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Arabia being a barren peninsula, its inhabitants had always to depend on foreign supplies for the necessities of life, hence they had to undertake trips to distant countries like Egypt, Abbysinia, Syria, Persia and Iraq. It was an Arab caravan which brought Hazrat Yusuf (Prophet Joseph) to Egypt. Moreover, the fertile areas in Arabia including Yemen, Yamama, Oman, Bahrein and Hadari-Maut were situated on the coast, and the Arabs being sea-faring people took sea routes in order to reach these places and fulfilling their commercial ventures.

The birth of Islam opened a new vista for their enterprises and the vast conquests of the Arabs during the early decade of Islamic history served as a fresh stimulus to their adventurous spirits. The stories of the famous Arabian Nights including the one about Sindbad the Sailor, give a glimpse of the adventures of those fearless Arabs. It provides a slightly coloured account of the great voyages undertaken by Arab mariners as early as the Ist century A.H., and who, undaunted by the perils enroute, roamed about in stormy seas reaching such distant lands as Ceylon, Zanzibar, Maldives, Malaya, Java and Sumatra.

The Haj or the holy pilgrimage to Makkah was another factor which added to their geographical and commercial knowledge by providing social contacts among the Muslims of various countries visiting Makkah every year. This pilgrimage provided not only the means for promoting religious unity but also contributed to strengthening the commercial ties among Muslim countries and led to the exchange of views and news among people of far-flung countries. In fact the Haj, which created an opportunity for a great international assembly each year has paved the way for Muslim commercial and geographical enterprises.

The invention of mariner's compass opened vast oceans for their enterprising voyages. Most European writers have credited the Chinese with inventing the mariner's compass, but according to the famous orientalist George Sarton, the Arabs were the first to make practical use of it, a fact which has been admitted by the Chinese themselves. Another celebrated orientalist, Philip K. Hitti, has endorsed the view expressed by George Sarton. "According to a statement of Sir R. F. Burton, it even seems that Ibn Majid was venerated in the past century on the African coast as the inventor of the compass".l Any way, the practical use of the compass has immensely contributed to the undertaking of distant voyages by Arab sailors, who had hitherto been confined to coastal trips. They now came out into the open ocean and roamed about in the Atlantic as well as in the Pacific, circled the African continent and touched even the shores of the New World. The frail boats were replaced by larger sailing ships and Arabs with the help of compass and other marine instruments braved the stormv seas.

The golden period of Muslim geography, travels and explorations runs from the 9th to the 14th century A.D., in which a vast amount of travel and geographical literature was produced in the world of Islam, which ultimately paved the way for later explorations and discoveries by the Christian West. Writing in the Legacy of Islam J. H. Kramers says, "Europe ought to look upon them (Muslims) as its cultural ancestors in the domain of geographical knowledge of discovery and of world trade. The influence which Islam has exercised on our modern civilization in the spheres of action can be seen in the many terms of Arabic origin which are to be found in the vocabulary of trade and navigation. The measure of influence can only be proved by studying the historical development of the domain over which our actual geographical knowledge extends".'

The works of Greek writers specially the Almagest, written by Ptolemy provided the starting ground for Arab geographers. Al-Khwarizmi, the eminent Arab scientist, who flourished during the reign of the celebrated Mamun-ar-Rashid incorporated some of the ideas of Almagest in his geographical treatise Kitab Surat aL-arz. The book which has been preserved in Strassburg was edited along with a Latin translation by Nallino.

The simple geographical descriptions of numerous countries including their physical features, climatic conditions and the life of the people formed the subject matter of treatises compiled by early Muslim geographers. Ibn Khurdabaih wrote Kitabal-Masaalikwal-Mamaalik; Al-Yaqubi compiled Kitab al-Buldan; Ibn al-Faqih also wrote Kitnb al-Buldan and Ibn Rusta named his work Kifab al-A'laq al-Nqfisa. These books contained simple facts about the countries in order to satisfy the practical necessities of travellers visiting such countries.

The foremost writer of such geographical treatises during this period was Abu Zaid Al-Balkhi who was an eminent scholar at the court of the ruler of Khorasan. He has the distinction of being the author of as many as 43 books including his Suwarul-Aqaalim a geographical work of considerable value which is not available at present. The book guided later writers on the subject.

Abu Yahya Zakariya Ibn Muhammad al-qazwini (1203-83 A.D.) who wrote a book entitled Ajaib-ulMakhluqat wal-Gharaib-ul-Maujudat which is a very systematic cosmographical work, and which, according to M. Streck,'must be deemed as a work of fundamental importance and is quite the most valuable book that the Arab middle ages have given us in the field'. Al-Qazwini has dealt with the description of the earth together with its seven climatic regions in his other geographical treatise A tizav-ul-Bilad- wa-dkhbar-ulIbad. The book also contains the climatic regions, physical features, life and history of the people of the countries dealt with. The voluminous geographical work written by the Spanish author Al-Bakri (C. 1067), contained most elaborate information on ports and coasts.
Another geographer of repute is Hamdullah Mastaufi, the author of Nuzhat-ul-Qulub which deals with natural history, anthropology and geography. It has helped Mr. G. L. Stange in writing his book entitled Lands of Eastern CaLiphate.

Explorers, Travellers and Writers
Abul Qasim Ibn Hauqal is the first traveller worth mentioning who, starting from Baghdad in 943, A.D. made an extensive tour of the Islamic countries and on his return incorporated his experiences in his geographical treatise, Kitab al-Masaalik-wal Mamaa.

Another more famous traveller of the period is Shamsuddin Abu Abdullah al-Moqaddasi. Excepting Spain and Sind, Moqaddasi too toured the length and breadth of the Islamic world. He has put down his travel experiences in his celebrated geographical work Ahsan-al-Taqasim fi Marifat al-AqaEim a rare book of its type. A. Sprenger has acclaimed him as the greatest geographer of all ages. The Asiatic Society of Bengal published the English translation of his famous work in 4 volumes between 1897 and 1910 A.D.
Abul Hasan Ali Ibn al-Husain al-Masudi is one of the great versatile figures of the Islamic world.

He is a well-known writer and explorer of the East. He was still quite young when he travelled through Persia and stayed in Istakhar for about a year in 915 A.D. Starting from Baghdad, he went to India, visiting Multan and Mansura, returned to Persia and after touring Kerman again went to India. Travelling through Cambay, Deccan and Ceylon he along with some merchants sailed to Indo-China and China. On his return trip he visited Madagascar, Zanzibar, Oman and he reached Basrah where he settled afterwards and wrote his great work, Muruj-al-Dhahab (Golden meadows) in which he relates his rich experiences in a cheerful manner which amuses the reader. Masudi also visited the southern shore of the Caspian sea and travelled through Central Asia and Turkistan. Retiring to Fustat (old Cairo) he wrote his voluminous work Mirat-uz-zaman (Mirror of the Times) comprising 30 volumes in which he elaborately described the geography, history and life of the people of the countries he had visited. He toured Gujrat in 303 A.H. According to him, Chemur, a port of Gujrat was inhabited by more than 10 thousand Arabs and their descendants.

Among the great mariners of the 1Oth and 11th centuries A.D., Sulaiman al-Mahiri and Shahabuddin Ibn Majid occupy outstanding positions. They not only roamed about in the Indian, Pacific and atlantic oceans, but also toiled around the African continent and probably even touched the shores of the New World. Sulaiman reached as far as the Behring Strait and has penned his valuable experiences in a number of books, of which Al-Umdat aE-Mahriya Ji Zabt-iEUlum-il-Bahriya is well -known. The other mariner Ibn Majid was considered among the four sea lions of his time. Allama Syed Sulaiman Nadvi in his book entitled The Navigation of Arabs has enumerated fifteen books written by Ibn Majid on Navigation. According to a western critic, Ibn Majid is one of the earliest writers of nautical guides and his elaborate geographical account of the Red Sea could not be surpassed even up to the present day.

Ibn Faldan was a traveller of the 1Oth century A.D.,who led an embassy sent by the Abbasid Caliph Al-Muqtadir Billah in 921 A.D. to the Bulgarian Monarch, and incorporated his experiences in Risalah which is one of the earliest regional accounts about Russia. During the eleventh century A.D., Abu Rehan Beruni, the celebrated thinker of Islam visited India, stayed there for a number of years, learnt the Sanskrit language and described the geography and the life of India in his memorable work Kitab-al-Hiplcl. Regional geographics were also written during this period. Famous among them were the description of the Arabian peninsula by Al-Hamdani and of India by Al-Beruni. The works of travellers like Ibn Jubayr, Al-Mazini and Ibn Batuta are store-houses of geographical knowledge. Al-Mazini (1080--1170 A.D.) who visited Russia wrote Tuhfat-al-balad.

The most brilliant writer of the period is Al-Idrisi (2101--54 A.D.) who was employed at the court of the Christian king of Sicily. His book Nuzhat-ul-Mushtag contained 70 maps. In the second abridged edition of Idrisi's book one comes across eight instead of seven climates which were to be found south of the equator. The world map drawn by Idrisi is of the traditional round type and the first translation of his book was published in Rome in 1619 A.D.

Yaqut-al-Hamavi (1179--1229A.D.) compiled a big geographical dictionary named Mujam-al-Buldan which contains all geographical names in alphabetical order. It was published in 6 volumes in Leipzig (Germany) between 1666--73 A. D. Writing in the 'Introduction to the History of Science; George Sarton remarks, "The Mujam al Buldan is one of the most important works of Arabic literature. It is a store house of information not simply on geography, but also on history, ethnography and natural history. It is preceded by an introduction dealing with mathematical, physical and political geography, the size of the earth, seven climates, etc."'

The Spanish traveller, Ibn Jubayr visited Makkah and Iraq in 1192 A. D. He wrote his well-known book of Travels entitled Rihlat-ul-Kinani which is a unique book of its type in Arabic literature.

Abu Abdulla Muhammad (1304--78 A.D.), better known as Ibn Batuta was the greatest Musiim traveller. Born in Tanglers, he started his travels at the age of 20, and returned home at the age of 51. During these 31 years he covered about 75,000 miles which is equal to three trips round the globe. No explorer or traveller during mediaeval times had traversed so many miles during a lifetime. Starting from Tanglers he toured Egypt,Abbysinia, Northern and Eastern Africa including Mombassa. He crossed the great Sahara (Desert) and reached Timbuktoo. He describes an oasis in the Sahara (Desert) where people constructed houses of rock-salt roofed with camel skins. In Europe he visited Spain, the Eastern Roman Empire and Southern Russia and sailed in the Mediterranean and the Black Seas. There hardly was a Muslim country in Asia, which Ibn Batuta had not seen. He made many tours of the Arab countries and performed Haj (Holy pilgrimage to Makkah) four times. In addition he travelled in Persia, Turkistan, Afghanistan, India, Maldives, Ceylon, East India, Indo-China and China. According to him Aden was a great commercial centre in those days and had a good system of water-supply. He travelled as far North as Bolghar (54 degrees N) in Siberia, in order to see the shortness of summer nights and desired to travel into the land of darkness (extreme North of Russia), but abandoned his visit due to certain reasons. He stayed for eight years in India, as the State Qazi of Muhammad Tughlaq in Delhi, but had to flee to Deccan in order to save himself from the indignation of the Emperor. He took part in the conquest of Goa and visited Mal dives where he was made Qazi and married four wives. He relates iriteresting stories about India. Hindus in those days drowned themselves in the sacred waters of the Ganges in order to gain Baikunth (Paradise). On his first sight of Sati he was so overwhelmed with emotion that he almost fell off his horse. He met a very old man in the Hindukush mountains, who was said to be 358 years old and got a new set of teeth after every 180 years.

Explorations and Discoveries
Muslims may claim due share in the exploration of vast oceans and the discoveries of far off lands. But the difficulty is that the achievements of Muslims in this sphere of human activity are not generally known to the world. The largest collection of literary and artistic treasures accumulated during the five centuries of the Islamic rule, perished at the time of the fall of Baghdad. The invaluable manuscripts were consumed to ashes by Hulagu Khan and his Mongol hordes. The cream of Muslim civilization met a similar fate in Spain, at the hands of Christian conquerors. Modern research has now begun to lift the veil from the face of mediaeval ages and the achievements of the Muslims now are revealed in all their glory.

"At a time when Europe firmly believed in the flatness of the Earth," says Ameer Ali, "and was ready to burn any foolhardy person who thought otherwise, the Arabs taught geography by globes". Their progress in mathematical geography was no less remarkable. The works of Ibn Hauqal, Makrizi Istakhri, Masudi, Beruni, Idrisi, Qazwini, Wardi and Abul Fida contain store of geographical knowledge specially on this branch of science, called by them "Rasnul Ard".

