Did you know? Aftab Ahmad Malik [email_address]
“ If there is much misunderstanding in the West about the nature of Islam, there is also much ignorance about the debt our own culture and civilisation owe to the Islamic world. It is a failure, which stems, I think, from the straight-jacket of history, which we have inherited. The medieval Islamic world, from central Asia to the shores of the Atlantic, was a world where scholars and men of learning flourished. But because we have tended to see Islam as the enemy of the West, as an alien culture, society, and system of belief, we have tended to ignore or erase its great relevance to our own history.” ─ Prince Charles, Oxford University
<ul><li>Some European intellectuals have had great difficulty in considering the possibility of the Islamic Civilisation’s significant role in paving the way for the Renaissance that occurred in Europe. </li></ul>Background to this discussion <ul><li>Although the world of Islam is viewed as being distinct, ‘Eastern,’ and separate from the European world – the former world was inextricably linked with the development of the West. </li></ul><ul><li>Western historians of arts and sciences, especially those engaged in the history of medicine, have largely ignored the Muslim contribution to these sciences. At best, they maintain that the Muslims kept the Greek Traditions of learning alive, and then passed them onto the European world. </li></ul><ul><li>However, the Muslims did not merely indulge in the task of translating Greek texts – the Muslim scholars critically analysed, collated, corrected and even supplemented substantially the Greek sciences and philosophy . </li></ul>
<ul><li>Whereas the Greeks systematised, generalised and theorised, the Muslims established new methods of investigation, of experimentation, observation, measurement and development. </li></ul>The most valuable of all, the most original & the most pregnant [works] Were written in Arabic. From the mid eighth to the end of the eleventh Century, Arabic was the scientific, the progressive language of mankind. During that period, anyone wishing to be well informed and up to date, Had to study Arabic. Background to this discussion <ul><li>Why was Europe trying so hard to conceal any links with Islam? </li></ul><ul><li>However, how can such a significant claim be substantiated, and how is it that many of us are unaware of such a claim ever existing ? </li></ul><ul><li>Montgomery Watt, himself concluded that it was so because </li></ul><ul><li>Europe was reacting against Islam [that] it belittled the </li></ul><ul><li>influence of the Saracens [Muslims] and exaggerated its </li></ul><ul><li>dependence on its Greek and Roman heritage . </li></ul><ul><li>George Sarton, traced the “roots” of Western Intellectual development to the Arab tradition </li></ul>
<ul><li>Bernard Lewis states that “ Whereas the Christian Civilisation was essentially European, the Islamic Civilisation in contrast was European, Asian and African, and the first to be really called a Universal Civilisation.” </li></ul>Background to this discussion <ul><li>The period during which Europe was shrouded by ignorance is known in history as the Dark Ages. While Europe was plunged into the abyss of obscurity, the torch of learning was kept alive in the world of Islam through the works of its scholars …….. </li></ul>
The inspiration for the desire to examine and explore creation was embodied in the very first command of the Qur’an: Read ( iqra ). For the next five centuries this and some eight hundred Qur’anic exhortations on knowledge (’ilm) remained the prime movers behind the triumph of the Muslim intellect.
