Science and Math of the Arab Empire (from 622 A.D.)

By A.D. 622, countries as far into the West as Spain and China in the East were lands of the Arab Empire. At this time, less than 100 years after the death of the prophet Mohammed, the Arab Muslim people were having an era of renaissance. Exploring such topics as science, philosophy, mathematics, medicine, architecture, and agriculture in the lands they conquered, the Arab people were forming a new sense of education. In fact, the Arab achievements I am about to share with you are considered by many to be the reason the European Renaissance thrived centuries later. Here are some of the fundamental aspects of education the Arab people introduced to us:

Mohammad ibn Musa al-Khawarzimi was a well-known mathematician from Bagdhdad developed the Hindu concept of numerals, introducing the concept of zero as well as the decimal system. He later wrote about the al-jabr, or what we call Algebra. In fact, the word algorithm was derived from his name.

In the next century in what we know as Fez, Morocco, a woman named Fatima al-Fihri established a university where teachers were paid regular salaries and taught such subjects as math, medicine, astronomy, and commerce. Philosophy from all over the world and an array of religions successfully and openly intermingled at this madrassa (school).

The astrolabe was invented by the Greeks more than 2000 years ago, but the Arabs were able to devise is to be able to calibrate the times of sunrise and sunset. This way they could accurately and easily schedule their 5 prayers every day and the beginning and end of Ramadan. They also used the astrolabe to figure out latitudes and longitudes to make accurate astronomical maps. A Persian scientist by the name of Abu Rayhan al-Biruni even used it to theorize that the Earth revolved on its axis. As we all know, Galileo later proved this theory to be correct.

Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi was yet another Persian scientist. He was the first person to be able to distinguish between smallpox and measles, a communicable disease expert, and the discoverer of ethanol, using it for the first time in medical practice. He used a set of his medical surveys to compile the first medical encyclopedia.

Written by: Eden Ketema



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