Golden Age

20 Facts about the Islamic Golden Ages

20 Facts about the Islamic Golden Ages

The Islamic Golden Ages refers to points in time when Muslims were the dominant civilization in the world. It was a time of prosperity and cultural advancement. The Muslims led the world in almost every single field. I discuss the rise and fall of the Golden Age in more detail in this course.

This short article serves as a simple fact sheet on the Golden Ages, to help readers remember some core facts about these beautiful parts of our history. All the facts listed below are taken from authentic history books.

Facts About The Eras

  1. There were three Islamic Golden Ages (so far).
  2. The first two occurred concurrently in the Abbasid Empire and Umayyad Spain.
  3. The second occurred during the middle phase of the Ottoman Era.
  4. The Umayyad and Abbasid Golden Ages produced far more important developments than the Ottoman Golden Age.
  5. All of these Golden Ages were possible because the Muslim rulers of that time were committed to research, education, and development.

Facts About The Umayyad Golden Age

  1. It did not occur when the Umayyads were the sole rulers of the Muslim world. It occurred when their authority was restricted to Spain.
  2. Under Umayyad rule, Spain became the most advanced civilization in Europe at that time.
  3. The Umayyads built some of the most impressive buildings in history, including the Alhambra Palace, Madina al-Zahra and the Cordoba Mosque.
  4. The height of their Golden Age was the reign of Abdur Rahman III which lasted for fifty years.
  5. Spain remained a Muslim land for around three hundred years after the Umayyad Era, but it never experienced another Golden Age.
Cordoba Mosque
The Cordoba Mosque remains one of the most beautiful buildings in Spain.

Facts About the Abbasid Golden Age

  1. The Abbasid Golden Age began with Harun al-Rashid and lasted a few centuries.
  2. It was the longest of all the Islamic Golden ages and the most significant.
  3. Mamun al-Rashid set up Bait al-Hikmah (House of Wisdom) as the main research center in Baghdad. Many important discoveries and inventions can be traced back to Bait al-Hikmah.
  4. Math, Science, Fiqh, Hadith, Tafsir, Language, Philosophy, Medicine, and many other important fields all developed greatly during this Golden Age.
  5. The Abbasid Golden Age ended with the sacking of Baghdad by the Mongols in which thousands of important books were destroyed.

Facts about the Ottoman Golden Age

  1. The Ottoman Empire reached its Golden Age during the reign of Sulaiman the Magnificent.
  2. At the height of Sulaiman’s reign, he ruled fifty countries across three continents.
  3. The reign of Sulaiman lasted forty-five years.
  4. The main advancements of Muslim civilization during the Ottoman Era were in the fields of military science and politics.
  5. The Ottoman Era only ended less than a century ago during World War I.

These are just a few interesting facts about the Muslim Golden Ages. To learn more, check out our full online course here.

Golden Age Buildings
A remnant of the Islamic Golden Ages.
Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Leadership

5 Ways Education was better in the Muslim Golden Age

5 Ways Education was better in the Muslim Golden Age

It is no secret that I am a critic of the modern school system. An experiment that started just over one hundred years ago, the current system is already outdated and failing millions of children. However, education wasn’t always like this. During the Muslim Golden Age, education thrived through a system of Madrassas, universities and private tutorship that produced some of the greatest minds of that era.

NOTE: Madrassa (in this article) is used to refer to the ancient schooling system that covered all subjects ranging from Math to science to religious studies. It does NOT refer to the modern secularized version that separates and focuses only on religious studies.

Muslim Golden Age Madrassa

As we move forward and try to fix our current system, we can look back and draw important lessons from systems that worked in the past. Here are five lessons we can take from this ancient education system and apply to our times.

1. It focused on individual strengths

The Madrassa system of the Muslim Golden Age did not have a one-size-fits-all approach to education. As young as seven years old, a student would be categorized according to his strengths and assigned studies accordingly. As a result, time wasn’t wasted teaching students things they were not going to use in life.

Think about it? Why would a language expert need to study High School Math? Or a Math whiz need to study grammar in depth? Why should a history buff need to memorize science facts to pass a test? Or a budding scientist need to memorized the dates and names of various wars?

When a student recognizes his/her area of expertise early, they can choose their subjects accordingly. This led to the second benefit of this ancient system.

2. Students would graduate earlier.

By starting early, time wasn’t wasted with a 13 year common education program, before deciding what to specialize in. As a result, in the Muslim Golden Age many great scientists and doctors graduated and started practicing at incredibly young ages.

Ibn Batutta graduated as a judge (Qadhi) at the young age of 21. And Ibn Sina was already treating patients when he was 18 years old. In fact, Ibn Khaldun was already a graduate in Islamic Studies by the age of 17!

This shows the benefit of a system that focuses on strengths. Each of these individuals went on to become legends in their fields dedicating their lives to mastering and developing their areas of expertise.

Imagine today if we can have people discover their strengths at a younger age, graduate younger, and start working on their legacy at a younger age. A large part of people’s lives that is usually wasted\ could become the most productive time of their life with such a system.

3. There were many education systems

A single system of education does not benefit everybody. People learn in different ways, and so there should be various systems on offer. So each student can choose to study in a way that suits their study style best.

We see this in the earlier periods of the Muslim Golden Age. Some great scientists went through the madrassa system, while others studied books at home. Some experimented in their labs, while others sat at the feet of mentors and learned from them. And some even combined all of these at different stages of their lives.

So education to be relevant again. We need to stop thinking that one system suits all. We need more variety. If someone is a voracious reader, then let them stay home and consume as many books as possible. If someone learns better through experiments, take them out of school and give them a lab to experiment in. (Which is what Einstein’s parents did)

The world needs a more flexible system of education. So that readers are not stuck attending lectures, and physical learners are not stuck sitting quietly in class. We need to find ways to make this happen in the modern world, and the internet makes it more possible than ever before.

4. They did not separate subjects into Islamic and Secular

The separation of school and Madrassa in the modern world is a result of colonialism, and has had a terrible effect on the minds of Muslims. Entire generations of Muslims were raised thinking that math, science and language have nothing to do with Islam. And that Islam is just something you study in the afternoon, but the ‘secular subjects’ are your priority.

The reality is that Islam teaches us to actively pursue all beneficial knowledge. This includes knowledge of beliefs, Islamic law, history, math, science, business, personal development and everything else that benefits us.

During the Muslim Golden Age, this was the norm. Al-Khawaarizmi invented Algebra to solve complex Islamic inheritance law issues. Ibn Sina pursued medicine because the Prophet (peace be upon him) taught us that every illness has a cure. Ibn Khaldun analysed history because the Quran teaches us to take lessons from history. It was all intertwined. we need to return to this system of education that does not separate between subjects into religious and secular. All that matters is beneficial knowledge.

5. It served a higher purpose

In the Muslim Golden Age, education was not primarily about the pursuit of wealth, fame and status. (Although such individuals did exist) The primary purpose of the Madrassa system was to raise citizens who would serve God and take care of God’s Creation.

Education was for the sake of community, not self. It was for God, not desire. And it was for making the world a better place, not just lining one’s pockets. This is why during the Muslim Golden Age, we find the existence of free healthcare (even for animals), free education, entire systems dedicated to charity work, and overall increase in happiness for the average person.

An education system that focuses on selfish materialistic success is doomed to fail. Such a system produces narcissists and selfish individuals. It makes us lose focus on what is most important: pleasing the Creator through caring for His creation.

To learn more about the Muslim Golden Age, join our online course by clicking here.

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Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Homeschooling