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ABU RAIHAN AL-BIRUNI
(973--1048 A.D.)
Abu Raihan Mohammad Ibn Ahmad al-Biruni was one of the well-known figures associated with the court of King Mahmood Ghaznawi, who was one of the famous Muslim kings of the 11th century A.D. Al-Biruni was a versatile scholar and scientist who had equal facility in physics, metaphysics, mathematics, geography and history. Born in the city of Kheva near "Ural" in 973 A.D., he was a contemporary of the well-known physician Ibn Sina. At an early age, the fame of his scholarship went around and when Sultan Mahmood Ghaznawi conquered his homeland, he took al-Biruni along with him in his journeys to India several times and thus he had the opportunity to travel all over India during a period of 20 years. He learnt Hindu philosophy, mathematics, geography and religion from thre Pandits to whom he taught Greek and Arabic science and philosophy. He died in 1048 A.D. at the age of 75, after having spent 40 years in thus gathering knowledge and making his own original contributions to it.
He recorded observations of his travels through India in his well-known book Kitab al-Hind which gives a graphic account of the historical and social conditions of the sub-continent. At the end of this book he makes a mention of having translated two Sanskrit books into Arabic, one called Sakaya, which deals with the creation of things and their types, and the second, Patanjal dealing with what happens after the spirit leaves the body. His descriptions of India were so complete that even the Aein-i-Akbari written by Abu-al- Fadal during the reign of Akbar, 600 years later, owes a great deal to al-Biruni's book. He observed that the Indus valley must be considered as an ancient sea basin filled up with alluvials.
On his return from India, al-Biruni wrote his famous book Qanun-i Masoodi (al-Qanun al-Masudi, fi al-Hai'a wa al-Nujum), which he dedicated to Sultan Masood. The book discusses several theorems of astronomy, trigonometry, solar, lunar, and planetary motions and relative topics. In another well-known book al-Athar al-Baqia, he has attempted a connected account of ancient history of nations and the related geographical knowledge. In this book, he has discussed the rotation of the earth and has given correct values of latitudes and longitudes of various places. He has also made considerable contribution to several aspects of physical and economic geography in this book.
His other scientific contributions include the accurate determination of the densities of 18 different stones. He also wrote the Kitab-al-Saidana, which is an extensive materia medica that combines the then existing Arabic knowledge on the subject with the Indian medicine. His book the Kitab-al-Jamahir deals with the properties of various precious stones. He was also an astrologer and is reputed to have astonished people by the accuracy of his predictions. He gave a clear account of Hindu numerals, elaborating the principle of position. Summation of a geometric progression appropos of the chess game led to the number:
1616° - 1 = 18,446,744,073,709,551,619.
He developed a method for trisection of angle and other problems which cannot be solved with a ruler and a compass alone. Al-Biruni discussed, centuries before the rest of the world, the question whether the earth rotates around its axis or not. He was the first to undertake experiments related to astronomical phenomena. His scientific method, taken together with that of other Muslim scien- tists, such as Ibn al-Haitham, laid down the early foundation of modern science. He ascertained that as compared with the speed of sound the speed of light is immense. He explained the working of natural springs and artesian wells by the hydrostatic principle of communicating vessels. His investigations included description of various monstrosities, including that known as "Siamese" twins. He observed that flowers have 3,4,5,6, or 18 petals, but never 7 or 9.
He wrote a number of books and treatises. Apart from Kitab-al- Hind (History and Geography of India), al-Qanun al-Masudi (Astro- nomy, Trigonometry), al-Athar al-Baqia (Ancient History and Geography), Kitab al-Saidana (Materia Medica) and Kitab al-Jawahir (Precious Stones) as mentioned above, his book al-Tafhim-li-Awail Sina'at al-Tanjim gives a summary of mathematics and astronomy.
He has been considered as one of the very greatest scientists of Islam, and, all considered, one of the greatest of all times. His critical spirit, love of truth, and scientific approach were combined with a sense of toleration. His enthusiasm for knowledge may be judged from his claim that the phrase Allah is Omniscient does not justify ignorance.
IBN AL-BAITAR
(DIED 1248 A.D.)
Abu Muhammad Abdallah Ibn Ahmad Ibn al-Baitar Dhiya al-Din al-Malaqi was one of the greatest scientists of Muslim Spain and was the greatest botanist and pharmacist of the Middle Ages. He was born in the Spanish city of Malaqa (Malaga) towards the end of the 12th century. He learned botany from Abu al-Abbas al-Nabati, a learned botanist, with whom he started collecting plants in and around Spain. In 1219 he left Spain on a plant-collecting expedition and travelled along the northern coast of Africa as far as Asia Minor. The exact modes of his travel (whether by land or sea) are not known, but the major stations he visited include Bugia, Qastantunia (Constantinople), Tunis, Tripoli, Barqa and Adalia. After 1224 he entered the service of al-Kamil, the Egyptian Gover- nor, and was appointed chief herbalist. In 1227 al-Kamil extended his domination to Damaseus, and Ibn al-Baitar accompanied him there which provided him an opportunity to collect plants in Syria His researches on plants extended over a vast area:including Arabia and Palestine, which he either visited or managed to collect plants from stations located there. He died in Damascus in 1248.
