Pages of Medieval Mideastern History

By Eloise Hart

Whatever happened to those pages in books between Ancient and Modern times? Why were we left at the destruction of Alexandria's fabulous library -- heartsick to contemplate the loss and to imagine, half buried in ashes and rubble, charred pages of Aeschylus' immortal dramas, faded diagrams of Euclidean mathematics, and smoldering bundles of Aristotelian scientific classifications?

If indeed all was destroyed, how is it that our law, our government, our science and philosophy are based on concepts of Hellenic culture? Those chapters so often skipped, evidently, bear rereading. In them we'll discover that the knowledge that seemed irretrievably lost -- especially those philosophical and scientific works treasured in the library and museum of the Alexandrian royal palace, where scholars had accumulated, translated, edited and catalogued the best of every field of knowledge -- was not completely destroyed. Some valuable remnants were transported and enriched in a far land.

In those 'missing' pages we'll learn how the malicious efforts of Roman mercenaries and Christian zealots to obliterate all trace of pagan culture were thwarted by wary scholars who saw in their critical frowns, heard in their biased questions, a spirit of bigotry which might well, and indeed did, grow into a veritable holocaust. These scholars, fortunately for posterity, quietly packed their belongings, slipping in 'accidentally' a few irreplaceable manuscripts, and left the city. Others -- translators, copywriters and researchers, employed at the Library-museum -- also became apprehensive. Whenever possible they too secreted out fragile papyri and parchments.

Some were stored in underground crypts, or hidden in Egyptian mummy cases; others, wrapped in Chinese silk were smuggled out on merchant caravans winding their way along age-old trade routes to cities in the Near East like Damascus, Antioch, Edessa, Harran and Jundishapur where the refining influences of Greek culture had been felt since the Alexandrian colonization some 300 years BC, and where now prosperous Arabian merchants and knowledge-hungry students bartered to possess these precious manuscripts. In so doing they gathered up those vital seeds of civilization which they and their countrymen would not only nurture during Europe's long ages of darkness, but would cultivate into hardy, fruitful growth.

Undeniably, the Islamic movement has had its cruel and militant conquests. Hardly had the Prophet Mohammed died, in 632 AD, than his zealous Bedouin hosts, already at the frontiers of the Byzantine and Persian empires, swept on to conquer Syria, taking Jerusalem and Palestine, then Tripoli, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Armenia and Georgia. By 732 they had extended their empire to the foothills of the Himalayas, to Persia, Spain and into France where Charles Martel, in a brilliant victory at Tours, stopped their invasion of Europe. But religious zeal is resilient. Fanatical ghazis -- fighters for the faith -- have marched forth time and again, seeking to destroy all who, in their uncompromising views, were heretical.

However, Islam also had its corps of intellectuals who quietly, persistently, besieged the citadels of truth -- their banners, emblems of benevolence, their scimitar, the pen. "The ink of the scholars is more precious than the blood of martyrs." But for their role in the recovery of ancient learning, in its preservation and circulation throughout their empire and on to the Schoolmen of Western Europe, our culture might well have lacked its scientific renaissance, lost its philosophical heritage.

Just here it is well to remember that all Arabians were not Arabs. During those centuries when Christian orthodoxy had become unbearably oppressive, whole communities of Persians, Turks and Barbers, desperate to retain their intellectual freedom, submitted to the Arab conquerors and, as a matter of self-preservation, called themselves Arabians. Thus the term included those who spoke Arabic, those of the Moslem faith, and those under the protection of Arab rule -- a rule which at that time sought the cooperation of its subjects. By tolerating local customs and offering even those of humble birth opportunities for wealth and position, it encouraged volunteers to participate as soldiers, laborers and merchants in the rapidly expanding Moslem empire. Those who left the familiarity of their circumscribed culture -- where aged bards had woven local history, morality, and religious lore into tales of tribal valor -- inevitably felt the challenge of foreign customs and beliefs. Seeking explanations, strangers asked each other about their way of life, about their customs and their religion.

The exchange was electrifying. As each tried to give convincing arguments he discovered his own urgent need for knowledge. Questions followed questions. The search for truth spread like a contagion through all levels of society. Wealthy and influential families rivaled each other, vied even with the caliphs to hire wise and gifted men to instruct their children and themselves.

