Racines de l’Europe: Attention, un scandale peut en cacher un autre (Sylvain Gouguenheim taken to task for supposed revelations of well-established facts)

Hunayn ibn Ishaq al-\'Ibadi (alias Joannitius, 809?-873, XIIth cent. manuscript)Les racines de l’Europe sont autant musulmanes que chrétiennes. Jacques Chirac
Pendant plus de trois siècles, du VIIe au Xe siècle, la « science arabo-musulmane » du Dar-El-Islam fut donc en réalité une science grecque par son contenu et son inspiration, syriaque puis arabe par sa langue. La conclusion est claire : l’Orient musulman doit presque tout à l’Occident chrétien. Et c’est cette dette que l’on passe souvent sous silence de nos jours, tant dans le monde musulman que dans le monde occidental. Sylvain Gouguenheim
En ce qui me concerne, j’ai, en revanche, « répété crescendo » depuis les années 1980 que le haut Moyen Âge latinophone avait préservé une partie du corpus philosophique de l’Antiquité tardive, distingué deux âges dans l’histoire de la circulation des textes d’Orient (chrétien, puis musulman) en Occident, l’âge gréco-latin et l’arabo-latin, marqué la différence entre « philosophie en Islam » et « philosophie de l’islam », mis en relief le rôle des Arabes chrétiens et des Syriaques dans « l’acculturation philosophique des Arabes » et souligné la multiplicité des canaux par lesquels les Latini s’étaient sur la « longue durée » (le « long Moyen Âge » cher à Jacques Le Goff) réapproprié une partie croissante de la pensée antique. Alain de Libera

Chirac-Normale sup, même combat!

Comme d’habitude, l’intérêt des scandales ou polémiques, c’est ce qu’ils révèlent sur ce qui était jusque là considéré comme la normalité …

Ainsi, alors que la polémique contre l’ouvrage de Sylvain Gougenheim rebondit et s’enfle avec la pétition d’historiens publiée il y a deux jours par Libération …

Le grand public ignorant (dont nous sommes: n’étant ni historien ni n’ayant en plus – comme apparemment certains pétitionnaires – eu le temps de lire l’ouvrage) découvre la « parfaite banalité » de nombre de ses prétendues « découvertes ».

A savoir que tout le monde sait depuis longtemps que, si on a bien compris, la (re) découverte des grands textes philosophiques et scientifiques grecs par l’Occident chrétien a commencé dès le VIe siècle et donc sans l’apport des traducteurs arabes et du monde islamique …

Que « l’Aristote gréco-latin est ainsi acquis dès le haut Moyen Age », (« l’Aristote de Boèce ») puis, au XIIe siècle, avec « les nouvelles traductions gréco-latines de Jacques de Venise » …

Que les dhimmis chrétiens aient pu avoir une part décisive dans cette transmission puisque c’est en fait des chrétiens arabes (comme Hunayn Ibn Ishaq, alias Joannitius) qui assurèrent les traductions du grec au IXe siècle …

Et que ni Avicenne ni Averroès ne savaient le grec (comme d’ailleurs ni Abélard ou Thomas d’Aquin) …

Que les musulmans censés nous avoir tout apporté aient pu avoir eux-mêmes déjà à l’époque des réactions antiscientifiques et antiphilosophiques (comme les chrétiens, comme en témoignent les interdictions d’Aristote par les autorités ecclésiastiques dès les débuts de l’Université à Paris) …

Que le christianisme ait pu être le « moteur de l’appropriation du savoir grec », du fait que les Evangiles ont été écrits en grec (à côté certes du rôle de la Rome païenne) …

Que l’islam et la langue arabe aient pu alors présenter une difficulté particulière à la traduction des concepts et de la pensée grecque …

Et qu’enfin, alors que les écrits d’une ancienne membre de l’équipe d’Himmler ont apparemment toujours leurs entrées dans la littérature concernée, un historien puisse se référer à un auteur ayant osé écrire une contre-enquête sur la bienveillance et les douceurs notoirement christiques de Mahomet et sur les prétendus dangers, pour la France et l’Occident, d’un islam déjà écrasé par l’oppression occidentale …

Oui, l’Occident chrétien est redevable au monde islamique
Un collectif international de 56 chercheurs en histoire et philosophie du Moyen Age
Libération
30 avril 2008

Historiens et philosophes, nous avons lu avec stupéfaction l’ouvrage de Sylvain Gouguenheim intitulé Aristote au Mont- Saint-Michel. Les racines grecques de l’Europe chrétienne (Seuil) qui prétend démontrer que l’Europe chrétienne médiévale se serait approprié directement l’héritage grec au point de dire qu’elle «aurait suivi un cheminement identique même en l’absence de tout lien avec le monde islamique». L’ouvrage va ainsi à contre-courant de la recherche contemporaine, qui s’est efforcée de parler de translatio studiorum et de mettre en avant la diversité des traductions, des échanges, des pensées, des disciplines, des langues. S’appuyant sur de prétendues découvertes, connues depuis longtemps, ou fausses, l’auteur propose une relecture fallacieuse des liens entre l’Occident chrétien et le monde islamique, relayée par la grande presse mais aussi par certains sites Internet extrémistes. Dès la première page, Sylvain Gouguenheim affirme que son étude porte sur la période s’étalant du VIe au XIIe siècle, ce qui écarte celle, essentielle pour l’étude de son sujet, des XIIIe et XIVe siècles. Il est alors moins difficile de prétendre que l’histoire intellectuelle et scientifique de l’Occident chrétien ne doit rien au monde islamique !

Il serait fastidieux de relever les erreurs de contenu ou de méthode que l’apparence érudite du livre pourrait masquer : Jean de Salisbury n’a pas fait œuvre de commentateur ; ce n’est pas via les traductions syriaques que ce qu’on a appelé la Logica nova (une partie de l’Organon d’Aristote) a été reçue en Occident ; enfin, et surtout, rien ne permet de penser que le célèbre Jacques de Venise, traducteur et commentateur d’importance, comme chacun le sait et l’enseigne, ait jamais mis les pieds au Mont-Saint-Michel ! Quant à la méthode, Sylvain Gouguenheim confond la présence d’un manuscrit en un lieu donné avec sa lecture, sa diffusion, sa transmission, ses usages, son commentaire, ou extrapole la connaissance du grec au haut Moyen Age à partir de quelques exemples isolés. Tout cela conduit à un exposé de seconde main qui ignore toute recherche nouvelle – notons que le titre même de son livre est emprunté à un article de Coloman Viola… paru en 1967 ! Certains éléments du livre sont certes incontestables, mais ce qui est présenté comme une révolution historiographique relève d’une parfaite banalité.

