Wednesday, July 22, 2015


The Disinterested Pursuit of Knowledge

C. Snouck Hurgronje (1857-1936), Mekka in the Latter Part of the 19th Century: Daily Life, Customs and Learning, tr. J.H. Monahan (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1931), p. 171:
"It is related", we read in Qutb ad-dîn's History of Mekka, "that the first madrasah in the world, that of Nizâm al-Mulk, was founded in Bagdad in the year 457 of the Hijrah (1065 A.D.) When the learned of Transoxania heard of this, they instituted a day of mourning for knowledge, and lamented over the decay of honour and science. Asked for the reason, they said: 'Knowledge is a noble and excellent queen who can only be wooed by noble excellent sons for her native nobility, and by reason of the natural affinity of these souls to her. Now however a reward has been set up and vulgar souls will seek her and use her for gain. So knowledge will be degraded by the vulgarity of these people without their being raised by her nobility....'"
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

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