Ibn Baitar's major contribution, Kitab al-Jami fi al-Adwiya al- Mufrada, is one of the greatest botanical compilations dealing with medicinal plants in Arabic. It enjoyed a high status among botanists up to the 16th century and is a systematic work that embodies earlier works, with due criticism, and adds a great part of original contribution. The encyclopaedia comprises some 1,400 different items, largely medicinal plants and vegetables, of which about 200 plants were not known earlier. The book refers to the work of some 150 authors mostly Arabic, and it also quotes about 20 early Greek scientists. It was translated into Latin and published in 1758.
His second monumental treatise Kitab al-Mlughni fi al-Adwiya al-Mufrada is an encyclopaedia of medicine. The drugs are listed in accordance with their therapeutical value. Thus, its 20 different chapters deal with the plants bearing significance to diseases of head, ear, eye, etc. On surgical issues he has frequently quoted the famous Muslim surgeon, Abul Qasim Zahrawi. Besides Arabic, Baitar has given Greek and Latin names of the plants, thus facilitating transfer of knowledge.
Ibn Baitar's contributions are characterised by observation, analysis and classification and have exerted a profound influence on Eastern as well as Western botany and medicine. Though the Jami was translated/published late in the western languages as mentioned above, yet many scientists had earlier studied various parts of the book and made several references to it.
ABU ABDULLAH AL-BATTANI
(868--929 A.D.)
Abu Abdallah Muhammad Ibn Jabir Ibn Sinan al-Battanial-Harrani was born around 858 A.D. in Harran, and according toone account, in Battan, a State of Harran. Battani was first educatedby his father Jabir Ibn San'an al-Battani, who was also a well-knownscientist. He then moved to Raqqa, situated on the bank of theEuphrates, where he received advanced education and later onflourished as a scholar. At the beginning of the 9th century, hemigrated to Samarra, where he worked till the e nd of his life in929 A.D. He was of Sabian origin, but was himself a Muslim.
Battani was a famous astronomer, mathematician and astro-loger. He has been held as one of the greatest astronomists of Islam.He is responsible for a number of important discoveries inastronomy, which was the result of a long care er of 42 years ofresearch beginning at Raqqa when he was young. His well-knowndiscovery is the remarkably accurate determination of the solaryear as being 365 days, 5 hours, 46 minutes and 24 seconds, whichis very close to the latest estimates. He found t hat the longitude ofthe sun's apogee had increased by 16° , 47' since Ptolemy. Thisimplied the important discovery of the motion of the solar apsidesand of a slow variation in the equation of time. He did not believein the trapidation of the equinoxe s, although Copernicus held it.
Al-Battani determined with remarkable accuracy the obliquityof the ecliptic, the length of the seasons and the true and mean orbitof the sun.
He proved, in sharp contrast to Ptolemy, the variation of theapparent angular diameter of the sun and the possibility of annulareclipses. He rectified several orbits of the moon and the planetsand propounded a new and very ingenio us theory to determinethe conditions of visibility of the new moon. His excellent observa-tions of lunar and solar eclipses were used by Dunthorne in 1749to determine the secular acceleration of motion of the moon. Healso provided very neat solutions by m eans of orthographic projec-tion for some problems of spherical trigonometry.
In mathematics, he was the first to replace the use of Greekchords by sines, with a clear understanding of their superiority.
He also developed the concept of cotangent and furnished theirtable in degrees.
He wrote a number of books on astronomy and trigonometry.His most famous book was his astronomical treatise with tables,which was translated int o Latin in the 12th century and flourishedas De scienta stellerum — De numeris stellerum et motibus. An old translation of this is available of the Vatican. His Zij was, infact, more accurate than all others written by that time.
His treatise on astronomy was extremely influential in Europetill the Renaissance, with translations available in several languages.His original discoveries both in astronomy and trigonometry were ofgreat consequence in the develo pment of these sciences.
Abu Nasr Mohammad Ibn al-Farakh al-Farabi was born in a small village Wasij, near Farab in Turkistan in 259 A.H. (870 A.D.). His parents were originally of Persian descent, but his ancestors had migrated to Turkistan. Known as al-Phrarabius in Europe, Farabi was the son of a general. He completed his earlier education at Farab and Bukhara but, later on, he went to Baghdad for higher studies, where he studied and worked for a long time viz., from 901 A.D. to 942 A.D. During this period he acquired mastery over several languages as well as various branches of knowledge and technology. He lived through the reign of six Abbasid Caliphs. As a philosopher and scientist, he acquired great proficiency in various branches of learning and is reported to have been an expert in different languages.

