Islamic science

Islamic science

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Science in the medieval Islamic world, also known as Islamic science or Arabic science, is the science developed and practised in the Islamic world
Muslim world
The term Muslim world has several meanings. In a religious sense, it refers to those who adhere to the teachings of Islam, referred to as Muslims. In a cultural sense, it refers to Islamic civilization, inclusive of non-Muslims living in that civilization...

 during the Islamic Golden Age
Islamic Golden Age
During the Islamic Golden Age philosophers, scientists and engineers of the Islamic world contributed enormously to technology and culture, both by preserving earlier traditions and by adding their own inventions and innovations...

  (c.750 CE - c.1258 CE). During this time, Indian, Iranian and especially Greek knowledge was translated into Arabic. These translations became a wellspring for scientific advances, by scientists from the Islamic civilization, during the Middle Ages.

Scientists within the Islamic civilization were of diverse ethnicities. Most were actually Persian
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

, as well as a great number of Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

s, Moors
Moors
The description Moors has referred to several historic and modern populations of the Maghreb region who are predominately of Berber and Arab descent. They came to conquer and rule the Iberian Peninsula for nearly 800 years. At that time they were Muslim, although earlier the people had followed...

 and Egyptians
Egyptians
Egyptians are nation an ethnic group made up of Mediterranean North Africans, the indigenous people of Egypt.Egyptian identity is closely tied to geography. The population of Egypt is concentrated in the lower Nile Valley, the small strip of cultivable land stretching from the First Cataract to...

. They were also from diverse religious backgrounds. Most were Muslims, but there were also some Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

s,Bernard Lewis, The Jews of Islam, 1987, p.6 Jews and irreligious
Irreligion
Irreligion is defined as an absence of religion or an indifference towards religion. Sometimes it may also be defined more narrowly as hostility towards religion. When characterized as hostility to religion, it includes antitheism, anticlericalism and antireligion. When characterized as...

.

Science in the context of Islamic civilization


The term Islam refers to the religion of Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

, and also the Islamic civilization
Muslim world
The term Muslim world has several meanings. In a religious sense, it refers to those who adhere to the teachings of Islam, referred to as Muslims. In a cultural sense, it refers to Islamic civilization, inclusive of non-Muslims living in that civilization...

 which formed around it. Islamic civilization is composed of many faiths and cultures, although the proportion of Muslims among its population has increased over time.

The religion of Islam was founded during the lifetime of the Islamic prophet Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

. After his death in 632, Islam continued to expand under the leadership of its Muslim rulers, known as Caliph
Caliph
The Caliph is the head of state in a Caliphate, and the title for the ruler of the Islamic Ummah, an Islamic community ruled by the Shari'ah. It is a transcribed version of the Arabic word   which means "successor" or "representative"...

s. Struggles for leadership of the growing religious community began at this time, and continue today. The early periods of Islamic history after the death of Muhammad can be referred to as the Umayyad Caliphates.

During the Umayyad Caliphate, the Islamic empire began to consolidate its territorial gains. Arabic became the language of administration. The Arabs became a ruling class assimilated into their new surroundings across the empire, rather than occupiers of conquered territories.

The crystallization of Islamic thought and civilization


Through the Umayyad and, in particular, the succeeding Abbasid Caliphate's early phase, lies the period of Islamic history known as the High Caliphate. This era can be identified as the years between 692 and 945, and ended when the caliphate was marginalized by local Muslim rulers in Baghdad – its traditional seat of power. From 945 onward until the sacking of Baghdad by the Mongols in 1238, the Caliph continued on as a figurehead, with power devolving more to local amirs.

During the High Caliphate, stable political structures were established and trade flourished. The Chinese were undergoing a revolution in commerce, and the trade routes between the lands of Islam and China boomed both overland and along the coastal routes between the two civilizations. Islamic civilization continued to be primarily based upon agriculture, but commerce began to play a more important role as the caliphate secured peace within the empire. The wars and cultural divisions that had separated peoples before the Arab conquests gradually gave way to a new civilization encompassing diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds. This new Islamic civilization used the Persian, Syriac and Arabic languages as transmitters of culture. Arabic increasingly became the language of commerce and government.

Over time, the great religious and cultural works of the empire were translated into Arabic, the population increasingly understood Arabic, and they increasingly professed Islam as their religion. The cultural heritages of the area included strong Indic and Persian influences as well as the Hellenic
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 tradition left by Alexander the Great and the Byzantines
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

. The Greek intellectual traditions were recognized, translated and studied broadly. Through this process, the population of the lands of Islam gained access to all the important works of all the cultures of the empire, and a new common civilization formed in this area of the world, based on the religion of Islam. A new era of high culture and innovation ensued, where these diverse influences were recognized and given their respective places in the social consciousness.

