Topic: EconomicsEconomic Development

Last updated: April 6, 2019

The Islamic Golden Age started the 8th century and concluded in the 13th century. This time period can be considered one of the most, if not the most, important times in the Arab world due to the flourishment of literature, science, economic development. The catalyst to start this age came about when the caliph of the Abbasids, Harun Al-Rashid, instituted the House of Wisdom. This scientific academy brought together scholars from all over the world and translated books into Arabic. The best scholars were heavily provided for by the government and were well respected. Literature was very important during this era due to the introduction of paper. The most famous piece to come out of this age is One Thousand and One Nights which is still used as an inspiration for stories today. Philosophy was also a large influence over the Islamic Golden Era.

The philosophy of these people helped shape the future of things such as Christianity. Two big philosophers from this time period were Al-Farabi and Ibn Sina. The end of the Islamic Golden Age is different among historians. Most believe it ended in the 1200s when the Mongol Sack of Baghdad occurred. The House of Wisdom (Bait al-Hikmah in Arabic) played a very important role in the forwarding of Arabic literature and culture. It was not only a place for translating books.

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It was also a science academy and a library. In this house, many languages were spoken and translated. Many languages were written, spoken, and translated such as Farsi, Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, Greek and Latin preserving some the greatest works of time in Arabic. Greek literature was translated the most, including works by Plato and Aristotle and played a significant role in the way Arab philosophers wrote and thought.

Society turned into one that hungered for knowledge and attracted many intellectuals from around the world. The House of Wisdom is considered to be the symbol of the Islamic Golden Age. This place was the center for all information important to the people at the time. Philosophy, astronomy, science, mathematics and literature were all stored under one place and this was unheard of before its creation. The Caliph Al-Mamun was one of the biggest supports of the house of wisdom and even taught there. The translation of books was very important to Al-Mamun, so much so that it is said that he would pay the person who translated the book its weight in gold. By translating books from other societies, the Arab world was inspired to write their own works and also changed the perspective on many who read during that period of time. Without the House of Wisdom, most of the books preserved would most likely have never made it to today.

Sadly, the House of Wisdom never got to see the modern era due to its destruction by the Mongols during their invasion of Baghdad. Many of the books were destroyed by the Mongols but some were still preserved. The House of Wisdom was very advanced for its time and played a large part in advancing the culture and literature of the Abbasid empire and the Islamic Golden Era. The Middle East produced some of the most important thoughts during the Islamic Golden age and these people linked western civilization to Aristotle and Plato.

Ibn Sina was one of the most important philosophers of this time and considered the greatest thinker of the Islamic golden age. His main inspiration was Aristotle and he wrote on astronomy, chemistry, geology, religion, and many more fields of science. His work is said to have gone on and influenced thought in Europe during its enlightenment period.


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