There is a common misconception in the world that Muslims just focus on acts of worship alone. Allah does state in Surah Adh-Dhariyat that the purpose of mankind and jinn’s creation is to worship Him. But it is also true that He hasn’t forbidden us from living the life of this world and making worldly progress. Hence, we historically see a lot of inventions by Muslims. Amongst them are ideas that changed the course of the world.
Allah says in Surah An-Najm that He will note and reward man’s efforts. Living life has always been a part of Islam. Islam encourages Muslims to be a part of society and to earn to sustain themselves. Islam is a practical religion. It outlines how Muslims should successfully be a part of a community. Islam is also compatible with technology.
This is the reason why we see that in the early days of Islam, Muslims were not only pious and engaging in lots of worship, but also encountered worldly success. During the reign of the first two caliphs, the Muslim Empire spread far and wide. It encompassed countries as far as Spain towards the West. Despite the political upheaval and the lack of righteous rulers in later years, the Muslim world flourished. Inventions by Muslims took center stage in the world.
Many Muslims came up with unique ideas during the “Islamic Golden Age.” Here, we will look at what some of them invented and discovered and the unique ideas that they had. The focus will be solely on their worldly achievements; we will leave aside the discussion about Islamic beliefs and Aqeedah for the purpose of this article.
The exact origins of this invention aren’t clear, but there is a recurring story about Khalid, an Arab man in Ethiopia. He noticed that his livestock showed more activity after consuming a “berry.” Hence, he boiled the “berries” and coffee was thus discovered. People took it to England centuries later. The Arabic qahwa was the first term to describe it, with caffé and coffee coming later.
The Muslim physicist and mathematician, Ibn al-Haytham was the first person who realized that light enters the eye. He saw the way light came through the holes in window shutters. He utilized this knowledge for his invention of the pinhole camera. Thus, he disproved Ptolemy’s theory that the eyes emitted light. This was an important discovery in the field of optics.
Surgical instruments – One of the life-saving inventions by Muslims
Physician al-Zahrawi is also referred to as the “Father of Surgery.” He wrote Kitab al-Tasrif, a medical practice encyclopedia. He had a significant impact on medicine, and his discoveries impact the industry until today. His inventions included many devices that are utilized during surgeries and surgical procedures.
Jabir ibn Hayyan is known as the “Father of Chemistry.” He published a massive number of works relating to chemistry. One of his inventions was distillation, which is a method of separating liquids. One can do this by boiling a mixture at a specific point. Certain liquids boil at particular temperatures. As a result, this scientist is often considered to be the founder of modern chemistry.
University – Amongst the inventions by Muslims that affect the world the most
An Arab Muslim woman, Fatima al-Fihri, founded the first university that awarded degrees. This institution, known as the University of al-Qarawiyyin, is situated in Morocco. It is also known for being the oldest university that is still functional and holds several world records in this aspect.
Ten centuries before the Wrights, a Muslim engineer Abbas ibn Firnas focused on flying. He made many attempts to make a machine. Once, he made a “winged apparatus” and jumped from a minaret. The cloak didn’t serve his purpose of flying. However, the contraption was the first parachute, which was amongst important inventions by Muslims for future generations.
Algebra – One of the most important inventions by Muslims
Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi was a Persian polymath. He specialized in the field of mathematics. He wrote an Arabic treatise on Algebra, known as “The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing.” This was a significant work in the history of the field. The Arabic word al-Jabr in the title gave birth to the term Algebra. In the book, the author developed a method for solving linear and quadratic equations.
Ismail al-Jazari, a polymath, scholar, and engineer, founded the crank-connecting rod system. People utilized this invention later in many things, such as bicycles and engines. His book, called “The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices,” contained information about several devices he built. This proved to be essential for future development in the field. His discoveries were crucial for the field of robotics.
Hospitals – Amongst most beneficial inventions by Muslims
Complete medical institutions with wards, teaching centers, etc., didn’t exist until around the 9th or 10th century. Ahmed ibn Tulun Hospital was amongst the earliest hospitals. Here, patients were treated for free and given medicines for cures. The institution was very advanced for its era, with wings, wards, a library, etc.
The Romans utilized soaps. However, the Arabs were the first to make aromatic soaps. This was quite likely to be a side-effect of the importance of washing and cleanliness in Islam.
Islam was one of the foremost ideologies in terms of encouraging personal hygiene. Doing “wudhu,” which involves washing various body parts, is a pre-requisite for prayer (salah). Similarly, one of the other things emphasized in the sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was the usage of miswaks. This was likely to be one of the earliest methods of dental hygiene, leading to what we now know as toothbrushes.
World map – Inventions by Muslims that led to world progress
Muhammad al-Idrisi, a Muslim geographer, was the creator of one of the most advanced world maps of the medieval era. He combined the knowledge of faraway lands gathered by Islamic merchants and explorers. With this, he constructed a world map that contained much of what we know as the complete map of the Earth. Many inventions by Muslims have impacted the world, but this was unique. Geographers utilized his map for centuries after he passed.
The Fatimid Caliph in Egypt asked his scribes to provide him with such a pen, according to historical records. He required the pen to have ink in a reservoir, which would enable it to be held in any way without the ink leaking. It is likely that this was amongst the early inventions by Muslims of the era.
Medieval Muslims had advanced weaving techniques for carpets. Also known as Oriental rugs, these are heavy textiles, usually handwoven. Carpet weaving remains an important industry in countries such as Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Turkey. Their importance may stem from the fact that Muslims often utilized in mosques, and for praying on. People also used them for decoration purposes. Handwoven carpets are highly valued due to their elegance and beauty.