Things I never knew

I’ve always referred to the numbers we used as Arabic numerals (as distinct from Roman numerals), and I’ve accepted that it was under Islam that medicine flourished during the Dark Ages.  Turns out I was wrong:

FP: So how about Muslim claims of accomplishment that aren’t real?

BetBasoo: Muslims claim many, many accomplishments we know they had nothing to do with. Arabic numerals? From India . The concept of zero? From Babylonia . Parabolic arches? From Assyria . The much ballyhooed claim of translating the Greek corpus of knowledge into Arabic? It was the Christian Assyrians, who first translated to Syriac, then to Arabic. The first University? Not Al-Azhar in Cairo (988 A.D.), but the School of Nisibis of the Church of the East (350 A.D.), which had three departments: Theology, Philosophy and Medicine. Al-Azhar only teaches Theology.

Speaking of medicine, Muslims will claim that medicine during the Golden Age of Islam, the Abbasid period, was the most advanced in the world. That is correct. But what they don’t say is that the medical practitioners were exclusively Christians. The most famous medical family, the Bakhtishu family, Assyrians of the Church of the East, produced seven generations of doctors, who were the official physicians to the Caliphs of Baghdad for nearly 200 years.

There are many more examples, but I think these are enough to make the point.

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  • oceanguy

    Maimonides… also a physician… was hardly a Christian.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Right after 9/11, our priest (being the good-intentioned Liberal that he is) invited an Iranian Muslim woman and her Jewish-to-Islam convert husband to give a slide presentation on the “glories of Islam”, all in the name of promoting understanding (lest we wild Christians be tempted to go an orgy of revenge against Islam, I suppose).

    Frankly, it was dull, even moronic, as all get out – focusing on the “brilliant” architectural design of mosques and Islamic calligraphy – all this, the speaker intoned, dated back to Islam’s crown jewel Grand Mosque of Istanbul, Turkey. But of course, we realized, she was talking about the Byzantine Cathedral of St. Sophia, designed by Christians then conquered by the Turks.

    The presentation pretty much summarized all that we knew to be wrong with Islam – its focus on supposed glories in the distant past, its usurpation (pillaging?) of the peoples’ creations as their own, the unique ability of Muslims to delude themselves with irrational fantasies, and the fact that Islam has contributed virtually NOTHING positive to humanity for centuries, if at all. Let’s not forget the destruction of the Library at Alexandria by Muslim hordes in the 7th Century. Could anything be more emblematic of Islam than that?

    Islam is a failed system that has survived only by raiding, pillaging and feeding off the creative human spirit of other civilizations that lost their will to survive. Wherever Islam feeds, the light of human liberty and its aspirations twinkles out to be replaced by slavery, deprivation and decay, leaving only the ghostly ruins of once-great societies. Such will be fate of Europe. I hope that will not be ours as well.

    There are many Muslims that I like as people. There are many Muslims that I recognize as being very good people. I maintain that this is in spite of their faith, not because of their faith. Islam is an awful, awful ideology. If you doubt that, take time to read the Koran through and through.

  • Ymarsakar

    Knew about numbers coming from Indian, but the other ones were things I hadn’t known.

    Arabia was where Islam sprung forth, and like all Empires they tended to share in the fame and glory of their conquered subjects.

  • Danny Lemieux

    But only after they regress their newly conquered subjects into the primitive ooze of civilizations lost, YM.

  • Don Quixote

    True, Maimonides was Jewish. Doesn’t help save the Muslim argument, though.

  • MerryMaven

    When I was in elementary school or maybe junior high back in the 60s, we learned the style of numbers as “Hindu-Arabic”. When on earth did they drop the “Hindu” half since they are the ones who invented them. Arabs just passed them along.

  • benning

    I knew much of this, but we were taught about Arabic numbers. The Hindu appelation was missing. I suppose it was just too many words to teach, eh?

  • Ymarsakar

    I suppose it was just too many words to teach, eh?

    I think to some extent, a lot of people thought India was part of Arabia. And they were half way right, since Baktria’s ownership of Indian territory was partially subsumed under the caliphate after 700 AD.

    Just take a look at the map

    The Eastern portions of the Islamic Caliphate was actually Baktrian territory. Baktria was a satrap of the Seleucids, after Alexander died and his Empire broke up amongst the successor states. The Seleucids were one such state. Baktria was a far away land that was Hellenized through colonists from Greece. The military tradition combined Indo, Hellenic, and kataphract steppe cavalry influences. The Greek hoplite was used, so was the Parthian and saka cataphracts, and so were the Persian/Indian focus on foot archers. This was the land of Baktria, which rebelled against the Seleucids and became independent. They only lasted a few hundred years, however, before the Sakas and the Kushans came over to acquire their territory.

    Baktria ruled from the lands of Marakandas to the southern tip of what is now Pakistan.

    The Roman Empire was never able to put a dent in the Islamic Conquests. America, because we are mightier and better than the Romans, have placed expeditionary forces into Afghanistan and Iraq, putting huge holes in the Islamic conquest of humanity. They now have to divert resources towards taking back their territory instead of expanding.

    If they truly believe as they claim, that Islam is destined to reclaim the previous borders of the caliphate, then they must consolidate Afghanistan and Iraq first. But because their networks are decentralized, it means that groups can attack Britain, Europe, Russia, Kosovo, and America while at the same time the organized and central terrorist mobs of Al Qaeda and Hamas are concentrating on Iraq and Afghanistan.

    This is, of course, totally irrelevant to Democrat politicians in the United States that seek to further their own ambitions of dominance on the American continent.

    Oh, btw, the Europe that fought against Muslim conquests before the turn of the first millenium AD, were actually mostly remnants of the Western Roman Empire and the feudalism created by the Germanic tribes in order to defend against external threats. There were two meta-cultures in Europe during Rome’s history. The Celts, which stretched all the way from Gaul to somewhere near Anatolia (Turkey), and the Germanic tribes that were in the north and east. Rome never made any real conquests of Germanic territory. Both the Celts and the Germans ruled under tribal-clan systems with a warlord and his debt-retainers and men paid by the warlord. This in turn created the European feudal system, given that Rome’s power had been broken by Attila the Hun and all the other barbarians, eventually being subsumed by the newly emerging power of the Catholic Church in the Vatican.

    The point is, Europe back then still had the warrior fortitude that had broken Rome and the system of tribalism which allowed them to meet Islamic tribalism and warfare on equal grounds. Islam was just another empire trying to take the territories of the barbarians, to the barbarians. Meanwhile, the civilized Celts, Romans, and Egyptian-Syrians fell quite easily to barbarian invasions. Not a recommendation for civilization, in a way.

  • Ymarsakar

    Hizbollah not Hamas. Although Hamas is trying to take back the territory of Islam just as Hizbollah is trying to do, Hamas is just doing it with Israel first.