Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Confucius

Tidbits and notes posted on FB and Twitter. Part 233

Note: I take notes of books I read and comment on events and edit sentences that fit my style. I pay attention to researched documentaries and serious links I receive. The page of backlog opinions and events is long and growing like crazy, and the sections I post contains a month-old events that are worth refreshing your memory

By 1972, the game Spacewar! was popular enough that Rolling Stone sponsored the Spacewar! Olympics. The game became the basis for the first two coin-operated video gamesGalaxy Game and Computer Space—in the early ’70s, and was added to the Library of Congress in 2007.

Un Negationist est un attribu que la Hasbara Zionist attache a une personne reflechi qui ne tombe pas dans le nombre de 6 millions, pas plus, pas moins,  de juifs qui ont passe’ par les chambres a gas Nazi

 In March 29, 1998, the US Food and Drug Administration approved Viagra. A chemical compound called sildenafil citrate (useful to treat blocked arteries) for use as a prescription drug.

New York-based pharma giant Pfizer, tested this drug for only two years to push its little blue pill through the wringer of clinical trials the government requires before it’s called a medication safe and effective. Most drugs take about a decade.

In 1668:Dutch physician Regnier de Graaf discovers erections were the result of increased blood flow to the penis.

Go figure: 75% of Lebanon budget goes to pay public servants,  their retirement and interests on accumulated debt of at least $80 bn. Apparently, 50% of our debt were accumulated to produce public electricity that never materialized on the field of our infrastructure, but we still have to pay the interest and principal on our debt. The civil war militia/mafia “leaders” still rule and control Lebanon.

Go figure: loans borrowed internally by Lebanon government are charged 10% TVA, which are extracted from the poorer classes pockets. Lebanon refrain from foreign loans because they require active control of how projects are executed

March 28, 2018. Over 122,000 Syrians managed to exit Al Ghouta and 68 buses are ready to transfer the terrorist militias and their families to Edleb. (Currently surrounded by Syria armed forces, as the remaining bastion of terror resistance)

The terrorist faction Al Nusra never learn anything: Those transferred to Edleb are shelling the people in the town of Al Fou3a (Shias populated). The reaction is immediate: Russian jets will bomb them instantly and they die there before taking a day off from their crazy ignorant hate mongering of other minorities,

You hear frequently the question: “What is actually your mother tongue?” You may be very conversant in many languages, and more often than not, you may write better in a language that is not your “mother tongue”, meaning you master the grammar, syntax, and technical terminology of the foreign language better than your “mother tongue”, and you feel more comfortable and readier to express your rational thoughts writing in this foreign language.

You may master the writing in a foreign language, but does this mean that you are able to express your spirit and your culture in a foreign language?

First, practice actions in applying moral values before contemplating to study for acquiring knowledge and skills. This is the educational method of Confucius, found in the first chapter of his manuscript “Discussions“, which is the only book historian are sure to be written by Confucius, among many manuscripts attributed to him.

Majless al Inmaa2 wa E3maar ma biyokhda3 ila ayat hay2at rakabiyyat, etlaakan. Wa ma 7aajatana ila haaza al majless  al “radeef” min khaarej al dawlat? 

Limaza UN 3am tetdakhal bi Iraq wa tmaddi 3ala “wathikat sharaf” wa laissa bi Loubnaan aydan? Hal le2anna al taddakhol USA fi Loubnaan taaghi bi $1 milliar safarat?

Shokran baladiyyat Antilias: zabbatet mamar dayye2 lel moushaat bayn share3 wa share3. Kol ma tabbaka min masa7aat 3aamat mokfalat li private Parking lots 

7elo zaman al takaa3od: ma fi drourat tenzal 3ala Beirut lel shoghel wa tsammem badanak

 

Ho Chi Minh (1890-1969): Vietnamese

Many famous nationalist leaders were not nationalist by choice.

For example, the Algerian prince Abdel Kader (1808-1882) was not destined to lead the first popular revolt against the new colonial power of France:  Abdel Kader was a mystic, Sufi, had done the pilgrimage to Mecca as a teenager with his father, and was deeply religious. The leaders of the  tribes elected him to be their Caliph at the age of 24 in order to lead the war against the French troops. After two decades of wars and over 100,000 of French troops amassed to quell the revolt with atrocious mass massacres, and no external support by the Ottoman Empire or any European monarchs, Abdel Kader surrendered and later became the staunchest supporter of France:  He worked hard to rally the Egyptians and clerics to the cause of the project of the Suez canal undertaken by the French government.

