4. Translation as a Source of Knowledge
“Just as certain political events create hostilities between nations that end in cooperation so, in human history major political events have long term intellectual consequences. One such consequence is the translation of foreign books and the transmission of ideas across cultures. When Alexander the Great conquered Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, Persia, Afghanistan and the Indus Valley, many rulers were unseated, including Emperor Darius of Persia. Some of Alexander's generals were appointed governors or administrators of these territories, and on Alexander's death the Ptolemies ruled Egypt and the Seleucids Mesopotamia and Persia. The long term consequence of these conquests was the spread of Greek thought throughout much of Asia and Egypt in the fields of philosophy, art and science.
Long after the fall of the Greek Empire, the empire of Darius was revived by the Sassanid dynasty, and some of the former territories of the Greek Empire, including Asia Minor, Syria and Egypt were incorporated into the Byzantine or Eastern Roman Empire. The Sassanian and the Byzantine emperors fought one another until the early 7th century CE. It was in this century that the Arabs, an isolated people of the Arabian Peninsula who were least influenced by neighbouring civilizations, emerged with a new political vigour and spiritual vision. Within a short period they had conquered the Sassanian Empire and the Byzantine provinces of Syria and Egypt”.
This post is part of our series of lecture reading excerpts from Sanad Foundation's 2018 course 'Islamic Scholarly Tradition' taught by Sidi Mohamed Acharki in Melbourne.