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The other plus for me it that through Ibn Tofel's arguements you get a really nice insight into the thoughts and scientific knowledge of his day or so years ago One of my favorite books. A philosophically inspiring read and just goes to show that God gives all we need from our Intellect, body and Mother Nature, to both find God and discover how to situate ones life around Him. A story relevant for all religions concerning being One with God and Loving people of other faiths.

The story itself is fantastic, five stars all the way. The problem is the overly pretentious, long-winded introduction that references Walden and Lord of the Flies. That gets about three stars, so I averaged the two for the final rating. Despite some interesting points, the intro is overall unnecessary.

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If you read this book, take my advice and skip over the intro. This is considered to be the first philosophical novel written. And it's no easy read; it took me forever to reach the last page. But that doesn't mean it isn't worth the effort. It is quite brilliant in content, only taxing in the way it reads; but for a novel written in the 12th century and translated to English in the s, this is to be expected. Hayy was the most brilliant clay boy ever to roam the earth or, the earth's wee island.

He solved all the philosophical and natural cruxes of his day by being observant and Yay for a university that bases an entire class on this! This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. How to rate a book about philosophy linked with religion you don't believe in? Well, by emotions, I guess. And I definitely didn't see this as world view I can embrace. But it was extremely interesting book, as an excursion to 12th century Islamic philosophy.

Hayy Ibn Yaqzan was a pretty cool dude.

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Some interesting parts, would not recommend this book. A beautiful connection between the astronomical strands of thought of the ancient Greeks and Copernicus. The Abbasids were influenced by the Qur'anic injunctions and Hadith such as "the ink of a scholar is more holy than the blood of a martyr" that stressed the value of knowledge and reason, and were also more cosmopolitan than the Umayyads, being allied with the Persian Barmacids and less ethnocentrically focused on the narrower tribal culture of the Kureysh, the original tribe of Muhammad.

The rise of Islam was instrumental in uniting the warring Arab tribes into a powerful empire. The Abbasids claimed authority as belonging to the same family and tribe to which the Prophet Muhammad belonged, and were for that reason considered holy. During this period the Arab world became an intellectual center for science, philosophy, medicine and education; the Abbasids championed the cause of knowledge and established the House of Wisdom Bait-ul-Hikmat at Baghdad, where both Muslim and non-Muslim scholars sought to translate and gather all the world's knowledge into Arabic, and also the second court language Persian.

The Arabs displayed a remarkable capacity of assimilating the scientific knowledge of the civilizations they had overrun. Many classic works of antiquity that might otherwise have been lost were translated into Arabic and Persian and later in turn re-translated into Turkish, Hebrew and Latin. Thomas Aquinas, for example, gained crucial familiarity with the works of Aristotle through translations into Arabic and then into Latin accompanied by the commentary of the great Muslim Aristotelian scholar Ibn Sina Avicenna.

During this period the Arab world was a collection of cultures which put together, synthesized and significantly advanced the knowledge gained from the ancient Roman, Chinese, Indian, Persian, Egyptian, Greek, Byzantine and Phoenician civilizations. The decimal system and "zero" travelled from India into Arabic culture during this time and in 9th century it was popularized in the Islamic regions by the Persian mathematician al-Khwarizmi.

Later in 12th century the renown Western monk Abelard introduced what Westerners call "Arabic Numerals" to Europe, but which the Arabs themselves termed "Hindsi" or "Indian Numerals," indicating their true origin. They also began the use of Algebra and advanced logarithims in order to solve complex mathematical problems. There is little agreement on the precise causes of the decline in Arabic creativity and intellectual leadership ending the Islamic Golden Age, but in addition to the devastating invasion by the Mongols and crusaders with the destruction of libraries and madrasahs, it has also been suggested that political mismanagement and the stifling of "Ijtihad" independent reasoning in the 12th century in favor of institutionalised "Taqleed" imitation and uncritical following of precedent played a part.

Muslims believe the Quran to be verbally revealed through Angel Gabriel Jibril from God to Muhammad gradually over a period of approximately 23 years beginning from AD, when Muhammad was 40, to AD, the year of his death. Muslims regard the Quran as the main miracle of Muhammad, the proof of his prophethood and the culmination of a series of divine messages to humanity that started with the messages revealed to Adam, regarded in Islam as the first prophet, and continued with the Scrolls of Abraham Suhuf Ibrahim , the Tawrat Torah of Moses, the Zabur Tehillim or Psalms of David, and the Injil Gospels of Jesus.

