Written to John McHugo and raised below questions about his article on BBC website titled as:
"Coffee and qahwa: How a drink for Arab mystics went global"
Link to Article : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22190802Link to Contact form : http://www.johnmchugo.com/contact/?contact-form-id=51&contact-form-sent=205&_wpnonce=a860bc5de6#contact-form-51
As per below:
I came across your very well written article here about coffee:
Very good work indeed! However I mentioned a few points that in my knowledge had entered your article in error. Obviously I am not a historian but I guess it worth for these to be double checked and if you can clarify:
1) The Article mentions alcohol was first distilled in the Arab world in c800AD by Jabir Ibn Hayyan from Kufa in Iraq, and the word "alcohol" derives from the Arabic "al kuhul"...
To my understanding Alchohol was first distilled by al-Razi from the city of Ray. And shall this be the case al-Razi was incidentally a Persian.
You are correct with the name of Alcohol. As Arabic was Lingua franca of Islamic world, so al-Razi used it within that capacity.
2) Also there is no prove Al-Kharazmi and Jabir Ibn Hayyan were from Arabic background. Equally there is no prove they were from Persian background neither. The reason we don’t know is it didn’t matter at their time so no one mentioned it! And it doesn’t really matter now.
But for correctness sake they were most likely to have been Persians. Because Hayyan was born in Tus in Khorasan (moved to Kufa in Iraq later on in his life) and Al-Kharazmi as name indicates was from Kharazm. So chances are bigger for them to have been Persians.
3) I am not sure who invented the 3 course meal concept. Not really that important but perhaps it worth checking if this was also done the same way in Sassanid or Byzantium courts prior to Muslim Empire emergence before we conclude this as an Arabic tradition.
I have a feeling this tradition could be adopted custom from Persian Sassanid or less likely the Byzantine court.
4) The word Cheque is said to be from Persian origin. From Middle Persian word ‘chek’ used for the same purpose. This word is said to have become popular during Aachamenid Empire (like 1000 years before Islam) and was borrowed by several languages including Arabic and European languages equally.
It had become “Cheque” in European Languages and “saqq” in Arabic.
Thanks for your attention and clarification.
John McHugo's Reply:
Thank you for your interesting and informative email and for the nice things you say about my article on coffee.
You may be interested that in my book I refer to the sciences of the Middle East in the period from approx 750AD onwards as "Arabic", rather than "Arab". This is to acknowledge that many people wrote scientific treatises in Arabic but were not necessarily "Arabs" in an ethnic sense. As you know, it is sometimes hard to tell whether someone at that time was using Arabic as his native language. The great Razi to whom you refer wrote his treatises in Arabic, I believe.
With regard to the word "cheque", I think you will find that the word came into European languages from the Arabic "saqq". The forms of "s" (the Arabic letter known as sad and "q" (the Arabic letter qaf) are sounds that do not occur in Indo-European languages, which suggests to me that it is probably a native Arabic word. It also fits naturally into the three radical letter pattern of Arabic philology.