Avicenna His Life And Works – Book Sample
PERSIA IN THE TENTH CENTURY – Avicenna His Life And Works
THE age of Avicenna differed from that of Kindi and Farabi. When the Umayyad Caliphate was succeeded by the ‘Abbasid, this meant a continuation of Arab rule; and when literature and learning deserted Damascus to flourish as never before in Baghdad, they were developed in the language of the conquerors and of the new Faith. But tenth-century Persia was to witness a change in the political scene and the re-emergence of prose and poetry in its own tongue.
Kindi and Farabi were the products of the golden era of Arabic; and Avicenna belonged, in time if not in sentiment, to an historical period and a national phenomenon known as the Persian Renaissance. Nevertheless, the fundamental problems of Islamic philosophy persisted-the needs and pur poses having remained the same.
Decline had set in over the ‘Abbasid Caliphate; and the weakening of central control was encouraging the rise of local dynasties in regions that had indeed never been very submissive. The Persians, who had suffered a stunning defeat at the hand of the Arab conquerors, were gradually recovering and the time seemed auspicious.
The awakening of the new spirit was not at first widespread and sustained; and the original impulse may have come from the personal ambition of local commanders who found it expedient to exploit the sense of frustration of a people who, though devoutly Muslims, had never forgotten their ancient heroic history.
The first to establish authority
The first to establish their authority, preserving only a nominal allegiance to the Caliph, were the Tahirids in Khurasan who reigned some sixty-five years, from 809 to 873 (194-259 A.H.). They were of Arab extraction, but in time had become thoroughly
Persianized. ‘It is a matter of common observation that settlers in a country, often after comparatively brief residence, outdo those native to the soil in patriotic feeling.’1 From their capital at Nishapiir, and with two other provinces annexed, their rule extended eastward as far as the frontiers of India.
During this period there was a revolt against the Caliph in Tabaristan. This region which, as the name implies, is ‘the Mountain Land’ along the south coast of the Caspian, was under Zoroastrian ispahbuds long after the conquest of Persia and the extinction of the Sasanians. The last Persian rulers there were the Qarinids who claimed descent from the national hero, the Black smith.
The first Qarinid had successfully raised a combined army of local chiefs against the army of the Caliphs, and had then been defeated and carried to Baghdad; hut on his return he had resumed his independent attitude. Now his· grandson, Mazyar, was raising the standard of revolt both against the Caliph and against his personal enemies, the Tahirids.z Attacked from two directions, and betrayed by his supporters, he was captured, carried to Baghdad, and died in Samarra in 839 (224 A.H.).
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