World Water Day

by Cem Nizamoglu Published on: 21st March 2024

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Water is life... there are a few things that every human being agrees with. One of them is of course water being essential to our life. It is embedded not just biologically but in every part of our life both physically and spiritually. It is no surprise that most religions and cultures paid much attention to water. Islam, in particular, holds a very special place for water. This is manifested in its holy scripts and the vast works of scholars through Muslim civilization. Today is a World Water Day, this day “is marked on 22 March every year. It’s a day to celebrate water. It’s a day to make a difference for the members of the global population who suffers from water related issues. It’s a day to prepare for how we manage water in the future. In 1993, the United Nations General Assembly designated 22 March as the first World Water Day. 23 years later, World Water Day is celebrated around the world every year, shining the spotlight on a different issue. Join the movement.” United Nations - www.un.org/en/events/waterday

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Note: First published on Muslim Heritage, 22th March 2016. Later updated and re-published annually.

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“Water doesn’t just keep us alive,
it gives us everything that makes life worth living.
Take a moment to celebrate all the good things water gives.”
 www.waterday.org

Here are some water-related topics from Muslim Heritage such as water clocks, water pumps, water management systems, etc.:

“Flowing Through History: Water Management in Muslim Civilization” by Marwan Haddad

This paper delves into the rich tapestry of Muslim heritage and civilization, exploring the multifaceted contributions related to water management that have shaped cultures, sciences, arts, and societies across time and geography. This study aims to illuminate the interconnectedness of various Muslim water management practices and experiences and their lasting impact on global history. By tracing the threads of knowledge exchange, artistic expression, scientific inquiry, and social innovation, we uncover the remarkable narrative of how Muslim heritage has woven itself into the fabric of human progress. This paper highlights the pivotal role of Muslim scholars, thinkers, artisans, and leaders in nurturing a legacy that continues to resonate in our modern world. From architectural marvels like the Alhambra to foundational scientific works that preserved ancient knowledge, we unravel the layers of Muslim civilization that have left an indelible mark on our shared human story. Through this exploration, we not only gain a deeper understanding of the past but also recognize the importance of acknowledging and celebrating the diverse cultural contributions that have enriched our global heritage.”

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“Water Sterilization Technology in Muslim Civilisation” by Maha Al-Shaar

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Water-related diseases are the most critical health problems in the world now, therefore the mechanisms of sterilize water and its development gained the attention of governments and scientists.

Researches interested in the development of water sterilization techniques are rare. We found some hints to the role of ancient scientists in this field, but we were not able to find any hint to the role of ancient scientists from the Muslim Civilisation, this is perhaps due to the difficulty of finding scattered information in the old Arabic books.

In this research, we tried to clarify how ancient scientists from Muslim Civilisation developed the old methods that were invented in the past ancient civilizations. We also tried to show the new technologies that ancient scientists Muslim Civilisation invented and used for water sterilization in an attempt to get clean healthy water.

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Hydraulic Imagery in Medieval Arabic Texts by Constantin Canavas

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The Arabic reports about irrigation, dams and water-powered machines form a cultural construction which could be called hydraulic imagery. The term imagery is related to the perception patterns concerning hydraulic constructions inasmuch these patterns are reproduced in documental genres in the specific geographical, historical and cultural context of the sources. Thus the references on water-power range from reports about milling output in terms of day-production of meal or flour up to impressive accounts about marvellous machines with the features of a perpetuum mobile. These references are embedded in various textual sources which belong to a quite heterogeneous spectre of literary genres including geographical and cosmographical works (like those of al-Dimashq), technological treatises (like the compendia of ingenious devices presented by Bana Musa and al-Jazari) as well as administration documents. Undoubtedly such reports are inspired by the historical reality of hydraulic constructions scattered from al-Andalus and the Maghreb in the Muslim West to Mesopotamia and Transoxania in the East. However, the specific reporting forms as well as several features attributed textually to the constructions under discussion reflect narrative conventions of the specific literary genre rather than realistic representation modes of technological artefacts. The present study develops a typology of such patterns and proposes interpretation models for their emerging on the basis of the specific socio-economic context and the features of the dominant literary traditions in which the narrative patterns concerning the hydraulic imagery are encountered.

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Water Management and Hydraulic Technology

Water management in all its intricacies, from Andalusia to Afghanistan, was the basis of agriculture, and the source of all life. Muslims did much to develop hydraulic technology and deploy water management equipment including hydro-power dams.

