Arabia Overview (02:42)
The world's largest peninsula was home to nomads and pastoralists for millennia. They were named "Arabs" in the 9th century, and were united by language prior to Islam. The Romans identified Felix, Deserta and Petrea regions of Arabia.
The desert city was home to the Kaaba, a sacred site drawing pagan pilgrims. Learn about ancient Arabian beliefs and deities. The Quraysh clan controlled the Kaaba and profited from pilgrim revenue.
Birth of Islam (03:49)
Muhammad's encounter with the Archangel Gabriel inspired him to convert to monotheism. His followers considered him a prophet after Abraham, Moses and Jesus. Mecca's elite saw him as a threat and attempted to assassinate him.
Converting Arabia (01:57)
Muhammad's flight from Mecca in 622 marked the beginning of the Islamic calendar. He united tribes in Yathrib, who renamed the city Medina. He returned to Mecca after ten years, claiming the Kaaba for Islam.
Arab Empire (02:24)
After Muhammad's death, Arab armies pushed north, destroying the Persian Empire and pushing back Christian Byzantines. In the 8th century, they ruled a kingdom larger than the Roman Empire. Learn about the administrative structure, including taxes collected from non-Muslims.
Baghdad Scholarship (04:34)
Caliph Al-Mamun aimed to make his city a center of learning, and devoted his life to science. He founded the House of Wisdom where scholars collected and translated writings from around the world.
Mathematical and Scientific Contributions (03:55)
Learn about medical, mathematical and technological advances made by Baghdad scholars in the 9th and 10th centuries, including Arabic numerals, the decimal system, and algebraic formulas.
Cordoba Emirate (03:12)
In 711, an Arab and Berber army defeated the Visigoths and conquered Spain. The Umayyads founded an independent Arab empire, built Moorish monuments, improved agricultural technology, and fostered the arts and sciences.
Andalucía Scholarship (04:56)
Popular Baghdad musician Ziryab brought Arabic culture to Spain and established Cordoba's first music school. Scientists, inventors and artists from diverse origins and religions were united by Arabic language. Learn about Arab customs adopted by Europeans.
Cordoba Medicine (03:26)
Court physician Al-Zahrawi performed cataract surgeries and developed surgical tools used today. In the 11th century, Christian medical centers formed near the Arab Empire, spreading Arab medical knowledge.
Arabic Medical Era (02:11)
Al-Zahrawi manufactured opiate medications for pain management. Physicians used the Greek Theory of the Four Humors for treatment and pioneered dentistry, pharmacology, anatomy, and surgery. The Cordoba Caliph financed research and combined Greek, Persian and Indian medical knowledge.
Holy Wars (02:15)
The Christian reconquest of Spain began in the 11th century, and Byzantium appealed for Catholic help to recapture the Holy Land from Islam. Jerusalem was taken and re-taken for 150 years.
Translation Movement (05:05)
In 1085, Christian knights reconquered Toledo, an important Arabic scholarship center. Monks translated Arabic, Persian, and Greek texts into Latin. King Alfonso also translated books into Spanish. Arabic knowledge inspired a European intellectual golden age.
Arabic Cultural Legacy (03:48)
Mongolian armies destroyed Baghdad and its House of Wisdom in 1258. Christians reclaimed Granada from Arab rule, reconquering Spain. Today, many conservatives reject science as against their religion—regardless of historic Islamic contributions to global knowledge and scholarship.
Credits: The Arabs (00:29)
Credits: The Arabs
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