On sait depuis longtemps que les chrétiens arabes, comme Hunayn Ibn Ishaq, jouèrent un rôle décisif dans les traductions du grec au IXe siècle. De plus, contrairement aux affirmations de l’auteur, le fameux Jacques de Venise figure aussi bien dans les manuels d’histoire culturelle, comme ceux de Jacques Verger ou de Jean-Philippe Genet, que dans ceux d’histoire de la philosophie, tel celui d’Alain de Libera, la Philosophie médiévale, où l’on lit : «L’Aristote gréco-latin est acquis en deux étapes. Il y a d’abord celui de la période tardo-antique et du haut Moyen Age, l’Aristote de Boèce, puis, au XIIe siècle, les nouvelles traductions gréco-latines de Jacques de Venise.» La rhétorique du livre s’appuie sur une série de raisonnements fallacieux. Des contradictions notamment : Charlemagne est crédité d’une correction des évangiles grecs, avant que l’auteur ne rappelle plus loin qu’il sait à peine lire ; la science moderne naît tantôt au XVIe siècle, tantôt au XIIIe siècle. Le procédé du «deux poids, deux mesures» est récurrent : il reproche à Avicenne et Averroès de n’avoir pas su le grec, mais pas à Abélard ou à Thomas d’Aquin, mentionne les réactions antiscientifiques et antiphilosophiques des musulmans, alors que pour les chrétiens, toute pensée serait issue d’une foi appuyée sur la raison inspirée par Anselme – les interdictions d’Aristote, voulues par les autorités ecclésiastiques, n’ont-elles pas existé aux débuts de l’Université à Paris ? La critique des sources est dissymétrique : les chroniqueurs occidentaux sont pris au pied de la lettre, tandis que les sources arabes sont l’objet d’une hypercritique. L’auteur enfin imagine des thèses qu’aucun chercheur sérieux n’a jamais soutenues (par exemple, «que les musulmans aient volontairement transmis ce savoir antique aux chrétiens est une pure vue de l’esprit»), qu’il lui est facile de réfuter pour faire valoir l’importance de sa «révision».

Au final, des pans entiers de recherches et des sources bien connues sont effacés, afin de permettre à l’auteur de déboucher sur des thèses qui relèvent de la pure idéologie. Le christianisme serait le moteur de l’appropriation du savoir grec, ce qui reposerait sur le fait que les Evangiles ont été écrits en grec – passant sous silence le rôle de la Rome païenne. L’Europe aurait ensuite réussi à récupérer le savoir grec «par ses propres moyens». Par cette formule, le monde byzantin et les arabes chrétiens sont annexés à l’Europe, trahissant le présupposé identitaire de l’ouvrage : pour l’auteur, l’Europe éternelle s’identifie à la chrétienté, le «nous» du livre, même quand ses représentants vivent à Bagdad ou Damas. La fin du livre oppose des «civilisations» définies par la religion et la langue et ne pouvant que s’exclure mutuellement. L’ouvrage débouche alors sur un racisme culturel qui affirme que «dans une langue sémitique, le sens jaillit de l’intérieur des mots, de leurs assonances et de leurs résonances, alors que dans une langue indo-européenne, il viendra d’abord de l’agencement de la phrase, de sa structure grammaticale. […] Par sa structure, la langue arabe se prête en effet magnifiquement à la poésie […] Les différences entre les deux systèmes linguistiques sont telles qu’elles défient presque toute traduction». On n’est alors plus surpris de découvrir que Sylvain Gouguenheim dit s’inspirer de la méthode de René Marchand (page 134), auteur, proche de l’extreme droite, de Mahomet : contre-enquête (L’Echiquier, 2006, cité dans la bibliographie) et de La France en danger d’Islam : entre Jihad et Reconquista (L’Âge d’Homme, 2002), qui figure en bonne place dans les remerciements. Il confirme ainsi que sa démarche n’a rien de scientifique : elle relève d’un projet idéologique aux connotations politiques inacceptables.