By far, the most original Muslim reservoirs are to be found in the region of Qayrawan in Tunisia. A lengthy (about 270 pages) account of such structures is offered by the French Solignac. These reservoirs, possibly for their high aesthetics, and like many other Islamic achievements, were attributed, despite all evidence, to both Phoenicians and Romans. Such erroneous views were adopted by a number of scholars until modern archaeological excavations and advanced studies proved the Islamic origin of such structures. These reservoirs have two basins, one used for decantation, one as a reserve, and at times a third one for drawing water out of it. Other than their impressive numbers, over two hundred and fifty in the region, such reservoirs also offer a great attraction in their form and structure.

The photograph of the `Basin des Aghlabides,’ built in the ninth century by Abu Ibrahim Ahmed reveals, indeed, a sort of temple of water, it is hoped, still preserved in its majesty.

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Overland Hajj Route Darb Zubayda by Wijdan Fareeq Enad

This article presents a historical analysis of the various constructions built on the ancient overland Hajj route from Iraq to Makkah and the role of Lady Zubayda with especial reference to her Makkah water projects.

There were three main historic pilgrimage routes connecting Makkah with Iraq, Egypt and Al-Andalus. The Baghdad (Darb Zubayda) or Zubayda Overland Route, was one of the most important It is named after Zubayda bint Jafar wife of the Abbasid Caliph Harun al-Rashid for her extensive charitable works on the numerous stations along the trail.

The origin of the trail dates back to the pre-Islamic era and was known as Darb Al-Heera (Al-Heera Road) used by traders and travellers between  Al-Heera (Iraq) and Makkah. It was profoundly modified in the Islamic era when its architecture was developed from Iraq to Makkah in a manner unprecedented in history.  Its importance greatly increased with the dawn of Islam, and the route flourished during the time of the early caliphate. Zubayda Road acquired its best of care during the Abbasid Caliphate 132-656 AH / 749-1258 CE, when stations provided with wells, pools, dams, palaces and houses were built and signposts, milestones and pavements were installed that made it safe and easily accessible.

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The Six-Cylinder Water Pump of Taqi al-Din

The main objective of this study is to investigate the six-cylinder water-raising pump described around 1550 by the Ottoman Muslim scientist Muhammad Ibn Ma’ruf, known as Taqi al-Din, in his treatise Al-Turuq al-Saniya fi al-‘ alat al-ruhaniya. After an outline of the historical context and an English translation of the relevant sections of the manuscript, the focus is laid on the engineering analysis of the water pump. The result of the analysis yielded the reconstruction of the machine through a graphical model which was then used to produce a virtual 3D animation of the mechanical workings of the various parts, including the water turbine, the camshaft, the connecting rods, the reciprocating pistons and the cylinders.

The Six-Cylinder Water Pump of Taqi al-Din: Its Mathematics, Operation and Virtual Design

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Al-Jazari’s Castle Water Clock

The castle water clock is one of the grandest clocks mentioned in al-Jazari’s book. Details of its construction and operation have been described quite explicitly at the beginning of Al-Jami ‘ bayn al-‘ilm wa ‘l-‘amal al-nafi ‘ fi sina ‘at al-hiyal (A Compendium on the Theory and Useful Practice of the Mechanical Arts). The first chapter of Category I of the treatise devotes to this detailed description ten sections [1]. We follow in our study of al-Jazari’s device his own narrative, but our description given below is not concerned with exact details of its construction but concerned with how components are linked with each other and with the purpose of the clock and its functioning. The analysis thus provided is conceived to accompany computer animations; it is also an interpretation of the clock’s appearance to viewers and a study of its internal workings. Further, basic notes on the clock’s operating system have been provided to aid understanding of components and some are referenced to technical drawings found at the end.

Al-Jazari’s Castle Water Clock: Analysis of its Components and Functioning

 

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1000 Years Amnesia: Environment Tradition in Muslim Heritage

Although the Muslims today are becoming increasingly part of the new world order, which believes in economic growth as the vehicle to human happiness, they were previously a leading example in constructing environmentally and ecologically friendly societies which were guided by principles and ethics totally different from those adopted by the present industrialised world. The dangerous problems of overpopulation in concentrated areas and the resulting increasing consumption and waste accumulation, water (both soft and seawater) pollution, destruction of other species including micro-organisms, which are an essential part of the life cycle, change of the chemistry of the atmosphere with its associated problems of global warming and the insatiable appetite of technology to dominate social and economic order, with its consequent demand for energy and material, are the most apparent features of the crisis of environment and the economic model that governs world affairs today. Increasing are issues of great importance to human existence and warrant the utmost attention by all the citizens of the world.

