The rich history of the Indian and Arabic culture

Culture 22 Apr 2021 Contributor
Indian and Arabic culture
Photo : Dreamstime

Indian and Arabic culture has a long and happening history. Both Indian and Arabic culture has enriched themselves by exchanging knowledge and findings. Especially, the interaction regarding science and technologies started among India and Arabia during the Abbasid Caliphate of Baghdad. At that time, a few books on Astronomy, Mathematics, and Medicine were translated to Arabic from Sanskrit.

From then, the Arabic scholars became interested in Indian knowledge and intellectual resources. They started to learn and explore various aspects of Indian scientific discoveries.

The initiation of the bonding between Arabia and India

Sindh was ruled by Caliph Al Mansoor ( 753-774 AD) when an Indian scholar came to visit him. The name of the scholar was al-Sindhind. He brought Zij al- Sindhind to the court of the Caliph. It was a work of Zij, which is, astronomical handbook with tables used to measure celestial positions.

Actually, it was the mathematical astronomy text Brahmasidhdhanta of Bramhagupta (598-669).

The Caliph then requested famous Arabic polyglot Muhammad al-Fazari to translate this from Sanskrit to Arabic. Al-Fazari was assisted by al-Baghdadi and al-Khwarizmi. Thus, the Arabic translation named Al-Zīj ‛alā Sinī al-‛Arab enlightened the Arabic scholars. The Indian numerals got introduced from Sanskrit to Arabic tradition.

Later, Al-Fazari translated the Khandakhadyaka (Arakand) of Bramhagupta. Thus, the Indian numbers got established in the Islamic world.

Indian and Arabic culture: The interaction through the language of mathematics

According to historians, the Sin and Cos functions of trigonometry were taken from Indian astronomy namely the jya and koti-jya functions. These were first translated from Sanskrit to Arabic, then Arabic to Latin and other European languages.

Al-Khowarizmi spent his life on algebra and Indo-Arabic numerals including the use of zero as a place holder. It is said, that the Algebraic method invented by him are actually had its root in Indian sources. The place-value system involving the use of nine numerals and a zero is undoubted of Indian origin.

Abu’l-Hasan al-Uqlidisi was a scholar in the Abbassid caliphate. His famous book is al-Fusul fi al-Hisab al-Hindi (chapters in Indian calculations). In this book, he addressed the difficulty in procedures for calculation of Euclidean Geometry. He focused on the use of Indian calculation as it was more logical and easy.

The Indo-Arab connection in medicine

In the field of medicine, the first name which created an impact is Manka. He was an Indian physician at the court of Harun al-Rashid. It is said, he translated the Sushruta sanhita into Persian.

Apart from that, various Sanskrit medical and toxicological texts were translated into Arabic under the guidance of Khalid, who was a vizier of Al-Mansur. The Caraka Saṃhita was translated into Persian and Arabic by Abd-Allah ibn Ali in the ninth century.

Thus, the connection of India and Arabia goes deep into down the lanes of history. It won’t be an exaggeration if one says that both cultures were once dependent on each other and are still carrying distant memories.