How Muslim Inventors Changed The World

Muslims have had a hand in significant changes in the world like the invention of gears, surgical instruments, flight, camera etc. Below we take a look at some of the innovations from Muslim inventors that helped shape our world today.


In the unlikeliest of places, southern Ethiopia, an Arab with the name Khalid was rearing his goats in the Kaffa region when he noticed that his goats became lively after eating a particular type of berry. He boiled the berries and coffee was born. Record shows that the first importation of coffee was from Ethiopia to Yemen. It was reported that the Sufis (Muslim mystics) used it to stay awake and pray all night on special occasions. Next was Mecca and Turkey in the 15th centuries and subsequently the beans traveled to Venice in 1645. 5 years later it was taken to England by a Turk named Pasqua Rosee – the proprietor of the first coffee house in Lombard Street, London. The Turkish kahve, was derived from the Arabic qahwa, turned into the Italian caffé and now known as the English coffee.


The 10th Century Muslim Physicist, Astronomer and Mathematician was the first person to realize that light enters the eyes. Prior to this realization, the Greeks believed that our eyes emitted light rays which gave us sight. All credit goes to Ibn al-Haitham but he did not stop there; he went on to invent the first pin hole camera after noticing how light came through a hole in window shutters. He improved the quality of his pictures by determining that the smaller the hole the better the picture. He proceeded to invent the Camera Obscura derived from the Arab word qamara for dark or private room.

#3. The Flying Machine

Abbas Ibn Firnas, an astronomer, poet, musician and engineer, was the first to make numerous attempts at constructing a flying machine a thousand years before the Wright brothers. He jumped from the minaret of the Grand Mosque in Cordoba in 852 hoping to glide using a loose cloak stiffened with wooden struts. His failure was the birth of the parachute. He did not end up gliding but his fall was slowed by the cloak and for this he only sustained minor injuries. Twenty three years later, at the age of  70  he leaped from a mountain wearing a machine of silk and eagle feathers which he perfected. For ten minutes the old man flew, however he didn’t consider a tail into his design therefore he crashed upon landing. A crater on the moon’s surface and Baghdad international airport are named after him.

#4. The Crank Shaft

This device is used to translate rotary into linear motion. This invention which gave birth to the internal combustion engine thousands of years later was invented by none other than the ingenious al-Jazari who used it to raise water for irrigation. In his 1206 “Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices”, one can find blueprints of valves, pistons, clocks driven by weights and water. The father of robotics created the combination lock among fifty other inventions.


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