One of these enthusiastic patrons was the Caliph of Baghdad, al-Ma'mun, who in 830 AD founded the famous Bait al-Hikhmah. In this 'House of Wisdom' the Caliph daringly separated scientific studies from traditional theology, and not only collected rare and valuable manuscripts and a galaxy of teachers skilled in the arts of 'ancient learning,' but he himself regularly presided over their discussions. His dissertations, written down as treatises and aphorisms, reflect an open-mindedness and an intellectual candor remarkable even today.

Al-Ma'mun did much to build Baghdad -- the ancient Babylonian town which Persian poets called Bag-Da-Du, Garden of God -- into a major center of learning in the Moslem world. Its prosperity and cultureal influence attracted both scholars and adventurers from far-off China, India, Persia, Syria, Bactria, from Egypt and Greece. When these people, from such varied backgrounds, mingled in the market place, royal court or university hall, groping to break through language barriers, they discovered exciting new facets of knowledge. Ideas sprang up in their minds like seedlings after a heavy rain.

From ideas came progress, especially in mathematics and astronomy. After the adoption of Indian ciphers, including the zero and decimal system, and the subsequent simplification of the principles and calculations of Archimedes, Euclid and Ptolemy, the Arabians' advances in algebra, geometry, plane and spherical trigonometry brought them wide acclaim.

Although some authorities insist that this Indian arithmetic had been developed in Alexandria, had traveled to India via sea-routes from Egypt to northwest India, then through Persia to Baghdad, al-Khowarizmi explained in a book published in about 825 and later translated into Latin, Liber Algorismi de numero Indorum, that Indian numerals were adopted in Baghdad after certain of their astronomical tables had been translated there. Other research has uncovered our 'Arabian' numbers in the ancient Indian inscriptions of Asoka, Nana Ghat and in the Nasik caves.

Gradually through the centuries this 'new mathematics' was adapted to other fields, and its benefits spread throughout Europe. When the printing press was invented in the mid-15th century, thousands of copies of their arithmetic texts and nautical almanacs were produced and distributed. In fact, the success of Christopher Columbus is attributed largely to his pilots' knowledge of Arabian mathematics and astronomy.

Until the 9th century astronomy had been a popular subject at the caliph's court. Only occasionally had the Zoroastrian star-gazers, oracular interpretations of celestial configurations been questioned -- denounced -- by strict Moslems who insisted that God's will, not the stars, ruled man's life. But when the simplified Indian ciphers were adopted, a new scientific approach developed. Astro-mathematicians checked and corrected the observations and figures of both ancient and contemporary astronomers, and with amazing accuracy measured the size of the earth and plotted the orbits of the planets. And then they 'discovered' the Surya-Siddhanta -- that ancient Indian treatise on astronomy a traveler had brought to Baghdad about 772 AD -- and found in its Arabic translation, the Sindhind, information that revealed vast new horizons in time and space.

More and more the Moslem world was consumed by the Greek spirit of inquiry. Every field of human knowledge was examined with probing curiosity. To know things as they are became the aim of life, indeed, the insignia of true and just religion.

Unrecognized but essential to this progress were teams of translators who labored tirelessly to satisfy the increasing demands. When Greek and Roman sources were exhausted they made selections from other languages. One of their most beautiful works, Kalilah-wa-Dimnah, has been used throughout the world as a standard of Arabic prose style. It is a translation of The Fables of Bidpai by the Persian, Ibn al-Muqaffa (born c. 725), a book brought out of India by Christians who sent there to buy drugs, had returned with a triple bonus: a good supply of drugs, a game of chess (hitherto unknown in the West), and this remarkable collection of philosophical fables attributed to the Indian sage Bidpai of the 3rd century AD. The original Sanskrit work is lost, but much of the material can be found in the Panchatantra and Mahabharata. Of the many adaptations of these fables, the most familiar are Aesop's Fables and Kipling's Jungle Book.

The translator's skill also contributed to the broad curricula of Arabian medical academies which included Indian preventive medicine and hygiene, Greek and Egyptian chemistry, Hermetic metaphysics and psychology, and descriptions of the practice and theory of the foremost Greek, Persian, Indian and Assyrian physicians. This knowledge, combined with their accuracy in observation and diagnosis, produced outstanding medical men like Ibn-Rushd (Averroes) and Al-Razi, whose medical tracts and compendiums have been studied by doctors and pharmacists well beyond the 16th century.