Another case is of Simon Bolivar (1783-1830) who reluctantly lead the revolution to freeing all south America from Spanish colonialism in 1826. At 19, he married a Spanish girl (from Madrid), two years older than him, and he was deeply in love and decided to lead a normal life, like his dad did on his vast plantations.  Suddenly, Simon’s wife died four months later from fever and everything changed in his life.  He returned to Europe, Spain and France, on another long trip before he decided to return to Caracas (Venezuela).

Ho Chi Minh or “source of light“, one of the many aliases he used in his clandestine life, was born Nguyen Sinh Cung in Annam or north Vietnam; France was already the colonial power of the current Far East Asian States of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.

Ho Chi Minh didn’t finish his high school in 1909 for lack of finance and his father, a low civil servant at the French administration, was fired for alcohol abuse.  France had change the Vietnamese ideograms into Latin characters called “quoc ngu“.  In 1905, Japan had defeated Russia and the Vietnamese were flocking to Japan for education. Ho Chi Minh decided to go west and boarded a French merchant cargo; he worked in the merchant marine for two years as cabin boy and kitchen helper.

In China of 1912, Sun Yat Sen forced the emperor to abdicate.  Ho Chi Minh is in Marseille (France) in 1913; he is refused the application to attend the Colonial school forming administrators to France.  WWI starts and 92,000 Vietnamese are enlisted in this western war as replacement to French workers in factories and digging trenches.  Ho Chi Minh refuses to participate; he wrote to his Vietnamese mentor in France: “Destiny is reserving us surprises.  Within 4 months destiny of Asia will change.  The hell with those who decided to fight.  We have to wait calmly for the war to end.”

In 1916, Ho Chi Minh is in London and acquiring technical skills in electricity and mechanics.  The “Annamite patriots” are in Versailles in 1919 demanding to be freed from France colonialism.  Ho Chi Minh understood that independence will be earned by violent means and join the French communist party, recently adhering to the Comintern organized by Lenin in the new Russia Bolshevik regime. Ho Chi Minh  wrote: “ I like and respected Lenin because he was a great patriot who liberated his compatriots.”

Thus, Minh sided with the Lenin faction at the 3rd French International that gathered in Tour in 1919; he spoke saying: “The future of socialism is by allying to nationalist forces and taking greater interest in freeing colonized nations that are marching irresistibly toward independence.”

He is suffering famine in Paris but he publishes articles in French communist papers.  From Moscow of 1923, Dimitri Manouilski, commissar of agriculture in Ukraine, summons Ho Chi Minh to attend 18 months at the new communist university, designed to training members in clandestine activities. Ho Chi Minh is then a member of the Peasant International executive bureau, the Krestintern and attends the 5th International Congress in Moscow and sides with Stalin, Zinoviev, and Kamenev against Trotsky (chief of the Red Army who was for an International revolution.)

In 1925, Ho is sent to Canton (China) to train and teach 300 Vietnamese communist refugees, among them is the future Prime Minister Pham Van Dong.  The Chinese communists, lead by Zhu Enlai, Mao Tse tong, and Wang Jingwei enter Shanghai before their ally the nationalists of Tchang Kai-check who foment a massacre against the communists inside the city and expels them.  Moscow is no longer supporting the Chinese Nationalists and Ho is recalled to Moscow.  Ho is sent to Bruxelles, Berlin, and Paris. In 1929, Ho reaches Thailand from Vladivostok and unites various small Vietnamese communist parties into one and appoints Tran Phu as secretary-general.

Ho suffers jails in Thailand and China for more than a year and manages to reach Moscow after crossing 7,500 kilometers that lasted 6 months.  Mao Tse Tong is firmly established in the Hunan and Jiangxi provinces. By 1933, Stalin started the purge: 30,000 army officers will be executed along with the communist leaders.  Ho is feeling the heat and obtains the permission to Joining Mao’s forces and met with a young Vietnamese historian Vo Nguyen Giap (the military mastermind in defeating the US forces in 1973).

