Was Islam really responsible for the Italian Renaissance?
Yes a major factor would be hard to dispute. The word Renaissance means rediscovery and where does one think Europeans immeriging from what is often referred to as the dark ages, rediscovered architecture, astronomy, medicine, philosophy, science(botany, biology, physics, chemistry) and mathematics (algebra, geometry) from? In the mid 1400's Christian Europe had spent several centuries identifying and systematically destroying the pagan knowledge of Rome and Greece as heretical. The Islamic world was a repository for this knowledge which Europeans drew upon. More than that. To take just mathematics into focus. What would modern math be like today without our Arabic numbering system? The Zero, Algebra, Average, Zenith, Nadr, Azimuth, Cipher and the concept of an Algorithm? All Islamic innovations. It's frankly impossible to image Calculus a more modern european invention without these earlier Islamic building blocks. Mathematics is a representative sampling of not only science but philosophy, architecture, engineering, astronomy, and medicine; all rooted in Greek and Roman scholarship but expanded upon and passed down to us from Islamic civilization.
Islam was the caretaker of ancient European learning and Western European Civilization as built on Greek, Roman, ideology is also built on Islamic contributions.
The Moslem world was vastly more sophisticated than Europe in the early middle ages(commonly referred to as the dark ages of Europe). Contact with this advanced civilization had to inspire Europeans. Europeans first impressions of the Moslems came during the Spanish expansion and then from knights during the Crusades. Muslim cities during this period had streetlights, indoor plumbing for both drinking and waste water, Universities and Hospitals. Not only were these innovations unheard of in Christian Europe, but the scale of these services being provided to average citizens were beyond anything Europe was could entertain.
The Muslim world had built on and expanded the knowledge of Greece and Rome; Europe at the time, did not have access to much of Roman and Greek works and htus was unable to reproduce their achievements, much less expand upon them.
History of Water Supply and Sanitation
In the Abbasid Caliphate (8th-13th centuries), its capital city of Baghdad (Iraq) had 65,000 baths, along with a sewer system. Cities of the medieval Islamic world had water supply systems powered by hydraulic technology that supplied drinking water along with much greater quantities of water for ritual washing, mainly in mosques and hammams (baths). Bathing establishments in various cities were rated by Arabic writers in travel guides. Medieval Islamic cities such as Baghdad, Córdoba (Islamic Spain), Fez (Morocco) and Fustat (Egypt) also had sophisticated waste disposal and sewage systems with interconnected networks of sewers. The city of Fustat also had multi-storey tenement buildings (with up to six floors) with flush toilets, which were connected to a water supply system, and flues on each floor carrying waste to underground channels
Cordoba: A City of Light
Located in the Iberian Peninsula, Cordoba was one of the prominent centers of learning and culture in the enlightened Muslim world. While the rest of Europe was going through its dark ages, this was the most prosperous and sophisticated metropolis in the continent. It was the capital of Muslim Spain, spanning the region known today as Spain and Portugal, during 756 to 1031 C.E. and this was its most glorious period.
The streets were well paved and lighted, the lights being attached to the outer doors and corners of the houses – which, as al-Muqaddasi notes, had tiled roofs. Cordoba was abundantly supplied with running water, for the supply of which ‘Abd al-Rahman I had constructed an aqueduct.
The Islamic world in the Middle Ages - BBC
Throughout the Middle Ages, the Muslim world was more advanced and more civilised than Christian Western Europe, which learned a huge amount from its neighbour.Part of History The Middle Ages (12th to 15th century)…
The Islamic world housed some of the first and most advanced hospitals from the 8th century, notably in Baghdad and Cairo. Built in 805, the Baghdad hospital housed a medical school and a library. Unlike medieval Christian hospitals, its aim was to treat patients, not just to care for them.
From Jami'ah to University Multiculturalism and Christian-Muslim Dialogue
Some scholars such as Syed Farid Alatas have noted some parallels between Madrasahs and early European colleges and have thus inferred that the first universities in Europe were influenced by the Madrasahs in Islamic Spain and the Emirate of Sicily.
