Islam as a cultural, intellectual, and religious venture appears in the popular imagination as a monolithic entity. Orientalists of the traditional ilk have tended to describe it in essentialist terms, whilst many fundamentalist Muslims themselves promote their construction of a pure and unadulterated Islamic past, to which they strive to return by purging foreign or unauthentic elements from their religion. Next to these attempts, another more traditional view sees the influence between the Western and the Islamic world in linear and teleological terms. Knowledge was transmitted, so to speak, from Alexandria to Baghdad, and hence to Toledo and Paris. The present volume challenges both these concepts regarding the development of Islamic cultures. To do justice to the complexity of structures within which the Muslim Middle Ages unfolded, it approaches the questions of interaction and influence through a novel conceptual framework, that of crosspollination. Instead of telling the story of the transmission of Western works from Greece via Islam into the Latin world, a number of case studies highlight the plurality of encounters between Islam and other adjacent cultures.
James Montgomery is Reader in Classical Arabic at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Trinity Hall. He has published widely on Classical Arabic Islamic intellectual systems and early Arabic poetry. Anna Akasoy is a Research assistant at the Warburg Institute. She has published works on intellectual history in the medieval Islamic world, among them The Arabic Version of the Nicomachean Ethics. Peter E Pormann received a DPhil from the University of Oxford in 2002. For his thesis, he was awarded The Hellenic Foundation's 2003 Award for the best doctoral thesis in the United Kingdom, in the Byzantine/Medieval History category. He has written extensively on the Late Antique Greek Medical Tradition and its influence on the formation of Islamic medical theory and practice.
Preface (James Montgomery); Abbreviations; The Lamp and the Wine Flask: Early Muslim Interest in Christian Monasticism (Elizabeth Key Fowden); Greek Myth and Arabic Poetry at Qusayr 'Amra (Garth Fowden); The Influence of the Arabic Tradition of Falconry and Hunting on Western Europe (Anna Akasoy); The Pre-Socratics in Arabic Philosophical Pseudo-Epigrapha (Ulrich Rudolph); Islamic Medicine Crosspollinated: a Multilingual and Multiconfessional Maze (Peter Pormann); Byzantine, Western European, Islamic and Central Asian Influence in the Field of Arms and Armour from the Seventh to Fourteenth Century AD (David Nicolle); Memories of Egypt in Medieval Venice (Deborah Howard); Latin Averroism (John Marenbon); Islamic Crosspollinations (James Montgomery); Contributors.