Islamic science

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Photo taken from medieval manuscript by Qotbeddin Shirazi, an Astronomer. The image depicts a star constellation.
Islamic science is science in the context of traditional religious ideas of Islam, including its ethics and prohibitions. This is not the same as science as conducted by any Muslim in a secular context. However, certain liberal movements in Islam deny the existence of Islamic science, arguing that science should be considered separate from religion.

Rise of the Islamic science

Main article: Islamic Golden Age

Islam began to grow in the 7th century and in the following centuries, the Islamic Empire expanded to include Northern Africa, Middle East and parts of Spain. The capital of this powerful empire was Baghdad, which became a major cultural centre, favored by its location at the crossroads of the Eastern and Western worlds.

Science was encouraged by the Abbasid caliphs of Baghdad and they established the "House of Wisdom", an academy of science where they gathered important Sanskrit and Greek manuscripts and supported scholars to study and translate them. Some of these manuscripts were thus saved for humanity only through the Arabic medium.

The important contributions made by Islamic scholars can be seen in many words still in use today:alkali, algebra, alchemy, alcohol, Aldebaran, Altair, Algol, alembic, algorithm, almanac, Almagest, through to zenith and zero.


Ancient Greek mathematics had an important role in the evolution of Arabic science, especially works like Euclid's classic geometry, and it is thought that they helped creating the era of Islamic scientifical inovation that lasted until 14th century. Many ancient Greek books are only known because they were transcribed by Islamic scholars.


Missing image
Rhazes, treating a Patient.

Main article: Islamic medicine

(to be written)

Scientific method

The scientific method in its modern form arguably developed in early Muslim philosophy, in particular, citation ("isnad"), peer review and open inquiry leading to development of consensus ("ijma" via "ijtihad"), and a general belief that knowledge reveals nature honestly. During the middle ages, the advances in mathematics, medicine, astronomy, engineering, and many other fields were evidence that Islamic civilization had some knowledge of science and technology. During this time Islamic philosophy developed and was often pivotal in scientific debates–key figures were usually scientists and philosophers.

Ibn Al-Haitham used the scientific method to obtain the results in his book Optics. It's known that Roger Bacon (who is usually erroneously given the credit for having founded the scientific method) was familiar with Ibn Al-Haitham's work.

Decay of Islamic science

With the fall of Muslim Spain in 1492, scientific and technological initiative generally passed to Christian Europe and led to what we now call the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. The fiqh of Islamic Law froze more or less along classical/medieval lines, and no longer encouraged science.

Modern Islamic philosophy of science

Modern Islamic philosophy has, in response to challenges of secular science and concerns that secular society is unwilling or unable to limit its uses of dangerous technology, especially nuclear weapon or biotechnology, begun to look at the origins of science to determine what ethics or limits can or should be imposed, and what goals or visions are appropriate for science. Key figures in these debates are:

See also

External links


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