Re: The Muslim Foundation of the Renaissance .
That is clearly not correct.
Not correct according to who ? according to which scholar and to which school of thought ?
Although it is an error to ignore Arab contributions to Western thought and science (Thomas Aquinas, for instance, was quite open about acknowledging Arab scholarship), it is just as erroneous to think that all classical knowledge was transmitted to the West via the Arabs.
Indeed, ''most'' calssical knowledge was given to the west via the Muslims ( not only the arab muslims ) here is what famous WESTERN scholars said about Muslim civilization (specially in Spain ) and its effects on the western renaissance:
"For nearly eight centuries, under the Mohamedan rule, Spain set all Europe a shining example of a civilized and enlightened state. Her fertile provinces rendered doubly prolific, by the industrious engineering skill of the conquerors bore fruit a hundredfold, cities innumerable sprang up in the rich valleys in the Guadalquivir and the Guadiana whose names, and names only commemorate the vanished glories of their past.
"...To Cordoba belong all the beauty and ornaments that delight the eye or dazzle the sight. Her long line of Sultans form her crown of glory; her necklace is strung with the pearls which her poets have gathered from the ocean of language; her dress is of the banners of learning, well-knit together by her men of science; and the masters of every art and industry are the hem of her garments.
"Art, literature and science prospered as they then prospered nowhere else in Europe...
"Mathematics, astronomy, botany, history, philosophy and jurisprudence were to be mastered in Spain, and Spain alone. Whatever makes a kingdom great and prosperous, whatever tends to refinement and civilization, was found in Muslim Spain...
"With Granada fell all Spain's greatness. For a brief while, indeed, the reflection of the Moorish splendour cast a borrowed light upon the history of the land which it had once warmed with its sunny radiance. The great epoch of Isabella, Charles V and Philip II, of Columbus, Cortes and Pizarro, shed a last halo about the dying monuments of a mighty state. When followed the abomination of dissolution, the rule of inquisition and the blackness of darkness in which Spain has been plunged ever since.
"In the land where science was once supreme, the Spanish doctors became noted for nothing but their ignorance and incapacity. The arts of Toledo and Almeria faded into insignificance.
"The land deprived of skillful irrigation of the Moors, grew improvished and neglected, the richest and most fertile valleys languished and were deserted, and most of the populous cities which had filled every district in Andalusia, fell into ruinous decay; and beggars, friars, and bandits took the place of scholars, merchants and knights. So low fell Spain when she had driven away the Moors. Such is the melancholy contrast offered by her history."
"And so vanquished for ever from the Spanish territory this brave, intelligent and enlightened people, who with their resolution and labour inspired life into the land, which the vain pride of the Goths condemned to sterility, and endowed it with prosperity and abundance and with innumerable canals, this people whose admirable courage was likewise, in happiness and adversity, a strong rampart to the throne of the Caliphs, whose genius, progress and study raised in its cities an internal edifice of light which sent its rays into Europe and inspired it with the passion of study, and whose magnanimous spirit tinted all its acts with an unrivalled colour of grandeur and nobility, and endowed it in the eyes of posterity with a sort of extraordinary greatness and charming colour of heroism which invokes the magical ages of Homer and which presents them to us in the garb of Greek half-gods.
"The Arabs suddenly appeared in Spain like a star which crosses through the air with its light, spreads its flames on the Horizon and then vanishes rapidly into naught. They appeared in Spain to fill her suddenly with their activity and the fruit of their genius, and endowed her with a glorious glamour which enveloped her from the Pyrenees to Gibraltar and from the oceans to the Barcelona. But a burning love for liberty and independance, a fickle character disposed to frivolty and merriness, neglect of old virtues, an unfortunate disposition of revolution, provoked always by an inflamed imagination, violent passions and ambitions, a spirit to dominate, and other factors of decay, worked in the course of time, to demolish this grand edifice raised by men like Tariq, 'Abdul Rahman al-Nasir, Muhammad ibn al-Ahmer, and led the Arabs to internal dissention, which sapped their power and pushed them to the abyss of naught.
"Millions of Moors quitted Spain carrying their property and arts - the patrimony of a state. What have the Spaniards created in their place? We could say nothing, but an eternal sorrow fills this land in which the gayest natures breathed before. Indeed there are some ruined monuments which still look upon these gloomy districts, but a real cry resounds from the depths of these monuments and ruins: honour and glory to the conquered Moor and decay and misery to the victorious Spaniard!"
Martin Hume in 'Spainish People'
"The Sultan Abd-er-Rahman was one of the Heaven-sent rulers of men. Prompt yet cautious in council and in war, unscrupulous, overbearing and proud, he was as ready to wreak terrible vengeance, as he was politic to forgive when it suited him. Berber and Yamanite alike acknowledged that at last they had found their master....He ruled until his death, in 788, with the tempered severity, wisdom, and justice which made his domain the best organized in Europe, and his capital the most splendid in the world."
S.P. Scott in 'The History of the Moorish Empire in Europe.'
"Yet there were knowledge and learning everywhere except in Catholic Europe. At a time when even kings could not read or write, a Moorish king had a private library of six hundred thousand books. At a time when ninety-nine percent of the Christian people were wholly illiterate, the Moorish city of Cordova had eight hundred public schools, and there was not a village within the limits of the empire where the blessings of education could not be enjoyed by the children of the most indigent peasant, ...and it was difficult to encounter even a Moorish peasant who could not read and write."
Dozy in 'The Moslems in Spain.'
"Cruel and fanatical, the Leonese rarely gave quarter; when they captured a town they usually put all the inhabitants to the sword. Tolerance such as that accorded by the Muslims to the Christians could not be expected of them."
H. Kamen, 'The Spanish Inquisition.'
"As a result of his (Cardinal Ximenes' coercive) endeavours, it is reported that on l8th December 1499 about three thousand Moors were baptized by him and a leading mosque in Granada was converted into a church. 'Converts' were encouraged to surrender their Islamic books, several thousands of which were destroyed by Ximenes in a public bonfire. A few rare books on medicine were kept aside for the University of Alcala...(Ximenes) claimed...the Moors had forfeited all their rights under the terms of capitulation (of Granada). They should therefore be given the choice between baptism and expulsion...At Andarax the principal mosque, in which the women and children had taken refuge, was blown up with gun-powder...all books in Arabic, especially the Qur'an, were collected to be burnt...Cardinal Ximenes:...was reported during his conversion campaign among the Granada Moors in 1500 to have burnt in the public square of Vivarrambla over 1,005,000 volumes including unique works of Moorish culture."
H.C. Lea, 'The Moriscos of Spain.'
"...that cemeteries could be established near the churches changed from mosques, but old Christians were not to be debarred from burial there if they wished....it continued until 1591 when it was ordered that they should be buried inside of the churches, which was so abhorrent to them that they vainly offered more than thirty thousand ducats if king or pope would allow them to be interred elsewhere, even though in dunghills.
"... tailors were not to make garments nor silver-smiths jewels after their (Moorish) fashion; their baths were prohibited; all births were to be watched by Christian midwives to see that no Moorish rites were performed; disarmament was to be enforced by a rigid inspection of licences; their doors were to be kept open on feast-days, Fridays, Saturdays, and during weddings, to see that Moorish rites were abandoned and Christian ones observed...no Moorish names were to be used and they were not to keep 'gacis' or unbaptised Moors either free or as slaves."
The interesting question is why the West had a Renaissance in the 14th-15th centuries while the Muslim world didn't.
because we '' had'' our renaissance when Europe was still in the dark ages.