Monday, December 19, 2005

Religion Series Aside: The House of Wisdom Redux

Several of my recent posts reminded me of a post from earlier this year back on OG-LJ on the House of Wisdom in Baghdad.

That post seemed to anticipate many of the themes that have been coming up in the recent religion posts here (e.g., the circulation of ideas between cultures and the presence of the outside and foreign in what we take to be inside and domestic (e.g., Arabic science in Europe, Greek Philosophy in Mahayana Buddhism)).

The story of the House of Wisdom is one of the most beautiful I've ever heard about the Islamic world. It's one all Muslims should remember and consider. We see one face of Islam today in the images of car bombers, Al Qaeda, et al. But here is another face of Islam: this was a culture that once fostered a tremendous openness to the outside world, a willingness to adopt new ideas, concepts, and philosophies, a fantastic drive to explore the natural world. Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Christians, all worked together in the enterprise of knowledge. There was another golden period of Islamic enlightenment and tolerance in Muslim Spain, but that is for another post.

1 comment:

Mary Hautman Photography said...

i completely agree with you. lots of people today seem to think it hard to believe that we might actualy learn something from our distant ancestors, but the truth is that often times that belief is wrong. wether we learn from thier mistakes or thier triumphs, i think that history needs to stop being regarded as simply useless arbitrary information and start being seen as an improtant resource of information. this might be a bit of a stretch from what you intended with your original post, but hey, blogs are meant for opinions, right?