Religion is a set of convictions that concerns the nature, cause, as well as the rationale of the world, particularly when deemed as the establishment of exceptional societies. However, usually they involve devotional as well as ritual ceremonials and often including moral standards governing the behavior of human actions. Culture is the traits and information of a specific set of people, described by all from religion, language, cuisine, music, social habits, and arts. The ancient era contained a vast range of religions as well as belief systems. However, most of these religions have vanished; their temples, as well as statues, faded away, their gods hardly remembered. Nevertheless, pagan and other form of religions were entirely founded before the majority of the major religions now (Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism). Moreover, most of them have entirely died out, although new practitioners are reviving some. This paper argues that Islam contributed significantly in the cultural development of the Medieval Europe. It created an advanced state of human society with a high culture of science, industry and art.

The origin of Islam can be traced to the 7th century and its rise is intrinsically linked with the prophet Muhammad, who was the last prophets according to Muslims. Muhammad was born of the Quraysh tribe and he was a caravan trader. Prophet Muhammad received revelations from Archangel Gabriel which became the basis of the Qur’an. Muhammad preached his revelations to his close relatives and friends, but his teaches were very opposed by the polytheistic mercantile tribes of Mecca.[1] Overtime, Islam became influential over Arabia, and Muhammad initiated military conquests to spread the religion to other places. Muslims believe that their religion was the final revelation of God for humankind, and they feel that to attain salvation, they ought to obey Allah’s (God’s) will. However, to do this they ought to obey the five main Islamic principles (Five Pillars of Islam): Declaration of Faith; Daily Prayer, Pilgrimage: Hajj; Charity; and Fasting-Ramadan. The religion molded the science, politics, literature, arts and ethic culture of the host communities. In the 7th century, the Arabs were not united and they lived in close-family units. They were polytheists who worshipped Allah and his daughters, al-Lat, al-Uzza and Manat.[2] Upon receiving revelations in the desert, Prophet Muhammad started preaching openly in Mecca but his teachings were opposed by the elites of Quraysh, forcing him and his followers to flee to Yathrib, but later returned to Mecca where he destroyed the pagan idols. The united Mecca and Medina staged successful conquests against the Byzantines and Persians.

The impact of Islam civilization on the host communities was felt during 1097 and 1291, when Europeans gained knowledge and adopted the Islamic culture. During the Crusades, the Europeans became familiar with the Orient.  They learned about the medical advances of Muslims in knowledge development and learnt how to manufacture papers, gunpowder and compass. During the crusades, the Europeans were also attracted to Muslims writing and books in many subjects.  Some of the influential Muslims scholars during the medieval times included Abu Nasr Muhammad al-Farabi and Ibn Sina.[3] Some of their treatises were used in the medieval universities of Montpellier and Louvain. The Europeans learnt how to treat diseases from Jewish physicians. Because of Islamic civilization, the Italian merchants obtained maps and books to explore Asia. Trade increased creating the demand for Oriental products such as silks, tapestries, precious stones, perfumes and spices.

The Medieval Europe benefitted greatly from the Islamic civilization through advancement in education, democratic ideals, sciences and technology. Students from European attended Muslim centers to study subjects ranging from medicine, philosophy, mathematics and cosmography. The Muslim scholar helped in the translation of ancient classic texts belonging to Greek philosophers such as Aristotle. The Muslims also introduced the Indian arithmetical system, decimal counting, arabesque, calligraphy, geometrical designs and patterns.[4] One of the notable scholars, Ibn Sina, wrote the book Canon of Medicine which turned out to be the reliable reference for physicians in the region. However, the book remains a collection of medical information as well as a guidebook for drug testing, although it as well contains Avicenna’s individual findings, for instance, the tuberculosis infectiousness.