La liste des signataires

Cyrille Aillet, Maître de conférences (MCF), histoire de l’islam médiéval, Un. de Lyon II
Etienne Anheim, MCF, histoire médiévale, Un. de Versailles/Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines
Sylvain Auroux, Directeur de recherches au CNRS
Louis-Jacques Bataillon (Dominicain), Commission Léonine pour l’édition critique des œuvres de Thomas d’Aquin, comité international pour l’édition de l’Aristote latin
Thomas Bénatouïl, MCF, histoire de la philosophie antique, Un. de Nancy II
Luca Bianchi, Centro per lo studio del pensiero filosofico del Cinquecento e del Seicento, CNR, Milano
Joël Biard, Professeur, philosophie médiévale, Un. de Tours
Patrick Boucheron, MCF, histoire médiévale, Un. de Paris I, IUF
Jean-Patrice Boudet, Professeur, histoire médiévale, Un. d’Orléans
Alain Boureau, Directeur d’études, histoire médiévale, EHESS
Jean-Baptiste Brenet, MCF, Philosophie médiévale, Un. de Paris X
Charles Burnett, Professor, history of arabic/islamic influence in Europe, Warburg Institute, London
Philippe Büttgen, Chargé de recherches, CNRS, Laboratoire d’études sur les monothéismes, Villejuif
Irène Caiazzo, Chargée de recherches, CNRS, Laboratoire d’études sur les monothéismes, rédactrice en chef des Archives d’histoire doctrinale et littéraire du Moyen Âge
Barbara Cassin, Directrice de recherches au CNRS, dir. du centre Léon Robin
Laurent Cesalli, Assistant scientifique, Un. de Freiburg-im-Breisgau
Joël Chandelier, Ecole française de Rome (Moyen Âge)
Riccardo Chiaradonna, Professore associato, filosofia antica, Università di Roma III
Jacques Chiffoleau, Directeur d’études, histoire médiévale, EHESS
Jacques Dalarun, Directeur de recherches, CNRS, IRHT
Isabelle Draelants, Chargée de recherches, CNRS, UMR 7002, Un. de Nancy II
Anne-Marie Eddé, Directrice de recherches, CNRS, directrice de l’Institut de Recherches et d’Histoire des Textes (IRHT)
Sten Ebbesen, Institut du Moyen Age Grec et Latin, Copenhague
Luc Ferrier, Ingénieur d’études, histoire médiévale, CNRS, CRH (EHESS)
Kurt Flasch, Professeur émérite à l’Université de Bochum
Christian Förstel, Conservateur en chef de la section des manuscrits grecs, Bibliothèque Nationale de France
Dag N. Hasse, Institut für Philosophie, Lichtenberg-Professur der VolkswagenStiftung
Isabelle Heullant-Donat, Professeur, histoire médiévale, Un. de Reims
Dominique Iogna Prat, Directeur de recherches, histoire médiévale, CNRS, LAMOP
Charles Genequand, Professeur ordinaire, philosophie arabe, Un. de Genève
Jean-Philippe Genet, Professeur, histoire médiévale, Un. de Paris I
Carlo Ginzburg, Professore, Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa
Christophe Grellard, MCF, Un. de Paris I
Benoît Grévin, Chargé de recherches, CNRS, LAMOP.
Ruedi Imbach, Professeur, philosophie médiévale, Un. de Paris IV
Catherine König-Pralong, Maître assistante, philosophie médiévale, Un. de Lausanne
Djamel Kouloughli, Directeur de Recherches au CNRS (UMR 7597)
Max Lejbowicz, Ingénieur d’études honoraire, CNRS, UMR 81 63, Univ. de Lille III
Alain de Libera, Professeur ordinaire, Un. de Genève, Directeur d’études à l’EPHE (Ve section)
John Marenbon, Professor, History of Medieval Philosophy, Trinity College, Cambridge
Christopher Martin, Professor, Philosophy department, Auckland University, Visiting Fellow All Souls College, Oxford
Annliese Nef, MCF, histoire de l’islam médiéval, Un. de Paris IV
Adriano Oliva (Dominicain), Chargé de recherches, CNRS, IRHT, Commission Léonine pour l’édition critique des œuvres de Thomas d’Aquin, comité international pour l’édition de l’Aristote latin
Christophe Picard, Professeur, histoire de l’islam médiéval, Un. de Paris I
Sylvain Piron, MCF, histoire médiévale, EHESS
David Piché, Professeur adjoint, Département de Philosophie, Univ. de Montréal
Pasquale Porro, Professore ordinario di Storia della filosofia medievale, Universita di Bari
Marwan Rashed, Professeur, philosophie ancienne et médiévale, ENS Paris
Aurélien Robert, Membre de l’Ecole française de Rome (Moyen Âge)
Andrea Robiglio, Phil. Seminar, Univ. Freiburg-im-Breisgau ;
Irène Rosier-Catach, Directrice de recherches au CNRS (UMR 7597), Directrice d’études à l’EPHE (Ve section)
Martin Rueff, MCF, Théorie littéraire et esthétique, Un. de Paris VII
Jacob Schmutz, MCF, philosophie médiévale, Un. de Paris IV
Valérie Theis, MCF, histoire médiévale, Un. de Marne-la-Vallée
Mathieu Tillier, MCF, histoire de l’islam médiéval, Un. d’Aix-Marseille
Luisa Valente, Ricercatrice, Filosofia medievale, Università di Roma – La Sapienza
Dominique Valérian, MCF, histoire de l’islam médiéval, Un. de Paris I
Eric Vallet, MCF, histoire de l’islam médiéval, Un. de Paris I.

Voir aussi un exemple, pris au hasard de l’Internet mais particulièrement typique, de l’avalanche d’ouvrages et d’articles de ces nouveaux dhimmis, thuriféraires grassement stipendiés, de la grandeur de la science arabe, qui présente ainsi la première description de l’œil connue par une certain Hunayn ibn Ishaq al-‘Ibadi (809?-873) sans préciser que c’était en fait un savant chrétien et donc dhimmi, connu d’ailleurs en Europe plus tard sous le nom de Joannitius (voir l’illustration ci-dessus, copie d’un manuscrit du XIIe)…

The earliest known medical description of the eye, from a ninth-century work by Hunayn ibn Ishaq, is shown in this copy of a 12th-century manuscript at the Institute.

Rediscovering Arabic Science
Richard Covington
Saudi Aramco World

May/June 2007

You have to hand it to Ahmed Djebbar: The science historian certainly knows how to draw a crowd. As we circulate among the astrolabes, maps and hydraulic models of an eye-opening Paris exhibition on medieval Arabic science, curious museum-goers gather around us.

“Did you know that the Egyptian doctor Ibn al-Nafis recognized that the lungs purify blood in the 13th century, nearly 350 years before the Europeans?” he asks, standing in front of an anatomical drawing of the human body. “Or that the Arabs treated the mentally ill with music therapy as early as the ninth century?”

Examining a case of rare manuscripts, the dapper Lille University professor launches into a mini-lecture before the rapt group. The 13th-century Persian astronomer Nasir al-Din al-Tusi, the author of one of the yellowing Arabic-language texts, upended the geocentric Greek view of the universe, Djebbar explains, by declaring Ptolemy’s model of planetary motion flawed and creating his own more accurate, but still Earth-centered, version. Three centuries later, the Polish astronomer Nicholas Copernicus borrowed al-Tusi’s model to make the shocking proposition that the Earth revolves around the sun. “Al-Tusi made his observations without ctelescopes or even glasses,” says Djebbar, removing his own spectacles and waving them theatrically in the air. “Even though the Arabs possessed the knowledge to make lenses, they probably thought it was an idiotic idea. God made us like this; why hang something on our noses to see better?” he jokes, placing his glasses back on his nose with a flourish. His audience erupts into laughter as Djebbar, who was curator of “The Golden Age of Arabic Sciences”—the Paris exhibition, which ran from October 2005 through March 2006 at the Arab World Institute—tries to quiet them down.

For most westerners, and indeed for many Arabs, the spectacular achievements of Arabic-language science from the eighth through the 16th centuries come as a startling discovery, as if an unknown continent had suddenly appeared on the horizon. In mathematics, astronomy, medicine, optics, cartography, evolutionary theory, physics and chemistry, medieval Arab and Muslim scientists, scholars, doctors and mapmakers were centuries ahead of Europe. Centers for scientific research and experimentation emerged across Muslim lands—in Baghdad, Cairo, Damascus, Samarkand, Shiraz, Bukhara, Isfahan, Toledo, Córdoba, Granada and Istanbul.

Generations of science historians once rejected Islamic accomplishments. One critic, the French physicist Pierre Duhem, even accused Muslims of trying to destroy classical science in his 1914–1916 historic survey Le Système du Monde (The System of the World). Others asserted that the Arabic language itself was not suited for science, contends Roshdi Rashed, the dean of Islamic science in France. “Otherwise well-respected scholars like Ernest Renan and Paul Tannery excluded even the possibility of an Arabic contribution to science,” says Rashed, a former fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton, professor emeritus at the University of Paris and editor of the three-volume Encyclopedia of the History of Arabic Science.
The earliest known medical description of the eye, from a ninth-century work by Hunayn ibn Ishaq, is shown in this copy of a 12th-century manuscript at the Institute.
The earliest known medical description of the eye, from a ninth-century work by Hunayn ibn Ishaq, is shown in this copy of a 12th-century manuscript at the Institute. Below: Kamal al-Din al-Farisi’s 13th-century demonstration of the separation of the visible spectrum of light by double refraction, reproduced in this display at the Institute for the History of Arab–Islamic Science in Frankfurt, helped advance the science of optics.
Kamal al-Din al-Farisi’s 13th-century demonstration of the separation of the visible spectrum of light by double refraction, reproduced in this display at the Institute for the History of Arab–Islamic Science in Frankfurt, helped advance the science of optics.
THORNE ANDERSON (2)

For most Westerners, and indeed most Arabs, the spectacular achievements of Islamic science from the eighth through the 16th centuries come as a startling discovery, as if an unknown continent had suddenly appeared on the horizon.
Although an alternative spectrum of science historians, beginning with the 19th-century European Orientalists Jean-Jacques Sédillot and Eilhard Wiedemann and including the 20th-century Harvard professor George Sarton, staunchly promoted the pivotal Arab/Muslim role in science, the general public has remained largely unaware of Arab discoveries. The 1300-year period between the Greek golden age of science (from the fifth century BC to the second century of our era) and the 15th-century Italian Renaissance was perceived as a scientific desert. If Arab scholars were acknowledged at all outside academia, they were seen merely as useful messengers, conduits who preserved the classical Greek knowledge of Euclid, Aristotle, Hippocrates, Galen, Ptolemy, Archimedes and others through Arabic texts.

True enough, much of ancient science came back to Europe via Arabic translations, which were subsequently translated into Latin and other languages. (See “Lines of Transmission”). Some key texts, like Ptolemy’s Planisphere, Galen’s commentary on Hippocrates’ treatise Airs, Waters, Places and the final chapters of the third-century BC mathematician Apollonius’ book on conic sections exist only thanks to the Arabic translations, since the original Greek manuscripts have all disappeared.

But according to astrophysicist Jean Audouze, director of the French National Center for Scientific Research in Paris, the Arabs were not simply transmitters of Greek concepts; they were creators in their own right. Like Djebbar and Rashed, Audouze is one of a small number of dedicated scholars —fewer than 150 in France, Germany and Britain, but also scattered through the US, Arab countries, Asia and Latin America—who are struggling to give Arabic science the long overdue respect it deserves.
Arab astronomers study the heavens in this print from a commentary on Cicero’s Somnium Scipionis, whose central character ranges through the celestial spheres that surround the Earth, and carry the planets and the stars.
INTERFOTO PRESSEBILDAGENTUR / ALAMY
Arab astronomers study the heavens in this print from a commentary on Cicero’s Somnium Scipionis, whose central character ranges through the celestial spheres that surround the Earth, and carry the planets and the stars. Below: The Canon of Medicine by Ibn Sina (known as Avicenna in the West) was first translated from Arabic into Latin in the 12th century and into Hebrew in 1279. It served as the chief guide to medical science in Europe and was used in medical schools there until the mid-17th century.
The Canon of Medicine by Ibn Sina (known as Avicenna in the West) was first translated from Arabic into Latin in the 12th century and into Hebrew in 1279. It served as the chief guide to medical science in Europe and was used in medical schools there until the mid-17th century.
BIBLIOTECA UNIVERSITARIA DI BOLOGNA / NATIONAL LIBRARY OF MEDICINE

“One of the more drastic consequences of the dismissal of the vast Islamic contribution is that you cannot understand classical science without it,” argues Rashed. “If you reduce the distance between Greek science and 17th century science, you are going to say, for example, that Apollonius first conceived algebraic geometry. But he has nothing of the kind in his writings. ”

“Either you push Apollonius to invent ideas he did not have or you pull back 17th-century scholars closer to Greek levels of understanding. This results in very serious errors of perspective. But if you take into account Arabic science, you are better able to understand what is truly new in the 17th-century outlook and the steps that led from Greek classical science.”
Drawing principally from Greek texts, but also Persian and Indian sources, medieval Islamic scientists made a staggering number of breakthroughs.

Tunisian geologist Mustafa El-Tayeb, director of science policy and sustainable development for the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization in Paris, is another impassioned advocate for Islamic science. He believes that reclaiming a proper place for medieval Arab achievements is vital for encouraging future generations of Arab and Muslim researchers.

“When I hear reactionaries preaching to young Muslims that science is not good for Islam, I want these students to realize that it’s a crucial part of their heritage and not something to be rejected, or seen as alien,” says El-Tayeb. “As it is, the history of Islamic science is barely taught at all in universities across the Middle East.”

In fact, the discipline is everywhere in a deepening crisis, warns George Saliba, professor of Arabic and Islamic science at Columbia University. “The most urgent need now for the study of Islamic science is to train people who can edit and publish the hundreds of scientific texts that are still lingering in world libraries with almost no one aware of their existence, let alone their contents,” he says. “But despite this need, Islamic science historians are becoming an endangered species.” To make his point, Saliba cites the 200 to 300 Muslim treatises on planetary theories that he“s tracked down. Only two have been translated into European languages—one into Latin centuries ago and the other, in modern times, into English.
Arabic Science: The Language
From Baghdad’s Bayt al-Hikmah (“House of Wisdom”), the Islamic world’s premier science academy for some 400 years until the city’s destruction by the Mongols in 1258, came translations of Greek mathematical and scientific papers, breakthroughs in geometry and discoveries in fields from hydrology to medicine.
THE PRINT COLLETOR / ALAMY
From Baghdad’s Bayt al-Hikmah (“House of Wisdom”), the Islamic world’s premier science academy for some 400 years until the city’s destruction by the Mongols in 1258, came translations of Greek mathematical and scientific papers, breakthroughs in geometry and discoveries in fields from hydrology to medicine.

