View Full Version : How Islamic inventors changed the world

06-02-2007, 01:56 PM
From coffee to cheques and the three-course meal, the Muslim world has given us many innovations that we take for granted in daily life.

1 The story goes that an Arab named Khalid was tending his goats in the Kaffa region of southern Ethiopia, when he noticed his animals became livelier after eating a certain berry. He boiled the berries to make the first coffee. Certainly the first record of the drink is of beans exported from Ethiopia to Yemen where people drank it to stay awake all night to pray on special occasions.

By the late 15th century it had arrived in Mecca and Turkey from where it made its way to Venice in 1645. It was brought to England in 1650 by a Turk named Pasqua Rosee who opened the first coffee house in Lombard Street in the City of London. The Arabic qahwa became the Turkish kahve then the Italian caffé and then English coffee.

2 The ancient Greeks thought our eyes emitted rays, like a laser, which enabled us to see. The first person to realise that light enters the eye, rather than leaving it, was the 10th-century Muslim mathematician, astronomer and physicist Ibn al-Haitham.

He invented the first pin-hole camera after noticing the way light came through a hole in window shutters. The smaller the hole, the better the picture, he worked out, and set up the first Camera Obscura (from the Arab word qamara for a dark or private room). He is also credited with being the first man to shift physics from a philosophical activity to an experimental one.

3 A form of chess was played in ancient India but the game was developed into the form we know it today in Persia. From there it spread westward to Europe - where it was introduced by the Moors in Spain in the 10th century - and eastward as far as Japan. The word rook comes from the Persian rukh, which means chariot.

4 A thousand years before the Wright brothers a Muslim poet, astronomer, musician and engineer named Abbas ibn Firnas made several attempts to construct a flying machine. In 852 he jumped from the minaret of the Grand Mosque in Cordoba using a loose cloak stiffened with wooden struts. He hoped to glide like a bird. He didn't.

But the cloak slowed his fall, creating what is thought to be the first parachute, and leaving him with only minor injuries. In 875, aged 70, having perfected a machine of silk and eagles' feathers he tried again, jumping from a mountain. He flew to a significant height and stayed aloft for ten minutes but crashed on landing - concluding, correctly, that it was because he had not given his device a tail so it would stall on landing. Baghdad international airport and a crater on the Moon are named after him.

5 Washing and bathing are religious requirements for Muslims, which is perhaps why they perfected the recipe for soap which we still use today. The ancient Egyptians had soap of a kind, as did the Romans who used it more as a pomade. But it was the Arabs who combined vegetable oils with sodium hydroxide and aromatics such as thyme oil.

One of the Crusaders' most striking characteristics, to Arab nostrils, was that they did not wash. Shampoo was introduced to England by a Muslim who opened Mahomed's Indian Vapour Baths on Brighton seafront in 1759 and was appointed Shampooing Surgeon to Kings George IV and William IV.

6 Distillation, the means of separating liquids through differences in their boiling points, was invented around the year 800 by Islam's foremost scientist, Jabir ibn Hayyan, who transformed alchemy into chemistry, inventing many of the basic processes and apparatus still in use today - liquefaction, crystallisation, distillation, purification, oxidisation, evaporation and filtration.

As well as discovering sulphuric and nitric acid, he invented the alembic still, giving the world intense rosewater and other perfumes and alcoholic spirits (although drinking them is haram, or forbidden, in Islam). Ibn Hayyan emphasised systematic experimentation and was the founder of modern chemistry.

7 The crank-shaft is a device which translates rotary into linear motion and is central to much of the machinery in the modern world, not least the internal combustion engine. One of the most important mechanical inventions in the history of humankind, it was created by an ingenious Muslim engineer called al-Jazari to raise water for irrigation.

His 1206 Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices shows he also invented or refined the use of valves and pistons, devised some of the first mechanical clocks driven by water and weights, and was the father of robotics. Among his 50 other inventions was the combination lock.

8 Quilting is a method of sewing or tying two layers of cloth with a layer of insulating material in between. It is not clear whether it was invented in the Muslim world or whether it was imported there from India or China. But it certainly came to the West via the Crusaders.

They saw it used by Saracen warriors, who wore straw-filled quilted canvas shirts instead of armour. As well as a form of protection, it proved an effective guard against the chafing of the Crusaders' metal armour and was an effective form of insulation - so much so that it became a cottage industry back home in colder climates such as Britain and Holland.