Farabi travelled to many distant lands and studied for some time in Damascus and Egypt, but repeatedly came back to Baghdad, until he visited Saif al-Daula's court in Halab (Allepo). He became one of the constant companions of the King, and it was here at Halab that his fame spread far and wide. During his early years he was a Qadi (Judge), but later on the took up teaching as his profession. During the course of his career, he had suffered great hardships and at one time was the caretaker of a garden. He died a bachelor in Damascus in 339 A.H./950 A.D. at the age of 80 years.

Farabi contributed considerably to science, philosophy, logic, sociology, medicine, mathematics and music. His major contributions seem to be in philosophy, logic and sociology and, of course, stands out as an Encyclopedist. As a philosopher, he may be classed as a Neoplatonist who tried to synthesize Platonism and Aristotelism with theology and he wrote such rich commentaries on Aristotle's physics, meteorology, logic, etc., in addition to a large number of books on several other subjects embodying his original contribution, that he came to be known as the 'Second Teacher' (al-Mou'allim al-Thani) Aristotle being the First. One of the important contribu- tions of Farabi was to make the study of logic more easy by dividing it into two categories viz., Takhayyul (idea) and Thubut (proof).

In sociology he wrote several books out of which Ara Ahl al-Madina al-Fadila became famous. His books on psychology and metaphysics were largely based on his own work. He also wrote a book on music, captioned Kitab al-Musiqa. He was a great expert in the art and science of music and invented several musical instru- ments, besides contributing to the knowledge of musical notes. It has been reported that he could play his instrument so well as to make people laugh or weep at will. In physics he demonstrated the existence of void.

Although many of his books have been lost, 117 are known, out of which 43 are on logic, 11 on metaphysics, 7 on ethics, 7 on political science, 17 on music, medicine and sociology, while 11 are commentaries. Some of his more famous books include the book Fusus al-Hikam, which remained a text book of philosophy for several centuries at various centres of learning and is still taught at some of the institutions in the East. The book Kitab al-lhsa al 'Ulum discusses classification and fundamental principles of science in a unique and useful manner. The book Ara Ahl al-Madina al- Fadila 'The Model City' is a significant early contribution to socio- logy snd political science.

Farabi exercised great influence on science and knowledge for several centuries. Unfortunately, the book Theology of Aristotle, as was available to him at that time was regarded by him as genuine, although later on it turned out to be the work of some Neoplatonic writer. Despite this, he was regarded the Second Teacher in philosophy for centuries and his work, aimed at synthesis of philosophy and sufism, paved the way for Ibn Sina's work.
Abu Bakr Mohammad Ibn Zakariya al-Razi (864-930 A.D.) was born at Ray, Iran. Initially, he was interested in music but later on he learnt medicine, mathematics, astronomy, chemistry and philosophy from a student of Hunayn Ibn Ishaq, who was well versed in the ancient Greek, Persian and Indian systems of medicine and other subjects. He also studied under Ali Ibn Rabban. The practical experience gained at the well-known Muqtadari Hospital helped him in his chosen profession of medicine. At an early age he gained eminence as an expert in medicine and alchemy, so that patients and students flocked to him from distant parts of Asia.

