Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Umayyad Dynasty

Islamophobia is anathema to rational thinking; (October 18, 2009)

 

            Islam is quickly becoming an integral religion in the Western world.  There is a growing sense of uneasiness for Islam devotees: they pray at least three times a day facing Mecca (the Kaaba) and take seriously the fasting month of Ramadan. The various Christian sects barely practice their religion; the “Christians” mostly use their religion as political platforms during voting seasons to discriminate among cultures for the “proper way of life”.  A recent scandal broke out in England: the government is wire taping the Moslems on ground of social study.  In France there was an attempt at disqualifying Arabs as carrier of any philosophical civilization that could have impressed on European Renaissance.  The Arabic media didn’t respond to “Aristotle on Mount St. Michelle” simply because the book talked of philosophical import and didn’t discuss the scientific aspects.

            The main confusion in Europe or in the Arab/Islamic world is about what Empires we are alluding to: Arabic Empires (culture) or Islamic Empires (civilization) and how to discriminate among the cultures of each one of the Empires.  The modern nationalistic models (brainchild of emerging Europe) could not correspond to ancient models of thinking and thus, the attempts to explaining past Empires with modern models of what constitute a nation is confusing research and biasing facts with awkward interpretations.

            In all periods, elites of Empires needed an ideology to assure the articulation of various heritages (Arab, Persian, Byzantium, Roman, Greek, and Aramaic).  The unstable structure of ancient Empires frequently pressed upon its elites to rethink the new culture of the emerging Empire and re-construct it via a mould where diverse elements were poured in (ethnicity, community, belief systems, and language).  Thus, social thinkers struggled to present a coherent understanding of the new Empire; the purpose was not an erudite analysis for posterity but to get the new Empire functioning properly.

            This post is meant to investigate the allegation that European civilization is fundamentally the heritage of ancient Greece civilization.  I have examined the contention that “Europe civilization is because of Christianism”, a proposal that I refuted in a previous post (read “The Barbaric Catholic Church of Rome”) where the centralized church prohibited the influx of “heretic” scientific manuscripts to Europe from the Near Eastern Byzantium Empire and later from the Islamic Empire till way the 16th century.

            The best route for this examination is to consider two civilizations that imbibed the Islamic Empires.  The first Umayyad Arabic Empire 650 to 800 AC had for Capital Damascus; the culture in the Near East in that period was principally Hellenistic in the sense that scholars and educated people wrote in two languages, the Greek and Syriac languages (Aramaic dialect developed in Edesse, current Turkey) ; the common people spoke the language of the land or Aramaic.  Aramaic is the root language for Hebrew and the various local languages, especially the two Arabic branches that were spoken in Mecca and in Yemen.  It is in this period that lasted 150 years that translation of Greek and Syriac manuscripts into Arabic received its impetus.  Translation of Greek works to Syriac continued way into the 9th century. The people easily assimilated the spoken Arabic of Mecca and gave Arabic its proper alphabet and grammar.

            The second period can be called the Islamic Empire when the Capital was re-located to the newly erected city of Baghdad (Baghdad was to become the largest metropolis in this Empire of over one million inhabitant); this Islamic civilization was marked by the Persian culture and language with high import from India: trade was cut off with Europe for many centuries first during the Mamluk Empires after kicking out the last remnant of the Crusaders and later the early Ottoman Empire as Constantinople fell in around 1450. 

            The Umayyad Dynasty exported to Islamic Persia the embryo of the current scientific works and the nascent Islamic philosophy (falsafa); the more developed scientific works were later mostly written in Persian language; the same scholars wrote the disciplines that were related to religion, philosophy, rhetoric, legal, mathematics, and algebra, in Arabic because they were needed for the proper function in the administration of the Empire.  Educated and cultured people who were familiar with Greek works met in “salons” (majalis) to discuss on various subjects, philosophical incursions into the possible, the intellect, the sensibility and the soul. 

