Showing posts with label science. Show all posts
Showing posts with label science. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Contributions of Muslims to Medicine



- Translation of Work from Other Languages

- Knowledge of Anatomy

- Physiology

- Bacteriology

- Surgery

- Optical Work

- Operation of Cataracts

- Structure of the Eyes

- Cesarean Operation

- Development of Hospitals

- Mobile Hospitals

- Medical Schools



Centuries before the advent of Islam the Arabs had their own system of medicine in the form of herb and shrubs which was based on Chaldean medicine and on their own experience. Gradually Greek medicine attracted their attention. Harith ibn Kaldah was the first to introduce Greek medicine e to the Arabs. Khalid ibn Yazed ibn Mu'awiya had some Greek and Egyptian books translated into Arabic during the 'Umayyah period. But the science of medicine flourished during the time of the Abbasids.

Initially, the Muslims made arrangements for the translation of Greek, Indian, Persian and Chaldean medical works into Arabic, and thus received their knowledge of medicine from these nations. Before they accepted at face value the information they extracted, they conducted research in various branches in medicine to verify what they gathered from these texts.

In addition, they made many valuable new discoveries in medical theory and practical. By combining their discoveries, with the information they filtered from other sources they evolved an entirely new system of medicine.

The Arabs had a fair knowledge of anatomy as it is obvious from the names of the internal and external organs of the human and animal bodies found in the literature of pre-Islamic Arabia. When they became acquainted with the Greek anatomical descriptions, they made investigations on them, pointed out many errors in the work of their predecessors, and made many new discoveries in this field.

In order to verily the Greek anatomical ideas prevailing at that time, Yuhanna ibn Masawaih made dissections of apes supplied to him by the order of the 'Abbasi Khaleefah Mu'tasim Billah. After this verification he composed his work on anatomy. The works of some Muslim physicians and surgeons, like Tashrili al-Mansuri by Mansur ibn Muhammad, contain illustrations of human organs, which are not found in the Greek works. These illustrations also throw light on the Muslims' practical knowledge of anatomy.

In the field of physiology the work of the Muslim physicians is quite valuable. For instance, Ala al-Din Abu al-Hassan 'Ali ibn Abi Hazm al Qarshi of Damascus explained the theory of the minor circulation of blood three centuries before William Harvey, who is credited with this discovery. Also, al-Qarshi suggested that food is fuel for the maintenance of the body's heat. Abu al-Faraj 'Ali ibn al-Hussein held that there are canals in the nerves through which sensations and movement are transmitted.

The contributions of Muslims in the field of bacteriology are quite revolutionary. According to Browne, Muslims were fully aware of the theory of germs. Ibn Sina was the first to state that bodily secretions are contaminated by foul foreign earthly bodies before getting the infection. Ibn Khatimah of the 14th century CE stated that man is surrounded by minute bodies which enter the human body and cause disease. His observation was made from the great plague that effected many parts of the world. Ibn al-Khatib (1313 - 1375 CE), a Spanish physician, wrote a treatise called On the Plague. His observation was:


"The existence of contagion is established by experience, investigation, the evidence of the senses and trustworthy reports. These facts constitute a sound argument. The fact of infection becomes clear to the investigator who notices how he who establishes contact with the afflicted gets the disease, whereas he who is not in contact remains safe, and how transmission is affected through garments, vessels and earrings."


Some Muslims also gave new suggestions regarding the treatment of diseases. Abu ai-Hassan, the physician of'Adud al-Dawlah" introduced the process of bleeding as a treatment of cerebral hemorrhage which is often due to blood pressure.

Al-Razi suggested nourishing food for the treatment of general weakness. The Muslim physicians were the first to use the stomach tube for the performance of gastric lavage in the case of gas poisoning. They were fully aware of the principles of phototherapy centuries before Browne Sequard, who is ascribed to discovering this method of treatment.

Sa'id ibn Bishr ibn 'Abdus suggested light foods and cold producing medicines for the treatment ofgeneral paralysis and facial paralysis. Ibn al-Wafid gave emphasis upon the treatment of diseases through food control. They discovered the treatment for epidemic jaundice and suggested a reasonable quantity of opium as a treatment of mania. For epistaxis they suggested the pouring of cold water on the head.

In the science of surgery there were also many advancements made by Muslims. They introduced the cauterizing agents in surgery. They were the first to apply the method of cooling to stop the hemorrhage, and suture wounds with silken threads.

It cannot go unnoticed that one of the most famous and eminent figure in Islamic medical field was Ibn Sina. It is said that for a thousand years he has retained his original renown as one of the greatest thinkers and medical scholars in history, His most important medical works are the Qanun (Canon) and a treatise on cardiac drugs.