The greatest demand, however, was for the works of Plato and Aristotle; in them Islamic students found insights into ambiguous passages in the Koran. Unlike earlier Moslems who had regarded their holy book as that part of an infinite wisdom which was put into words 'by the hands of scribes honored and righteous' and communicated to mankind through the Prophet Mohammed, to be accepted without question, these later scholars found that by using the scientific approach of interpreting the unknown in terms of the known, of leading the mind gradually into the profound and abstract, they could explain even the most puzzling 'revelations.' Enthusiastically now, they studied and discussed the sacred writings of antiquity, attempting to interpret their own canonical tradition and to elucidate questions, ranging from human conduct to divine justice, which arose from confrontations with the Christians. Their results are the innumerable explanatory commentaries which form the basis of present-day Islamic philosophy.

The tremendous advance of knowledge made between 800 and 900 AD captured man's imagination. A few searched even deeper, seeking to understand their destiny and higher responsibility to the cosmos. Insight of this kind had been held sacred and entrusted only to the worthy and disciplined, within the sanctuary of such Mystery centers as those of Eleusis and Samothrace. But when the Christian Emperor Justinian ordered the Mystery schools closed in 529 AD, their neophytes and hierophants, alarmed by public animosity and fearing possible betrayal of their occult sciences, fled their homeland to continue their studies privately in a safer climate.

Some were welcomed in foreign courts, as in Persia by King Khosru Nushirwan I. Others may have established minor schools or joined one of the many secret fraternities existing in the remote cities, mountain and desert communities of the Hither East, where they conformed to local theology and concealed their real teachings within the symbolic ideology of their new environs. Those suspected of thus giving only an appearance of orthodoxy were branded as Zindigs, atheists (from siddiq, an initiate). As implied, they did indeed frequently couch esoteric doctrine in the inspired poetry of love, or even in language and metaphor offensive to cultivated tastes.

Intriguing allegories and recurrent references to the existence and teachings of these mysterious brotherhoods in factual and romantic literature leave little doubt that they were the heirs to an ageless wisdom-tradition, and that their contribution to the enlightenment of mankind, though subtle, was significant.

For example, there is an almost identical pattern in the teachings, conduct and dedication of the Sufis, Druzes, Sabaeans, Assassins, and the Brethren of Purity. Of these, the Sufis have since earned the respect and admiration of all who find in the beauty and nobility of their mystical philosophy the same humility, devotion and lofty principles which characterize the words and examples of such illumined men as Lao-tzu, Plotinus and Jacob Boehme.

These were the qualities which the earliest Sufis had adapted in part from the Hellenic, Buddhist and Egyptian Mystery teachings, and which so inspired the first Mohammedan caliphs that they endeavored to live humbly and in accord with spiritually-oriented principles. They recognized the equality and nobility of all life by treating animals and men, including those conquered in battle, with justice, respect and tolerance.

Although Sufi philosophy contains doctrines of a cosmological world system, its ultimate goal is to attain Reality, or union of the soul with Deity, by living a pure and devoted life. "In the world of Divine Unity is no room for Number . . ." wrote their famous poet, Jalal-ud-din Rumi.

Such realization, however, is not to be confused with the ecstatic visions of the darwish, nor of those on drugs, whose unfortunate experiences are decried by established Sufi orders as a low form of illumination in which only the supernatural beings of an elementary nature, like the jinns, are contacted -- definitely not spiritual enlightenment.

Part 2
Strange as though marked by destiny was part the Sabaeons played in the transmission of Greek culture to the Western world. Prior to the rise of Islam's power there was located in the northern Mesopotamian city of Harran, a Syrian fraternity which for hundreds of years had refused to submit to Christian authority. Despite recurrent persecution, their members held inviolate a religious philosophy which embodied Hermetic, Mithraic and Neoplatonic teachings. But in the year 830 their very existence was threatened when the caliph of Baghdad with a formidable detachment of soldiers stopped at Harran for provisions during his campaign against Byzantine heretics.

Accustomed to being met with some show of apprehension, Caliph al-Ma'mun was puzzled by a hospitable welcome. Who, he wondered, were these fearless and obviously scholarly infidels? "Are you Moslems?" he asked them, "Christians? Zoroastrians? Do you have a holy book or a prophet recognized by the Koran?"