9 The pointed arch so characteristic of Europe's Gothic cathedrals was an invention borrowed from Islamic architecture. It was much stronger than the rounded arch used by the Romans and Normans, thus allowing the building of bigger, higher, more complex and grander buildings. Other borrowings from Muslim genius included ribbed vaulting, rose windows and dome-building techniques. Europe's castles were also adapted to copy the Islamic world's - with arrow slits, battlements, a barbican and parapets. Square towers and keeps gave way to more easily defended round ones. Henry V's castle architect was a Muslim.

10 Many modern surgical instruments are of exactly the same design as those devised in the 10th century by a Muslim surgeon called al-Zahrawi. His scalpels, bone saws, forceps, fine scissors for eye surgery and many of the 200 instruments he devised are recognisable to a modern surgeon.

It was he who discovered that catgut used for internal stitches dissolves away naturally (a discovery he made when his monkey ate his lute strings) and that it can be also used to make medicine capsules. In the 13th century, another Muslim medic named Ibn Nafis described the circulation of the blood, 300 years before William Harvey discovered it.

Muslims doctors also invented anaesthetics of opium and alcohol mixes and developed hollow needles to suck cataracts from eyes in a technique still used today.

11 The windmill was invented in 634 for a Persian caliph and was used to grind corn and draw up water for irrigation. In the vast deserts of Arabia, when the seasonal streams ran dry, the only source of power was the wind which blew steadily from one direction for months. Mills had six or 12 sails covered in fabric or palm leaves. It was 500 years before the first windmill was seen in Europe.

12 The technique of inoculation was not invented by Jenner and Pasteur but was devised in the Muslim world and brought to Europe from Turkey by the wife of the English ambassador to Istanbul in 1724. Children in Turkey were vaccinated with cowpox to fight the deadly smallpox at least 50 years before the West discovered it.

13 The fountain pen was invented for the Sultan of Egypt in 953 after he demanded a pen which would not stain his hands or clothes. It held ink in a reservoir and, as with modern pens, fed ink to the nib by a combination of gravity and capillary action.

14 The system of numbering in use all round the world is probably Indian in origin but the style of the numerals is Arabic and first appears in print in the work of the Muslim mathematicians al-Khwarizmi and al-Kindi around 825. Algebra was named after al-Khwarizmi's book, Al-Jabr wa-al-Muqabilah, much of whose contents are still in use.

The work of Muslim math's scholars was imported into Europe 300 years later by the Italian mathematician Fibonacci. Algorithms and much of the theory of trigonometry came from the Muslim world. And Al-Kindi's discovery of frequency analysis rendered all the codes of the ancient world soluble and created the basis of modern cryptology.

15 Ali ibn Nafi, known by his nickname of Ziryab (Blackbird) came from Iraq to Cordoba in the 9th century and brought with him the concept of the three-course meal - soup, followed by fish or meat, then fruit and nuts. He also introduced crystal glasses (which had been invented after experiments with rock crystal by Abbas ibn Firnas - see No 4).

16 Carpets were regarded as part of Paradise by medieval Muslims, thanks to their advanced weaving techniques, new tinctures from Islamic chemistry and highly developed sense of pattern and arabesque which were the basis of Islam's non-representational art.

In contrast, Europe's floors were distinctly earthly, not to say earthy, until Arabian and Persian carpets were introduced. In England, as Erasmus recorded, floors were "covered in rushes, occasionally renewed, but so imperfectly that the bottom layer is left undisturbed, sometimes for 20 years, harbouring expectoration, vomiting, the leakage of dogs and men, ale droppings, scraps of fish, and other abominations not fit to be mentioned". Carpets, unsurprisingly, caught on quickly.

17 The modern cheque comes from the Arabic saqq, a written vow to pay for goods when they were delivered, to avoid money having to be transported across dangerous terrain. In the 9th century, a Muslim businessman could cash a cheque in China drawn on his bank in Baghdad.

18 By the 9th century, many Muslim scholars took it for granted that the Earth was a sphere. The proof, said astronomer Ibn Hazm, "is that the Sun is always vertical to a particular spot on Earth". It was 500 years before that realisation dawned on Galileo. The calculations of Muslim astronomers were so accurate that in the 9th century they reckoned the Earth's circumference to be 40,253.4km - less than 200km out. The scholar al-Idrisi took a globe depicting the world to the court of King Roger of Sicily in 1139.

19 Though the Chinese invented saltpetre gunpowder, and used it in their fireworks, it was the Arabs who worked out that it could be purified using potassium nitrate for military use. Muslim incendiary devices terrified the Crusaders. By the 15th century they had invented both a rocket, which they called a "self-moving and combusting egg", and a torpedo - a self-propelled pear-shaped bomb with a spear at the front which impaled itself in enemy ships and then blew up.

