The House of Wisdom
How Arabic Science Saved Ancient Knowledge and Gave Us the Renaissance
Jim Al-Khalili 2011 Penguin 509.1749 ALK Beav.Lib.
Good introduction to Islamic scientific development, 800 to 1500 AD. I read only parts of the book, no time. All dates CE.
Author born in Baghdad, left for Britain (mother) in 1979.
- p20 Muhammad: b570, revelation 610, hijra 622, death 632
- p23 Yarmuk 626 Khalid defeats Byzantines p24 Uymayyads 661-750, Abbasid to 1250
- Al-Ma'mūn, Persian tutor Ja'far, patron of House of Wisdom (approx 820 to xxx) and Mu'tazilites rationalists
- Al Kindi, approx 800 to 873
- p52 to p66, Jābir ibn Hayyān (c. 721 - c. 815) of Kufa, experimental chemist
- much discussion of what Jābir wrote vs later authors, and the much later divergence of chemistry and alchemy
p172 Abū Rayhān Al-Bīrūni 973-1048: The stubborn critic would say: `What is the benefit of these sciences?' He does not know the virtue that distinguishes mankind from all the animals: it is knowledge, in general, which is pursued solely by man, and which is pursued for the sake of knowledge itself, becaise its acquisition is truly delightful, and is unlike the pleasures desirable from other pursuits. For the good cannot be brought forth, and evil cannot be avoided, except by knowledge. What benefit then is more vivid? What use is more abundant?
- p230 compares al-Ma'mūn to Rennaisance Medici
- p231 marked drop in Islamic scientific output between 1200 and 1600 "struggle against fragmentation and religious conservatism"
p232 al-Ghazāli 1058-1111 Incoherence of the Philosophers misused by subsequent muslims
- p234 slow uptake of printing press because it did not mimic calligraphy
- p243 1996-2003 Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) nations spent 0.34% on scientific research compared to global average of 2.36%
- p243 OIC 10 scientist, engineers, and technicians per 1000 compared to world average of 40, and 140 for the developed world
- p244 Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad - many mosques, no bookshops
- p245 Nobel Physicist abd al-Salām ecommunicated by Pakistan in the 1970s
- p246 two Ishfahan madrassa imams: "the Qur'an is not a textbook on mathematics or physics, or on medicine or astronomy. It is a book that tells a billion Muslims how to live their lives and seek God's wonders of creation by observing the workd around them, by acquiring knowledge through scientific inquiry. This need never conflict with or threaten their spiritual beliefs."
p248 Education City Doha Qatar. KAUST, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology $10B Jeddah Saudi Arabia
p249 SESAME "Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East" in Jordan.