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Islam   brought perfume to the world


The Muslim Weekly



The history of perfume goes back to Egypt, although it was prevalent in East Asia as well. Early perfumes were based on incense, not chemicals, so aromas were passed around through fumes. The Roman and Islamic cultures further refined the harvesting and manufacturing of perfumery processes to include other aromatic ingredients.

Thus, the ancient Islamic culture marked the history of modern perfumery with the introduction of spices and herbs. Fragrances and other exotic substances, such as Jasmine and Citruses, were adapted to be harvested in climates outside of their indigenous Asia.

The extraction of fragrances was perfected through steam distillation. In turn, the Islamic cultural production of fragrances and distillation technology inspired the scientific communities of western culture during the fourteenth century, especially in France, which brought further cultivation of these raw materials and introduced chemical-based perfume.

Modern innovation in the history of perfume can be credited to the West, but the cultural conceptualization still belonged to Islam. The Prophet (pbuh) said: "The taking of a bath on Friday is compulsory for every male Muslim who has attained the age of puberty… [and then] the using of perfume if it is available." (Bukhari).

The use of spiced and fragranced perfume during the Renaissance was exclusive to the royalty and wealthy for the purpose of covering body odors related to their sanitary habits. Thus, perfumery as an industry was established in the West. This is where the history of perfume denotes the association of perfume with the upper-class.

It wasn’t until the eighteenth century that the Grasse region of France harvested aromatic plants to accommodate the growing demand for fragranced and spiced perfumes. Perfumery flourished! The world history of perfume came to a head. France is still the perfume centre of modern-day Europe, which trades with the United States.

The latter, however, has established its own perfume industry and trades with the rest of the world. Perfumery is now a world conglomeration and serves as a major division of the world fashion industry. The history of perfume is now globally involved.



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