Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Islam's Golden Age 750 to 1250

From "The Trouble With Islam," by Irshad Manji -- Pages 51-52

In Iraq, the heart of the Islamic empire, Christians worked alongside Muslims to translate and revive Greek philosophy. In Spain, the western rim of Islam's reach, Muslims developed what one Yale historian calls a "culture of tolerance" with Jews. Together, all of these communities gave us the precursor to globalization ---- the interconnectedness of technology, money, and people. Muslims traded vigorously with non-Muslims, pioneering a system by which checks could be prepared in Morocco and cashed in Syria. The back-and-forth of commerce cultivated a hopping traffic in ideas as well. Let me highlight a handful of Islam's contributions to Western culture. The guitar. Cough syrup. The university. Algebra. In the southern Spanish city of Cordoba a sexually spunky woman named Wallada organized literary salons where people analyzed dreams, poetry, and the Koran. They debated what the Koran proscribed for men and women. But what is a man? And what is a woman? They debated those questions too. This was a time in which one could even discuss the Koran's implications for hermaphrodites, people born with the genitals of both sexes.