He was first placed in-charge of the first Royal Hospital at Ray, from where he soon moved to a similar position in Baghdad where he remained the head of its famous Muqtadari Hospital for along time. He moved from time to time to various cities, specially between Ray and Baghdad, but finally returned to Ray, where he died around 930 A.D. His name is commemorated in the Razi Institute near Tehran.

Razi was a Hakim, an alchemist and a philosopher. In medicine, his contribution was so significant that it can only be compared to that of Ibn Sina. Some of his works in medicine e.g. Kitab al- Mansoori, Al-Hawi, Kitab al-Mulooki and Kitab al-Judari wa al- Hasabah earned everlasting fame. Kitab al-Mansoori, which was translated into Latin in the 15th century A.D., comprised ten volumes and dealt exhaustively with Greco-Arab medicine. Some of its volumes were published separately in Europe. His al-Judari wal Hasabah was the first treatise on smallpox and chicken-pox, and is largely based on Razi's original contribution: It was translated into various European languages. Through this treatise he became the first to draw clear comparisons between smallpox and chicken-pox. Al-Hawi was the largest medical encyclopaedia composed by then. It contained on each medical subject all important information that was available from Greek and Arab sources, and this was concluded by him by giving his own remarks based on his experience and views. A special feature of his medical system was that he greatly favoured cure through correct and regulated food. This was combined with his emphasis on the influence of psychological factors on health. He also tried proposed remedies first on animals in order to evaluate in their effects and side effects. He was also an expert surgeon and was the first to use opium for anaesthesia.

In addition to being a physician, he compounded medicines and, in his later years, gave himself over to experimental and theoretical sciences. It seems possible that he developed his chemistry independently of Jabir Ibn Hayyan. He has portrayed in great detail several chemical reactions and also given full descriptions of and designs for about twenty instruments used in chemical investigations. His description of chemical knowledge is in plain and plausible language. One of his books called Kitab-al-Asrar deals with the preparation of chemical materials and their utilization. Another one was translated into Latin under the name Liber Experi- mentorum, He went beyond his predecessors in dividing substances into plants, animals and minerals, thus in a way opening the way for inorganic and organic chemistry. By and large, this classification of the three kingdoms still holds. As a chemist, he was the first to produce sulfuric acid together with some other acids, and he also prepared alcohol by fermenting sweet products.

His contribution as a philosopher is also well known. The basic elements in his philosophical system are the creator, spirit, matter, space and time. He discusses their characteristics in detail and his concepts of space and time as constituting a continuum are outstanding. His philosophica! views were, however, criticised by a number of other Muslim scholars of the era.

He was a prolific author, who has left monumental treatises on numerous subjects. He has more than 200 outstanding scientific contributions to his credit, out of which about half deal with medicine and 21 concern alchemy. He also wrote on physics, mathe- matics, astronomy and optics, but these writings could not be preserved. A number of his books, including Jami-fi-al-Tib, Mansoori, al-Hawi, Kitab al-Jadari wa al-Hasabah, al-Malooki, Maqalah fi al- Hasat fi Kuli wa al-Mathana, Kitab al-Qalb, Kitab al-Mafasil, Kitab-al- 'Ilaj al-Ghoraba, Bar al-Sa'ah, and al-Taqseem wa al-Takhsir, have been published in various European languages. About 40 of his manuscripts are still extant in the museums and libraries of Iran, Paris, Britain, Rampur, and Bankipur. His contribution has greatly influenced the development of science, in general, and medicine, in particular.
ALI IBN RABBAN AL-TABARI

(838-870 A.D.)

This accomplished Hakim was the tutor of the unparalleled physician Zakariya al-Razi. Luck favoured the disciple more than the teacher in terms of celebrity. As compared to Razi people know very little about his teacher Ali.

