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Mathematics, Philosophy, and Geometry in Use

The reign of the Abbasid caliphs (although far from peaceful) was considered to be Islam’s golden age with its great advancement in science, mathematics, philosophy, and literature. The openness, flexibility, and economic stability that brought about these advancements were a sharp contrast to the stagnation of Europe’s Medieval Period. The use of mathematics, philosophy, and geometry are recorded on the Biblical Timeline Chart with World History during the 8th century AD.

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The factors that led to the Islamic golden age during the Abbasid era were:
*           A Hadith (reported sayings) of the Prophet Muhammad which states that, “The scholar’s ink is more sacred than the martyr’s blood.”
*           The vast East-West trade network which made the transmission of knowledge easier throughout the Abbasid empire.
*           The use of Arabic as common language (lingua franca) of the people which allowed for the easy exchange of ideas.
*           The arrival of paper from China and its widespread use in the Abbasid empire. Many Greek, Syriac and Latin texts were translated into Arabic and written on cost-effective and lightweight paper (compared to papyrus and parchment), which made the transmission of knowledge easier.
*           The establishment of the House of Wisdom sponsored by the caliph Harun al-Rashid and his son al-Mamun which made Abbasid Baghdad a haven for intellectual, artistic, and cultural pursuits.

mathematics
“Ancient Greek philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle would become highly revered in the medieval Islamic world.”

Renowned Philosophers, Scientists, and Mathematicians of the Abbasid Period:

Philosophers

  • Yaqub ibn Ishaq al-Kindi – first Arab Islamic philosopher.
  • Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi (Latin, Rhazes) – Platonist and writer of philosophical books.
  • Abu Nasr al-Farabi – Neo-Aristotelian and writer of philosophical books.
  • Rabiah Basri – Sufi ascetic.
  • Abu Yazid al-Bistami – Persian Sufi.
  • Mansur al-Hallaj – Persian mystic and teacher of Sufism.
  • Junayd of Baghdad – Persian mystic and teacher of Sufism.
  • Abu Ali ibn Sina (Avicenna) – wrote on metaphysics, ethics, and logic.
  • Abu Al-Walid Ahmad ibn Rushd (Averroes) – leading Islamic philosopher who wrote commentaries on the works of Aristotle and Plato.
  • Ibn Arabi – considered as the greatest Arabic philosopher; wrote commentaries on the Quran, Hadith, theology, and jurisprudence.
  • Rumi – most popular Islamic philosopher and mystic

Mathematicians

  • Abu Ali ibn Sina – wrote Kitab al-Shifa (The Book of Healing), an encyclopedia on different topics which included mathematics (divided into four subjects: geometry, music, arithmetic, and astronomy).
  • Al-Khwarizmi – one of the directors of the House of Wisdom in Baghdad and considered as the father of modern algorithm (taken from his name) and Algebra (taken from his book Ilm al-jabr wa’l-muḳābala).
  • Yaqub ibn Ishaq al-Kindi – developed spherical geometry and commented on the theory of parallels.
  • Abu Bakr al-Karaji – Persian mathematician who freed algebra from geometric diagrams. Also wrote about algebra, computation of fractions, integers, and square roots.
  • Al-Battani (Albategnius) – a leader of geometry, trigonometry, and astronomy in the Abbasid caliphate.
    Nasir al-Din al-Tusi – inventor of the Tusi-couple.

Astronomers

  • Ibrahim al-Fazari (father) and Muhammad ibn Ibrahim al-Fazari (son) – translated the Indian astronomical text called The Sindhind and built the first astrolabe of the Abbasid era.
  • Yaqub ibn Tariq – Persian mathematician and astronomer who wrote several books on astronomy.
  • Habash al-Hasib al-Marwazi – developed astronomical tables and wrote books on astronomy.
  • Al-Farghani – one of the earliest Islamic astronomers and wrote the Compendium of the Science of the Stars.
  • Al-Nayrizi – Persian astronomer who wrote a treatise on the spherical astrolabe.
  • Thabit ibn Qurra – Syriac astronomer and mathematician who developed the trepidation of the equinoxes
References:
Picture by: Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=564696
Armstrong, Karen. Islam: A Short History. New York: Modern Library, 2000.
Falagas, M. E. “Arab Science in the Golden Age (750-1258 C.E.) and Today.” The FASEB Journal 20, no. 10 (2006): 1581-586. Accessed August 24, 2016. doi:10.1096/fj.06-0803ufm.
Islam, Arshad. “The Contribution of Muslims to Science during the Middle Abbasid Period (750-945).” Revelation and Science 01, no. 01 (2011): 39-56. http://irep.iium.edu.my/2471/1/Abbasids.pdf.
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