Why the Pursuit to acquire Knowledge? <ul><li>The Muslims were commanded by the Qur’an to see and reflect, and not to pass creation by as blind and deaf. </li></ul><ul><li>Muslims did not confine the application of the teachings of Islam only to the religious activities, but applied it to every field of existence. </li></ul>
Where are these contributions? <ul><li>The success of the Muslims was greatest in </li></ul><ul><li>Mathematics </li></ul><ul><li>Astronomy and geography; in </li></ul><ul><li>Mechanics and optics, in </li></ul><ul><li>Chemistry, pharmacy and medicine; in </li></ul><ul><li>Botany and in mineralogy. </li></ul><ul><li>Encompassing all of this, was the desire to become educated – for Islam was not an Umma (‘nation’) of ignorant followers, but of people who were to think and to reflect . </li></ul>
Education <ul><li>The Caliph’s attracted to their courts men of science and letters, poets, physicians and philosophers whom they all supported. </li></ul><ul><li>Primarily, the Mosques served as the basic educational institution of the Community. </li></ul><ul><li>The oldest university in the world is the Al Azhar, then the University of Fez in Morocco, known as the Qarawiyyin. They s erved as the basic educational institution of the Community. </li></ul><ul><li>The Islamic form of education, eventually began to become emulated by the Europeans : </li></ul>- The term Chair in a university, reflects the Arabic Kursi, [literally “seat”] . - The modern doctorate in Latin is termed licentia docendi – “a licence to teach” - Robes worn today, were called Jubba tul faqih - Tassels were later placed on hats
Medicine <ul><li>George Bernard Shaw applauded the medical importance of Islamic teachings in building a healthy society . </li></ul><ul><li>The Muslim scientists made wonderful achievements in the sphere of medical science – in areas of anatomy, physiology, bacteriology, diagnosis and treatment, surgery and midwifery. </li></ul><ul><li>Europe was at a significantly lower ebb than the Islamic world </li></ul><ul><li>First European Hospital was in 1550 </li></ul>
Just a Selection of Muslim Scholars who contributed to the advancement of civilisation
Medicine Abu Bakr Bin Zakariya Al-Rhazi (864ce) <ul><li>The Encyclopaedia of Islam remarks that he remained up to the 17 th century the indisputable authority of medicine . </li></ul><ul><li>The Bulletin of the World Health Organisation [WHO] in May 1970, stated that His writings on smallpox and measles show originality and accuracy, and his essay on infectious diseases was the first scientific treatise on that subject. </li></ul><ul><li>He was born in 864 c.e His Al Hawi [The Comprehensive Book] was an enormous twenty-volume wonder. It was translated into Latin in 1279, and was repeatedly printed from 1488 onwards. </li></ul><ul><li>It was translated into Latin under the auspices of Charles I of Anjou by the Sicilian Jewish physician, Faraj ibn Salim (Farragut) in 1279 and was repeatedly printed from 1488 onwards. Al-Hawi was known as 'Continens' in its Latin translation. " By 1542 there had appeared five editions of this vast and costly work, besides many more of various parts of it. Its influence on European medicine was thus very considerable ." (The Legacy of Islam, pp. 323-5). Infact, Ar-Razi's al-Hawi was one of the nine volumes constituting the whole library of the Paris Faculty of Medicine in 1395 . </li></ul>
Medicine and Science The Qanun (Canon) was translated into Latin by Gerard of Cremona in the twelfth century. It became the text book for medical education in the schools of Europe. The demand for it may be appreciated from the fact that in the last thirty years of the fifteenth century it was issued sixteen times - fifteen editions being in Latin and one in Hebrew, and that it was reissued more than twenty times during the sixteenth century. From the twelfth to seventeenth centuries the Qanun served as the chief guide to medical science in the West . Dr. William Osler, author of the Evolution of Modern Science, writes: " The Qanun has remained a medical bible for a longer period than any other work." In the field of Chemistry , he did not believe in the possibility of chemical transmutation in metals. These views were radically opposed to those prevailing at his time. His treatise on minerals was one of the main sources of geology of Christian encyclopedist of the thirteenth century. Ibn Sina's Qanun contains many of his anatomical findings which are accepted even today . Ibn Sina (b. 980 c.e) was the first scientist to describe the minute and graphic description of different parts of the eye, such as conjuctive sclera, cornea, choroid, iris, retina, layer lens, aqueous humour, optic nerve and optic chiasma. Ibn Sina's portrait adorns the great hall of the Faculty of Medicine in the University of Paris.
Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi [Algorizam] was born at Khwarizm (Kheva), a town south of river Oxus in present Uzbekistan. The exact date of his birth is not known. It has been established from his contributions that he flourished under Caliph al-Mamun at Baghdad during 813 to 833 C.E. and died around 840 C.E. He is best known for introducing the mathematical concept Algorithm, which is so named after his last name. Al-Khwarizmi influenced mathematical thought to a greater extent than any other medieval writer. He is recognized as the founder of Algebra. The name Algebra is derived from his famous book Al-Jabr wa-al-Muqabilah. He developed in detail trigonometric tables containing the sine functions, which were later extrapolated to tangent functions. Al-Khwarizmi also developed the calculus of two errors, which led him to the concept of differentiation. He also refined the geometric representation of conic sections Mathematics
Chemistry Jabir Ibn Haiyan, known by the name of the alchemist Geber of the Middle Ages, is generally known as the Father of Chemistry (776 C.E). Jabir treatises on chemistry, including his Kitab al-Kimya, and Kitab al-Sab'een were translated into Latin in the Middle Ages. The translation of Kitab al-Kimya was published by the Englishman Robert of Chester in 1144 C.E. under the title "The Book of the Composition of Alchemy." The second book was translated by the famous Gerard of Cremona (D. 1187). Berthelot translated some his books known by the titles "Book of Kingdom", "Book of the Balances," "Book of Eastern Mercury," and it is obvious that he did not use correct titles for Jabir's books. Englishman Richard Russel translated and published (1678) Jabir's another work under the title "Sum of Perfection." He described him as Geber, the most famous Arabian prince and philosopher . These translations were popular in Europe for several centuries and have influenced the evolution of modern chemistry. Several technical terms introduced by Jabir, such as alkali, are found in various European languages and have become part of scientific vocabulary .
Astronomy & Mathematics Al-Battani, known in the West as Albategnius, was a famous astronomer and mathematician. He has been recognized as the greatest astronomer of his time and one of the greatest of the Middle Ages. Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Jabir Ibn Sinan al-Battani was born around 858 C.E. in or near Battan, a state of Harran. His remarkably accurate calculation of the solar year as 365 days, 5 hours, 46 minutes and 24 seconds is very close to the latest estimates. An old translation of his 'De Scienta Stellarum - De Numeris Stellarum et motibus is available at the Vatican. His another book al-Zij was published by C.A. Nullino in Rome in 1899. His treatise on astronomy was extremely influential in Europe until the Renaissance and was translated in several languages. Al-Battani's greatest fame came in Mathematics with the use of trigonometric ratios as we used them today. He was the first to replace the use of Greek chords by Sines, with a clear understanding of their superiority. He also developed the concept of Cotangent and furnished their tables in degrees. Joseph Hell remarked that " in the domain of trigonometry the theory of Sine, Cosine and tangent is an heirloom of the Arabs. The brilliant epochs of Peurbach, of Regiomontanus, of Copernicus, cannot be recalled without reminding us of the fundamental and preparatory labor of the Arab Mathematician."
Ibn Rushd was a genius of encyclopedic scope. He spent a great part of his fruitful life as a judge and as a physician. Yet he was known in the West for being the grand commentator on the philosophy of Aristotle, whose influence penetrated the minds of even the most conservative of Christian Ecclesiastes in the Middle Ages, including men like St. Thomas Aquinas . People went to him for consultation in medicine just as they did for consultation in legal matters and jurisprudence. Abul-Waleed Muhammad Ibn Rushd (known in the West as Averroes ) was born in Cordova, Spain in 520 A.H. (1128 C.E.). Law, medicine and Philosophy Ibn Rushd commented that Islam aims at true knowledge, which is knowledge of God and of His creation. This true knowledge also includes knowing the various means that lead to worldly satisfaction and avoidance of misery in the Hereafter. This type of practical knowledge covers two branches: (1) Jurisprudence which deals with the material or tangible aspect of human life and (2) the spiritual sciences which deal with matters like patience, gratitude to God, and morals. He compared spiritual laws to medicine in their effect on human beings physically on one hand, and morally and spiritually on the other. He pointed out that spiritual health is termed 'Taqwa' (righteousness and God-fearing) in the Qur'an.