Rotation of the Earth
The rotation and sphericity of the earth were discussed and proved by the Muslim geographers of mediaeval times. The Kitab Kalimat-ul-Ain deals with the rotation of the earthwhich causes day and night. Muslim astronomers also proved that the earth is a sphere and has a shape like a peach. Globes were commonly used in Arabic schools of mediaeval times which testifies to the contention of the sphericity of earth advanced by Muslims. Geography of the world was also taught with the help of globes in Moorish Spain.

Knowledge of Seas
Arab Mariners and explorers had a very wide knowledge of seas and oceans. The greatest discovery of the Arabs was that the oceans are connected with one another and form a compact oceanic world. The first sea route described by Sulaiman al-h-Mahiri started from the Indian Ocean and passing through the Pacific Ocean, Behring Sea, Arctic Ocean and Atlantic Oceans entered the Mediterranean Sea through the Straits of Gibraltar. The other route was easier. Starting from the Indian Ocean and passing through the Abbysinian Sea, Mozambique channel and encircling the Cape of Good Hope it entered' the Atlantic Ocean. Passing through the Straits of Gibraltar it entered the Mediterranean Sea This was the route used by Vasco De Gama in 1498 A. D. This shows that the Arabs were the masters of the seas and possessed maps of seas and oceans which they freely used in their voyages.

Ibn Khaldun has stated the length of the Red Sea, to be 1,400 miles, while according to · current maps it is given as, 1,310 miles. This shows that the speculations of Arab geographers Came-very close to modern research.

Behring Strait
The Behring Sea and Strait was known to the Arabs. The route described by Sulaiman al-Mahiri went from the Pacific Ocean to the Arctic Ocean passing through the Behring Strait. The celebrated explorer Al-Masudi has also mentioned the Behring Sea in his works. Among the Arabs it was known as 'Warang' sea.

According to the Encyclopaedia of America the geography of equatorial Africa and the issuing place of the river Nile was known to the Arabs for a very long time.

Arab Pilot of Vasco De Gama
In 1498 A. D. Vasco De Gama discovered a new route to India by passing through the Cape of Good Hope. Prince Henry of Portugal had established his nautical academy at Cape St. Vicent under the guidance of Arab and Jewish teachers which prepared the ground for the explorations of Vasco De Gama It is now a well-known fact that an Arab had piloted his ship to India, Writing in Legacy of Islam, J. H. Kramers says, "when Vasco De Gama, after his circum-navigation of Africa in 11198, had reached Malindi on the East Coast of Africa, it was an Arab pilot that showed him the way to India. According to Portuguese sources, this pilot was in possession of a very good sea-map and of other maritime instruments. Arabic sources of that time also knew the story; they state that the Pilot, whom they knew under the name of Ahmad Ibn Majid, could only be induced to show the way to the Portuguese after having been made drunk". Reporting from Bares, a Portuguese who was a member of the party of Vasco De Gama, writes in the Encyclopaedia of Islam: "When Vasco De Gama reached Malindi a Moor (Arab Muslim) called on him. Being much pleased in our company and with the idea of winning the favour of the king of Malindi who was in search of a pilot for the Portuguese ship, he (Arab Muslim) agreed to pilot our ship to India". According to the earned author of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, a local hand had piloted the ship of Vasco De Gama to India. He is either shy of associating the name of a Muslim with the much advertised exploration of Vasco De Gama or is ignorant of such a vital fact which may hardly be expected from an author who has undertaken such a gigantic work.

The discovery of-America
Modern research has proved beyond doubt that the Arabs discovered America. Muslim Geographers and astronomers believed in the sphericity of the earth. ·The trigonometrical tables of Khwarizmi were translated by Adelard of Bath, Gerard of Cremona and Roger Bacon. The famous book Image Mundi published in 1410 A. D. incorporated the Ain (or Arim) theory from the translations of Khwarizmi. It was from this book that Columbus learnt that the earth was pear shaped and that there must be some elevated part on the other side of the earth which he decided to discover. "Thus Islamic geographical theory", observes J. H. Kramers, "may claim a share in the discovery of the new world".

Modern research on the subject has gone a step further and has established that the Arabs discovered America five centuries before Columbus. The following important news was published in leading Indian newspapers including the Delhi Express, dated 11th August 1952.

"A leading South African anthropologist says the Arabs, not Christopher Columbus. discovered America. The Arabs scored a beat of nearly 500 years on Columbus, according to Dr. Jeffreys, Senior lecturer of Social Anthropology at Witwatersand University. Dr. Jeffreys based his claim on a discovery 18 months ago of Negro Hamitic skulls in the Rio. Grande River."

The professor said, 'Puzzling things previously inexplicable suddenly made sense and fitted a jigsaw puzzle' .

"Dr. Jeffreys thinks that by 1000 A. D. Arabs already commanded the Mediterranean, were established on the west coast of Africa and had settled in America. Columbus, too, found small colonies of Negroes in the Darian Isthumus who, according to Dr. Jeffreys, were descendants of Arab slaves."
"He said the discovery of Hamitic skulls in caves in Bashama Islands and African root crops in the Carribean lend credence to this theory."
The celebrated anthropologist of South Africa, Prof M. D. W. Jeffreys' article has been published in various journals of the world in which he has given weighty proofs that Arabs had discovered America and had settled in Carribean islands long before the arrival of Columbus. He says, "There is an old Portuguese tradition that when the Portuguese were exploring the coasts of Guinea (West Africa) under King John ll, who died in 1495, these explorers brought maize, an American plant from Guinea to Portugal.... As maize must have reached Guinea from America to introduce it to Portugal before Columbus sailed from Spain, it is clear someone must have brought it from the Americas, and I claim it were the Arabs who did so".

In the same way banana was carried by Arabs to Carribean islands and American mainland. Peter Nartyr, a friend of Columbus, published his first Decade before 1504 A.D. In it he describes the banana as it appeared in the West Indies when the Spaniards arrived. He writes: "it (banana) was brought from a part of Ethiopia called Guinea, where it grows wild, as in its native country."It were the Arabs who introduced the banana to Guinea (West Africa) and therefrom carried it to Carribean islands and American mainland. Reynold writes: "The Arabs were instrumental in distributing the banana across equatorial Africa, so that it was well-established on the Guinea coast when the Portuguese first explored there in the years 1469-1474 A.D."1

Moreover the Atlantic islands were known long before the discovery of Columbus. The Arabic names of these islands in the geography published by a Franciscan Friar in 1350 A.D. prove that most of these were inhabited by Arabs and their descendents, e.g., Lost Islands were named Kalidat, Teneriffe was named Elburd. The word Brazil too has Arabic origin. Armando Cortesao, formerly counsellor for the History of Science at UNESCO has published a book called The Nautical Chart of 1424, in which he has named several islands which have Arabic origin e.g., Antilia, Saya and Ymana.

The celebrated Geographer Idrisi had published his well-known geography Nuzhat-al-Mushtaq about 1151 A.D. Idrisi in his geography gives a hint that the Arabs knew the Americas. The western orientalist Glas, writing in 1764 A.D. of Idrisi, whom he -calls the Nubian geographer admits: "Anyone who reads with attention the first part of the Nubian Geographer's Third Climate will be strongly inclined to believe that the Arabs had even some knowledge of America or West India Islands”.



The achievements of Muslims in the industrial field had not been less spectacular than those in the political and intellectual spheres. The Muslims during the Caliphate of Abbasids and Omayyads in Spain had developed their industries to such a high degree of perfection that their finished products were viewed with wonder at the imperial-courts of Europe. The watch presented by Harun-ar-Rashid to Charlemagne, emperor of France was regarded as an object of wonder. Their manufactured goods had captured the markets of the known world, and their fabrics formed the favourite dresses of the ladies of the imperial houses of Europe. But, the west has always taken pains to minimise the achievements of Muslims, and John William Draper has rather gone out of the way in his outspoken book The Intellectual Development of Europe when he says, "I have to deplore the systematic manner in which the literature of Europe has contrived to put out of sight our scientific obligations to the Mohammedans. Surely, they cannot be much longer hidden - The Arab has left his intellectual impress over Europe, as, before long, Christendom will have to confess; he has indelibly written it on the heavens, as anyone may see who reads the names of the stars on a common celestial globe"

The genius of the Arabs, who formed the vanguard of human civilization during mediaeval times, manufactured novel things and organised large-scale production of commodities which were liberally supplied to different parts of the world. Their enterprising merchants carried their finished products to the outermost parts of the world. The merchant navy of Muslim Spain alone comprised 1,000 ships.

The. Abbasid Caliphate provided the most congenial atmosphere for the intellectual, cultural and industrial developments of the Muslims. It was in this period that the Arabs were given the fullest opportunity to display their talents in-different walks of life. Harun and Mamun were the greatest patrons of arts and sciences during mediaeval times. Mutasim is particularly known for the interest he exhibited in the industrial enterprises of his empire. He had many industrial- projects executed during his lifetime and a large number of factories were established in Iraq. Manufactures of every kind were encouraged and fostered. The glass and soap made in the factories of Basrah were famous throughout the world. During the reign of Mutasim Billah, a large number of factories sprang up round about Baghdad and in other important cities of Iraq. The paper industry particularly received much impetus, and in important paper factories, skilled workmen from Egypt were employed. Persia was noted for her gold and embroidery work, which was carried on in all the big cities. High class fabrics including satin brocade, silk and carpets were manufactured in Islamic domains and were in great demand all over the world. Kufa was famous for its silk and silk handkerchiefs known as kuffiyeh. Khuzistan (ancient Susiana) produced superfine cloth. "The beautiful brocade of Tester", says an eminent orientalist, "the rich carpets of Korkub and the silks and satins of Sus were in request all over the world. The other provinces were equally famous for their splendid manufactures. Susangrid contained a royal factory for gold embroidery of damask, camel-hair fabrics and carpets. It also produced embroidered curtains made of spun silk (kazz) for the sultan, and raw silk, camel and goat hair materials. Here were manufactured splendid cloaks of spun silk, considered superior to the striped woollen cloaks of Shiraz. The wealthy cities of Khorasan were active in the production of brocades carpets, rugs, hangings, coverings for cushions, and woollen fabrics of all kinds. In short every city in the empire had its own particular manufacture in metal, glass, wool, silk or linen. Syria was famous for its manufacture of glass, and as early as the second century of the Hejra parti-coloured and enamelled glass was produced" Jundeshapur was the seat of the first observatory and the first college of natural sciences in the world. This college gave an impetus to the development of industry and commerce. The chemical research in this college led to the knowledge of sugar refining which was successfully applied to sugar industry in Khuzistan and later on in Spain. Spain produced high class sugar. The commodities exported during Abbasid Caliphate were agricultural produce, glass, hardware, silk, textiles, perfumes of all kinds, rose water, saffron, syrup, oil, etc.

The Muslim kingdom of Spain had become a very prosperous State due to the extensive industries developed there and the large-scale production carried on in the factories. Her revenues obtained through commercial duties, according to a European author, exceeded the entire revenues of all the Christian states of Europe taken tagether. "Spain under the Caliphate" according to - Philip K. Hitti, "was one of the wealthiest and most thickly populated lands of Europe".Cordova, the capital of the Moorish State had 13 thousand looms and a flourishing leather industry. The art of tanning and embossing leather had been developed to a high degree of perfection and from here it spread-to Morocco, England and France as the terms 'Cordovan', 'Cordwainer' and 'Morocco' indicate. The celebrated Spanish historian Maqarri has written that high class woollen and silken fabrics were manufactured not only in Cordova, but also in Malaya, Almeria and other towns. Almeria also produced glassware and brasswork. Sericulture was much developed in Spain. According to Ibn Khatib, Valencia was the home of pottery. Mining industry was fully developed. Jaen and Algrava were famous for their mines of gold and silver, Cordova for its iron and lead and Malaga for its rubies. According to Ibn Hauqal 'Toledo like Damascus was known throughout the- world for it’s swords? "The art of inlaying steel and other metals" says a celebrated western orientalist "with gold and silver and decorating them with flower patterns, which was introduced from Damascus, flourished in several European and Spanish centres and left a linguistic heritage in such words as 'damascene' 'damaskeen', French 'darnasquiner' and Latin 'damschina'.