A thousand years before English emerged as the international language of science in the latter half of the 20th century, the Arabic language unified scholars across the Muslim world, generating a lively market of ideas from Samarkand to Córdoba. “A book published in Central Asia could be read in southern Spain less than a year later,” explains Roshdi Rashed, an eminent Egyptian-born historian of science, in his office near Paris. “Islamic learning was not like Greek science, which was limited principally to the eastern Mediterranean, but was spread across most of the known world.”

One celebrated example is the Kitab al-Istikmal, a treatise on geometry by Yusuf al-Mu’taman, the 11th-century king of Sarakusta (today’s Zaragosa in northern Spain). The Jewish philosopher Maimonides brought it from Córdoba to Cairo and copies were soon circulating in Baghdad. The work was eventually republished in the 13th century in Central Asia.

Among the babel of scientists and scholars who crisscrossed the polyglot Muslim empire, the common language was Arabic. “Besides Maimonides, you have the great mathematician and physicist Alhazen (Ibn al-Haitham) moving from Basra to Cairo,” says Rashed, “and the astronomer Nasir al-Din al-Tusi journeying every year from Khorasan in northern Iran through Iraq and on to Aleppo to teach.” Even if scholars spoke Persian or another language at home, they wrote their papers in Arabic so that their colleagues in Baghdad, Toledo and elsewhere could understand them, he adds. Omar Khayyam may have penned his quatrains in Persian, but he explicated his mathematical concepts in Arabic. Correspondence among scientists—typically carried by cara- van messenger or carrier pigeon—was nearly as far-reaching in the 11th and 12th centuries as it was in the 17th, Rashed maintains.

But despite its ultimate ascendancy, scholarly Arabic had a slow start. “Before the advent of science, Arabic was the language of poetry; it soon became the language of the new religion of Islam, but paradoxically, it did not become the language of power right away,” explains French science historian Ahmed Djebbar. Although the Umayyad caliph ‘Abd al-Malik decreed at the beginning of the eighth century that government institutions, schools, courts and communications conduct their business in Arabic, it took another 50 to 100 years before the translation of scientific texts from Greek, Syriac, Persian and Indian languages into Arabic got under way in earnest, with some 100 translators at work over the course of the ninth and 10th centuries, according to the 10th-century bibliographer Ibn al-Nadim of Baghdad.

Baghdad’s Bayt al-Hikmah (“House of Wisdom”) became a vibrant center of translation. Works like Ptolemy’s Almagest and Dioscorides’ De Materia Medica were translated numerous times as scholars perfected Arabic terminology. The Greek word parabola was initially Arabicized phonetically as barabula, then subsequently refined to qat za’id, which literally means “thick section.” Diabetes was first rendered as diyabita then transformed to da as-sukkar (“sugar sickness”). Over time, Arabic scientific terms and star names were adopted into other languages, a list that includes alkali, alcohol, algebra, algorithm, alembic, alchemy, azimuth, elixir, nadir, zenith, Betelgeuse, Aldebaran, Rigel and Mizar.

After some seven centuries in which Arabic dominated scientific discourse, it began to be eclipsed in the 15th century by Turkish as Ottoman rule expanded. Ghiyath al-Kashi’s 1427 mathematical treatise Risala al-Muhitiya (Treatise on the Circumference), in which he calculated the value of pi to 17 decimal places, was one of the last significant scientific texts in Arabic. By the time Taqi al-Din, the director of the Istanbul observatory, wrote his books in Arabic on light and marvelous machines in the second half of the 16th century, Latin had largely supplanted Arabic as the universal language of science. Unlike Arabic, however, which was understood by all classes and gave ordinary Muslims access to scholarly knowledge, Latin was used principally by academics and clergy, fencing science in as the preserve of an educated elite.

Yet the duty to promote the Arab intellectual legacy has never been greater, argues Rashed, underscoring the philosophical alliance between science, which strives for unity in the natural world, and religion, which seeks a similar balance in the realm of the spirit. “Muslim science demonstrates that there has always been a profoundly rational base to Islamic civilization,” he explains.

Drawing principally from Greek texts, but also Persian and Indian sources, medieval Islamic scientists made a staggering number of breakthroughs. The brilliant ninth-century Baghdad mathematician Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi invented algebra, initially to resolve property disputes (even though countless generations of high school students wish he hadn’t bothered). He also solved linear and quadratic equations using algorithms, the basis of computer programming; the term itself is derived from his surname, testimony to al-Khwarizmi’s enduring gift to mathematics.
The Persian polymath-physician Avicenna appeared with his Greek forebears Galen and Hippocrates in this woodcut from an early 15th- century Latin medical book.
BETTMANN / CORBIS
The Persian polymath-physician Avicenna appeared with his Greek forebears Galen and Hippocrates in this woodcut from an early 15th-century Latin medical book. Below: Avicenna remains a hero today. His portrait decks a wall in Bukhara, Uzbekistan.
Avicenna remains a hero today. His portrait decks a wall in Bukhara, Uzbekistan.
CHARLES & JOSETTE LENARS / CORBIS

Skilled at determining the precise location of Makkah from anywhere in the Muslim empire, Islamic astronomers were unsurpassed. Many mosques engaged a full-time astronomer, called a muqqawit.

Reversing the false Greek notion that light is emitted from the eye, the 11th-century physicist Alhasan ibn al-Haitham, known in the West by his Latinized first name as Alhazen, correctly asserted in Cairo that light rays travel in the opposite direction, reflecting off the surface of objects to enter the eye. Devising the first rudimentary pinhole camera, or camera obscura, Alhazen demonstrated that light emanates from an object in straight lines, establishing the principle of linear perspective essential to the art of Leonardo da Vinci and other Renaissance masters. (Alas, the Basra-born scientist did not invent film for his primitive camera; civilization would wait until the 19th century for the first photograph.) By putting his concepts to various tests, using the camera obscura and other tools, Alhazen also introduced the experimental method of proof, insisting that theories had to be verified in practice, a key element to modern science that was missing from the less empirical Greek tradition.