20 Medieval Europe had kitchen and herb gardens, but it was the Arabs who developed the idea of the garden as a place of beauty and meditation. The first royal pleasure gardens in Europe were opened in 11th-century Muslim Spain. Flowers which originated in Muslim gardens include the carnation and the tulip.

I was amazed when I saw all of this I knew muslims had made up a lot of things but none of these above.

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- Qatada -
06-02-2007, 02:01 PM

lol masha Allaah kool! :)

Here's some more good links:



Jazaak Allaah khayr bro :)

06-02-2007, 02:05 PM
Thank you for the links bro. It's truly amazing how much muslims brought to this world and then the kafir goes around saying he made everything up and calls us savages who can't do anything but kill. :rollseyes

- Qatada -
06-02-2007, 02:14 PM

It's our own fault though, Allaah has humiliated us because we turned away from His religion.. so why should He reward us or raise our status if we ourselves aren't proud of submitting ourselves to Him? :)

But i have noticed that whenever history of technology or nearly any field is shown, you'll see that theres a huge leap from the 6/7th century After Christ/Jesus (peace be upon him) uptill the late 18th century. That's because this is the period in history when Islaam was the superpower of the world, and the most advanced in all fields, and the language of the Qur'an (arabic) was the most commonly spoken language in the world, and the praise is for Allaah. :) That's because we placed our submission to Allaah before anything else. So He honored us.

You can check this link for our brilliant Islamic history too insha Allaah:


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06-02-2007, 04:39 PM
It's our own fault though, Allaah has humiliated us because we turned away from His religion.. so why should He reward us or raise our status if we ourselves aren't proud of submitting ourselves to Him?
true say bro.

jazaKallah khair for sharing this.

'Abd al-Baari
06-02-2007, 05:25 PM

i learnt something new today :)

Jazakallah Khair for sharinf bro

06-02-2007, 05:36 PM
We started walking away from the path of Islam, our iman was very low, muslims made war with muslims therefore Allah stopped protecting us, that's what I think. And without the help of Allah and while we concentrated on useless things of life the kafir prepared his plans slowly and that's how we ended up where we are, muslims dying daily, being oppressed across the whole world and there's nothing anyone can do or wants to do. So therefore we must strengthen our iman and pray to Allah and ask for forgivness and ask him to help us and then he will help us in our Jihad.

- Qatada -
06-02-2007, 06:10 PM

This was in another section, i know its not on topic, but i hope it benefits insha Allaah:


I've mentioned this hadith quite alot, and it clears up alot of misunderstandings aswell as gives glad tidings:

Allaah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said:

"The Prophethood will last among you for as long as Allah (God) wills, then Allah would take it away. Then it will be (followed by) a Khilafah [caliphate] Rashida (rightly guided) according to the ways of the Prophethood. It will remain for as long as Allah wills, then Allah would take it away. Afterwards there will be a hereditary leadership which will remain for as long as Allah wills, then He will lift it if He wishes. Afterwards, there will be biting oppression, and it will last for as long as Allah wishes, then He will lift it if He wishes. Then there will be a Khilafah Rashida according to the ways of the Prophethood," then he kept silent.

[recorded in Musnad Imam Ahmad (v/273)]

We're under the underlined stage, and all the events before it have occured in our islamic history. Inshaa'Allaah the rest of the prophecy will soon come into effect.

According to the hadith, the prophet (peace be upon him) will be followed by rightly guided caliphs and after those caliphs (Abu Baker, Omar, Uthman and Ali) will come hereditary leadership (the other Caliphs) and after that will come tyrannical rule (today) and after that will come a rightly guided caliphs yet again inshaa'Allaah.

We are in a stage where the people who speak out are being tortured and locked up, some even getting killed. Allaah trials the believers through these hardships, and as the muslims face pressure - some turn towards Allaah more whole-heartedly, others turn away from Allaah and follow their society out of fear of following Islaam.

We are in this stage when everyone is in the grey area, but after this hardship - there are two clear distinct groups - Black and White:

1) True Believers

2) Disbelievers

The True believers remain firm on Islaam, and the disbelievers will continue trying to eradicate Islaam.

Yet after this hardship, when Allaah knows the believers are worthy of their own state. He grants it to them, yet they still may be in a state of fear and get attacked by the enemy. This is like the Early Medinan Period.

However, if the Muslims remain firm on emaan and establish the salaah, pay the zakaah, enjoin the good, forbid the evil etc. Then He will continue supporting them.

As the muslims grow in strength by the will of Allaah, they will stay firm and defeat the enemy who comes to attack them - because the enemy wants to destroy Islaam since it is an opposition to their power.

