Nicholas Al-Jeloo, Ph.D. in Syriac Studies
From 762 until the Mongol conquest in 1258, Baghdad was the center of the Islamic, Christian and Jewish worlds, home to the Abbasid Caliphate, a major Christian patriarchate and the Jewish exilarchate. It is often forgotten that though Arab Muslims ruled, they were not originally in the majority. At Baghdad's House of Wisdom, Arabic translations of Greek, Mesopotamian, Persian and Indian medicine and philosophy were rare indeed. Most were translated directly into Syriac (a dialect of Aramaic), the language of ethnic Assyrians, whose religious leaders, scientists, physicians and philosophers made invaluable contributions which influenced Baghdad's intellectual institutions and shaped Islamic civilization itself.