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Islamic Science

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The Qur'an calls upon Muslims to look around them and study the physical world, so that they might appreciate the majesty of Allah's creation:
"Behold! 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 benefit of mankind; in the rain which Allah Sends down from the skies, and the life which He gives therewith to an earth that is dead; in the beasts of all kinds that He scatters through the earth; in the change of the winds, and the clouds which they trail like their slaves between the sky and the earth -- (Here) indeed are Signs for a people that are wise." (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:164)
And the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) told Muslims to "seek knowledge, even if it be in China." (Meaning 'seek knowledge wherever it may be found.')

Throughout Islamic history, that is exactly what Muslims have done. Particularly in the 7th-13th centuries C.E., the Islamic world was in the midst of its "Golden Age," paving the way for the growth of modern sciences. Rather than stifling science, the religion of Islam encouraged its study. Scientific inquiry was widespread, and some of the greatest scholars and scientists of the world made wondrous discoveries and inventions. Muslims led the world in the study of medicine, astronomy, mathematics, geography, chemistry, botany, and physics. They transmitted their studies to the West, where their work was built upon and further disseminated. These English words are rooted in the Arabic language, demonstrating the influence of Muslim scholars in these fields:

  • alchemy
  • algebra
  • algorithm
  • alkali
  • almanac
  • antimony
  • average
  • azimuth
  • camphor
  • carat
  • cipher (zero)
  • elixir
  • nadir
  • pancreas
  • zenith
  • zircon
So what happened? The Islamic world hit the peak of its "Golden Age," and then Muslims fell into their own Dark Age. Some say the fall coincided with the Crusades and the devastation of the Mongol invasion, when thousands of libraries and books were destroyed, and hundreds of scholars and scientists were murdered. Others point to internal division within Muslim society as the main cause.
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