The Quran assumes familiarity with major narratives recounted in Jewish and Christian scriptures, summarizing some, dwelling at length on others and in some cases presenting alternative accounts and interpretations of events. The Quran describes itself as a book of guidance, sometimes offering detailed accounts of specific historical events, and often emphasizing the moral significance of an event.

Regardless of whether one believes or disbelieves in the Koran, equally as in the case of whether one believes or disbelieves in the Christian or Jewish Bible, it is an inescapable necessity for every educated person to read and be familiar with these works as literature if one has any hope of understanding World Literature, Western Literature, Islamic and Arabic Literature, English, French, German, Russian or any national literature of any culture affected by their influence.

No one can understand English or American Literature without familiarity with the King James and other versions of the Bible, the words, phrases, style and stories and themes of which permeate and recur in Shakespeare, Donne, Milton, and a thousand believing and unbelieving authors and works. Similarly, any understanding of German Literature is impossible without knowledge of the Bible of Luther. The Koran thus takes its place in World Literature by virtue of its shaping influence on the mindset and consciousness of over one billion Muslims across dozens of nations, cultures and literatures as well as the cultural foundation of dozens of Muslim authors and works of worldwide importance such as Rumi, Attar, Hafiz, the Thousand and One Nights, Mafouz Naguib, Ghalib and others.

Thus it is required reading, at least in part, for any Citizen of the Republic of Letters or of the modern world, alongside the Bible, the Buddhist Sutras such as the Fire Sermon, the Bhagavad Gita and the Dao De Ching, as part of the common heritage of mankind. Compared to the Bible, the Koran is a much shorter work, lacking the extended historical accounts and chronicles of the Old Testament and the multiple repetitive Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John of the New Testament, and can be read in a relatively short time in translation by most people for basic familiarity.

The basic theme of the Koran is that of monotheism, an invocation to belief and adherence to the single God, Allah, of Muhammad, who is also conceived as the same God of the Christian and Jewish Abrahamic tradition, albeit with differences of understanding with the other religions. A good deal of the Koran is concerned with laying down rules of behaviour in common life, religious practice and society, as the Suras were broadly used for instruction of the Ummah, or new congregation of Islam in Mecca and Medina during Muhammad's life as he recited them.

In the Koran Moses and Jesus are considered fellow prophets of Allah, though Jesus is not considered as the son of God as in the Bible. A large part of the Koran contains exhortations to belief in its one God Allah and adherence to its rules of behaviour, with the bliss of paradise as promised reward and certain damnation in Hell as the consequence of failure to do so. Similar to the Bible, a significant part of the Koran focuses on the coming Apocalypse, or end of time and the consequent Last Judgment of all souls. At that time Arabic culture was largely based on oral tradition, with poetry at its center.

For a nomadic people such as the Bedoin Arabs, poetry was the main reservoir of the people's knowledge and expression of their very existence. Poets were highly honored, attaining even what today we might term "superstar" status. The poetry was the poetry of the tribe or clan, articulating its legends, heroes, geneology, iteration of its strong "tribal code" of norms and exploits. Celebrated poets included traditionalists such as Imru 'al-Qays, the "Brigand Poets" or poets who individualistically broke with the control of their tribes and lived outside the tribal system, and the celebrated Pre-Islamic woman poetess Al-Khansa.

Al-Khansa put women in a central place in her poetry. A traditionalist in one sense, she wrote poems of lament for brave fallen heroes of her tribe, such as her fallen brothers, yet celebrated the women who remained alive and powerful in keeping life going and honoring and transmitting the proud warrior values to their children, despite the vicissitudes of battle, defeat and victory. She made women's role in the symbolic order potent and visible, even in a patriarchal tribal society.

Hafiz was a master of interweaving the erotic and the mystic through superb linguistic craftsmanship and intuitive insight. Some stanzas from his "The House of Hope" give some feel for his themes, often sensual and melancholy: The house of hope is built on sand, And life's foundations rest on air; Then come, give wine into my hand, That we may make an end of care.

Look not to find fidelity Within a world so weakly stayed; This ancient crone, ere flouting thee, A thousand bridegrooms had betrayed. Take not for sign of true intent Nor think the rose's smile sincere; Sweet, loving nightingale, lament: There is much cause for weeping here. What envying of Hafiz's ease, Poor poetaster, dost thou moan?

To make sweet music, and to please, That is a gift of God alone. He is the archetypal sensual, erotic and profligate poet and Baghdad court favorite of the Caliph. He wrote pangyric poetry as well as heterosexual and homosexual ghazals, and handled Bacchic poems of "wine, women and song" with incomparable skill. He wrote with an existential edge to his Epicurean ethos that embraced every kind of pleasure and satisfaction.

