The Islamic Golden Age

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Episodes

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ESSAY01Professor Hugh Kennedy20131125

explains how the Islamic state was established.

In a major series for Radio 3, we rediscover some of the key thinkers and achievements from the Islamic Golden Age. The period ranges from 750 to 1258 CE and over twenty episodes, we'll hear about architecture, invention, medicine, innovation and philosophy. Professor Hugh Kennedy begins the series with an introductory essay explaining how the Islamic state established itself.

Producer: Sarah Taylor

ESSAY01The Establishment Of The Islamic State2013112520150727 (R3)

In a major series for Radio 3, we rediscover some of the key thinkers and achievements from the Islamic Golden Age. The period ranges from 750 to 1258 CE and we'll hear about architecture, invention, medicine, innovation and philosophy. Professor Hugh Kennedy begins the series with an introductory essay explaining how the Islamic state established itself.

Producer: Sarah Taylor.

ESSAY02Ali Ibn Abi Talib2013112620150728 (R3)

In a major series for Radio 3, we rediscover some of the key thinkers and achievements from the Islamic Golden Age. The period ranges from 750 to 1258 CE and we'll hear about architecture, invention, medicine, innovation and philosophy. Professor Robert Gleave continues the series with an essay featuring Ali ibn Abi Talib and the origins of Shi'ism.

Producer: Sarah Taylor.

ESSAY02Professor Robert Gleave20131126

discusses Ali b.Abi Talib and the origins of Shia Islam.

In a major series for Radio 3, we rediscover some of the key thinkers and achievements from the Islamic Golden Age. The period ranges from 750 to 1258 CE and over twenty episodes, we'll hear about architecture, invention, medicine, innovation and philosophy. Professor Robert Gleave continues the series with an essay featuring Ali b.Abi Talib and the origins of Shi'ism.

Producer: Sarah Taylor

ESSAY03Baroness Sayeeda Warsi20131127

gives her personal take on Persian scholar Iman Bukhari.

In a major series for Radio 3, we rediscover some of the key thinkers and achievements from the Islamic Golden Age. The period ranges from 750 to 1258 CE and over twenty episodes, we'll hear about architecture, invention, medicine, innovation and philosophy. Baroness Warsi, the first Muslim member of the British Cabinet, gives her personal take on Persian scholar Iman Bukhari.

Producer: Sarah Taylor

ESSAY04Paper2013112820150728 (R3)

In a major series for Radio 3, we rediscover some of the key thinkers and achievements from the Islamic Golden Age. The period ranges from 750 to 1258 CE and we'll hear about architecture, invention, medicine, innovation and philosophy. Professor Jonathan Bloom on how the Islamic scholars and thinkers were the early adopters of paper - far ahead of their European contemporaries.

Producer: Sarah Taylor.

ESSAY04Professor Jonathan Bloom20131128

Jonathan Bloom explains how Islamic scholars and thinkers became early adopters of paper.

In a major series for Radio 3, we rediscover some of the key thinkers and achievements from the Islamic Golden Age. The period ranges from 750 to 1258 CE and over twenty episodes, we'll hear about architecture, invention, medicine, innovation and philosophy. Professor Jonathan Bloom on how the Islamic scholars and thinkers were the early adopters of paper - far ahead of their European contemporaries.

Producer: Sarah Taylor

ESSAY05Harun Al-rashid2013112920150730 (R3)

The Islamic Golden Age rediscovered through portraits of key achivements and figures. The period ranges from 750 to 1258 CE and we'll hear about architecture, invention, medicine, innovation and philosophy. Professor Julia Bray explores the figure of Harun al-Rashid known to many from the Thousand and One Night tales.

Julia separates fact from fiction and sheds light on Harun's life. What was his Baghdad really like? Was it as Tennyson said 'A goodly place, a goodly time, For it was in the golden prime Of good Haroun Alraschid'. Harun is remembered as a champion of the arts, as a romantic hero, a benevolent ruler. However, there's plenty of evidence to the contrary and that his failure to plan properly for the future led to chaos and bloodshed.

Producer: Sarah Taylor.

