There was a king who had only one son.The prince was quite handsome and bore a good character. It was the king’s desire and intention to have his son married to a beautiful princess and in this regard, he started talking to a religiously minded and righteous family. However, the queen started having second thoughts. She said to king: “You are looking at righteousness and fear of God, but you do not see that these people are inferior to you as far as honor, respect and wealth are concerned”. The king replied: “Begone! O Foolish One, he who chooses the sorrow of concern of Deen, Allah Ta’ala will remove all other worldly sorrows from Him”.
The cares of the Hereafter are like the staff of Nabi Moosa (Alaihis Salaam), which swallowed all the snakes of the sorcerers. Similarly, the sorrow and concern for the Hereafter, swallows all the sorrows of the world. In this respect, let us look at the couplets of the humble author of these lines:
“You will be freed from the worries of both worlds, If you have concern in you for the Hereafter”. At last, the king managed to persuade his wife, so the prince was married to the beautiful princess. After the marriage, they
waited a long time but there was no sign of the princess bringing forth any offspring. This caused the king great worry. He thought: “What could be wrong? This princess is pretty and young. Why is she not conceiving?” The king secretly gathered his advisors and consulted with the Ulama and saintly ones. At last, it was discovered that the prince was under a spell from an old woman who had bewitched him. As a result, he felt great
dislike and aversion towards his wife and used to go to the ugly old woman. Because of the spell, he was in love with the ugly old woman. When he heard this, the king was very sad and displeased. He immediately started giving a lot of charity and fell into prostration, crying bitterly before his Lord. Before he could stop crying, a man from the unseen appeared before him and said: “Come with me to the graveyard”. The king followed
him to the graveyard. He went to a very old grave and dug it up. He showed the king a hair with a hundred knots on it – an article of witchcraft – on which sorcery had been practiced, and then had been buried. The man blew upon every knot and opened it. As he did this, the young prince became healed of his ailment. As soon as the last knot was opened, the prince was freed from the love for the old woman. His eyes gained proper
sight and he no longer detested his wife. He stopped looking at the old woman with eyes filled with love, in fact, he felt great dislike and aversion for her. When he now looked at his young and beautiful wife, he was so struck by her beauty that he fell down unconscious. Slowly, he regained his senses and gradually he was able to bear her beauty.
Maulana now gives us lessons from this story: He says: “O people, you are like that prince and this world is like that ugly old woman who has bewitched the lovers of this world. Because of this spell they fall in love with the outside appearance of this temporary life, while turning their backs towards Allah Ta’ala, Rasulullah (Sallellaho Alaihe Wasallam)
and towards the life of the Hereafter. In fact, the reality of this world is as much as Hazrat Majzoob (Rahmatullah Alaihe) says:
“Actually it is a picture of devastation although appearing like being built up. But this is the (true) reality of this world.That man’s eyes are closed and he becomes mere fiction”. Haroun-al-Rashid’s son, who discarded his father’s kingdom and chose a life of poverty, shortly before his death, spoke to a friend of his, in these words:
The world says: O, my friend, do not become deceived by my pleasures, For life is ending and the pleasures will end. And when you carry a corpse to the grave, Then remember that after him you too will be carried”.
We learn from this story that the treatment for the person whose eyes have been bewitched by this world is:
1. To have a sincere and deep love for the friends of Allah
2. To remember death at all times.
3. To stay in the company of the saintly ones as much as possible.
4. To discard one’s own opinions and to listen attentively to their instructions and to act accordingly.
5. To perform two-rakaats Salaah, beg forgiveness and beseech Allah Ta’ala for His guidance.
“Bayt al-Hikma of Baghdad as a Model of an Academy of Sciences” from Dirasat, Human and Social Sciences, Volume 44, No. 3, 2017: This study aims to introduce academy-type institutions of the pre-Islamic era. To illustrate the ascendance of the Islamic tradition of science institutionalisation, founding and patronage of academies, the example of Baghdad’s Bayt al-Hikma (House of Wisdom) which flourished in the ninth century AD is examined closely in the light of primary Arabic sources on the subject as well as recent contemporary international literature. The study will then go beyond the existing narrative on Bayt al-Hikma to argue that it was an ‘academy of sciences’ that preceded by centuries the Academia dei Lincei of Rome, considered by many scholars as the world’s first academy of sciences established in 1603.