Ali Bin Rabban's surname was Abu al-Hasan, the full name being Abu al-Hasan Ali Bin Sahl Rabban al-Tabari. Born in 838 A.D. his father Sahl hailed from a respectable Jew family. The nobility and sympathy inherent in his very nature soon endeared him to his countrymen so much so that they used to call him Rabban which implies "my leader".

Professionally Sahl was an extremely successful physician. He had command over the art of calligraphy too. Besides he had a deep insight into the disciplines of Astronomy, Philosophy, Mathematics and Literature. Some complicated articles of Batlemus's book al-Mijasti came to be resolved by way of Sahl's scholarly expertise, translators preceding him had failed to solve the mystery.

Ali received his education in the disciplines of Medical science and calligraphy from his able father Sahl and attained perfection in these fields. He had also mastered Syriac and Greek languages to a high degree of proficiency.

Ali hailed from a Israelite family. Since he had embraced Islam, he is classified amongst Muslirn Scholars. This family belonged to Tabristan's famous city Marv.

The fame acquired by Ali Bin Rabban did not simply account for the reason that a physician of the stature of Zakariya al-Razi was amongst his disciple. In fact the main cause behind his exalta- tion lies in his world-renowned treatise Firdous al-Hikmat.

Spread over seven parts, Firdous al-Hikmat is the first ever Medical encyclopaedia which incorporates all the branches of medical science in its folds. This work has been published in this century (20th century) only. Prior to this publication only five of his manuscripts were to be found scattered in libraries the world over. Dr. Mohammed Zubair Siddiqui compared and edited the manuscripts. In his preface he has provided extremely useful informa- tion regarding the book and the author and, wherever felt necessary, explanatory notes have been written to facilitate publication of this work on modern publishing standards.

Later on this unique work was published with the cooperation of English and German institutions. Following are the details of its all seven parts:

1. Part one: Kulliyat-e-Tibb. This part throws light on contempo- rary ideology of medical science. In that era these principles formed the basis of medical science.
2. Part two: Elucidation of the organs of the human body, rules for keeping good health and comprehensive account of certain muscular diseases.
3. Part three: Description of diet to be taken in conditions of health and disease.
4. Part four: All diseases right from head to toe. This part is of profound significance in the whole book and comprises twelve papers:

i) General causes relating to eruption of diseases. ii) Diseases of the head and the brain. iii) Diseases relating to the eye, nose, ear, mouth and the teeth. iv) Muscular diseases (paralysis and spasm). v) Diseases of the regions of the chest, throat and the lungs. vi) Diseases of the abdomen. vii) Diseases of the liver. viii) Diseases of gallbladder and spleen. ix) Intesti- nal diseases. x) Different kinds of fever. xi) Miscellaneous diseases--Brief explanation of organs of the body. xii) Exami- nation of pulse and urine. This part is the largest in the book and is almost half the size of the whole book.

5. Part five: Description of flavour, taste and colour.
6. Part six: Drugs and poison.
7. Part seven: Deals with diverse topics. Discusses climate and astronomy. Also contains a brief mention of Indian medicine.

Though he wrote Firdous al-Hikmat in Arabic but he simultaneously translated it into Syriac. He has two more compilations to his credit namely Deen-o-Doulat and Hifdh al-Sehhat. The latter is available in manuscript-form in the library of Oxford University. Besides Medical science, he was also a master of Philosophy, Mathe- matics and Astronomy. He breathed his last around 870 A.D.
MOHAMMAD BIN MUSA AL-KHAWARIZMI

(Died 840 A.D.)

Abu Abdullah Mohammad Ibn Musa al-Khawarizmi was bornat Khawarizm (Khev a), south of Aral sea. Very little is known abouthis early life, except for the fact that his parents had migrated to aplace south of Baghdad. The exact dates of his birth and death arealso not known, but it is established that he flourished under Al-Mamu n at Baghdad through 813-833 and probably died around840 A.D.