Muslim Spain was a leading State in textile industry. It produced high class cotton, woollen and silken fabrics, which captured the European markets. Cordova had 13,000 and Almeria 4,800 looms, "In the development of sumptuous textile arts" writes Philip K. Hitti "which made Arabic speaking people the leading fabric makers and silk mercersin the mediaeval world, the Arabs of Spain had a share but in carpet making Spain offered no serious competition to Eastern, specially Persian market" The word muslin has been derived from the word 'mussolina' a cotton fabric supplied to Italy from al-Mausil, The fine silken fabric supplied by Baghdad to Italy was called Baldacoo or Baldachin and it was used in the decoration of big churches of Europe. Similarly during the 13th and 14th centuries, A.D. Granada, the capital of the last Muslim kindgom in Spain supplied European dress shops with grenadines. Muslim workmen were mainly responsible in setting up textile industry in France and Italy.

The Moors had converted the barren lands of Spain into a garden and agriculture was developed to a high degree. Agricultural industry also flourished in Spain. Seville alone had several thousand oil factories. Besides the textiles and agricultural industries, paper, Porcelain earthenware, iron, steel and leather industries were carried on on an extensive scale. The tapestries of Cordova, the woollen stuffs of Murcia, the silk of Granada, Almeria and Seville, the steel and gold work of Toledo and the paper of Salibat were sought all over the world. It was the Arabs who introduced the manufacture of silk and cotton fabrics in Spain. They had specialised in the art of dyeing and had invented black dyeing with indigo. The glazed tiles used in the palaces of Alhambra and the fine vases still found there bear ample testimony to their perfection in the manufacture of porcelain. The manufacture of gun-powder,sugar, and paper were introduced into Spain by Muslims.

Among eastern Muslim countries, Persia was noted for its fabrics and carpets. Even upto the present day, Persia has maintained an extensive carpet industry and Persian carpets are considered to be the best in the world. The Persians have proved themselves masters of decorative designs and colour applications since time immemorial. Their fine arts including potteries, tiles and other decorative things reached a high degree of excellence. Hunting and garden seen were woven on Persian carpets and rugs.

During the reign of the great Mughals and even afterwards Muslims were the pioneers in cottage industries. Even today almost all the cottage industries in the Indo-Pak subcontinent are in Muslim hands. The muslin of Dacca, the woollen rugs (shawl) of Kashmir, the silken fabrics of Benares, the embroidery of Lucknow, the silver work of Bedar, the potteries of Multan, the furniture of Bareiliy and the brassware of Moradabad are manufactured and maintained by Muslim craftsman.

Fine Arts
"In the ceramics, another art as ancient' as Egypt and Susa" says Caston Migeon, "the reproduction of human form and of animals and plants as well as geometric and epigraphic figures attained a beauty of decorative style unsurpassed in any other Muslim art"Beautiful Kashani tiles with flowers painted on them were a speciality of Persia which were in great demand all over the world. "Among the Treasures of the Louvre", writes Philip K. -Hitti, "the British Museum and the Arab Museum of Cairo are exquisite pieces from Samarra and Al-Fustat including plates, cups, vases, ewers and lamps for home and Masjid use, painted with brilliant radiantlustres and acquiring through the ages metallic glazes of changing rainbow hue"."

Decorative articles of luxury were produced on a large scale in Persia, Iraq, Spain and Egypt and they adorned the palaces of the nobles and rulers of the world. A goblet of the palace of Fatimids was sold for 360 dinars. Decorative writings were painted on glasses which were hung in palaces and Masjids.

The jewellery industry also flourished during the time of the Abbasids. Harun-ar-Rashid. had purchased a ruby for 40,000 dinars and Yahya Ibn Khalid once offered 70,00,000 dirhams for a jewel box. Persia and Spain were the great centres of fine arts industries. The Hispano Moresque school excelled in metal work. One of such relies of the time of Hisham II (976--1009 A.D.) is preserved on the high altar of the cathedral of Geroma in the form of a wooden casket sheathed with silver gilt plating patterned in responsory with scroll like foliation. According to a European writer in the application of coloured glazes to earthenware, Muslims were from an early period past masters. In Europe Valencia was the centre of ceramics and pottery industries. The potteries of Muslim Spain were later imitated in the Nertherlands and Italy. Glazed and coloured tiles were also produced in Spain and exported to European countries. Exquisite pottery was made in Toledo, Cordova, Malaga and Valencia.

Textile industry flourished in almost all the Muslim countries. The fine woollen, cotton and silken fabrics including rugs, tapestries, satin, brocade (dibaj), sofa (sllffbt) and muslin manufactured in Muslim countries were matchless and were exported to all parts of the civilized world. These fabrics were in great demand in the Imperial palaces of the East and the West. Persian carpets are still considered the best in the world. Writing in the Legacy of Islam, J. H. Kramers says "But at the time of Islamic prosperity it had made possible a development of industrial skill which brought the artistic value of the products to an unequalled height....It is curious to note, too, that the State robes of mediaeval German Emperors bore Arabic inscriptions"During the Abbasid Caliphate carpets and textiles manufactured in Iraq and Persia maintained a high standard of workmanship. A rug costing 13,00,00,000 dirhams, set with jewels was made for the mother of al-Mutasim. A fabric called Tabi was introduced by the Arabs into Spain, which had a good market in Italy and other European countries. A number of factories were established in Tawwaj, Fasa and other cities of Faris where fine textiles, brocades, carpets and robes were manufactured. Tester and Susa, towns in Khuzistan had factories for the embroidery of 'damask', a silken cloth originated in Damascus--which was used to make curtains. Among the specialities of Khuzistan were woollen fabrics made of goat and camel hair and spun silk cloaks. Shiraz, the famous city of Persia was known throughout the East for its woollen cloaks and brocades. Khorasan and Armenia manufactured tapestries, sofas, curtains and cushion covers, while Bokhara was noted for its prayer rugs. Egypt also produced high class fabrics including Dabigi and Tinnisi which had a high reputation in the world markets.

Other Industries
A large number of finished products and other articles were exported from Muslim countries. Even the small province of Tranxonia exported among other things soap, carpets, copper lamps, felt-cloaks, fur, amber, honey, scissors, swords, looms, tables, sofas, lamps, vases, earthenware and kitchen utensils. The Syrian towns specially Sidon and Tyre were noted for their fine glass and metal vessels which were sought all over the world and were used as articles of utility and luxury. Ibn Batuta found Damascus as the centre of Mosaic and Kashani industry, which were used for decorative purposes in the construction of palatial buildings. The paper manufactured in Samarqand was considered to be the best in the world. The first paper factory in Baghdad was established by the end of 8th century A. D. Paper mills were founded in Egypt, Morocco and Spain before the end of 12th century A. D. "From Muslim Spain" says a European writer, "in the 12th and 13th centuries, the manufacture of paper finally worked its way into Christian Europe". The Abbasid caliph al-Mustasim Billah was a great patron of industries. The keen interest shown by him led to the rapid industrialization of Iraq and other countries. He opened big soap and glass factories in Baghdad, Samarra and other towns.

Mines were worked in almost all the Muslim countries. The rich mines of Spain yielded iron, copper, lead, gold, silver and rubies. Transaxonian mines yielded marble, mercury, rubies, asbestos and azurite. Karman had big lead and silver mines. Pearls were obtained from Bahrein, carnelian from Sana, turquoise from Neshapur, rubies from Badakhshan, iron from Mt. Lebanon, kaolin and marble from Tabriz. Syria and Palestine had large sulphur mines. Capable engineers and miners were employed in the iron mines of Khorasan (Persia) and lead and silver mines of Karman (Persia). Georgian mines yielded bitumen and naphtha. Thus the mineral resources of the Muslim countries were fully tapped and worked. The countries noted for their mining industry were Persia, Spain, Caucasia, Transaxonia and Palestine.

Ship Building
Arabs who were the greatest sailors and mariners of mediaeval times carried on an extensive sea-borne trade between the East and the West. To meet this increasing sea-borne commerce, ship-yards were built in all the important ports of Muslim countries, which were called Darul Sanayeh, The ports of Abla and Sirafin the Persian Gulf, Tunis on the North African Coast, Dania in Spain, Sus in Morocco, Palermo and Messina in Muslim Sicily, Bari in Muslim Italy and Acre in Syria had ship building factories. During the Omayyad caliphate such a factory was founded in Ashbilia (Syria) and during the reign of Abbasids a big ship building yard existed in Sus. The celebrated conqueror Saladin had established a large ship building yard in Beirut to enable him to meet the challenge of the crusaders. Egypt had several ship building yards. The first of this kind was established in 54 A. H. in Egypt. The Fatimid caliphs had ship building factories in Cairo, Alexandria and Diametta.

The skill of Muslim craftsmen has now been acknowledged by liberal European writers. Writing in his well known work Intellectual Development of Europe John William Draper says, "They (Arabs) also promoted many important branches of industry improved the manufacture of textile, fabrics, earthenware, iron, steel, the Toledo sword blades were everywhere prized for their temper. The Arabs, on their expulsion from Spain, carried the manufacture of a kind of leather, in which they were acknowledged to excel, to Morocco, from which country the leather itself has now taken its name. They also introduced inventions of a more ominous kind gunpowder and artillery. The canon they used appeared to have been made of wrought iron. But perhaps they more than compensated for these evil contrivances by the introduction of mariner's compass".l

R. Briffault says, "By and by the manufactures of the East were introduced and imitated in the Christian Europe. Silk looms were established in Norman Sicily. Venice copied with the aid of native craftsmen the glassware of Antioch, Lyons the 'Damasks', Paris the 'Tapis Surrasins' and Rheims the linen of Syria. The rich dyes of the East were brought to Bruges, where they were used to prepare English wool for the market. The wares of Spain and Majorica led to the establishment of Italian factories for the manufacture of majolica. Sugar factories were transferred from Sicily to Italy and from Spain to south France".



The Muslims, who, during modern times are considered to be backward in commerce and whose markets are mostly monopolised by foreigners, once commanded world trade. Their ships and caravans loaded with all sorts of merchandise reached the distant parts of the known world and their wealthy merchants were heartily welcomed in the imperial courts and cities of Europe and Asia. The famous Arabian Nights is full of stories of such commercial enterprises when Arab merchants in quest of El Dorados' roamed about the eastern seas reaching as far as the Behring Strait. Their ships even touched the shores of the New World. The influence which Arabian commerce had on Europe has now begun to be recognised by less partial research. "Europe owes much to its own force and initiative" says J. H. I(ramers, "hut it has also largely profited by the knowledge and the experience of those who were at one time the masters of the world. Therefore Europe ought to look upon them as its cultural ancestors in the domain of geographical knowledge, of discovery and of world trade. The influence which Islam has exercised on our modern civilization in these spheres of action can be seen in the many terms of Arabic origin which are to be found in the vocabulary of trade and navigation".'

Oceanic Trade
The Mediterranean Sea during mediaveal times had virtually been converted into an Arabian lake. The Arab Navy and merchant shipping were the undisputed masters of this important naval thoroughfare. The Mediterranean, which on three sides was surrounded by Muslim countries as well as its important islands like Sicily, Crete, Cyprus and the Baleric islands were governed by Muslim rulers. They formed the main commercial thoroughfare of the west, through which an active trade with the Christian countries of Europe was conducted. Tunis and Alexandria, Cadiz and Barcelona were great ports of call which handled the flourishing trades. Speaking about Moorish Spain, J. W. Draper writes, "But in the days of their prosperity they maintained a merchant marine of more than a thousand ships. They had factories and consuls on the Tanais. With Constantinople alone they maintained a great trade it ramified from the Black Sea and East Mediterranean into the interior of Asia it reached the ports of India and China and extended along the African coast as far as Madagascar". Islamic navigation had reached its zenith during the 9th century A. D. when Arab traders carried on a flourishing trade with the non-Islamic ports of South East Asia and Africa. Commercial navigation in the Mediterranean was mainly confined to Muslim ports.

