Perry Rubin: Islamic contributions to the European Renaissance

The European Renaissance was precipitated by innumerable philosophical, intellectual and artistic contributions of Islamic society. The resurgence of interest in Greek philosophy was encouraged through study by Muslim scholars, during the period of Abbasid rule, which lead to the revival of many classical texts. The concept of teaching religious international law was appropriated from the Islamic scholar Al-Shaybani and later applied to the legal canonists of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in Europe. The immense amount of collected history pertaining to Arabo-Islamic culture has been referenced frequently by European academics since the Renaissance. Even Dante’s “Divine Comedy” contains a reference to the prophet’s ascension to Heaven.

The fields of math and science were also hugely impressed by Islamic academics. Both the words for Algebra and Chemistry originate from Arabic words Al-Jabr and Al-Kemia. Another excellent example of Islamic influence on Western sciences is the Hippocratic oath. This medical pledge, still mandated today, was translated from Greek to Arabic by Hunain Ibn Ishanq who went on to translate the entire canon of Greek medical works. The Islamic scholars of this time intervened to preserve the scientific and philosophical heritage of the ancient world and shared this rediscovered knowledge with European minds.

Without the tremendous contributions of Islamic society the multitude of advancements made during the European Renaissance would not have been possible. The desire to understand and share the workings of the world around us is profound and aptly summarized in the following Hadith, “The ink of scholars is more sacred than the blood of martyrs”.