Khawarizmi was a mathematician, astronomer and geographer.He was perhaps one of the greatest mathematicians who ever lived,as, in fact, he was the founder of several branches and basic co nceptsof mathematics. In the words of Phillip Hitti, he influencedmathematical thought to a greater extent than any other mediaevalwriter. His work on algebra was outstanding, as he not only initiatedthe subject in a systematic form but he also developed it to theextent of giving analytical solutions of linear and quadraticequations, which established him as the founder of Algebra. Thevery name Algebra has been derived from his famous book Al-Jabrwa-al-Muqabilah. His arithmetic synthesised Greek an d Hinduknowledge and also contained his own contribution of fundamentalimportance to mathematics and science. Thus, he explained the useof zero, a numeral of fundamental importance developed by theArabs. Similarly, he developed the decimal system so that the overallsystem of numerals, 'algorithm' or 'algorizm' is named after him.In addition to introducting the Indian system of numerals (nowgenerally known as Arabic numerals), he developed at length severalarithmetical procedures, including operations on f ractions. It wasthrough his work that the system of numerals was first introduced toArabs and later to Europe, through its translations in Europeanlanguages. He developed in detail trigonometric tables containing thesine functions, which were probably ext rapolated to tangentfunctions by Maslama. He also perfected the geometric representa-tion of conic sections and developed the calculus of two errors,which practically led him to the concept of differentiation. He isalso reported to have collaborated in th e degree measurementsordered by Mamun al-Rashid were aimed at measuring of volumeand circumference of the earth.

The development of astronomical tables by him was a signifi-cant contribution to the science of astronomy, on which he alsowrote a book. The contribution of Khawarizmi to geography is alsooutstanding, in that not only did he revise Ptolemy's views ongeography, but also corrected them in detail as well as his map ofthe world. His other contributions include original work related toclocks, sun-dials and astrolabes.

Several of his books were translated into Latin in the early12th century. In fact, his book on arithmetic, Kitab al-Jam'a wal-Tafreeq bil Hisab al-Hindi, was lost in Arabic but survived in a Latintranslation. His boo k on algebra, Al-Maqala fi Hisab-al Jabr wa-al-Muqabilah, was also translated into Latin in the 12th century, andit was this translation which introduced this new science to the West"completely unknown till then". He astronomical tables were alsotr anslated into European languages and, later, into Chinese. Hisgeography captioned Kitab Surat-al-Ard, together with its maps,was also translated. In addition, he wrote a book on the Jewishcalendar Istikhraj Tarikh al-Yahud, and two books on the astrolabe.He also wrote Kitab al-Tarikh and his book on sun-dials wascaptioned Kitab al-Rukhmat, but both of them have been lost.

The influence of Khawarizmi on the growth of science, ingeneral, and mathematics, astronomy and geogr aphy in particular,is well established in history. Several of his books were readilytranslated into a number of other languages, and, in fact, constitutedthe university text-books till the 16th century. His approach wassystematic and logical, and not only did he bring together the thenprevailing knowledge on various branches of science, particularlymathematics, but also enriched it through his original contribution.No doubt he has been held in high repute throughout the centuriessince then.
IBN KHALDUN

(1332--1395. A.D. )

Abd al-Rahman Ibn Mohammad is generally known as IbnKhaldun after a remote ancestor. His parents, originall y YemeniteArabs, had settled in Spain, but after the fall of Seville, had migratedto Tunisia. He was born in Tunisia in 1332 A.D., where he receivedhis early education and where, still in his teens, he entered the serviceof the Egyptian ruler Sultan Barqu q. His thirst for advanced know-ledge and a better academic setting soon made him leave this serviceand migrate to Fez. This was followed by a long period of unrestmarked by contemporary political rivalries affecting his career.This turbulent period also included a three year refuge in a smallvillage Qalat Ibn Salama in Algeria, which provided him with theopportunity to write Muqaddimah, the first volume of his worldhistory that won him an immortal place among historians, sociolo-gists and philosop hers. The uncertainty of his career still continued,with Egypt becoming his final abode where he spent his last 24 years.Here he lived a life of fame and respect, marked by his appointmentas the Chief Malakite Judge and lecturing at the Al-Azhar Universit y,but envy caused his removal from his high judicial office as many asfive times.

