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Did the Scientific and Medicinal Discoveries of Islamic Scholars Have a Significant Impact on European Ideals?

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Did The Scientific and Medicinal discoveries of Islamic Scholars Have A Significant Impact on European Ideals?

Felix Correa

Dr.Flatt

HIS 256

November 14th 2018

        At its peak, the Islamic empire had reached substantial heights of technological advancement and learning through Muslim scholars. Many of the advancements begun during the Umayyad caliphate and  progressed exponentially through four hundred rule of the  Abbasid caliphate. Furthermore, the Abbasid caliphate flourished from the creation of Baghdad under Caliph Al-Mansur (r 754-775 AD), the House of Wisdom library under Caliph Harun Al-Rashid (r 786 – 809 AD), and the application of Madrasas. Subsequently, there was a prioritization for the pursuit of knowledge was respected and rewarded with government sponsorships for scholars. However, after the Abbasid dynasty many scholars connected scientific advancements to holy Islamic texts. Scholars concluded that  Muslims were obligated to gain knowledge and achieve spiritual perfection for the advancement of ideas in the Islamic territory. Various discoveries of Islamic Scholars had a significant impact on European thought, as their preservation and innovation of astronomy, mathematics, and biology lead to the adaptation and foundational framework of early to modern European ideals.

        Abbasid Caliph Al-Ma’mun (r 813-833 AD) was a champion of scientific knowledge and scholarship. The scholar stressed the importance of knowledge when he wanted “a copy of Ptolemy’s great book of astronomy, the Almagest” as a reward for his accomplishment in defeating the Byzantines.[1] Astronomy was of great importance in the ancient world and Islamic astronomy helped with travel and accurate time keeping. Greek texts gained through conquests, influenced scholars in the production of a more concise system of astrological measurement. For example, scholars with the mathematical expertise determined a system called Zij that accurately positioned the moon, stars, sun, and planets. Astronomical tables also allowed accurate calculations of lunar and solar rotations and was deemed of great importance for the general Islamic community. As well, scholars created a lunar calendar to count days of the week based on the movements of the moon and tracked the position of the sun for time keeping. Astronomical ideas in the Arab world had become a regular occurrence among scholars. For example, the planetary movement in unison was once  by the majority of Islamic astrologists and it was discredited by  the astronomer Al- Tusi who proposed a new concept,  called the Tusi Couple. Tusi Couple was a “a hypothetical model of epicyclic motion that involves a combination of motions each of which was uniform with respect to its own center”.[2] Al-Tusi’s concept was  significant as it was later applied to Ibn al Shatir’s theory of lunar motion; a theory in which influenced  the work of Copernicus one hundred and fifty years later, and was deemed according to copernacius’ commentaries  as “remarkably similar to Ibn Al- Shatir’s fourthteen century manuscript… Copernacius used the same concept of motion to present his sun – centered planetary model.[3] 

        Muslims also built large observatories in Maragha and Samarkland and researched the position of celestial bodies with astronomical tables. With increased observations Muslim scholars innovated older Greek technology, such as the astrolabe and added features that allowed for a more accurated time to pray in the direction of Mecca at different geographical locations.[4] The inventions of the Zij, and improvements to the astrolabe were significant to medieval Europe as contact increased, both the astronomical tables and astrolabe had been normalized in Europe replacing sundials due to their convenience. Astronomical tables and astrolabes were also used by sailors for their multifaceted application of star tracking at night and measurement of latitude. 

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