16. The crafts are perfected only if there exists a large
and perfect sedentary civilization.
The reason for this is that, as long as sedentary civilization is not complete and the city not fully organized, people are concerned only with the necessities of life, that is, with the obtaining of food, such as wheat and other things. Then, when the city is organized and the (available) labor increases and pays for the necessities and is more than enough (for the inhabitants), the surplus is spent on luxuries.
The crafts and sciences are the result of man's ability to think, through which he is distinguished from the animals. (His desire for) food, on the other hand, is the result of his animal and nutritive power. It is prior to sciences and crafts because of its necessary character. (The sciences and crafts) come after the necessities. The (susceptibility) of the crafts to refinement, and the quality of (the purposes) they are to serve in view of the demands made by luxury and wealth, then correspond to the civilization of a given country.
A small or Bedouin civilization needs only the simple crafts, especially those used for the necessities, such as (the crafts of) the carpenter, the smith, the tailor, the butcher, or the weaver. They exist there. Still, they are neither perfect nor well developed. They exist only in as much as they are needed, since all of them are means to an end and are not intended for their own sake.
When civilization flourishes and the luxuries are in demand, it includes the refinement and development of the crafts. Consequently, (these crafts) are perfected with every finesse, and a number of other crafts, in addition to them, is added, as luxury-customs and conditions demand. Among (such crafts are) those of the cobbler, the tanner, the silk weaver,82 the goldsmith, and others. When the civilization is fully developed, these different kinds (of crafts are perfected and refined to the limit. In the cities, they become ways of making a living for those who practice them. In fact, they become the most lucrative activities there are, because urban luxury demands them. Other such crafts are those of the perfumer, the coppersmith, the bath attendant, the cook, the biscuit baker, the harisah baker,83 the teacher of singing, dancing, and rhythmical drum beating. There are also the book producers who ply the craft of copying, binding, and correcting books. This (last mentioned) craft is demanded by the urban luxury of occupation with intellectual matters. There are other similar (crafts). They become excessive when civilization develops excessively. Thus, we learn that there are Egyptians who teach dumb creatures like birds and domestic donkeys 84 who produce marvelous spectacles which give the illusion that objects are transformed, and who teach the use of the camel driver's chant,85 how to dance and walk on ropes stretched in the air, how to lift heavy animals and stones, and other things. These crafts do not exist among us in the Maghrib, because the civilization of (Maghribi) cities does not compare with the civilization of Egypt and Cairo.
God is wise and knowing.86