Once the muslims become firm and strong, and a strength against the believers - then many people may secretly do Hijrah from the land of disbelief, to the land of Islaam. To the extent that the enemy feels that the muslims are so strong, that they have no other choice apart from a peace treaty.

Within this peace treaty time, alot of muslims will travel and make hijrah to the muslim land.

However now that the muslims are a power of their own, this is the time when the amount of hypocrites who pretend to be muslims will become on the increase, and the threat from the inside will be big. However, the believers will still remain successful so long as they keep their duties to Allaah.

Now that they are a power, they would do dawah to other lands and spread Islaam to other areas.

As they continue their dawah and fight to make Islaam the highest, then they are likely to get many spoils of war [wealth etc.] And they will become a powerful nation so long as they remain firm in their Islaam.

However, as time progresses the muslims will have soo much wealth that they will get attatched to this world instead of the hereafter. They will have so much wealth that many of the believers will start to prefer this world over the hereafter. They will then indulge in many sins. To the extent that they will become similar to the enemy, striving for this world instead of the hereafter.

Then Allaah will want to wake the ummah up again, and due to their sins - He will send them trials and an opposition. The enemy knows that the believers are united, but due to the believers love for this world - they will argue amongst each other. The enemy realises that the believers are at their weakest [due to love for this world] - so the enemy will fight.

The believers will fight back, while others will stay behind. The enemy is sincere, and many muslims may just fight for their pride and love for this life. Then Allaah will allow the enemy to overcome the believers, because their sins are similar, and they both strive for the same cause [this world.]

To the extent that the muslims will face hardship, and again - they will turn to Allaah in a state of weakness, depending on Allaah instead of this life and its delusion. And the cycle will begin again, right from the start.

That has been the exact same Sunnah which has occured within this Ummah, Allaah will trial us, the same way the people before us were trialled - that's because we have fallen into the exact same mistakes they fell into. And in the end, the victory is for the believers.
"Allah has promised to those of you who believe, and do good deeds, that He will surely grant them in the land inheritance of power as He granted it to those before them; that He will establish in authority their religion which He has chosen for them. And that He will change their state after fear to one of security and peace. They will worship Me alone and not associate aught with Me." (Qur'an Al-Noor (the Light) 24:55)
Allaah Almighty knows best, and He is the Wise, All Powerful.


06-02-2007, 08:55 PM
First of all correct the title of the the thread.

How Muslim inventors changed the world.

We should also try to know from the Muslim history that how and when the desire of inventions started in Muslims.

06-02-2007, 09:03 PM
Originally Posted by Abdullah2907

i learnt something new today :)

Make it your habit to learn something new every day. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Don't waste the remaining part of your life learning the same old thing.

06-02-2007, 09:25 PM
Originally Posted by Chechen
We started walking away from the path of Islam, our iman was very low, muslims made war with muslims therefore Allah stopped protecting us, that's what I think. And without the help of Allah and while we concentrated on useless things of life the kafir prepared his plans slowly and that's how we ended up where we are, muslims dying daily, being oppressed across the whole world and there's nothing anyone can do or wants to do. So therefore we must strengthen our iman and pray to Allah and ask for forgivness and ask him to help us and then he will help us in our Jihad.
Stop blaming ourselves for nothing. This is not a good habit. We should look into the matter seriously and try to find where something went wrong exactly.

We never wished to walk away from the path of Islam. Muslims do whatever they're advised by our leaders, Imams and scholars. Many of us even give their lives for Islam. So it's not our fault if we do wrong things in the name of Islam. How many of us on this forum want to fight or quarrel with other Muslims?

Our Iman is not weak. It's as strong as ever. Rather it's stronger than ever. This is because of our stonger Iman that we give more donations and more free food to the relgious professionals than ever. It's only the iman-dari (honesty) which is weak. You'll find the weak honesty or corruption in the areas and regions where there's more talk about iman or where people give more donations in the name of Islam. Have you ever tried honestly to find out the reasons. No. Because you don't want to be honest with yourself. First of all be honest to yourself. Don't always try to put the blame of everything on ourselves. If you think that you're doing something wrong as a person, then correct yourself personally. Never generalize your personal mistakes (if any) to others.

06-03-2007, 11:47 AM
What I meant was look at Chechnya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Kashmir etc people are dying there everyday and it's our duty as muslims to help them. I'm not trying to put blame on others I just feel bad when I think that right now I'm comfortably sitting in my chair in front of the computer while my brothers and sisters are suffering. It's true that our iman is getting stronger and more and more people are starting to realise what's happening to us.

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