Greatest Scholars of the Arabic Golden Age

Sep 2015
Good afternoon. The Golden Age of the Islamic World was a high point of global culture, science and art. I somewhat arbitrarily date this time period to approximately 750 CE to 1500 CE. Essentially lasting from the rise of the Abbasid Caliphate to the coming of the Ottoman Empire into a position of unchallenged supremacy in what today is viewed as the Middle East. Certainly for some centuries after 1500 CE the Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal Empire's maintained the broader Islamic world in a position of global ascendance. Yet with the cultures associated therein being alternately Turkish, Iranian, Mongolian or Indian (depending on the viewpoint) I perceive them all to stand apart from this earlier Golden Age. It is true to that I have chosen dates that largely align with the greatest possible extent of this golden age - in that I reject the at times suggested date of 1258 with the coming of the Mongol armies into the contemporary Middle East proper. Nevertheless I recognize alternative theories exist on this. I have also focused here on 'Arabic' as opposed to 'Islamic' for a very specific reason. I feel that as an American (and European cultures generally) apply a slightly overdone influence to the Muslim religion in speaking of this period or the cultures and achievements therein. Not to say that there is no influence there, but simply that the unifying element was less the Muslim religion than it was the Arabic language. Within the scholars I considered, religious affliation stretched beyond Islam into chiefly Judaism but also Christian sects as well. This is of course to be understood when considering the broader cultures associated within the Arabic speaking civilization - which corresponds essentially with the states of the Abbasids, Ayyubids, Fatimids, Buyids, Mamluks, Almoravids, Almohads, Marinids, Hafsids, Umayyads, Zengids, Seljuks, and a host of other smaller or short lived states within the lands stretching from Spain, Sicily, Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt across Arabia, Syria, Iraq, Palestine and into the Iranian plateau and into the lands of 'Turkestan' eventually reaching Samarkand and Bukhara. Much further east and the cultural influences of (from the Arabic standpoint) 'Hindustan' of India as well as Tibet and China claim preeminence. Additionally after the rise of the Samanid Dynasty in Iran, and including the lands further east, the Arabic unifying culture began to exist in parallel with a resurgence in Iranian/Persian language and culture. Further Turkish influences became even more paramount in a constant wave of Turkish migrations into the contemporary Middle East through the coming of the Seljuks, Ghaznavids, Samanids, Mongols, Timurids, Ottomans, Mamluks and others. Regions further west of Egypt would largely insulated from these influences - though they were susceptible to Berber influences (though I believe these to be less in conflict as opposed to the Turkish and Iranian examples). With those points laid out I look forward to any other perspectives or opinions.

20 Greatest Scholars of the Arabic Golden Age

1 Ibn al-Haytham (965-1040)
2 Ibn Sina (980-1037)
3 Ibn al-Nafis (1213-1288)
4 Al Ghazali (1058-1111)
5 Maimonides (1135-1204)
6 Al-Biruni (973-1050)
7 Ibn Rushd (1126-1198)
8 Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi (780-850)
9 Nasir al-Din al-Tusi (1201-1274)
10 Solomon ibn Gabirol (1021-1070)
11 Al-Kindi (801-873)
12 Al-Farabi (872-951)
13 Abu Ishaq Ibrahim al-Zarqali (1029-1087)
14 Isaac Israeli (832-932)
15 Saadia Gaon (882-942)
16 Ibn Yunus (950-1009)
17 Al-Zahrawi (936-1013)
18 Omar Khayyam (1048-1131)
19 Juhad Halevi (1075-1141)
20 Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi (854-925)
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Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
Benin City, Nigeria
Would replace Judah Halevi with either Ibn Bajja, Ibn Tufail, or the Banu Musa.
Oct 2018
Adelaide south Australia

Sadra al-Din Muhammad al-Shirazi, better known as The Mulla Sadra (d1050) "was one of the most profoundly original and influential thinkers in the history of Islamic Philosophy"*

That is according to a relative by marriage, James WinstonMorris, an Islamic scholar. He wrote his PhD dissertation on the Mulla Sadra. He gave me a copy, which was printed as a book,"The Wisdom Of The Throne; An Introduction To The Philosophy Of Mulla Sadra" . I can't claim to have read all of it, but I have read some, and that was about 30 years ago..

*introduction, "The Wisdom O The Throne"
Oct 2018
Adelaide south Australia
Sorry, have never heard of al Jahiz. I'm afraid I'm woefully ignorant of the Muslim Golden age, which occurred over 200 years before the European Renaissance.

My studies of Islamic topics were restricted to some stuff on the Sanusi Bedouin of Cyrenaica and Sufi lodges in the Atlas mountains. I've completely forgotten the details..

Mulla Sadra was not my choice, but was recommended to me by an Islamic scholar, one of only two I've ever met. of his level. I realise there are probably thousands.

My profound ignorance is the result of European arrogance, which dismisses pretty much anything outside of The European sphere of influence..

Omar Kayyam; Finally got around to getting a copy of The Rubaiyat this year. Before then, my only quotes " The moving finger writes, having writ , moves on,: nor all thy Piety nor wit, Shall lure it back to cancel half a line,Nor all thy tears wash outa line of it" And the deeply Romantic;" A loaf of bread, a jug of wine,, and thou"

The last is the Sufi Philosopher, Nasruddin, who taught through humour. His approach can be compared with Zen masters.

Examples of his humour ;

A friend came to see Naruddin, to find him on his knees under the street light

Friend: What are you doing ?

Nasruddin: Looking fot a gold coin I lost.

Friend: Where did you lose it"?

Nasruddin; in the house.

Friend: Then why Are you looking here?

Nasruddin :The light is so much better here.


The friend comes to visit Nasruddin, to find hime spreading red sand around his tent

Friend: what are you doing?

Nasruddin:" I'm spreading tiger repellent .

Friend:But there are no tigers in Arabia.

Nasrudding: Yeah, it's pretty good stuff!.
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Aug 2014
Its very unnecessary to stretch it to 1500 CE. No one in your list is from 1300 to 1500 CE. The Mongol devastation in 13th century put an end to golden age of Arabs and Persians.