His death is a subject of legend, some saying he died in prison for writing blasphemous verse, others that he died in a whorehouse, some saying he was murdered in reprisal for lampooning a powerful court personage, and still others that he died peacefully in his sleep in the home of a learned Shi'ite scholar. Originally an academic scholar and professor, he was persuaded by a wandering Sufi mystic, Shams al-Din Tabrizi, to take up the Sufi life and put the love of God at the center of his existence.

Striving after divine illumination in diverse ways, from devout meditation to the ecstatic pleasures of wine, sexuality and the Dervish entrancement of dance, he emphasized a devotion to a spiritualized love that disregards rites and convention and concentrates on inner feeling and approach to the ecstatic infinite. His odes have been chanted by Hadjj pilgrims on the road to Mecca for centuries and are sung with the greatest reverence even today. Basra was also the location of the annual Al-Mirbad literary festival of Arab and Islamic culture that took place yearly featuring competitions and debates on philosophical issues, and at which he was renown for his wit, cutting humor, endless anecdotes and depth of knowledge.

His book "Spiritual Leadership" was praised at the court in Baghdad by the Caliph al-Mamun, who appointed him as court scribe, personal secretary and speech writer. His monumental work the "Book of Animals" is the first encyclopedia on animals and zoology. His most famous work is the "Book of Misers" which is a unique portrait gallery of human characters rich in their contradictions and ironies. It features an acute analysis of the passion of avarice, satirical and comic narratives, and cutting insight into human psychology.

Ibn Rushd and Ibn Sina played a major role in saving the works of Aristotle, whose ideas came to dominate the non-religious thought of both the Christian and Muslim worlds. They would also absorb ideas from China and India, adding to them tremendous knowledge from their own studies. Ibn Sina and other speculative thinkers such as al-Kindi and al-Farabi combined Aristotelianism and Neoplatonism with other ideas introduced through Islam.

Avicenna argued his famous "Floating Man" thought experiment, concerning self-awareness, where a man prevented of sense experience by being blindfolded and free falling would still be aware of his existence, perhaps a forerunner of Descartes "cogito ergo sum""I think therefore I am. A great spiritual searcher, he attended debates and salons in Basra and Baghdad, then embarked on thirty years of wandering, perpetual fasting, meditation, contemplation and silence in search of Sufi enlightenment.

His pilgrimage to Mecca led to further enlightenment and he began to attract large numbers of followers, breaking the normal Sufi practice of esoteric secrecy by public preaching, including reform of corrupt clerics. His movement was perceived as a threat by the highly corrupt religious establishment, and he suffered a fate similar to Jesus and the Apostles. Corrupt clerics accused him of blasphemy and he was imprisoned in Baghdad eight years, tortured, half-killed and exhibited on a scaffold. The Caliph, failing to force him to recant his beliefs, finally had him decapitated, burnt and his ashes scattered into the Tigris River.

One of its characters Mohammad ala Rushdie is a novice Sufi of the Mevlevi Order, writer and also an activist for the creation of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly. He is taken hostage by terrorists and meets the Supreme Leader of Iran, later reciting to him a short story he has written "The Supreme Leader and the Three Messiahs," reminiscent of Dostoyevski's "The Grand Inquisitor" set in an Islamic setting.

Part of the plot of the novel involves a geopolitical conspiracy of an allied China-Russia-Iran to execute a Pearl Harbor-like sneak attack invasion of the Middle-East oil reserves to sever the "oil jugular" of the West, leading to a threatened WWIII. It is foiled by a cosmic quest of the protagonists intoa mythic dimension and a change of heart in the Iranian Supreme Leader following a visit of the Angel Jibreel Gabriel who commands him to "Open the Gates of Ijtihad" or creative reasoning against the tradition of blind precedent and conformity to the past as a means giving rebirth to the spirit of the lost Islamic Golden Age and preventing Armageddon and World War III.

I have a friend who was an erstwhile archeologist. Not Zahi Hawass, digging piles of gold from the sands of ancient Egypt but a local archaeologist who worked for a municipality in England. Clearing lands and approving building permits, excavating ancient Roman latrines or guardhouses. Its important work in the old places, because the deeper we go, we find that when a layer of civilization is brushed away often times another is found beneath, and another beneath that in the great story of humani I have a friend who was an erstwhile archeologist.

Its important work in the old places, because the deeper we go, we find that when a layer of civilization is brushed away often times another is found beneath, and another beneath that in the great story of humanity. Philosophy is like this. Each generation picks up something from the one before, who had learned from before and before that going back to the very foundations of writing — of thinking.

