Islamic and Christian Civilizations


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Islamic and Christian civilizations developed in parallel with their distinguishing features and peculiarities resulting from differences in cultures, religion, disposition of territory, definite historical prerequisites.

Three civilizations that were based on religion emerged after the fall of Rome: Byzantium, Islamic and West European. First of all it is need to be stressed that Islam as a religion had a great impact on the development of the whole eastern civilization as from its very beginning it was destined to become a world religion and to create a civilization which stretched from one end of the globe to the other. Islam was presented as a monotheistic religion and as the fulfillment of Judaism and Christianity. The teachings of Muhammad on the Five Pillars of the faith and on a variety of practical questions became the fundamental rules of life for Islamic people. They are compiled in the Qur’an and Hadith.

On the contrary to the European autocracy the Islamic state was theocratic. The rulers governed according to religious law. Despite the status of Arab women was perfected with Islam, ambiguities in the Qur’an and Hadith led to the establishment of an Arab-style patriarchy in which women were entirely subordinate to men. Islamic religion agreed to special status to Christians and Jews. Despite they were exposed to restrictions and penalties because non-Muslims, these “Peoples of the Book" generally lived free of persecution.

On the contrary to common opinion Islam is quite tolerant religion, as they preserved the Hellenic tradition and helped pass it on to the West. Muslim culture and science built upon the work of the Greeks, spreading out its understanding and often correcting their mistakes. Even Islamic theoretical philosophy is based on Platonic and Aristotelian ideas. There are such famous thinkers as Al-Farabi and Avicenna who inherited Neoplatonic and Aristotelian concepts to prove the existence of God, while Averroës employed Aristotle to argue that philosophy and study of the Qur’an were matched. Were there also historiographers for instance Ibn Khaldun with his Universal History, which includes, along with a comprehensive account of civilization, an analytical autobiography.

After the barbarian’s invadering and demolishion of the western empire – Rome, the East survived as Byzantium with Constantinople as its capital. Byzantium developed a vivid economy, exquisite and bohemian life and strong and effective government that supported the Eastern Church while at the same time urban life, and learning declined in the West. Basic social and legal institutions of the newly founded Islamic world were established in the East. As to development of low Byzantium kept important elements of the Greco-Roman tradition. Under Justinian’s direction, epochal work was done, Byzantine scholars collected and codified Roman law in the four-part Corpus Juris Civilis, studied even nowadays in universities all over the world. The influence of Greek historians was extremely potent on Byzantines including Procopius, Michael Psellus, and Anna Comnena who offered rational, coherent, if not always objective, accounts of historical events. In religious sphere Byzantin thinkers studied Greek philosophy but subordinated philosophical activity to the enterprise of theology. Heiress of the great Roman Empire Byzantium enriched the world culture with musical, artistic, and architectural tradition, thus Byzantine musicians created a tonal system that influenced the course of Western music. Similar to Islamic civilization Byzantine took its fundamental features from two ancient cultures Greco-Roman and Hebrew theory and practice.

Both Islamic and Byzantine art concerned itself with glorifying and serving religious purposes. It is need to be concluded that Byzantine and Islamic civilizations gave crucial heritages to the West. Thus, Byzantine Orthodox tradition formed the religions of much of Slavic Europe, and both civilizations helped to retain and deliver important elements of the Hellenic tradition: Byzantium, the Roman legal tradition and transformed Hellenic architectural styles; Islam, the scientific and philosophical tradition of Greece.

In Europe the primacy of the Latin tradition was continued, essentially through the study of the works of the great bishop of Hippo, Augustine as there were profound effect of the church on the contrary to Byzantium and Muslim countries were it is more appropriate to speak of religious impact not of that of the church. Augustine was nonordinary figure in the European history as his vision inspired the establishment and further cultural development of the Carolingian empire: Augustinianism therefore lies at the very heart of European civilization.

At the time when the east civilizations aspired to the unity and some kind of religious globalization the western one otherwise suffered from sepatist tendencies. So the Carolingian empire never constituted much more than an ideal. First empire turned out divided among successive generations of pretenders to the imperial title. But at least the Europe found itself under the power of one Emperor who soon began to claim universal rule of the entire earth as the Vicar of Christ. Thus began the durable tradition of Empire in Europe with such a vast separation between claims and practice, between de jure and de facto situation. Reign at this time had a sacral and even Christological character that was natural and typical for the period considering. Europe hadn’t completely left behind the old Roman tradition as the Emperor, styled himself as the new

Caesar and Emperor of Rome, supported sacral typology more so than any other. Emperor was someone like a representative of the God on earth and exercised priestly powers and constituted in himself the bond between heaven and earth. Nearly that time the concept of sovereignty began to conceive in Europe. Because Emperor was the sovereign, the lawmaker and judge of all creatures. Also he himself was a king and a priest.

So the historical period of 800 AD was quite significant for East and West Europe. The part of the world examined in this work separated and each of them began to develop in its own way, using the invaluable experience taken from their “mother" Roman Empire.

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islamic and christian civilizations

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