Domains of thought and culture in the High Caliphate


The pious scholars of Islam, men and women collectively known as the ulama
Ulama
-In Islam:* Ulema, also transliterated "ulama", a community of legal scholars of Islam and its laws . See:**Nahdlatul Ulama **Darul-uloom Nadwatul Ulama **Jamiatul Ulama Transvaal**Jamiat ul-Ulama -Other:...

, were the most influential element of society in the fields of Sharia
Sharia
Sharia law, is the moral code and religious law of Islam. Sharia is derived from two primary sources of Islamic law: the precepts set forth in the Quran, and the example set by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah. Fiqh jurisprudence interprets and extends the application of sharia to...

 law, speculative thought and theology. Their pronouncements defined the external practice of Islam, including prayer, as well as the details of the Islamic way of life. They held strong influence over government, and especially the laws of commerce. They were not rulers themselves, but rather keepers and upholders of the rule of law.

Conversely, among the religious, there were inheritors of the more charismatic expressions of Christianity and Buddhism, in the Sufi orders. These Muslims had a more informal and varied approach to their religion. Islam also expressed itself in other, more esoteric forms that could have significant influence over public discourse during times of social unrest.

Among the more worldly, adab – polite, worldly culture - permeated the lives of the professional, the courtly and genteel classes. Art, literature, poetry, music and even some aspects of religion were among the areas widely appreciated by those of a more refined taste among Muslim and non-Muslim alike. New trends and new topics flowed from the center of the Baghdad courts, to be adopted both quickly and widely across the lands of Islam.

Apart from these other traditions stood falsafa; Greek philosophy, inclusive of the sciences as well as the philosophy of the ancients. This science had been widely known across Mesopotamia and Iran since before the advent of Islam. These "sciences" were in many ways contrary to the teachings of Islam and the ways of the adab, but were nonetheless highly regarded in society. The ulama tolerated these outlooks and practices with reservation. Some faylasufs made a good living in the practices of astrology and medicine.

Notable fields of inquiry


The roots of Islamic science drew primarily upon Iranian, Indian and Greek learning. The extent of Islamic scientific achievement is not as yet fully understood, but it is vast.

These achievements encompass a wide range of subject areas; most notably
  • Mathematics
  • Astronomy
  • Medicine


Other notable areas, and specialized subjects, of scientific inquiry include
  • Physics
  • Alchemy and chemistry
    Alchemy and chemistry in medieval Islam
    Alchemy and chemistry in Islam refers to the study of both traditional alchemy and early practical chemistry by scholars in the medieval Islamic world. The word alchemy was derived from the Arabic word كيمياء or kīmīāʾ...

  • Cosmology
  • Ophthalmology
  • Geography and cartography
  • Sociology
  • Psychology

Notable scientists


In medieval Islam, the sciences, which included philosophy, were viewed holistically. The individual scientific disciplines were approached in terms of their relationships to each other and the whole, as if they were branches of a tree. In this regard, the most important scientists of Islamic civilization have been the polymath
Polymath
A polymath is a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas. In less formal terms, a polymath may simply be someone who is very knowledgeable...

s, known as hakim or sage
Sage
- People :*A "sage" is any wise teacher, someone who imparts wisdom or the perennial philosophy, including spiritual teachers and teachers of mysticism but not necessarily with such religious connotations, so may refer to a:...

s. Their role in the transmission of the sciences was central.

The hakim was most often a poet and a writer, skilled in the practice of medicine as well as astronomy and mathematics. These multi-talented sages, the central figures in Islamic science, elaborated and personified the unity of the sciences. They orchestrated scientific development through their insights, and excelled in their explorations as well.
  • Jabir ibn Hayyan (ca. 8th – 9th centuries) was an alchemist who used extensive experimentation and produced many works on science and alchemy which have survived to the present day. Jabir described the laboratory techniques and experimental methods of chemistry. He identified many substances including sulfuric and nitric acid. He described processes including sublimation, reduction and distillation. He utilized equipment such as the alembic and the retort. There is considerable uncertainty as to the actual provenance of many works that are ascribed to him.


  • The Banu Musa brothers
    Banu Musa
    The Banū Mūsā brothers , namely Abū Jaʿfar Muḥammad ibn Mūsā ibn Shākir , Abū al‐Qāsim Aḥmad ibn Mūsā ibn Shākir and Al-Ḥasan ibn Mūsā ibn Shākir , were three 9th-century Persian scholars of Baghdad who are known for their Book of Ingenious Devices on automata and mechanical devices...

    , Jafar-Muhammad, Ahmad and al-Hasan (ca. early 9th century) were three sons of a colorful astronomer and astrologer. They were scholars close to the court of caliph al-Mamun, and contributed greatly to the translation of ancient works into Arabic. They elaborated the mathematics of cones and ellipses, and performed astronomic calculations. Most notably, they contributed to the field of automation
    Automation
    Automation is the use of control systems and information technologies to reduce the need for human work in the production of goods and services. In the scope of industrialization, automation is a step beyond mechanization...

     with the creations of automated devices such as the ones described in their Book of Ingenious Devices
    Book of Ingenious Devices
    The Book of Ingenious Devices was a large illustrated work on mechanical devices, including automata, published in 850 by the three Persian brothers known as the Banu Musa working at the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, Iraq, under the Abbasid Caliphate...