It was during the Caliphate of Faruq the Great, that the idea of connecting the Mediterranean with the Red Sea was given some practical effect in order to ensure quick transport of grain from Egypt to Hejaz. The Suez Canal which was partially opened was closed till the 18th century by the Abbasid and later caliphs, as there was a risk of western attack on the holy cities. Tunis in the days of the glory of the Spanish caliphate had grown to be the greatest commercial port on the African continent. Its safe waters anchored a fleet of merchant ships which sailed from there to Spain, Rome, Sicily, Alexandria and Syria. "A largely used word like douane" says a western writer, "is a reminder of the time when regular commercial intercourse had developed in different ports of the Mediterranean. It is well known that this intercourse has also reacted largely on the commercial organisation of the western nations. The treaties which they concluded with the Muhammadan rulers, and the institution of consular representatives in eastern ports, have been important stages in the development of the rules that now-a-days govern international trade"

The ports on the Indian ocean carried on a flourishing trade with Iraq on the west and the East Indies and China on the east. It was the greatest commercial thoroughfare between the Far East and the Islamic west during the days of the Abbasids. The wealthy merchants of Baghdad, setting out from Basrah, a great commercial port, went as far as China and brought silk from China, spices and aromatics from India, coconuts, muscat nuts and tin from Kala which were also exported to Europe by these merchants. The big waterways of Iraq were made navigable upto Baghdad, the metropolis of the Islamic empire. The merchants of Baghdad carried with them to the courts of Indian and Chinese rulers textiles, potteries, perfumes and rugs made in Islamic countries. African products including ivory and pepper were brought to the ports of Aden and Jedda. Surat, Goa and Calicut were large ports during Mughal times and handled an enormous trade between east and west. The Chinese town of Khanfu now called Canton was frequently visited by Muslim ships, and a Muslim colony was set up which became an emporium of trade with China. The enterprising Muslim traders went as far as Korea and Japan. They felt perfectly at home in those seas and dimes. A lively traffic was kept up with Ceylonese and Malabar ports by Arab merchants. Saimur, an Arab colony had sprung up near Bombay by the end of IOth century A.D. and Daibul was an important port of Sind which had been conquered by the Arabs. The East coast of Africa and Madagascar were also frequently visited by Arab ships including the country of Sufala which was known for its gold. Zanzibar and Mombasa were the great ports of this region which exported ivory, pepper and other tropical fruits. It was here that the celebrated mariner Ibn Majid had met Vasco de Gama in 1498.A. D. and had piloted his ship to India.

Land Trade
The communications on land were carried on through caravans, The caravans were generally composed of horses and ponies and of camels in the desert. The danger of bandits, obliged travellers to travel together thus forming a caravan. "The peace and security with which caravans traversed the Empire"; says Ameer Ali, "the perfect safety of the roads, the cisterns, and tanks and reservoirs, and rest-houses which existed everywhere along the routes all aided in the rapid development of commerce and trade, arts and manufactures". It was through the caravans that flourishing trade was carried on among the cities of Islamic countries especially in Persia and Central Asia. During mediaeval times, caravan traffic was the most common means of trading and travelling between the different Islamic countries. There were important overland routes one leading to India and China., the other to Central Asia and Russia and the third to northern,eastern and central Africa. Over these routes passed caravans loaded with rich merchandise.

The chief export of Eastern and Western Africa was gold. Al-AlIaqi, a big commercial centre lying in the region of gold mines east of Aswan (Egypt) was known since ancient Egyptian times for its trade in gold. The gold country of Ghana situated in Western Africa in the basin of the river Niger also carried on an active trade of gold. The Muslim merchants of Morocco and North African countries crossed the great Sahara (desert) passing through Awdaghosht oasis, situated north of Ghana. This perilous journey through the largest desert of the world took several months, but the aspirers to this African El Dorado were prepared to face all risks. The celebrated geographer Ibn Hauqal gives a graphic account of the trade in these regions. He alleges that "he saw in Awdaghosht an I.O.U. (the Arabic word is sakk from which the modern word cheque has been derived) for an amount of 42,000 dinars, addressed to a merchant in the town of Sijilmasa in southern Morocco" The volume of trade handled here was greater in the 9th century A.D.

The Muslims who were the pioneers in the commercial field during mediaeval times visited also the European countries as far as Scandinavia and Finland. Muslim coins found in large numbers in northem Europe provide ample testimony to this contention. According to the famous geographer AlMaqaddasi, the merchants in this way purchased in Europe sables, miniver, ermines, furs, wax, birch, birch bark, fur caps, fish-glue, castoreum, amber, honey, hazel-nuts, falcons, swords, armour, maple wood and cattle. They supplied to European countries all sorts of manufactured goods including textiles, paper, rugs and pottery. Muslims had intimate commercial relation with the Christian states of Constantinople, Bulgaria, Germany and southern Russia. Jewish merchants, too,were very active in Islamic and Christian states. The Muslim traders brought to Europe musk, aloes, camphor and cinnamon and their names betray their oriental origin. The one overland route which connected central Europe with Asia passed through the Khazar empire in south Russia and Central Asia. Trebizond, an important commercial town on the border of the Byzantine empire was an emporium for Islamic-Greek trade. Moorish Spain had commercial relations with western Europe, and passing through the Pyrenees the fine products of Muslim Spain had access to French and Swiss markets, as early as the 8th century A.D. Mus!im merchants visited Italian towns and Constantinople, but by the end of the 11lth century a really flourishing trade was carried on with these countries, "The great riches of material culture, which the Islamic world had gathered for nearly five centuries, were poured down upon Europe. These riches consisted not only of Chinese, Indian and African products, which the enterprising spirit of Islam had fetched from far distant lands; they were in the first place represented by what the Muhammadan countries themselves yielded of natural and industrial products".'

Muslim Spain, during the period of her glory maintained a flourishing trade with neighbouring countries. The revenues of Abdur Rahman III derived mostly from commercial taxes was about 6 million sterling, an amount which, according to a European writer exceeded the entire revenue of all the sovereigns of Christendom taken together. The Spanish ports of Malega, Carthegena, Barcelona and Cadiz were vast commercial emporiums of export and import. They possessed a merchant navy of more than a thousand ships and had commercial representatives in the Danubian states. An active trade was carried on with Constantinople, Rome and France. The Spanish merchants visited the ports of India, China, Madagascar, East Africa and the cities of Central Asia. "In the midst of the IOth century" says J. W. Draper, "when Europe was about the same condition that Caffraria is now, enlightened Moors, like AbuI Cassem were writing treatises on the principles of trade and commerce". The grain of barley was the smallest weight they used, a practice which is still prevalent. For providing correct data to the merchants and travellers, geographical registers, gazetteers and itineraries were regularly published by government agencies. Seville, the great river port in the fertile Andalusian province exported cotton, olives, and oil. The exports of Malaga and Jaen Included saffron figs, marble and sugar. An active trade was carried on with Baghdad, Damascus, Hejaz and Alexandria. The Government of Spain had a regular postal service. According to Philip K. Hitti, "Arab money was in use in the Christian kingdoms of the north, which for nearly 400 years had no coinage other than Arabic or French"."

The large amount of Arabic coins found in European countries including Scandinavia, Finland, Russia, the British Isles, Baltic States and even as far as Iceland bear testimony to the sphere of influence which Muslim commerce had achieved in Europe. The coins belong to the period extending from the 7th to the Ilth century A.D. when Islamic commercial and political advancement was at its zenith. The large number of Arabic words still found in the trade dictionaries of European languages, provide clear proof that those commodities were first introduced into European countries by Muslims. 'Tariff' is nothing but the Arabic word tariff meaning announcement. The words 'risk', 'tere' 'calibre' and'magazine' are of Arabic origin. Magazine is derived from the Arabic word Makhazin meaning stores. The 'cheque' has also an Arabic origin. The conception of joint stock companies was an innovation of Muslim brains, brought into practice by the partnership of Muslim and Latin Christian merchants.

"Finally, our commercial vocabulary itself has preserved" says J. H. Kramers, "some very eloquent proofs of the fact that there wasa time when Islamic trade and trade customs exercised a deep influence on the commercial development in Christian countries".' The Arab opened up land and sea routes to India, China, Mallaca and Timbuktoo.



The scarcity of water has converted the barren Arabian peninsula into a vast desert which has never yielded any substantial agricultural produce. Her scattered population had always to fall back on foreign supply of foodgrains to supplement the dates and the little corn grown in their own lands. Agriculture in Arabia which has had the distinction of being the cradle of the great prophets of the world has been very primitive and was confined to those tracts where water was available in the form of springs. Taif, a hilly place is known as the garden of Hejaz, where, besides grapes, apples, figs, pomegranates and dates, wheat is also cultivated. Medina, with its springs and wells is a green spot in a vast desert, and dates, wheat and barley are cultivated there.

The great Prophet of Islam had left behind him a group of selfless people, whose sagacity and magnanimity, faith and unity, spirit of sacrifice and service won for them laurels not only on the battle-fields but in almost all branches of human activity. Agriculture was no exception and as early as during the reign of the second Caliph of Islam Arabs had made considerable progress in agriculture and had introduced many beneficial measures for its advancement in their dominions including Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Hejaz. Writing about the Spanish Muslims in his outspoken book The Intellectual Development of Europe John William Draper says, "Not only did they attend to the cultivation of plants, introducing very many new ones, they likewise paid attention to the breeding of the cattle specially the sheep and horse. To them we owe the introduction of the great products, rice, sugar, cotton and also, as we have previously observed, nearly all the fine garden and orchard fruits, together with many less important plants, as spinach and saffron. To them Spain owes the culture of silk. They introduced the Egyptian system of irrigation by flood gates, wheels and pumps".'

It was during the reign of the second Caliph that the Arab conquest was extended over Asia and Africa. Arabs were confronted with new problems which the administration of such a vast empire had brought in its wake. They provided a test for the Arab genius and the manner in which they grappled with different problems including the exploitation of natural resources in their dominions proved beyond doubt that they were matchless both in war and peace. Hazrat Omar Faruq the Great, had fixed the rates of land revenue according to the type of land. He charged four dirhams on one jarib of sown wheat, while he charged 2 dirhams for a similar plot of barley. Nothing was charged for pastures and uncultivated land. In this way he systematised revenues which before his time were charged haphazardly. Different rules were framed regarding the revenues of Egypt whose agricultural output depended on the floods of the river Nile, According to reliable historical sources, the annual revenues of Iraq amounted to 860 million dirhams, an amount which was never exceeded after the death of the great Caliph though he was very lenient in his collection. The main reason behind the easy realisation of revenue was that the people had become very prosperous. He had introduced many farreaching reforms in the field of agriculture, which we do not find even in most of the countries of modern times. One of these was the abolition of landlords or zamindari and the subsequent disappearance of the evils which were being wrought on the poor tenants by the vested landed interests. When the Romans conquered Syria and Egypt, they confiscated the land from the tillers of the soil and allotted it to the nobles, churches and the members of the royal family, and the armed forces. Hazrat Omar, upon conquest of these countries returned the land to those local inhabitants who were the rightful owners. The just and benevolent Caliph was exceptionally generous to the tillers of the soil and he even issued strict orders that no other persons including Arab soldiers who had spread all over these countries should be granted any piece of land for cultivation purposes. Such steps taken by the second Caliph of Islam restored confidence among the local inhabitants, gave a great impetus to the advancement of agriculture in those countries and contributed to the enormous increase in agricultural produce. The tenants became prosperous and their standard of living was raised which led to the easy realisation of land revenues by the custodians of the State. According to a French historian, "The liberal policy followed by the Arabs in the fixation of revenues and their land reforms have greatly contributed to their military conquests". It was due to this generous policy of the second Caliph that the Christian Qibtis of Egypt, who were farmers, always sided with Muslim Arabs in preference to Roman Christians. The great Caliph was not contented with these reforms. He worked out beneficial schemes for the advancement of agriculture and constructed irrigation canals, wells and tanks in his vast dominions. He established a public welfare department which looked after these construction works and furthered various beneficial schemes. The famous historian Allama Maqrizi says that more than one lac and twenty thousand labourers were employed in such works throughout the year in Egypt alone. A number of canals were constructed in Khuzistan and Ahwaz during this period.

The short period of the Caliphate Raashidah is considered the golden epoch of Islamic rule in which Muslims made all-round progress. During the Omayyad Caliphate many evils of aristocracy and autocracy had crept into its ranks. The socialist and peoples' democracy of the Caliphate Raashidah had given place to imperialism and autocracy. The original tenants were dislodged from their lands and their properties were distributed among the privileged classes. The State revenues inspite of all the repressive measures adopted decreased considerably. Hazrat Omar bin Abdul Aziz tried to check this rot and reintroduced the old reforms and returned the properties to their rightful owners. He ordered his collectors not to charge any revenue for uncultivated and pasture lands. He constructed a large number of irrigation wells and tanks in his vast empire, and the tenants again became rich and there was hardly any one to receive the alms.