ESSAY05Professor Julia Bray20131129

Julia Bray explores the figure of Harun al-Rashi from the Thousand and One Night tales.

The Islamic Golden Age rediscovered through portraits of key achivements and figures. The period ranges from 750 to 1258 CE and over twenty episodes, we'll hear about architecture, invention, medicine, innovation and philosophy. Professor Julia Bray explores the figure of Harun al-Rashid known to many from the Thousand and One Night tales.

Producer: Sarah Taylor

ESSAY06Narguess Farzad20131202

of SOAS discusses Persian poetesses Rabia Balki and Mahsati Ganjavi.

In a major series for Radio 3, we rediscover some of the key thinkers and achievements from the Islamic Golden Age. The period ranges from 750 to 1258 CE and in these twenty essays, we'll hear about architecture, invention, medicine, mathematics, innovation and philosophy. In today's essay, Narguess Farzad, senior fellow in Persian at SOAS (School of African and Oriental Studies), recounts the tale of two remarkable and influential women poets, Rabia Balki and Mahsati Ganjavi.

Rabia Balkhi was said to be a great beauty of royal birth who died a tragic death. She lived in the southern part of Afghanistan and from a young age, she loved to write poems on love and beauty. She fell in love with her brother's Turkish slave, Baktash. They began to meet in secret and write poetry to each other. When her brother, Hares, found out, he ordered her jugular vein be cut and that she be left to die a slow and painful death imprisoned and alone in her bathroom. As she was dying, Rabia found the strength to write her final poems with her blood on the walls of the bathroom. Her poems were not recited in public during her life time but won hearts and minds throughout the ages.

Mahsati Ganjavi was an eminent Iranian poetess and composer of quatrains. She grew up in Ganjeh, now the second largest city of Azerbaijan. Mahsati was contemporary to Seljukid Dynasty who ruled most parts of Iran from 1037 to 1194 AD. She was a poetess laureate to the courts of Sultan Mahmud II (1118-1131) and his uncle Sultan Sanjar (1131-1157). Her quatrains (Rubaiyat), were full of joy and optimism - on the joy of living and the fullness of love.

Producer: Mohini Patel.

ESSAY07Al-khwarizmi2013120320150805 (R3)

In a major series for Radio 3, we rediscover some of the key thinkers and achievements from the Islamic Golden Age. The period ranges from 750 to 1258 CE and over twenty episodes, we'll hear about architecture, invention, medicine, mathematics, innovation and philosophy.

In today's essay, Iraqi-born scientist, writer and broadcaster Jim Al-Khalili tells us about the legacy of al-Khwarizmi. Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi was a Persian mathematician, astronomer, astrologer geographer and a scholar in the House of Wisdom in Baghdad. The House of Wisdom was a renowned centre of scientific research and teaching in his time - attracting some of the greatest minds of the Islamic Golden Age. Al-Khwarizmi was born in Persia around 780 and was one of the learned men who worked in the House of Wisdom under the leadership of Caliph al-Mamun, the son of the caliph Harun al-Rashid, who was made famous in the Arabian Nights.

Producer: Mohini Patel.

ESSAY07Jim Al-khalili20131203

In a major series for Radio 3, we rediscover some of the key thinkers and achievements from the Islamic Golden Age. The period ranges from 750 to 1258 CE and over twenty episodes, we'll hear about architecture, invention, medicine, mathematics, innovation and philosophy.

In today's essay, Iraqi-born scientist, writer and broadcaster Jim Al-Khalili tells us about the legacy of Al-Khwarizmi. Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi was a Persian mathematician, astronomer, astrologer geographer and a scholar in the House of Wisdom in Baghdad. The House of Wisdom was a renowned centre of scientific research and teaching in his time - attracting some of the greatest minds of the Islamic Golden Age. Al-Khwarizmi was born in Persia around 780 and was one of the learned men who worked in the House of Wisdom under the leadership of Caliph al-Mamun, the son of the caliph Harun al-Rashid, who was made famous in the Arabian Nights.

Producer: Mohini Patel.