In the 11th century CE Ibn Zuhr gave a complete description of the operation of tracheotomy, which was not mentioned by the Greeks. Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi invented many surgical instruments illustrated in his book Al- Tasrif. In the same book he described the methods of operations for various diseases. While describing the operations of the skull and its parts, the Muslim surgeons made a mention of operations of the uvula and nasal cavity. They also used methods of tonsillectomy and paracentesis ofthe ear drum.

The Muslim opticians did valuable and original work in the treatment of eye diseases and surgery. Many of the surgical principles formulated by Muslims are still utilized today. The method of operation of cataracts was first described by them. They knew that cataracts were due to the incapacity of the eye lens. Ibn al Haytham described the structure of the eye and gave revolutionary ideas regarding the mechanism of sight and describing various types of lenses.

The art of midwifery was highly developed by Muslims. Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi invented the method of cranicolsy for the delivery of dead fetus and applied it himself. A book entitled AI-Athar al-Baqiyyah in the University of Edinburgh contains an illustration showing an Arab physician performing cesarean operation.

During the time of'Umayyah rule, the Muslims developed the institution Of hospitals. During the time of the 'Abbasi Khaleefah Harun aI-Rasheed a hospital was built in Baghdad, which was the first in the history of this city. Many new hospitals were established shortly afterwards. Some of them had their own gardens in which the medicinal plants were Cultivated. The large hospitals had medical schools attached to them. Besides such hospital there were a large number of mobile hospitals in the Muslim world.

The Muslim hospitals served as models for the hospitals established in different parts of Europe, particularly in Italy and France during the 14th century CE due to the influence of the Crusades. The Crusaders were inspired by the magnificent hospitals of the Seljuq ruler Nur al-Dir, in Damascus and those of the Mamluk Sultan aI-Mansur Qala'un in Cairo.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Contribution of Muslims to Chemistry




- Definition of Organic &

- Inorganic Chemistry

- Sulfur Mercury Theory of Metals

- Calcination

- Reduction

- Discoveries of various Acids Sulfuric & Nitric acids

- Preparation of Drugs

- Applied Chemistry

- Paper

Chemistry deals with the composition and properties of substances and the changes of composition they undergo. It has been divided into Inorganic and Organic. The conception of this division in modem Chemistry came from al-Razi's classification Of chemical substances into mineral, vegetable and animal.

Inorganic chemistry, which deals with the preparation and properties of the elements and their compounds, originally arose from the study of minerals and metals. Organic chemistry, which deals with carbon compounds, developed through the investigation of animal and plant Products.

Contribution of Muslims to Chemistry 

A Greek philosopher, Empedocles, held the view that all the four elements, air, water, earth and fire, were the primal elements, and that the various substances were made by their intermixing. He regarded them to be distinct and unchangeable. Aristotle considered these elements to be changeable, i.e . one kind of matter could be changed into another kind.

Jabir ibn Hayyan, a great Muslim chemist of the 8th century CE, modified the Aristotelian doctrine of the four elements, and presented the so called sulfur mercury theory of metals. According to this theory, metals duller essentially because of different proportions of sulfur and mercury in them. He also formulated the theory of geologic formation of metals. Unlike his Greek predecessors, he did not merely speculate, but performed experiments to reach certain conclusions. He recognized and stated the importance of experimentation in chemistry. He combined the theoretical knowledge of the Greeks and the practical knowledge of craftsmen, and made noteworthy advances both in the theory and practice of chemistry.

Jabir's contribution to chemistry is very great. He gave a scientific description of two principle operations of chemistry. One of them is calcination which is employed in the extraction ofmetals from their ores. The other is reduction which is employed in numerous chemical treatments. He improved upon the methods of evaporation, melting, distillation, sublimation and crystallization. These are the fundamental methods employed in the purification of chemical substances, enabling the chemist to study their properties and uses, and to prepare them. The process of distillation is particularly used for taking extracts of plant


The most important discovery made by Jabir was the preparation of sulfuric acid. The importance of this discovery can be realized by the fact that in this modem age the extent of the industrial progress of a country is mostly judged by the amount of sulfuric acid used in that country. Another important acid prepared by him was nitric acid which he obtained by distilling a mixture of alum and copper sulfate. Then by dissolving ammonium chloride into this acid, he prepared aqua regia which unlike acids, could dissolve gold in it.

Jabir classified chemical substances, on the basis of some distinctive features, into bodies (gold, silver, etc.) and souls (mercury, sulfur, etc.) to make the study of their properties easier.

In the same century Jabir 's work was further advanced by al-Razi who wrote many chemical treatises, and described a number of chemical Instruments. He applied his chemical knowledge for medical purposes, thus laying the foundation of applied chemistry.

Abu Mansur distinguished between sodium carbonate and potassium carbonate. He had some knowledge of arsenious oxide, cupric oxide, antimony and other substances. He knew the toxicological effects of copper and lead compounds, the depilatory virtue of quicklime, the composition of plaster of Paris and its surgical use.

