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Contributions of Islamic Civilization in Development of Humanity

Islam encourages thinking and acquisition of knowledge, which also include the scientific knowledge (Qur’an;3:190-191). The Qur’an uses word ‘Ulema’  in  the context of  scholars, who ponder over the natural phenomena (scientist): “Do you not see that Allah sends down rain from the sky with which We bring forth fruits of various colors? Similarly, in the mountains there are streaks of various shades including white, red, jet-black rocks. Likewise men, beasts and cattle have their different colors. In fact, only those among His servants who possess knowledge fear Allah; surely Allah is All-Mighty, All-Forgiving.”(Qur’an;35:27,28).

Hence the Islamic civilization enormously contributed towards the well being of humanity through advancements in all other fields including science and technology. The contributions in the advancement of knowledge by the Islamic scholars, scientists and philosophers are enormous, which have been summed up by Encyclopedia Britannica:

“The madrasahs (Islamic seminaries) 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 action, 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. They 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. It also developed to a high degree of perfection the arts of textiles, ceramics, and metallurgy.” It further adds: “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 of most Islamic works into Latin 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 and 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”.

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