            Schools of learning were erected and knowledge was no longer the prerogative of the initiation of master to disciple for rich people. By the first century of Islam (8th century), schools were exploding everywhere with targeted practical disciplines (algebra, geometry, arithmetic, trigonometry, jurisprudence, theology (kalam), science of tradition (hadith), history, linguistic, lexicography, math combinatorial analysis, cryptography, and grammar) mainly to support the functions of the Empire administration and train cadres for offices such as fiscal, heritage, religious calendar, and army logistics. The schools were inspired by different traditions such as Greek, Persian, Indian, and Syriac).  By the second century of Islam specialized schools in theoretical mathematics, medicine, physics, optics, and astronomy were booming.

            The first acknowledged Moslem philosopher Al Kindi (9th century) admitted that Aristotle was the most eminent Greek philosopher and wrote: “We have to thank the prior thinkers who shared with us what is right; they made it more accessible to us researching the truth and they provided the premises that leveled the way for what is true.  Offering reasons and demonstrations are part of the acquisition process in the sciences for veracity. Those strangers to scientific inquiries are trafficking in religion even though they have got no religion: indeed the one who sells one thing does no longer belong to him.”

            Personally, I tend to attribute the name of Islamic civilization for the import of scientific disciplines such as mathematics, astronomy, medicine, physics, optics, and chemistry.  Arabic civilization should be restricted to the Umayyad Dynasty period in matters of rhetoric, legal, practical mathematics, Kalam (reflection on the world according to the Koran paradigm), grammars, language, and the import of any outside scientific knowledge that the Old World reserved in Constantinople, Persia, India, and China.

            A follow up post will demonstrate that European Renaissance in the 16th century was fundamentally Islamic scientifically; the decentralization of the Christian power away from Rome was also inspired by the decentralization nature of Islam as a religion.  The title is “Europe’s Renaissance is Islamic”.  It is worthwhile for researchers not to confuse the recent period of Islamic radical decadence with early Islamic civilization that lasted from 650 to 1100 AC in the Orient and then re-surfaced in Andalusia (Spain) from 800 till 1400 AC.  After 1400 AC Christian Spanish monarchs chased out the Moslems and Jews from their kingdom; the Catholic Church in Rome instituted the Inquisition to harass the new converts to Christianity.

Who are we, the inhabitants of the Mediterranean Sea shores? (Part 2; March 1, 2008)

 

Sidon (Saida) and Tyr (Sour) in Lebanon built trading posts all around this Mediterranean Sea,  promoting commerce and exercising their own brand of beliefs and traditions.

Elissa, a daughter of the king of Tyr, fled and built Carthage in Tunisia.  Once Carthage solidified its institutions, it built Cadis (Cadesh) in Spain, and thus controlling the entrance to the Atlantic Ocean. Carthage aimed for a higher level of trade by taking hold of the strategic isthmuses in the Mediterranean Sea such as Messina (Sicily and Italy) and the strait of Gibraltar that leads to Portugal, Britain and Ireland.

 No maritime commerce could be undertaken without landing in one of Carthage “contoires” or trading posts. Carthage conquered most of the islands like Sardinia, Corsica, Cyprus, and Sicily and settled in Spain.

The Phoenicians dominated all the Mediterranean Sea trade for over one thousand years

The maritime power of their Greek competitor had been destroyed by invasions coming from the north (the Philistine), and left the Phoenicians masters of the sea.  The barons of this tertiary industry or the commissioning of maritime and even land transports of goods, from one producing country to consuming countries, were located in either Tyr or Sidon.

These barons hired rammers and soldiers and workers from all over the region. They had also their own sophisticated depots and handled the transactions from beginning to end and exported contracting jobs and skilled workers. 

The main Phoenician cities, and especially Tyr and Sidon, concentrated on the secondary industries where semi finished goods were transformed into quality products. The Phoenicians applied the current colonial trade strategies thousands of years ago, without the backing of indigenous military power such as the Greek and especially the Roman Empires did.

 

It is worth mentioning that the Canaan entrepreneurs didn’t focus much on the artistic part in their culture, or in their constructions and monuments during periods of autonomy, but they lavished their ingenuity when they were under the domination of powerful Empires so that they could rely on “State funding” for great and beautiful monuments. (Revenues generated from taxes they paid to the occupying force)

The Arab Islamic conquest of this region didn’t contribute much in the numbers of immigrants, since the Arabian Peninsula was scarcely populated and the glory of this Empire in the sciences, medicine and the translation of ancient cultures were rooted first on the scholars in Syria and Lebanon during the Umayyad dynasty, then the Persians during the Abbasid dynasty, and the various Moorish dynasties that ruled Spain (mainly Andalusia).

