Most people are not aware that modern science has its roots in the Islamic golden age. Historians will tell us that the development of science and technology have always been lead by the wealthiest societies in any given era. This is perhaps rather simple logic as it is a given that it is wealthy societies and individuals, free from the burdens of providing for the basics of survival that have the time and resources to engage in scientific speculation, research and experimentation.
This article highlights the scientific advances during the Islamic Golden Age, a time when Muslim rule spanned across three continents including parts of Europe, in what is now Spain.
- Ibn Firnas, from Andalusia Spain, invented a planetarium and it is claimed that he is the first person to fly an aircraft.
- Al-Zarqali, from Andalusia/Cordoba measured the stars and invented important instruments for doing so.
- Al-Bitruji, also from Andalusia, studied the stellar movements.
- Al-Fargani, from Persia, wrote the very influential book called elements of Astronomy.
- Al-Sufi, from Persia did important work on the Andromeda galaxy.
- Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf, from present day Saudi -Arabia was the translator of Euclid’s Elements into Arabic and in this manner, preserved it.
- Al-Khwarazmi was the father of medieval mathematics as he recovered knowledge from the Greeks and Hindus.
- Jabir Ibn Haiyan pioneered the scientific approach and was a renowned figure in both astronomy and chemistry.
- Arabs made advances in irrigation that are being used to this day.
- Abu Bakr Muhummad ibn Zakariyya ar-Razi (Rhazes) was a Persian scientist and philosopher who identified the distinction between smallpox and measles and authored the famous Al-Hawi medical encyclopedia of 30 volumes.
- Az-Zahrawi from Andalusia (Abulcasis), known as the father of surgery, who performed the first tracheotomy. He was also the first to describe breast cancer and did important work on hemophilia.
- Ibn Sina (Avicenna) from Persia wrote al-Qanun fil Tibb (The Canon of Medicine), was the most important book in medicine for five centuries.
- Ibn-Zuhr (Avenzoar) from Andalusia who pointed out the importance of drugs for body and soul
- Ibn-Nafis born in Damascus present day Syria, studied the human body’s circulatory system.
So did the religion of Islam have a role to play in these achievements? The first thing to consider is that the Qur’an has made it clear that the search for knowledge is the greatest of all virtues and is the first commandment of God to the prophet.
Secondly, the Islamic caliphates brought otherwise disconnected peoples together and used the Arabic language as a unifying factor for trade and scholarship.
The Muslims built libraries in all several major cities they ruled leading to the establishment of one of the oldest universities in the world in Baghdad, present day Iraq, known as the House of Wisdom.
Hence, this is just a small reminder of the intellectual and scientific genius of Muslim scholars, who played key roles in furthering science and advancing technology.
Do you know of any Muslim’s contribution to science and technology that you’d like to share with us? Let us know by commenting below.
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