Ibn Khaldun's chief contribution lies in philosophy of historyand sociology. He sought to write a world history preambled by afirst volume aimed at an analysis of hist orical events. This volume,commonly known as Muqaddimah or 'Prolegomena', was based onIbn Khaldun's unique approach and original contribution andbecame a masterpiece in literature on philosophy of history andsociology. The chief concern of this mon umental work was toidentify psychological, economic, environmental and social factsthat contribute to the advancement of human civilization and thecurrents of history. In this context, he analysed the dynamics ofgroup relationships and showed how group-fe elings, al-'Asabiyya,give rise to the ascent of a new civilisation and political power andhow, later on, its diffusion into a more general civilization invitesthe advent of a still new 'Asabiyya in its pristine form. He identifiedan almost r hythmic repetition of rise and fall in human civilization,and analysed factors contributing to it. His contribution to historyis marked by the fact that, unlike most earlier writers interpretinghistory largely in a political context, he emphasised environ mental,sociological, psychological and economic factors governing theapparent events. This revolutionised the science of history and alsolaid the foundation of Umraniyat (Sociology).

Apart from the Muqaddimah that became an importantin dependent book even during the lifetime of the author, the othervolumes of his world history Kitab al-I'bar deal with the history ofArabs, contemporary Muslim rulers, contemporary European rulers,ancient history of Arabs, Jews, Greeks, Romans, Pers ians, etc.,Islamic History, Egyptian history and North-African history,especially that of Berbers and tribes living in the adjoining areas.The last volume deals largely with the events of his own life and isknown as Al-Tasrif. This was also written in a scientific manner andinitiated a new analytical tradition in the art of writing autobio-graphy. A book on mathematics written by him is not extant.

Ibn Khaldun's influence on the subject of history, philosophyof history, sociology, political s cience and education has remainedparamount ever since his life. His books have been translated intomany languages, both in the East and the West, and have inspiredsubsequent development of these sciences. For instance, Prof. GumPloughs and Kolosio conside r Muqaddimah as superior in scholarshipto Machiavelli's The Prince written a century later, as the forrnerbases the diagnosis more on cultural, sociological, economic andpsychological factors.
IBN AL-NAFIS

(1213-1288 A.D.)

Ala-al-Din Abu al-Hasan Ali Ibn Abi al-Hazm al-Qarshi al- Damashqi al-Misri was born in 607 A.H. of Damascus. He was educated at the Medical College-cum-Hospital founded by Nur al- Din Zangi. In medicine his teacher was Muhaththab al-Din Abd al- Rahim. Apart from medicine, Ibn al-Nafis learnt jurisprudence, literature and theology. He thus became a renowned expert on Shafi'i School of Jurisprudence as well as a reputed physician.

After acquiring his expertise in medicine and jurisprudence, he moved to Cairo where he was appointed as the Principal at the famous Nasri Hospital. Here he imparted training to a large number of medical specialists, including Ibn al-Quff al-Masihi, the famous surgeon. He also served at the Mansuriya School at Cairo. When he died in 678 A.H. he donated his house, library and clinic to the Mansuriya Hospital.

His major contribution lies in medicine. His approach comprised writing detailed commentaries on early works, critically evaluating them and adding his own original contribution. Hlis major original contribution of great significance was his discovery of the blood's circulatory system, which was re-discovered by modern science after a lapse of three centuries. He was the first to correctly describe the constitution of the lungs and gave a description of the bronchi and the interaction between the human body's vessels for air and blood. Also, he elaborated the function of the coronary arteries as feeding the cardiac muscle.

The most voluminous of his books is Al-Shamil fi al-Tibb, which was designed to be an encyclopaedia comprising 300 volumes, but it could not be completed due to his death. The manuscript is available at Damascus. His book on ophthalmology is largely an original contribution and is also extant. However, his book that became most famous was Mujaz al-Qanun and a number of commentaries were written on this. His own commentaries include one on Hippocrates' book. He wrote several volumes on Ibn Sina's Qanun, that are still extant. Likewise he wrote a commentary on Hunayn Ibn Ishaq's book. Another famous book embodying his original contribution was on the effects of diet on health. entitled Kitab al-Mukhtar fi al-Aghdhiya.

