Early Muslim Scientists and Scientific
published by: Sohail Chaudhry
The scriptures of all major religions direct attention towards science, time and again, rather than evoking prejudice against it. The Holy Quran has never advised against studying science, lest the reader should become a non-believer; because it has no such fear or concern. The Quran is not worried that if people will learn the laws of nature its spell will break. The Quran has not prevented people from science, rather it states, “Say, Reflect on what is happening in the heavens and the earth”. (Al-Quran 10:12) By heavens is meant the study of astronomy and by earth is meant the study of geology, biology and archeology. If God considered that the result of such study will create prejudice and hatred against religion, the Quran would have advised not to ever study these branches of knowledge. But in contrast to that it advises believers emphatically to study these sciences and investigate, as it knows that as the knowledge progresses in these fields, its truth will be testified. In fact, the Holy Quran insists in some 750 verses that Muslims study, reflect, and use reason to comprehend the universe. Moreover, the Prophet Muhammad made it compulsory for every man and woman to gain education and urged Muslims to seek knowledge even if they had to travel to China. The God of Islam is the same God who is visible in the reflection of laws of nature and is discernible in the book of nature. Islam has not presented a new God but has presented the same God who is presented by the light of man’s heart, by the conscience of man, and by heaven and earth. Every scientific discovery has taken place on the basis of this principle.
It was these exhortations that led Muslims of early Islam to excel in all fields of science, astronomy, archeology, mathematics, and medicine. Among these great scientists Muhammad Ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi [Algoritmi], (780-850), was a Persian mathematician, astronomer and geographer, a scholar in the House of Wisdom in Baghdad. He introduced the decimal position number system and his book “Calculation by Completion and Balancing” revealed the first systematic solution of linear and quadratic equations. Abu Al-Qasim Al-Zahrawi (Abulcasis), (936-1013) who pioneered modern surgical and medical instruments The golden age of sciences in Islam was doubtlessly the age of Al-Hasan Ibn Ali Ibn Sina [Avicenna], (980-1037), the mediaevalists, the most significant thinker and writer of Islamic Golden Age, also written more than 240 books on philosophy and medicine. The world known Ibn-al-Hasan Ibn al-Haytham [Alhacen], (965-1040), who was an polymath and philosopher, contributed in optics, astronomy, meteorology and greatest physicist of all times. Ibe al-Nafis [1213-1288], being the first to describe the pulmonary circulation of the blood and learned jurisprudence, literature and theology and became expert physician.
Nicolaus Copernicus [1473-1543], a German astronomer and mathematician, who known for copernicus’ law, he formulated a model of the universe that placed the Sun rather than the Earth at the center of the universe and published in his book “De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium” (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres) which considered a major step in the history of modern science. There was a time when the concept of the world being round was an idea that was beyond comprehension. Galileo Galilei [1564-1642], an Italian astronomer and mathematician, whose Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems made an inferential leap, and he believed that such idea was possible. Isaac Newton, natural philosopher, scientist of all times (1624 – 1726) whose observation of a falling apple did not prove the existence of gravity, but it did necessitate the pursuit of the idea. Jean-Sylvain Bailly [1736-1793], a French astronomer and mathematician, who calculated an orbit for the next appearance of Halley’ Comet in 1759 and correctly reduced Lacaille’s observations of 515 stars. Dr. Abdus Salam, (1926-1996) an Ahmadi Muslim, to follow in the footsteps of the pioneering Muslim Scientists. It was with this understanding that he carried his research, and it was this conviction that led him to become a highly respected physicist and Nobel Laureate (Physics Prize 1979) — the first Muslim to do so. If religion is true, it should not fear science but should embrace it, because after all, as Dr. Abdus Salam famously said, “Scientific thought is the common heritage of mankind”.