“Arab science succeeded as much in pragmatic applications as it did in theoretical concepts,” Audouze maintains. “Islamic scholars distinguished themselves from their Greek predecessors, who were more inventive in ideas than in practical matters.” Arab scholars also introduced the practice of peer review and citations to confirm their source material.

Although the Babylonians, Indians and Egyptians had astronomical observatories, those founded under Islamic rulers in Maragha (in present-day Iran), Samarkand and Istanbul were far more sophisticated, equipped with an impressive array of astrolabes, sundials, sextants, celestial globes and armillary spheres to track the movements of the planets and constellations.

Skilled at determining the precise location of Makkah from anywhere in the Muslim empire, Islamic astronomers were unsurpassed in their calculations and predictions. Many mosques engaged a full-time astronomer, called a muqqawit, to determine the hours of prayer and consult lunar calendars to fix the dates for Ramadan and other religious events.

Persian astronomer Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Biruni (973–1048), a protean intellectual figure who wrote in Persian, Arabic, Greek, Hebrew and Sanskrit, and lived in Kath (in present-day Uzbekistan), corresponded with Abu al-Wafa, another astronomer 2000 kilometers (1242 mi) west in Baghdad, to coordinate the simultaneous observation of a lunar eclipse. On May 24, 997, according to al-Biruni’s book Al-athar al-baqiyah an al-qurun al-khaliyah (Vestiges of Bygone Days, usually shortened to The Chronology), they got their eclipse, measuring its duration and the moon’s angle in the sky to calculate the longitude of Kath with unprecedented exactitude.
Arab physicians added hundreds of medicines to those recorded by the Greeks. In this Ottoman manuscript, two doctors give instructions on the preparation of prescriptions.
ART ARCHIVE /UNIVERSITY LIBRARY ISTANBUL /DAGLI ORTI
Arab physicians added hundreds of medicines to those recorded by the Greeks. In this Ottoman manuscript, two doctors give instructions on the preparation of prescriptions.

Arab astronomers and cartographers strove for—and frequently achieved— uncanny accuracy. To ascertain the distance separating degrees of latitude for a projected global map, the ninth-century Baghdad caliph al-Ma’mun dispatched 70 scientists into the Syrian desert. Using astrolabes, measuring rods and stretched lengths of cord, the teams walked until they observed a change of one degree in the elevation of the polestar, the equivalent to a degree of latitude. Reckoning the distance traveled at 562 2/3 Arab miles (64.5 statute miles or 103.8 km), they computed the Earth’s circumference, which is 360 degrees, as 23,220 statute miles, or around 37,380 kilometers, a respectable error only about seven percent less than the true figure of 24,800 miles (40,000 km). (However, around 200 BC the Alexandrian geographer Eratosthenes handily beat their estimate, calculating the Earth’s circumference at 39,690 km.)

Arabic/Muslim achievements in medicine were also impressive. The ninth-century Persian doctor Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi, known in Latin as Rhazes, penned the first treatise on smallpox in his Kitab al-tajarib (Book of Experience), which probed some 900 cases of various maladies. Another Persian doctor, Abu Ali ibn Sina, or Avicenna (980–1037), compiled Qanun fi ’l-tib (Canon of Medicine), a five-volume compendium of Greek and Islamic healing that became one of the principal textbooks in European universities centuries later.

Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi (Abulcasis in Latin), a 10th-century surgeon in Córdoba, composed Al-Tasrif, a 30-chapter medical encyclopedia describing dozens of operations, complete with graphic illustrations of surgical instruments, including scalpels, cauterizing tools, feeding tubes and cupping glasses. (A 15th-century Turkish edition added instructively terrifying depictions of doctors treating patients.) Some 300 years after al-Zahrawi, another Andalusian doctor, Ibn al-Baitar, published Al-jami li mufradat al-adwiyya wa l-aghdhiyya (Book of Simple Medications and Alimentations), adding more than 400 medicines and curative plants to the 1,000 catalogued by the first-century doctor Dioscorides and other Greek botanists.

Arab scholars even theorized about evolution, arriving at conclusions that anticipated Darwin.

Arab scholars even theorized about evolution, arriving at conclusions that anticipated Darwin. In 1377, nearly half a millennium before the 1859 publication of On the Origin of Species, the Tunisian-born historiographer Ibn Khaldun, renowned as one of the founders of sociology, asserted in Al-Muqaddimah (Prolegomena), “The animal kingdom was developed, its species multiplied, and in the gradual process of Creation, it ended in man & arising from the world of the monkeys.”

The period from the ninth through the 16th centuries was also a golden age for hydraulic technology, with Muslim engineers devising underground canals, dams, waterwheels and water-lifting machines to modernize agriculture and provide fresh water to rapidly growing cities from Córdoba to Samarkand. Intricate water clocks, pumps and piston-driven machines were the forerunners of mechanisms that would not appear in Europe until the Italian Renaissance and later with the development of steam and internal-combustion engines in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Arab physicians added hundreds of medicines to those recorded by the Greeks. In this Ottoman manuscript, two doctors give instructions on the preparation of prescriptions.
ART ARCHIVE /UNIVERSITY LIBRARY ISTANBUL /DAGLI ORTI
Arab physicians added hundreds of medicines to those recorded by the Greeks. In this Ottoman manuscript, two doctors give instructions on the preparation of prescriptions.

The importance of all branches of learning, including science, is emphasized in the Qur’an itself, which reads, in Chapter 58, Verse 11, “God will raise up in rank those of you who have been given knowledge.” The value placed on scholarship by Muslims at large is underscored by two sayings popularly linked to the Prophet Muhammad: “Search for learning even if it be in China,” and “The quest for learning is a duty for every Muslim.” Although these sayings cannot be traced to authentic hadiths (traditions) of the Prophet, they reflect the general feeling of esteem in which the Muslim community holds learning, based on the Qur’an’s emphasis on the importance of knowledge and reason, and respect for learned persons.

To Djebbar, early theological debates over the meaning of the words in the Qur’an, interpretations of hadith and etymological arguments on the Arabic language itself all nurtured the questioning spirit of rationalism necessary for scientific development. “These [religious and linguistic] critiques are the true departure point for the Arabic scientific tradition,” he asserts in his 2001 book, Une histoire de la science arabe (A History of Arabic Science).