1000 Years Amnesia: Environment Tradition in Muslim Heritage

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Al-Jazari’s Third Water-Raising Device

Five pumps or water-raising machines are described by al-Jazari in his monumental treatise of mechanics Al-Jami’ bayn al-‘ilm wa ‘l-‘amal al-nafi’ fi sina’at al-hiyal (A Compendium on the Theory and Useful Practice of the Mechanical Arts). The following long article is a detailed study of the third of these water-raising devices. The study presents a detailed analysis of the mathematical and mechanical principles of this sophisticated machine and explains its functioning. Further, the various components of the pump are reconstructed via computer assisted design. A profusion of 3D graphics and 3D animations show the device in different angles and helps in viewing it in operational mode.

Al-Jazari’s Third Water-Raising Device: Analysis of its Mathematical and Mechanical Principles

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The Self Changing Fountain of Banu Musa bin Shakir

In their famous book of mechanics Kitāb al-hiyal (Book of mechanical devices), the Banū Mūsā Brothers (Baghdad, middle of the 9th century CE) had documented their designs for fountains (amongst many other devices and tricks involving water). This short article is devoted to analyse the geometric and physical principles of the models they designed for fountains. In this category, the book contains seven models or designs in total. The first design introduces the three basic styles found in all the fountains of Kitāb al-hiyal, whilst the other six designs discuss how the basic fountains can be used together to form more intricate fountains. For example, how the fountain can periodically change from one water shape to another

The Self Changing Fountain of Banu Musa bin Shakir

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The Mechanical Water Clock Of Ibn Al-Haytham

The Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilisation (FSTC) announces their new achievement in the history of Islamic clocks. For the first time, the work of Ibn al-Haytham on the water clock (Maqala fi ‘amal al-binkam) is uncovered and edited from two manuscripts. Whilst work is currently undertaken to produce a critical edition of the text in a book that will be published in 2015, we are proud to publish a glimpse of this pioneering work of Ibn al-Haytham’s contribution on mechanical clocks. In this article Professor Salim Al-Hassani, President of FSTC, summarises the text and publishes its draft English translation. In addition, he describes the mechanism of the water clock and produces engineering diagrams as well as a 3D animation video of its working procedure. To verify the technical details of the description of the clock, mathematical analysis was also carried on. Although rudimentary at this stage, this analysis, in conjunction with the drawings and video animation, should be useful in design replicas or models of this clock. This groundbreaking article precedes the full historical editing work which is to be published by Professors Al-Hassani and Mohammed Abattouy in due course.

The Mechanical Water Clock Of Ibn Al-Haytham

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The Book of Water (Kitab Al-Ma’a)

Kitab Al-Ma’a, a strange title for the first known Encyclopedia of Medicine arranged according to the alphabet was recently discovered in Algeria and published in Oman. Contains over 900 pages and was written by Ibn Al-Thahabi (died 1033AD).

The Book of Water (Kitab Al-Ma’a)

Hama

Hama is famed for its huge water wheels and it produced great scholars in geography, mathematics, medicine and much more. Here we look at a few of them.

Hama, also called Hamat, is a city in central Syria, 54 kms north of Hims and 132 kms south of Aleppo on the road which connects these two towns. It is built on both sides of the Orontes river (Nahr al-Asi), the larger part of the town being on the left bank, which in places rises as high as 120 feet above the river. Three bridges connect the two sides. No traces remain today of the medieval citadel and only a mound of ruins found early in the 20th century mark the site of the palace.  The plateau which surrounds the town is in part ploughed as agricultural land growing cereals. Mediterranean orchards and market gardens thrive thanks to the hydraulic installations which bring water from the river to its fertile soil.

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Picture of a noria in Hadith Bayadh wa Riyadh (The Story of Bayad and Riyad) , an Andalusian love story, 13th-century (Source) Outside the palace an agricultural setting is suggested by the depiction of water and the water wheel. (Source)


The Albolafia noria, or waterwheel, is the last vestige of an array of mills and dams built on the Guadalquivir River in Cordoba between the 8th and 10th centuries as it appears in its present condition. (Source).

 
An artist’s whimsical ideas about a 12th century method of increasing hydro-power train by 1.0 ox-power, for a water bucket elevator for water supply (Source) and al-Jazari’s pump for raising water in a manuscript of copy held in Topkapi Sarayi Libray in Istanbul. (Source)


A 3 D model of the wudu’ (ablution) water machine constructed from Banu Musa’s manuscripts. (source)

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