Though well aware of their danger, these 'infidels' replied with characteristic honesty, simply "No."
Such courage amazed al-Ma'mun. Surprisingly, he deferred their execution, but 'suggested' they become Moslems -- or Christians -- before his return. Whether or not this encounter actually occurred is open to question, but it does reflect the atmosphere of the time.
Under threat, some of the Harranians did convert, outwardly. Others, still refusing to compromise their beliefs, fled to Baghdad where they had heard non-Moslems would be protected as clients of the State on payment of a personal safety tax. Had not their Persian neighbors from Jundishapur recently migrated there, and already been employed translating their ancient knowledge of medicine and astronomy into Arabic?
However, when the pagan Harranians arrived at Baghdad the question of their religion again arose and they were saved only by heeding the advice of a clever jurist: "Call yourselves Sabaeans -- the Koran mentions that ancient Roman cult, although now it is extinct."

So it was that the 'scholarly infidels' from Harran received official recognition in a Moslem city. Before long their knowledge of Hellenic science and culture so impressed the local intelligentsia that not only were they welcomed into the House of Wisdom, and invited to lecture and publish their writings, but were even encouraged to establish their own school of pagan Neoplatonism! The result was an academy, similar to the Greek Mystery schools Justinian had closed 350 years earlier, which was to contribute generously to Arabian erudition during the following centuries.
Another fraternal order, the Druzes, have an ancient and profoundly mystical tradition. They too have survived centuries of vilification as infidels, thieves and idolaters by outsiders frustrated in attempts to exploit their sacred tradition.

Their members, whether living in the Syrian and Lebanese villages of Jabalu'd-Duruz (mountain of the Druzes), in forest hamlets of Abyssinia, in Egypt, in Arabia, Israel, India or in the United States, have generally been considered affiliates of the Isma'ili sect of Shi'ite Mohammedans, although among themselves they prefer being called disciples of Hamza, an 11th century messiah. But whatever the title, the 'uqqal, those initiated into the deeper mysteries, were, and are, distinguished as much by a calm, dignified conduct and abstinence from worldly distractions, as by their black robes, white turbans and the veils and red slippers their women wear. They shun notoriety, conform to local religious formalism, refrain from proselytism, and never disclose the inner teachings which are revealed only to their worthy and initiated members.

That portion of their exoteric doctrines which has been made public contains moral precepts of a high order as well as certain tenets found also in Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Gnosticism, Christianity and Islam. They subscribe to one God, incomprehensible and ineffable, who is made know unto men through a succession of incarnations at specific periods of world history -- Jesus was one such divine incarnation, but Mohammed was not. They believe that this world is a 'mirror' of Divine Intelligence, and that the destiny of man (the total number of souls being limited), is to ascend to perfection through a continuous process of soul-imbodiment. An ascent which may be hastened by the right exercise and direction of human will -- never by the impertinence of prayer or supplication!

Yet another interesting society, the Assassins, was generally stigmatized and condemned in stories told by returning Crusaders, by Marco Polo, and by Dante who branded all members of this Egyptian branch of Isma'ilians as 'Assassins' -- those who use hashish to induce ecstatic visions of the Garden of Paradise or, to goad themselves into committing fanatical murders of non-believers.
Such accusations were no doubt directed against sects of zealous Assassins like the band Hasan Ben Sabbah led in treacherous attacks against both Seljuk Turks and Crusaders. It was this notorious Hasan whose name is linked with that of Omar Khayyam (d. 1123?), for as schoolboys they had been close friends, but later went their separate ways. Omar became the scholarly and accomplished mathematician, astronomer and poet, whose beautiful and intriguing Rubaiyat reflects a depth of Assassin metaphysics that remains obscure and mysterious only to those 'outside' who lack an esoteric understanding of its allegories.

There is evidence, however, to indicate that all this while, secluded from worldly affairs, Assassins of superior degree studied and lived by the principles formulated, partly from Alexandrian or neo-Egyptian rites, in the 9th century by their first grand master, the Mahdi 'Abdullah. For, when the Mongols finally captured their mountain stronghold, Alamut, in 1256, they found neither armed fortress nor schemes of political intrigue. The imposing castle, extensive library, laboratories and observatory had been used exclusively for the study of Hellenic science and philosophy, of Babylonian, Egyptian and Persian traditions, and of the revelations of Islamic prophets. For, unlike dogmatic Moslems, these Isma'ilians regarded the prophets as the source of living truths, superior in authority to the written Koran.

