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Ali-Graphy, the Camel

1. Because God spoke to Muhammed in Arabic, Muslims venerated the Arabic language. Thus, to Muslims, Arabic calligraphy itself became an art form. It was the chief form of embellishment on all the mosques of the Arab world, and the religious and public buildings of Palermo, Cordoba, Lisbon and Malaga are resplendent with it.

2. The Arabic language is rich and pliant, and poetry, literature, and drama have left their mark on both East and West. Among the earliest publications of the Arabs were  the   translations   into  Arabic   of   the   Greek  and Roman classics – the works of Aristotle, Plato, Hippocrates, Ptolemy, Dioscorides and Galen.

3.  A Thousand and One Nights and Omar Khayyam’s Rubaiyat are among the best loved and most widely read of Arab literature. The fascination with Arabic, following the Hellenistic period of Louis XIV, is particularly evident in Shakespeare’s characterizations of the Moors (Othello and the Price of Morocco), in Christopher Marlowe’s Tamburlaine the Great, and in George Peel’s The Battle of Alcazar.

4.  Besides influencing belles letters, the Arabs developed a system of historiography called isnad. This procedure documents all reliable sources and it provides the modern historian with accurate and comprehensive materials. Foremost among these historiographers was Ibn Khaldun, of whose Book of Examples Arnold Toynbee writes: “Ibn Khaldun, has conceived and formulated a philosophy of history which is undoubtedly the greatest work of its kind that has ever yet been created by any mind in any time.”