The Greeks, most often. And the Bible, the old testament or the Torah ; Moses and Aristotle, everything comes from them. Only for those who read, that is; something that happens less and less in these days of perpetual outrage and haughty ignorance. Tufayl was born in Almohad Al-Andalus, in the little town of Guadix north of Granada in the 12th century, at the height of Caliphate control of Iberia.

He was a doctor, a philosopher, a theologian, and a poet. Tufayl was, above all, a thinker. How this tale shaped the course of European thought in the 17th century and during the Enlightenment presents a fascinating example of the travel of ideas across religious, cultural and linguistic boundaries. At the end of the short book, he is finally taken from the island to attempt to share his knowledge with man, only to be met by failure as he realizes that men are illogical and nasty — and he finishes his story admonishing them to hold tightly to religion because left alone the natural state of humanity is evil.

It is old and ornate and beautiful; full of wisdom and tradition and purpose. The preservation of Greek philosophy and the importance of mono-theistic theology have led those societies for a time to sit at the apex of civilization, and the works of their collective minds are still strewn across the deserts of Africa. And their commitment to reason and understanding still influences us, through its pre-eminent place in our own philosophical traditions. Why did Ibn Tufayl write the story of Yaqzan?

Regardless to whichever Religion you believe in, this book says it all. It distinguish Human from all other species. It tells you how our nature with all what we possess in it, is very unique and therefore is for a reason, that we can obtain and comprehend by any way and in any spot on earth. This was a fascinating read.

Ibn Tufail's thread of reasoning which traced the path of logic and intuition that allowed Hayy to discover the presence of God was very interesting. I personally felt that Ibn Tufail theory relied too heavily on the existence of the soul. A lot of his argument involved sense-observation experiments designed to prove the transience of matter. Whilst this is all okay; I felt that his argument veered more into fantasy when Hayy began his quest for enlightment.

I still This was a fascinating read. I still wasn't clear whether Hayy was journeying through a spiritual landscape with different stages every time he closed his eyes and meditated. I also did not agree with some of Ibn Tufails latter constructs when detailing Ibn Tufail's spiritual journey. For example at some point Hayy see's a place populated with the souls of dead people. Len Goodmans notes also revealed the degree to which Ibn Tufail and other philosphers were influenced by Aristotle.

Philosophical novel think Sophie's World written in 12th century Al-Andalus. It tells an intriguing story of a man, dumped in an isolated island since newborn, who discovers truths as known by 12th century Ibn Tufayl by his own reason. This include things like forms and matters, Aristotelian cosmology, biology, medieval medicine, and knowledge of God.

Hayy Bin Yaqdhan:Ibn Tufail by Ibn Tufayl (4 star ratings)

Not all these "truths" make sense in the context of modern science e. Aristotelian cosmology , so the book can also serve as an readable ex Philosophical novel think Sophie's World written in 12th century Al-Andalus. Aristotelian cosmology , so the book can also serve as an readable explainer on why past thinkers thought like that. Probably those are more than what's necessary. Also I suggest reading the novel first, and then optionally the intro which serve as post-reading discussion or explanation. Unusual parable about human development towards mystical union.

Islamic rational-mysticism of what the translator calls "radical monotheism. Ibn Tufayl describes at length Hayy's speculations and the trajectory of his experiences. There is an enormous focus on turning away from the sense-world, as it is seen following Platonic influence as a "bad co Unusual parable about human development towards mystical union. There is an enormous focus on turning away from the sense-world, as it is seen following Platonic influence as a "bad copy" of the truth. Hayy achieves the beatific vision in part through asceticism.

Frequent mentions of his "contempt" for the "vile" material world of generation and decay. That is, Hayy seems quite firmly in the realm of seeking disembodied transcendence. Goodman's introduction is fantastic and the notes are more than thorough. Hayy once hes grows up begins to philosophically question the nature fo everythign around him and comes to realise that there must be a God or a being that creaeted everything. Goodman did an outstanding job of presenting us the tale, filling in its contexts, helping us get our heads into Medieval Moslem Spain and appreciating the magnitude of Ibn Tufayl's accomplishment in dreaming up this fabulous boy, Hayy Ibn Yazqzan.

The only thing I missed was some history of the manuscripts' multiplication and travel. The big day was in the late s when Pococke picked up a copy in a bazaar which had been edited, it turned out, by a Jewish scholar. The story of the story's tra Goodman did an outstanding job of presenting us the tale, filling in its contexts, helping us get our heads into Medieval Moslem Spain and appreciating the magnitude of Ibn Tufayl's accomplishment in dreaming up this fabulous boy, Hayy Ibn Yazqzan. Rather than being some sort of mental feral child, he is remarkably intelligent.