Muslims not only contributed knowledge and enhanced trade in the medieval Europe, but also promoted other elements of the Islamic culture. The extant research has examined ways in which Europe and other ancient societies benefited from Islamic civilization. The West returned to its great ancient Greek tradition with the help of Islamic translations. Islam played an important role in spreading agricultural technologies to the medieval Europe. These advances, made it possible for the Europeans to conduct out industrial operations and mechanize activities that were performed through manual labor. During the Middle Ages the Europeans also adopted Arabic Kufic script which was used in the decoration of textiles.[5] Islamic carpets were also common in the mediaeval Europe and there integrated in paintings and religious objects. Islam also positively affected the music industry, as some of the instruments that were used in Europe were influenced by Arabic music instruments. In this regard the violin and the Guitar were influenced by rebec and qitara respectively. [6]

The impact of Islam was profound in Norman-Arab-Byzantine culture. After the Normans re-conquered Sicily a mixed culture developed which encouraged by rulers such as Roger II. Roger II employed Muslims as soldiers, architects, poets and scientists and they had a profound impact on the local culture. The government officials were predominantly Muslims and were entrusted responsibilities due to their civility.  The Arabic culture was very pronounced in Sicily: Christians spoke in Arabic, wore Muslim dresses while the registers were written in Arabic.[7] The Islamic culture also permeated the building sector giving rise to the Arab-Norman style of architecture. Sicily later played an important role in the transmission of Islamic culture to Europe during the Middle Ages.

In sum, the paper has demonstrated that the interaction between the Europeans and the Muslims led to the exchange of cultural wealth. Islam gave Europeans access to rich texts in many subjects and advanced their knowledge in sciences. Islamic influence was felt in medicine, alchemy, mathematics, astronomy, physics and technology. Islamic arts and scripts were used to decorate objects and buildings by the Europeans. The Islamic culture also permeated the music and technology industries, literature, coinage and philosophy. There is no doubt that Islam contributed to the rebirth of Europe during the Renaissance and Enlightenment eras and brought civility and an advanced culture.


Ali, Rabia Umar. “Medieval Europe: The Myth of Dark Ages and the Impact of Islam.” Islamic Studies 51, no. 2 (Summer, 2012): 155

Andrews, Robert J. “Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia.” Library Journal 131, no. 3 (Feb 15, 2006): 148

Awan, Muzaffar. “The Future of Islamic Civilization in a Globalizing World.” Defence Journal 17, no. 2 (09, 2013): 28-36

Hamoudi, Haider Ala. “The Crisis of Islamic Civilization.” Osgoode Hall Law Journal 47, no. 1 (Spring, 2009): 159

Mashita, Hiroyuki. The Muslim world 1100-1700: early sources on Middle East history. geography and travel. New York: Routledge, 2007

Renard, John .Windows on the house of Islam: Muslim sources on spirituality and religious life. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998

Zuhair, Muhammed. “Bahrain Hosts Dialogue on Islamic Contributions to Civilization.” The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs 21, no. 7 (Sep, 2002): 89-90

[1] Rabia Umar Ali, “Medieval Europe: The Myth of Dark Ages and the Impact of Islam,” Islamic Studies 51, no. 2 (2012): 155

[2] Muhammed Zuhair, “Bahrain Hosts Dialogue on Islamic Contributions to Civilization,” The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs 21, no. 7 (Sep, 2002): 89-90

[3] Robert Andrews, “Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia,” Library Journal 131, no. 3 (Feb 15, 2006): 148

[4] Muzaffar Awan, “The Future of Islamic Civilization in a Globalizing World,” Defence Journal 17, no. 2 (09, 2013): 28-36

[5] John Renard, windows on the house of Islam: Muslim sources on spirituality and religious life (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998): 56

[6] Haider Ala Hamoudi, “The Crisis of Islamic Civilization.” Osgoode Hall Law Journal 47, no. 1 (Spring, 2009): 159

[7] Hiroyuki Mashita, The Muslim world 1100-1700: early sources on Middle East history, geography and travel (New York: Routledge, 2007): 78

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: