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A death of Ulugbek

A death of Ulugbek

About five centuries ago, the grandson of the famous Amir Temir, a scientist and patron of science and art, Ulugbek, was killed on October 27, in 1449. His son, Abdel Latip, was beheaded on his way to Mecca from Samarkand, where he was accused of “Defected from the religion” by the clerics gathered around the emirate. 

After Ulugbek's death, he destroyed the observatory that he had built and looted his books and scientific works. Al-Kushshi, a scientist who kept the observatory, took Ulugbek's main works to Mecca and kept them under the pretext of pilgrimage. This is how one of the last stars of the Islamic renaissance died there.

A golden age of Islamic civilization has brought many scientists to history. The poets have increased along with natural scientists, philosophers, mathematicians and astronomers. The greatest figures of human culture were born at that time. Most of them came from the Persian and Turkish peoples. In this case, this history is very important for our nation. The scientists who left a great mark on the natural sciences and philosophy began to appear in the IX-X centuries, and the end was the period of Ulugbek. A great intellectual movement, that flourished for 5-6 centuries, has been stopped suddenly. Although we are usually proud of this period, it is difficult to understand the real circumstances that led to the prosperity. Because it is known today that the nature of religion does not exceed the limits of thought, so the development of free thought and science in the system ruled by religion seems to be a contradiction. And we don't say much about how this civilization suffocated and lost in the face of history. It is clear that a clear understanding of this period is possible only with a thorough knowledge of the socio-political situation of that period. In order to determine this, let us take a step back and think for the decades.

It is known that this period, when the great scientists and philosophers were born, had been marked in history as the “Muslim Renaissance”. In philosophy, Al-Kindi, Al-Razi, Al-Farabi, and Ibn Sina have been remained as the brightest philosophers. The first thing that stimulates a free thinking is the increase in the flow of information. As Islam flourished and the need for the caliphate expanded, Muslims began to associate with different civilizations. It was during this period that the unorganized aspects of the religion, that were originally established only as the faith, began to appear. The questions such as the nature of God, human nature, and the creation of the world were still unanswered for Muslims. What are the ways to get to know the world? Can we recognize the world only by religious texts? This kind of questions arose during this time. The thoughts were divided, one bunch of people said through a religious text, another group of people turned into a reason. During this period, the translation of various works by ancient Greek philosophers into Arabic, Hindi and other languages ​​opened up a vast educational space for Muslims. An information from different cultures and different ideas encouraged the free-thinking scientists to think in new ways in order to explore the new things.

A search for the perfection of religious abortions led to the deep philosophical thoughts. Several streams of faith and schools have emerged in this direction. This movement began when the Umayyads came to power after the first four caliphs. Mutazila sect was among these sects. He knew that the world and God must be known wisely. He promoted a rational thinking. Al-Kindi and Al-Farabi, who have made a name for themselves in history, also supported the similar views. To the certain extent, these currents were used by political forces. A Renaissance began in Europe in the 15th-16th centuries, and in the Muslim sultans in the 8th-9th centuries during the Umayyad period. It lasted until the 1200-1300 years. It did not stop there, then another era of renaissance had begun with the Fatih during the Osman Empire, and during the Iron Age there was a slight awakening. After the period of darkness before the arrival of the Prophet to the Arabs, an inertia of the desire for the knowledge and culture, that began with the arrival of the Prophet Muhammad, has grown stronger during this renaissance. There was a passion for knowledge, an inner dynamism that awakens an inner consciousness and leads to certain changes. An influence of Islam was multifaceted and brought many changes in science, politics and social life. The main requirement of religion is the principle of justice. It means that Muslims have tried to adhere to this principle in all areas like science, religion or politics.

In 749, the Abbasid dynasty came to the power. At first, this dynasty preferred the Mutazila faith and supported free thought and open-mindedness. During this period, he opened the Bait al-Hakma Academy of Sciences in Baghdad. The first philosopher, Yaqub Ibn Isaac al-Kindi, the founder of Arab-Muslim philosophy, was the leader here. Baghdad was like a center of science and education at that time. Scientists and doctors from all over the world worked here. They taught, studied and have been involved in science.

In general, Islamic scholars compare Western influences with the influence of the Christian church and the pope. The institutions like the church and pope did not exist in the early years of Islam, that was not typical for Islam. This is because Islam does not impose on anyone such a powerful authority as the possession of a spiritual hierarchy, the rule of the particular organization over all Muslims, and the spreading of God's judgment on the earth. Sheikh had been emerged after the imposition of competence on certain bodies in the internal affairs of the state, such as Islam and the judiciary. These are duplicate titles introduced in the Prototype of the Pope during the cultural exchange with the Christians. There was progress in religion in the first centuries to the 12th century. The reason is that a political pluralism, religious pluralism was clear, there was a lot of freedom. It was able to respect someone's point of view, and the philosophical trends were well-developed as well. There was a conflict between the currents of trust, but there was no mass persecution, and the dialogue was prevailed often. He was able to show the respect for each point of view in the scientific field. The religious texts were interpreted by various scholars until the XVIII century, and the period of interpretation of new interpretations among the disciples of these scholars had begun in the following period. Starting from this period, the religion began to decline. From the time when Imam Al-Ghazali rejected the philosophers, he considered philosophy to be dead in Islam.

From the historical point of view, the influence of such factors as care for the science, freedom of thought was high in each sultanate. Nowadays, Muslims issue the fatwas based solely on religious texts. During the Muslim Renaissance, it was not based solely on the religious texts. The first Muslim scholars translated various materials from Indian, Iranian-Persian and Greek languages. They also brought samples of ancient Hellenic culture. They re-published the works of Greek philosophers such as Aristotle and Plato. A medical class that served at the Umayyad Palace was highly educated too. They translated the ancient philosophical books from various languages. Whether the Umayyads, the later Abbasids, or the later Turkic-Islamic sultans of Central Asia, the Seljuks and the Karakhanids, doctors were largely non-Muslim. The Christians have detained the Indian doctors. No religion or nationality was discriminated against. Today, it is a common thing to interpret this history as the religious history. In general, it doesn`t matter how the humankind lives with the religious beliefs, because he tries to use the fruits of human civilization. However, the country belonged to Muslims, the various scholars came from all over the world. Because, there are ancient trade routes, politically important channels, none of which has been banned at that time. Although Islam has set the conditions for the Hereafter, it has not restricted worldly thoughts and actions.

It is well known that for a long time, the philosophy has been one of the most complex streams of thought that few people can involve in. In the Middle Ages, despite the development of philosophy in harmony with religion, it did not become a nation. Ar-Razi, one of the most famous philosophers of that time, was able to express his opinion that religious texts do not reflect God or His existence. He said that matter could not come from God alone. He was able to express his rational opinion so eloquently, and for the rest of his life he practiced the medicine, supported the weak and died without persecution. Ar-Razi said that a person should know the world only through his mind, and those who oppose him say: “The general public cannot be the same philosopher, how can ordinary people get to the truth?”, he argued. From this we can see that the persecution of free thought was not only a matter of common sense at that time, but also a matter of consciousness. A proliferation of such various philosophical currents has paved the way for science.

Abu Nasir Al-Farabi, who became a great teacher and philosopher for the Turkish people, can be called the real founder of Arab-Muslim philosophy. On the one hand, his works were a great textbook for those who did not understand philosophy that much. According to some modern sources, Al-Farabi was not an atheist, he was the best person to combine religion and philosophy. Here we see that Al-Farabi was also close to the Mu'tazilites. In his treatise “Residents of the Good City”, he showed that socio-political issues play a key role in the spiritual world of Islam. In The State, Plato states: “A perfect society must be ruled by the philosopher, who, based on the rational principles, could not only govern the state, but also convey these principles to the common people”. According to Al-Farabi, the Prophet Muhammad, like Plato, was a perfect leader who was able to convey an eternal truth to the common people.

In addition, the Shiite Ismaili movement provided an ample opportunity for free thought. No political movements or parties were formed on the basis of these currents. On the contrary, the courtiers, authorities and the opposition tried to take advantage of the authoritative philosophers of these movements. For example, the first founder of the Abbasids used Abu Muslim from Khorasan to come to the power. An Arab nationalism also contributed to the rational opposition of the peoples of Central Asia to the Umayyads. There are some things that Muslim historians do not say openly. For example, the Arabs in Bukhara, Samarkand, Balykh, and Merv continued to collect the “Jiza” tax even after the Turks converted to Islam. Jiza was a tax levied on non-Muslims. An amount of this tax was not that great. The Western orientalists often exaggerate by saying that the caliphate collected more taxes from non-Muslims. This tax was less than the tax levied on Muslims. However, the fact that this tax was levied on Muslims showed a certain degree of segregation. This thing provoked the protests from the people of the region. The end was followed by an uprising. Among them were the movements of Abu Muslim Khorasani and Muqanma – not only political, but also religious. Their ideological basis was the Batni and Kamati sects. The Abbasids used them in order to overthrow the Umayyads. Later, when Abbas bin Sabbah came to the power, he killed Abu Muslim. Both the Mu'tazilites and Ismailis lived as the religious sects. Most Hanafi scholars followed the path of the Mu'tazilites. After the faith, Imam Matridui put it in one channel. Then, the Hanafi scholars distanced themselves from the Mu'tazilites. Although, the Mu'tazilites weakened in the 10th century, they re-emerged in the 12th and 13th centuries. For example, the great scholars Zamakhshari and Razi, who commented on the Koran in Khorezm, followed this direction. Among the Ismailis was a small group called Ihuan Safa. They created the world's first 50-volume encyclopedia. Only a few volumes of this work have survived to the present day, and this trend has been studied more by the Western orientalists. The most common ideas of the Rousseau and Voltaire era have been discussed in these books as early as the XI-XII centuries, during the renaissance in Europe in the XV-XVI centuries.

So how did the stagnation begin? As it was mentioned above, philosophy has not been able to become a single nation. From the point of view of the social psychology, it is clear that it is better to follow the truth than to tell the crowd the truth with your own knowledge. And the power is on the side from many things. A power creates a political influence. The power belongs to those who have this influence. The kings and rulers, in turn, sought to secure their thrones. The Orthodox religions met their needs. It has become easier to maintain power by inculcating in the minds of people the notion that “The king is the shadow of God on the earth, and he must be obeyed”, or that “A destiny is written by God, not by the human`s desire”. In its turn, it inhibited a free thought and opinion. The theologians believe that in Islam God does not limit the human`s thinking. However, there is a similar understanding from the philosophers. Some of the ideas of Islamic philosophers have been restricted by the imams, but no attempt has been made to overcome them. For example, “Did matter come first, or did spirit come first?” A topical question of ancient Greek philosophy was answered by Al-Farabi and Ibn Sina, but later it was refuted by Ghazali. After that, this issue was not addressed at all. This story stands out in the history of Islam. However, there is no fatwa that it was completely banned, and later in the XV-XVI centuries there was a movement of Hurufis in the Osman Empire, in the territories of Azerbaijan. It was a free-flowing stream, such as looking at the mysteries of God through various numbers, discussing the issues of destiny. These trends have emerged in every century. In some cases, the authorities, with the consent of the judges, brutally suppressed such movements and punished their representatives. And in some regions, they were involved in their science without any restrictions or persecution at different times. The question of the limits of knowledge was also raised in the matter of knowing God. Some scholars have argued that human knowledge cannot know God, and that human consciousness cannot go beyond these limits. But this is only a conclusion. After the XII-XIII centuries, Muslims moved away from philosophy, and the philosophy almost died in the XVI-XVII centuries. A religion was limited to the ideas of the leading scholars of the X-XI centuries.

In general, a decline of science and technology is due to the various reasons. There is more than one reason. But the most important thing is freedom. Where there is freedom, both the science and education develops as well. There is political pluralism. The freedom of thought, property, religion – all this is guaranteed by Islam. The rulers of the day also tried to guarantee this. In these centuries, both the owner of the profession and the owner of science and education were able to move forward and live in peace. That is why, various branches of science have developed there. In the XV-XVI centuries, there was a persecution of scientists, but it did not become widespread. So, it has not become widespread since then. But in general, some religious and political movements have tried to restrict the freedom of thought of the scientists. He tried to neutralize those who opposed injustice. One of them, Ulugbek, was killed by his son, especially by religious propaganda. According to some sources, Ulugbek's disciple Al-Kushshi started with 200 people, and now with 300 people, crossed from Iran to Tabriz and fled to Istanbul. At the same time, the Fatih Muhammad captured Istanbul. He built an observatory there. This observatory has been working with that inertia for about 200 years. After all, the technologically advanced development of Europe has led to the backwardness of the Muslim world. The European Christians looked at the past in detail and tried to return to the true nature of religion. Due to the birth of Zaire, the separation of religion from politics, science and society, Europe began to move forward.

Samarkand city, where Ulugbek lived and ruled, was one of the last centers of science in Central Asia and the whole Muslim world. Amir Temir gathered the spoils of his long expeditions and scientists from the conquered countries only in Samarkand. There were many different architectural monuments, madrassas, mosques. The well-educated scientists, mystical poets lived in this city. Growing up in such an environment, Ulugbek grew up with a passion for the education and science. Instead of going to the trips like his grandfather, he preferred to study science and explore the mysteries of the world. One of his greatest achievements was the construction of the highest level observatory for that period. The role of this observatory was high until the 17th century, when Galileo invented the telescope.

From this point of view, we understand that society develops only when the terms of freedom, such as the freedom of thought, ownership, opinion, are provided fully and simultaneously. Today, we call it democracy. There is definitely a concept that has been developed since the Middle Ages.

Author: Ayan Aden