The Lost Glory of Muslims in Science and Technology

The Lost Glory of Muslims in Science and Technology
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DR. RIYAZ AHMAD MIR

Islam gives great importance to education and knowledge Almighty Allah created Adam (ASW) and gave him (ASW) the knowledge and wisdom and made him (ASW) a supreme creation. Allah (SW) Himself taught the Adam (ASW) the names of all the things that exist in the universe. Therefore, it is imperative to develop the scientific temperament to explore all those things and their governing laws in the universe. The developments in the science and technology will help us to explore comprehensively that knowledge once given to Adam (ASW). At the time of Prophet Mohammad (SAW), the Chinese had excelled in the field of science and culture, therefore, Prophet Mohammad (SAW) said, “Seek knowledge even you’re compelled to go to China”.
During Prophet Mohammad’s (SAW) epoch and later, Muslims developed in science and culture with the best of its contribution. Every part of the civilization had a great contribution and influence from the developed Islamic world as Muslims contributed extraordinarily in different fields of science, technology and culture with great success. Muslims have great contributions and records of literary works in the fields of history, geography, botany, zoology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, medicine and so on. Muslims have written hundreds of books covering almost all the developed subject of field of science and technology.
Muslims had excelled in the sciences to the extent that even today it has a great influence on modern civilization. During the medieval times, Islam has provided hundred of scientists to the world community. Let’s recall the Bagdad in Iraq, which was once considered the hub of knowledge and education. But, it is very unfortunate that during the forcible dominance under the Tartars in 1258 all the Muslim chronicled literary works were drained to sea, libraries and research institutions were burnt to ashes. A brief account or the highlights of Muslim achievements in different fields are discussed below.
Muslims have a great contribution in almost all the modern developed fields of sciences, technology and history. For example, it was the Muslims who were the first to explore the scope of historiography. They initiated the study of cities and provinces, science and arts, morality and ethics and so on. As per William Draper, Muslims archived even the biographies of the famous horses and camels with ample perfection. It was the Muslims first claimed the shape of the earth to be spherical. Muslims prepared the geographical designs of Russia, China and Japan for the first time to the world. For example Al Idrisi (1100-1125) completed and designed first the world map displaying all the countries with picture perfect accuracy. They also calculated the circumference of earth and related the generation of Ebb and flow of the tide to the moon. Muslims started to study the botany during the second century of Muslim era.
They first observed the sexual instinct among plants. Muslims for first time added 2000 new plants in Greeks botanical bevy. In Spain, botanical gardens were constructed for research and detailed studies. Ibn-ul-Batyar (d.1248) is acknowledged as the most prominent botanist of the medieval period. Likely, the subject of zoology among the Muslims was first discussed by the Abu-Obadiah (d. 824) who penned down about hundred books with main focus on the horse. This was because, among the Muslims, the horse was an animal of immense interest. Al-Jahiz Basri’s (d.868) classified and categorized the animals initially according to their traits. Muslims even trained animals.
As per William Drapper, chemistry has been actually developed by Muslims. During the 1st century of Muslim era, Prince Khalid Bin Yaseed (d. 407) started to learn alchemy and devoted his whole life to it. Jabir Bin Hayan (d. 813) also called as father of chemistry codified chemistry and wrote about more than 100 books. He discovered the Aqua regi (powerful acid) that can even melt gold. Al-Kindi was the 1st physicist who developed the art of writing down the physics related observations and experiments and penned down more than 44 books to explain various branches of it.
Muslims minutely studied the laws of falling bodies, optics, introduced the concept of atom and gravity, substance, motion, time and so on. Muslims first developed astronomical observatories and used trigonometry and invented the Triquetrum, Quadrant and Dioptra, installing the pendulum in a watch. It is reported that the Muslims ruled astronomy for around seven hundred years. Muslims left no stone unturned to add new topics and concepts to mathematics. The first book of Algebra was written by a Muslim mathematician. The problems of summation of series, arithmetic series and geometric series were discussed by the Muslims first.
Omar Khayyam (d. 1019) gave classification of equations and recognized about 13 different forms of cubic equations. In the field of medicine, Muslims have contributed greatly. They discussed the every possibility of a disease that can occur from head to toe, importance of diatects and climate change on the patients. Muslims developed first aid and the ways to put on plaster, for the suturing up of wounds; they developed stitching using animal guts and so on. Ibn-al-Nafis first described the pulmonary circulation of the blood. From 12th to 16th century the entire conceptual entity of medical science was based on the books of Avicenna (Ibn-Siena).
But, over a course of time, the Muslim world has lost its glory in science and technology and today, the story is upside down. The West is enjoying the best development in these domains and very little is known about the role of Muslims. Due to these reasons the Muslim youngsters feel inferiority complex by western development in the context they think that perhaps, the Muslims have never been on this tract.
It is very disappointing and probably it may be because they have left themselves ignorant about the brilliant contribution of Muslim scholars to mankind that has in fact initiated and laid its foundation. So, it is very imperative for our young generation to study the past and lay a new foundation to regain and flourish the past glory in all fields of science, technology, culture, civilization and history. It is an urgent need to pullout from the inferiority complex that defines us Muslims. An obligatory effort to regain knowledge and wisdom to serve the humankind with humble and sincere spirit along with scientific and technological development is a dire need of time.

— The author is a geologist. He can be reached at: riyazgsi@gmail.com