The Influence of Islamic Civilization

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The Influence of Islamic Civilization


The paper mainly concerns the essential trends of Islamic civilization influence. In the era of globalization, a vital topic is the Islamic world relations with Europe. The development of many areas of life is inextricably linked with the Islamic philosophical tradition. This work is dedicated to the Islamic civilization and its influence on human development. The paper considers four main categories, which reflect the impact of Islam on the world. These categories are creed and religion, philosophy and science, language and literature, and law. The paper provides the profound analysis of the essential historical process of Islamic civilization development and its contribution to the rise of world culture. On the basis of the scientific literature, the author will give the proof of the Islamic civilization exercising significant influence on the different sphere of modern life. This approach helps evaluate the extent to which the impact is visible in other religions and cultures.

Keywords: Islam, Islamic civilization.


The Influence of Islamic Civilization

            Islamic civilization is one of the youngest civilizations of the East. It began to take shape only in the 7th century (Leaman & Nasr, 2008). The Arabian Peninsula, a desert with a strip of fertile land along the coast where wheat, dates, grapes, and spices grew as well as people raised sheep and camels, was its cradle. The ancient cities of Arabia were active in trade with the Mediterranean countries, Africa, and India. The nomadic Bedouins who were engaged in cattle breeding and maintenance of trade caravans lived in the Arabian Desert. The Bedouin tribes had bad relationships with each other and made raids on the neighbors (Leaman & Nasr, 2008). The appearance of the new religion completely changed this culturally and socio-economically motley image of Arabia. Islam had not only played the unifying and civilizing role in the fate of the Arabs but also, along with other factors, led to the emergence of the giant Islamic world (Goody, 2013). Islamic civilization has had huge influence on the development of the world; its reflection can be seen in modern religions, languages, literature, and philosophy. It is of great interest to modern scholars. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to consider four main categories, which are the fingerprints of the Islamic civilization. They include beliefs and religion, philosophy and science, language and literature, and legislation.

Belief and Religion

            The principles of Islamic civilization left a deep imprint on the religious reform movements that have been being created in Europe from the seventh century to the present. Islam is the religion, which teaches the lesson of the oneness of God and that He has no partner or associate in His dominion. This religion claimed that God had no anthropomorphic characteristics, injustice, tyranny, defects, and disadvantages. Islam also clearly stated that people in their worship and understanding of the divine laws did not require the mediation of priests (Gibb, 2013). The religion mentioned above acted as a powerful stimulus for the disclosure of the world view of the nations and directed towards them these solid principles. Before the advent of Islam, peoples of the world were in a tenacious grip of religious despotism that held their thoughts and opinions locked. In addition, their bodies and property were in possession of this despotism. The conquest of Islam in the East and West resulted in numerous consequences. It made contribution to the fact that the nations of the lands, which were located directly under Islamic rule, started to live primarily under the influence of the beliefs and ideology of this religion. In such a way, Islam gained its place in the world religious structure.

            Later, people who refused to accept the intermediaries between God and His servants came and urged the others to understand the sacred books regardless of the priests’ control.

Many researchers argue that Arab and Muslim philosophers as well as religious scholars influenced Martin Luther in his reform movement (Gibb, 2013). The European universities at the time relied on books by the Muslim philosophers, which had been translated into Latin previously. The movement for the separation of church and state, which was announced during the French Revolution, was the product of the powerful ideological movement that has prevailed in Europe for more than 300 years. Islamic civilization had had the impact on the movement of the crusaders, and the result was 800years long Muslim rule in Andalusia (the current territory of Spain, Portugal, parts of France, and other territories) (Gibb, 2013). All these facts show the incredible impact the Islamic Civilization produced over the religious beliefs of other cultures.

Philosophy and Science

            In the history of medicine, mathematics, chemistry, geography, and astronomy, Islamic civilization has left an indelible mark. Awakening in the field of knowledge in Europe was the result of the experience that the Europeans had received being the students of Muslim scholars and philosophers in Isabel, Cordoba, and Granada (Nasr, 2010). When students from the West came to these educational centers, they were amazed to find that the doors of the home of science and art were open to everyone. Each of them could benefit by studying them and devoted himself to it with great enthusiasm and concentration in the atmosphere of complete freedom, unprecedented in his land. While Muslim scholars conducted lectures and worked on their scientific studies analyzing facts and phenomena including the rotation of Earth around its axis and its spherical shape as well as the movement of celestial bodies, the minds of the Europeans were filled with prejudices about these things (Nasr, 2010). Then, the movement of the translation of Arabic texts into Latin and teaching in European schools on the books by Muslim scholars began. Al-Qanun is the book of an outstanding scientist Ibn Sina on medicine. It was translated in the twelfth century. Al-Hauy by Ar-Razi is much more voluminous than al-Qanun; it was translated at the end of the thirteenth century (Nasr, 2010).

            An English author O’Hallard traveled to Andalusia and Egypt between 1100 and 1200 and translated Al-Arkan by Euclid. Another pundit Plato Tayguli managed to translate al-Akar. Ore Brujah interpreted Ptolemy’s Geography. Leonard Baig wrote the treatises on algebra, which he had learned from his Arab teachers, approximately in 1200. In the thirteenth century, Kaynonus Dialled provided the best translation of Euclid’s book from Arabic (Nasr, 2010). Hence, the numerous translations of the books made a great contribution to the development of the Islamic culture and its spread in the world.

