Bayt al-Hikmah

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House of wisdom. Until recently, considered a celebrated institution of learning founded in Baghdad by the Abbasid ruler Harun al-Rashid (r. 786–809) and given a powerful impetus under his son al-Mamun (r. 813–33), housing the monumental activity of the translation of Greek works into Arabic. But this long-held view has now been called into question. The Bayt al-Hikmah apparently was a bureau of sorts established under al-Mansur (r. 754–75), modeled after the royal libraries of the Sasanian rulers of Persia, the primary function of which was to translate works of Sasanian history and culture from Persian into Arabic and to hold them.

Subjects: Islam.

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