The contributions in the advancement of knowledge by the traditional Islamic institutions of learning (Madrasahs, Maktab, Halqa & Dar-ul-Aloom) are enormous, which have been summed up in Encyclopedia Britannica: “The madrasahs generally offered instruction in both the religious sciences and other branches of knowledge. The contribution of these institutions to the advancement of knowledge was vast.Muslim scholars calculated the angle of the ecliptic; measured the size of the Earth; calculated the precession of the equinoxes; explained, in the field of optics and physics, such phenomena as refraction of light, gravity, capillary attraction, and twilight; and developed observatories for the empirical study of heavenly bodies.They made advances in the uses of drugs, herbs, and foods for medication; established hospitals with a system of interns and externs; discovered causes of certain diseases and developed correct diagnoses of them; proposed new concepts of hygiene; made use of anesthetics in surgery with newly innovated surgical tools; and introduced the science of dissection in anatomy.
Muslims furthered the scientific breeding of horses and cattle; found new ways of grafting to produce new types of flowers and fruits; introduced new concepts of irrigation, fertilization, and soil cultivation; and improved upon the science of navigation.In the area of chemistry, Muslim scholarship led to the discovery of such substances as potash, alcohol, nitrate of silver, nitric acid, sulfuric acid, and mercury chloride. Muslims scientists also developed to a high degree of perfection the arts of textiles, ceramics, and metallurgy. ” According to a US study published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science in its Journal on 21 February 2007; ‘Designs on surface tiles in the Islamic world during the Middle Ages revealed their maker’s understanding of mathematical concepts not grasped in the West until 500 years later.
Many Medieval Islamic buildings walls have ornate geometric star and polygon or ‘girih’, patterns, which are often overlaid with a swirling network of lines – This girih tile method was more efficient and precise than the previous approach, allowing for an important breakthrough in Islamic mathematics and design. ’ Muslims Scholars of Theology and Science: According to the famous scientist Albert Einstein; “Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind. Francis Bacon, the famous philosopher, has rightly said that a little knowledge of science makes you an atheist, but an in-depth study of science makes you a believer in God.
A critical analysis reveals that most of Muslim scientists and scholars of medieval period were also eminent scholars of Islam and theology. The earlier Muslim scientific investigations were based on the inherent link between the physical and the spiritual spheres, but they were informed by a process of careful observation and reflection that investigated the physical universe.Influence of Qur’an on Muslims Scientists: The worldview of the Muslims scientists was inspired by the Qur’an and they knew that: “Surely, In the creation of the heavens and the earth; in the alternation of the night and the day, in the sailing of the ships through the ocean for the profit of mankind; in the rain which Allah sends down from the skies, with which He revives the earth after its death and spreads in it all kinds of animals, in the change of the winds and the clouds between the sky and the earth that are made subservient, there are signs for rational people. (Qur’an;2:164). “Indeed in the alternation of the night and the day and what Allah has created in the heavens and the earth, there are signs for those who are God fearing.
”(Qur’an;10:6). They were aware that there was much more to be discovered.They did not have the precise details of the solar and lunar orbits but they knew that there was something extremely meaningful behind the alternation of the day and the night and in the precise movements of the sun and the moon as mentioned in Qur’an: One can still verify that those who designed the dome and the minaret, knew how to transform space and silence into a chanting remembrance that renews the nexus between God and those who respond to His urgent invitation. Famous cc Contribution of Great Muslim Women & Scholars:Islam does not restrict acquisition of knowledge to men only, the women are equally required to gain knowledge. Hence many eminent women have contributed in different fields. Aishah as-Siddiqah (the one who affirms the Truth), the favourite wife of Propeht Muhammad (peace be upon him), is regarded as the best woman in Islam.
Her life also substantiates that a woman can be a scholar, exert influence over men and women and provide them with inspiration and leadership. Her life is also an evidence of the fact that the same woman can be totally feminine and be a source of pleasure, joy and comfort to her husband.The example of Aishah in promoting education and in particular the education of Muslim women in the laws and teachings of Islam is one which needs to be followed. She is source of numerous Hadith and has been teaching eminent scholars. Because of the strength of her personality, she was a leader in every field in knowledge, in society and in politics. Sukayna (also “Sakina), the great granddaughter of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and daughter of Imam Husain was the most brilliant most accomplished and virtuous women of her time.
