In his new book, The Alchemy of Innovation, published in early 2013, Javed Akhtar Mohammed explores, through interviews with several well-known personalities, the different facets of innovation, considered as the lifeblood of successful organizations, communities, and societies, past and present. Professor Al-Hassani, President of FSTC, one of the interviewed personalities, sheds light on innovation in the classical Islamic civilisation and describes the general context in which past scholars of the Muslim World applied innovation to create a developed society, whose contributions and influence are still visible in today's world.
Ali ibn Hazm (d. 456H/1064 CE) was an Andalusian polymath scholar. He was a leading proponent and codifier of the Zahiri school of Islamic thought, and produced many works covering a wide range of topics, such as Islamic jurisprudence, history, ethics, comparative religion, and theology, as well as the famous Tawq al-Hamama (The Ring of the Dove), a literary text on the art of love. Through the variety and richness of his heritage, he was considered as one of the leading thinkers of the Muslim world, and he is widely acknowledged as the father of comparative religious studies. In this article, we seek to shed light on Ibn Hazm's ideas and thoughts related to philosophy and science, and how he linked both philosophy and science to morals.
Mr Howard Firth, MBE, one of the Founding members of FSTC's Muslim Heritage Awareness Group (MHAG) and the Director of Orkney International Science Festival, published recently the following article online that we republish with his permission. Here is the link to the original article on the website of Frontier Magazine: Washington Irving and the rediscovery of the lost centuries of knowledge
Professor Al-Hassani addressed in a keynote lecture the 16th Eurasian Economic Summit organised in Istanbul on 10-11 April 2013. His speech in a session on the "Importance of Culture in Ecological Dialogue" was entitled "A Holistic World Systemic Model for Government Decision Makers". We present hereafter the text of this lecture with illustrations.
Abu ‘Abd Allah Muhammad Ibn Wasil was an historian and man of letters, born in Hamat in Syria on 2 Shawwal 604/20 April 1208 and died in 697/1298. Visiting Iraq and Egypt, he witnessed the fall of the Ayyubids and the establishment of the Mamluk dynasty. He is known in the West for his embassy to Manfred the King of Sicily, to whom he dedicated a treatise on logic, which was not yet found. Historical records testify to his interest and work in astronomy, but his extant books contain only texts of history. We publish this short note to celebrate his anniversary.
Ulugh Beg was a Timurid ruler as well as an astronomer, mathematician. His primary interest was in the sciences and intellectual matters. He built an observatory at Samarkand. In his observations he discovered a number of errors in the computations of the 2nd-century Alexandrian astronomer Ptolemy. Ulugh Beg was also notable for his work in astronomy-related mathematics, such as trigonometry and spherical geometry. He built the great Ulugh Beg Observatory in Samarkand, which was considered by scholars to have been one of the finest observatories in the Islamic world at the time and the largest in Central Asia.
Abd al-Rahman ibn Khaldun is considered a forerunner of original theories in social sciences and philosophy of history, as well as the author of original views in economics, prefiguring modern contributions.
Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Hasan al-Tusi (born in 18 February 1201 in Tus, Khorasan – died on 26 June 1274 in Baghdad), better known as Nasir al-Din al-Tusi, was a Muslim Persian scholar and prolific writer in different fields of science and philosophy. He was an astronomer, mathematician, physicist, philosopher, and theologian.
In a marked shift from the positivist philosophy that influenced medical education for more than a century, world medical educators realize now the significance of the spiritual element of human nature. Consensus is currently building on the need to give more emphasis to the study of humanities in medical colleges. The aim is to allow graduates to reach to the heart of human learning about meaning of life and death and to become more reflective practitioners. The medicine taught and practiced during the Islamic civilization era was a vivid example of the unity of the two components of medical knowledge: natural sciences and humanities. This historical fact formed the foundation for the three medical humanities courses presented in this article.
Mosul, in Northern Iraq, is the country's second largest city and the north's major center for trade, industry and communications. Situated in the northwestern part of the country, on the west bank of Tigris, and close to the ruined Assyrian city of Nineveh, Mosul is called Al-Fayha' (the paradise), Al-Khadhra' (the green), and sometimes described as the Pearl of the North. In this article, the history of the city is narrated and the contribution of its scholars to Muslim Heritage in various domains is described through notable examples.
The Citadel of Aleppo is one of the oldest monuments in the world. It is the most famous historic architectural site in Syria and is built on top of a huge, partially artificial mound rising 50m above the city and surrounded by a trench. This article describes its internal and external structure and full features including its history.
The studies on the Islamic view of environment protection and the links between Islamic classical culture and ecology knew recently a notable progress, testified by numerous valuable publications in various languages. The following is a critical bibliography, organised alphabetically, that we conceived of as a guide for the interested reader. It includes references to works published recently in different languages, including Arabic. The publications in Arabic are particularly valuable, as they are hardly known by Western scholars, although some of them deserve to be known.
Ibn al-Haytham was the major figure in the study of optics and vision in the Middle Ages and his influence was pervasive for over 500 years. In this article, Professor Charles G. Gross, a renowned neurophysiologist of vision, outlines his original theory of vision and describes aspects which are less well known, namely Ibn al-Haytham's insights into visual physiology and visual perception. Professor Gross concludes that, although Ibn al-Haytham's unique synthesis of physics, mathematics and physiology into a new theory of vision and its historical importance have been recognized, his insights into the psychology of perception and their influence remains an important and potentially fertile area of research.
Ibn Rushd (Averroes) is considered as the most important of the Islamic philosophers. He set out to integrate Aristotelian philosophy with Islamic thought. A common theme throughout his writings is that there is no incompatibility between religion and philosophy when both are properly understood. His contributions to philosophy took many forms, ranging from his detailed commentaries on Aristotle, his defence of philosophy against the attacks of those who condemned it as contrary to Islam and his construction of a form of Aristotelianism which cleansed it of Neoplatonic influences. This short article outlines the main features of his life, thought and influence.
