I ran across this while I was browsing some Arab websites:
The Arabic Origin of ‘Baccalaureate’ and ‘Bachelor’ By: Abdul-Settar Abdul-Latif
When Oxford and Cambridge Universities were erected as two cradles of sublime learning, the scholastic masters at the time wondered as to the title of the degree the two centres would bestow their graduates maintaining the latter’s rights.
Modern research points to the year 1167 as the date at which Oxford became a stadium generale (A place of study). The research tells that studies at Oxford were suspended nearly in 1209 and accordingly three thousand scholars dispersed, some to Reading, some to Cambridge, some to Paris.
By the end of the twelfth century, Cambridge was to come a town of importance, but it is not still early in the thirteenth century that genuine history records the presence there of a concourse of clerks. In order to be out of their bafflement, there was no harm, the masters believed, from borrowing from the experiences of other peoples who had earlier established their own institutes and centres of learning. Thus Oxford and Cambridge masters tended their faces to the universities of the Moslems’ Orient in order to check, and learn what degree the Islamic universities awarded their graduates.
The famous institute of learning at the time was Al-Ma’moon’s Bait Al-Hikma (The House of Wisdom) which later came to be known as Al-Mustensiriyah University in Abbassaid Baghdad at the early decades of the ninth century. Bait Al-Hikma was founded by Caliph Al-Ma’moon (Haroon Al-Rasheed’s second son) whose tenure ranged from 813 to 833.
The research testifies that Baghdad, as a centre of learning, preceded both Oxford and Cambridge by at least three or four hundred years in defining the prerequisites of learning and education. Also, the research proved that Ancient Al-Mustensiriyah awarded any Moslem student that was graduated a certain license legally, technically, and professionally covering him to “restate what its holder had learnt in the university on the hand of his referred-to Moslem scholars in order to re-teach others elsewhere who could not afford to come to Baghdad to study, for one reason or another”. This is the crux of what was written in the license. But Arabic language is synoptic.
In the license was written a brief term annexed to the holder’s name. It honoured him the legal and professional right to behave within the limits of its privileges. The term can be literary transcribed into English as it is pronounced in Arabic. It is “Bihaqq al-riwayatt” " بحق الرواية ". The term incorporates three Arabic words: ‘Bi’ stands as preposition (with); ‘haqq’ (the right) and “Al-riwayatt” (to restate the learning to somebody else). That is to say ancient Moslem graduate was awarded “with the right to restate the learning to somebody else”.
And this is the true meaning of “Bachelor” or “Baccalaureate” used in almost European languages. Now the term with its preposition “Bihaqq Al-riwayatt” later was taken as a title of the degree itself by European scholars, students and translators who frequented the nearest parts of the Ancient Islamic Empire to, Christendom; these parts were Cordova, Toledo, Castello in Spain and Sicily in Italy as well as Malta as the main Arab centres of learning and rendition at medieval ages.
“Bihaqq Al-riwayatt” thus was exposed to many alterations and modification related to the different new linguistic region the term reached and resided. The above mentioned variations of the term- "Baccalaureate and Bachelor” are in use. This fact is unknown to many people of well-established scholarship.
For instance, The Random House Dictionary of the English Language sets queer etymology for these two variations. While (Bacca + laures), according to The Random, means “laurel berry”, (Bachelor), again according to The Random, is taken from a vulgar Latin word spelled as (baccalaris) that descends from (bacca), itself a variation of a Latin word for (cow=vacca). One wonders what the connection between (dairy farm) or (cows) and (a university degree). The story of the trip the Arabic word took to reach Europe was the topic of an article entitled “Did the Arab Invent the University?” published in The Times Higher Education Supplement, No. 185 (May 2, 1975), p. 11. by R. Y. Ebied & M. J. L. Young
Is this etymology plausible, or is it debunked?