Professor Bammate in his booklet "Muslim Contribution to Civilization" quotes Renan: St. Thomas Aquinas was "the first disciple of the Grand Commentator (i.e., Averroes). Albert Alagnus owes everything to Avicenna, St. Thomas owes practically everything to Averroes." Professor Bammate continues: "The Reverend Father Asin Palacios, who has carried out intensive studies of the theological Averroism of St. Thomas and, in no way classifies Averroes with Latin Averroists, takes several texts of the Cordovan philosopher and compares them with the Angelic Doctor of (St. Thomas). The similarity in their thought is confirmed by the use of expressions similar to that of Ibn Rushd. It leaves no room for any doubt about the decisive influence that the Muslim Philosopher (Averroes) had on the greatest of all Catholic theologians. . Ibn Rushd has been held as one of the greatest thinkers and scientists of the twelfth century. According to Philip Hitti, Ibn Rushd influenced Western thought from the twelfth to the sixteenth centuries. His commentaries were used as standard texts in preference to the treatises of Aristotle in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. His books were included in the syllabi of Paris and other Western universities till the advent of modern experimental sciences . Ibn Rusd was studied in the University of Mexico until 1831. Law, medicine and Philosophy
Ibn Al-Nafis was a reputed physician and a renowned expert on Shafi'i School of Jurisprudence. He is famous for the discovery of the blood's circulatory system , and was the first to describe the constitution of lungs, Bronchi , and the coronary arteries . Ala-al-Din Abu al-Hasan Ali Ibn Abi al-Hazm al-Qarshi Ibn Al-Nafis Al-Damashqi was born in 607 A.H. (1213 C.E.) in Damascus. Anatomy and science Ibn Al-Nafis made major contributions in medicine. He wrote detailed commentaries and critique on the medical knowledge available up to his time, and added to it many original contributions. His greatest original contribution was the discovery of the blood's circulatory system, which was rediscovered three centuries later. Ibn Al-Nafis was the first to correctly describe the constitution of lungs and gave a description of the Bronchi and the interaction between the human body's vessels for air and blood. Also, he elaborated the function of the coronary arteries as feeding the cardiac muscle. Ibn Al-Nafis’ Al-Shamil fi al-Tibb was an encyclopedia comprising 300 volumes, but it could not be completed as planned due to his death.
The Transmission of Knowledge into Europe The first Christian to take up the torch of learning was Pope Sylvester II (d. 1003 AD). He introduced the Arab astronomy and mathematics, and Arabic numerals in place of the Roman ones . He was followed by many, especially Constantinus Africanus in the eleventh century, and Bishop Raymond (Raimundo) in the twelfth century. As early as eleventh century Toledo became a center for the transmission of Arabic (Islamic) culture and science to Europe. A number of translators flourished there. Among the scholars, who flocked to it from all over Europe, were Gerard of Cremona (1117- 1187) and John of Seville. Other famous translators were Adelard of Bath, Robert of Chester, Michael Scot , Stephenson of Saragossa, William of Lunis and Philip of Tripoli. The early translations were primarily into Latin and some into Hebrew. Subsequent translations were done from Latin or Hebrew into vernacular languages of Europe. Many translators at Toledo had neither command over the Arabic language nor sufficient knowledge of the subject matter. They translated word for word and, where they failed to understand, Latinized the Arabic words. Under the supervision of Archdeacon Domenico Gundisalvi , and with the cooperation of the Hebrew Johannes ben David, the school of the Archbishop of Toledo rendered into Latin a large number of Arabic works on science and philosophy.
Several European orientalist like Mirabilis , after making the tour of the Muslim countries, were so much impressed that on their return home encouraged their students to leave the European schools for those of the Arabs and this yielded beneficial results. At the beginning of the thirteenth century, Christian Europe was learning medicine, mathematics, physics, chemistry and astronomy, through its students returning home from the Universities of Cordova, Toledo, Seville and Granada. The Transmission of Knowledge into Europe Constantine , the African, travelled for thirty years in Muslim lands and studied under Arab (Muslim) teachers. He translated several Arabic works into Latin. Constantine organized the first medical school at Salerno. This was followed by the opening of schools at Montpellier and Paris. Recognizing that all scientific works were written in Arabic, several European universities and schools, including those at Toledo, Narbonne, Naples, Balogna and Paris, taught Arabic to speed up the transmission of Arab (Muslim) knowledge.
