1902 Encyclopedia > Mohammedanism (Islam) > Sketch of the Institutions and Civilization of the Eastern Caliphate - Introduction

(Part 7)



Mohammed had begun to bestow political unity on Arabia; but he had done still more: he had given her the Koran, as the starting-point and base of the future civilization of Islam. It was for the preservation and the better understanding of the sacred text that the first believers were led to create grammar and lexicography, and to make collections of the poems of their own and former times, those "witnesses of the meaning of words," as the Arabs call them. To elucidate questions of dogma they created theology. Jurisdiction, in like manner, issued from the Koran, and the historical sciences at first gathered around it. As early as the first century of the Flight, schools were founded in ‘Irak, at Basra and at Cufa, in which all the questions to which the study of the Koran gave rise were stated, and answered in different ways. Natural science and mathemtics were less directly concerned with the sacred book, and were consequently neglected during the whole period of the Omayyad dynasty. They only began to be cultivated when under the ‘Abbasids, the study of philosophy led to the use of translations from the Greek. The institutions of Islam were developed, no doubt, as new wants made themselves felt, in proportion to the extension of the empire; but they were nevertheless founded on the first arrangements made by the Prophet, and handed down by him in the Koran.

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Mohammedanism (Islam) - Table of Contents

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