ESSAY08Professor James Montgomery20131204

In a major series for Radio 3, we rediscover some of the key thinkers and achievements from the Islamic Golden Age. The period ranges from 750 to 1258 CE and over twenty episodes, we'll hear about architecture, invention, medicine, innovation and philosophy.

Professor James Montgomery explores the life and work of the Arab philosopher al-Kindi, widely regarded today as one of the greatest scholars of the medieval Islamic world. He was the first significant thinker to argue that philosophy and Islam had much to offer each other and need not be kept apart.

Al-Kindi lived in Iraq during the dynamic ninth century, a period when Baghdad was a hive of cultural and intellectual activity easily rivalling the greatness of Athens and Rome. He was hugely influenced by Greek philosophy and supervised the translation of many works by Aristotle and others into Arabic. The author of more than 250 works, he wrote on many different subjects, from optics to mathematics, music and astrology.

Producer: Mohini Patel.

ESSAY09Al-tabari2014020420150807 (R3)

In a major series for Radio 3, we continue our journey through the Islamic Golden Age. The period ranges from 750 to 1258 CE and over the twenty episodes, we'll hear about architecture, religious scholarship, medicine, innovation and philosophy. In this evening's essay, Professor Hugh Kennedy explores the life of al-Tabari, the chronicler and historian of the early Islamic World.

Producer: Mohini Patel.

(This essay was first scheduled for broadcast on December 5th 2013 but was rescheduled due to the death that day of Nelson Mandela).

ESSAY09Hugh Kennedy20131205

In a major series for Radio 3, we rediscover some of the key thinkers and achievements from the Islamic Golden Age. The period ranges from 750 to 1258 CE and over twenty episodes, we'll hear about architecture, invention, medicine, innovation and philosophy.

Hugh Kennedy chronicles the life and times of the great historian of early Islam, Al-Tabari who studied in Iraq, Syria, and Egypt, but spent most of his life in Baghdad teaching and writing. He condensed the vast wealth of historical and exegetical knowledge in his major works. He wrote numerous commentaries on the Koran and laid the foundations for Koranic and historical sciences. The influence of Tabari's historical works and commentary on the Koran can be traced in later writers and scholars. Tabari died in 933 AD aged 85 and was buried at Baghdad.

Producer: Mohini Patel.

ESSAY10Peter Adamson20131206

In a major series for Radio 3, we rediscover some of the key thinkers and achievements from the Islamic Golden Age. The period ranges from 750 to 1258 CE and over twenty episodes, we'll hear about architecture, invention, medicine, innovation and philosophy.

In the final essay in this first set of ten essays, Professor Peter Adamson reflects on the magnitude of Al-Farabi's contribution to philosophy in the Islamic Golden Age. Al-Farabi studied and taught amongst the Christians of the Baghdad school, and later went to Syria and Egypt, dying in the middle of the 10th century in Damascus. His writings reflect the agenda of the Baghdad school: he wrote commentaries on Aristotle, concentrating on the logical works so prized by the school founder Matta. But Farabi seems to have had a more ambitious aim than his colleagues did. He wanted not just to elucidate Aristotle, or to press philosophical ideas into the service of religion but to integrate all branches of philosophy into a single, systematic theory.

Producer: Mohini Patel.

ESSAY11Avicenna2014020320150807 (R3)

In a major series for Radio 3, we continue our journey through the Islamic Golden Age. The period ranges from 750 to 1258 CE and we'll hear about architecture, religious scholarship, medicine, innovation and philosophy. In this evening's essay, Dr Tony Street assesses the great philosopher and highly influential physician Avicenna. Born in Bukahara in 980, Avicenna was an Arabic-speaking Persian who supplanted Aristotle as the leading philosopher of all time, at least for Muslim scholars.

Producer: Sarah Taylor.

In a major series for Radio 3, we continue our journey through the Islamic Golden Age. The period ranges from 750 to 1258 CE and over the twenty episodes, we'll hear about architecture, religious scholarship, medicine, innovation and philosophy. In this evening's essay, Dr. Tony Street assesses the great philosopher and highly influential physician, Avicenna. Born in Bukahara, in 980, Avicenna was an Arabic-speaking Persian who supplanted Aristotle as the leading philosopher of all time, at least for Muslim scholars.

