Archive for March 13, 2006

Gifts of Islam to our world…a little known history


1001 Inventions – Discover the Muslim Heritage in our World: 

Did you know that…

…the basic scale in music today comes from Arabic syllables do, re, mi, fa, sol, la and ti? The Arabic alphabet for these notes is Dal-Ra-Mim-Fa-Sad-Lam-Sin?

…Al-Biruni, the 14th century physicist was able to calculate the circumference of the Earth and its tilt 600 years before Galileo? 

…the first operation to remove cataracts was carried out as early as the 10th century Iraq. Muslims also established the first apothecary shops and dispensaries?

…Al-Khwarizmi, a Persian scientist and mathematician, is credited with inventing algebra as we know it today. He composed the oldest works on arithmetic and algebra. They were the principal source of mathematical knowledge.

A remarkable exhibition has recently opened at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry (UK), charting 1000 years of Islamic innovations  and contributions to science, technology, art, including things we take for granted today in our daily lives.  Spanning the 6th to the 16th centuries and covering a geographic region from China to southern Spain, this project, tailored towards educators and school children shares a discovery of the Muslim heritage in our world. 

1001 Muslim Inventions

The Islamic civilization, according to the curators of this UK-wide travelling exhibition, has made an enormous but largely neglected contribution to the way we live in the west.  So many of the origins of Western discoveries came from the Muslim heritage.  It is heartening to know that there are individuals, groups and organizations which are unearthing the wonderful aspects of contributions to our world at large by Muslims centuries ago.  Many on this extensive list (top 20 are listed below or go to the site –, for in depth listing) are ones most of us probably never knew originated in the Islamic world.  Bridging the gaping abyss of misunderstanding, underappreciation and ignorance of such a rich history is truly and sorely needed in the tumultuous and fearful world we now live in.   

“When Europe was living in the dark ages, Islamic civilisation was blossoming, and the advances during this period are more relevant to the modern world than those of the Ancient Egyptians and Aztecs.” – Professor Mark Halstead, a lecturer in moral education at Plymouth University as quoted in the Guardian Unlimited, March 10, 2006.

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