, , ,

Yaqub ibn Ishaq al-Kindi, celebrated as the Philosopher of the Arabs, soon took up the anti-Byzantine refrain. He posited a mythical past in which the ancient forerunners of the Greek and the Arabs were represented as siblings. It was only natural, al-Kindi suggested, that the Arabs inherit and build upon the earlier work of their brothers, the pre-Christian Greeks, a view that became increasingly entrenched in the Muslim world…One century later, the geographer all-Masudi made the link explicit between the arrival of Christianity and the decline of learning explicit: ‘During the time of the ancient Greeks, and for a little while during the … [Roman] empire, the philosophical sciences kept growing and developing, and their scholars and philosophers were respected and honored. They developed their theories on natural sciences – on the body, the intellect, the soul – and on the quadrivium … The sciences continued to be in great demand and intensely cultivated until the religion of Christianity appeared among the Byzantines; then they effaced rhetoric, science of philosophy, eliminated its traces, destroyed its paths, and they changed and corrupted what the ancient Greeks had set forth in clear expositions.

From The House of Wisdom, Jonathan Lyons, 2008

How times change! This is from the ‘golden age’ of Islam and it would seem they had a very different attitude to learning, science, and philosophy compared to what we have at present. One wonders the significance of this change in attitude has been, and to what extent it explains their success versus the miserable state contemporary Islamic civilization is mired in.