(OTTOMAN EMPIRE: ECONOMIC and MILITARY DECLINE to 1700 – continued)
Printing on paper with movable type was part of a new age in Europe from the 1500s. Printing helped create a new variety among Christians in the form of Protestantism. Printed books on all sorts of subjects, technical and non-technical, was part of a growing commerce, rise in literacy and education. Egypt had block printing from the ninth century, mostly for prayers, but the productivity of advanced printing was slow in coming to Islamic societies. In Islam, memorization was bigger than it was among Christians. A good child memorized the Koran. He did not have a printed Koran at hand for reference. Printing the Koran began in Christendom, in Venice in the year 1530 – in Arabic.
For Muslims, Arabic was the language of God and the original language, given to Adam. Proper Arabic grammar was as it was in the Koran. Classical Arabic was the only literary language of the Arab world. Creativity with the language was frowned upon. Translations of the Koran were forbidden.
In the early 1700s a Transylvanian-born slave, intellectual and diplomat who had converted to Islam, Ibrahim Muteferrika (1670-1745), received permission to print non-religious books. Caligraphers protested. His presses publicized news of the inventions of the telescope and microscope to the Muslim community. But the use of advanced printing methods ended with his death in 1745. Decades would pass before books would again be printed.
In 1873 permission would be granted to print the Koran, in Arabic, of course.
Copyright © 2001-2015 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.