The library of the Umayyad caliphate alone housed 400,000 books produced by hundreds of translators, copiers, and bookbinders.
The movement of people and materials is a characteristic feature of the Islamic world, but as a result of this migration Islam also came to own a common culture. The urge to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land played no small part in this process_whether they were rich or poor, scholars or illiterate, everyone went on pilgrimages. Islamic culture came to be characterized by advanced learning, sophisticated processing techniques, fashion, architecture, music, dance, cookery, etiquette and games. Thus Islam not only underwent a complete transformation but also became an advanced civilization admired by the whole Christian world.
Culture spread in various directions, but the main trend was from east to west. The court culture of the Abbasid caliphate in particular imitated Indian and Persian fashions and styles, and these oriental tastes found their way to Spain via Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco. Similarly, the new crops and farming methods underlying the Arab agriculture revolution entered Europe as part of this process of cultural diffusion. In Europe this was the age of the Crusades, which were to some extent modeled on the pilgrimages to the Holy Land in Islam. The 12th century was also the great age of translation in Europe, described by the historian Ito Shuntaro as the _12th century Renaissance._ This marked the beginning of the extensive imitation of Islam by the Europeans, who had very good reasons for their enthusiastic translation and transplantation of Islamic culture. Possessing knowledge of Western Europe and East Asia on either side of its extensive territory, Islam was worthy of admiration as the only civilization that embraced the world_s three great civilized regions.
Products of the Arab agriculture revolution were among those that circulated from Europe to the New World. The word _cotton,_ for example, originates from the Arabic word _quth._ In the Islamic world, the poor dressed in woolen cloth and the rich in cotton, which found its way to Southern Europe as the Islamic empire extended westwards. The sugar cane, rice and coffee transported across the Atlantic to the New World were carried on the wave of the westward diffusion of the Arab agriculture revolution, and cultivation of these products on plantations was to become the economic basis of modern European society. The Arab agriculture revolution was the prototype for the development of modern civilization in the West.
(2) Dynamic Interaction between the Islamic and Christian Civilizations
Europe Regenerated by Islam
It is generally held that the Renaissance was the dawn of the modern Europe, but in The Twelfth Century Renaissance Ito Shuntaro points out that the theory of nature of the quintessential Renaissance man Leonardo da Vinci (1452_1519) was copied from 14th century theories. Furthermore, the foundations of the 14th century intellectual revolution had already been laid two centuries earlier in the 12th century when Europe entered the great age of translation of the Islamic writings. The verse forms and musical instruments used by the troubadours of medieval Europe also had Arab origins. Europe was thus regenerated through the transmission of Islamic culture that may be described as the _12th century Renaissance._
The word _renaissance_ came into wide use after the publication of Jacob Burckhardt_s The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy (1860). In European history, there are least three historical phenomena that are recognized as renaissances: the Carolingian Renaissance of the 8th and 9th centuries, the 12th century Renaissance, and the Italian Renaissance of the 14th and 15th centuries. External influence played a crucial role in all three of them. the Carolingian Renaissance resulted from the transmission of Roman culture to Western Europe via Britain; the dissemination of Greek classical learning by Byzantine scholars who escaped from Constantinople after its fall in 1453 had a significant influence on the Italian Renaissance; and Islamic culture conveyed via Spain, Northern Italy and Sicily was the driving force behind the 12th century Renaissance.