Positive contributions of Arab/Islamic culture

Like most westerners I don’t know much about arab or islamic culture. I like falafel, humus and pita bread, belly dancers and chess. And lately I’ve been enjoying one other great islamic contribution to the world – Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, the most famous musician to come out of Pakistan. While he has long been famous in the muslim world for his traditional sufi songs of love and peace, he has also collaborated with Peter Gabriel and Eddie Vedder and created the soundtrack to Dead Man Walking. His beautiful, mystical music makes especially good listening now in these terrible times.

What other positive contributions have arab/islamic culture given us?

The preservation of greek philosophy thru the middle ages can be directly owed to them, a lot of everyday spices come from them as well. Moreover, they helped us europeans develop our warfare skills from the crusades on.

Tiffany, Paula Abdul and Casey Casem!

The Renaissance was founded on Islamic origins - paper was introduced to Europe from the Middle East, not China, so that one medieval Moorish library had more books than the rest of Europe combined.
Then you’ve got medicine, algebra and of course troubadours.

The area between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers is thought by some to be the cradle of The White Man. Your “Garden of Eden” shall we say? Jury’s still out on whether that’s a “positive” contribution.

Do you consider Eygpt an Arab country? If so, 'nuff said.

The Arabic Numbers, chemical alkali, beautiful caligraphy…


I was going to say Arabic numerals, which they don’t use.
and the word ‘Alcohol’ which they don’t drink…

Buggery is one of my favorities things about Arab culture:

In the days before the Taliban, there was a saying in Afghanistan that “birds flew over Kandahar with only one wing” - the other was used to cover their arses… :shock:

And I don’t think the ancient Egyptians were an Islamic culture, despite the fact they seem to think they “own” the pyramids now… :unamused:

Yes, they do. It’s just a different style of the same numerals. It seems to be accepted that this system of numerals was invented in India, but the Arabs brought the idea to Europe.

Source: http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Arabic_numerals

For Arabic contributions to world culture, look for words beginning with “al,” which is just Arabic for “the,” e.g.
Chemistry (Alchemy)
Lute (originally al ud)

Can’t think of any more right now. Also “morris” (Moorish) e.g. morris dancing, nine men’s morris (a board game.) The English surname Blackmore (black Moor.)

It is said that the first people to make wine out of grapes were the Kurds, back in the days when they were called Medes. Long before Islam, of course.

Actually this is Roman Catholic propaganda which is still being perpetuated. Has everyone forgotten the Eastern Roman Empire (AKA Byzantine Empire)? It saved both Classical learning AND Western Europe. The Imperial Armies held off the Moslems until the fall of Constantinople in 1453.
Westerners went to study in Moslem occupied Spain because the Eastern Roman Empire was Othodox Christian not Roman Catholic.

campus.northpark.edu/history/Web … ntium.html

Hashish. :sunglasses:

and the hookah. :sunglasses:

Remember, Arabs include many Christians as well as Muslims. (Ralph Nader’s family were Lebanese Christians.) Meanwhile the largest Muslim populations are Indian, Bangladeshi, Indonesian, Persian, Turkish, and Nigerian.

Some random contributions:

  1. The word “whore.” (Houri, the nymphs of paradise.)
  2. All those weird words they named the stars with, like Aldabaran, Rigel, and Betelgeuse. (Bet -el-guz, not “Beetle-juice”)
  3. Algebra. (Al-Gebr, a mathematician’s name–the same guy gave us the word “gibberish”).
  4. The words “giraffe” (al-ziraf) and “camel” (al-jamal)
  5. The word “alcohol” (al-kohl). That Al guy sure did get around, didn’t he? Yes, I realize that they’re not SUPPOSED to drink it, but guess what? (Occasionally one of them will even toast the Prophet Muhammad.)
  6. Church steeples! They’re ultimately inspired by Islamic minarets. Protestants started using them in reference to the New Jerusalem, which somebody figured would look like the old Jerusalem.
  7. Tamales? Transmogrified form of felafel, via Spain.
  8. The theme music from “Pulp Fiction,” which was originally a Moroccan folk song.
  9. Uncle Ben and Aunt Biru’s house on Tatooine (actually Tunisia) from Star Wars.

But not:

  1. The zero or decimal system. (Chinese abacuses used these concepts implicitly in ancient times.)
  2. The university. (Madressas were probably inspired by similar Buddhist monastic institutions such as Nalanda in India.)
  3. The “Arabian” music from “Nutcracker Suite,” which about as Middle Eastern as that song that goes “There’s a place in France, where the naked women dance…”

And I would suggest that the greatest contribution to civilisation from Western societies is to have been influenced by, accepted, and absorbed all these traits from other civilisations.

I think Middle Ages Islamic Culture had the same going for it - free trade, wide-ranging religious and social tolerance, it absorbed freely from the Byzantines and Chinese

Islamic banking is perhaps not widely known but has potential to make a great contribution to developing an alternative economic system. The main principle of Islamic Banking is that you cannot charge interest. To learn more about it have a look at this link.

I notice they have Islamic equity funds too. I wish I’d invested there a couple of years ago. Zero percent interest would’ve been a lot better than what I earned in the US market. :laughing:

You might wonder how Islamic banks can make money if they can’t charge Interest, but there are 2 banks in the UK offering Islamic mortages. Basically the bank owns your house and charges you rent. Then passes the ownership back to you at the end of the ‘mortage’. But it means the house has to change ownership twice.

You have got to read this!


Bloody hell! :blush: :blush: :blush: I got all the way down to the bottom of the page and the “accept christ and we’ll throw in a free phone” ad before I cottoned on. I thought people were supposed to get less gullible as they got older!

There’s a link there to an even naughtier site. Be warned – its REALLY naughty.