In Vietnam of 1940, the Japanese sealed a deal with the French army faction allied to Vichy and are controlling all the air bases and the ports. Ho returns to North Vietnam and settles in a grotto, having carried a typewriter while crossing the frontiers; he eventually forms the Viet Minh and organizes the peasants.  Ho is actively contacting agents for arms and support.  Ironically, only the US comes to the rescue, supposedly to defeating the Japanese in Far East Asia after japan bombarded Pearl Harbor (Hawaii) in December 1941.

The leader of the Trotskyist communist faction, Ta Thu Thau, infiltrated to the north from his bases in south Vietnam; the Viet Minh captured him several times and was released by orders of Ho Chi Minh.  To making a long story short, Ho’s priority was a unified front in the north and decided to eliminate Ta Thu Thau saying: “He was a great patriot and we are crying him.  However, whoever does not follow the line I traced will be broken down.”   Ho tried hard to finding a peaceful resolution with the French and attended the conference in Fontainebleau during 1946 and spent several months revisiting cities and meeting old friends.

By 1951, Ho is receiving arms and financial resources from both China and Russia while the French troops are supplied by the USA. Ho finally defeats the 12,000 French army in Dien Bien Phu in 1954.  In 1955,  France abandons all of Vietnam to the US in order to focus its military resources against the Algerian national resistance.

Ho is now establishing the Viet Cong guerrilla and army to fighting the US troops in south Vietnam.  He died in 1969 as his emissary Le Duc Tho started the peace conference in Paris with Henry Kissinger.  The US will vacate Vietnam in 1973.  Ho Chi Minh spoke fluently four foreign languages: Chinese, French, English, and Russian.  The Chinese ancient philosopher Confucius was Ho’s spiritual master.

Note:  This topic was mainly extracted from the French book “Lighthouses” by Jacques Attali

My “Mother tongue”? Can formal Arabic become a universal language?

You hear frequently the question: “What is actually your mother tongue?”

You may be very conversant in many languages, and more often than not, you may write better in a language that is not your “mother tongue”, meaning you master the grammar, syntax, and technical terminology of the foreign language better than your “mother tongue”, and you feel more comfortable and readier to express your rational thoughts writing in this foreign language.

Does this mean that you are able to express your spirit and your culture in a foreign language?

This is the main role of slang:  You are using slangs in your “mother tongue” that connote deeper meaning and feeling than in any foreign language

Suppose that the other “foreign” party in the conversation is as versed in your mother tongue as you think you are, do you think that he may be able to express the same feeling as you feel?

Frequently, a slang word expresses a way of life that no longer exist because of the advance of modern life styles.

Does that mean we have got to be pragmatic and drop this word from our lexical, as if an expression must necessarily represent current real life?

Do I master my mother tongue?  Do I have one?

I was born in a French colony in Africa (Mali) and lived there to the age of 6 when I fell ill with a deadly disease and barely managed to survive.  Consequently, I must have learned to speak and write in French first, and most probably I was conversant in the Bambara dialect, since I was surrounded by Malian helpers and my closest “guardian angel” was a mute young man:  Thus, I might have learned sign language too.

Bambara is an oral language that was spoken by animist tribes in the current State of Mali with Capital Bamako.

Hampate Ba (see note) wrote that the Bambara tribes aided the French colonizers against the Moslem tribes in Senegal, until Islam became the main religion in Mali.

At age of 6, I was suddenly transferred to another continent and a totally different culture with, supposedly, a weather and climate better suitable to recurring tropical diseases.  I am left in a boarding school in the mountain and run by Christian Maronite monks.  The new formal language is Arabic, but the conversation is done in the Lebanese slang.

Six years later, I had totally forgotten French and barely learned formal Arabic.

I guess my lack of conversational skills could be due to this sudden shift in learning new languages with no proper transition.

My parents used to visit me one of every two summers; I used to spend summers with them as with strangers and never skipped an opportunity to run to my boarding school.

Another social and linguistic trauma was awaiting me.

My parents decided to close shop in Africa after Mali got its independence.  Now, my parents moved me to a French school in Beirut, run by Jesuits.

I had to repeat my year because my French was nil.  By the end of the year I was excellent in French writing and its grammar, but no better in conversing.

The next year, I was reading all the green and rose collections of French books, but none in Arabic.  The school taught us English three hours a week and I was very lousy:  A special teacher was hired to give me an edge in English at no avail or that’s how I felt.

I was good in writing formal Arabic and French but nil in any sort of conversation, excepting Lebanese slang.