Science institutions have evolved historically, eventually emerging in many forms. Nowadays, they include schools and universities, research centres, learned societies and academies of sciences. However, even with the existence today of over 120 Connally recognised academies of sciences around the world (IAP, 2015), the understanding of the term `academy of sciences’ is, at present, lacking. Many people are ignorant of the fact that an academy of sciences’ primary role is to act as the science advisory or sovereign (supreme authority) (Ravetz, 1980) which actively promotes science in the catchment area where it operates, and a forum where scientific issues are debated, studied and communicated.
A quotation from Drenth, which appears in his book Walks in the Garden of Science provides a definition of an academy of sciences (Drenth, 2006). It reads:
“An Academy is basically a learned society, with (a restricted number of) members who are solely selected on the basis of their scientific or scholarly qualification and reputation… An Academy’s main responsibility is the promotion of science and scholarship through independent research, reflection and discussion as well as evaluative and advisory activities, and the public disclosure of its opinions and judgements.”
Although the above definition essentially explains what the term ‘academy’ means in the context of the 20th century, many of the elements embedded in it are applicable to academies of sciences and academy-type institutions of the past including Bayt al-Hikma of Baghdad in the first half of the ninth century.
This paper aims to provide a short history of ancient academy-type institutions. Moreover, to illustrate the rise of the Islamic tradition of science institutionalisation and patronage, the example of Bayt al-Hikma of Baghdad will be re-examined and the perception that Bayt al-Hikma of Baghdad was an `academy of sciences’ of its day involved in translation, research and information dissemination, will be investigated leading to the conclusion that Bayt al-Hiktna preceded the Accademia dei Lincei, viewed by many scholars as the world’s first academy of sciences established in Rome in 1603.
This, to draw lessons that can help to raise the profile of science and further institutionalise the scientific enterprise in developing countries, today…
Bayt al-Hikma: An Academy of Sciences?
Of the most famous scientific institutions to appear in the early ‘Abbasid era of the Islamic civilisation was Bayt al-Hikma of Baghdad.
Ahmed went as far as to describe it as the Baghdad Academy of Sciences (Ahmed, 2008); Abdus Salam described it as an institute of advanced study (Dalafi and Hassan, 1994), while Youssef Eshe described it as a stronghold of Mu’tazelite Thought during the reign of al-Ma’mun (Al-Awady, 1997). It is highly likely that it was more than an institution of learning of the type described by Makdisi in his book, The Rise of Colleges: Institutions of Learning in Islam and the West (Makdisi, 1981).
The Rise of Bayt al-Hikma
The preliminary founding of Bayt al-Hikma as a concept or indeed as a forum for debate can be attributed to Harun ar-Rashid (AD 763-809) who regularly convened intellectual debates with scholars and scientists (Shalaby, 1954) (Yazigi, 1966).
The majority of historians, including Hitti (2002) in his History of the Arabs, however agree that it was the ‘Abbasid Caliph al-Ma’mun (AD 786 —833) who had formally instituted Bayt al-Hikma in Baghdad around AD 830(41as a combination of a forum of debate, a library, an academy, and a translation bureau.
Al-Ma’mun was an outstanding caliph who was best known for sponsoring the translation of Greek philosophy into Arabic and for promoting the activity of mathematicians, astronomers, engineers and physicians, as the Fihrist of Ibn al-Nadim (the premier Arabic-language bibliographical book to survive to the present day) highlights(Saliba, 2007b) (Ahmad, n.d.) (Cooperson, 2005). His interest in the sciences of earlier civilisations could be traced to the time he had spent at Merv; which has been a stopover town on the Silk Road and on the path of every conqueror that has appeared in Eurasia. Al-Ma’mun was thus influenced by the rich heritage that the earlier cultures of the Greeks. Zoroastrians. Christians, and Buddhists had left (Morgan, 2007). Moreover, Merv, in Khorasan, had a great deal to do with the fortunes of the ‘Abbasids, who drew strong support from that province. The Barmakids, moreover, the family that later supplied the all-powerful ministers who guided and controlled the ‘Abbasid government had its roots in that very city (O’Leary, 1979).