    .

  • Ibn Ishaq al-Kindi (801–873) was a philosopher and polymath
    Polymath
    A polymath is a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas. In less formal terms, a polymath may simply be someone who is very knowledgeable...

     scientist heavily involved in the translation of Greek classics into Arabic. He worked to reconcile the conflicts between his Islamic faith and his affinity for reason; a conflict that would eventually lead to problems with his rulers. He criticized the basis of alchemy and astrology, and contributed to a wide range of scientific subjects in his writings. He worked on cryptography for the caliphate, and even wrote a piece on the subject of time, space and relative movement.


  • Hunayn ibn Ishaq
    Hunayn ibn Ishaq
    Hunayn ibn Ishaq was a famous and influential Assyrian Nestorian Christian scholar, physician, and scientist, known for his work in translating Greek scientific and medical works into Arabic and Syriac during the heyday of the Islamic Abbasid Caliphate.Ḥunayn ibn Isḥaq was the most productive...

     (809–873) was one of the most important translators of the ancient Greek works into Arabic. He was also a physician and a writer on medical subjects. His translations interpreted, corrected and extended the ancient works. Some of his translations of medical works were used in Europe for centuries. He also wrote on medical subjects, particularly on the human eye. His book Ten Treatises on the Eye was influential in the West until the 17th century.

  • Abbas ibn Firnas
    Abbas Ibn Firnas
    Abbas Ibn Firnas , also known as Abbas Qasim Ibn Firnas and عباس بن فرناس , was a Muslim Andalusian polymath: an inventor, engineer, aviator, physician, Arabic poet, and Andalusian musician. Of Berber descent, he was born in Izn-Rand Onda, Al-Andalus , and lived in the Emirate of Córdoba...

     (810–887) was an Andalusian
    Al-Andalus
    Al-Andalus was the Arabic name given to a nation and territorial region also commonly referred to as Moorish Iberia. The name describes parts of the Iberian Peninsula and Septimania governed by Muslims , at various times in the period between 711 and 1492, although the territorial boundaries...

     scientist, musician and inventor. He developed a clear glass used in drinking vessels, and lenses used for magnification and the improvement of vision. He had a room in his house where the sky was simulated, including the motion of planets, stars and weather complete with clouds, thunder and lightning. He is most well known for reportedly surviving an attempt at controlled flight.

  • Thabit ibn Qurra
    Thabit ibn Qurra
    ' was a mathematician, physician, astronomer and translator of the Islamic Golden Age.Ibn Qurra made important discoveries in algebra, geometry and astronomy...

     (835–901) was a Sabian translator and mathematician from Harran
    Harran
    Harran was a major ancient city in Upper Mesopotamia whose site is near the modern village of Altınbaşak, Turkey, 24 miles southeast of Şanlıurfa...

    , in what is now Turkey. He is known for his translations of Greek mathematics and astronomy, but as was common, he also added his own work to the translations. He is known for having calculated the solution to a chessboard problem
    Mathematical chess problem
    Mathematical chess problem is a mathematical problem which is formulated using chessboard or chess pieces. These problems belong to recreational mathematics. The most known problems of this kind are Eight queens puzzle or Knight's Tour problems, which have connection to graph theory and combinatorics...

     involving an exponential series.


  • al-Khwarizmi
    Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi
    'There is some confusion in the literature on whether al-Khwārizmī's full name is ' or '. Ibn Khaldun notes in his encyclopedic work: "The first who wrote upon this branch was Abu ʿAbdallah al-Khowarizmi, after whom came Abu Kamil Shojaʿ ibn Aslam." . 'There is some confusion in the literature on...

     (ca. 8th–9th centuries) was a Persian mathematician, geographer and astronomer. He is regarded as the greatest mathematician of Islamic civilization. He was instrumental in the adoption of the Indian numbering system, later known as Arabic numerals. His developed algebra, which also had Indian antecedents, by introducing methods of simplifying the equations. He used Euclidian geometry in his proofs.

  • al-Battani (850–922) was an astronomer who accurately determined the length of the solar year. He contributed to numeric tables, such as the Tables of Toledo
    Tables of Toledo
    The Toledan Tables, or Tables of Toledo, were astronomical tables which were used to predict the movements of the Sun, Moon and planets relative to the fixed stars...

    , used by astronomers to predict the movements of the sun, moon and planets across the sky. Some of Battani's astronomic tables were later used by Copernicus. Battani also developed numeric tables which could be used to find the direction of Mecca from different locations. Knowing the direction of Mecca is important for Muslims, as this is the direction faced during prayer.