Although Umayyad princes filled libraries in Damascus with Greek scientific texts from Spain, beginning in the early eighth century, and commissioned Arabic translations, the main push for scientific inquiry arose in Baghdad around the time of the city’s founding in 762.

Beginning with the first Abbasid caliph, al-Mansur, the victorious dynasty promoted science for ideological and political reasons. “The new rulers needed capable astronomers and geographers to measure the recently conquered empire under their control and to demonstrate to their subjects that Abbasid power was a force for good,” Djebbar explains. As rural populations migrated to the cities, creating a highly diverse, socially volatile mix of peoples, the demand for competent doctors, engineers and scientists exploded. Baghdad had a population of more than 800,000 inhabitants by the 10th century, and was, after Constantinople, the largest city on Earth.

The introduction of paper into the Middle East was a key technological breakthrough and a critical innovation for the spread of science.

At the end of the eighth century, Harun al-Rashid, the grandson of al-Mansur and the caliph whose court inspired The Thousand and One Nights, erected Baghdad’s first paper mill, the second in the empire. (The first mill had been constructed in Samarkand by Chinese engineers captured in the Battle of Talas in Central Asia around 750, according to Djebbar. The Chinese, who had been making paper since at least the second century BC, had kept the process a jealously guarded secret.) Shortly after the Baghdad plant opened, paper mills cropped up in virtually all the major Muslim cities. By the end of the 12th century, the Moroccan capital Fez sustained some 400 paper-making workshops.

The introduction of paper into the Middle East was a key technological breakthrough and a critical innovation for the spread of science. Paper gradually supplanted parchment and papyrus, making publication of manuscripts far cheaper and providing access to ideas for a much broader range of the educated public. Feather-light but sturdy paper was developed for use in correspondence by carrier pigeon. Since al-Biruni’s Chronology mentions an exchange of letters with Abu al-Wafa to measure an eclipse, Djebbar suggests that the two astronomers used carrier pigeon “air mail” to speed up their 2000-kilometer correspondence between Kath and Baghdad.
The 10th-century Andalusian surgeon Abu al-Qasim Khalaf ibn al-Abbas al-Zahrawi (known as Abulcasis in the West) wrote many medical books, including The Properties of Various Products. This page discusses the USe and preparation of absinthe.
BIBLIOTHÈQUE NATIONALE / ARCHIVES CHARMET / BRIDGEMAN ART LIBRARY
The 10th-century Andalusian surgeon Abu al-Qasim Khalaf ibn al-Abbas al-Zahrawi (known as Abulcasis in the West) wrote many medical books, including The Properties of Various Products. This page discusses the use and preparation of absinthe. Below: Two types of thyme are depicted on these pages of De Materia Medica, a guide to remedies by the Greek physician Dioscorides that was translated into Arabic in Baghdad in 1240.
Two types of thyme are depicted on these pages of De Materia Medica, a guide to remedies by the Greek physician Dioscorides that was translated into Arabic in Baghdad in 1240.
ART ARCHIVE / BODLEIAN LIBRARY

Around the same time that Harun al-Rashid ushered in the paper mill, he also founded Baghdad’s first hospital and a separate scientific academy known as Bayt al-Hikmah (“House of Wisdom”). Initially little more than the caliph’s private library, the House of Wisdom became a full-blown research and translation center and astronomical observatory under al-Rashid’s son, Caliph al-Ma’mun, who ruled from 813 to 833. It was here that the versatile al-Khwarizmi developed algebra and, turning his hand to cartography, drafted an elaborate map tracing the meanders of the Nile River.

According to Ibn al-Nadim, a local 10th-century bibliographer, al-Ma’mun had a prophetic dream of the white-bearded Aristotle seated on a throne in which the Greek philosopher advised the caliph on the path to wisdom through reason, law and faith. Al-Ma’mun took this vision as a sign to amass knowledge and shortly afterward sent a cohort of academics to Byzantium to bring back reams of scientific and philosophical texts to be translated into Arabic. Gradually, scholars acquired manuscripts from state archives and private collections in Alexandria, Damascus, Antioch, Harran and other cities. Although most of the books were in the original Greek, many volumes had already been translated between the fifth and seventh centuries into Syriac, the western Aramaic tongue used in ancient Syria. This massively ambitious initiative to translate Greek, Syriac, Persian and Indian treatises into Arabic lasted more than 200 years, from the middle of the 700’s until the end of the 10th century, according to Djebbar. (See “The Language”, above).

Al-Ma’mun’s patronage set an example, prompting princes, merchants, doctors and well-to-do scholars to finance research with charitable endowments, known as awqaf (waqf in the singular). “Scientists were always close to the courts; there was no such thing as independent science,” explains Rashed. “One had to eat and for that the scholars needed a patron, either the caliph, a wealthy merchant or a nobleman.”

The support of powerful benefactors became a vital element for the development of science across the Muslim empire. In Córdoba, the 10th-century caliph al-Hakam II sponsored extensive scholarly missions to scour manuscript collections in the eastern capitals to stock a library that soon rivaled the best in the world. In the early 11th century, the Fatimid ruler al-Hakim invited the renowned mathematician and physicist Alhazen to teach in his court, greeting him in person at the gates of Cairo, an extraordinary honor that gave a tremendous boost to the prestige of science in Egypt. That honeymoon ended abruptly, however, when Alhazen failed to realize the caliph’s scheme to regulate Nile flooding. Feigning madness to avoid execution, the scholar was placed under house arrest, taking advantage of the solitude to churn out a flood of treatises, biding his time until al-Hakim’s death in 1021.

Generally, scientists worked without religious constraints, Djebbar maintains, with Nestorian Christians, Jews and Muslims collaborating in relative harmony. The sort of persecution that inflamed the Spanish Inquisition in the 15th century and later fired the 1633 heresy trial of Galileo in Rome did not occur in Islamic countries at the time, he says.

“It was not because Muslims were nicer people than Christians,” the professor explains. “It was a matter of timing. In Christian countries, there was a scientific renaissance at a period when religion had already locked the doors of experimentation and speculation. In Arab countries, science arose shortly after Islam was established, creating its own secular space without reference to religion.”

