Watercolor from Mughal India circa He was first punched in the face by his executioner, then lashed until unconscious, and then decapitated   or hanged. According to Carl W. Ernst , the legal notion of blasphemy was not clearly defined in Islamic law and statements of this kind were treated inconsistently by legal authorities.
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The rise of Islam was instrumental in uniting the warring Arab tribes into a powerful empire. The Abbasids claimed authority as belonging to the same family and tribe to which the Prophet Muhammad belonged, and were for that reason considered holy.
The Arabs displayed a remarkable capacity of assimilating the scientific knowledge of the civilizations they had overrun. Many classic works of antiquity that might otherwise have been lost were translated into Arabic and Persian and later in turn re-translated into Turkish, Hebrew and Latin. Thomas Aquinas, for example, gained crucial familiarity with the works of Aristotle through translations into Arabic and then into Latin accompanied by the commentary of the great Muslim Aristotelian scholar Ibn Sina Avicenna.
During this period the Arab world was a collection of cultures which put together, synthesized and significantly advanced the knowledge gained from the ancient Roman, Chinese, Indian, Persian, Egyptian, Greek, Byzantine and Phoenician civilizations. The decimal system and "zero" travelled from India into Arabic culture during this time and in 9th century it was popularized in the Islamic regions by the Persian mathematician al-Khwarizmi.
Later in 12th century the renown Western monk Abelard introduced what Westerners call "Arabic Numerals" to Europe, but which the Arabs themselves termed "Hindsi" or "Indian Numerals," indicating their true origin. They also began the use of Algebra and advanced logarithims in order to solve complex mathematical problems.
There is little agreement on the precise causes of the decline in Arabic creativity and intellectual leadership ending the Islamic Golden Age, but in addition to the devastating invasion by the Mongols and crusaders with the destruction of libraries and madrasahs, it has also been suggested that political mismanagement and the stifling of "Ijtihad" independent reasoning in the 12th century in favor of institutionalised "Taqleed" imitation and uncritical following of precedent played a part.
Muslims believe the Quran to be verbally revealed through Angel Gabriel Jibril from God to Muhammad gradually over a period of approximately 23 years beginning from AD, when Muhammad was 40, to AD, the year of his death.
Muslims regard the Quran as the main miracle of Muhammad, the proof of his prophethood and the culmination of a series of divine messages to humanity that started with the messages revealed to Adam, regarded in Islam as the first prophet, and continued with the Scrolls of Abraham Suhuf Ibrahim , the Tawrat Torah of Moses, the Zabur Tehillim or Psalms of David, and the Injil Gospels of Jesus.
The Quran assumes familiarity with major narratives recounted in Jewish and Christian scriptures, summarizing some, dwelling at length on others and in some cases presenting alternative accounts and interpretations of events.
The Quran describes itself as a book of guidance, sometimes offering detailed accounts of specific historical events, and often emphasizing the moral significance of an event. Regardless of whether one believes or disbelieves in the Koran, equally as in the case of whether one believes or disbelieves in the Christian or Jewish Bible, it is an inescapable necessity for every educated person to read and be familiar with these works as literature if one has any hope of understanding World Literature, Western Literature, Islamic and Arabic Literature, English, French, German, Russian or any national literature of any culture affected by their influence.
No one can understand English or American Literature without familiarity with the King James and other versions of the Bible, the words, phrases, style and stories and themes of which permeate and recur in Shakespeare, Donne, Milton, and a thousand believing and unbelieving authors and works.
Similarly, any understanding of German Literature is impossible without knowledge of the Bible of Luther. The Koran thus takes its place in World Literature by virtue of its shaping influence on the mindset and consciousness of over one billion Muslims across dozens of nations, cultures and literatures as well as the cultural foundation of dozens of Muslim authors and works of worldwide importance such as Rumi, Attar, Hafiz, the Thousand and One Nights, Mafouz Naguib, Ghalib and others.
Thus it is required reading, at least in part, for any Citizen of the Republic of Letters or of the modern world, alongside the Bible, the Buddhist Sutras such as the Fire Sermon, the Bhagavad Gita and the Dao De Ching, as part of the common heritage of mankind. Compared to the Bible, the Koran is a much shorter work, lacking the extended historical accounts and chronicles of the Old Testament and the multiple repetitive Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John of the New Testament, and can be read in a relatively short time in translation by most people for basic familiarity.
The basic theme of the Koran is that of monotheism, an invocation to belief and adherence to the single God, Allah, of Muhammad, who is also conceived as the same God of the Christian and Jewish Abrahamic tradition, albeit with differences of understanding with the other religions.
In the Koran Moses and Jesus are considered fellow prophets of Allah, though Jesus is not considered as the son of God as in the Bible. A large part of the Koran contains exhortations to belief in its one God Allah and adherence to its rules of behaviour, with the bliss of paradise as promised reward and certain damnation in Hell as the consequence of failure to do so.