  • Abu Bakr Zakariya al-Razi (ca. 854–925/935) was born in Rayy, Iran
    Rey, Iran
    Rey or Ray , also known as Rhages and formerly as Arsacia, is the capital of Rey County, Tehran Province, Iran, and is the oldest existing city in the province....

    . He was a polymath
    Polymath
    A polymath is a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas. In less formal terms, a polymath may simply be someone who is very knowledgeable...

     who wrote on a variety of topics, but his most important works were in the field of medicine. He identified smallpox and measles, and recognized fever was part of the body's defenses. He wrote a 23-volume compendium of Chinese, Indian, Persian, Syriac and Greek medicine. al-Razi questioned some aspects of the classical Greek medical theory of how the four humors
    Humorism
    Humorism, or humoralism, is a now discredited theory of the makeup and workings of the human body, adopted by Greek and Roman physicians and philosophers, positing that an excess or deficiency of any of four distinct bodily fluids in a person directly influences their temperament and health...

     regulate life processes. He challenged Galen
    Galen
    Aelius Galenus or Claudius Galenus , better known as Galen of Pergamon , was a prominent Roman physician, surgeon and philosopher...

    's work on several fronts, including the treatment of bloodletting
    Bloodletting
    Bloodletting is the withdrawal of often little quantities of blood from a patient to cure or prevent illness and disease. Bloodletting was based on an ancient system of medicine in which blood and other bodily fluid were considered to be "humors" the proper balance of which maintained health...

    . His trial of bloodletting showed it was effective; a result we now know to be erroneous.

  • al-Farabi
    Al-Farabi
    ' known in the West as Alpharabius , was a scientist and philosopher of the Islamic world...

     (ca. 870–950) was a rationalist philosopher and mathematician who attempted to describe, geometrically, the repeating patterns popular in Islamic decorative motifs. His book on the subject is titled Spiritual Crafts and Natural Secrets in the Details of Geometrical Figures.

  • Ibrahim ibn Sina (Avicenna)
    Avicenna
    Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Sīnā , commonly known as Ibn Sīnā or by his Latinized name Avicenna, was a Persian polymath, who wrote almost 450 treatises on a wide range of subjects, of which around 240 have survived...

     (908–946) was a physician, astronomer, physicist and mathematician from Bukhara
    Bukhara
    Bukhara , from the Soghdian βuxārak , is the capital of the Bukhara Province of Uzbekistan. The nation's fifth-largest city, it has a population of 263,400 . The region around Bukhara has been inhabited for at least five millennia, and the city has existed for half that time...

    , Uzbekistan
    Uzbekistan
    Uzbekistan , officially the Republic of Uzbekistan is a doubly landlocked country in Central Asia and one of the six independent Turkic states. It shares borders with Kazakhstan to the west and to the north, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the east, and Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to the south....

    . In addition to his master work, The Canon of Medicine
    The Canon of Medicine
    The Canon of Medicine is an encyclopedia of Galenic medicine in five books compiled by Ibn Sīnā and completed in 1025. It presents a clear and organized summary of all the medical knowledge of the time...

    , he also made important astronomical observations, and discussed a variety of topics including the different forms energy can take, and the properties of light. He contributed to the development of mathematical techniques such as Casting out nines
    Casting out nines
    Casting out nines is a sanity check to ensure that hand computations of sums, differences, products, and quotients of integers are correct. By looking at the digital roots of the inputs and outputs, the casting-out-nines method can help one check arithmetic calculations...

    .

  • al-Zahrawi (936–1013) was an Andalusian
    Al-Andalus
    Al-Andalus was the Arabic name given to a nation and territorial region also commonly referred to as Moorish Iberia. The name describes parts of the Iberian Peninsula and Septimania governed by Muslims , at various times in the period between 711 and 1492, although the territorial boundaries...

     surgeon who is known as the greatest surgeon of medieval Islam. His most important surviving work is referred to as al-Tasrif
    Al-Tasrif
    The Kitab al-Tasrif was an Arabic encyclopedia on medicine and surgery, written near the year 1000 by Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi...

     (Medical Knowledge). It is a 30 volume set discussing medical symptoms, treatments, and mostly pharmacology, but it is the last volume of the set which has attracted the most attention over time. This last volume is a surgical manual describing surgical instruments, supplies and procedures. Scholars studying this manual are discovering references to procedures previously believed to belong to more modern times.

  • ibn al-Haytham (965–1040) was an Egyptian scientist who worked in several fields, but is now known primarily for his achievements in astronomy and optics. He was an experimentalist who questioned the ancient Greek works of Ptolemy
    Ptolemy
    Claudius Ptolemy , was a Roman citizen of Egypt who wrote in Greek. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology. He lived in Egypt under Roman rule, and is believed to have been born in the town of Ptolemais Hermiou in the...

     and Galen
    Galen
    Aelius Galenus or Claudius Galenus , better known as Galen of Pergamon , was a prominent Roman physician, surgeon and philosopher...