There were, however, isolated instances of repression. Shortly after al-Hakam II’s death in Córdoba in 976, the prime minister Abu Amir al-Kahtani, who assumed power as regent for the underage prince Hisham, burned many of the manuscripts the caliph had acquired at such great cost, claiming that the teachings of the Greeks, particularly in astronomy and philosophy, contradicted the Qur’an. Only works of medicine and arithmetic were spared. Some 150 years later, in the 12th century, the Baghdad theologian and mystic Muhammad al-Ghazali branded theoretical mathematics and physics as dangerous, claiming that they bred a rationalistic philosophy that led to atheism, according to Djebbar.

Astrology also provoked a heated polemical debate that lasted for centuries. “Critics argued that astrology lied to people by claiming to predict the future when only God can see the future,” says Djebbar, “but no Muslim astrologer—and there were many at the various courts—was ever put to death because of his predictions.”

Although the first astronomical tables for calculating the positions of stars and planets arrived in Baghdad from Persia and India in the eighth century, the chief reference for Islamic astronomy was Ptolemy’s Almagest, or The Great Book, initially translated into Arabic by al-Hajjaj around 828. Contrary to a common misperception, the second-century scholar from Alexandria did not believe the Earth was flat. Like his Arab successors, however, he was convinced that the sun, moon and planets revolved in celestial spheres around the Earth. In an attempt to match this geocentric theory with the actual movement of heavenly bodies, Ptolemy posited an eccentric model that depended on off-center orbits that were “physically impossible,” according to Saliba of Columbia University. Struggling to reconcile the Greek universe with their own observations led a number of Islamic astronomers to challenge Ptolemy’s faulty concepts of celestial motion.
Arabic Science: Lines of Transmission

Long before Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code popularized the Fibonacci sequence as an early clue to his murder mystery, the 13th-century Italian mathematician who gave his name to that number series was learning the principles of advanced arithmetic from Arab teachers in Bejaia, in present-day Algeria. In the Fibonacci sequence, every number after 0 and 1 is the sum of the previous two numbers,
This woodcut from a book about the nervous system, published in Venice in 1495, shows shelved reference volumes by Muslim physicians Avicenna, Rhazes and Ibn Rushd, alongside works by Aristotle and Hippocrates.
BIBLIOTHÈQUE DE LA FACULTÉ DE MÉDECINE / ARCHIVES CHARMET / BRIDGEMAN ART LIBRARY
This woodcut from a book about the nervous system, published in Venice in 1495, shows shelved reference volumes by Muslim physicians Avicenna, Rhazes and Ibn Rushd, alongside works by Aristotle and Hippocrates.
so that the sequence runs: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610, 987, 1597, 2584, 4181, 6765, 10,946 and so on. The series appears in nature in many forms, including the spiral arrangements of sunflower seeds, pineapple fruitlets and pinecone scales; it appears in geometry, where, starting with the number 5, every other Fibonacci number is the length of the hypotenuse of a Pythagorean right triangle with integral sides; it recurs in mathematics, where the ratio between successive Fibonacci numbers approaches the classical “golden ratio” of 1:1.618033….

Like the Polish astronomer Copernicus and the Spanish physician Michael Servetus in the 16th century, Fibonacci, who was one of the founders of western mathematics, constructed a substantial portion of his pioneering scientific research on the foundations laid by his Arabic-speaking predecessors. Using Latin translations of Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi’s treatises on algebra and algorithms, Fibonacci, also known as Leonard of Pisa, wrote the Liber abaci, the first widely available book on Arabic numerals and arithmetical problems, expanding Indian-based concepts that had arrived in Spain starting in the 10th century.

On an expedition to Catalonia around 967 in search of unknown manuscripts, Gerbert, a Benedictine monk from Aurillac in Provence who later became Pope Sylvester II, came across Latin texts explaining Arabic numerals. He later taught about them, in Rheims and Rome, using a rudimentary abacus. From these modest beginnings, ancient Greek knowledge preserved in Arabic texts, as well as original Muslim science, was translated principally into Latin, Hebrew and Castilian Spanish to blossom gradually across Europe. In the courts of Toledo, Palermo and London, and the universities of Salerno, Padua, Paris and Oxford, a network of intellectual cross-pollination arose that spanned more than half a millennium, ushering in a European scientific renaissance.

Translators such as Gerard of Cremona from Italy, Adelard of Bath from England, Constantine the African, who brought an entire library of Muslim medicine to Salerno, and Michael Scot, a Scotsman who studied in Spain and Sicily, crisscrossed Europe. These itinerant scholars disseminated critical Arab revisions of Greek learning and popularized the revolutionary innovations made by generations of Islamic astronomers, physicians, mathematicians and physicists. Roger Bacon, the 13th-century proponent of the experimental method, astronomers Tycho Brahe in the 16th century and Galileo in the 17th, English physician William Harvey, who formulated his theory of blood circulation on Arab models in the 17th century, and many others owe a direct debt to Muslim knowledge brought to the West in this period.

Occasionally, there was a distinctly personal link between East and West. Journeying to Aleppo and elsewhere around the Middle East, the 17th-century Dutch Orientalist Jacobus Golius, who spoke and read Arabic, brought back the tracts of Alhazen. Since his son was secretary to Descartes in the Dutch city of Leiden, Golius excitedly showed his acquisitions to the exiled French mathematician, who incorporated the Muslim physicist’s findings on optics and geometry into his own writings, according to French science historian Roshdi Rashed.

The transmission of Islamic science to Europe was not a fixed event like the delivery of a package whose contents launched the Renaissance. It was an ongoing, fluid exchange over time, a transfer that traveled in both directions, although it flowed mostly from East to West. Once Christian armies began to retake Spain in the 11th century and Crusaders returned from the Middle East over the course of the 12th and 13th centuries, western scholars began a dogged search for Arabic texts. Some key Arab and Persian documents, such as Alhazen’s Kitab al-Manazir (Book on Optics) and al-Khwarizmi’s Book on Indian Calculation, lost in their Arabic editions, have survived thanks only to Latin translations.

“The translators were very important, but there was also a great deal of direct contact among the scientists themselves,” points out Rashed. “This explains why you find the same information in Arabic and Latin texts even though they are not exact translations; there was also verbal transmission of the knowledge.”

The Castilian city of Toledo, which was reconquered by King Alfonso vi in 1085 after nearly four centuries of Arab rule, became a magnet for scholars intent on harvesting Arab and Greek science.

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