What do you think were the main features of the Arab Islamic civilisation of the Abbasid Period, and what made that civilisation so vibrant?

Essay by attica7University, Bachelor'sA, May 2004

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The 'Golden Age' of Arab Islamic civilisation was essentially a synthesis of diverse roots stemming from Greek, Indian, Iranian and pre-Islam Arabic sources. The advent of the Abbasids around 750 AD made this synthesis possible, and from peoples with varied origins and different religious affiliations was created one profound civilisation. A civilisation that allowed slaves to become rulers, Muslim, Jew and Christian to live side by side, and grew at a rapid rate, creating cities such as Basra and Baghdad. The history of any Empire follows that, it starts, grows in strength, is great, and then declines. I argue that the civilisation of the Abbasid period is remembered as so vibrant because, as is often the case in the human psyche, we tend to remember the best of one time, whilst forgetting its downfalls, and the worst of another time, whilst forgetting its shining moments. Although the Abbasid name ruled the 'Muslim World' starting from revolution in 750, to invasion in 1258, I would like to define the main features and vibrancy of this rule in a narrower time period, spanning roughly from the ninth to the eleventh centuries.

This is because I believe that, the greatness of the Islamic world in culture, tolerance, learning and discovery was at its best during this period of time, hence the focus of this essay. During this defined era, extraordinary advances in Mathematics, Medicine, and Geography were made. Advances that much of the West of today owes its heritage to. Lombard states the advent of the Muslim Empire, meant a widening of the commercial horizon and the elaboration of an economic domain which was more extensive, more varied, and more powerful than anything which had preceded it. (1975:98). This rapid expansion opened up the Islamic World not only to greater trade but also...