The Medieval period that directly preceded the Renaissance is often regarded as a primitive age of thought for civilizations at this time but as the Western world struggled to develop, the Islamic world flourished from the development in sciences and advancing their culture. The time of Islamic enrichment is often misrepresented and under-appreciated to common historical accounts of this era, therefore it is important to appreciate all contributions that come from various regions in order to create a global understanding of different cultures.
On Tuesday, March 4th Go Eat Give partnered with The Atlantic Institute to host a lunch and learn event to educate the Atlanta community about Muslim contributions to society presented on contributions that the Islamic world had brought into society during the European middle ages. Georgia State University Political Science Professor Rashid Naim and Fairyal Halim from the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta shed light on the Islamic Golden Age, depicting it as a spread of humanism from Arab states to Europe which was the underlying philosophical movement that led to the era of the Renaissance.
The presentation weighed heavily on the impact Muslims had on public education. Halim spoke about the Islamic civilization as the first that placed importance on educating the masses by democratizing education. Arabic was the “language of civilizations” and attracted scholars from all over the world. The city of Cairo in Egypt houses the oldest university that has been continuously open till date. Many educational awards used today come from the Islamic culture, such as the concept of achieving a diploma, and wearing a graduation cap. Have you ever wondered why the graduation cap is flat? Traditionally, scholars would balance the Qur’an on their heads so it was designed to be flat.
With the growth of educational programs, the Arabic world also advanced health care at the time. Cairo became home to the Ahmad ibn Tulun hospital that opened it doors citizens of all faiths and backgrounds and is considered to be one of the first institutions to offer assistance for the mentally ill. Throughout the Arabic world, other hospitals were opened, mimicking the secular structure of Tulun Hospital. Another great invention that society has probably taken for granted was soap. These fundamental necessities that we rely on everyday for health safety and overall cleanliness are all due to the advancements made by the Arabic world during the Medieval era.
The mission of Go Eat Give’s speaker series is to educate the public of the cultural contributions of Islam in society, an often overlooked segment of the population in the west. The programs are funded by the One Region Atlanta grant, dedicated to building a more inclusive region by providing civic engagement and community building opportunities that connect metro Atlanta residents of all cultural and faith backgrounds.
~ By guest blogger, Lilly Iijima. Lilly is a student at Oglethorpe University pursuing a major in International Studies with a minor in Japanese. Growing up in a multi-cultural household, she has seen first-hand the power of personally experiencing a different culture to eliminate previous misconceptions. Through this work, Lilly is committed to educating others about different countries and regions while learning about them herself.