The History and Achievements of the Islamic Golden Age : The Great Courses: Civilization & Culture

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Eamonn Gearon
  • Series: The Great Courses: Civilization & Culture
  • 11 hrs and 58 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

The study of Western Civilization traditionally follows a well-known but incomplete arc: the grand achievements of Greece and Rome, several hundred years of the Dark Ages, and then the bright emergence of the European Renaissance. But amid the "dark" Middle Ages, the Abbasid Empire, which ruled the Middle East as well as much of Northern Africa and Central Asia from 750 to 1258, serves as a vitally important but often overlooked bridge between the ancient and modern worlds.
The History and Achievements of the Islamic Golden Age is your opportunity to get to know the story and the accomplishments of this great period in human civilization. Taught by acclaimed lecturer Eamonn Gearon, these 24 remarkable lectures offer brilliant insights into an era too often overlooked by traditional history textbooks. You'll meet a wealth of scholars, scientists, poets, and philosophers who paved the way for the Renaissance and continue to affect our world in surprising ways.
For instance, gain insights into:


The origins of the scientific method, along with the development of algebra, chemistry, physics, and astronomy as discrete fields of inquiry
The invention of the modern "teaching hospital" and a medical encyclopedia that served Europe for the next 600 years
The preservation and translation of the world's great literature, from the Hadith (or sayings of Muhammad) to the master works of Greece and Rome
Ontological philosophy that served future Jewish, Christian, and Muslim theologians concerned with the nature of God and the relationship between faith and reason

It is nearly impossible to overstate the power and importance of this crucial 500-year history, headquartered in Baghdad but stretching around the world. While much of Europe was quietly passing the time, the Abbasid Empire was an international, multicultural hub of trade, travel, education, art, science, and much more.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Engaging and thought provoking

Professor Gearon is very engaging and clearly enthusiastic about the Islamic golden age. The subject itself is interesting and I learned a great deal. It is a pity that the facts of this topic are not more well known. Amy history of the west seems to jump from Roman history to the Renaissance ignoring the important contributions of Islamic art, science and culture - which this course goes some way to rectifying. I highly recommend this to anyone with an interest in history.
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- Andrew McC

Well-presented propaganda

In recent years, suspicion of and hostility to Islam has grown continuously in the western world, as Muslim immigration has increased, and jihad attacks have become almost routine. Western elites have made an extraordinary efforts to convince their sceptical publics that Islam is not just the fount of horror many of them believe it to be. Part of this propaganda initiative has involved talking up the glories of the supposed Islamic golden age. Professor Gearon's work falls squarely within that tradition.

Although Gearon acknowledges that many of the greatest achievers were not Muslims, he insists on using the term "Islamic Golden Age" anyway. His excuse: because it's already in widespread use. He constantly asserts, but fails to convincingly demonstrate, that the European Renaissance somehow derived from or depended on the prior "Islamic Golden Age".

There are many flaws in this strain of Islamophile propaganda. Notably, it implies that "Greek wisdom" would have been lost to Europe if it had not been preserved through intermediate translation into Arabic. There are a few texts of which this is true but its extent has been massively exaggerated. The propagandists tend to ignore the fact that "Greek wisdom" was preserved in the place where it originated, Greece, under the auspices of the Byzantine empire. By rhetorical sleight of hand, they disconnect the Byzantine empire from Europe and argue that Europe should somehow be pathetically grateful to Muslims for having given us back our own knowledge. An absurdity. They also ignore the fact that there was almost zero transmission of "knowledge" from Islamic civilisation to European civilisation until the Muslim polities in Spain were defeated in the Reconquista. In other words, it wasn't convivencia that brought "enrichment" but warfare.

Professor Gearon makes the Muslim propagandist's case as well as it can be made, but, for me at least, it remains deficient and unconvincing. It's worth listening to, certainly, but in a spirit of scepticism.
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- Vavavoom

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-02-2017
  • Publisher: The Great Courses