The period of the Abbasid Caliphate is particularly noted for the Muslim advancement in diverse branche of sciences and arts. Agriculture, too, received great impetus under the Abbasids. A net work of canals existed in Iraq which transformed that country into a veritable garden. The first great canal constructed by an uncle of the Caliph Mansur was called Nahr Isa (Isa canal) which, issuing from the Eupharater at Al-Anbar ran into the Tigris west of Baghdad It was open to ships and one of its branches was the Sarah canal. Another important canal was built by Caliph Mehdi in 'Wasit district, which brought a large tract of land under cultivation. A third transverse canal was Nahr Sarsar which joined the river Tigris above Madain. The Dujayal canal which con nected the Tigris and Eupharates and had many offshoots irrigated the regions north of Baghdad. It was silted up in the IOth century A.D. A canal known as Nahr al-Malik (king canal) entered the Tigris below Madain. Other important canals were Nahr Kutba and great Sarah which flowing in the lower basir of the two rivers, had many branches and irrigatec a vast tract of land. Promotion of agriculture ane horticulture was carried on with zeal throughout the vast Abbasid empire. According to an anrialist 'In those days Iraq and southern Persia presented the appearance of a veritable garden, and, the whole country specially between Baghdad and Kufa was covered with prosperous towns, flourishing villages and fine villas. The staple crops of Iraq were barley, rice, wheat, dates, cotton, sesame and flax. The production of fruit was pursued as a science and several new fruits were introduced in varying climates. The plain south of Sawad was noted for the growth of all sorts of temperate and tropical fruits. Ahwaz and Pars were famous for sugar plantation and manufacture. The sugar manufactured in these regions was supplied not only to Asiatic countries but also to Europe. Sugar was also manufactured on the Syrian coast, from, whence the crusaders learned the method and introduced it into Europe. Khorasan and Egypt were also fertile countries yielding rich agricultural produce. According to the Arab geographer Yaqut the land in the vicinity of Bukhara during Samanids' rule (900 A.D.) looked like a garden. It contained the valley of Sughad considered as one of the four earthly paradises. All kinds of fruits were produced in these gardens. Water-melons were exported from Khwarizm to Baghdad, in lead moulds perched with ice and were sold for 700 dirhams each.

In Spain, Arabs had established a great civilization and had developed agriculture on an unprecedented scale. They had constructed water channels, applied scientific manures and introduced new crops. The whole of Spain especially Andalusia had been converted into a veritable garden. Hardly any country of mediaeval times enjoyed greater agricultural prosperity than Muslim Spain. Agriculture was carried on along scientific lines and combining industry, skill and knowledge in its development made the most sterile tracts bloom luxuriantly. It was the Spanish Arabs who introduced rice, sugar-cane, cotton, ginger, saffron spinach and a great variety of fruits to that desolate peninsula and developed them on a large scale. Fror Spain these crops were later gradually introduced int various countries of Europe. In 1255 A.C., whe Feridnand I, captured Seville, that province possesse several million olive trees and had more than 100,00 mills for turning out olive oil. A renowned historia writes about the achievements of the Arabs in Spain" They levelled the earth by means of an instrument called the marhifal, and the science of irrigation was carried to high perfection. The whole country was covered with aqueducts and canals for the fertilization of the soil. The aqueducts of Carmona carried water over a distance of several leagues".'

They carried on irrigation by flood gates, wheel and pumps. The Andalusian plain of Spain was considered the garden of Europe and a centre of rura and urban activities.Writing in his well-known book History of the Arcrbs, Philip K. Hitti says "This agricultural development was one of the glories of Muslim Spain and one of the Arabs lasting gift to the land, for Spanish gardens have preserved to this day a 'Moorish' imprint. One of the best known gardens is the Generalife (from Arabic--Jnnnet alarif i.e., the Inspectors' Paradise), a Nasrid menument of the late 13th century whose villa was one of the outlying buildings of the Alhambra. This garden, proverbial for its extensive shades, falling waters and soft breeze (according to Ibn Khatib) was terraced in the form of an amphitheatre and irrigated by streams which, after forming numerous cascades, lost themselves among the flowers, shrubs and trees represented today by a few gigantic cypresses and myrtles".'

The Indo-Pak sub-continent during the Muslim rule was one of the most fertile agricultural areas of the world. The prices of grain and other edible commodities during the reign of Alauddin Khilji and Shah Jahan quoted by chronicles of these times were exceptionally low and hardly believeable. The Jamuna Gangetic Doab was known throughout the world for its fertility and productivity. During the Mughal period a number of canals were taken out from Jamuna which irrigated the vast tracts of land round about Delhi and Agra. The villages were self-sufficient and the high agricultural productivity enhanced the prosperity'of the people.

The Muslims took much interest in the advancement of horticulture, which was not confined to the cultivation of fruits and vegetables but also to the planting of all sorts of flowers. Damascus, Shiraz and Jur were particularly noted for their flower gardens, which led to the growth of perfume industry in these regions. Firozabad in Faris was famous for its atar of roses. According to Ibn Hauqal, the rose water of Jur was exported to such distant countries as China. 'Faris' according to Thaalibi, 'included in its khiraj 30,000 bottles of the essences of roses. Sabur or Shahpur produced 10 world famous varieties of perfumed oil.'
Muslims had a special aptitude for gardens. The garden of Generalife in Granada (Spain) and the Shalimar gardens built by the Mughal emperors Jahangir and Shah Jahan in Kashmir and Lahore respectively are considered to be the best in the world. "Natural products" says J. H. Kramers, "which, by their name, betray their original importation from Muhammadan countries, are fruits like the orange, lemon, and apricot, vegetables such as spinach and artichokes, further saffron and now the so important aniline".'

Arab botanists wrote several valuable treatises on plants and carried on research on their cultivation, growth and natural properties. One of these treatises was written by Ibn al-Awwam entitled Kitab-al-Filaha in which he dealt with 585 plants and 50 kinds of fruit trees. According to George Sarton, "It contains striking observations on the different kinds of soil and manure and their respective properties, on various methods of graftingon sympathies and antipathies between plants , etc. The symptoms of many diseases of trees and vines are indicated, as are also methods Of cure".



The call of the Holy Prophet of Islam to 'seek knowledge even unto the distant China' awakened a love of knowledge among the nomadic Arabs, such as was hitherto unknown to the world. Such memorable words uttered by the Holy Prophet as 'The ink of the scholar is more holy than the blood of the martyr' and 'He who leaves his home in search of knowledge walks into the path of God' had a salutary effect upon his followers and led to the growth of intense educational activity throughout the length and breadth of the tast Islamic domains. "Science and literature possessed no votaries" says Ameer Ali "But the words of the Prophet gave a new impulse to the awakened energies of the race. Even within his lifetime was formed the nucleus of an educational institution, which in after years grew into universities at Baghdad and Salerno, at Cairo and Cordova"

After the downfall of the Roman Empire chaos and intellectual stagnation held sway over the civilised world. The masterpieces of Greek philosophy, science and art lay buried under the dark vaults of the monasteries and might have disappeared altogether from the world, but for the Arab revival and patronage of ancient learning. "The Arabs" says Humboldt "were admirably suited to act the part of mediators, and to influence the nations from the Eupharates to Cuadalquivir and Mid-Africa. Their unexampled intellectual activity marks a distinct epoch in the history of the world".'

The educational and intellectual activity during the lifetime of the Prophet was started by the house of the Prophet itself. Hazrat Ali, who was brought up and educated under the direct supervision of the Prophet, acquired a high reputation in Islamic learning. He lectured on those branches of learning most suited to the wants of the infant State. Hazrat Ali and his cousin Hazrat Abdullah ibn Abbas rose to be the greatest intellectual figures of their age. The latter delivered public lectures on poetry, grammar, history and mathematics.

System of Education
During the early decades of Islam Masjids formed the nerve centre of political, religious and educational activities in Islam. Even during the present time, Masjids house maktabs and important institutions of religious education throughout the Islamic countries. Special quarters were attached to the Masjids and shrines for the residence of teachers, students and travellers. This provision continues even to this day in Syria, Persia and several other Muslim countries. Madrassa Masjid was an innovation of Persia, whose big congregational Masjids had separate portions assigned for the important institutions which imparted education in all branches of learning.

The child's education at home began with Kalima and the teaching of prayers and the Quran. The primary education was imparted in maktabs and Masjids, which were confined to elementary religious and linguistic teaching. The girls were allowed in the lower grades of the schools, but not in the higher ones. Memory work was specially emphasised. The wealthy children employed private tutors. The celebrated Caliph Harun-ar-Rashid gave these instructions to the tutor of his son Ameen, which throws light on the system of aristocratic education in those times: "Be not strict to the extent of stifliag his faculties or lenient to the point of making him enjoy idleness and accustom himself thereto. Straighten him as much as thou canst through kindness and gentleness, but fail not to resort to force and severity should he not respond"

Adult education was not as systematic as it is today. The curriculum revolved round religious education, which was the most important subject at this stage. The Muslim religion, as is well-known is not theocratic, rather it is dynamic and practical reflecting on diverse aspects of a robust practical life. Masjids served as educational centres and made provisions for lectures on Hadith and Quran. The wandering geographer Moqaddasi who visited the distant Sus and travelled through Syria, Palestine, Egypt and Faris found in those countries many circles and assemblies composed of faqih, legists, divines and litterateurs who had selected the Masjids as the venue of their intellectual and educational activities. The Imam al-Shafii presided at such a circle (halqa) at the Masjid of Amar at alFustat till his death in 820 A.D. Ibn Hauqal mentions similar assemblies in Sijistan. Not only religious but even linguistic, philosophical and literary subjects were taught in such assemblies. Such lectures in Masjids which continued upto the 11th century A.D. were free for all Muslims.

University education in the real sense of the word started in the 11th century A.D. with the opening of Nizamiyah universities of Neshapur and Baghdad. The universities taught almost all sciences and arts, but mostly relied on theoretical teaching. Inspite of lacking modern scientific laboratories, these Islamic universities produced such eminent scientists as modern India and Pakistan have not produced so far. The higher grade teachers were much respected and granted a recognised certificate (Ijazat) to their pupils who completed particular course of study.

There are several good points in Islamic education which have existed for the last thirteen centuries. Islamic education was free, hence provided equal opportunities to the rich and the poor to acquire the highest education available in the Islamic universities of the world. Not only that, but students were provided with free boarding, lodging and even with stationery, books and pocket expenses.

The modem age in spite of its enormous resources cannot boast of such an elaborate system of free education. A university education can only be attained now-a-days, by wealthy students. It was because education was free, that from the lowest strata of society have risen some of the brightest intellectual luminaries of the Islamic world likeAl-Ghazali, Hazrat Abdul Qadir Jilani, Al-Beruni, Al-Razi and Al-Farabi. Memory was much emphasised in study and some of the renowned Muslim scholars and teachers possessed amazing memories. In those days there were no diaries and memoranda and retentive faculties were developed to a phenominal degree. Al-Ghazali, Ahmad Bin Hanbal and the famous traditionalist Al-Bukhari memorised numberless traditions with their chain of authorities (Isnad). The celebrated poet Mutanabbi, Tamman and AI-Maarvi possessed wonderful memories and never found it necessary to buy a book.

The use of the rod by teachers was common in oriental as well as in western education during mediaeval times. The learned professors used to lecture on different subjects and the pupils used to sit round them and take notes of their lectures. This was the popular method of teaching in higher institutions. The professors and teachers were much respected by their students and also were held in great esteem in the highest society. Even the sons of the caliphs and emperors paid great respects to their teachers. Once Mamun-ar-Rashid was beaten by his teacher Yezidi. Jaafar Bermaki, the grand vizier of the Abbasid Empire chanced to arrive there at that time and took Mamun with him. The next day Yezidi asked Mamun, if he had complained about him to the Prime Minister. Thereupon Mamun replied like a humble pupil, "No my respected sir, how can I complain against my teacher. I would not even inform the Caliph Harun with such matters rather than Jaafar."

The teachers and learned professors in the great Islamic institutions were the incarnation of simple living and high thinking. They led an exemplary life and bore high character. The students copied the pious lives of their teachers. Though memory was much stressed and the practical side of the sciences was neglected, yet the education imparted to the students was substantial and creative. It really added to their knowledge and stands in great contrast to the superficial education of modern times.

There were three kinds of institutions:--(l) Those established and supported by the ruling class, (2) those founded by the wealthy class and supported by donations and endowments and (3) those founded by private lecturers. The finances of the institutions. specially of the higher ones were met by the State. Exchequer, donations and endowments. The teachers,. who were not highly paid, led a simple but respectable life. Their intellectual pursuits did not give them time to think about and participate in worldly pleasures, Donations poured into institutions which always kept their finances sound and had enough funds to make arrangements for the free education, lodging and boarding of a large number of students. In his treatise on pedagogy Zarnuji has recorded this saying of Hazrat All: "I am the slave of him who has taught me even one letter". Al-Zarnuji has written scores of Arabic treatises on education.