The account of Syed Ameer Ali (1955) of al-Ma’mun’s reign as the most brilliant and glorious included a reference to his academic and scientific pursuits including how he collected the writings of the school of Alexandria, and secured from Athens the best philosophical works of ancient Greece. It was during his reign that new learning reached a climax that culminated in the formal institution of Bayt al-Hikma(Sarton, 1927-31) (Kirk, 1964)(Majeed, 2005).
Modelled after the ancient Library of Alexandria, Bayt was a centre of scholarly activities where books from the Greek, Syriac, and Persian languages were translated into Arabic by expert Arabists (Lerner, 1998); a forum for translating and documenting the rational sciences which were called the ‘sciences of the ancients’ (ulum al-awā’il) to distinguish them from disciplines that dealt with Islam and Arabic language (Sabra, 1987).
Notwithstanding testimonies that Bayt al-Hikma was an academy as important as the Library of Alexandria, and Saliba’s declaration that Bayt al-Hikma (c. 830) and the Accademia dei Lincei (founded in 1603) were carefree physical environments for the pursuit of science (Saliba, 2002), questions were raised on the validity of this argument by Gutas (1998)and later by Saliba himself (2007a) (2008). Gutas has according to Lindberg (2007) debunked the theory that Bayt al-Hikma was a research institute.
In what follows, an attempt will be made to show that Bayt al-Hikma was an academy of sciences of its day with all the associated roles including that of a formally instituted learned society, a forum for debate, research, translation … and should be conceived as such…
Al Quran: Eh hamare RABB agar hum bhul jaye ya galti kare to hamari giraft na farma ,
Eh hamare RABB hum par aisa bhari bojh na daal jaisa tune humse pahle ke logo par daala ,
Eh hamare RABB hum par wo bojh na daal jisko uthane ki hum mein taqat nahi,
aur humein maaf kar aur humein bakhsh de aur hum par raham kar.
Tu hi hamara kaarsaz hai , kaafiro ke muqable mein hamari madad farma
Surah Al-Baqara (2) Verse 286
अल क़ुरान: एह हमारे रब अगर हम भूल जाए या ग़लती करे तो हमारी गिरफ़्त ना फरमा ,
एह हमारे रब हम पर ऐसा भारी बोझ ना डाल जैसा तूने हमसे पहले के लोगो पर डाला ,
एह हमारे रब हम पर वो बोझ ना डाल जिसको उठाने की हम में ताक़त नही,
और हमको माफ़ कर और हमको बख़्श दे और हम पर रहम कर.
तू ही हमारा कारसज़ है , काफिरो के मुक़ाबले में हमारी मदद फरमा
सुराह अल-बक़रा (2) आयत 286
✦ Hadith: Momeen dozakh se chutkara pa jayenge lekin dozakh aur jannat ke darmiyan ek pool hai jaha unhe rok liya jayega
✦ Abu Hurairah radi allahu taaala anhu se rivayat hai ki Rasool-Allah Sal-Allahu Alaihi Wasallam ne farmaya jisne apne kisi bhai par zulm kiya ho to use chahiye ki is se (duniya mein) maaf kara le, kyunki aakhirat mein dinar aur diraham (Rupye paisey)nahi honge , is se pahle (maaf karwa le warna) uske bhai ke liye uski nekiyon mein se haq dilaya jayega aur agar uske paas nekiya nahi hongi to us (mazlum) bhai ki buraeeyan us par daal di jayegi.
