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V. Language and Grammar Studies

    These subjects witnessed a tremendous revolution from the scholars of Basra and Kufa who made a major contribution to the preservation of the Arabic language after they mingled with other nations of the conquered lands. These scholars recorded the Arabic lexicon and poetry from the Arabic heartland in the Najd. They proposed grammatical rules and created orthographic diacritics to assist in the correct pronunciation of the Quran. They also made dictionaries and analysed the prosody of poetry. The most remarkable pioneer in these fields was Al Khalil lbn Ahmad Al Faraheedi (d. 175 A.H./791 A.D.) from Basra. His student, the Persian scientist Abu Bishr Amr Ibn Othman--nicknamed Stbawaih--(d. 177 A.H./793 A.D.) followed him. Baghdad quickly developed into a centre for this work and scholars from Kufa and Basra such as Abu Hanifa, Al Mufadal Al Dhabbi, Al Kis'al , Al Fir'a and Ibn Al -Sukait went to Baghdad and settled there helping to develop it into the main forum for discussion.

Literature also developed greatly in the Abbasid age, with poets developing new subjects and styles to cope with the new civilization especially at the Rasafa of Baghdad or Eastern Baghdad. The most famous poets include Abu Nuwas whose poems on wine, courtly love and hunting became very well-known, Abu Tammam Al - Ta'i who is famous for his intellectual and philosophical poetry; Abu Ubada al Buhteri his student with his immortal poetry of praise; Ibn Al Rumi who is known for his numerous long poems, Abu Al -A'tahia known for his wisdom and gentle love poetry , and al Mutanabbi who was famous for self-pride and Abu Al Ala'a Al Ma'arri, the poet of wisdom.

    It should be noticed in this regard that Islamic scientists combined the religious with the natural sciences. Al -Kindi (d. 260 A.H.873 A.D.), for instance, combined philosophy with logic, maths, astronomy, engineering, politics,medicine, fiqh and the origins of the doctrine. Ibn Sina (d. 428 A.H./1036 A.D.) combined medicine with philosophy, mathematics, natural sciences, music, astronomy, members (of equations), poetry, proving forecasts and fate. So did Al Farabi, Al Razi, Umar Al Khayam, Ibn Al Nafis, Abdul-Latif Al Baghdadi, Ibn Rushd, Ibn Al Tafid, and Al Sama'ani, etc.

    Those scientists addressed the major logical problems and approached them with the genuine methodology of ; observation, diagnosis and the search for causes and signs. The object cannot be ascertained except through its causes; hence, knowing these causes is necessary. Islamic scientists did not distinguish between the heavenly inspiration and the inductive approach; rather, they made them meet in an integral manner. The end of fiqh sciences is to teach righteousness, to order the good and to counsel against evil and to suggest a way of life. Natural sciences, on the other hand, seek to reach the truth, to lead to righteousness and to counsel against wrong-doing. Study and scrutiny accompanied by analogy and concluding wisdom is the correct way for reaching the scientific truth.

In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful:

    "Have they not considered the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and what things Allah hath created" (7:185)

He also said:

   "So learn a lesson, O ye who have eyes!" (59:2)

    The result of the above was a study of all earthly sciences without influencing Islamic doctrine. They worked to fill gaps that might affect their science by research and scholarship. This enabled them to link what they had learned from Quranic teachings with their own philosophical and scientific views in complete balance and methodological consistency. The greatest intellectual activity of Islamic scientists seems clearly in the experimental field within the scope of their observations and experiments. They displayed great energy and diligence in their observations and scrutiny and when they collected and arranged what they learned from experiments or from studies. Thoroughness , supported by research and examination was the most important characteristic of Islamic scientists. The real scientists is the comprehensive scientist. Science should not fear religion nor should the teachings of religion fear the influence of earthly sciences. Therefore, their works became closely related with Sharia and linked with jurisprudence.

