The contribution of Muslims in the development of the modern world has been profound. From the year 800 C.E. to 1600 C.E. the Muslim world, which included the Ottoman Empire, the courts of Baghdad and other countries, was the center of science, mathematics, philosophy, architecture and intellectual activity. Many technologies and concepts that form part of our daily lives today had their foundations laid during that period. There are many aspects of European culture and traits of the Western civilization whose roots can be traced back to Muslims and Islam. Through the pages of our calendar this year, we share with you some of those wonderful contributions of the Muslim civilization and invite you to join us on this interesting journey through time.
Muslim scholars made key advancements in mathematics; introducing new concepts and ideas. The Arab Muslims were the first to adopt all the ten symbols 0-9 that we use today, sometime around the 8th century.
The Prophet (SAW) said: “Make use of medical treatment, for Allah (SWT) has not made a disease without appointing a remedy for it, with the exception of one disease: old age.” Before the Islamic era, medical care was largely provided by priests in sanatoriums and annexes to temples.
A large part of Navigation today has its roots in the inventions and knowledge of Muslims. Muslims were explorers and master navigators who travelled from the farthest reaches of the world to Makkah from 7th century onwards and used diverse methods to navigate through the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, Red Sea and Persian Gulf.
Before Islam, the Arabs had no scientific astronomy. Their knowledge was limited to the division of the year into precise periods on the basis of the rising and setting of certain stars.
1,100 years ago, Abu Yusuf Al-Kindi a 9th century polymath from Baghdad laid the foundation of cryptography by noticing the variations in the frequency of letters from studying the Arabic text of the Quran closely.
Muslims loved collecting books and establishing libraries. There was a large network of public libraries in masjids in most big cities, plus prestigious private collections. Public book collections were so widespread that it was impossible to find a masjid, without a collection of books
The first person to make a real attempt at flying was Abbas ibn Firnas, a Cordoban Muslim engineer dating back to a thousand years before the Wright brothers. In 875 C.E., at the age of seventy, he perfected a machine of silk and eagles’ feathers and jumped off a mountain, staying aloft for ten minutes before crashing on landing.
The simplest type of early Muslim education was offered in the masjids, which gradually evolved into centres of higher learning. It is for this reason that the Arabic word for University Jami’ah, is derived from the Arabic word for masjid - Jami.
Calligraphy is one of the world’s most ancient and respected art forms. Although calligraphic writings did exist in Arabia even before Islam, but the written word acquired unparalleled significance with the arrival of Islam and Muslims made significant developments in this practice.
The first record of coffee’s discovery is from Yemen when an Arab named Khalid noticed that his animals became livelier after eating a certain berry. He boiled the berries to create al-qahwa. This brew was later consumed by Muslims to stay awake through nights for prayers.
Vaccination was introduced in England in the early 18th century by the wife of the British ambassador at Istanbul after her son got inoculated by the embassy surgeon. The practice of vaccination can be traced back to parts of the Ottoman Empire. The Anatolian Ottoman Turks had discovered that if they inoculated their children with cowpox taken from cattle, they would not develop deadly smallpox.
During the Golden Age, Muslims excelled in civil and mechanical engineering activities including dam building and irrigation. The Aghlabids of Tunisia made some of the most impressive variety of dam structures as early as the 9th century. The oldest known arch dam in the world is the Kebar dam in Iran, which is about 700 years old.