    . At times, al-Haytham suggested Ptolomey's celestial model, and Galen's explanation of vision, had problems. The prevailing opinion of the time, Galen's opinion, was that vision involved transmission of light
    Emission theory (vision)
    Emission theory or extramission theory is the proposal that visual perception is accomplished by rays of light emitted by the eyes. This theory has been replaced by intromission theory, which states that visual perception comes from something representative of the object entering the eyes...

     from the eye, an explanation al-Haytham cast doubt upon. He also studied the effects of light refraction
    Refraction
    Refraction is the change in direction of a wave due to a change in its speed. It is essentially a surface phenomenon . The phenomenon is mainly in governance to the law of conservation of energy. The proper explanation would be that due to change of medium, the phase velocity of the wave is changed...

    , and suggested the mathematics of reflection and refraction needed to be consistent with the anatomy of the eye.

  • al-Zarqali (1028–1087) was an Andalusian artisan, skilled in working sheet metal, who became a famous maker of astronomical equipment, an astronomer, and a mathematician. He developed a new design for a highly accurate astrolabe
    Astrolabe
    An astrolabe is an elaborate inclinometer, historically used by astronomers, navigators, and astrologers. Its many uses include locating and predicting the positions of the Sun, Moon, planets, and stars, determining local time given local latitude and longitude, surveying, triangulation, and to...

     which was used for centuries afterwards. He constructed a famous water clock that attracted much attention in Toledo
    Toledo, Spain
    Toledo's Alcázar became renowned in the 19th and 20th centuries as a military academy. At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 its garrison was famously besieged by Republican forces.-Economy:...

     for centuries. He discovered that the Sun's apogee  moves slowly relative to the fixed stars, and obtained a very good estimate for its rate of change.

  • Omar Khayyam
    Omar Khayyám
    Omar Khayyám was aPersian polymath: philosopher, mathematician, astronomer and poet. He also wrote treatises on mechanics, geography, mineralogy, music, climatology and theology....

     (1048–1131) was a poet and mathematician who calculated the length of the year to within 5 decimal places. He found geometric solutions to all 13 forms of cubic equations. He developed some quadratic equation
    Quadratic equation
    In mathematics, a quadratic equation is a univariate polynomial equation of the second degree. A general quadratic equation can be written in the formax^2+bx+c=0,\,...

    s still in use. He is well known in the West for his poetry (rubaiyat
    Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
    The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám is the title that Edward FitzGerald gave to his translation of a selection of poems, originally written in Persian and of which there are about a thousand, attributed to Omar Khayyám , a Persian poet, mathematician and astronomer...

    ).

  • al-Idrisi (1100–1166) was an Andalusian traveler, cartographer and geographer famous for a map of the world he created for Roger
    Roger II of Sicily
    Roger II was King of Sicily, son of Roger I of Sicily and successor to his brother Simon. He began his rule as Count of Sicily in 1105, later became Duke of Apulia and Calabria , then King of Sicily...

    , the Norman King of Sicily. al-Idrisi also wrote the Book of Roger, a geographic study of the peoples, climates, resources and industries of all the world known at that time. In it, he incidentally relates the tale of a Moroccan ship blown west in the Atlantic, and returning with tales of faraway lands.

  • ibn al-Nafis (1213–1288) was a physician who was born in Damascus and practiced medicine as head physician at the al-Mansuri hospital in Cairo. He wrote an influential book on medicine, believed to have replaced ibn-Sina's Canon in the Islamic world – if not Europe. He wrote important commentaries on Galen and ibn-Sina's works. One of these commentaries was discovered in 1924, and yielded a description of pulmonary transit
    Pulmonary circulation
    Pulmonary circulation is the half portion of the cardiovascular system which carries Oxygen-depleted Blood away from the heart, to the Lungs, and returns oxygenated blood back to the heart. Encyclopedic description and discovery of the pulmonary circulation is widely attributed to Doctor Ibn...

    , the circulation of blood from the right to left ventricles of the heart through the lungs.

  • Nasir al-Din al-Tusi
    Nasir al-Din al-Tusi
    Khawaja Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad ibn Ḥasan Ṭūsī , better known as Naṣīr al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī , was a Persian polymath and prolific writer: an astronomer, biologist, chemist, mathematician, philosopher, physician, physicist, scientist, theologian and Marja Taqleed...

     (1201–1274) was a Persian astronomer and mathematician whose life was overshadowed by the Mongol invasions of Genghis Khan and his grandson Helagu. al-Tusi wrote an important revision to Ptolemy's celestial model, among other works. When he became Helagu's astrologer, he was furnished with an impressive observatory and gained access to Chinese techniques and observations. He developed trigonometry
    Trigonometry
    Trigonometry is a branch of mathematics that studies triangles and the relationships between their sides and the angles between these sides. Trigonometry defines the trigonometric functions, which describe those relationships and have applicability to cyclical phenomena, such as waves...

     to the point it became a separate field, and compiled the most accurate astronomical tables
    Zij-i Ilkhani
    Zīj-i Īlkhānī or Ilkhanic Tables is a Zij book with astronomical tables of planetary movements. It was compiled by the Persian astronomer Nasir al-Din al-Tusi in collaboration with his research team of astronomers at the Maragha observatory...

     available up to that time.

