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Publisher's Summary

The study of Western Civilization traditionally follows a well-known but incomplete arc: the grand achievements of Greece and Rome, several hundred years of the Dark Ages, and then the bright emergence of the European Renaissance. But amid the "dark" Middle Ages, the Abbasid Empire, which ruled the Middle East as well as much of Northern Africa and Central Asia from 750 to 1258, serves as a vitally important but often overlooked bridge between the ancient and modern worlds.

The History and Achievements of the Islamic Golden Age is your opportunity to get to know the story and the accomplishments of this great period in human civilization. Taught by acclaimed lecturer Eamonn Gearon, these 24 remarkable lectures offer brilliant insights into an era too often overlooked by traditional history textbooks. You'll meet a wealth of scholars, scientists, poets, and philosophers who paved the way for the Renaissance and continue to affect our world in surprising ways.

For instance, gain insights into:

  • The origins of the scientific method, along with the development of algebra, chemistry, physics, and astronomy as discrete fields of inquiry
  • The invention of the modern "teaching hospital" and a medical encyclopedia that served Europe for the next 600 years
  • The preservation and translation of the world's great literature, from the Hadith (or sayings of Muhammad) to the master works of Greece and Rome
  • Ontological philosophy that served future Jewish, Christian, and Muslim theologians concerned with the nature of God and the relationship between faith and reason

It is nearly impossible to overstate the power and importance of this crucial 500-year history, headquartered in Baghdad but stretching around the world. While much of Europe was quietly passing the time, the Abbasid Empire was an international, multicultural hub of trade, travel, education, art, science, and much more.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2017 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2017 The Great Courses

What listeners say about The History and Achievements of the Islamic Golden Age

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Good but a little annoying

This is a good book and worth the money. My only complaint is that the narrator waffles around a bit and doesn't get to the point. The picture he paints is not as clear as it could be.
I'd prefer more detail and a more chronological approach tracking the idea as much as the person. In the history of science books I got a very good feel of where ideas came from and how they developed. I really wanted that from this book as well.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Richard
  • 08-08-2017

You gotta get smart to see how dumb you are”.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

At first, I hesitated to select this title. Maybe like you, the current situation in many Islamic countries shaded my expectations of what could have been achieved a millenia ago. Now I know. It was enormous.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The History and Achievements of the Islamic Golden Age?

The scope is ambitious but it manages to sparkle as well. I loved the many, small portraits of the thinkers. E.g. a wily scientist who feigned insanity to escape execution by his sponsor. Or a poet who extolled the delights of getting drunk – in an Islamic country. Human genius, human nature.

What does Professor Eamonn Gearon bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I love the spoken word. To listen to a story told by a gifted storyteller is pure magic.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I deeply respect the work and dedication that went into it. This is a work that acknowledges the contribution of minds that have borne us further. But the author has labored in an area which has been deprived of both attention and public sympathy. This is true dedication and scholarship.

Any additional comments?

This book deserves a broad readership.

7 people found this helpful

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  • riyad
  • 24-12-2017

Learn but be have your own filter

  Overall the book is informative and thoughtful, and thought provoking. I do have the following observations; The speaker superimposes his early 21stcentury values on his assessment of completely different moral and ethical values. Its saying someone is good or bad because they are like me or different from me today, and that is irrational especially considering that many values tend to change from one generation. In the lecture on Al Buckari, the presenter does not mentioned the methodology used to assess the strength of the Hadith. He does not state that a complete science is dedicated to assessing the trustworthiness of Hadith chains and transmitters called the Jarh and Tadil. The way it is portrayed now implies randomness and a high degree of uncertainty. In one of the lectures the speaker mentions the term “wahabi” as a subcategory of Hanbali. This is a derogatory and baseless term fabricated in recent decades for reasons other than historical description, in simple terms it is primarily a segregation tool. Mohammed Ibn Abdulwahab did not develop a separate ideology or school of thought, he simply promoted the return to grassroots Islam, without superimposing later schools of thought. There are several other reasons why this term is in error, which for brevity will not be discussed here. The assertion in the lecture on Al Bayruni that the Quran indicates that the Sun, moon, and other celestial objects revolve around the Earth. Where does it state so? There is not a single verse in the Quran that will contradict scientific fact. The frequently stated driver for the Islamic Golden Age was stated to be a feeling of inferiority on the side of the Arabs. Again, what is the basis for this assertion? A feeling of inferiority does not sustain hundreds of years of scientific pursuits. A Muslim employs drivers other than just materialistic pursuits. With the belief that God created our existence, science to Muslims a  pathway to knowing God better, and being a stronger believer and way of getting perpetual good deeds through giving benefit to others. In all I still think the lectures were beneficial and well worth the cost.

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  • Keep It Real
  • 13-04-2017

Nothing short of wonderful!

Professor Gearon is eloquent, entertaining, passionate and I dare say a polymath himself. He inspires love for the subject. What a pleasure to have such gifted professors!

4 people found this helpful

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  • noiron
  • 19-10-2019

...Staggering...

