8.3 Achievements of Muslim Civilization

Under the Abbasids, Muslim civilization absorbed traditions from many cultures. In the process, a flourishing new civilization arose in cities from Baghdad to Córdoba. It incorporated all the people who lived under Muslim rule, including Jews and Christians.

Inside the open space of a building with many interior arches held by columns, with thick red and white striped painted on each upper curve.

The interior of the Great Mosque at Córdoba. The original 8th century mosque had 10 arcades. After Christians retook the city, the mosque became a Catholic cathedral.


  • Describe the role of trade in Muslim civilization.
  • Identify the traditions that influenced Muslim art, architecture, and literature.
  • Describe the major ideas in mathematics, science, and technology that occurred in Muslim civilization.

Key Terms

  • social mobility
  • Firdawsi
  • Omar Khayyám
  • calligraphy
  • Ibn Rushd
  • Ibn Khaldun
  • al-Khwarizmi
  • Muhammad al-Razi
  • Ibn Sina

Economic and Social Changes

Diffusion of Learning

The great works produced by scholars of the Abbasid period shaped Muslim culture and civilization. Through contacts in Spain and Sicily, Christian European scholars began to study Muslim philosophy, art, and science. Muslim scholars also reintroduced knowledge of Greco-Roman civilization to later Europeans.

Muslim ideas spread to other regions as well. In North Africa, for example, Arab Muslims settled and spread Arab customs, traditions, and language.

Muslim rulers united diverse cultures, including Arab, Persian, Egyptian, African, and European. Later, Mongols, Turks, Indians, and Southeast Asians joined the Muslim community. Muslim civilization absorbed and blended many of their traditions.

Trade in the Muslim World

Merchants were honored in Muslim culture, in part because Muhammad had been a merchant. A traditional collection of sayings stated:

I commend the merchants to you, for they are the couriers of the horizon and God's trusted servants on Earth.

—Sayings of the Prophet

End ofPage 269

Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments