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The History and Achievements of the Islamic Golden Age Lecture

The History and Achievements of the Islamic Golden Age

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Publisher's Summary

The study of Western Civilization traditionally follows a well-known but incomplete arc: the grand achievements of Greece and Rome, several hundred years of the Dark Ages, and then the bright emergence of the European Renaissance. But amid the "dark" Middle Ages, the Abbasid Empire, which ruled the Middle East as well as much of Northern Africa and Central Asia from 750 to 1258, serves as a vitally important but often overlooked bridge between the ancient and modern worlds.

The History and Achievements of the Islamic Golden Age is your opportunity to get to know the story and the accomplishments of this great period in human civilization. Taught by acclaimed lecturer Eamonn Gearon, these 24 remarkable lectures offer brilliant insights into an era too often overlooked by traditional history textbooks. You'll meet a wealth of scholars, scientists, poets, and philosophers who paved the way for the Renaissance and continue to affect our world in surprising ways.

For instance, gain insights into:

  • The origins of the scientific method, along with the development of algebra, chemistry, physics, and astronomy as discrete fields of inquiry
  • The invention of the modern "teaching hospital" and a medical encyclopedia that served Europe for the next 600 years
  • The preservation and translation of the world's great literature, from the Hadith (or sayings of Muhammad) to the master works of Greece and Rome
  • Ontological philosophy that served future Jewish, Christian, and Muslim theologians concerned with the nature of God and the relationship between faith and reason

It is nearly impossible to overstate the power and importance of this crucial 500-year history, headquartered in Baghdad but stretching around the world. While much of Europe was quietly passing the time, the Abbasid Empire was an international, multicultural hub of trade, travel, education, art, science, and much more.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2017 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2017 The Great Courses

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  •  
    Vavavoom 13/05/2017
    Vavavoom 13/05/2017 Member Since 2016

    watcher234

    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Well-presented propaganda"

    In recent years, suspicion of and hostility to Islam has grown continuously in the western world, as Muslim immigration has increased, and jihad attacks have become almost routine. Western elites have made an extraordinary efforts to convince their sceptical publics that Islam is not just the fount of horror many of them believe it to be. Part of this propaganda initiative has involved talking up the glories of the supposed Islamic golden age. Professor Gearon's work falls squarely within that tradition.

    Although Gearon acknowledges that many of the greatest achievers were not Muslims, he insists on using the term "Islamic Golden Age" anyway. His excuse: because it's already in widespread use. He constantly asserts, but fails to convincingly demonstrate, that the European Renaissance somehow derived from or depended on the prior "Islamic Golden Age".

    There are many flaws in this strain of Islamophile propaganda. Notably, it implies that "Greek wisdom" would have been lost to Europe if it had not been preserved through intermediate translation into Arabic. There are a few texts of which this is true but its extent has been massively exaggerated. The propagandists tend to ignore the fact that "Greek wisdom" was preserved in the place where it originated, Greece, under the auspices of the Byzantine empire. By rhetorical sleight of hand, they disconnect the Byzantine empire from Europe and argue that Europe should somehow be pathetically grateful to Muslims for having given us back our own knowledge. An absurdity. They also ignore the fact that there was almost zero transmission of "knowledge" from Islamic civilisation to European civilisation until the Muslim polities in Spain were defeated in the Reconquista. In other words, it wasn't convivencia that brought "enrichment" but warfare.

    Professor Gearon makes the Muslim propagandist's case as well as it can be made, but, for me at least, it remains deficient and unconvincing. It's worth listening to, certainly, but in a spirit of scepticism.

    1 of 7 people found this review helpful
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  • Richard
    Malmö, Sweden
    08/08/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "You gotta get smart to see how dumb you are”."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    At first, I hesitated to select this title. Maybe like you, the current situation in many Islamic countries shaded my expectations of what could have been achieved a millenia ago. Now I know. It was enormous.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The History and Achievements of the Islamic Golden Age?

    The scope is ambitious but it manages to sparkle as well. I loved the many, small portraits of the thinkers. E.g. a wily scientist who feigned insanity to escape execution by his sponsor. Or a poet who extolled the delights of getting drunk – in an Islamic country. Human genius, human nature.


    What does Professor Eamonn Gearon bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I love the spoken word. To listen to a story told by a gifted storyteller is pure magic.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I deeply respect the work and dedication that went into it. This is a work that acknowledges the contribution of minds that have borne us further. But the author has labored in an area which has been deprived of both attention and public sympathy. This is true dedication and scholarship.


    Any additional comments?

    This book deserves a broad readership.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Keep It Real
    13/04/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Nothing short of wonderful!"

    Professor Gearon is eloquent, entertaining, passionate and I dare say a polymath himself. He inspires love for the subject. What a pleasure to have such gifted professors!

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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