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M.Besant E.Walter
Jerusalem, the city of Herod and Saladin

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M.Besant E.Walter
Jerusalem, the city of Herod and Saladin
page 97



On the death of Harun, his three sons contended fiercely for the throne ; the Mussulman empire was again involved in civil dissensions, and Palestine, as usual, suffered most severely in the wars. The churches and monasteries in and around Jerusalem were again laid waste, and the great mass of the Christian population was obliged to seek safety in flight. El Mamun having at last triumphed over his brothers, and established himself firmly in the caliphate, applied his mind with great ardour to the cultivation of literature, art, and science. It was at his expense, and by his orders, that the works of the Greek philosophers were translated into the Arabic language by Abd el Messiah el Kendi, who, although a Christian by birth and profession, enjoyed a great reputation at the Court of Baghdad, where he was honoured with the title of Feilsuf el Islam—" The Philosopher of Mohammedanism." Since their establishment on the banks of the Tigris, the Abbasside caliphs had departed widely from the ancient traditions of their race ; and the warlike ardour and stern simplicity, which had won so vast an empire for 'Omar and his contemporaries, presently gave way to effeminate luxury and useless extravagance. But although this change was gradually undermining their power, and tending to the physical degeneracy of the race, it was not unproductive of good ; and the immense riches and careless liberality of the caliphs attracted to the Court of Baghdad the learned men of the Eastern world. The Arabs were not an inventive, but they were eminently an acquisitive people, and, "Giwcia capta ferum victorem cepit," the nations conquered by their arms were made to yield up intellectual as well as material spoils. They had neither art, literature, nor science of themselves, and yet we are indebted to them for all three; for what others


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