Now, I can write in three languages Arabic, French and English, but I decided that English is my writing language:  I did higher education in the USA and lived there, on and off, for 20 years during my adulthood.

Obviously, I learned many US slang words and expressions and I know their meaning, but I would not dare confirm that I master the many slangs in the USA.

Anyway, I never acquired the correct tonality or the right emphasis on syllables:  Who can with 51 US States?  People recognize my French accent, though I don’t remember speaking French for more than 5 minutes at a time and with difficulty. Anyway, speaking in the US is a matter of sustained presence, since slangs keep changing, as their consumer products and services witness high turnover rate.

The Arab/Lebanese slang words and expressions are more natural to me:  I feel at home talking Lebanese, simply because I learned it a kid.  I never miss an occasion to reading Lebanese books that recount and describe the customs and traditions of the various Lebanese communities.

You would be surprised to realize that customs in the mountain regions are basically the same regardless of religion and history.

So, what is my mother tongue?

We all know that translating a slang is never even remotely accurate or capable of expressing the true cultural layers hidden under a slang word.  Unfortunately, we throw around slang words and expressions, simply because we overheard them frequently, but we are not versed in the true meaning of the word and its context that has a long history in our language and helped sustain our cultural way of life for centuries.

Confucius wrote: “First of all, a government should give priority to working on the correct usage of the terminology in the language.  If terminology is not widely correctly understood and uniform, discourse will be disorderly, orders are wrongly misinterpreted, and consequently, most orders stop being executed as intended.  If the forms and rituals are not conveniently stabilized then, social relationship are distorted and customs and rituals neglected, justice is not adequately rendered, and the kingdom is weakened.  Any new law must be enunciated in the clearest of terms and never proclaimed without thorough discussions, lest tyranny shows its ugly head”

A corollary to Confucius statement is that ancient and modern literature, written in a particular language, must be revised for the accurate meaning of words and expressions in their context.   A sustained massive education campaign to initiating newer generations to old manuscripts that reflect the spirit of the collective community must be taken most seriously.

Newer words and expressions disseminated as slang must be added to the language and their distinct meaning explained.

We have a problem with formal Arabic.

Moslem are taught the Koran and they memorize it; thus, they are far more familiar with the Arabic/Mecca language since they learn it as kids.

The other barrier is that formal Arabic words have religious undertone and you can barely find significant words that you can claim to be religiously neutral and expresses your opinions:  Usually, expressions relate to tribal, and nomadic traditional life-style.

Formal Arabic is inhibited by abstract notions that nomads could not appreciate: That is why you find Moslems giving preferences to Hadith (or what people overheard the messenger Muhammad having said) instead of the core religion principles and dogma of the Koran.

And, that is why formal Arabic never progressed to facing the challenges of universality standards in literature.   We cannot even expect the two dozens national Arabic slangs to keeping up with progress and changes since they all borrow words and expressions that are laden with religiously biased.

Consequently, “Arabs” who decided to write in foreign languages are sending the strong message that they do not want to be left out of universal civilization and fast transformations, especially the non-Moslems with positions and different life-styles.

It is difficult to freely express your honest opinion in Arabic, simply because the words are coined in Islamic culture and connote religious meaning, whether you like it or not.

The Lebanese who immigrated to Egypt at the turn of the 20th century did their best to enriching formal Arabic and selecting easier and nicer words.  The end result was just an advantage to Lebanese and Syrians writing in a pleasant language adapted to poetry, theater plays, and novels.

Note:  Amadou Hampate Ba (1900-1991) had said: “In the oral civilization of Africa, once an old wise man dies it is an entire library that closes.”  Hampate Ba spent his life documenting the stories, myths, and historical accounts of clans and tribes living in western Africa of Senegal, Mali, Burkina Fasso, and Ivory Coast.  He loved sitting around a bonfire at night listening to the “marabout and grios” telling their lively stories and taking notes.  He accumulated and  compiled vast numbers of documents that are still being regrouped and put in print.

The “Good man” of (Confucius 551-479): Practice moral values first then, study

“Young people should prove to be good sons in the family, polite and respectful in society, prudent and loyal, liking the company of good men.  After learning and applying these moral values, you feel you have energy to acquiring knowledge, then study and read.”

Thus, practice actions in applying moral values before contemplating studying for acquiring knowledge and skills. This is the educational method of Confucius, found in the first chapter of his manuscript “Discussions“, which is the only book historian are sure to be written by Confucius, among many attributed to him.