ESSAY12Islamic Architecture20140205

This major essay series continues as leading thinkers and practitioners share their knowledge and passion for the Golden Age of Islam. Dr. Sussan Babaie from the Courtauld Institute is an expert in Islamic architecture. She turns the spotlight on two significant monuments of the early medieval period in the Islamic world: the 10th century royal mausoleaum of the Samanid dynasty in Bukhara, present-day Uzbekistan and the 11th to 12th century developments in the great congregational mosque of Isfahan, in central Iran, built under the patronage of the Seljuq dynasty.

Producer: Sarah Taylor

ESSAY13Al-biruni2014020620150806 (R3)

Radio 3 continues its series of portraits of some of the more remarkable figures and events from the Islamic Golden Age - an era which saw huge changes in empires, medicine, architectural achievements and philosophical thought. In this evening's essay, Professor James Montgomery sheds light on the scholar al-Biruni. An exceptionally gifted mathematician, he devoted much of his life to astronomy and chronometry in an effort to measure, capture and contain time. He lived a long life devoted to scholarship and wrote more than 140 books which influenced intellectual thought of the period and beyond.

Producer: Sarah Taylor.

Radio 3 continues its twenty part series which sheds light on some of the more remarkable figures and events from the Islamic Golden Age. It's an era which saw huge changes in empires, medicine, architectural achievements and philosophical thought. In this evening's essay, Professor James Montgomery sheds light on the scholar, Al-Biruni. An exceptionally gifted mathematician, he devoted much of his life to astronomy and chronometry in an effort to measure, capture and contain time. He lived a long life devoted to scholarship and wrote more than 140 books which influenced intellectual thought of the period and beyond.

ESSAY14Al Hakim20140207

Radio 3's twenty part essay series on the Islamic Golden Age continues its exploration through this five hundred year period of empire, innovation, religious turmoil, scientific discovery and major advances in philosophical thought. In this evening's essay, we hear about the controversial Egyptian imam-caliph, Al Hakim and his sister Sitt al-Mulk. At worst, al Hakim has a reputation as the "mad" caliph and the destoroyer of the Holy Sepulchre church in Jerusalem. At best - he's a capricious tyrant. Dr. Simonetta Calderini and Dr. Delia Cortese share their forensic academic research into these controversial siblings and the essay is read by Dr. Simonetta Calderini.

Producer: Sarah Taylor.

ESSAY15Al-ghazali2014021020150806 (R3)

Radio 3's twenty-part essay series on the Islamic Golden Age continues its exploration through this five-hundred-year period of empire, innovation, religious turmoil, scientific discovery and major advances in philosophical thought. In this evening's essay, Professor Mona Siddiqui turns her attention to Al-Ghazali. He had a major influence on both Muslim and European philosophers.

Producer: Sarah Taylor

ESSAY16Ibn Rushd20140211

Radio 3's twenty-part essay series on the Islamic Golden Age (c. 750 - 1258 CE) continues its exploration through this five-hundred-year period of empire, innovation, religious turmoil, scientific discovery and major advances in philosophical thought.

In this evening's essay, Professor Charles Burnett from the Warburg Institute sheds light on the ideas of the philospher, Ibn Rushd - also widely known as Averroes. Ibn Rushd was born in Cordoba in the twelfth century and was prolific in his studies which were wide ranging. Some of his ideas were seen as controversial among Muslim scholars and he has been called the founding father of secular thought in Western Europe.

Producer: Mohini Patel.

ESSAY17Cities Of Learning20140212

Radio 3's twenty-part essay series on the Islamic Golden Age continues its exploration through this five-hundred-year period of empire, innovation, religious turmoil, scientific discovery and major advances in philosophical thought. In this evening's essay, Dr. Amira Bennison examines the creation of two great cities of learning - Baghdad and Cairo.