On the impact of medieval Islamic science


There are several different views on Islamic science among historians of science.
  • The traditionalist view, as exemplified by Bertrand Russell
    Bertrand Russell
    Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, OM, FRS was a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, and social critic. At various points in his life he considered himself a liberal, a socialist, and a pacifist, but he also admitted that he had never been any of these things...

    , holds that Islamic science, while admirable in many technical ways, lacked the intellectual energy required for innovation and was chiefly important as a preserver of ancient knowledge and transmitter to medieval Europe.

  • The revisionist view, as exemplified by Abdus Salam
    Abdus Salam
    Mohammad Abdus Salam, NI, SPk Mohammad Abdus Salam, NI, SPk Mohammad Abdus Salam, NI, SPk (Urdu: محمد عبد السلام, pronounced , (January 29, 1926– November 21, 1996) was a Pakistani theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate in Physics for his work on the electroweak unification of the...

    , George Saliba
    George Saliba
    George Saliba is Professor of Arabic and Islamic Science at the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies, Columbia University, New York, United States, where he has been working since 1979....

     and John M. Hobson holds that a Muslim scientific revolution occurred during the Middle Ages
    Middle Ages
    The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

    ,

  • Scholars such as Donald Routledge Hill
    Donald Routledge Hill
    Donald Routledge Hill was an English engineer and historian of science and technology.Alongside more general works on the history of technology, he wrote works on the history of medieval Arabic science and technology, and translated The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices of the...

     and Ahmad Y Hassan
    Ahmad Y Hassan
    Ahmad Yusuf Al-Hassan is a historian of Arabic and Islamic science and technology, educated in Jerusalem, Cairo and London with a Ph.D. in Mechanical engineering from University College London. He was Dean of Engineering and later President of the University of Aleppo where he founded the...

     express the view that Islam was the driving force behind the Muslim achievements,

  • Toby E. Huff takes the view that, although Islamic science did produce a number of innovations, it did not lead to the Scientific Revolution
    Scientific revolution
    The Scientific Revolution is an era associated primarily with the 16th and 17th centuries during which new ideas and knowledge in physics, astronomy, biology, medicine and chemistry transformed medieval and ancient views of nature and laid the foundations for modern science...

    .

  • Will Durant
    Will Durant
    William James Durant was a prolific American writer, historian, and philosopher. He is best known for The Story of Civilization, 11 volumes written in collaboration with his wife Ariel Durant and published between 1935 and 1975...

    , Fielding H. Garrison
    Fielding H. Garrison
    Colonel Fielding Hudson Garrison, MD was an acclaimed medical historian, bibliographer, and librarian of medicine. Garrison's An Introduction to the History of Medicine is a landmark text in this field....

    , Hossein Nasr and Bernard Lewis
    Bernard Lewis
    Bernard Lewis, FBA is a British-American historian, scholar in Oriental studies, and political commentator. He is the Cleveland E. Dodge Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University...

    held that Muslim scientists helped in laying the foundations for an experiment
    Experiment
    An experiment is a methodical procedure carried out with the goal of verifying, falsifying, or establishing the validity of a hypothesis. Experiments vary greatly in their goal and scale, but always rely on repeatable procedure and logical analysis of the results...

    al science with their contributions to the scientific method
    Scientific method
    Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of...

     and their empirical
    Empirical
    The word empirical denotes information gained by means of observation or experimentation. Empirical data are data produced by an experiment or observation....

    , experimental and quantitative
    Quantitative property
    A quantitative property is one that exists in a range of magnitudes, and can therefore be measured with a number. Measurements of any particular quantitative property are expressed as a specific quantity, referred to as a unit, multiplied by a number. Examples of physical quantities are distance,...

     approach to scientific inquiry
    Inquiry
    An inquiry is any process that has the aim of augmenting knowledge, resolving doubt, or solving a problem. A theory of inquiry is an account of the various types of inquiry and a treatment of the ways that each type of inquiry achieves its aim.-Deduction:...

    .

On the historiography of medieval Islamic science


The history of science in the Islamic world, like all history, is filled with questions of interpretation.

Historians of science generally consider that the study of Islamic science, like all history, must be seen within the particular circumstances of time and place.
  • A. I. Sabra
    A. I. Sabra
    Abdelhamid I. Sabra is a retired professor of the history of science specializing in the history of optics and science in medieval Islam....

     opened a recent overview of Arabic science by noting, "I trust no one would wish to contest the proposition that all of history is local history ... and the history of science is no exception."