The main inhabitants of northern Africa, Spain, the southern parts of France and Italy and the eastern countries of the Mediterranean Sea are essentially immigrants from Central Asia, Iran, East Africa and Egypt after having settled in Canaan for several centuries.  

The wave of immigrations were East to West, except in few periods were the skilled workers were transferred under duress by conquering Monarchs to build new emerging capitals by the Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians, Genghis Khan and Tamerlane the Moguls.

I tend to consider that the northern shores of the Mediterranean Sea, which includes Greece, were mostly immigration waves coming from Eastern Europe, but the culture, the religions, and the trades were mainly the endeavors of the Canaan’s population, of which the Phoenicians are the famously known mariners and comprador traders.

The northern Turkish sea shore were natural extention to the eastern shores, though the central Turkish plateau witnessed successive waves of immigration from the Caucasus region. 

The current Christian residents of Mount Lebanon are a mixture of two big waves of immigrations:

The first wave occurred after the conclave of Nicee in 325 during Emperor Constantine.  In that epoch, the new friend of the Christians, Emperor Constantine, who lived as a pagan most of his life, summoned to the conclave all the bishops of the various Christian sects.   This major event transformed drastically the Christian doctrine and dogma as well as the church institution.  The conclave decided by a slight majority to confer divine nature to Jesus, declared his mother Mary a virgin, selected only four Books to represent the New Testament as orthodox and banished the hundreds alternative versions that were available at the time and banished women from the clergy institution and ordered the bishops to done luxurious attire and then gradually introduced the pagan symbols to lure in the pagans to the newly adopted religion and then gave the pagan festivities Christian meanings and connotations. 

Most of the so-called heretic Christian sects that were comfortable with the temporal nature of Jesus and Mary and had their selected preferred and unified versions of the New Testament had to flee persecutions to inaccessible mountains.  Those living in Turkey moved to the Anatolian Plateau, Kurdistan, Armenia and the Caucasus and those in Syria and Palestine moved to Mount Lebanon.

The second major modern wave of immigration occurred around the year 1000 when Byzantium recaptured the western shores of Turkey from the Seljouk dynasty and the “Orthodox” Christian sects chased out the other “heretical” Christian sects such as the Maronites living on the Oronte River.

The Mameluk Empire had dislodged the last remaining Crusaders’ strongholds and stopped the drive of the Mogul invasion in Palestine. I believe that the new fundamentalist converts to Islam in Central Asia and Kurdistan, the regions of which the Mameluks originated from, exercised great zeal to solidifying the Sunni Moslem sect.  Mount Lebanon was a refuge for these Christian immigrants and the archeological finds show that women wore multi layers of colorful dresses as currently wore in these remote regions. 

This natural Nation, comprised of the current States of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine, is self-contained; self sufficient and well delimited by natural borders, but was never able to constitute an independent political entity in modern time.

This natural Nation by any criteria of what define a Nation simply was opened to the expansion of far more populous Nations under highly centralized governments on all its borders, and because it proved to be a major crossroad for immigrations westward. 

It is the case even today at a more accelerated pace after the US invasion of Iraq and the strategic plan of the US to controlling the Greater Middle East in a Pax Americana.

Note: Before the Arab hegemony that started in around the year 640, almost all the family names and cities were Aramaic or having Aramaic roots.  The fourth caliph, Imam Ali, once wrote that his ancestors before “Kusai” had Aramaic names and that his tribe Kuraich (an Aramaic name) came from “Kawssa” nearby the current city of Kufa in Iraq. 

The Aramaic language survived the Persian, Hellenistic, and Roman periods until way into the Arabic period. 

The Arab language, the language of the Koran, is basically a branch of Aramaic and the spoken Arab is a dialect. It is well known that Christ spoke Aramaic and before Jesus died on the crucifix he addressed his God Eely for abandoning him to his destiny. 

Eel was the name of the Aramaic God and not Jehovah, a tribal God, of the strict Jews in Judea.

The Koran uses an Aramaic root for Eel such as Elle and Allah.


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adonis49

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