The medieval Middle East is the stuff of fantasy, from the windswept deserts of Arabia to the bustling bazaars of cities like Baghdad and Cairo. But what were these cities actually like? And what part did they play in creating great men (and sometimes women) of letters, science and art? Cities figured in the Muslim imagination as hubs of religion, government, commerce and culture. Medieval Muslim geographers often conceptualised their world as one of routes linking an endless series of towns and cities like stars glittering in the firmament. Although some of these cities like Jerusalem or Damascus were already ancient when the Muslims arrived in the 7th century, others, Baghdad and Cairo included, were new Muslim creations - brash, vibrant and dense with talent, the New Yorks of their age.

Producer: Mohini Patel.

ESSAY18Salah al-Din20140213

ESSAY18Salah Al-din2014021320150803 (R3)

'Men grieved for him as they grieve for prophets. I have seen no other ruler for whose death the people mourned, for he was loved by good and bad, Muslim and unbeliever alike.'

'Abd al-Latif, 1193

Historian Jonathan Phillips reassesses the influence of 12th-century hero Saladin - a man whose legacy has been admired and appropriated by an extraordinary range of people through the ages. In the past few years he's been the subject of a ballet in Damascus, a musical in Lebanon and he's seen in a children's cartoon (on al-Jazeera TV) where his morality and good character are used as an exemplar for young people to emulate.

Given his role in defeating and removing Western invaders, his legacy has immense symbolism in the Middle East. Arab Nationalist leaders such as Nasser of Egypt, Saddam Hussein, and the Assad dynasty in Syria have all embraced his achievement. Yet he appeals to Islamists too: Osama bin Laden praised Saladin's wisdom and his use of the jihad to succeed in defeating the West; to the head of the CIA unit hunting bin Laden, his opponent's personal piety, generosity and sharing of hardships with his men meant 'he is an Islamic hero, as the faith's ideal type, and almost as a modern-day Saladin'.

Jonathan questions why Saladin has maintained such an incredibly broad appeal down the centuries.

Producer: Mohini Patel.

Historian Jonathan Phillips reassesses the influence of twelfth-century hero Saladin - a man whose legacy has been admired and appropriated by an extraordinary range of people through the ages.

In the past three years he's been the subject of a ballet in Damascus, a musical in Lebanon and he's seen in a children's cartoon (on al-Jazeera TV) where his morality and good character are used as an exemplar for young people to emulate.

Given his role in defeating and removing Western invaders, his legacy has immense symbolism in the Middle East. Arab Nationalist leaders such as Nasser of Egypt, Saddam Hussein, and the Asad dynasty in Syria have all embraced his achievement. Yet he appeals to Islamists too: Osama bin Laden praised Saladin's wisdom and his use of the jihad to succeed in defeating the West; to the head of the CIA unit hunting bin Laden, his opponent's personal piety, generosity and sharing of hardships with his men meant, quote, 'he is an Islamic hero, as the faith's ideal type, and almost as a modern-day Saladin'.

ESSAY1920140214

Radio 3 continues its twenty-part series looking at the five-hundred-year period, the Islamic Golden Age. We've heard about some of the great architects, philosophers, scientists and leaders of the period. In this evening's essay, Narguess Farzad explores the life and work of the Persian poet, Al-Rumi.

Producer: Mohini Patel.

ESSAY20Lubna Of Cordoba2014021720150805 (R3)

The Islamic Golden Age (c. 750-1258 CE) rediscovered through portraits of key figures and events. In tonight's essay, award-winning writer Kamila Shamsie looks at the life of Lubna of Cordoba. She leaves traces in fragments of records: one says she was the royal library acquisitions expert, another suggests she was private secretary to al-Hakam II. What's not in doubt is that she had a fine and piercing intellect and moved in some of the most interesting circles of the day.

Producer: Sarah Taylor.

ESSAY20 LASTLubna Of Cordoba20140217

Radio 3's twenty part series about the Islamic Golden age concludes this evening with award winning writer, Kamila Shamsie. Throughout the series we've heard about some of the great thinkers, philosophers and achievements during this five hundred year period. In tonight's concluding essay, Kamila looks at the life of the Lubna of Codoba. She leaves traces in fragments of records - one says she was the royal library acquisitions expert - another suggests she was privated secretary to Al-Hakam II. What's not in doubt is that she had a fine and piercing intellect and moved in some of the most interesting circles of the day.

Producer: Sarah Taylor.