She grew up to be an outspoken critic of the Umayyads. She became a political activist, speaking against all kinds of tyranny and personal, social and political iniquities and injustice. She was a fiercely independent woman. She married more than once, and each time she stipulated assurance of her personal autonomy, and the condition of monogamy on the prospective husband’s part, in the marriage contract. She went about her business freely, attended and addressed meetings, received men of letters, thinkers, and other notables at her home, and debated issues with them.She was an exceedingly well-educated woman who would take no nonsense from anyone howsoever high and mighty he or she might be.
Um Adhah al-Adawiyyah (d. 83 AH), reputable scholar and narrator of Hadith based on reports of Ali ibn Abu Talib and Ayesha; Amrah bint Abd al-Rahman (d. 98 AH), one of the more prominent students of Ayesha and a known legal scholar in Madina whose opinions overrode those of other jurists of the time; Hafsa bint Sirin al-Ansariyyah (d. approx. 100 AH), also a legal scholar.
Amah al-Wahid (d. 377 AH), noted jurist of the Shafaii school and a mufti in Baghdad; Karimah bint Ahmad al-Marwaziyyah (d. 63 AH), teacher of hadith (Sahih Bukhari); Zainab bint Abd al-Rahman (d. 615 AH), linguist and teacher of languages in Khorasan.Zainab bint Makki (d. 688 AH) was a prominent scholar in Damascus, teacher of Ibn Taimiya, the famous jurist of the Hanbali school; Zaynab bint Umar bin Kindi (d.
699 AH), teacher of the famous hadith scholar, al-Mizzi; Fatima bint Abbas (d. 714 AH), legal scholar of the Hanbali school, mufti in Damascus and later in Cairo; Nafisin bint al Hasan taught hadith; Imam Shafaii sat in her teaching circle at the height of his fame in Egypt.Two Muslim women — Umm Isa bint Ibrahim and Amat al-Wahid — served as muftis in Baghdad. Ayesha al-Banniyyah, a legal scholar in Damascus, wrote several books on Islamic law.
Umm al-Banin (d. 848 AH/ 1427 CE) served as a mufti in Morocco. Al Aliyya was a famous teacher whose classes men attended before the noon prayer (Zuhr) and women after the afternoon prayer (Asr). A Muslim woman of the name of Rusa wrote a textbook on medicine, and another, Ujliyyah bint al-Ijli (d. 944 CE) made instruments to be used by astronomers.
During the Mamluk period in Cairo (11th century) women established five universities and 12 schools which women managed. Rabi’a al-Adawiyya al-Basri (717 C. E), is honored as one of the earliest and greatest sufis in Islam. Orphaned as a child, she was captured and sold into slavery. But later her master let her go.
She retreated into the desert and gave herself to a life of worship and contemplation. She did not marry, and to a man who wanted her hand she said: “I have become naught to self and exist only through Him. I belong wholly to Him.You must ask my hand of Him, not of me.
” She preached unselfish love of God, meaning that one must love Him for His own sake and not out of fear or hope of rewards. She had many disciples, both men and women. Zubaida (Amatal Aziz bint Jafar), the favourite wife of Harun al-Rashid, the legendary Abassid caliph. She came to be an exceedingly wealthy woman, a billionaire so to speak, independently of her husband. Granddaughter of Al-Mansur, she grew up to be a lady of dazzling beauty, articulate and charming of speech, and great courage.
Discerning and sharp, her wisdom and insightfulness inspired immediate admiration and respect. In her middle years she moved out of the royal “harem” and began living in a huge palace of her own. She owned properties all over the empire which dozens of agents in her employ managed for her. A cultivated woman, pious and well acquainted with the scriptures, Zubaida was also a poetess and a patron of the arts and sciences. She allocated funds to invite hundreds of men of letters, scientists, and thinkers from all over the empire to locate and work in Baghdad.
She spent much of her funds for public purposes, built roads and bridges, including a 900-mile stretch from Kufa to Makkah, and set up, hostels, eating places, and repair shops along the way, all of which facilitated travel and encouraged enterprise. She built canals for both irrigation and water supply to the people. She spent many millions of Dinars on getting a canal built, that went through miles of tunnel through mountains, to increase the water supply in Makkah for the benefit of pilgrimages. She took a keen interest in the empire’s politics and administration.The caliph himself sought her counsel concerning the affairs of state on many occasions and found her advice to be eminently sound and sensible. After Harun’s death, his successor, Al Mamun, also sought her advice from time to time.