This mountaintop community, called Alamut for its 'eagle's teaching,' had been the headquarters for a network of centers scattered throughout Syria and central Asia, and the home of their grand masters, who supervised a training program similar to Freemasonry. Only students who had passed through nine degrees of progressive discipline and whose trustworthiness and devotion were unquestioned, were entrusted with keys to the occult significances of numbers, to understanding the illusory nature of this world, including heaven and hell, and to an esoteric interpretation of the Koran and other religio-philosophical scriptures.

After the Mongols' capture and massacre at Alamut, a few survivors fled into Syria where, taking refuge in seclusion, they preserved their cherished doctrines. Over the years their membership spread into Persia, central Asia, India and Pakistan; all giving allegiance to the Aga Khan, as a direct descendant from Mohammed through his daughter and cousin, Fatima and the Caliph Ali. For he, as does each successive Old Man of the Mountain, passes the 'flame of living truth' on to his followers.

The Garden of Paradise envisioned by the Assassins differs little, allegorically, from either the Biblical Garden of Eden, or the Persian gardens where enchanting flower beds, trees and lily ponds are landscaped to suggest the seven stages of Paradise. Or from the Talmud's Garden of Delight into which four youths entered: Ben Asai, who looked and lost his sight; Ben Zoma who looked and lost his reason. Acher, who became confused and fled; and Akiba, who had entered n peace, came out in peace and with glory.

Very possibly these gardens symbolize the blossoms, or fruitage of spiritual truth. Truths so profound they confuse, corrupt, even destroy those morally weak or selfish; yet open vistas of knowledge and inspiration to one disciplined and concerned for human welfare.

A most interesting society, the Ikhwan al-Safa -- the Brotherhood, Brethren or Philosophers of Purity -- actually offered passers-by an initiation into their Garden of Splendor. "Come, enter and enjoy rare and lovely flowers, rest beneath stately trees, taste the sweetest of fruit and drink refreshing, spring-fed water." If any held back, skeptical or afraid, the 'wise and generous owner' gave samples of the garden's bounty to whet his appetite and entice him to step within and partake of the rich and satisfying beneficence awaiting those who live a spiritual life.

Samples they gave, but what 'samples' they were! Not fruits or flowers at all, but choice essays from the Brotherhood's Rasa'il or Epistles, a scholarly and voluminous compendium of scientific, philosophical and metaphysical information garnered from harvests of past and contemporary cultures. Issuing this work in the last quarter of the 10th century, when other theological sects were proclaiming their unquestionable monopoly of truth, was in itself miraculous. With it the Brotherhood of Purity bridged the isolation of human differences and demonstrated that truth cannot be fragmented by accidents of race, epoch or habitat -- that the many forms of religion are but various approaches to, or degrees of, spiritual enlightenment.

Discarding the blinders of ritual and dogma their members dedicated themselves:

to shun no science, scorn any book, or to cling fanatically to no single creed. For [their] own creed encompasses all the others and comprehends all the sciences generally. This creed is the consideration of all existing things, both sensible and intelligible, from beginning to end, whether hidden or overt, manifest or obscure . . . in so far as they all derive from a single principle, a single cause, a single world, and a single Soul. -- Ikhwan al-Safe, Rasa'il, IV, 52

To this end they labored, with painstaking care, to make complicated scientific teachings understandable, and to preserve -- safeguarding without divulging -- the original sanctity of occult and mystical knowledge that their own initiated members and those of other esoteric fraternities had attained through 'visual perception of the truth' while ascending into the 'Kingdom of Heaven' and receiving the instruction of angels.

Thus in their 52 Epistles one finds delineated or hinted at the same broad range of subjects that were studied by the Sufis, Sabaeans, Druzes, Assassins and other fraternal orders of that period. The same subjects, in fact, that had been pondered upon and debated in public discussions among the groves and temple courts of Athens and Alexandria.

But times had changed since those golden days of Greece. It was only by meeting in secret that the Brotherhood had been able to complete their monumental work. In so doing they had taken upon themselves a task destined to have wide significance: transplanting and cultivating, as it were, the vital seeds of civilization; and then, adding their own unique characteristics, they sent them out into the far reaches of the Islamic empire where later generations carried them on into 'Modern Times.'