    The Caliph and poet Abdullah Ibn Al Mu'tazz (d. 296 A.H.) reported in his book 'Tabakat Al-shu'ara' that the total number of poets of the Abbasid state at the end of the third Hijri century alone was over 130. This does not include , women poets and other writers who played an important role in the literary life of Islamic society. Examples include: Rabi'a bint Ismail Al dawiya who led an ascetic, mystical life. Princess Ulayya bint Al Mahdi who was described by Al Husari as being "equal to numerous noblemen in reasoning and decorum; she also has good poetry and wonderful singing"; Princess Al Abbasa bint Al Mahdi whose writing is infused with extreme imaginativeness; and finally, A'bida Al Juhaniya described by Al-Sayyuti as an "eloquent and gentle poet and writer".

    Ibn al Futi is quoted as saying that the Abbasid Caliph Al Nasir Al Din Allah (d. 622 A.H.) had a Turkish maid called Shajarat al Durr; she was a confidant and had elegant handwriting; she used to read incoming correspondence to him (when his eyesight weakened) and he dictated the answers to her. She died in 634 A.H. (1236 A.D.) and was buried at Al Khalatiya graveyard in Baghdad.

    At the same period there were two Muslim women rulers in the Islamic world. The first was Radhiat Al Din the Sultana of Delhi the first woman ruler of an Islamic state (634-638 A.H/1236-1240 A.D.). The second was the Sultana of Egypt also called Shajarat al Durr who is credited with the defeat of the seventh crusade led by the French King Louis VII against Egypt in 647 A.H. (1249 A.D.).

    The Abbasids were no less interested in arts and architecture than the Umayyads in construction. Abu Ja'afar al Mansur built his capital Baghdad on the Tigris between 145-149 A.H. to a circular design; that was a new trend in Islamic cities. Previously they were either rectangular like Fustat, square like Cairo or oval like Sana. Al Mansur may have been influenced by capital cities such as Al Hadar southwest of Mosul, and Hamadhan. Another city built by the Abbasids was Samara with its grand mosques and splendid palaces.

    Decorative art, a speciality of Islam, flourished along with architecture; it developed in the decoration of mosques, palaces and domes with exquisite geometrical or botanical designs. This art was called Arabesque in French and Ataurique in Spanish. Muslim artists used the concept of what is now known as Abstract Surrealism in which the physical element such as the leaf or the rose forms the basis for an abstract pattern which conveys a transcendental image.

    Muslim artists also developed the Arabic alphabet into the highest aesthetic of decoration. Thus Arabic calligraphy was transformed into a great art.

    The Kufic script was used for significant matters like writing Qurans or decorating coins, in mosques or on tombs. Mubarak Al Makki was the most famous calligrapher in the Kufic script in the third Hijri century during the reign of the Al Mutawakkil Ala Allah, an Abbasid caliph. Another style developed was Naskh which was used in correspondence, recording and copying books. Calligraphers like Ibn Muqla (d. 328 A.H.), Ibn Al Bawab (d. 413 A.H.) and Yaqout Al Musta'simi in the 7th Hijri century, were pioneers in this script.

    The pictorial representation of man and animals, though not favoured, was not banned as a taboo. Apparently the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphs permitted it, based on the existence of pictures of humans on the walls of their newly discovered palaces in Jordan and Samarra'. Historians report that Caliph Al Amin used to have pleasure boats in the shape of lions, tigers and dolphins. In addition, the palace of Al Muktadir Bi-Allah contained mobile statues of knights on horseback that could be moved to simulate battles. At the dome of the Caliph's palace in Baghdad there was a wind vane in the form of a knight with a lance in his hand. Some Arabic books with colorful illustrations survive by Muslim painters such as Al -Wasiti and others in Maqamat Al Hariri and 'Kalila wa Dimna'.

    Baghdad became the main centre for music. The following were the most famous men and women singers in the first Abbasid Age: Qamar Al Baghdadia, Ibrahim Al Musuli, his son Ishaq and his student Abul Hassan Ali Ibn Nafi' nick-named Ziryab, who immigrated to the Maghreb and Andalusia bringing the oriental music whose impact is still felt in the modern music of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia known as 'Andulusian music'. Major scientists and notables such as Al Kindi, Al Farabi and Caliph Al Wathik studied musical theory and practice. This shows that the civilization developed in Baghdad also supported its development further afield.

    Paper making, copying, editing and book binding were developed which helped the spread of knowledge. Baghdad thus became the model city of the Islamic world and attracted Muslims from throughout the Islamic world.