Islamic Achievements in its Golden Age
During the Abbasid Caliphate, the Islamic Empire greatly contributed to the advancement of many fields such as literature and philosophy, science and medicine, mathematics, and art. This period was called the Islamic Golden Age which lasted from 790 to 1258.
During this period, Islamic culture placed high importance on education. The first public universities were founded in Baghdad where philosophy and literature were studied. Arab storytellers collected works from diverse sources and wrote many forms of literature such as poetry, history, theology, philosophy, and fables. Most famous was a collection of Arab folk tales called “Thousand and One Nights”. Muslim scholars translated and preserved the work of Ancient Greek philosophers. Two philosophies came out of this period, Falsafa which was logic based on Greek philosophy, mathematics and physics and Kalam, which is the explanation and rationale of Islamic religious beliefs.
Muslim doctors studied Greek and Indian works and added to their ideas about medicine. There were hospitals in all of the major cities. Islamic medicine developed important medical treatments, including a way to surgically treat eye cataracts. Their ancient book of medicine is called “The Canon of Medicine” which was used as a reference throughout the Islamic empire and Europe for centuries.
Muslim scientists built on the work of Greek and Indian scientists. They used astronomy for navigation, creating a calendar, and for religious practices like finding the direction of Mecca for prayer. They invented technology like the quadrant and astrolabe and built observatories to study the sky. They studied Greek, Indian, and Chinese mathematics including geometry and trigonometry. Muslim mathematics pioneered the study of Algebra and helped establish it as a separate field of mathematics. Adoption of Indian numerals facilitated trade and exchange and banking innovations included the use of a forerunner to the modern bank check.
Religious leaders forbade artists from depicting God or human figures in religious art. Instead of using these figures, Islamic artists created intricate patterns and designs such as arabesque (leaves and flowers), tessellations (geometric patterns), and calligraphy (the art of beautiful handwriting). These can be seen on different forms of art such as ceramics, paintings and mosaics. Persian, Arab, and Indian artists excelled at painting miniature works for book illustrations.