She died in 841 C. E (32 years after Harun’s death). Arwa bint Ahmad bin Mohammad al-Sulayhi (born 1048 C. E) was the ruling queen of Yemen for 70 years (1067-1138 C. E), briefly, and that only technically, as a co-ruler with her two husbands, but as the sole ruler for most of that time.
She is still remembered with a great deal of affection in Yemen as a marvellous queen.Her name was mentioned in the Friday sermons right after that of the Fatimid caliph in Cairo. She built mosques and schools throughout her realm, improved roads, took interest in agriculture and encouraged her country’s economic growth. Arwa is said to have been an extremely beautiful woman, learned, and cultured. She had a great memory for poems, stories, and accounts of historical events.
She had good knowledge of the Qur’an and Sunnah. She was brave, highly intelligent, devout, with a mind of her own. She was a Shi’a of the Ismaili persuasion, sent preachers to India, who founded an Ismaili community in Gujarat which still thrives.She was also a competent military strategist.
At one point (1119 C. E) the Fatimid caliph sent a general, Najib ad-Dowla, to take over Yemen. Supported by the emirs and her people, she fought back and forced him to go back to Egypt. She died in 1138 C. E at the age of 90. A university in Sana’a is named after her, and her mausoleum in Jibla continues to be a place of pilgrimage for Yemenis and others.
The other eminent ladies who played important role in the affairs of state and philanthropy include, Buran the wife of Caliph Mamun. Among the Mughals Noor Jehan, Zaib un Nisa left their mark in Indian history.Razia Sultan was an other eminent women ruler in India. Influence of Islamic Learning in Reviving Western Civilization: While Muslims were excellilng in the field of knowledge and learning of science and technology, the conditions of Christendom at this period was deplorable.
Under Constantine and his orthodox successors the Aesclepions were closed for ever, the public libraries established by liberality of the pagan emperors were dispersed or destroyed. Learning was branded as magic and punished as treason, philosophy and science were exterminated.The ecclesiastical hatred against human learning had found expression in the patristic maxims; “Ignorance is the mother of devotion” and Pope Gregory the Great the founder of the doctrine of ‘supremacy of religious authority’; gave effect to this obscurantist dogma by expelling from Rome all scientific studies and burning the Palatine Library founded by Augustus Caesar. He forbade the study of ancient writers of Greece and Rome. He introduced and sanctified the mythological Christianity which continued for centuries as the predominating creed of Europe with its worship of relics and the remains of saints.Science and literature were placed under the ban by orthodox Christianity and they succeeded in emancipating themselves only when Free Thought had broken down the barriers raised by orthodoxy against the progress of the human mind.
Phenomenal influence of Islamic learning on the West: The influence of Islamic learning on the West has been phenomenal; an extract from Encyclopedia Britannica is an eye opener for the Muslims: “The decline of Muslim scholarship coincided with the early phases of the European intellectual awakening that these translations were partly instrumental in bringing about.The translation into Latin of most Islamic works during the 12th and 13th centuries had a great impact upon the European Renaissance. As Islam was declining in scholarship and Europe was absorbing the fruits of Islam’s centuries of creative productivity, signs of Latin Christian awakening were evident throughout the European continent.The 12th century was one of intensified traffic of Muslim learning into the Western world through many hundreds of translations of Muslim works, which helped Europe seize the initiative from Islam when political conditions in Islam brought about a decline in Muslim scholarship.
By 1300 C. E when all that was worthwhile in Muslim scientific, philosophical, and social learning had been transmitted to European schoolmen through Latin translations, European scholars stood once again on the solid ground of Hellenistic thought, enriched or modified through Muslim and Byzantine efforts. “Most of the important Greek scientific texts were preserved in Arabic translations. Although the Muslims did not alter the foundations of Greek science, they made several important contributions within its general framework.When interest in Greek learning revived in western Europe during the 12th and 13th centuries, scholars turned to Islamic Spain for the scientific texts. A spate of translations resulted in the revival of Greek science in the West nd coincided with the rise of the universities.
Working within a predominantly Greek framework, scientists of the late Middle Ages reached high levels of sophistication and prepared the ground for the scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries. ” According to Will Durant, the Western scholar, “For five centuries , from 700 to 1200 (C. E), Islam led the world in power, order and extent of government, in refinement of manners, scholarship and philosophy”.