The next precept of Kongfuzi (Master Kong), renamed Confucius by the Jesuits in China, is:

“A man of quality eats moderately, requires no comfort in his house, is diligent in business, equitable in his opinions, cultivate doing what is right, and seek the company of wise people.  These qualities demonstrate that the man loves to study“.

The expression “Plenitude of humanity” is even more frequent in his book than the word “junzi” or man of goodness, which is a consequence for becoming a qualified good man.  The good man is necessarily above the elite class of the aristocratic members and feudal lords:  He has mastered determination by virtue, merit, and competence.

Zilu, one of the favorite disciples of Confucius asked: “Master, what would be your priority if you became monarch?”  Confucius replied:

“First of all, I will work on the correct usage of the terminology in the language.  If terminology is not widely correctly understood and uniform, discourse will be disorderly, orders are wrongly misinterpreted, and consequently, most orders stop being executed as intended.  If the forms and rituals are not conveniently stabilized then, social relationship are distorted and customs and rituals neglected, justice is not adequately rendered, and the kingdom is weakened.  Any new law must be enunciated in the clearest of terms and never proclaimed without thorough discussions, lest tyranny shows its ugly head”

During and before Confucius period, China was experiencing one of its tumultuous and bloody medieval ages:  the Emperor of the oriental Zhu dynasty was a figure-head, and provinces were governed by powerful princes with armies.  Confucius was born in the least powerful of provinces, Lu.

The structure of society was highly hierarchical: The scholars transferred from a prince to another nobleman,  simply to live in the entourage of the nobility and teaching the offspring of the noble classes.  The most known books for teaching are: “Canon of poems“, “Book of mutations or Yijing” “Memoirs  on rites”, “Etiquette and rituals”, and “Canon of history or Shujing.

Confucius’ father remarry a second time at the age of 64; he already had 9 daughters.  The new-born boy has a large protuberance on his head and thus, is named Qiu, better known as Confucius.

At around that period, Pythagoras is founding a secret cult based on the magic of numbers; Buddha is preaching his message in India, and Darius, the all-powerful monarch of Persia, has conquered most of the Mediterranean Sea countries, including Egypt.

At the age of 26, Confucius is minister of public works in the province of Lu.  He meets Lao-tse (Taoist religion admonishes not to disturb the equilibrium in nature) who told him: “A brilliant man risks his life by pinpointing the faults in princes.  A learned man is exposed to danger as he divulges the weaknesses of mankind”

Eventually, Confucius becomes prime minister and wages successful military campaigns.  At the age of 50, Confucius is out of favor because he didn’t approve of the prince changing the law without discussions and inputs from counselors   Confucius  spends 10 years of errand with a few of his disciples, suffering hunger and isolation.

Once, he was lost in a city, his disciples were searching for him, and a guy told them: “He must be the one looking like a monarch with a large forehead and behaving like a dog who lost his master.”  Confucius told his disciple: “Looking like a monarch could be controversial; but the description of a dog searching for his master is absolutely correct.

Confucius wrote: “Respect and work on yourself.  How can you govern and guide your family and community if you neglect working on your limitations, weaknesses, and potentials?

At the age of 72, Confucius had compiled “Book of documents” and “Annals of Springs and Autumns”

China successive political regimes adopted Confucius teachings as guiding rod, except during China Cultural Revolution of the 1970’s that didn’t last long.

Note:  This biography was inspired from the French book “Lighthouses” by Jacques Attali, in which he investigates the teachings and hard life of 24 characters from all regions, religions, and spanning history from antiquity to modern age.

The written language has been invented seven thousand years ago in southern Iraq and the kingdoms of Sumer, Babylon, Akkad and Assyria managed to have sophisticated administrative systems, precise calendars, and astronomic knowledge.  The alphabet was discovered five thousand years ago in the City-State of Byblos (Phoenicia, and current Lebanon).  

The Phoenicians instituted a maritime civilization and were the masters of the Mediterranean Sea for over 6 centuries (1300 to 600 BC) in trades, commerce and artisanal skills; they established “democratic” City-States where the City-State inhabitants would elect representatives in the noble and aristocratic classes.  The Phoenicians built trading centers or villages along the coasts and in all the Islands.