Some scholars avoid such local historical approaches and seek to identify essential relations between Islam and science
Islam and science
Islam and science describes the relationship between Muslim communities and science in general. From an Islamic standpoint, science, the study of nature, is considered to be linked to the concept of Tawhid , as are all other branches of knowledge...

 that apply at all times and places.
  • The Persian philosopher and historian of science, Seyyed Hossein Nasr saw a more positive connection in "an Islamic science that was spiritual and antisecular" which "point[ed] the way to a new 'Islamic science' that would avoid the dehumanizing and despiritualizing mistakes of Western science." Nasr identified a distinctly Muslim approach to science, flowing from Islamic monotheism and the related theological prohibition against portraying graven images. In science, this is reflected in a philosophical disinterest in describing individual material objects, their properties and characteristics and instead a concern with the ideal, the Platonic form, which exists in matter as an expression of the will of the Creator. Thus one can "see why mathematics was to make such a strong appeal to the Muslim: its abstract nature furnished the bridge that Muslims were seeking between multiplicity and unity."


Some historians of science, however, question the value of drawing boundaries that label the sciences, and the scientists who practice them, in specific cultural, civilizational, or linguistic terms.
  • Some scholars consider the practice to be an example of "boosterism
    Boosterism
    Boosterism is the act of "boosting," or promoting, one's town, city, or organization, with the goal of improving public perception of it. Boosting can be as simple as "talking up" the entity at a party or as elaborate as establishing a visitors' bureau. It is somewhat associated with American small...

    " and object that it "defines the achievements of scholars... in terms of their religion rather than their research."

  • While others simply consider it futile. For example, Nasir al-Din Tusi (1201–1274), invented his mathematical theorem, the Tusi Couple
    Tusi-couple
    The Tusi-couple is a mathematical device in which a small circle rotates inside a larger circle twice the diameter of the smaller circle. Rotations of the circles cause a point on the circumference of the smaller circle to oscillate back and forth in linear motion along a diameter of the larger...

    , while he was director of Maragheh
    Maragheh
    Maragheh also Romanized as Marāgheh and Marāghen) is a city in and the capital of Maragheh County, East Azerbaijan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 146,405, in 38,891 families....

     observatory. Tusi's patron and founder of the observatory was the non-Muslim Mongol conqueror of Baghdad, Hulagu Khan
    Hulagu Khan
    Hulagu Khan, also known as Hülegü, Hulegu , was a Mongol ruler who conquered much of Southwest Asia...

    . The Tusi-couple "was first encountered in an Arabic text, written by a man who spoke Persian at home, and used that theorem, like many other astronomers who followed him and were all working in the "Arabic/Islamic" world, in order to reform classical Greek astronomy, and then have his theorem in turn be translated into Byzantine Greek towards the beginning of the 14th century, only to be used later by Copernicus and others in Latin texts of Renaissance Europe."

See also



  • Alchemy and chemistry in medieval Islam
    Alchemy and chemistry in medieval Islam
    Alchemy and chemistry in Islam refers to the study of both traditional alchemy and early practical chemistry by scholars in the medieval Islamic world. The word alchemy was derived from the Arabic word كيمياء or kīmīāʾ...

  • Astronomy in medieval Islam
  • Hindu and Buddhist contribution to science in medieval Islam
    Hindu and Buddhist contribution to science in medieval Islam
    Hindu and Buddhist contributions to science in medieval Islam have been numerous, affecting such varied areas as medicine, astronomy and mathematics...

  • History of scientific method
    History of scientific method
    The history of scientific method is a history of the methodology of scientific inquiry, as differentiated from a history of science in general. The development and elaboration of rules for scientific reasoning and investigation has not been straightforward; scientific method has been the subject of...

    • Greek contributions to Islamic world
      Greek contributions to Islamic world
      Greece played an important role in the transmission of classical knowledge to the Islamic world and to Renaissance Italy, and also in the transmission of medieval Arabic science to Renaissance Italy...

  • Islam and science
    Islam and science
    Islam and science describes the relationship between Muslim communities and science in general. From an Islamic standpoint, science, the study of nature, is considered to be linked to the concept of Tawhid , as are all other branches of knowledge...

  • Islamic contributions to Medieval Europe
    Islamic contributions to Medieval Europe
    Islamic contributions to Medieval Europe were numerous, affecting such varied areas as art, architecture, medicine, agriculture, music, language, and technology. From the 11th to 13th centuries, Europe absorbed knowledge from the Islamic civilization...

    • Latin translations of the 12th century
  • Islamic economics in the world
    Islamic economics in the world
    Islamic economics in practice, or economic policies supported by self-identified Islamic groups, has varied throughout its long history. Traditional Islamic concepts having to do with economics included...

  • Islamic Golden Age
    Islamic Golden Age
    During the Islamic Golden Age philosophers, scientists and engineers of the Islamic world contributed enormously to technology and culture, both by preserving earlier traditions and by adding their own inventions and innovations...

