Islam emerged as a great force in the seventh century. Muslim conquerors conquered vast areas of Africa, Europe and Asia. The golden age of Muslims started with the spread of knowledge and education. There was an effective system of education in the Muslim empires. Baghdad remained as a center of learning for centuries. The educational institutes were the Mosques and Madrasas. These institutes produced men of great repute and dignity. Muslim scientists laid the foundation of a number of sciences. They devoted their lives to the spread of knowledge and science. Their contributions in mathematics, philosophy, geography, chemistry and astronomy will never be forget. Brief life histories and contributions of famous Muslim scientists is highlighted here.
Muslim Scientists & their Contributions
There is a huge list of Muslim scientists who did pioneering works in sciences and arts. Considering the scope of article, few greatest Muslim scientists are mentioned here. Some scholars and scientists have already been published on this website. The complete history of these Muslim scientists can be read under the category “History”.
Abu Al- Nasr Al-Farabi (870-950 A.D)
Al-Farabi is among those Muslim Scientists who excelled in philosophy. He was born in Wasij which is a small village near Farab (Turkey). His father was a general. He attained his early education from his home town and Bukhara. For higher studies he went to Baghdad as it was the center of learning. He lived in Baghdad for about 41 years. He lived through the reigns of 6 caliphs. It is said that he had mastery over 70 different languages. During his life time he traveled to far off places. He also studied at Egypt and Damascus for sometime. He died in Damascus.
During the early years of his career, he remained as a judge and then a teacher. Al-Farabi was great Muslim scientist. He contributed a lot towards many fields of learning. These include Mathematics, Sociology, Philosophy, Logic, Music and Medicine.
His greatest contribution is seen in Philosophy. He is considered as a Neo-Platonist is Philosophy. Al-Farabi had written fabulous commentaries on Aristotle’s work in Logic, Meteorology and Physics. He is regarded as the second teacher. Aristotle being the first teacher. He wrote Fusus al Hikam which remained as a textbook in eastern world. His contribution in Sociology can be judged from his book “Ara Ahl al Madina Al Fadila”.
Kitab ul Mosiqa is his renowned book on music. He was an expert in playing different musical instruments. It is said that he could make the listeners sleep, weep and laugh at his will with music.
Al-Farabi was a man with many capabilities. He wrote hundreds of books of which 117 are known and others are lost. He tried to integrate Sufism and Philosophy. Islamic values are clear and they do not require any Philosophy.
Abu Rehan Al Beruni
Abu Rehan Al Beruni is one of the greatest Muslim scientists. A detailed description of his life can be read in the below given link.
Jabir Bin Hayan (Died in 803 A.D)
Jabir Bin Hayyan is known as Geber in the West. He is regarded the “Father of Chemistry” and one of the most prominent Muslim Scientists. There are different views about his exact date of birth. He father was a druggist. He practiced Alchemy and Medicine in Kufa (Iraq). He is reported to have studied under Hazrat Imam Jafar Saadiq (R.A). He also worked under Khalid Ibn Yazid who was an Ummayed Prince.
Jabir Bin Hayyan changed the shape of Alchemy by introducing experimental techniques. He transformed Alchemy into modern chemistry. Despite being an alchemist, he did not wasted his time on making noble metals. The techniques in chemistry including evaporation, crystallization, distillation and sublimation etc were standardized by Jabir Bin Hayyan. He wrote about 100 books out of which 22 were on Chemistry.
His greatest and practical achievement lies in discovery of some important chemicals. He discovered Sulfuric acid and Nitric Acid. He prepared Aqua Regia by mixing 3 parts of HCl and 1 part of HNO3. This mixture could dissolve Gold and Platinum. Jabir Bin Hayyan discovered following methods.
- Leather tanning procedure.
- Dyeing of various clothes.
- Glass making with the use of manganese dioxide.
- Rust prevention in metals.
- Invented Steel.
- Varnishing of water proof cloth.
His books on Chemistry naming “Kitab-al-Kimiya” and Kitab-al-Sabeen” are translated in foreign languages.
Bu Ali Sina
Complete life events of Muslim Scientist Bu Ali Sina can be read at the mentioned post.
Abu Jafar Mohammad Ibn e Musa Al-Khwarizmi
Fewer detailed are known about the life of this greatest Muslim scientist. It is believed that he worked in a academy that was run under the patronage of a caliph. Al-Khwarizmi is considered as the “Father of Algebra”. Among all of his work his book on Algebra is most famous. It is known as “Hisab Al Jabr Wa’al Muqabla”. The Algebra included in this book is practical. It contains the solutions of daily life problem that were encountered at that time.
Al-Khwarizmi for the first time introduced quadratic and linear equations in mathematics. These equations had squares, roots and units. Al-Khwarizmi used both methods of solving these equations. Algebraic method and geometrical one. In mathematics he devised ways of multiplying different equations and values. In his description, he only used words. No symbols were used by him at that time. But zero “0” is invented by Al-Khwarizmi.
In geometry his contributions can never be over emphasized. He sorted out rules to find out the volumes and areas of geometrical figures. Formulas for finding area of circle and volumes of cone, sphere and pyramid are invented by him.
Like other Muslim Scientists, Al-Khwarizmi also excelled in astronomy and geography. He was inspired by the work of Ptolemy. He mentioned longitudes and latitudes of more than 2400 locations by using world map. This work on geography is contained in his another book. Along with all the mentioned work, he found horoscopes of political personalities of that time and preserved them in a book.
Mohammad Ibn e Zakriya Al Razi
Mohammad Ibn e Zakriya Al Razi should not be confused with Fakhruddin Razi. Mohammad Ibn e Zakriya Al Razi is prominent name among Muslim Scientists. lived from 864 to 930 A.D. He was born at Ray, a place in present day Iran. He was a master of many fields of learning. He took interest in music at an early age like Al Kundi. But later he learnt philosophy, chemistry, medicine, maths and astronomy. His name is still commemorated in Razi institute present in Tehran.
He became famous as an expert in alchemy and medicine at an early age. He attained useful practical experience in medicine at Muqtadari hospital of Baghdad. Before joining this hospital he was in-charge of a Royal hospital in his hometown. Then he travelled to Baghdad where he remained the head of Muqtadari hospital for many years.
Mohammad Ibn e Zakriya Al Razi was an alchemist, philosopher and Hakim. He made so significant contributions to medicine that he can be compared to Ibn Sina. He wrote some famous books on medicine. These include the following.
- Kitab Al Malooki.
- Kitab Al Mansoori.
- Kitab Al Judari Wa al Hasabah.
In the last mentioned book, he discussed Chicken pox and Small pox for the first time. This book has been translated into many foreign languages.
He also did detailed work on chemical reactions. He described and designed 20 instruments that can be used in chemistry. The preparation and utilization of chemicals compounds is mentioned in Kitab al Asrar. He was a mighty author. Wrote about 200 books out of which 40 are still in existence.
Muhammad Bin Muhammad Abu Hamid Al Ghazali
Follow the given link for life events and history of Al-Ghazali. He is well known Muslim Scholar.