Narrated with demonstrable enthusiasm and a rich,pleasing voice is this tremendous compendium of Islamic accomplishments over time.The breadth and depth of topics discussed is profound.As if representing the largest world-wide empire in history is not enough, Islam touched,molded,affected and explored everything in its' pathway.This encompassed areas from astronomy to medicine,from art forms to mathematics,from calligraphy to minarets leaving a mark on everything.Islamic influence stretched towards excellence.Of special intrigue was the establishment of Baghdad's House of Wisdom.This was the attempt to consolidate all known knowledge into Arabic.This seems in great contrast to today's devaluation of contemporary knowledge.This course expands the understanding of Islamic contribution and makes known characteristics of Islam more commendable than the patriarchy,terror and cruelty that often spring to mind today.This course also reminds us that religious wars are rooted in antiquity and teaches us of things lost and found between the battles.It is truly staggering in its' implications. I loved it!

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  • Stef
  • 29-01-2019

Great content, delivered well.

Eamonn Gearon is an excellent lecturer; his passion and interest is infectious. The content of the lectures are informative, interesting, and very easy to listen to.

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  • Peyman Ali Rassa
  • 16-11-2018

broad sweep of important islamic cultural leaders

organized mainly by individual scholars lives, it would have benefited from a chronological tie in with other events during the period but otherwise a very informative and enjoyable survey of this important period of Islamic history and its intellectual leaders

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  • Moonwitch
  • 18-11-2017

Wonderful narrator.

Simply, entirely enjoyable, with a wonderful narrator. A narrator I enjoyed so much, I purchased another of his works......so off I go! Cheers

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  • Anas
  • 13-02-2019

The most well organized and well researched book

Of the many books on audible that I have downloaded and listened to, by far the best on this topic. The books on history are often hard to follow, unless narration is done well. But this was an outstanding price of work. The professor has done tremendous research and giving a very balanced view on the topic. I highly recommend this course for anyone.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Eric
  • 04-01-2021

4 hours in, and I've yet to hear history

This is the first great course I'm not going to finish. This course spends more time talking about Dr. Seuss and making bad puns then it does on history. It contains perhaps one or two mentions of Islamic culture, but it's mostly an egotistical rant about proper historical documentation and methodology.

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  • Allan
  • 13-12-2020

Another Great one from Professor Gearon

I highly recommend this to anyone interested in learning more about the region. He discusses a forgotten scientific debt we owe to the greater Middle East between the years 750 and 1258.

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  • Andrew McC
  • 20-08-2017

Engaging and thought provoking

Professor Gearon is very engaging and clearly enthusiastic about the Islamic golden age. The subject itself is interesting and I learned a great deal. It is a pity that the facts of this topic are not more well known. Amy history of the west seems to jump from Roman history to the Renaissance ignoring the important contributions of Islamic art, science and culture - which this course goes some way to rectifying. I highly recommend this to anyone with an interest in history.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Hassan
  • 17-05-2019

Excellent Overview

It's a subject I studied many years ago and wanted a good refresher. This delivered precisely what I was looking for. Nicely delivered with some good humour to boot.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Ann
  • 16-10-2018

Enchanting, narration.

A most enjoyable and riveting journey through the history of the middle east. Thank you.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Taha Lateef
  • 13-03-2018

Loved it

Brilliant, excellent and thought provoking description of the achievements from that era. Couldn't stop until I finished it.

3 people found this helpful

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  • G Varsani
  • 09-10-2017

Informative and entertaining history.

I really enjoyed this history audiobook. I leave learnt a great deal about the contribution of scholar's from the Islamic Golden Age contributing to advancements that we take for granted in current age.

3 people found this helpful

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  • C.W
  • 09-12-2019

This book will change your perspective

Professor Gearon speaks with passion and authority on a subject that will give you a new perspective on the Islamic* world's contribution to human progress. The course is well structured in that you can follow the place and context of most inventions and scholars without feeling lost. The subject matter really comes alive with Mr Gearon's style which includes fun facts, personal anecdotes, the odd dry-English humour joke and involves a real passion for these topics that can't make you help but feel that you should be passionate also. By the end of this course you will feel like you've had an excellent overview of the subject with sufficient depth to give you some understand of contributions to Astronomy, Medicine, Engineering, Inventions, Mathematics, Poetry etc. and to confidently go off to find out more if you wanted to on most topics. *used in same sense as defined by Professor Gearon.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Sumiyya
  • 12-06-2018

Well delivered however long winded and repetitive

I found the speaker engaging and informative, although it was a shame that the lecturer did not actually research the islamic references mentioned and just derived them from speculation. The topics were irrelevant to the actual subject and seemed quite random.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Nameless Drone
  • 28-03-2018

Lacked focus

The lecturer was knowledgeable and his delivery was polished. But I felt the course lacked focus or narrative. Lectures didn't build up a big picture, just presented many small ones.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-09-2020

Simply fantastic!

The book is written without bias and successfully navigates the golden age period. The book also does not bore with unnecessary detail rather introduces topics, great minds and has left me with an excitement to learn more!

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  • Noora
  • 26-07-2020

Interesting

The Narrator was good but pronunciation let him down. This was a good Introduction . I knew a lot of it from before.

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