Famous Muslim Scientists and their Inventions

Compiled and prepared by:

Mohammed H. Abdishakur (Sweden)

Muslim scientists and inventors, including Arabs, Persians, and Turks were probably hundreds of years ahead of their counterparts in the European Middle Ages. They drew influence from Aristotelian philosophy and Neo–Platonists as well as Euclid, Archimedes, Ptolemy, and others. The Muslims made marvelous discoveries and wrote countless books about various parts of medicine, including different levels of surgery, physics, chemistry, philosophy, astrology, geometry, and an array of other fields of academic studies.

Let us narrate the histories and autobiographies of several prominent scholars and scientists who made substantial contributions and inventions. Among them are:

Muhammad ibn Musa Al-Khwarizmi (780 – 850)

Statue of Al-Khwarizmi in Uzbekistan

Early Life:

Muhammad Ibn Musa Al-Khwarizmi was a Persian mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, geographer, and scholar in the House of Wisdom (Beyt Al-Hikma)

in Baghdad, Iraq. He was born in the Persia of that time around the year 780. Al-Khwarizmi was one of the learned men who worked in the House of Wisdom. Al-Khwarizmi flourished while working as a member of the House of Wisdom in Baghdad under the leadership of Khalif al-Mamun, the son of the Khalif Harun Al–Rashid, who was made famous in the Arabian Nights. The House of Wisdom was a scientific research and teaching center.

Contributions and Achievements:

Al–Khwarizmi developed the concept of the Algorithm in mathematics. His innovation of Algebra is recognized to be the foundation and cornerstone of the sciences.

To al–Khwarizmi we owe the world “Algebra,” from the title of his greatest mathematical work (Hisab Al–Jabr wa–Al– Muqabala). He authored a particular book devoted to explaining Algebra mathematics. His book became a milestone of mathematics. This work was translated twice into Latin by Gerard of Cremona and Robert of Chester in the 12th century. It illuminates and describes several hundred simple quadratic equations by analysis as well as by geometrical examples. It also has substantial sections on mathematical methods of dividing up inheritances and surveying plots of land. It is widely concerned with methods for solving practical computational problems rather than Algebra as the term is now understood.

Al–Khwarizmi confined his discussion to equations of the first and second degrees. He also wrote important works on astronomy, covering calendars, calculating the accurate positions of the sun, the moon, and the planets at large. In his works, he explained the tables of sines, tangents, spherical astronomy, astrological tables, parallax, eclipse calculations, and the moon visibility. His astronomical work, Zij al–sindhind, is mainly based on the work of other scientists. As with Algebra, its chief interest is on top of the earliest Arab’s academic activities that is still in existence in the Arabic language.

His most recognized work is the mathematical concept named after him as Algorithm. The modern meaning of the term Algorithm relates to a specific practice for solving a particular problem. Today, people use algorithms to do addition and long division, principles found in Al–Khwarizmi’s text, which was written about 1200 years ago.

Al–Khwarizmi is also the diligent scientist who introduced the Arabic numeric to the West, setting them in a motion process simplify the utilization of the nine Arabic numerals, together with the zero sign.

Of great importance also was al– Khwarizmi’s contribution to medieval geography. He systematized and corrected Ptolemy’s research in geography by using his original findings that are entitled “Surat al-Ardi” (The Shape of the Earth). The text exists in a manuscript, even though the maps were not preserved, although modern scholars have been able to reconstruct them from al–Khwarizmi’s descriptions. He supervised the work of 70 geographers to create a map of the then “known world”. When his work became widely known in Europe through Latin translations, his influence made a permanent mark on the development of science in the West.

Al–Khwarizmi made several significant improvements to the theory and construction of sundials, which he inherited from his Indian and Hellenistic predecessors. He made tables for these instruments, which considerably shortened the time needed to make specific calculations. His sundial has been universally known and could be observed from anywhere on Earth. From then on, sundials were frequently placed in mosques to determine the time of prayer. The shadow square, an instrument used to determine the linear height of an object, in conjunction with the alidade for angular observations, was also invented by al– Khwarizmi in the ninth–century in Baghdad, Iraq.

While his main contributions were the result of original research, he also conducted tremendous researches on how synthesize the existing knowledge of these fields from Greek, Indian, and other sources. Al– Khwarizmi also authored several incomplete works, such as the astrolabe, which he wrote on the Jewish calendar. He also wrote a political history containing horoscopes of prominent persons.


Muhammad ibn Musa al–Khwarizmi died in c. 850, and remained in a memorial monument as one of the most seminal scientific minds of early Islamic culture.

Al– Khwarizmi

Edward S. Kennedy, Mathematical Geography, p. 188, in (Rashed & Morelon 1996, pp. 185-201)

“The history of cartography”. GAP computer algebra system. Archived from the original on 24 May 2008. Retrieved 30 May 2008.

Thurston, Hugh (1996), Early Astronomy, Springer Science & Business Media, pp. 204-, ISBN 978-0-387-94822-5

Toomer, Gerald (1990). “Al-Khwarizmi, Abu Ja’farMuhammad ibn Musa”. In Gillispie, Charles Coulston (ed.). Dictionary of Scientific Biography. Vol. 7. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. ISBN 978-0-684-16962-0.

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