Ibn Tufayl describes Hayy's which literally means "life" life in periods.

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The first 7 years, he basically suckles off his mother deer and does little else. The next 7, he starts manipulating the nature around him and protecting his food. And so on. Somewhere along the way, Hayy's mother deer dies, and Hayy is left to fend for himself. He goes through a sort of emotional crisis, not only because she provided him with food and the like, but because he had not previously encountered death at such a close range. He realises that his mother's dead body is not what he loves, but her "soul", and so he becomes acquainted with the notion of spirits.

After cutting up her body and arriving at her heart, he comes to the conclusion that living beings are more than physical. This marks the beginning of his intellectual foray into spirituality. Through the use of his intelligence and reason, he comes to the conclusion that some Being, independent of all creation, exists and is the cause of all natural existence.

Ibn Tufayl describes Hayy's arguments in great detail, and Hayy's attempts at rationalizing the existence of a God and trying to connect with Him form the crux of the first half of the book. Eventually, through denying himself worldly pleasures it's a 7 star island , Hayy experiences a mystic experience, which confirms his previous beliefs about God. Ibn Tufayl is very clear that no words can describe what Hayy experiences, and uses an analogy to very imperfectly explain the experience.

Through his efforts and intelligence, Hayy attains true understanding and knowledge of God. The second half of the book is about two men, Absal and Salaman, who find Hayy and take him to a civilized society. Hayy learns the language and encounters Islam there though I'm not sure if the religion was actually named and recognises it as the true religion, symbolically preaching the truths that Hayy has experiential knowledge of. Both are principled, but Absal is a man who is also interested in the esoteric side of religion, while Salaman is more literal in his approach, the two representing different interpretations of religion in Ibn Tufayl's time.

In fact, Absal found Hayy when he went to seclude himself on an island. Absal is pretty much euphoric that Hayy exists, as he represents everything that Absal is striving towards, and takes him back home to teach others. In society, Hayy is confused as to why the true religion has draped truth in symbols, and he is eager to expound upon the symbols based on his own experience: Hell, Heaven, God, and so on. However, he finds that most men, while in awe of him, are prejudiced against anything that challenges their preconceptions and even get angry at him.

Eventually, Hayy realises that religion aims to improve the lives and morals of society through laws and symbols. In the famous words of Colonel Jessep, "[They] can't handle the truth!

Hayy Bin Yaqdhan:Ibn Tufail

Hayy, having never met another human being, believes in God solely because of his reason, and even manages to attain mystic experiences without any influence of organised religion. Reading as a history of mankind, it was interesting to see how beliefs in divinity may have evolved in primitive societies, spurred on by superstition and fear. Hayy is lucky that he didn't become animistic. However, I found the premise of the second half far more interesting; namely, that organised religion hides truths in symbols because a common man can't handle it.

Ibn Tufayl presents most people as being inherently incapable of contemplating the barefaced truth, and writes that most of the great men in [Islamic] history wrote in such a way that the truth of their words would be understood by the learned, while the masses continued to remain decent folk because religion dumbed down truth to their intellectual level.

It reminded me of what Jesus said in the Bible about parables: "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.

I really enjoyed Lenn Goodman's introduction. It provided a good mindset with which to approach the book, and had value of its own, not the least of which was making me reconsider my beliefs on free will. The translation is very accessible and easy to read, and since it's written like a story, it's a quick read too.

The Story of Tufayl

You'll probably spend longer thinking about it than reading it. Star taken off because it didn't really make me believe in God in spite of Hayy's arguments, but I suppose that's more of a personal failing than the book's fault. Philosophical novel from 12th century by Ibn Tufail about a baby born and raised by a deer on an isolated island without any human interaction.

Major theme is that all roads lead to god. A controversial view is that Ibn Tufail was an atheist and meant the total opposite, i. Short and eas Philosophical novel from 12th century by Ibn Tufail about a baby born and raised by a deer on an isolated island without any human interaction.

Short and easy read… a must for its classic and philosophical value in times of early Islam A light philosophical book- if there is ever such a thing- took me two weeks to read pages. Its about how to get to know God through observing his beautiful creations and a bit one whats man's place in this universe. The other plus for me it that through Ibn Tofel's arguements you get a really nice insight into the thoughts and scientific knowledge of his day or s A light philosophical book- if there is ever such a thing- took me two weeks to read pages.

The other plus for me it that through Ibn Tofel's arguements you get a really nice insight into the thoughts and scientific knowledge of his day or so years ago One of my favorite books. A philosophically inspiring read and just goes to show that God gives all we need from our Intellect, body and Mother Nature, to both find God and discover how to situate ones life around Him. A story relevant for all religions concerning being One with God and Loving people of other faiths. The story itself is fantastic, five stars all the way.

