As far as scientific and intellectual advances, Cordoba was really the place for it at the time. Muslim advances in science were huge. They advanced classic philosophy which had been lost to the West. I know Maimonides, a Jewish thinker, came from Cordoba.
While the Arab translations of ancient Greek classics led to their dissemination in the Western world in the twelfth century, a profound development for Western intellectual history, any contributions of Muslim scientists “typically occurred in spite of Islam rather than because of it. Orthodox Islamic scholars absolutely rejected any conception of the universe that involved consistent physical laws, because the absolute autonomy of Allah could not be restricted by natural laws. Apparent natural laws were nothing more than mere habits, so to speak, of Allah, and might be discontinued at any time.” (How The Catholic Church Built Western Civilization, Dr Thomas E Woods, Regnery, 2005, p 79).
“The celebrated Muslim philosopher Averroes and his students in the twelfth century, despite their efforts to exclude all Muslim doctrines from their work….became intransigent and doctrinaire Aristotelians – proclaiming that his physics was complete and infallible and that if an observation was inconsistent with one of Aristotle’s views, the observation was certainly incorrect or an illusion.” *The Victory of Reason, *Rodney Stark, Random House, 2005, p 21].
“By the time of the Jewish Moses ben Maimon, better known as Maimonides (1135-1204) the heyday of the Islamic empire had passed: its science had come to a standstill, and even its days were numbered as its western and eastern flanks were soon to be lost.
“The most, Maimonides noted, that the theologians2 were willing to admit about lawfulness in the universe was that it resembled human habits, such as the customary riding of the king of a city through its streets. Still, a king could readily break his habits, and so could any or all parts of the universe shift to a different “habit”. Maimonides pointedly remarked: “the thing which exists … only follows the direction of habit …On this foundation their whole fabric is constructed.”
2 Thus, the influential mystic al-Ghazzali (1058-1111), known as Hujjatu-l-Islam (“Islam’s convincing proof”) wrote a book attacking the scientists which became a milestone of Muslim thought not only by its contents but also by its evocative title: *Tahafut-al-falisifah *(“Incoherence of the Philosophers”, translated into English by Sabih Ahmad Kamali, Lahore: The Pakistan Philosophical Congress, 1958). He asserted that human reason had to stop at the observation of simultaneity, and forgo the obvious inference to causality: “… all these things are observed to exist with some other conditions. But we cannot say they exist by them … On the contrary, they derive their existence from God … So it is clear that existence with a thing does not prove being by it.” (p 49)
For Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), the ultimate *raison d’être *of the cosmos consisted in its subordination to man’s unique and supernatural destiny. Motivated by the sad predicament of Muslim theologians and philosophers, and by their highly unsettling impact on a Christian Europe going through its birthpangs, he made a gigantic effort to bring reason and faith into a stable synthesis.5 His polemical *Summa contra gentiles *(1257), aimed at countering the occasionalism and fatalism contending with one another within Muslim theology and philosophy and centred on questions about the Creator and the nature of human intellect.