Sahih Bukhari, Vol 8, 6534
✦ Abu Saeed khudri Radhi allahu anhu se rivayat hai ki Momeen dozakh se chutkara pa jayenge lekin dozakh aur jannat ke darmiyan ek pool hai jaha unhe rok liya jayega aur phir ek dusre par kiye gaye zulmo ka badla liya jayega jo duniya mein unke darmiyan huye they , jab sab kuch saaf aur paak ho jayega ( yani sabko badla mil jayega) uske baad unhe jannat mein dakhil hone ki ejazat milegi , us zaat ki kasam jiske haath mein Muhammad sallallahu alaihi wasallam ki jaan hai jannaatiyo mein se har koi apne ghar ko duniya mein apne ghar ki muqable mein zyada achchi tarah pahchan lega
Sahih Bukhari, Vol 8, 6535
✦ अबू हुरैरा रदी अल्लाहू अन्हु से रिवायत है की रसूल-अल्लाह सल-अल्लाहू अलैही वसल्लम ने फरमाया जिसने अपने किसी भाई पर ज़ुल्म किया हो तो उसे चाहिए की इस से (दुनिया में) माफ़ करा ले, क्यूंकी आख़िरत में दीनार और दिरहम (रुपये पैसे)नही होंगे , इस से पहले (माफ़ करवा ले वरना) उसके भाई के लिए उसकी नेकियों में से हक़ दिलाया जाएगा और अगर उसके पास नेकिया नही होंगी तो उस (मज़लूम) भाई की बुराईयाँ उस पर डाल दी जाएगी.
सही बुखारी, जिल्द 8, 6534
✦ अबू सईद खुदरी रदी अल्लाहू अन्हु से रिवायत है की मोमीन दोज़ख़् से छुटकारा पा जाएँगे लेकिन दोज़ख और जन्नत के दरमियाँ एक पूल है जहा उन्हे रोक लिया जाएगा और फिर एक दूसरे पर किए गये ज़ुल्मों का बदला लिया जाएगा जो दुनिया में उनके दरमियाँ हुए थे , जब सब कुछ सॉफ और पाक हो जाएगा ( यानी सबको बदला मिल जाएगा) उसके बाद उन्हे जन्नत में दाखिल होने की ईजाज़त मिलेगी , उस ज़ात की कसम जिसके हाथ में मुहम्मद सलअल्लाहू अलैही वसल्लम की जान है जन्नतियों में से हर कोई अपने घर को दुनिया में अपने घर की मुक़ाबले में ज़्यादा अच्छी तरह पहचान लेगा
सही बुखारी, जिल्द 8, 6535
Hadith: Uske liye Jannat mein khajur ka ek darakht laga diya jata hai
✦ Rasool-Allah Sal-Allahu Alaihi wasallam ne farmaya jo shakhs Subhan Allahil Azim, Wa Bihamdeh kahta hai uske liye Jannat mein khajur ka ek darakht laga diya jata hai
Sahih Ibn Hibban , 834
Jamia Tirmizi, Jild 2, 1389-Hasan
✦ Rasool-Allah Sal-Allahu Alaihi Wasallam ne farmaya Do Kalme jo Zuban par halke hain aur Meezan (taraju) mein bahut bhari hain aur Rahmaan ko bahut aziz hai
سُبْحَانَ اللّهِ وَ بِحَمْدِهِ ، سُبْحَانَ اللّهِ الْعَظِيمِ
SubhanAllahi wa biHamdihi, Subhan-Allahil-azeem
Sahih Bukhari, Jild 6, 6406
✦ रसूल-अल्लाह सल-अल्लाहू अलैही वसल्लम ने फरमाया जो शख्स सुबहान अल्लाहिल अज़ीम वा बिहम्दिह
(سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ الْعَظِيمِ وَبِحَمْدِهِ) कहता है उसके लिए जन्नत में खजूर का एक दरख़्त लगा दिया जाता है
सही इब्न हिब्बान , 834
जामिया तिरमिज़ी, जिल्द 2, 1389-हसन
✦ रसूल-अल्लाह सल-अल्लाहू अलैही वसल्लम ने फरमाया दो कलमे जो ज़ुबान पर हलके हैं और मीज़ान (तराजू) में बहुत भारी हैं और रहमान को बहुत अज़ीज़ है
سُبْحَانَ اللّهِ وَ بِحَمْدِهِ ، سُبْحَانَ اللّهِ الْعَظِيمِ
सुबहान अल्लाहि वा बिहम्दिही सुबहान अल्लाहिल अज़ीम
सही बुखारी, जिल्द 6, 6406