The Canaanites, of which the Phoenicians were the maritime branch, had established City-States along the main rivers (Euphrates and Al Assy rivers) such as Marie, Homs, Hama, Jerusalem, Antiochus…The Phoenicians built Thebes in Greece, centuries before Athens existed.  Alexander would completely destroy Thebes before leading his army to current India’s borders.

Pre-Socratic philosophers immigrated from the eastern part of the Mediterranean City-States (current Turkey, Syria, and lebanon) to Athens in order to educate its noble citizens to the art of rhetoric, dialectic, and math in order for the aristocratic class to having an edge for successfully running to political positions. They were paid handsomely as teachers and that is why they flocked to Athens:  Democratic Athens had high demand of the intellectual and administrative skills of the Phoenicians.

In China, Confucius was instituting his moral system for good governance and the raising of the “good man”: “Practice good morality in society before studying sciences and acquiring knowledge.”

Socrates battled with the sophism (wise attitudes) of these teachers who turned philosophy into an art of rhetorical clever communication; Socrates instituted a school of rational dialogue.  Platon, a disciple of Socrates, transcribed the dialogues and instituted his own school of philosophy in Athens.  Aristotle, was a student at Platon’s school for 18 years and he established the experimental method (empiricism) for rational investigations (into cause and effects phenomena and categorized matters and scientific fields of studies, backed by advances in arithmetic and geometry.

Aristotle’s works would have gone into oblivion, as so many manuscripts of famous scholars, if not for the Phoenician scholars who translated, commented, interpreted Aristotle’s works into their Aramaic language (spoken by Jesus), later called Syria.  The newly built city of Alexandria became a lighthouse of knowledge; scholars translated scientific, religious, and philosophical manuscripts and invented new fields of sciences.

In India of the 3rd century BC, the monarch Asoka ruled for 35 years and sent missionaries and delegates to all the known civilized world such as Syria, Egypt, Greece, and Persia and resurrected the Buddhist religion that was verging into oblivion amid the Hindu continent.  Asoka chiselled in 84,000 huge stone columns the principles and laws of Buddhism and his laws (dharma) dispersed thousands upon thousands of these columns at every major road intersections.  The island of Sri Lanka became Buddhist at that period.

Hundreds of Christian sects dominated the landscape of the Near East, from Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Turkey, and Greece. Every sect had its particular religious books for sources of belief and a style of living.  Mostly, they relied on the Jewish laws and differed on the nature of Jesus.  The Virgin Mary was rarely mentioned as source of devotion or as a saint.  

In Alexandria around 320, a priest known as Arius explained that Jesus is a distinct entity than God and that the Holy Ghost proceeds only from God.  This line of theology is accepted by the Goths, the Ostrogoth, and all the people in Germany and in Eastern and central Europe.

In 325, Emperor Constantine decided that Christianity (barely representing 10% of the population) should be the official religion of the Byzantium Empire, though he remained pagan.  The New Christian Church was modified to include three Gods (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost for Virgin Mary) as the pagans were accustomed to worshiping trinity of  Gods.  The pagan symbolism and pageantry were included in Catholicism after the conclave of Nicaea.  

Since this conclave, the Roman/Byzantium Empire was wracked in civil wars among dozens of Christian sects or schisms known as heretics and supported by various monarchs and princes.  Among those sects we have the Homeans, the Anomoean, the Monophysitism, the Nestorians (that would advance with its message into China and translate its version of the New Testaments into Chinese), … One of the schism settled in Mecca (Arabic Peninsula); the uncle of the Prophet Muhammad was the Patriarch of the sect and Muhammad was his closest assistant. The Roman/Byzantium Empire would wage internal religious/political battles ways into the 13th century.  Frequently, two Popes would be elected, backed by a coalition of monarchs.  Then another cycle of internal religious wars would restart in the 16th century with Protestantism, Calvinism, and Huguenot.

In the 6th century AC, the Roman scholar and politician Anicius Boethius (Boece) translated and commented Aristotle’s works into latin.  Aristotle’s works had to wait the Arab/Islamic Empire to settle in Damascus (around 660) before his works are resurrected from oblivion. Why?

