islamic theocrats to firm things up and shut down competing populations. And with it civilization.