Educational Institutions in Hejaz
Makkah and Medina had been the most important intellectual and educational centres in the Islamic world before the establishment of the Abbasid Caliphate. The famous Masjid of the Prophet at Medina was graced by the presence of such intellectual giants, legists and divines as Hazrat Ali, Hazrat Abbas, Hazrat Jaafar Sadiq, Imam Malik and Imam Hanbal. Even during the glories of the Abbasid Caliphate, the celebrated Harun-ar-Rashid had sent his sons Amin and Mamun to Medina to obtain education in religion, traditions and language. The children of Fatimah believed in the pursuit of learning and produced some of the most eminent scholars that Islam has known. From the four corners of the vast Islamic world students flocked round Imam Jaafar Sadiq and Imam Malik in Medina in order to be enlightened by their scholarly discourses.

The Omayyads paid little attention to the development of education and advancement of learning. They were mostly occupied with the suppression of internal conflicts, the consolidation of their great empire and the persecution of the great sons of Islam. The eminent Muslim scholars specially those belonging to the House of the Prophet preferred to lead a secluded life at Medina. During the Omayyad rule, Medina, Kufa and Damascus were the greatest centres of Islamic education, which was mostly given in Masjids by the celebrated scholars. The short rule of Hazrat Omar Bin Abdul Aziz and the intellectual pursuits of Khalid Bin Yazid provided the only real educational activities during the Omayyad Caliphate.

The Abbasid Caliphate provided the most congenial atmosphere for the advancement of learning and education. In fact, the reign of Mamun-ar-Rashid who has deservedly been called the 'Augustus of Arabs' formed the culmination of the intellectual achievements of the Muslims. He was followed by a brilliant succession of Caliphs who continued his work.

The Darul Hukama (House of Wisdom) founded by Mamun in 830 A.D. at Baghdad was the first institution of higher learning in the Islamic world. Besides being a translation bureau, this institution functioned as an academy and housed an up-to-date library as well as an observatory. The academy and observatory run by the Darul Hukama, served as training and teaching centres in various branches of sciences. "The glory of Muslim education was its university system, which fed the higher learning. The academy of Mamun at Baghdad and the Hall of Wisdom of Fatimids at Cairo were great institutions and are explained by their environments".

Mamun-ar-Rashid who was a great patron of learning and education founded important institutions in Baghdad, Rasrah, Kufa and Bukbara. According to Maulana Shibli Nomani, Mamun had built a big college in Khorasan which employed eminent scholars summoned from all parts of the empire. The Caliph Mutawakkil, a nephew of Marnun kept up the traditions of his great uncle. In Egypt the Fatimid Caliph, Al-Hakim, had founded in 995 A.D. at Cairo an institution similar to the House of Wisdom of Mamun called the 'Hall of Wisdom or science', which contained a library, an observatory, and a medical college. It also had a big boarding house for students attached to it. Another Egyptian Caliph Aziz Billah constructed big institutions and dwellings for teachers and students who were also paid salaries.

Nizamiyah Institutions
Nizam-ul-Mulk Toosi, the talented Prime Ninister of Malik Shah Saljuqi had the distinction of being one of the greatest patrons and sponsors of higher education in Islamic history and founded a chain of great institutions all over his vast dominions. The rise of the Saljuqis and their grand munificence towards scholarship and science rivalled that of the golden days of the Abbasid rule. The grand vazier Nizam-ul-Mulk Toosi had collected round him a galaxy of talented scholars. He had founded Nizamiyah types of higher institutions in Neshapur, Baghdad, Khorasan, Iraq and Syria. The first great institution was the Nizamiyah University of Neshapur founded by Nizam-ul-Mulk Toosi in 1066, which in fact, was the first University of the Islamic world. Imam-ul-Harmain, the teacher of Al-Ghazali was the principal of Neshapur University, while Ghazali was a student of this University. In a lecture hall in Neshapur University, there were 500 ink-stands. According to Allama Khalikan, Nizam-ul-Mulk Toosi was the first person in Islamic history to lay the foundation of a regular educational institution. The State Exchequer was affected by the great munificence of Nizam-ul-Mulk toward the advancement of education. Malik Shah Saljuqi called his grand vazier Nizam-ul-Mulk and said "Dear Father--you can organise a big army with so much money. What great achievements do you expect from persons on whom you are showering your benevolence?" The wise minister replied, "My dear son, I have grown old, but you are a young Turk. If you are auctioned in the bazar, I doubt you will fetch more than 30 dinars. In spite of this God has made you the monarch of such a vast empire. Should you not be grateful to Him for the same? The arrows thrown by your archers will not fly far more than thirty yards, but even the vast shield of the sky cannot check the arrows of the prayers flung by the army which I have undertaken to produce". Malik Shah was struck with the wise reply of his talented vazier and cried out, "Excellent father--we must prepare such an army without the least delay". The example set by Nizam-ul-Mulk led to the opening of several high class institutions all over the Islamic world. The wealthier class of people and the members of the ruling class vied with each other in the building of educational institutions. During the sixth century A.H., there was hardly any corner of the Islamic world which did not contain such institutions. The big cities of Khorasan namely Merv, Neshapur, Herat and Balkh as well as Isfahan particularly benefitted from the patronage of Nizam-ul-Mulk and had a chain of Nizamiyah institutions of higher education. Yaqut Hamvi found a large number of institutions including Mustafia, Amidia, Khatunia and Nizamiyah besides several big libraries in Merv, when he visited this city in the 6th century A.H. Nizam-ul-Mulk not only founded great institutions all over his territories, but staffed them with the best talents of the age which immensely enhanced their reputation. Among them was Hujjat-ul-lslam Al-Ghazali, Principal of Nizamiyah University of Baghdad, Imam-ul-Hurmain, Principal of Nizamiyah University of Neshapur, AsShashi at Herat and Abu Ishaq Shirazi at Nizamiyah of Baghdad. Following the example of Nizam-ul-Mulk, another Saljuqi minister Tajuddaulah founded a college called 'Tajiyya' and other colleges too were opened at Samarqand, Balkh, Alleppo, Damascus and Ghazni.

Nizamiyah University of Baghdad
The greatest achievement of Nizam-ul-Mulk Toosi in the educational sphere was the establishment of the Nizamiyah University of Baghdad in 1065--67, A.D. which stands as a landmark in the educational advancement of Muslims during mediaeval times. Nizamiyah of Baghdad served as a model institution in the world of Islam, and its great reputation and high standard of teaching attracted students and scholars from all over the known world. The greatest scholars of their age deemed it a great honour to be appointed a professor at this world famous University. "The Saljuqs, like the Buwayhids and other non-Arab sultans", says Hitti, "who usurped the sovereign power in Islam, vied with each other in patronising the arts and higher education, perhaps as a means of ingratiating themselves with the population".' There is much truth in the above statement. Nizamiyah was primarily a theological institution recognised by the State in which besides the teaching of philosophy, arts and sciences, the Quran and old poetry formed the backbone of the study of humanities. The lecturer was assisted by two or more repeaters, who repeated the lecture to the less gifted students, when the class was over. Ibn Jubair had once the occasion of attending the lecture of a learned professor in the afternoon. The students were sitting round him on stools and piled him with oral questions till the evening. Al-Ghazali, one of the greatest intellectuals of Islam had the distinction of being appointed the Principal of this University at an early age of 34, and occupied this post for four years (1091--95 A. D.). Nizamiyah survived the great calamity which had fallen on Baghdad in 1258 A. D. at the hands of Hulagu Khan the Mongol, and was at last merged with Mustansariya, two years after the conquest of Baghdad by Tamerlane in 1393 A. D. Nizam-ul-Mulk Toosi, who was a great patron of education had set apart 1/1Oth of his entire income to be spent on his educational enterprises. He spent about 3 million rupees on the building of institutions all over his territories and spent more than a million rupees on the building of Nizamiyah of Baghdad alone as well as granting a regular sum of a lac rupees per annum for its expenses. According to Giblion, "Both rich and poor students had equal opportunities of receiving the highest education in this institution. The education was free and the entire expenses of the poor students were met by the University. The teachers were paid handsome salaries". Abu Ishaq Shirazi was appointed the first principal of this University. The well-known Persian poet Saadi Shirazi had been its student. Among its eminent principals were Al-Ghazali, Imam Tabari, Ibn Al-Khatib, Tabrizi and Abul Hasan Fasihi and among its outstanding professors were Bahal-al-Din, Abul Maali, Kutubuddin Shafaii and Kiya Harasi. Hardly ever was there appointed a lecturer in this institution during the two hundred years of its existence who was not the master of his subject. The University housed a big library, whose librarian was Allama Abu Zakariya Tabrizi. According to Ibn Athir, the Abbasid Caliph Nasiruddin added another library to the University in 589 A. H., to which a large number of books were transferred from the Imperial Library. According to Maulana Shibli Nomani, Nizamiyah was the first institution in the Islamic world in which regular scholarships were awarded to students.

Mustansariya University
It was rather a blot on the Abbasid Caliph that the well-known Nizamiyah University of Baghdad was built by a non-Abbasid, hence Al-Mustansir Billah, the Abbasid Caliph made amends by opening the Mustansariya University at Baghdad in 1234 A. D. This was the greatest university ever founded in the Islamic world. It took six years to build this majestic university on the bank of the river Tigris. A grand opening ceremony of this great institution was held, and on this auspicious day one hundred camel loads of rare manuscripts were transferred to the University from the Imperial Library. The building was stately and equipped with all the amenities available in those times. It contained a hospital, a big library, baths, kitchens, a water cooling plant and several spacious hostels for the residential students. The education in the University was free and the students were also provided with free boarding and lodging as well as a monthly scholarship of a gold sovereign each. Properties yielding an income of about half a million rupees per annum were given as endowment for the expenses of the University. Allama Zahbi has given details of the working of this institution in his well-known work Tarikh Dawalal-lslam (History of Islam). The building had a clock (of clepsydra type) at an entrance, whose dial was blue like that of the sky and a sun which constantly revolved across its surface, denoted the time. This clock was made by Ali Bin Saghlab Balbaki, the celebrated astronomer of his time. The Caliph had built the University as a seminary for the four orthodox rites, and all the four law schools were represented in it. A detailed description of the University building is available in the memoirs of Ibn Batuta who visited it in 1327 A. D. The ruins of the famous University are still visible and part of it has been taken over by the department of antiquities.

Ayyubid Institutions
The patronage of learning and the deep interest taken by Nuruddin Mahmud Zangi and Sultan Salahuddin in public welfare activities, specially the advancement of education, once more reminded people of the days of Mamun-ar-Rashid and Nizam-ul-Mulk Toosi. Nuruddin founded big institutions in Alleppo, Halab, Hams and Balbak. He built a great college in Damascus, his Capital city. Nuruddin had the distinction of establishing the first DarulHadith (House of Traditions). Allama Ibn Jubair, who visited Damascusin 578 A. H., found 20 big colleges there. It was proclaimed, whoever would build an institution, the entire expenditure would be met by the Imperial purse. A big piece of property including seven gardens, whose annual income was five hundred gold pieces was set aside for meeting the expenses of western students. Five hundred students were paid honorarium from the Imperial Treasury. Nuruddin himself, from his private property created a trust for institutions, whose annual income was more than nine thousand gold pieces.

Sultan Salahuddin, better known as Saladin in the west was also a great patron of learning and education. He had founded big educational institutions in Alexandria, Cairo, Jerusalum and Damascus. According to Allama Ibn Jubair, "any student who resided in the hostels of Alexandria was paid his full expenses". In his State, teachers salaries paid out of the Imperial Treasury amounted to 1 1/2 million per annum. The patronage of education by Saladin, awakened a lively interest for learning among the general populace and it was considered a sort of humiliation that a rich person should die without leaving behind any institution. Malik al-Zahir, the gifted son of Saladin kept up the traditions of his father and founded two schools called Shafia and Darul Hadith (House of Traditions) in Alleppo, which made this city a centre of learning.

Education in Spain
Spain, during the regime of the Moorish caliphs, developed education to a high degree of perfection. According to Maulana Shibli Nomani education in Sapin both primary and higher (secondary) was mostly given in Masjids. Al-Hakam, the celebrated Spanish monarch, himself a great scholar was a great patron of learning and granted munificent bounties to the scholars. He opened 27 free schools in Cordova and took a keen interest in the progress of Cordova University which was founded by Abdur Rahman lll in the principal Masjid of the city. Under his patronage this institution rose to be one of the greatest universities of the world. According to Ibid, Cordova University, "preceded both Al-Azhar of Cairo and Nizamiyah of Baghdad and attracted students, Christians and Muslims, not only from Spain but from other parts of Europe, Africa and Asia. Al-Hakam enlarged the Masjid which housed the University, conducted water into its lead pipes and decorated it with mosaics brought by Byzantine artists spending on it 2,61,537 dinars". The famous historian Ibn Khalikan writes that Al-Hakam invited learned professors from all parts of the Muslim world who were paid handsome salaries. Among its professors was the historian Ibn al-qutiyah.

