Bukhara, the Medieval Achievement

Bukhara, the Medieval Achievement

Bukhara, the Medieval Achievement

Bukhara, the Medieval Achievement

Excerpt

THE MAIN THESIS of the present work is that Bukhara, at the end of the ninth and in the tenth century, became the capital of the eastern Iranian cultural area, and thereby became the heir of a centuries-old tradition, independent of western Iran. At the same time Bukhara became the symbol of the new order--an Islamic Iran which had amalgamated the past with the religion and civilization brought by the prophet Muhammad. This development, called the New Persian Renaissance by some scholars, spread all over the Iranian Plateau and beyond. By some it has been decried as the reaction of Iranian "nationalism" against Arab Islam. I believe it was rather a successful attempt to save Islam, to release it from its Arab background and bedouin mores, by making of Islam a far richer, more adaptable, and universal culture than it had been previously. The Samanids showed the way to reconcile ancient traditions with Islam, a path followed by other peoples later in the far-flung corners of the Islamic world.

Bukhara did not lose its importance after the fall of the Samanids in 999; indeed it became a capital again under the Özbeks in the sixteenth century, and down to the Russian Revolution. But the great age of Bukhara was the tenth century when New Persian literature began to flower in the domain of the Samanids. After 999 Bukhara turned its face from Baghdad to Kashgar and then Qaraqorum. It became . . .

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