Here are some thoughts on the Islamic worlds biggest scientific achievements, but before going on to reading the facts, please read the note
Note: We as muslims make a big mistake of linking fresh scientific theories and discoveries to our beautiful Qur'an and Sunnah. You will hear Muslims say “Oh, experts have discovered the following but, we knew this 1400 years ago through Sunnah, so it proves that we are right”- so tell me, what will we do when science changes (as usual) and updates its theories? Just by validating the Sunnah with new undeveloped theories, we immediately put the sunnah in a position of compromise. Truth is, the Sunnah and the Qur’an are unchangeable and absolute, science is not. Let’s not link the two. Lets appreciate Qur'an and Sunnah through the proper rules of Tafsir and explanation and lets appreciate science as humanity’s efforts in understanding Allah and His creation.
Early Islamic scientists cared only about religious advancements
You'll notice that Muslim scientists were not only attached to their scientific research but, they were devoted Muslims. Their motivation towards research had nothing to do with advancements in technology or fame but rather, their intentions were purely religious. They wanted to invent ways to make the practice of islam easier. For example Al-Jabr (Algebra)
Algebra was invented to make Islamic inheritance law easier to understand
In modern islamic education, inheritance law is considered one of the hardest sciences to grasp. This was no different in the 9th century when the Khalifa of the time ordered the 'Math Wiz' Al-Khwarizmi to create a tool which will allow us to make inheritance law easy. Thus he wrote a book called Ilm al-jabr wa'l-muḳābala
Islamic studies included medicine and astronomy
Medicine and astronomy were not separated from religious studies. There was no religion vs science. Look at some of the oldest Masjids like Al-Qarawiyyin, they have an observatory and separate rooms for scientific and medical work. When students came to to the masjid they didn’t only receive day to day islamic studies but also studied astronomy and medicine.
Islamic scientists stopped research
"The spark for Muslims to engage in science was from religious motives, but it didn't stop once they had the tools. They continued because their curiosity was peaked. What stopped them was more about politics and war, with the biggest hit coming from the Mongolian hordes who flattened out major cities like Baghdad and destroyed libraries and centres of learning." - Mohamad Ghilan
Pondering over the stars increases your Imaan
“Studying the stars will increase your Imaan. Just going out and watching them, looking at them, thinking about them” - Shaykh Hamza Yusuf
We wrote the medical encyclopaedia
Ibn Sina’s Al Qanun Fi Al-Tibb was translated to Latin and Hebrew, and was used as a medical reference in Europe for 500 years
Islam invented cleanliness to levels never before seen
Prophet Mohammed popularised the use of the first toothbrush. Using a twig from the Meswak tree, he cleaned his teeth and freshened his breath. Substances similar to Meswak are used in modern toothpaste
Muslims invented hospitals
According to Prof. Hassani, hospitals as we know them with wards came from 9th century Egypt. Islamic traditions of giving care to those who need it meant these hospitals gave free care
Muslims slowed with science but started to excel with technology
There are many recent muslim inventions, some of the more recent muslim inventions include:
- E-Learning - Khan academy pioneered online tutoring and has millions of students
- Real-time anti-fraud system
- Video hosting service - The inventor went on to co-found Youtube
- Tablet Phone - Samsung’s chief technology officer who developed the first tablet phone was a Muslim
- Web-based auction
- Shampoo - A Bangladeshi Muslim invented a massage therapy place that included shampooing. He went on to shampoo the King of England at the time and was named Shampoo Surgeon
- Oh and lets also thank the Muslims for: Coffee, Surgical Equipment, Flying Machines, Clocks, Cameras, Universities, Maps and much more...
In my opinion, Muslims don't need to have an inferiority complex when it comes to scientific and technological advancements. We should look to replicate how Islam advanced in the Islamic golden age - through the union of Religion and Science. There is no such thing as 'Religion vs. Science', because Science is just a way for us to understand ourself. If we don't understand ourself, how can we understand the Creator.
Inspired by talks from Mohamed Ghilan