The article discusses “Islamic civilization and culture – meaning and vital elements. Characteristics of Islamic civilization. Islamic civilization and culture – meaning and vital elements.”
Islamic Civilization And Culture – Meaning And Vital Elements
National Geographic has defined civilization in these terms, “it is a complex human society that may have certain characteristics of cultural and technological development.” In simple words, it is the social, political, economical and technological characteristics of a nation or group of people. An Islamic Civilization is that which is based on the rules and jurisdiction set by Islam. Cherif Bassiouni is his book “Introduction To Islam” has defined Islamic Civilization as “it is based on the value of education, which both the Quran and the Prophet (PBUH) stressed.”
In terms of anthropology, a culture is a form of expression about the deep passion of a society. Whereas culture is more reflected in art, literature, religion and morals, civilization is reflected in politics, economics and technology.
As Islam originated and developed in Arab that is why it in many of its aspects seemed influenced by the culture and traditions of Arab world. Islam did one of the following three things to the prevailing custom and traditions of society.
- Those customs that fell within the line of Islamic jurisdictions, Islam adopted them as it is.
- Those customs that completely contradicts with Islam and cannot be modified, Islam repealed them.
- Islam adopted some of them after modifying them.
According to National Geographic the vital elements of a civilization are six. These are;
- Large population centers
- Monumental architecture and unique art styles
- Shared communication strategies
- Systems for administering territories
- Complex division of labor
- And the division of people into social and economic classes
Islamic civilization flourished mostly during Islamic Golden Age that ranges from 8th to 13th century. During this time much of the cultural, scientific and economic work flourished. Caliph Harun-al-Rashid during his reign built Bait-ul-Hikma (House of Wisdom) which brought an unprecedented knowledge boom in Islamic world. Some of the vital elements of Islamic civilization have been discussed in below paragraphs in detail.
Islamic Literature – With the spread of paper from China to Muslim world in 8th century, Islamic literature flourished. Muslim scholars stored the valuable scientific knowledge of ancient Greek, Roman, Chinese, Indian, Persian and Egyptian civilizations by translating them into Arabic. Similarly Muslim scientists also recovered some of the the lost knowledge such as Alexandrian mathematical, geometric and astronomical knowledge.
Islamic Scholarship – Muslim scientists laid the foundation of some of the modern sciences, method and techniques. Jabir Ibn Hayyan is known as the founder of modern Chemistry. He discovered hydrochloric acid. He also did notable work in the distillation of wine. The concept of Algebra was introduced by a Muslim scientist, Muhammad Musa Al Khwarizmi in his masterpiece “Kitab Al Jabra Wal Muqabala”. Ibn al Haytham invented pinhole camera. Muhammad Ibn Zakaria Al Razi used opium as anesthesia for the first time in human history during surgery.
Islamic Art – During Islamic Golden Age a great work was done in art of metalwork, woodwork, glass, textile, painting, illuminated manuscripts and calligraphy. Decoration of Quran manuscript is an important aspect of Islamic calligraphy. Similarly Islamic architecture that flourished during this time has its own uniqueness.
Islamic Centers Of Excellence And Learning – During Islamic Golden Age some Islamic cities such as Baghdad, Bukhara and Al Andulus became the centers of excellence and learning. Students and scientists from all over the world gathered here and learnt science, philosophy, astronomy and art.
Islamic System Of Administration – Islam gave the concept of welfare state to the world for the first time in human history. The election of Caliph (ruler) through mutual consultation (Shura), his impeachement, equality before law and appointment of governors, all are characteristics of Islamic civilization that were later copied and created system of democracy by the Western countries.
Islam truely is a complete code of life. It not only guides human beings in their religious affairs but also laid the foundation modern social, political, cultural and economic system.
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