University of al-Qarawiyyin
It is the oldest existing, continually operating higher educational institution in the world according to UNESCO and Guinness World Records and is occasionally referred to as the oldest university by scholars.
The word "Renaissance" literally means revival. It refers to a revival of science and learning in Europe. This was not the discovery of science, philosophy, architecture, math, astronomy, physics etc.. but was based on the reintroduction of learning from Greek and Roman times.
During the early middle ages in Europe Greek and Roman texts were considered heretical and burnt as pagan texts. Like at the Great Library at Alexandria.
The library of the Serapeum in Alexandria was trashed, burned and looted in 392, at the decree of Theophilus of Alexandria, who was ordered to do so by Theodosius I. Around the same time, Hypatia was murdered. One of the largest destructions of books occurred at the Library of Alexandria, traditionally held to be in 640
Burn, book, burn! Medieval book historian at The University of British Columbia, Vancouver.
The oldest surviving depiction of a book burning is early medieval: it is found in a law book from c. 825 (Pic 3). It shows a scene from some 500 years before. Shortly after the year 333 the Christian emperor Constantine declared his solution to the Arians, the followers of Arius, a Christian leader with heretical opinions. The solution was practical: burn the books in which Arian views are expressed - as well as their owners. The other two medieval images (Pics 2-3) also show a bonfire of heretical books. The top image, however, is something completely different. It does involve an old book, from the nineteenth
These texts survived in the Middle east where Muslim scholars added to the ancients understanding of medicine, architecture, science, mathematics, astronomy etc. The source of ancient European Knowledge was re-introduced to Europe through Islam which had preserved these pagan texts.
The Renaissance: The 'Rebirth' of Science & Culture
Classical Latin texts and Greek science and philosophy began to be revived on a larger scale, and early versions of universities were established. The Crusades played a role in ushering in the Renaissance, Philip Van Ness Myers wrote in "Medieval and Modern History." While crusading, Europeans encountered advanced Middle Eastern civilizations, which had made strides in many cultural fields. Islamic countries kept many classical Greek and Roman texts that had been lost in Europe, and they were reintroduced through returning crusaders.
From the Comments:
From: dROOOzeYou’re not addressing why it is not controversial in the early middle ages but it is controversial now.
I wasn't. The reason why it's not controversial to say Islam was responsible for the renaissance, is because we are not just talking about a religion in the middle ages when this occurred. Islam was an empire, the islamic empire which was a large sophisticated, unified civilization. We could not attribute such achievements today to a religion because today religions are not temporal powers, are not associated with an individual country much less a civilization. Religions are not nearly as uniformly influential even dominant as they were during the early middle ages. Today religions are not unified in leadership, doctrine or philosophy.
If we observe the act of book burning which occurs in some internal minor state or province and note the political person involved was say christian. Today that doesn't mean all christians agree those books should be burned. Even if a Pope said it today, it wouldn't mean all Catholics agreed with him. That wasn't the case in the early 1400's europe. When the Pope said burn pagan texts as heresy prior to the reformation he spoke for all of Western Europe/Christendom. Failure to comply meant you could face a similar fate. There was one church, one voice at the top, and that voice not only controlled church doctrine but also controlled powerful armies(directly and indirectly). The same was true of the Islamic Empire in the middle ages. And just as Christendom has been fractured by schisms, reformations and civil constraints placed upon religion by nationalists; Islam too has been decentralized today. Religions influence today just bares no resemblance to what it was in the early 1400's.
Yes assigning characteristics to a religion is fraught with controversy in the modern world. But in the early middle ages religion was synonymous with empires. Religious leaders were not relegated to the spiritual arena but dictated temporal policies which determined the path's of civilizations. In the west it was religious policy to burn heretical works and make scientific theory subservient to matters of faith. And in the middle east it was religious policy just as influential which chose not to take the same path.