Adelard of Bath was the first of a long series of Arabic scholars of England who traveled extensively in search of Arabic books. Adelard was born in 1075 in Bath, England. He studied and taught in France and visited Syria, Sicily and Spain before returning to Bath. He became a teacher of the future King Henry II . Adelard died in 1160. He translated several works on Mathematics and Astronomy. Among the most important works he translated was the Astronomical tables Al-Majriti (1126). Adelard made a Latin translation of Euclid's Elements from Muslim sources. He also translated Al-Khwarizmi's tables and other works on the abacus and astrolabe. His 'Quaestiones naturales' consists of 76 scientific discussions derived from Muslim sciences. The Transmission of Knowledge into Europe Sicily and Spain were the principal gateways of propagation of Arab (Islamic) civilization to Europe. The two “baptized Sultans” of Sicily, Roger II and Frederick II, Hohenstaufen , were the patrons of Arab culture and learning. (Muslim presence in Sicily began in 827 C.E., and they ruled it for more than 250 years, ending in 1091 C.E.). From Sicily the fruits of Islamic sciences and culture spread through Italy across the Alps, Lotharingia (Lorraine), Liege, Gorze and Cologne. The other gateway was Spain through which it penetrated slowly beyond the Pyrenees into western and south-western France.
John William Draper in the "Intellectual Development of Europe" "I have to deplore the systematic manner in which the literature of Europe has continued to put out of sight our obligations to the Muhammadans. Surely they cannot be much longer hidden. Injustice founded on religious rancour and national conceit cannot be perpetuated forever. The Arab has left his intellectual impress on Europe . He has indelibly written it on the heavens as any one may see who reads the names of the stars on a common celestial globe.“ What do Western Historians, Philosophers, leaders and academics say? Robert Briffault in the "Making of Humanity" "It was under the influence of the arabs and Moorish revival of culture and not in the 15 th century, that a real renaissance took place . Spain, not Italy, was the cradle of the rebirth of Europe. After steadily sinking lower and lower into barbarism, it had reached the darkest depths of ignorance and degradation when cities of the Saracenic world, Baghdad, Cairo, Cordova, and Toledo, were growing centers of civilization and intellectual activity . It was there that the new life arose which was to grow into new phase of human evolution. " It was under their successors at Oxford School (that is, successors to the Muslims of Spain) that Roger Bacon learned Arabic and Arabic Sciences. Neither Roger Bacon nor later namesake has any title to be credited with having introduced the experimental method. Roger Bacon was no more than one of apostles of Muslim Science and Method to Christian Europe; and he never wearied of declaring that knowledge of Arabic and Arabic Sciences was for his contemporaries the only way to true knowledge.
George Sarton's Tribute to Muslim Scientists in the "Introduction to the History of Science," "It will suffice here to evoke a few glorious names without contemporary equivalents in the West : Jabir ibn Haiyan, al-Kindi, al-Khwarizmi, al-Fargani, al-Razi, Thabit ibn Qurra, al-Battani, Hunain ibn Ishaq, al-Farabi, Ibrahim ibn Sinan, al-Masudi, al-Tabari, Abul Wafa, 'Ali ibn Abbas, Abul Qasim, Ibn al-Jazzar, al-Biruni, Ibn Sina, Ibn Yunus, al-Kashi, Ibn al-Haitham, 'Ali Ibn 'Isa al-Ghazali, al-zarqab, Omar Khayyam. A magnificent array of names which it would not be difficult to extend. If anyone tells you that the Middle Ages were scientifically sterile, just quote these men to him, all of whom flourished within a short period, 750 to 1100 A.D. " Robert Briffault in the "Making of Humanity" "It is highly probable that but for the Arabs, modern European civilization would never have arisen at all; it is absolutely certain that but for them, it would not have assumed that character which has enabled it to transcend all previous phases of evolution." What do Western Historians, Philosophers, leaders and academics say?
