Islamic Background of Western Renaissance (3)

Islamic Background of Western Renaissance (3)

Translations (1)

The Christian Scholars who had studied in the institutions of Muslim Spain translated several important works of Arab writers into European languages which provided the firm ground on which the stately edifice of Western learning was raised. During the 12th and 13th centuries A.D. the process of the diffusion of Arab sciences assumed massive scale and there were several centers in southern France for the dissemination of Arabian Culture. Constantine, an African monk (1087 A.D.), who had acted as secretary to Robert Guiscard, translated several Arabic works including the theoretical part of Ali Ibn Abbas, al-Kitab al-Maliki.
The surgical part of the book was translated into Latin by John, a disciple of Constantine.

Gerard of Cremona was one of the greatest exponents of Arabian learning. He spent more than 50 years in Muslim Spain devoting himself to the pursuit of Arabic learning and translated more than ninety Arabic works including Al-IZanun, the monumental medical works of-Ibn Sina, Almagest of Ptolemy, Tasrif of Al-Zahrawi, ;rlI-Mansuri of Al-Razi and the astronomy of Al-Haitham. Faraj ben Salim, the Sicilian Jew, translated in 1279, Al-Hawi, the well-known medical work of Al-Razi as well as Taqwim al-dbdan, written by Ibn Jazlah.

Europe is chiefly indebted for its knowledge of Arabic medicine to Constantine, Gerard of Cremona and Faraj bin Salim whose translations paved the way for the growth of medical science in the West. Adelard of Bath, attached for a considerable time to the house of Benedictine was the greatest Arabist of England who popularized Arab learning in France and England. He brought a large number of books from Cordova, which he translated and popularized in England. Of his many translated works, the outstanding are the Elements of Euclid, the astronomical tables of Majriti (1126 A.D.), the astronomical tables of Al-Khwarizmi, the astronomical tables of Abu Ma'sher Jafar and many other astronomical and mathematical treatises. Toledo, after its fall into Christian hands in 1085 A.D. became an important centre for the transmission of Arabic literary treasures to the West.

Under the guidance of Archbishop Raymond I (1126--51 A.D.) there arose a regular translation department in which Michael Scot, Robert Chester and Gerard of Cremona made valuable translations of important Arabic works. Michael Scot (1236) who is considered as one of the founders of Latin Averroism later became the court astrologer of Frederick II of Sicily.. He translated among other works Al-Hai'a (Bitruji's astronomy), Adstotle's De Coelo et-Mundo, with Ibn Rushd's commentary, and many Arabic works on zoology. His translations of Ibn Rushd's works greatly influenced the later European philosophers. Robert Chester made the first translation of Al-Khwarini's algebra in 1145 A.D.

In 1143 he along with Hermann, the Dalmatian, completed the first translation of the Holy Quran. Gerard of Cremona was the most prolific of Toledo translators., Leonardo Fibonacci, who travelled extensively in Spain and Algeria learnt Arabic mathematical science and translated the great work of:-Al-Khwarizmi on algebra. His translated works greatly influenced later writers, hence he is considered the founder of modern mathematics in Europe.. He greatly. popularized the perfected decimal notation in Europe. Daniel de Morley who studied astronomy and mathematics in Cordova, published a number of works and lectured at the Oxford School. Theodore of Antioch translated into Latin, an Arabic work dealing with hawking, which is considered as the first modern natural history. Abraham Ben Ezra(1167 A.D.) a Jew of Toledo translated al-Beruni's commentary on Khwarizmi's Tables. John of Seville translated among others the medical and philosophical works of al-Farghani, Abu Mahsar, Al-Kindi and Al-Ghazali. Plate and Tivoli translated the astronomy of Al-Battani as well as other mathematical works.

Companies of Novara who had studied mathematics at Cordova taught the subject in Vienna. Alfonso, the sage had established schools at Toledo for the translation of Arabic works. Stephens of Egypt who received his education in Muslim Sicily translated the important medical work of al-Majusi in 1127 A,D. Sicily stands next to Spain in the diffusion of Arab culture. Muslim learning was transmitted to Europe from Spain and Sicily. Even after the conquest of Sicily at the hands of the Normans in 1091A.D. the Christian rulers exercised great tolerance towards Muslims and contrary to their counterparts in Spain patronized Muslim culture. The superior culture of the conquered race had won the hearts of the conquerors, so much so that Roger, the first King of Sicily, and his successors were accused of being more Muslim than Christian is.

Sicily, which even in the Christian era continued to be a great centre of Muslim civilization, played a vital part in the awakening of Europe. The civil administration of Sicily served as a model for Europe. It was Thomas Burn, who introduced the English fiscal system during the reign of Henry II, which he had learnt in Muslim Sicily. Sicily, with its central position served as an intermediary between the two cultures, Christian and Muslim.
It provided an ideal centre for the dissemination of Arabic civilization. There was continuous intercourse between the two Norman States of England and Sicily which was instrumental in bringing many elements of Muslim culture to distant Britain. Emperor Frederick II, in spite of strong opposition from-the orthodox quarters, continued to be the greatest patron of Muslim culture in Europe. "Its great far-reaching influence reached its height when the kingdom passed into the hands of the great Italian born Emperor Frederick II," writes Robert Briffault, "whose radiant figure filled the Middle Ages with wonder.

Continue in the next article: ( Islamic Background of Western Renaissance (4) )