The House of Wisdom


During the Islamic golden age, in the 8th century, a great intellectual center was founded by Caliph Harun al- Rashid.  The House of Wisdom also known as Bayt al- Hikma in Arabic was one of the greatest intellectual, cultural and science centers in all of history. Inside it many discoveries and contributions were made to science that are still relevant and important today. In fact the House of Wisdom was the stepping stone for modern science

The House of Wisdom was already flourishing during Caliph Harun’s reign but it was culminated under his son al- Ma’mun. During Caliph al- Ma’mun’s rule the House of Wisdom became an excellent research and educational institute. During Al Ma’mun’s reign, obervatiories were set up and the House was an unrivalled center for the study of humanities and sciences including: mathematics, astronomy, medicine, chemistry, zoology and geography.

The House of Wisdom housed an enormous number of manuscripts, books and texts. And those manuscripts and books were also translated into Arabic to encourage and help Arabian scientists and scholars in making discoveriest. The House of Wisdom housed knowledge from all over the world; drawing on Persian, Indian and Greek texts—including those of Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, Hippocrates, Euclid, Plotinus, Galen, Sushruta, Charaka , Aryabhata and Brahmagupta. The scholars of the House built on the collection of knowledge they had and made their own discoveries. Many of those discoveries were the building blocks of modern science and are still relevant today.

Among the most notable scholars of the House is The Father of Algebra, Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi. He was the founder of algebra which takes its name from his book Kitab al-Jabr. Another famous scholar from the House is Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi who was one the greatest minds in early medicine. He wrote over 200 books and manuscripts on medicine. He wrote a pioneering book about smallpox and measles providing clinical characterization of the diseases. Through translation, his medical works and ideas became known among medieval European practitioners and profoundly influenced medical education in the Latin West. Some volumes of his work Al-Mansuri, namely “On Surgery” and “A General Book on Therapy”, became part of the medical curriculum in Western universities. He has been described as a doctor’s doctor, the father of pediatrics, and a pioneer of ophthalmology.

Sadly the great House of Wisdom was mercilessly destroyed during the Mongol invasion of Baghdad. It is said that after the invasion, the waters of Tigris river ran turned black from ink of the enormous quantities of books that were thrown into the ancient river and red from the blood of all the scientists, scholars and philosophers who were killed by the armies of Hulagu Khan, the Mongol ruler who committed one of the most horrific massacres in history.


Written by: Osama Waheib.

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