Islamic Science’s India Connection by Alok Kumar and Scott T. Montgomery From Aramco World

From the mid-10th century ce, one of history’s great scientific eras began to flourish across Islamic lands.

Like the European Renaissance, it was marked as much by cultural exchange, synthesis and dialog as it was by individual discovery. Connections forged among scholars and scientists of Islamic lands with contemporaries and predecessors beyond their own borders led to an unprecedented pooling of knowledge over generations and continents. The Indus Valley and the wider Indian subcontinent proved to be deep wells of the scholarship that gradually came to be known westward via translation into Arabic as well as Persian. From the observations of philosophers to the calculations of mathematicians, from the models of astronomers to the treatises of physicians, these works helped shape the era that became known as “the golden age of Islamic science” and—much later—our own.
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NATURAL PHILOSOPHY

After the Muslim conquest of India, several rulers, including most notably the Mughal emperors of the 16th and early 17th centuries, beginning with Akbar the Great, facilitated translations of Indian literature into Persian and Arabic. Several well-known Indian books such as Mahabharata, parts of the VedasYoga-VasisthaBhagavad-Gita and Bhagavata Purana were thus translated. The most fundamental views contained within these texts express the crux of natural philosophy: a universe in constant transformation, wherein elements are interconnected, sharing in absolute unity and having a sequence of creation. The Yoga-Vasistha, for example, a collection of stories and fables nearly 30,000 verses in length,  was appreciated for its “realities, diverse morals,  and remarkable advice.”

Under Dara Shukoh some 50 major Indian works were translated, among them the Upanishads, the pinnacle part of the Vedas script, which he considered imbued with the power to make people “imperishable, unsolicitous and eternally liberated.” His rendering was later translated into Latin in the 18th century by Anquetil Duperron of France. It was read in turn by the eminent 19th-century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, who was so impressed by the universality of its message that he kept a copy open on a table near his bed.

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Much of what Akbar and his successors learned to value, however, had already been observed centuries before. During his years in India in the 11th century, Abu al-Rayan al-Biruni, an all-around erudite from Kath in Central Asia, studied Sanskrit and researched the arts, literature and science. He analyzed meta-physics in Vedic texts and translated a number of them into Arabic, including selections from Patanjali’sYoga-Sutras, a philosophical compilation, and the 700-verse Bhagavad-Gita. In his own book, Kitab Ta’rikh al-Hind (Book of Indian History, popularly known as Alberuni’s India), he introduced Muslim readers to Indian scholarly culture. Al-Biruni admits in the introduction that despite cultural and linguistic barriers, his book is an attempt to offer “the essential facts for any Muslim who wanted to converse with Hindus and to discuss with them questions of religion, science, or literature.”

He also identifies crossovers between Indian sci-ence and literature, notably Kalila wa Dimna (Kalila and Dimna), a celebrated book in the Middle East since the early medieval period. Based on an earlier Indian work, Panchatantra (Five Principles), it was written down from the oral tradition in the third century BCE, and it uses animal fables (Kalila and Dimna are jackals) to tell stories about human conduct and the arts of governance.

 

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More:http://www.aramcoworld.com/en-US/Articles/September-2017/Islamic-Science-s-India-Connection

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Did you know that Ibn Sina’s “Canon of Medicine” was used as a standard medical textbook in European universities for 700 years?

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Ibn Sina (d.1037 CE) or Avicenna, as he is known in the West, was a physician, natural philosopher, mathematician, and poet, who  wrote a five-volume encyclopedia that brought together the medical knowledge of Aristotle (d.322 BCE) and Galen (d. ca. 216 CE) with the advances in Chinese medicine of his time. More at Aga Khan Museum and The Institute of Ismaili Studies (links accessed  September 2017).

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A Judeo-Persian epic, the Fath Nama (Book of Conquest) – British Library Blog

By Ilana Tahan, Lead Curator Hebrew and Christian Orient Studies

While art historical research has focused on the beauty and splendour of Persian miniature paintings, the study of Judeo-Persian manuscript art has lagged behind, receiving only more recently the attention and recognition it deserves. These paintings form part and parcel of manuscripts that have been copied in Judeo-Persian, that is a language that is a combination of Persian, Hebrew and Aramaic written in Hebrew script. The major obstacles to studying these significant hand-written books have been a lack of knowledge of the language, unfamiliarity with the Persian and Judeo-Persian literary traditions, and also with the history of Persian manuscript art in general.