The problem is the overly pretentious, long-winded introduction that references Walden and Lord of the Flies. That gets about three stars, so I averaged the two for the final rating. Despite some interesting points, the intro is overall unnecessary. If you read this book, take my advice and skip over the intro. This is considered to be the first philosophical novel written. And it's no easy read; it took me forever to reach the last page. But that doesn't mean it isn't worth the effort. It is quite brilliant in content, only taxing in the way it reads; but for a novel written in the 12th century and translated to English in the s, this is to be expected.

Hayy was the most brilliant clay boy ever to roam the earth or, the earth's wee island. He solved all the philosophical and natural cruxes of his day by being observant and Yay for a university that bases an entire class on this! This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. How to rate a book about philosophy linked with religion you don't believe in? Well, by emotions, I guess. And I definitely didn't see this as world view I can embrace.

But it was extremely interesting book, as an excursion to 12th century Islamic philosophy. Hayy Ibn Yaqzan was a pretty cool dude. Jan 24, Greg Collver rated it it was ok. Some interesting parts, would not recommend this book. A beautiful connection between the astronomical strands of thought of the ancient Greeks and Copernicus.

Aug 12, Robert Sheppard rated it really liked it Shelves: book-reviews-by-robert-sheppard , indian-literature , british-literature , spiritus-mundi , classics-of-world-literature , islamic-literature , novel-in-world-literature , english-literature , iranian-persian-literature , spiritual-novels. The Abbasids were influenced by the Qur'anic injunctions and Hadith such as "the ink of a scholar is more holy than the blood of a martyr" that stressed the value of knowledge and reason, and were also more cosmopolitan than the Umayyads, being allied with the Persian Barmacids and less ethnocentrically focused on the narrower tribal culture of the Kureysh, the original tribe of Muhammad.

The rise of Islam was instrumental in uniting the warring Arab tribes into a powerful empire. The Abbasids claimed authority as belonging to the same family and tribe to which the Prophet Muhammad belonged, and were for that reason considered holy. During this period the Arab world became an intellectual center for science, philosophy, medicine and education; the Abbasids championed the cause of knowledge and established the House of Wisdom Bait-ul-Hikmat at Baghdad, where both Muslim and non-Muslim scholars sought to translate and gather all the world's knowledge into Arabic, and also the second court language Persian.

The Arabs displayed a remarkable capacity of assimilating the scientific knowledge of the civilizations they had overrun. Many classic works of antiquity that might otherwise have been lost were translated into Arabic and Persian and later in turn re-translated into Turkish, Hebrew and Latin. Thomas Aquinas, for example, gained crucial familiarity with the works of Aristotle through translations into Arabic and then into Latin accompanied by the commentary of the great Muslim Aristotelian scholar Ibn Sina Avicenna. During this period the Arab world was a collection of cultures which put together, synthesized and significantly advanced the knowledge gained from the ancient Roman, Chinese, Indian, Persian, Egyptian, Greek, Byzantine and Phoenician civilizations.

The decimal system and "zero" travelled from India into Arabic culture during this time and in 9th century it was popularized in the Islamic regions by the Persian mathematician al-Khwarizmi. Later in 12th century the renown Western monk Abelard introduced what Westerners call "Arabic Numerals" to Europe, but which the Arabs themselves termed "Hindsi" or "Indian Numerals," indicating their true origin. They also began the use of Algebra and advanced logarithims in order to solve complex mathematical problems. There is little agreement on the precise causes of the decline in Arabic creativity and intellectual leadership ending the Islamic Golden Age, but in addition to the devastating invasion by the Mongols and crusaders with the destruction of libraries and madrasahs, it has also been suggested that political mismanagement and the stifling of "Ijtihad" independent reasoning in the 12th century in favor of institutionalised "Taqleed" imitation and uncritical following of precedent played a part.

Muslims believe the Quran to be verbally revealed through Angel Gabriel Jibril from God to Muhammad gradually over a period of approximately 23 years beginning from AD, when Muhammad was 40, to AD, the year of his death. Muslims regard the Quran as the main miracle of Muhammad, the proof of his prophethood and the culmination of a series of divine messages to humanity that started with the messages revealed to Adam, regarded in Islam as the first prophet, and continued with the Scrolls of Abraham Suhuf Ibrahim , the Tawrat Torah of Moses, the Zabur Tehillim or Psalms of David, and the Injil Gospels of Jesus.