Prophet Mohammad had encouraged and demanded that Moslems seek knowledge, even from China. Muhammad said that many verses in his message are confusing and needed the interpretation of scholars.  Muhammad said: “Science is more meritorious than prayer.  A single man of  science has more power over demon than a thousand devotees.  Among the servants of God, only scholars fear God.”  Thus, Moslem scholars undertook to translate available knowledge into the Arabic slang of Mecca from the Syriac manuscripts relying heavily on the “Syrian” scholars and later, on the persian scholars during the Abbassid dynasty.  

There is this anecdote told by Calif Al Maamun: “I met Aristotle in my dream and I ask him “What is considered good?”  Aristotle replied: “What is good to reason.”  I asked: “And after reason?  He replied: “What is shown as good in revelation”  I said: “And after?”  He replied: “Good is what consensus agrees on” I said: “And after?”  Aristotle said: “There is no more of what after.”

The Syrians, Christians and Moslems, endeavored to translating the works of Platon, Aristotle, Galen, Plutarch, and Plotin (the Enneades that summarize Aristotle’s theology).  Geometry of Euclides, astronomy and medicine are taught in freshly built Arabic universities.  In the 7th century, Al Kindi wrote: “Though the Greek scholars fell short in sciences, they opened up the instruments for acceding to multiple types of knowledge.”   Al Farabi insisted on the necessity of separating intellectual speculation from rational reflection.  Ibn Sina (Avicenna) wrote in the 10th century, 300 manuscripts, of which 50 are in scientific fields and 40 in medicine; one particular medical book, the  “Canon of medicine” was taught in western Europe as a fundamental course till the 18th century.  The physician Ibn Zhur (Avenzoar), living in Andalusia, is reputed in all Europe.  The geographer Al Idrissi is considered in Europe as the “geography professor”.  Ibn Bajja made the apology of sciences and learned people; he said: “Ignorant people see the world as if they lived in a cavern and the only light they received was a diffused one:  They could discriminate among colors, and thus, have no coherent knowledge of the real nature.”

In the 12th century, many tribes in Central Asia and the Caucasus converted to Islam and were the backbone of the Islamic army by then.  These new converts believed literally in the Koran and refused any rational interpretations or commentaries.  Islamic civilization started its steady decline since then, except in Iran and Andalusia (Spain).

Papal Rome, backed by rich merchants, galvanized the Christians into a series of crusading campaigns in the Near East.  The official purpose was to liberating Jerusalem from the Moslem “infidels”; the tacit goal was capturing Egypt for direct maritime route for the spice and aroma trade coming from Far Eastern Asia Islands.  The rich merchant families and nobility in Europe got addicted to spices and aromatic products and prices were increasing by frequent wars along the land caravans in Moslem Kingdoms.  Three targeted campaigns to invading Egypt failed and the merchants were reluctant to investing in the established mini Christian Kingdoms in the Near East.  The fourth crusading campaign in 1204 sacked Constantinople and reduced the Byzantine Emperors to figure heads.

Then Ibn Rushd was born in the 12th century in Cordoba (Islamic Andalusia) and wrote: “Have no fear searching for truth in sciences.  Truth cannot contradict truth; sciences is in accord with God’s revelations; God has nothing to fear when you use your rational intelligence to discovering the universe and the causes of phenomenon”:   That is basically what Ibn Rush (known as Averroes) tried to convey to civilization through his abundant writings in medicine, sciences, astronomy, philosophy, jurisprudence, and theology.  Ibn Rush, known as “Al hafid” (the grandson of the famous judge of the city) published abundant books; among them, 88 volumes on Aristotle’s works in 20,000 pages supplied with commentary and interpretation.

Moise ibn Maimuna (Maimonides), 12 years younger than Ibn Rushd and originally from Cordoba, was at the period settled in Cairo and was the official physician of the Caliph.  Maimonides was the direct beneficiary of Ibn Rushd rational and scientific works.  He wrote: “We may dispense of Platon’s works:  Aristotle’s works suffice since they are the foundations and roots of scientific rational methods.  Aristotle’s works cannot be comprehended without the commentaries of Ibn Rushd.”

In 1497, Papal Rome encouraged the institution of a university in Padoua (Italy) to teaching Aristotle’s works and be translated directly from ancient Greek.  It was a strategy of ignoring the influence of Islamic culture that was spreading in Catholic Europe.  The Renaissance scholars dared not communicate the sources and references of their knowledge and learning. Since then, European scholars have continued this custom of deliberately ignoring seven centuries of Islamic civilizations when accounting for western Europe civilization.


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October 2020
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