Abdallah al-Ma’mun was born in Baghdad in the year 786. He was the older son of Harun al-Rashid, followed by his younger brother al-Amin. Al-Ma’mun’s mother was a Persian while the mother of his younger brother belonged to the Abbasid family, which reigned at that time. The poor relationship between al-Ma’mun and his younger brother al-Amin was fueled by their father Harun al-Rashid. Instead of choosing al-Ma’mun, their father chose to name al-Ma’mun’s younger brother as his successor, once he dies, This poor relationship between the two brothers soon gave birth to a succession struggle. Al-Amin worsened the situation further, after naming his son as his heir.
In the year 811, al-Amin was obsessed with securing Khurasan from his older brother. Al-Amin had to come up with a strategy that would enable him to carry out his plan effectively. Therefore, he assembled a large army that would invade Khurasan in Baghdad. His plans to attack his brother did not go as planned, since one of al-Ma’mun’s general by the name Tahir bin Husain, destroyed al-Amin’s army when he invaded Iraq. Baghdad was later under siege in the year 812 and this incident led to the beheading of al-Amin. Once al-Amin was beheaded, al-Ma’mun was unanimously accepted as the next Caliph.
The reign of al-Ma’mun was not smooth. The security in Baghdad worsened due to the existing lawlessness in Baghdad that soon resulted to the formation of the neighborhood watches. The popularity of al-Ma’mun was profoundly affected by his move of forcing Imam Reza - Muhammad eighth descendant, to move to Maru from Madina. The Abbasid leaders did not receive this move kindly, but it was clear that al-Ma’mum was taking this political move because of his fear from the growing widespread sympathy received by Ahl al-Bayt. Al-Ma’mun had planned to watch over Imam Reza, but his plans were considerably hampered by the popularity of Ali al-Rida in Maru. His popularity was so immense that most people who lived in numerous Muslim countries came to see and to listen to Reza’s guidance and teachings. The collective support that Reza received made al-Ma’mun extremely uncomfortable. He sought to gunner support from the Abbasid while at the same time he was establishing a new base with the location in Baghdad. He went a step further and deposed Ali al-Rida through poisoning him. In the year 203 AH, Reza died and was later buried close to his father. His death led to a huge revolt in Khurasan, Persia. Although, al-Ma’mun went ahead to pose as though he had nothing to do with that murder, he was never acquitted on that crime.
Al-Ma’mun had triumphed capturing numerous Byzantine forts. However, he had spared the lives of the Byzantines who surrendered. Al-Ma’mun later prepared for a huge campaign, but died while leading the Sardis for an expedition. His relation with Byzantine Greek was extremely valuable. It marked his contribution in the translation of science and Greek philosophy. Al-Ma’mun had also gathered numerous religious scholars at Baghdad. The scholars received the best treatment characterized by tolerance. Most popular manuscripts were obtained from the Byzantine Empire and then were translated into Arabic. It is also crucial to note that al-Ma’mun was an ardent Mu’tazil, he was known for forcing people through violence to accept his views ragarding various issues. A good example of such behavior is him taking the responsibility to explain the creation of Qur’an. Those who disagreed with his views were punished.
The Islamic traditions adopted the Arab culture. This is the reason why these two cultures are related in some aspects. This culture has oral traditions that are connected with transmission through narratives and poetry. It is also crucial to note that the written record portrayed the greatest touch of civilization. As both the prophet and the Qur’an emphasized it, the Islamic civilization is based on the education value. During the pre-Islamic period, there was the Mu’allaquat among the traditions. Various poets and writers were supposed to hang their written work on a particular wall in the city of Mecca. The main reason for doing this was for others to read the virtues of other tribes. Once the work was hung on the walls, people travelled from city to city and made others know about the existence of people. The famous expression among the Arab Muslim turned into inerasable part of cultures presented in the Islamic world. This culture is practiced to date. It is common among the Muslims to refer to the Qur’an and famous tales which form their views.
Significant religion learning centers were also used as centers for scientific development and knowledge. These centers were built during the Abbasid period between 750-1258A.D. This was the season of numerous mosque schools establishment. For instance, there were approximately 300 schools in Baghdad in the tenth century. In the fourteenth century, the number of the students was 12000. In the tenth century, there was the development of Madrasahs in Baghdad. These Madrassahs were highly organized with part-time or full-time teachers. The system of education had an established curriculum. Most of these teachers were women. There was also the establishment of libraries where foreign books were kept.
The culture and history of Islam is traceable through written records: Umayyad, the initial and second Abbasid, the modern and the Persian periods, pre-Islamic period, the early Islamic and Hispano-Arabic periods. Most of these influences of the varied periods are easily perceived and have their roots from the Greek cultures, pre-Islamic Persian traditions, and Indian. It is impossible to note blending of different cultures, but it formed the structure of the Islamic values through their transmission and assimilation. The oral transmission of pre-Islamic prose and poetry used to be recorded in the years 661-750 A.D. during the Umayyad period.
During the transition of the Arabic way of life, from nomadic life to urban life, the music was significantly influenced by contacts with Persia and Greece. It gave high impulse to the existing type of music.
Islamic Astronomy and Mathematics gained popularity among the Muslims in the third period. It could be not easy to separate Astronomy from Mathematics. The extremely essential steps forward could have been made in Trigonometric field while computing the Astronomical tables. Although, the astronomers and the mathematicians are almost the same, they have been divided into five types, which include geometers, translators, algebraists, arithmeticians, and finally the trigonometricians.
In Geometry, Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf is known for his credible work of translating Euclid to Arabic. The commentaries were then written by Al-Abbas. The treatise about geometrical problem was written by Abu Sa’id al-Darir. Ahmad was a Mechanics student but he was also interested in Geometry.
In case of algebraists and arithmeticians, Sahl ibn Bishr a Jewish astrologer wrote a treatise concerning Algebra. Al-Khwarazmi was the prominent mathematician at that time. His contribution is evidently felt from the fact that he was responsible in combining the results that were prior received by the Hindus, the Greek and thus transmitting a basis of algebraic and arithmetical understanding. This exerted a deep effect upon the Mathematics done during the medieval times. His piece of work helped the Hindus to understand the numerals.
Numerous astronomical findings were made by Ahmad al-Nahawandi at Jundishapur. It should be remembered that Caliph al-Ma’mun had established the observatory in the Tadmor plain and Baghdad. The establishment of this structure greatly helped the astronomers, since they were more stimulated into nature observations. It led to the compilation of planetary motions, careful geodesic measurements, and the determination of ecliptic obliquity. Al-Khwarizmi was among the first people who worked on the computation of Trigonometrical and Astronomical tables. While working for al-Ma’mun, Habash al-Hasib was the greatest astronomer. He was very conversant with Astronomical studies. Three Astronomical tables were edited by him, whereby he was responsible for determining the time of a place using a particular altitude.
He worked on tangents and compiled a table of tangents, which could have been among the earliest tables of this kind. The chief of all al-Ma’mun’s astronomers was called Sanad ibn Ali. The completion of these astronomical tables was not one kind of job, it took numerous astronomers to compile the table. Sanad ibn Ali is also said to have been responsible in carrying out findings concerning a given gravity. On the other hand, al-Kindi participated in the writing of the treatise about physiological and geometrical optics, which criticized Alchemy.
In conclusion, al-Ma’mun made a crucial contribution as far as the history of the Muslims is concerned. The existing tension among different political parties is also seen during his reign. Inviting various scholars in his bid to translate documents into Greek and creating the observatory in Baghdad and Tadmor were his remarkable contributions into the development of science.