The Quran assumes familiarity with major narratives recounted in Jewish and Christian scriptures, summarizing some, dwelling at length on others and in some cases presenting alternative accounts and interpretations of events. The Quran describes itself as a book of guidance, sometimes offering detailed accounts of specific historical events, and often emphasizing the moral significance of an event. Regardless of whether one believes or disbelieves in the Koran, equally as in the case of whether one believes or disbelieves in the Christian or Jewish Bible, it is an inescapable necessity for every educated person to read and be familiar with these works as literature if one has any hope of understanding World Literature, Western Literature, Islamic and Arabic Literature, English, French, German, Russian or any national literature of any culture affected by their influence.

No one can understand English or American Literature without familiarity with the King James and other versions of the Bible, the words, phrases, style and stories and themes of which permeate and recur in Shakespeare, Donne, Milton, and a thousand believing and unbelieving authors and works. Similarly, any understanding of German Literature is impossible without knowledge of the Bible of Luther. The Koran thus takes its place in World Literature by virtue of its shaping influence on the mindset and consciousness of over one billion Muslims across dozens of nations, cultures and literatures as well as the cultural foundation of dozens of Muslim authors and works of worldwide importance such as Rumi, Attar, Hafiz, the Thousand and One Nights, Mafouz Naguib, Ghalib and others.

Thus it is required reading, at least in part, for any Citizen of the Republic of Letters or of the modern world, alongside the Bible, the Buddhist Sutras such as the Fire Sermon, the Bhagavad Gita and the Dao De Ching, as part of the common heritage of mankind. Compared to the Bible, the Koran is a much shorter work, lacking the extended historical accounts and chronicles of the Old Testament and the multiple repetitive Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John of the New Testament, and can be read in a relatively short time in translation by most people for basic familiarity.

The basic theme of the Koran is that of monotheism, an invocation to belief and adherence to the single God, Allah, of Muhammad, who is also conceived as the same God of the Christian and Jewish Abrahamic tradition, albeit with differences of understanding with the other religions. A good deal of the Koran is concerned with laying down rules of behaviour in common life, religious practice and society, as the Suras were broadly used for instruction of the Ummah, or new congregation of Islam in Mecca and Medina during Muhammad's life as he recited them.

In the Koran Moses and Jesus are considered fellow prophets of Allah, though Jesus is not considered as the son of God as in the Bible. A large part of the Koran contains exhortations to belief in its one God Allah and adherence to its rules of behaviour, with the bliss of paradise as promised reward and certain damnation in Hell as the consequence of failure to do so.

Similar to the Bible, a significant part of the Koran focuses on the coming Apocalypse, or end of time and the consequent Last Judgment of all souls. At that time Arabic culture was largely based on oral tradition, with poetry at its center. For a nomadic people such as the Bedoin Arabs, poetry was the main reservoir of the people's knowledge and expression of their very existence. Poets were highly honored, attaining even what today we might term "superstar" status.

The poetry was the poetry of the tribe or clan, articulating its legends, heroes, geneology, iteration of its strong "tribal code" of norms and exploits. Celebrated poets included traditionalists such as Imru 'al-Qays, the "Brigand Poets" or poets who individualistically broke with the control of their tribes and lived outside the tribal system, and the celebrated Pre-Islamic woman poetess Al-Khansa. Al-Khansa put women in a central place in her poetry. A traditionalist in one sense, she wrote poems of lament for brave fallen heroes of her tribe, such as her fallen brothers, yet celebrated the women who remained alive and powerful in keeping life going and honoring and transmitting the proud warrior values to their children, despite the vicissitudes of battle, defeat and victory.

She made women's role in the symbolic order potent and visible, even in a patriarchal tribal society. Hafiz was a master of interweaving the erotic and the mystic through superb linguistic craftsmanship and intuitive insight. Some stanzas from his "The House of Hope" give some feel for his themes, often sensual and melancholy: The house of hope is built on sand, And life's foundations rest on air; Then come, give wine into my hand, That we may make an end of care. Look not to find fidelity Within a world so weakly stayed; This ancient crone, ere flouting thee, A thousand bridegrooms had betrayed.

Take not for sign of true intent Nor think the rose's smile sincere; Sweet, loving nightingale, lament: There is much cause for weeping here. What envying of Hafiz's ease, Poor poetaster, dost thou moan? To make sweet music, and to please, That is a gift of God alone. He is the archetypal sensual, erotic and profligate poet and Baghdad court favorite of the Caliph. He wrote pangyric poetry as well as heterosexual and homosexual ghazals, and handled Bacchic poems of "wine, women and song" with incomparable skill.

