Islamic Inventions

By Martin Gilliard

Ancient Islamic inventions and discoveries / innovations that stemmed from the Muslim world included the mariner’s compass which of course became essential in terms of navigation and also the telescope which was invented by Abdul Hasan.

Muslim scholars played an essential role in moving the theoretical science of mathematics forward. They were the first to adopt testing experiments using hypotheses and observations and Al-Khawarizmi was responsible for introducing algebra and the decimal point system. Arabic numerals are thought to have replaced Roman numerals which were another key milestone for the advancement of mathematics.


(Photo Credit: Calsidyrose)

Other famous inventions from the Muslim world include the first watch which was invented by Kutbi. Modern optics was invented by Ibn al-Haitham including the first magnifying device. Philosopher and physician Ibn Sina who is also known as Avicenna wrote the Canon of Medicine and introduced quarantines as a means to limit infections.

The first pendulum prototype was created by Ibn Yunus.

In the field of chemistry Jâbir ibn Hayyân was responsible for discovering / isolating Citric acid, Acetic acid, Nitric acid, hydrochloric acid, tartaric acid and sulfuric acid which he originally named oil of vitriol.

A technique of metallic glaze known as lustreware (English) or lusterware (American English) and which was first used on glass in the ninth century is thought to have come from the Muslim world. This technique later spread to potters to enable them to make luxury items.

Sumerians and ancient Egyptians built dams and water wheels which are both thought to be Muslim inventions however all of the main water-raising machines were in existence in the Middle East prior to the advent of Islam.

The first forms of the game of chess are thought to originate from India before the sixth century AD after which the game spread to Persia and then later to Europe where the game developed to its current form in the fifteenth century.

Coffee drinking spread from the Muslim world with beans being first cultivated around the 14th century.

Another famous Islamic invention is the astrolabe which was used historically as an astronomical instrument by astronomers, navigators and astrologers. It can be used to predict the positions of the sun, moon, planets and stars. The astrolabe was thought to have been invented by Hipparchus


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