Fortunate today is the library that possesses the Epistles in one of its several translated and condensed editions, for therein we may 'taste' those precious samples that appeal to all who search for truth. These editions include Rasa'il ikhwani s-Safa, printed in toto at Calcutta; Makrokosmos and Mikrokosmos, a two volume epitome of the Epistles which appeared in 1876 and 1879; Rasa'il of the Ikhwan al-Safa, translated and condensed by Khayr al-Din, 1928; and Rasa'il, Beirut, 1957 (we are indebted to A History of Islamic Philosophy by Majid Fakhry for much of our source material, including excerpts quoted from the Epistles).

For example, in the Epistles on astronomy we find explanations of the Hermetic and Platonic teachings of worlds within worlds, visible and invisible; of how our seven planets, "round, concave, and transparent bodies," are arranged round each other like the layers of an onion and how the sun is the center of a moving family of planets -- an idea the Greek Aristarchus had expressed some thirteen centuries before.

. . . in so far as the sun is to the heavens what the king is to his kingdom and the planets are to it what soldiers, auxiliaries, and subjects generally are to the king, and the spheres are like regions and the constellations like countries and the degrees and minutes like towns, it was enjoined by divine wisdom that it should be located at the center of the universe. -- Rasa'il, II, 30

Another section describes the creation of worlds and the evolution of life in details that would have impressed Darwin. It explains how manifestation unfolds through successive layers, or stratified planes down to the mineral kingdom. Where, in this lowest kingdom, the most developed mineral entities live within its highest strata and blend imperceptibly into the next higher or vegetable kingdom. Likewise the vegetable kingdom contacts, at its highest level, the animal kingdom, whose culmination is man. The most evolved men contact higher spheres and, standing between the angelic and animal orders, serve on earth as vicegerents of God.

Time and again the pages of these Epistles echo Stoic and Hermetic epigrams: that man is the microcosm, the epitome, of the infinite universe; correspondences parallel his physical faculties and organs with those of the celestial spheres; analogies show one pattern throughout -- in earth's configuration, her meteorological phenomena and in man's physical body.
Thus, in the growth of a child from embryo to maturity, they saw mirrored the soul's spiritual development: its birth a realization and true beginning of its higher vocation; its childhood, achievement in self-mastery. With maturity comes comprehension of objective and subjective world manifestations and, finally, knowledge of deity. However, such maturity, the Brethren taught, comes only through study and mastery of the mathematical sciences, including astronomy, music, geography, logic and the arts and crafts. For through these one gains familiarity with the laws which govern both the world without and the moral-intellectual environment of worlds within.
It is this understanding, when translated and applied to the problems of daily life, that assures one's progress from circumscribed provincialism into comprehension of one's true, universal Self, for "He who knows himself best knows his Creator best" (Rasa'il, I, 76) .

But the Brotherhood saw no sudden attainment. Gradually, they pointed out, through lifetimes of in-body confinement, man purifies his self from thoughts and desires which blind his consciousness from all but the most temporal, and often erroneous, interpretations of life and of holy scriptures -- such as in the Christian doctrine, that God was killed by the Jews; or in the Jewish, that He is a jealous and angry God; or in the Moslem, that on the Day of Judgment He will order his angels to cast sinners and infidels into a 'ditch of fire' in which they will burn forever.

Behind the outer seeming the student was advised to find larger concepts which unify, and uplift his vision to behold 'luminous beings of loftier spheres' -- and Truth. Then, they prescribed, he shall dedicate his life, in his own particular environment, to the "emulation of the Divinity, in proportion to human capacity" (Rasa'il, II, 30).

This dedication, this lofty idealism, sustained and inspired initiated members of these mysterious medieval fraternities as well as those scholarly individuals whose writings enkindled Europe's cultural renaissance. Al-Kindi, al-Farabi, Avicenna, al-Ghazali, Maimonides, Averroes, al-Andalusi, Meister Eckhart, Raymond, the Archbishop of Toledo, the Dominican friar Albertus Magnus of Padua, Thomas Aquinas of Naples, John of Salisbury, and many others, each in his way perpetuated those very ideas that Arabian intellectuals adopted from the Greeks, preserved and enriched, so that now we too may step across the ashes and splintered marble of the past into that 'Garden,' whose bounty is everlasting.

Source material for this article includes: A History of Islamic Philosophy by Majid Fakhry, 1970; Arabic Thought and Its Place in History by DeLacy O'Leary, 1922; and by the same author, How Greek Science Passed to the Arabs, 1948.

(From Sunrise magazine, April & May, 1973. Copyright © 1973 by Theosophical University Press)

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