The imperial patronage of education, raised the standard of learning and literacy to a high level in Spain. The eminent Dutch scholar Dozy has dedared that "Nearly every one could read and write". "All this" says Philip K. Hitti, "whilst in Christian Europe only the rudiment of learning were known and that by the few, mostly clergy." Writing in The Moors in Spain Stanely Lane Poole observes about Cordova, "Beautiful as were the palaces and gardens of Cordova, her claims to administration in higher matters were no less strong. The mind was as lovely as the body. Her professors and teachers made her the centre of European culture; students would come from all parts of Europe to study under the famous doctors, and even the nun Horswitha far away in her Saxon convent of Gaudersheim, when she was told of the martyrdom of St. Eulogius, could not refrain from singing the praise of Cordova, 'The brightest splendour of the World'. Every branch of science was seriously studied there and medicine received more and greater additions by the discoveries of the doctors and surgeons of Andalusia than it had gained during all the centuries that had elapsed since the days of Galen. Astronomy, geography, chemistry and natural history were all studied with ardour at Cordova".

The subjects of higher education in universities and colleges were theology, philosophy, language and literature, lexicography, history, geography and sciences. Several principal cities of Spain including Cordova, Granada, Seville and Malaga possessed universities, colleges and institutions of higher education whose enrolment ran into thousands. The university of Cordova taught among other subjects jurisprudence, astronomy, philosophy, mathematics and medical science. The certificates and degrees granted by this university were much valued throughout Muslim countries especially in Spain.

The seventh Nasrid monarch, Yusuf Abdul Hajjaj (1333--54 A.D.) had founded the university of Granada, which became an important centre of Arabic studies in the Spain of those times. The university possessed a stately building whose portals were guarded by stone lions. Besides other subjects, jurisprudence, sciences, theology, medicine, astronomy and philosophy were studied in the university. Castilian and other Christian students studied in this university. The university organised public meetings, literary discussions and lectures delivered by the professors. An inscription on the portals of the university building ran as follows :-

"The world is supported by four things only: the learning of the wise, the justice of the great, the prayers of the righteous and the valour of the brave."

A spirit of cordiality and brotherhood prevailed among the students of various nations and religions who had thronged to the institutions of Muslim Spain. According to Renan, "The taste for science and literature had, by the 16th century A. D., established in this privileged corner of the world, a toleration of which modern times hardly offer us an example. Christians, Jews and Musalmans spoke the same tongue, sang the same songs, participated in the same literary and scientific studies. All the barriers which separated the various peoples were effaced; all worked with an accord in the work of a common civilization. The Masjids of Cordova, where the students could be counted by thousands, became the active centres of philosophical and scientific studies".

Al-Azhar, Cairo
Al-Azhar, the famous university of Cairo, which has already completed more than a thousand years' of its existence is at present the oldest and the second greatest university in the world. For centuries in the past and even during the present times, it has the reputation of being the biggest and the most important university of the Islamic world, with an enrolment of more than ten thousand students. The Al-Azhar Masjid was built by Djawher al-Khatib al-Sikilli, a year after the occupation of Egypt by Fatimids. It was opened for service in July 972 A.D. Several Fatimid rulers made additions to it. AI-Aziz Billah (976--996 A.D.) added to it an academy, where higher education was imparted. Al-Hakim (996-1020 A.D.) made further additions to the building for teaching purposes as well as made endowments to meet its running expenses. Makrizi II gives an account of the adoption of Al-Azhar's name, which, according to him is derived from Al-Zahra, the origin of Fatimids.

During the Ayyubid regime certain changes and additions were made in the status of the institution. But it was Malik Al-Zahir Baibars who is credited with making Al-Azhar, a great seat of learning in the east. He made extensive additions to the building. The last great Mamluk ruler Kansuh al-Ghori (1500-1516 A.D.) built the two towered minarets. The later Khadivs also did much to maintain the high reputation of this university. The poor students received all sorts of financial help from the endowments and the State exchequer. The Mongol devastations had effaced all seats of learning and culture from Baghdad, Persia and Turkistan hence students flocked from all parts of the Muslim world to Al-Azhar, which was the only great Muslim institution left in the world. The university encouraged its students to earn a part of their expenses from other sources and carried on vocational training programmes.

Turkish Institutions
The Ottoman caliphs did not lag behind their predecessors in their efforts for the advancement of education in their territories. As the world had advanced, the Turkish educational institutions were superior to the old Islamic institutions and were more akin to the modern ones. All such educational institutions were controlled by the State, hence had better management. The system of Turkish education was rather more political and practical and aimed at producing good citizens and able servants of the State. The institutions were controlled by some university or Board of Education. The teachers were handsomely paid and the Turks were the first to grant pension to their teachers. Sultan Muhammad II was a great patron of education. During his regime every village had a school and in higher institutions as many as ten subjects including grammar, logic, language, literature, journalism, mathematics, astronomy and other sciences were taught. The students who passed out of these higher institutions were called Danishmand (learned).

Ar Khan was the first Turkish ruler who founded many schools. Muhammed the conqueror, established a big university in Constantinople in 865 A. H. which controlled eight big colleges having separate hostels attached to them. Sultan Bayazid who ascended the throne in 886 A. H. founded many big educational institutions. Sulaiman the magnificent, the greatest emperor in Turkish history, who was crowned in 982 A.H. besides building dozens of institutions all over his empire, founded four big educational institutions in Makkah. He awarded scholarships to 600 students.

Other Institutions
The patronage of educational institutions by Nizam-ul-Mulk Toosi, created a lasting interest for such institutions among the general populace. Founding of a Madrassa began to be considered a meritorious act. Ibn Jubair who visited Baghdad in 578 A.H. had counted 30 big colleges in Baghdad, 20 in Damascus, 6 in Mosul and one in Hams. These institutions possessed stately buildings.

Neshapur was only second to Baghdad as the educational centre in the Islamic world. When, in 556 A. H. it was destroyed by internal rebellion, 25 big institutions were also razed to the ground. Amir Nasr, brother of Sultan Mahmud, had built an institution called Sayidia. The inhabitants of Neshapur had invited professor Abu Bakr Khurakh. When he arrived, a big institution was raised for him out of the public subscription, which was the first of its kind in Islamic history.

The famous conqueror Mahmud Ghaznavi was a great patron of learning. His literary circles were attended by two of the greatest intellectual luminaries of their age--Beruni and Firdausi. He built a grand institution at Ghazni in 410 A.H., which also housed a big library. He set aside a big landed property to meet its running expenses. The Amirs of his court followed the example set by the Sultan and according to Frishta within a short time scores of educational institutions sprang up in Ghazni. Allama Husain Bin Ahmad Abul Fazl who died in 591 A.H. controlled 12 educational institutions in Yezd in which more than 15 hundred students were enrolled. The celebrated Imam Fakhruddin Razi who died in 606 A.H., was a professor in the principal college of Khwarizm. A French traveller visited more than 48 educational institutions in Isfahan during the Safawid rule.

Abdul Basit founded three good institutionsin Makkah. Malik Ashraf, a member of Chraska dynasty, who ascended the throne in 772 A.H., built a big college in Makkah, which had 72 rooms and a big hall in the centre whose roof was made of marble stone painted with gold.
Ibn al-Nasir Muhammad Ibn Kalaon built a grand college in Cairo, for whose construction he spent more than 20 thousand dirhams daily amounting to about 5 1/2 million rupees in total.

The noted colleges of Syria were Al-Rishiyya, Amania, Tarkhania, Khatunia and Safria. In Egypt during the Ayyubid rule, the colleges of Rambiyya, Nasariyya and Sulahiyya were founded.

Military Academy of Morocco
Abdul Momin, Sultan of Morocco, founded the first military academy in the world, details of which are given in the history of the dominion of Spain written by Kandi. The academy taught military science besides other sciences and arts. The Sultan was extremely interested in the running of the institution. He wanted this academy to produce good generals and administrators as well as scholars. It had three thousand students of the same age, whose daily lessons, physical exercises and military drill were attended by the Sultan himself. Archery exercises were held on alternate days, while swimming and naval warfare were taught to the trainees in a big tank once a week. The outstanding students were handsomely rewarded by the Sultan, who met the entire expenditure of the academy.

The Ottoman Turks paid great attention to the development of military science and built one of the finest military colleges of its time is Constantinople (Istanbul) .

Medical School
Medical science was taught as a subject in several Islamic universities including Mustansariya, Cordova and Al-Azhar. Imam Zakariya Razi, the eminent physician of Islam taught medical science in his Bimaristan, an institution in which he dealt with both the practical and theoretical sides of the science. According to Gibbon, the first school of surgery in Europe was founded in Salerno, a city in Muslim Sicily.

The Haj or Annual pilgrimage to Makkah has also been of much educative value and people learnt a great deal from the learned scholars who resided in Makkah.

Thus Muslims were the torch-bearers of civilization, learning and education during mediaeval times and procured the necessary link between the ancient and the modern civilizations. "The oldest Christian Universities of Bologna, Paris, Montpellier and Oxford came into being in the 12th century", writes Legacy of Islam. "The first 'Arabian' University in Europe owed its origin to Muslim learning".



The human tendency of preserving the records of their achievements in various fields of life is very primitive and dates back to the beginning of civilization. Before the invention of paper, such records were laid down on stone slabs, clay tablets, parchments, leather and pieces of wood. The temples and State archives of Assyria and Babylon contained clay tablet libraries. The first library in Greece owes its existence to Pesistratus, who established it in Athens in 600 B.C. The largest library, before the advent of Islam was founded by Ptolemy in 287--84 B.C. at Alexandria, which is alleged to contain about a quarter of million books.

The birth of Islam provided great impetus to human pursuits of knowledge. The necessity of preserving the Quran and the Traditions (Hadith) awakened the spirit of collecting such writings in various forms, which paved the way for the establishment of the earliest libraries in the world Of Islam. The Masjids which, during the early decades of Islam formed the nerve centres of all political, religious and educational activities, housed valuable libraries comprising books on religion, philosophy and science. Soon, however, Muslims who distinguished themselves as the greatest patrons of learning, established during the days of their glory some of the biggest libraries of mediaeval times. The great intellectuals of their age including Avicenna the encyclopaedist, Ibn Miskawayh the historian-philosopher, Al-Fadl-Ibn Naubakht and Humayun Ibn Ishaq the renowned translator were entrusted with the responsibility for the organisation and maintenance of libraries. The Caliphate Raashidah and that of the Omayyads were the periods of conquests, consolidation and organisation,

Khalid bin Yazid, a learned scientist of the Omayyad dynasty is credited with being the originator of libraries in Islam. But historical opinions differ on the point. The celebrated Tunisian Historian Ibn-Khaldun categorically denies the existence of any library during the time of Khalid bin Yazid, while Ibn Nadim in his well-known Fihrist ascribes the opening of the first library of Islam to Khalid. Hazrat Omar bin Abdul Aziz, the pious Omayyad Caliph had made available to the public the Royal library which he had inherited from his ancestors. This clearly shows that the foundation of the library was laid long before his time, probably by the learned Khalid bin Yazid. Thus during the Omayyad Caliphate the literary treasures were properly arranged, catalogued and preserved in a systematic way. Hisham Bin Abdul Malik collected a large. number of rare manuscripts on various subjects in eluding an illustrated copy of the ancient history of Persia. A large number of books on theology had been collected by Shahab-al-Zuhri, a well-known traditionalist of his age. Besides the above, Abu Qullabah, Abu Umrao bin al-Alla and Kreb bin Muslim had private libraries.