    • Early Islamic philosophy
      Early Islamic philosophy
      Early Islamic philosophy or classical Islamic philosophy is a period of intense philosophical development beginning in the 2nd century AH of the Islamic calendar and lasting until the 6th century AH...

    • Golden age of Jewish culture in Spain
    • Inventions in the Muslim world
    • Muslim Agricultural Revolution
      Muslim Agricultural Revolution
      The Arab Agricultural Revolution is a term coined by the historian Andrew Watson in his influential 1974 paper postulating a fundamental transformation in agriculture from the 8th century to the 13th century in the Muslim...

  • Islamic philosophy
    Islamic philosophy
    Islamic philosophy is a branch of Islamic studies. It is the continuous search for Hekma in the light of Islamic view of life, universe, ethics, society, and so on...

    • Logic in Islamic philosophy
      Logic in Islamic philosophy
      Logic played an important role in Islamic philosophy .Islamic Logic or mantiq is similar science to what is called Traditional Logic in Western Sciences.- External links :*Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy: , Routledge, 1998...

  • Islamic sociology
    • Sociology in medieval Islam
  • Islamic studies
    Islamic studies
    In a Muslim context, Islamic studies can be an umbrella term for all virtually all of academia, both originally researched and as defined by the Islamization of knowledge...

  • List of Muslim scientists
  • Mathematics in medieval Islam
  • Medicine in the medieval Islamic world
  • Medieval Islamic astrology
    Medieval Islamic astrology
    The medieval Arabs took a keen interest in the study of heavens; partly because they considered the celestial bodies to be divine, partly because the dwellers of desert-regions often travelled at night, and relied upon knowledge of the constellations for guidance in their journeys...

  • Ophthalmology in medieval Islam
    Ophthalmology in medieval Islam
    Ophthalmology was one of the foremost branches in medieval Islamic medicine. The oculist or kahhal , a somewhat despised professional in Galen’s time, was an honored member of the medical profession by the Abbasid period, occupying a unique place in royal households...

  • Physics in medieval Islam
  • Psychology in medieval Islam
  • Qur'an and science
  • Scholasticism
    Scholasticism
    Scholasticism is a method of critical thought which dominated teaching by the academics of medieval universities in Europe from about 1100–1500, and a program of employing that method in articulating and defending orthodoxy in an increasingly pluralistic context...

  • Timeline of Islamic science and technology
    Timeline of Islamic science and technology
    This timeline of science and engineering in the Islamic world covers the time period from the 7th century AD to the introduction of European science to the Islamic world in the 19th and 20th centuries...

  • Continuity thesis
    Continuity thesis
    In the history of ideas, the continuity thesis is the hypothesis that there was no radical discontinuity between the intellectual development of the Middle Ages and the developments in the Renaissance and early modern period. Thus the idea of an intellectual or scientific revolution following the...



Further reading


  • Nader El-Bizri
    Nader El-Bizri
    Nader El-Bizri is a Lebanese philosopher, historian of science, and architect living in Britain.-Intellectual Profile:...

    , 'A Philosophical Perspective on Alhazen's Optics', Arabic Sciences and Philosophy (Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press is the publishing business of the University of Cambridge. Granted letters patent by Henry VIII in 1534, it is the world's oldest publishing house, and the second largest university press in the world...

    ), Vol. 15 (2005), pp. 189–218.
  • Nader El-Bizri, 'In Defence of the Sovereignty of Philosophy: al-Baghdadi's Critique of Ibn al-Haytham's Geometrisation of Place', Arabic Sciences and Philosophy (Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press is the publishing business of the University of Cambridge. Granted letters patent by Henry VIII in 1534, it is the world's oldest publishing house, and the second largest university press in the world...

    ), Vol. 17 (2007), pp. 57–80. Reviewed by Robert G. Morrison at http://www.ircps.org/publications/aestimatio/pdf/2004-02-02_Morrison.pdf)
  • Hill, Donald Routledge
    Donald Routledge Hill
    Donald Routledge Hill was an English engineer and historian of science and technology.Alongside more general works on the history of technology, he wrote works on the history of medieval Arabic science and technology, and translated The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices of the...

    , Islamic Science And Engineering, Edinburgh University Press (1993), ISBN 0-7486-0455-3
  • Huff, Toby E. (1993, 2nd edition 2003), The Rise of Early Modern Science: Islam, China and the West. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-52994-8. Reviewed by George Saliba
    George Saliba
    George Saliba is Professor of Arabic and Islamic Science at the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies, Columbia University, New York, United States, where he has been working since 1979....

     at Seeking the Origins of Modern Science?

Popular
Television
  • BBC (2010). Science and Islam
    Science and Islam (documentary)
    Science and Islam is a three-part BBC documentary about the history of science in medieval Islamic civilization presented by Jim Al-Khalili...

    .


External links


Academic institutes
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