He wrote with an existential edge to his Epicurean ethos that embraced every kind of pleasure and satisfaction. His death is a subject of legend, some saying he died in prison for writing blasphemous verse, others that he died in a whorehouse, some saying he was murdered in reprisal for lampooning a powerful court personage, and still others that he died peacefully in his sleep in the home of a learned Shi'ite scholar.

Originally an academic scholar and professor, he was persuaded by a wandering Sufi mystic, Shams al-Din Tabrizi, to take up the Sufi life and put the love of God at the center of his existence. Striving after divine illumination in diverse ways, from devout meditation to the ecstatic pleasures of wine, sexuality and the Dervish entrancement of dance, he emphasized a devotion to a spiritualized love that disregards rites and convention and concentrates on inner feeling and approach to the ecstatic infinite.

His odes have been chanted by Hadjj pilgrims on the road to Mecca for centuries and are sung with the greatest reverence even today. Basra was also the location of the annual Al-Mirbad literary festival of Arab and Islamic culture that took place yearly featuring competitions and debates on philosophical issues, and at which he was renown for his wit, cutting humor, endless anecdotes and depth of knowledge. His book "Spiritual Leadership" was praised at the court in Baghdad by the Caliph al-Mamun, who appointed him as court scribe, personal secretary and speech writer.

His monumental work the "Book of Animals" is the first encyclopedia on animals and zoology. His most famous work is the "Book of Misers" which is a unique portrait gallery of human characters rich in their contradictions and ironies. It features an acute analysis of the passion of avarice, satirical and comic narratives, and cutting insight into human psychology.

Ibn Rushd and Ibn Sina played a major role in saving the works of Aristotle, whose ideas came to dominate the non-religious thought of both the Christian and Muslim worlds. They would also absorb ideas from China and India, adding to them tremendous knowledge from their own studies. Ibn Sina and other speculative thinkers such as al-Kindi and al-Farabi combined Aristotelianism and Neoplatonism with other ideas introduced through Islam.

Avicenna argued his famous "Floating Man" thought experiment, concerning self-awareness, where a man prevented of sense experience by being blindfolded and free falling would still be aware of his existence, perhaps a forerunner of Descartes "cogito ergo sum""I think therefore I am. A great spiritual searcher, he attended debates and salons in Basra and Baghdad, then embarked on thirty years of wandering, perpetual fasting, meditation, contemplation and silence in search of Sufi enlightenment.

His pilgrimage to Mecca led to further enlightenment and he began to attract large numbers of followers, breaking the normal Sufi practice of esoteric secrecy by public preaching, including reform of corrupt clerics. His movement was perceived as a threat by the highly corrupt religious establishment, and he suffered a fate similar to Jesus and the Apostles. Corrupt clerics accused him of blasphemy and he was imprisoned in Baghdad eight years, tortured, half-killed and exhibited on a scaffold.

The Caliph, failing to force him to recant his beliefs, finally had him decapitated, burnt and his ashes scattered into the Tigris River. One of its characters Mohammad ala Rushdie is a novice Sufi of the Mevlevi Order, writer and also an activist for the creation of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly. He is taken hostage by terrorists and meets the Supreme Leader of Iran, later reciting to him a short story he has written "The Supreme Leader and the Three Messiahs," reminiscent of Dostoyevski's "The Grand Inquisitor" set in an Islamic setting.

Part of the plot of the novel involves a geopolitical conspiracy of an allied China-Russia-Iran to execute a Pearl Harbor-like sneak attack invasion of the Middle-East oil reserves to sever the "oil jugular" of the West, leading to a threatened WWIII. It is foiled by a cosmic quest of the protagonists intoa mythic dimension and a change of heart in the Iranian Supreme Leader following a visit of the Angel Jibreel Gabriel who commands him to "Open the Gates of Ijtihad" or creative reasoning against the tradition of blind precedent and conformity to the past as a means giving rebirth to the spirit of the lost Islamic Golden Age and preventing Armageddon and World War III.

I have a friend who was an erstwhile archeologist. Not Zahi Hawass, digging piles of gold from the sands of ancient Egypt but a local archaeologist who worked for a municipality in England.


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Clearing lands and approving building permits, excavating ancient Roman latrines or guardhouses. Its important work in the old places, because the deeper we go, we find that when a layer of civilization is brushed away often times another is found beneath, and another beneath that in the great story of humani I have a friend who was an erstwhile archeologist. Its important work in the old places, because the deeper we go, we find that when a layer of civilization is brushed away often times another is found beneath, and another beneath that in the great story of humanity.

Philosophy is like this. Each generation picks up something from the one before, who had learned from before and before that going back to the very foundations of writing — of thinking. The Greeks, most often. And the Bible, the old testament or the Torah ; Moses and Aristotle, everything comes from them.