While art historical research has focused on the beauty and splendour of Persian miniature paintings, the study of Judeo-Persian manuscript art has lagged behind, receiving only more recently the attention and recognition it deserves. These paintings form part and parcel of manuscripts that have been copied in Judeo-Persian, that is a language that is a combination of Persian, Hebrew and Aramaic written in Hebrew script. The major obstacles to studying these significant hand-written books have been a lack of knowledge of the language, unfamiliarity with the Persian and Judeo-Persian literary traditions, and also with the history of Persian manuscript art in general.

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More: http://blogs.bl.uk/asian-and-african/2017/09/a-judeo-persian-epic-the-fath-nama-book-of-conquest.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+asian-and-african+%28Asia+and+Africa%29#

Further reading
Moreen, Vera Basch, Miniature Paintings in Judaeo-Persian Manuscripts (Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Press, 1985), pp. 40, 49-50.
Moreen, Vera Basch and Orit Carmeli, The Bible as a Judeo-Persian epic: an illustrated manuscript of Imrani’s Fath-Nama (Jerusalem: Yad Ben-Zvi Press, 2016). On Ms 4602 of the Ben-Zvi Institute in Jerusalem.
David Yeroushalmi, Emrānī”, in Encyclopædia Iranica (1995).

 

On Contemporary Extremism and Cultural Oppression

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In Medieval times, discrete attempts to diverge from authoritative ideology were tolerated by the Islamic ruling class for art’s sake, fostering a more liberal and independent society of artists. With the emergence of ISIS, we witness the complete suppression of critical thought and freedom of thinking

by Arielle Blattner
Graphic designer and MA Student of Islamic Art

As long as there have been religions, there have been sects. As long as there have been religions and sects, there have been vicious wars between sects. No matter which division, the proclamation of faith written on the flag of ISIS lā ilāha illā allāh (“There is no god but Allah”) is the same phrase written on Islamist medieval coins since the 8th century, and continues to be seen on the flag of ISIS. In addition to spreading Islam being the main goal of these regimes, the suppression of free thought (whether non-muslim…

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The Conferences of the Birds

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The encounter between fashion design and a mystical Persian poem: Conversation with Moroccan fashion designer Said Mahrouf

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The Conference of the Birds, also known as The Language of the Birds is certainly the most celebrated work of the twelfth-century Persian poet, Farid al-Din Attar.
It tells the story of a flock of birds that set out to seek their king and god, the Simurgh. Only thirty of them survive the perilous path, on which they traverse seven dangerous valleys and reach their ultimate destination: a lake. There they see their image mirrored in the water and recognize themselves as the very god they were seeking.This mystical poem clearly lends itself to numerous interpretations and, even if the author is not himself a Sufi,, the tale is full of Sufi references and meaning.
The mystical and evocative nature of the plot has its visual counterpart in an exceptional medieval…

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A glimpse into the unseen creative studios of Hackney, East London from Creative Boom by Emily Gosling

A beautiful new photo-book lifts the lid (or creaky door) to a number of studios in Hackney, east London, presenting a fascinating insight into the lives of these creative types for all those voyeurs who prefer to be carefully ensconced behind their coffee tables.

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More: http://www.creativeboom.com/inspiration/a-glimpse-into-the-unseen-creative-studios-of-hackney-east-london/

The Beautiful Wonders of Persian Architecture from 5 Cities in Iran from Arch20

Medieval Iran has witnessed the emergence of some of the most beautiful wonders of Islamic art and architecture. These wonders mostly emerged during the Safavid dynasty, when Isfahan was the capital city of Persia. The Persian architecture from the 1500s to the 1800s, known as the early modern period, featured quite distinct architecture elements like the pointed arches, the sculptural stalactites, known as ‘Muqarnas’, and the bulbous domes with floral decorations. The polychrome tiles of blue, gold, turquoise, and white cover the interiors of mosques and palaces, in the forms of complicated floral and geometric patterns as well as the Arabic calligraphy quoting verses from the Quran.
The marvellous architecture that rose in the time remains up to this day a sight to behold. It transcends you to the heavens with its otherworldly charm. So, let’s take a look at those images by photographers who managed to capture the essence of this quite unique charm.

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More: http://www.arch2o.com/beautiful-wonders-persian-architecture-5-cities-iran/