The Arabic manuscript Orient fol. 3306 preserved at the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin was in its original form a precious collection of Arabic scientific texts of mechanics and optics. It contains a fragment in one folio page consisting in a brief characterisation of the five simple machines: lever, windlass, pulley, wedge, and screw. This short text and is attributed to Sinan ibn Thabit, the son of Thabit ibn Qurra and a known mathematician and physician in Baghdad during the 10th century. It is a new source that has never been studied before. In the following article, we present the Arabic text of Sinan ibn Thabit and its English translation, accompanied with historical and analytical commentaries.
Economics textbooks claim that money was invented to replace onerous and complicated barter systems—to relieve ancient people from having to haul their goods to market. But this theory is not supported by evidence. On the contrary, David Graeber presents a stunning reversal of conventional wisdom. He shows that since the first agrarian empires 5,000 years ago, humans have used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goods, long before the invention of coins or cash. It is in this era, Graeber argues, that we also first encounter a society divided into debtors and creditors. Setting up in his stunning analysis an unconventional history of world economy, he shows that arguments about debt and debt forgiveness have been at the center of political debates from Italy to China, as well as sparking innumerable insurrections. Debt: The First 5,000 Years is a fascinating chronicle of this little known history— in which we learn so many surprising facts, such as the information that Adam Smith had Latin translations of Al-Ghazali and Al-Tusi's works in his library, suggesting that the writings of the two Islamic thinkers may have been among his sources, for instance in his theory of the division of labour.
In 1998, the United Nations declared year 2001 as the UN Year of Dialogue among Civilizations. This paper serves as a modest attempt in that spirit, with focus on the evolution of social thought in medieval Islam and its influence upon the Latin-West. The paper argues that the European Renaissance depended critically upon the intellectual armory, itself built upon the rediscovered Greek heritage, acquired through knowledge transfer from the early Islamic Civilisation. The mainstream literary paradigm, however, tends to neglect those connections, or at best, grudgingly acknowledges them but remotely and peripherally. Further, the paper documents the extensive influence upon Latin-European scholarship provided through the writings of several key Islamic scholastics. Briefly covered are the works of Al-Kindi, Al-Razi, Al-Farabi, Ibn Sina, Al-Ghazali, and, especially, Ibn Rushd, the Islamic Aristotle, whose contributions revolutionised the Church-dominated, authoritarian mold of medieval Europe. With extensive documentation and some quotes from well-known medievalists, the paper calls for greater integration of such civilisational connections in literary history so that, among other things, we can better understand the contemporary confrontational global environment.
For much of the millennium before the rise of Portugal and Spain, Venice flourished as the hub of Europe's trade with the lands to its east and south. The profound mutual influences that resulted have inspired multiple scholars and historians to cast fresh looks at Venice and its history during pre-modern and modern times, as a meeting point for commerce and culture, especially with the Muslim World.
Some medical historians of the last century mistakenly recorded that Caesarean section was strictly forbidden amongst Muslims. This opinion has been repeatedly quoted without examining its authenticity or validity. Research into available ancient Arabic sources can lead to evidence contrary to such a view. The Islamic scholars of the Middle ages were, in fact, the first to not only write about this operation but to illustrate it in pictures and describe it in poetry. Considering the antiquity of their time, it is unfair to compare them with scholars of a later date; but their achievements must be valued.
Ali Al-Qushji was one of the most noteworthy and important scientists in the Islamic world. He wrote valuable works especially on astronomy and mathematics. He was a student and co-worker of the famous statesman and scientist Ulugh Beg. After Ulugh Beg's death, Ali Al-Qushji left Samarqand to Tabriz where he worked for Akkoyunlu Ruler Uzun Hasan. Afterwards, he worked for the Ottoman Sultan Muhammad II in Istanbul during the last two years of his life. This article presents a short survey of Al-Qushji's contributions to mathematics and astronomy.
After briefly describing his work background, Trevor Hilder tells the story of the young man who set out to seek his fortune. He then offers an interpretation of the meaning of the story as an analogy of the rise of Western Civilisation and the waves of infrastructure which have been developed over the last five hundred years. He invites the reader to consider what the story can teach us as we try to create a truly global civilisation.
During the classical Muslim civilisation, big scientific advances in medicine were made. Muslim doctors began by collecting all the medical observations and theories of their predecessors, especially Hippocrates and Galen, and built an original and influential tradition of medical knowledge. This article presents selected episodes from this tradition, thus proving its richness and wide scope. Beginning by briefly setting the historical context, the author then then to Al-Zahrawi, the "Father of Surgery", Ibn Zuhr, the Doctor of Seville, Ibn Rushd, Doctor and Philosopher, Ibn Maymun, a doctor in exile, and finally the discoverer of the "secrets of the heart", Ibn al-Nafis al-Dimashqi.
One of the most popular books ever written is the book the Arabs know as Kalila wa-Dimna, a bestseller for almost two thousand years, and a book still read with pleasure all over the world. It has been translated at least 200 times into 50 different languages. In this article, Paul Lunde biefly presents Kalila wa-Dimna origins and characterizes its content.
In 1513 Piri Reis presented his famous map of the New World to the Sultan, giving the Ottomans, well before many European rulers, an accurate description of the American discoveries as well as details about the circumnavigation of Africa.
Sir William Harvey is wrongly credited with the modern theory of Pulmonary Circulation. Ibn Al-Nafis, an Arab physician of the 13th Century, explained the basic principles of Pulmonary Circulation nearly 350 years before Harvey was born.
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