Under Mamun, the Muslims formed the vanguard of civilization. During the time of the early Abbasid caliphs, every part of the globe was ransacked by the agents of the caliphs for the hoarded wealth of antiquity. Mansur was the first Abbasid caliph who took an active interest in the pursuits and propagation of learning. He founded a translation department in which classical and scientific works were translated from various languages into Arabic. The philosophical, mathematical and scientific works of Greek masters, which otherwise would have remained buried in the dark recess of the Greek Imperial Palaces, were brought within reach of the common man bv translating them into Arabic. According to the celebrated Urdu historian Maulana Shibli Nomani, the Darul Hukama (House of Wisdom) founded by Harun-ar-Rashid which was divided into two sections one was concerned with the translation work and the other related to the collection of books and housed a big library. Yahya Barmeki, the famous grand vazier of Harun had summoned well-known scholars from ditsant lands, who adorned the literary gatherings of the great Caliph. Harun-ar-Rashid who had founded a big library at Baghdad had appointed Al-Fadl Ibn Naubakht, a renowned scholar and translator, as head of his library, The library contained a large number of books, which were efficiently arranged and catalogued. Harun had a good taste for books and even carried large number of books on his military and other expeditions. Once, when he had gone to Riqqah, he took eight boxes of books with him. His pleasure resort built on the bank of the Qatul canal, had a library containing about 1,060 books. The reign of Mamun-ar-Rashid, known as the Augustus of the Arabs. formed the most glorious period in the field of intellectual achievements of the Muslims. He was the moving spirit behind the House of Wisdom, which employed the best brains of the age and acquired astounding success is a short span of 20 years. The library attached to the House of Wisdom was immensely enlarged and was managed by Sahl bin Harun and Saeed bin Harun, the Persians. A large collection of books of the pre-Islamic- era were added to the library. The well-known book binder Ibn Abi-ul-Huraish was employed in the library for binding work. Humayun Ibn Ishaq, the chief of the translation department was also made the librarian of this famous library. Among the rare manuscripts preserved in the library were a document written on parchment by Abdul Mutallib bin Hashim (grand-father of the Prophet) and a few writings of Hazrat Ali and Imam Hasan. The interest taken by the Caliph in the accumulation of literary treasures created a taste for books not only in his associates but also among the common man. A number of ministers, officials and wealthy people established big libraries by spending large sums. Yahya Barmeki, grand vazier of Harun, owned a big library which contained a large collection of Persian and Greek manuscripts. Three copies of each book were kept in his library, which after the downfall of Barmekids were added to the Imperial library of Mamun. Fateh bin Khakan, the vazier of Mutawakkil Billah founded a grand library which contained rare books on astronomy. Muhammad bin Abdul Malik Ziyat, Prime Minister of Caliph Wasiq Billah established a private library on which he spent ten thousand rupees. A big library was owned by Allama al-Waqidi, which was alleged to have contained 600 camel loads of books mainly on historical subjects. The libraries gained so much popularity that by the close of the 11th century A. D. there existed a network of libraries throughout the vast Abbasid Empire, and before the Mongol invasion, Baghdad alone had 36 big libraries.

Public Library
The first public library in Baghdad was opened by Sabur bin Ardeshair, the Prime Minister of the Buwayhid monarch Bahal al-Daulah. This was attached to the academy built by him in Baghdad in 991 A.D. Before the establishment of this library, all libraries were privately owned, and not open to the common man. This library of Sabur contained more than ten thousand books. This led to the opening of private libraries in the big cities of the Muslim countries including Baghdad, Cairo, Merv, Mosul and Tripolis.- The big colleges and universities of Baghdad, Neshapur, Merv, Cairo, Damascus, Isfahan and G-hazni including the world famous Nizamiyah and Mustansariya of Baghdad housed' splendid libraries. The principal Masjids of the big cities-of the world of Islam, which served as teaching institutions, also had sections oflibraries attached to them.

The Rise of Cairo under al-Muiz-li-dinillah added a spirit of rivalry in the patronage of learning between the caliphs of the Houses of Abbas and Fatimah. Al-Muiz has been acclaimed as the Mamun of the west and the Maecenas of Muslim Africa. The Fatimid caliphs Aziz and Hakim Billah were also great patrons of learning. Aziz has the distinction of adding an academy of higher education to the famous Al-Azhar Masjid which housed a big library containing valuable books on Muslim theology, jurisprudence and philosophy. Caliph Aziz is also credited with founding an imperial library, one of the biggest libraries ever opened in the world of Islam. Allama Maqrizi has given its details in his well-known work Kitab Al-Khatat-wal-Aasar. This library was housed in a part of the Imperial palace and comprised forty chambers. There has been difference of opinion among writers about the total number of books possessed by this library. According to the estimate of Ibn al-Tanvir it had 200,000 volumes, according to Ibn Ali Wasli it had 160,000 and according to Ibn Abi Tai it contained 600,000 volumes. This famous library contained 18,000 books on ancient philosophy and 24,000 copies of Holy Quran. Once there was a reference of Kitabul Ain in the durbar of the Caliph Aziz, which was sent for from the library and the librarian presented 30 different copies of the required book. One of these copies was written in the hand of Khalil bin Ahmad Basri the author of the book, This library possessed a globe made by Ptolemy which was 2,250 years old and another globe made by Abul Hasan Sufi for Azud-al-Daulah which was purchased for 15 thousand rupees. Among the rare manuscripts were specimens of the artistic writings of the renowned calligraphist Ibn Muqlah and an autographed copy of the history of Tabari. The Fatimid Caliph Al-Hakim laid the foundation of Darul Ilum on the lines of Darul Hukama (House of Wisdom) of Mamun. It was rather a rival institution and was equipped with a splendid library on whose upkeep large sums were spent by its patron. Great scholars and scientists were attached to the library, which was open to the public. Students were encouraged in research work and special apartments were reserved for the purpose. They were supplied with stationery free of cost.

The Omayyad Caliphate of Spain attained a standard of civilization which was only rivalled by the Abbasids in the East. Their intellectual achievements reached its zenith in the reign of Al-Hakam, who himself being a renowned scholar patronised learning and granted munificent bounties to the scholars. He founded a library of first magnitude in his capital Cordova. According to Philip K, Hitti, "Al-Hakam was a bibliophile; his agents ransacked the book-shops of Alexandria, Damascus and Baghdad with a view to buying or copying manuscripts. The books thus gathered are said to have numbered400,000, their titles filling a catalogue of 44 volumes, in each one of which 20 sheets were devoted to poetical works alone" Al-Hakam, himself being an outstanding scholar, personally used a large number of these books and wrote marginal notes on most of the manuscripts which made them very valuable to later scholars. The celebrated Caliph paid extraordinary prices for the rare manuscripts and according to Ibn Khaldun he purchased the first copy of Aghani, written by al-Isfahani for a thousand dinars (four thousand rupees). According to Ibn al-Aabar, the poetical works of the library were catalogued in 880 pages. There were employed more than 5,000 calligraphists in the Royal library for copying the manuscripts. The books were most systematically arranged in the library. There were more than seventy libraries and one thousand institutions of higher education in Andalusia alone. Besides the Imperial and academic libraries there were libraries owned by scholars and nobles. It had become fashionable to own a library and the celebrated historian al-Maqqari has related a humorous story from Allama Hizri who was in search of a book. He found the book at a shop, but he could not purchase it as the price offered by another bidder was exhorbitant and was much above the actual price. The Allama questioned the rival bidder if he was much interested in the book. The reply given will sound strange these days. He said that he was not literate, but he wanted to buy the book for his library which he had established.

In the beginning of the 17th century A.D. Sharif Zaidan, Sultan of Morocco, who had to leave his capital,sent his library on a ship which was not delivered at the proper place, and on its way to Marseilles, fell into the hands of Spanish pirates. The booty comprising about four thousand volumes were placed by the order of Philip III, the Spanish Monarch, in the Escurial library which made this library the richest in Arabic manuscripts in the West.
Persia and Turkistan

The love for preserving and arranging books in the form of libraries had become universal in the vast Islamic domains. The possession of a good library was taken to be a great honour in those days.

Abu Masr Sahl bin Murzaban had spent his entire wealth on his library and had undertaken several trips to Baghdad to purchase books. One of the best libraries of the period was one owned by Muhammad bin Husain of Baghdad. Allama Ibn Nadim Baghdadi pays high tribute to the taste of its founder. The library contained a copy of the Quran written by Khalid bin Ali Alhayaj, a companion of Hazrat Ali, besides the letters written by the Prophet and his family members. Aziz-al-Daulah (977--82 A.D.) a great monarch of Iran founded a splendid library named Khazinat-al-Kutub at Shiraz in which he endeavoured to place all books written since the birth of Islam till his own time. The library was specially known for its fine building and artistic equipments. There were 360 rooms in the building and each subject was alloted a separate room with its own catalogue. The books were neatly arranged in almarahs and the library employed a large supervisory staff. Another library known as the Home of books was founded by Minister Fazl bin Amir at Rayy, near modern Teheran. It was supervised by the famous writer Ibn Miskawayh. It contained 400 camel loads of books listed in a 10 volume catalogue and was frequently visited by the celebrated geographer Ibn Yaqut, who received great help from this library in compiling his world famous geographical enclyclopaedia. According toYaqut, Merv had ten big libraries, one which called Azizia had more than 12,000 books. Books were liberally issued to the readers and once Yaqut himself got 200 books issued in his name.

Masjids also functioned as repositories for books, says Philip K Hitti, Through gifts and bequests Masjid libraries became specially rich in religious literature. The famous historian al-Khatib al-Baghdadi (1002-71A.D.) had willed his books as a waqf for Muslims, but those were placed in his friends home. Al-Mausil, before the middle of the 10th century had a library built by citizens in which paper was supplied to the student, who wanted to take notes from the books.

The Samanid King of Bukhara, Nub bin Mansur owned a magnificent library, which according to Ibn Khalikan possessed rare books on almost all subjects specially on philosophy. Ibn Sina(Avicenna), the re-known intellectual luminary of Islam was given access to this library as he had cured the king of a fatal disease. Later on, Avicenna was appointed its librarian and he was much indebted to this library for his encyclopaedic knowledge. The library was housed in a big building in which a room was allotted to each subject. The books were systematically arranged in boxes and shelves.

Saif-al-Daulah of Alleppo, the Hamadanid ruler had equal hold over the sword and the pen. He was a great patron of learning and had collected round him such intellectual giants as Abu Nasr Farabi, al Isfahani and Al-Mutanabbi. He ruled from 944 to 967 A.D. and founded a splendid library containing rare books on literature. The famous poet Muhammad bin Hashim and his brother were in charge of his library.

The great library of Tripolis (Syria) contained more than three million volumes, including 50,000 copies of the Holy Qur’an.

A number of special libraries had sprung up dealing with particular subjects. Cairo has the distinction of establishing the first hospital library containing a large number of books on medicine, which was attached to the hospital founded by Ibn Tulun. The Bimaristan, founded by the celebrated physician Zakariya

According to Nasir-ud-din Toosi, Hulagu Khan established a big library at Maragha with the books looted from Islamic countries. The library contained more than 400,000 books.

There were several causes for the decay of libraries in the world of Islam. With the downfall of the Abbasids, their vast empire was divided into small principalities, who for sometime kept up the tradition of their great predecessors. But their resources were limited. The greatest threat presented to the intellectual life of the Islamic world was the destruction wrought by the Mongol hordes. Changiz Khan, better known as the "Scourge of God" effaced all traces of Muslim civilization in Turkistan, Iran, Afghanistan and Asia Minor. He burnt remorselessly all the intellectual treasures of Bukhara, Merv, Isfahan, Shiraz, Ghazni and Rayy accumulated through centuries by the Muslims. The greatest single blow to Islamic civilization was struck by Hulagu Khan the Mongol, who destroyed Baghdad in 1258 A.D., and reduced to ashes the greatest literary treasures found in the Islamic world. It is said that millions of books were thrown in the River Tigris and its water turned dark.

The Muslim civilization had attained such a high standard that it served as a beacon light to the West. The Christian conquerors of Spain tried to efface all traces of Arab civilization from their sacred land. In 1499 all literary treasures of the Muslims were collected from different libraries of Spain and burned by Cardinal Ximens, Archbishop of Toledo. Writing in the Spirit of Islam, Ameer Ali says, that in Spain, "Christianity destroyed the intellectual life of the people. TheMuslims had turned Spain into a garden; the Christians converted it into a desert. The Muslims had covered the land with colleges and schools; the Christians tranformed them into churches for the worship of saints and images. The literary and scientific treasures amassed by the Muslim sovereigns were consigned to the flames"

It has been propagated by western historians that the Arabs destroyed the famous Alexandrian library. The latest historical researches have established beyond doubt that the said library was destroyed by the Romans themselves long before the advent of Islam. Writing in the Glimpses of World History, Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru says: "There is a story that the Arabs burnt the famous library of Alexandria, but this is now believed to be false. The Arabs were too fond of books to behave in this barbarious manner. It is probable, however, that Emperor Theodosius of Constantinople was guilty of this destruction or part of it. A part of the library had been destroyed long before, during a siege at the time of Julius Caesar. Theodosius did not approve of the old pagan Greek books dealing with the Greek mythologies and philosophies.
He was too devout a Christian. it is said that he used books as fuel with which to heat his bath".

On the contrary, it was the Christian crusaders who burnt the great Muslim library of Tripolis (Syria) containing more than three million books.