The expansion of the empire under the Umayyads and Abbasids also led to a culture and civilization particular to Islam. Muslim scientists, astronomer, mathematician, doctors, and philosopher contributed immensely to science, literature, knowledge, and culture. Baghdad, the capital of the Abbasid Empire became the centre of Islamic learning as well as the intellectual centre of the world.

At the Bait-al-Hikmah, scholars collected and translated works of the ancient Greeks and books from Persia, India, Syria and North Africa into Arabic. Hunayn Ibn Ishaq al-Abadi(809-873), an Arab Christian, was the main translator of the works of Aristotle, Plato, and Hippocrates from Greeks into further innovations and inventions. The knowledge was made available to Muslim and Non-Muslims scientists and scholars of the times. Arabic literature was translated into Latin and contributed tot he ideas of European modern philosophy. Muslim science and technology developed up to 1258 brought enlightenment to the Dark or Middle ages in Europe and ultimately led to the Renaissance.


Al-Khwarizmi (780-850) was a Persian Muslim scientists at Bait al-Hikmah in Baghdad. He was a mathematician who established the Indian numeral system and the use of zero in mathematics. His book Al Maqala fi Hisab al Jabr w’al Muqabalah laid the foundation of algebra (al-jabr) and the system of logarithms/algorithms (al-Khwarezm) is named after him. He was also a geographer and an astronomer, and authored a book on geography titled Kitab surat al-arz, (The image of the Earth). a crater on the far side of the moon is named after him and there is also an international award for mathematics in his name, as mathematics was his forte.


Al Razi (865-925), a Persian Muslims Scientists, had studied medicine in Baghdad. He was a polymath (Muslim Scholars were also called polymaths which means that they had several branches of knowledge. They studied philosophy, medicine, astronomy, geography geology optics, mathematics engineering and arts and contributed in all fields. ) who was not only a well known physician but also an alchemist, a chemist, philosopher, and scholar. He studied the symptoms and treatment of smallpox and measles; he observed patients carefully to note the symptoms of a disease and introduced the concept of a hospital. Patients with diseases which were infectious were kept separately in a hospital till they recovered. Ibn Razi has written more than 200 books out of which more than half of them are on various aspects of medicine and the diagnosis and treatment of diseases.


Muslim Scientists Ibn Haytham (965-1040) came from Basra, a city in Iraq. He stayed and studied in Cairo where he attended the Madrasa, Dar ul Ilm, attached to the Al-Azhar Mosque. Ibn Haytham specialized in optics, mathematics, physics, medicine, and the development of the modern experimental scientific method. His book, Kitab Al-Manazir (Book of Optics), comprising seven volumes, was studied by western scholars and led to optical research and later, the invention of the camera. The crater Al-Hazen (Latin version of Al-Haytham’s name) on the Moon and also the asteroid 59239 AlHazen are named after him. His geometry calculations and contributions in scientific research were a big stride in mathematics and science.


Muslim Scientist Al Beruni (973-1050) was perhaps the most famous Muslim Scientist of early times. He was a polymath and a linguist with command over Persian, Turkish, Syriac, and also Sanskrit, but he always wrote in Arabic. He wrote more than a hundred well-researched books on medicine, geography, astronomy, mathematics, physics, philosophy, travels, and history, but sadly many of these books are lost. Al Beruni also visited India in 1017 and then wrote Kitab al Hind, his famous book on India, its people, languages, society, and culture. He also suggested that the earth rotated on its axis and that the Indus Basin was once under the sea.


Ibn Sina (980-1037) was a polymath from Bukhara, who was a Hafiz of the Holy Quran, and had mastered philosophy, mathematics, and medicine. He worked as a doctor at the Royal court. He wrote a book on medicine, known as the Canon of Medicine (Al Qanoon fi’ al tibb), which was used in Europe till the 16th century as the main textbook for medical studies. Ibn Sina died in 1037 in Hamadan, Persia and is buried here.


Al-Idrisi (1099-1161), was a Moroccan who became famous for geographical study of the then know world, and for cartography. He travelled widely and gained knowledge of Egypt, Africa, the Indian Ocean, and the Far East, which he compiled into a book, Kitab nuzhat al-Mushtaq, with accurate maps. Al Idrisi work and his map inspired later travellers and explorers like Ibn Battuta, Ibn Khaldun, Al Beruni, Ibn Khaldun, Al Beruni, Piri Reis, Christopher Columns, and Vasco da Gama, For three hundred years, Al-Idrisi’s maps were copied by geographers without any changes. Al-Idrisi served at the Royal court of Roger ||, at Sicily where he died in 1161.


IBN RUSH (1126-98) is acknowledge as the greatest Muslim philosopher of all times. His family served as Qazis and imams of the Grand Mosque of Cordoba in Spain. Ibn Rushd learnt law, literature, philosophy, medicine, Fqih (Islamic laws) and Ahadith (Traditions of the Holy Prophet(PBUH)) from the best scholars in Muslim Spain. He wrote books on law, philosophy, theology, grammar, astronomy, and medicine. Ibn Rushd was a versatile genius influenced the thinking of both eastern and Westerns scholars in many disciplines or subjects for almost a century.


Ibn Battuta (1304-68) is the most famous Muslim traveller and explorer of all times. On foot, horseback, camels, and by sea he covered 120,000 KM that is, three times the Earth’s Circumference. He visited Spain and travelled across all of North Africa including the Sahara, the Middle East, Arabia, Turkey, Central Asia, and eastward to India, Maldives, south-east Asia, and China. Being a qualified Qazi, Ibn Battuta held held that position for several years in the court of Delhi’s ruler, Sultan Muhammad Bin Tughlaq. He returned to his hometown in Morocco in 1354 and thereafter, dictated the account of his travels which was written down as the Rihla.


Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406) is known as the Father of Historiography, which is the Scientific method for the study of history. He wrote the famous book on the study of history, Kitab-ul-Ibar and its introduction, the Muqaddamah, is a masterpiece on the subject. He explained the cycle of the rise and fall of civilizations and empires and how this affects the common man and the region’s economy. When Europe discovered Ibn Khaldun’s work in the 1800s, it served as an important guide to the development of modern sociology and historical thinking.




In 1258, Hulagu Khan, a Mongol leader, attacked and destroyed Baghdad and the learning of the House of Wisdom was lost to the Muslims. Muslims also lost the spirit of inquiry as science and mathematics came to be frowned upon by subsequent religious leaders; they focused on these subjects only in the light of the Quran and religious writing.

The golden age of Muslim scientists came to an end with the fall of the Abbasids, but their discoveries and innovations helped to bring about advances in Science and technology in Europe from 1400 to 1850. The Muslims scientists had based their principles of study on not accepting as true till experimentation had proved it, They also worked on the principles of going from the known to be unknown, which means that their knowledge of what they knew to be true became the base for the discovery of the unknown.

Related Posts