Similar to the Bible, a significant part of the Koran focuses on the coming Apocalypse, or end of time and the consequent Last Judgment of all souls. At that time Arabic culture was largely based on oral tradition, with poetry at its center.
Poets were highly honored, attaining even what today we might term "superstar" status. The poetry was the poetry of the tribe or clan, articulating its legends, heroes, geneology, iteration of its strong "tribal code" of norms and exploits.
Al-Khansa put women in a central place in her poetry. A traditionalist in one sense, she wrote poems of lament for brave fallen heroes of her tribe, such as her fallen brothers, yet celebrated the women who remained alive and powerful in keeping life going and honoring and transmitting the proud warrior values to their children, despite the vicissitudes of battle, defeat and victory.
Hafiz was a master of interweaving the erotic and the mystic through superb linguistic craftsmanship and intuitive insight. Look not to find fidelity Within a world so weakly stayed; This ancient crone, ere flouting thee, A thousand bridegrooms had betrayed. To make sweet music, and to please, That is a gift of God alone. He is the archetypal sensual, erotic and profligate poet and Baghdad court favorite of the Caliph. He wrote pangyric poetry as well as heterosexual and homosexual ghazals, and handled Bacchic poems of "wine, women and song" with incomparable skill.
He wrote with an existential edge to his Epicurean ethos that embraced every kind of pleasure and satisfaction. Originally an academic scholar and professor, he was persuaded by a wandering Sufi mystic, Shams al-Din Tabrizi, to take up the Sufi life and put the love of God at the center of his existence. Striving after divine illumination in diverse ways, from devout meditation to the ecstatic pleasures of wine, sexuality and the Dervish entrancement of dance, he emphasized a devotion to a spiritualized love that disregards rites and convention and concentrates on inner feeling and approach to the ecstatic infinite.
His odes have been chanted by Hadjj pilgrims on the road to Mecca for centuries and are sung with the greatest reverence even today. Basra was also the location of the annual Al-Mirbad literary festival of Arab and Islamic culture that took place yearly featuring competitions and debates on philosophical issues, and at which he was renown for his wit, cutting humor, endless anecdotes and depth of knowledge.
His book "Spiritual Leadership" was praised at the court in Baghdad by the Caliph al-Mamun, who appointed him as court scribe, personal secretary and speech writer. His monumental work the "Book of Animals" is the first encyclopedia on animals and zoology. His most famous work is the "Book of Misers" which is a unique portrait gallery of human characters rich in their contradictions and ironies. It features an acute analysis of the passion of avarice, satirical and comic narratives, and cutting insight into human psychology.
Ibn Rushd and Ibn Sina played a major role in saving the works of Aristotle, whose ideas came to dominate the non-religious thought of both the Christian and Muslim worlds. They would also absorb ideas from China and India, adding to them tremendous knowledge from their own studies. Ibn Sina and other speculative thinkers such as al-Kindi and al-Farabi combined Aristotelianism and Neoplatonism with other ideas introduced through Islam.
Avicenna argued his famous "Floating Man" thought experiment, concerning self-awareness, where a man prevented of sense experience by being blindfolded and free falling would still be aware of his existence, perhaps a forerunner of Descartes "cogito ergo sum""I think therefore I am.
A great spiritual searcher, he attended debates and salons in Basra and Baghdad, then embarked on thirty years of wandering, perpetual fasting, meditation, contemplation and silence in search of Sufi enlightenment. His pilgrimage to Mecca led to further enlightenment and he began to attract large numbers of followers, breaking the normal Sufi practice of esoteric secrecy by public preaching, including reform of corrupt clerics.
His movement was perceived as a threat by the highly corrupt religious establishment, and he suffered a fate similar to Jesus and the Apostles. Corrupt clerics accused him of blasphemy and he was imprisoned in Baghdad eight years, tortured, half-killed and exhibited on a scaffold.
The Caliph, failing to force him to recant his beliefs, finally had him decapitated, burnt and his ashes scattered into the Tigris River. One of its characters Mohammad ala Rushdie is a novice Sufi of the Mevlevi Order, writer and also an activist for the creation of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly. Part of the plot of the novel involves a geopolitical conspiracy of an allied China-Russia-Iran to execute a Pearl Harbor-like sneak attack invasion of the Middle-East oil reserves to sever the "oil jugular" of the West, leading to a threatened WWIII.
It is foiled by a cosmic quest of the protagonists intoa mythic dimension and a change of heart in the Iranian Supreme Leader following a visit of the Angel Jibreel Gabriel who commands him to "Open the Gates of Ijtihad" or creative reasoning against the tradition of blind precedent and conformity to the past as a means giving rebirth to the spirit of the lost Islamic Golden Age and preventing Armageddon and World War III.
Diwan Al Hallaj