By the end of the ninth century, the Islamic empire was the greatest intellectual power the world had ever seen. These powerful Muslim states innovated in science, medicine, music, art, and philosophy. They created bookstores that published more titles than present day New York per year. They established sanitary hospitals that were quick, efficient, and comfortable and also air conditioned at a time when Europeans were praying to a patron saint in order to survive the night. Mathematician Muhammed al-Khwarizmi invented algebra. Physicist Ibn al-Haytham invented the first eyeglasses. Philosopher and physician Ibn Sina authored the most influential medical textbook ever written. The Islamic empire also cleared the way for modern music by inventing a number of musical instruments. Islamic people contributed much to the world, yet somewhere over the course of history the Western world ceased to acknowledge these contributions. But why? After tracing the intellectual accomplishments of the Golden Age of Islam, we will also consider how its contributions could be forgotten. Factors include later anti-intellectual movements, antagonism towards deep understanding of the Quran, and the breaking up of Islam into a hundred different forms and sects.
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