            Until the sixteenth century, in studying and practice medicine, Europe had depended on the Arabic sources (Nasr, 2010). Regarding rich literature on philosophy, it continued being leading in Europe even longer. The West has met with Greek philosophy through those compilations and translations. For this reason, many European authors acknowledge that in the Middle Ages, Muslim scholars had been the teachers and instructors for the Europeans for at least six centuries (Nasr, 2010). The scientist Gustave Le Bon said that for five or six centuries, books in Arabic and especially the ones on various scientific disciplines had been almost the only tool for learning and teaching in the European universities. He claimed with confidence that in certain disciplines, for example, medicine, the Arab influence was still preserved in modern Europe (Nasr, 2010). However, most Europeans are unable to appreciate the importance of the contribution, which the Islamic civilization made to their science, adequately. History has clearly established that the Greek science and philosophy came to them through Muslim intermediaries. In other words, Europe has seen the spiritual heritage of the Greeks only after its serious consideration and learning in the Middle East. Without Islamic scholars and philosophers, the Europeans would remain in complete ignorance of this heritage for a long time and, perhaps, would never meet it.

Language and Literature

            The population of the West, in particular the Spanish poets were greatly impressed by the Arabic literature. Fine art images were reflected in Western literature through the Arabic literature in Andalusia (Goody, 2013). The famous Spanish writer Abaniz wrote that before the entry of the Arabs to Spain and spreading the traditions of the Arabic literature, in Europe, there was no similar approach to writing poems. In Dusi’s book on the Islam, there is the quotation of the letter of Algar, the Spanish writer, who complained about the indifference of the Europeans to the Latin language and preference to the Arab (Nasr, 2010). It shows that in those days, the Western writers were very impressed by the Arabic language and literature.

            The period of the life of Peter York coincided with time when the Arab culture dominated the traditions of France and Italy. He was educated at the universities of Paris and Monabilia (Gibb, 2013). The scientists who received their knowledge and experience in the Andalusian universities founded both of them. Many books, which the Arabic authors compiled, were used to teach students there, and stories that were in abundance among the Arabs in the Middle Ages had a profound impact on Europe during the Renaissance. These stories include tales of heroism and horseback riding and other feats of strength and valor that the brave riders made in the name of love and glory.

            The European critics believe that Jonathan Swift who wrote about traveling and Defoe who wrote about the adventures of Robinson Crusoe indebted to the authors of A Thousand and One Nights and the story of Hayy ibn Nafldane by Arab philosopher Ibn Tufail (Leaman & Nasr, 2008). No one should doubt that the repeated publication of A Thousand and One Nights shows that the Europeans have made it the center of their attention and were highly impressed by the book (Leaman & Nasr, 2008). In various European languages, many Arabic words related to vital things are used in almost original form. For example, cotton, musk, lemon, zero are the Arabic words, and there are many others transliterated in the same way.

            During the fourteenth century and later, in Europe, many well-known writers whose literary work and style endured the imprint of Arabic literature were creating their masterpieces. In 1349, the Italian writer and poet Boccaccio wrote The Decameron, which was the imitation of the style of the world-famous stories of A Thousand and One Nights. Shakespeare also took the theme of one of his plays from this source. German playwright Lessing borrowed the story for his drama Nathan the Wise from it as well (Nasr, 2010). It means that the literature experienced a profound impact of Islam.

            Chaucer (1340-1400), the father of modern English poetry, mainly turned to the experience of Boccaccio. They met in Italy, and then he started to write his Canterbury Tales. A similar event took place and the famous poem of Dante (1265-1321), The Divine Comedy, in which he introduced the tale of his journey to the other world. It is said that Dante while writing this poem had the idea resulting from the deep impression of the Abu al-Ala al-Muarri’s Al-Ghufran and all that Ibn Arabi wrote about paradise. The reason for it was the fact that Dante lived on Sicily during the reign of Emperor Frederick II who was known for the devotion to the studying of culture and literature in the Arabian language (Nasr, 2010). He sometimes conversed with Dante of Aristotle’s theory, the sources of which were the Arabic books. Dante was familiar with the life of the Prophet Muhammad. He knew the details about the Prophet Miradzha’s alaihis salam or the description of heaven, represented in the prophetic tradition (Nasr, 2010).


            The European students who studied the Islamic literature in the educational institutions of Andalusia translated fiqh and set of regulations relating to the application of law. In Europe, at that time, there was no stable political system as well as laws based on equality and justice. When Napoleon conquered Egypt, the famous collection of fiqh kept in Maliki school was translated into French. Kitabul Khalil was translated one of the first and served as the basis for the French legislation (Nasr, 2010). In addition to this, the strict principles of the Islamic religion played an important role in creating the legislative approaches both in Islamic countries and in the West. Particular historical investigations assume that the death penalty and other violent measures to punish the criminals initially originated from the Islamic world view. According to Nasr (2010), this assumption can hypothetically be truthful since the basis of the death penalty (via different methods of its application) had been evolved throughout the Europe and West after the interaction with Arabic culture.


            The significant influence of the Islamic civilization is clearly felt in all areas of life, in science, arts, and philosophy. Muslims had begun the basic research, which became the foundation of the modern science. The Islamic scholars studied the scientific knowledge that originated from India, China, and Greece and then translated, treated, systematized and supplemented them in various scientific centers of their world. In such a way, they impacted on Europe and controlled its development in a hardly noticeable manner. In addition, Muslim scholars became the ancestors of the new scientific disciplines and directions. The overall impact of Islam on law, ethics, art, and literature is so great that it allows speaking of this religion not just like about one of the elements of the Eastern civilization but like a determining factor. Affiliation to the Muslim community raises special solidarity, which is based not only on the religion but also on the attitude following from the very foundation of Islam, attitude both to the individuals and society as a whole, ideas, things, and nature. This factor rather than the religion suggests the existence of the Islamic civilization.

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