Muslim Chemistry

The great Muslim surgeon, Khalaf ibn 'Abbas al-Zahrawi wrote a great medical encyclopedia, Al-Tasrif, which contains interesting methods of preparing drugs by sublimation and distillation, but it's most important part is the surgical one.

Ibn Sina wrote a treatise on minerals that provided one of the main sources of geological knowledge, and chemistry in Western Europe until the Renaissance.

The Muslim chemists applied their chemical knowledge to a large number of industrial arts. One of them is mentioned here, which will enable the reader to estimate the extent of their knowledge of Applied Chemistry.

Paper is also featured in the pioneering works of the Muslims. Paper was invented by the Chinese who prepared it from the cocoon of the silk worm. Some specimens of Chinese paper dates back to the second century CE. The first manufacture of the paper outside China occurred in Samarqand in 757 CE. When Samarqand was captured by the Muslims, the manufacture of paper spread all over the Muslims World. By the end of the 12th century CE, there were four hundred paper mills in Fas alone . In Spain the main center of manufacturing of paper was Shatiba which remained a Muslim city until 1239 CE. Cordova was the center of the paper business in Spain.

The Muslims developed this art. They prepared paper not only from silk, but also from cotton, rags and wood. In the middle of the 10th century CE the paper industry was introduced into Spain. In Khurasan paper was made from linen. Joseph Karabacek, in one of his works, explains the process of making paper in minute detail, describing how the pulp is prepared to make sheets, washed and cleaned them, colored, polished and pasted. No text comparable to this in any other language exists from that time.

The preparation of pulp involves a large number of complicated chemical processes, which indicates the level of achievement in chemistry reached by Muslims.

The manufacture of writing paper in Spain is one of the most beneficial contributions of Muslim to Europe. Without paper the scale on which popular education in Europe developed would not have been possible. The preparation of paper from silk would have been impossible in Europe due to the lack of silk production there.

The Muslims method of producing paper from cotton could only be useful for the Europeans. After Spain the art of paper making was established in Italy in1268 CE. France owed its first paper mills to Muslim Spain. From these countries the industry spread throughout Europe.


Monday, June 22, 2015

Islam as an Ideology

In order to understand the relationship between science and Islam, it is necessary first to explain Islam, as it was Islam that provided the driving force of change and research in science. It is the Islamic ideology that deserves the credit and not just the individuals only.
            The word 'Islam', in Arabic, linguistically means submission. As a term, 'Islam' refers to the Message that was revealed to Muhammad SAW by Allah, the One Creator, and a 'Muslim' is the one who believes in Allah, and accepts Muhammad SAW as the last and final Prophet and Messenger Of Allah. Consequently, a Muslim believes in Islam in its entirety.
            In sharp contrast to Christianity and Judaism, Islam is not merely a religion. Rather, Islam is a unique and comprehensive ideology that guides the life of the human being. The Islamic ideology, by the definition of an ideology, consists of both the 'Aqeedah (creed, doctrine) and Systems, to regulate the practical life of human beings.
            The Islamic 'Aqeedah provides the correct and comprehensive answers to the fundamental questions regarding humanity's existence and that of th universe. It addresses the issue of the human being's purpose in life, and links it with what preceded life and what will come after it, thereby settling humanity's core problem and providing the basis for systems and rules to properly Organize human affairs. This 'Aqeedah also provides the basi s for a means to implement Islam in reality, thus transferring it from 'theory' to 'practice'. This means of implementing Islam is through the State. The State is an integral part of the ideology and distinguishes it from a philosophy, which provides hypothetical ideas but no means to implement them.
Islam provide a comprehensive structure to govern the affairs of human
beings. It correctly establishes:
I) The relationship between the human being and his Creator
2) The personal affairs of individuals
3) The various relationships (social, political, economic, and international)
that exist in the society
            Thus , Islam constitutes a Creed and Systems. What distinguishes Islam from the ideologies of Capitalism and Communism is that Islam is built on the correct idea, whereas the others are founded on a shallow and unenlightened view of the life of the human being and the world in which he exists. Because Islam establishes the correct understanding of life and places humanity in the correct context, the systems and culture emanating from the Islamic creed would correctly address the human nature and provide the correct solutions. In this context, Islam is compatible with the human being. Islam does not ignore a human being's instincts or desires, but organizes them in the proper context, including the survival instinct that prompts man to seek material progress through the acquisition of science and technology.
            Islam is an ideology that was revealed to the world. The spread of Islam is neither confined to time or place, nor dependent upon science and technology. Although science and technology has changed the living conditions of the people around the globe, the needs and instincts of humanity have not changed. Therefore, Islam, which came to organize the needs and instincts through its implementation upon society, is applicable and valid for all time.