21 “If by the word algebra we mean that branch of mathematics by which we learn how to solve the equation x2+5x=14, written in this way, the science begins in the 17th century. If we allow the equation to be written with other and less convenient symbols, it may be considered as beginning at least as early as the 3rd century. If we permit it to be stated in words and solved, for simple cases of positive roots, by the aid of geometric figures, the science was known to Euclid and others of the Alexandrian school as early as 300 B.C. If we permit of more or less scientific guessing in achieving a solution, algebra may be said to have been known nearly 2000 years B.C., and it had probably attracted the attention of the intellectual class much earlier … The name ‘algebra’ is quite fortuitous. When Mohammed ibn Mûsâ al-Khowârizmî … wrote in Baghdad (c. 825) he gave to one of his works the name Al-jebr w’al-muqâbalah. The title is sometimes translated as ‘restoration and equation,’ but the meaning was not clear even to the later Arab writers.” Encyclopedia Britannica, 1952, s.v. Algebra. ↩
Cf. Qur’án 27:12, referring to Moses: “Put now thy hand into thy bosom: it shall come forth white … one of nine signs to Pharaoh and his people…” Also Qur’án 7:105; 20:23; 26:32; and 28:32. Also Exodus 4:6. See too Edward Fitzgerald’s The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam: “Now the New Year reviving old Desires, / The thoughtful Soul to Solitude retires, / Where the White Hand of Moses on the Bough / Puts out, and Jesus from the Ground suspires.” The metaphors here refer to white blossoms and the perfumes of spring.
52 See Rúmí, The Mathnaví, II, 185 and 189. Also the Ḥadíth: “God created the creatures in darkness, then He sprinkled some of His Light upon them. Those whom some of that Light reached took the right way, while those whom it missed wandered from the straight road.” Cf. R. A. Nicholson’s “The Mathnawí of Jalálu’ddín Rúmí” in the E. J. W. Gibb Memorial Series. ↩
57 Cf. ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá, Some Answered Questions, ch. LXXXIV, and Promulgation of Universal Peace, paragraph beginning “Therefore, the Lord of mankind has caused His holy, divine Manifestations…”. See also Galen on Jews and Christians by Richard Walzer, Oxford University Press, 1949, p. 15. The author states that Galen’s summary here referred to is lost, being preserved only in Arabic quotations. ↩
60 The Persian text transliterates this author’s name as “Draybár” and titles his work The Progress of Peoples. The reference is apparently to John William Draper, 1811–1882, celebrated chemist and widely-translated historian. Detailed material on Muslim contributions to the West, and on Gerbert (Pope Sylvester II) appears in the second volume of the work cited. Of some of Europe’s systematically unacknowledged obligations to Islám the author writes: “Injustice founded on religious rancour and national conceit cannot be perpetuated for ever.” (Vol. II, p. 42, Rev. ed.) The Dictionary of American Biography states that Draper’s father was a Roman Catholic who assumed the name John Christopher Draper when disowned by his family for becoming a Methodist, and that his real name is unknown. The translator is indebted to Mr. Paul North Rice, Chief of the New York Public Library’s Reference Department, for the information that available data on Draper’s family history and nationality are in conflict; The Drapers in America by Thomas Waln-Morgan (1892) states that Draper’s father was born in London, while Albert E. Henschel in “Centenary of John William Draper” (New York University “Colonnade,” June, 1911) has the following: “If there be among us any who trace their lineage to the sunny fields of Italy, they may feel a just pride in John William Draper, for his father, John C. Draper, was an Italian by birth…” The translator’s thanks are also due to Madame Laura Dreyfus-Barney for investigations in connection with this passage at the Library of Congress and the Bibliothéque Nationale. ↩