H.G. Wells "The Islamic teachings have left great traditions for equitable and gentle dealings and behavior, and inspire people with nobility and tolerance. These are human teachings of the highest order and at the same time practicable . These teachings brought into existence a society in which hard-heartedness and collective oppression and injustice were the least as compared with all other societies preceding it.... Islam is replete with gentleness, courtesy, and fraternity.“ Thomas Carlyle in ‘ Heroes, Hero Worship, and the Heroic in History ,’ Lecture 2, Friday, 8th May 1840. "These Arabs, the man Mahomet, and that one century, - is it not as if a spark had fallen, one spark, on a world of what proves explosive powder, blazes heaven-high from Delhi to Granada! I said, the Great man was always as lightning out of Heaven; the rest of men waited for him like fuel, and then they too would flame...“ What do Western Historians, Philosophers, leaders and academics say?
LATINI S ED AND ENGLISH NAMES OF ARABIC ORIGIN Arabic name Latinised/English Name Arabic Name AlAlgebragebra orithm Al-Khawarizmi Zenith Cenit Nadir Nadir, Nazir Atlas Atlas Azimuth Al -sumut Cipher, Zero Sifr
Latinized/English Name Arabic Name Elixir al-Aksir Alcohol al-kohl Alchemy Al-kimiya Antimonio, Antimun (English) Antimun, Ithmid Alcanfor, camphor Kafur Zircon Azraq Colliget Al-Kullyat Anima Kitab al-Nafs Sufficientia Kitab al-Shifa
Arabic Name Latinized/English Name Jabir Ibn Haiyan Geber Al-Khawarizmi Algorism, Algorithm Al-Kindi Alkindus Al-Battani Albategnius Al-Farghani Al-Fraganus Al-Razi Rhazes Al-Farabi Al-Pharabius Abu Al-Qasim Al-Zahravi Albucasis Al-Haitham Alhazen Abu Al-Hasan Al-Mawardi Alboacen Ibn Sina Avicenna Ibn Zuhr Avenzoar Ibn Rushd Averroes Al-Zarqali Arzachel Al-Bitruji Alpetragius Al-Sufi Azophi Ibn Bajah Avempace Ali Abbas Hale Abbas
Spherical Astrolab (dated 1480) These were rare and the only one known to exist. The large ecliptic circle bears the names of the signs of the zodiac. The rete, or star map, is attached to the globe with pointers for nineteen fixed stars.
Celestial Sphere (dated 1285) This equipment is from Iran. It incorporates information derived from Abd a l -Rahman as-Sufi's Book of Fixed Stars.
Geography (dated 1154) Arab geographers understood the basic outlines of Asia, Europe and North Africa by the 12th Century, and their knowledge was summed up in the great atlas of al-Idrisi. It places the south at the top, the diagram has been inverted to make it recognisable.
Optics (dated 1083) Ibn al-Haytham's Optics, written in Eqypt in the first half of the 11th Century, represented a theory of vision that went beyond Galen, Euclid and Ptolemy. This diagram of the two eyes seen from above, shows the principal tunics and humours and the optic nerves connecting the eyeballs to the brain
Mathematics Decimal Fractions (dated 10th century) Decimal Fractions first appeared in Arabic in the work of the Damascene arithmetician Abu'l-Hasan al-Uqlidisi. This page from the unique manuscipt of al-Uqlidisi's Kitab al-Fusul shows the decimal point as a stroke above the number in the units place in lin 10.
Mathematics – Parallel The problem of parallel lines, posed by Euclid's parallels postulate, received much attention from Islamic mathematicians throughout the history of medieval Arabic science. Nasir ad-Din at-Tusi's was probably the most mature treatment of the problem in Arabic, making sure use of Euclid's definition of parallel lines as non-secant lines and drawing on the results of his predecessors
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