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By Bernard Lewis

"Full of infrequent and unique information.... A distinct work."—New York assessment of Books

The eleventh-century Muslim global was once an excellent civilization whereas Europe lay snoozing at midnight a long time. Slowly, necessarily, Europe and Islam got here jointly, via exchange and battle, campaign and international relations. The ebb and circulate among those worlds for seven-hundred years, illuminated the following by way of an excellent historian, is without doubt one of the nice sagas of worldwide background. 30 black and white illustrations

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Of the rest of humanity he singles out the chinese language and the Turks as “the noblest of the unlearned peoples,” who're precious of admire for his or her achievements in different fields, the chinese language for his or her ability in handicrafts and within the pictorial arts, and for his or her persistence; the Turks for his or her braveness, their ability within the arts of conflict, their horsemanship, and their talent within the use of the lance, the sword, and the bow. the remainder of mankind ād dismisses contemptuously because the northern and the southern barbarians. Of the previous he comments: the opposite peoples of this team who've no longer cultivated the sciences are extra like beasts than like males. For these of them who dwell furthest to the north, among the final or the seven climates and the boundaries of the inhabited international, the over the top distance of the sunlight in terms of the zenith line makes the air chilly and the sky cloudy. Their temperaments are for this reason frigid, their humors uncooked, their bellies gross, their colour faded, their hair lengthy and lank. hence they lack keenness of knowing and readability of intelligence, and are triumph over through lack of awareness and apathy, loss of discernment and stupidity…7 In those feedback, ād was once expressing the widely approved view of Muslim students of his time. the heart of the realm was once the lands of Islam, stretching from Spain throughout North Africa to the center East and containing inside of itself just about all the peoples and facilities of historic civilization. To the north the Christian empire of Byzantium represented an prior, arrested level of that civilization in accordance with divine revelation which had reached its ultimate and whole shape in Islam. To the east, past Persia, there have been international locations which had completed a few kind of civilized dwelling, albeit of an inferior and idolatrous type. except that there have been in simple terms the white and black barbarians of the outer global within the north and south. it really is with the expansion of Muslim wisdom approximately a few of these northern barbarians that we're right here involved. III On Language and Translation In a fourteenth century Persian paintings on common heritage the author, discussing Europe, comments that “the Franks communicate twenty-five languages, and no humans is aware the language of the other. All they've got in common,” he provides, “is their calendar, script, and numbers. ”1 It was once a normal remark for a medieval Muslim, conversant in the linguistic harmony of the Muslim international within which or occasionally 3 significant languages served, not just the wishes of a slim clerical category (like Latin in western Europe), yet because the powerful technique of common communique, supplanting neighborhood languages and dialects in any respect however the lowest degrees. initially, just one language was once in use between Muslims, and that was once Arabic, the language of the Qur’ān and of the Arab conquerors. For it slow, Arabic used to be almost the only real language of presidency, trade, and tradition within the Muslim lands, changing with fantastic velocity such prior cultural languages as Latin, Greek, Coptic, Syriac, and Persian, which had flourished within the territories now integrated within the Islamic Empire.

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