Ibn Al-Nafis' works integrated the then existing medical know- ledge and enriched it, thus exerting great influence on the develop- ment of medical science, both in the East and the West. However, only one of his books was translated into Latin at early stages and, therefore, a part of his work remained unknown to Europe for a long time.
AL-IDRISI
(1099-1166 A.D.)
Abu Abdallah Muhammad Ibn Muhammad Ibn AbdallahIbn Idris al-Qurtubi al-Hasani, was bom in Ceuta, Spain, in1099 A.D . He was educated in Cordova. Later he travelled farand wide in connection with his studies and then flourished at theNorman court in Palermo. The date of his death is controversial,being either 1166 or 1180 A.D.
Biographical notes on him are to be found rathe rararely, andaccording to F. Pons Boigues the underlying reason is the fact thatthe Arab biographers considered al-Idrisi to be a renegade, since hehad been associated with the court of a Christian king and writtenin praise of him, in his work . The circumstances which led him tosettle in Sicily at the court of Roger II are not on record.
His major contribution lies in medicinal plants as presentedin his several books, specially Kitab al-Jami-li-Sifat Ashtat al-Nabatat.He studied a nd reviewed all the literature on the subject of medicinalplants and formed the opinion that very little original material hadbeen added to this branch of knowledge since the early Greekwork. He, therefore, collected plants and data not reported earlieran d added this to the subject of botany, with special referenceto medicinal plants. Thus, a large number of new drugs plantstogether with their evaluation became available to the medicalpractitioners. He has given the names of the drugs in six languages:Syr iac, Greek, Persian, Hindi, Latin and Berber.
In addition to the above, he made original contributions togeography, especially as related to economics, physical factors andcultural aspects. He made a planishere in silver for King Roger II,and descri bed the world in Al-Kitab al-Rujari (Roger's Book), alsoentitled Nuzhat al-Mushtaq fi Ikhtiraq al-Afaq (The delight of himwho desires to journey through the climates). This is practicallya geographical encyclopaedia of the time, containing i nformationnot only on Asia and Africa, but also Western countries.
Al-Idrisi, later on, also compiled another geographical encyclo-paedia, larger than the former entitled Rawd-Unnas wa-Nuzhatal-Nafs (Pleasure of men and delight of souls) also known as Kitab al-Mamalik wa al-Masalik.
Apart from botany and geography, Idrisi also wrote on fauna,zoology and therapeutical aspects. His work was soon translatedinto Latin and, especially, his books on geography remained popularboth in th e East and the West for several centuries.

ABU HAMID AL-GHAZALI
(1058-1128 A.D.)
Abu Hamid Ibn Muhammad Ibn Muhammad al-Tusi al-Shafi'i al-Ghazali was born in 1058 A.D. in Khorasan, Iran. His father died while he was still very young but he had the opportunity of getting education in the prevalent curriculum at Nishapur and Baghdad. Soon he acquired a high standard of scholarship in religion and philosophy and was honoured by his appointment as a Professor at the Nizamiyah University of Baghdad, which was recognised as one of the most reputed institutions of learning in the golden era of Muslim history.
After a few years, however, he gave up his academic pursuits and worldly interests and became a wandering ascetic. This was a process (period) of mystical transformation. Later, he resumed his teaching duties, but again left these. An era of solitary life, devoted to contemplation and writing then ensued, which led to the author- ship of a number of everlasting books. He died in 1128 A.D. at Baghdad.
Ghazali's major contribution lies in religion, philosophy and sufism. A number of Muslim philosophers had been following and developing several viewpoints of Greek philosophy, including the Neoplatonic philosophy, and this was leading to conflict with several Islamic teachings. On the other hand, the movement of sufism was assuming such excessive proportions as to avoid observance of obligatory prayers and duties of Islam. Based on his unquestionable scholarship and personal mystical experience, Ghazali sought to rectify these trends, both in philosophy and sufism.
In philosophy, Ghazali upheld the approach of mathematics and exact sciences as essentially correct. However, he adopted the techniques of Aristotelian logic and the Neoplatonic procedures and employed these very tools to lay bare the flaws and lacunas of the then prevalent Neoplatonic philosophy and to diminish the negative influences of Aristotelianism and excessive rationalism. In contrast to some of the Muslim philosophers, e.g., Farabi, he portrayed the inability of reason to comprehend the absolute and the infinite. Reason could not transcend the finite and was limited to the observa- tion of the relative. Also, several Muslim philosophers had held that the universe was finite in space but infinite in time. Ghazali argued that an infinite time was related to an infinite space. With his clarity of thought and force of argument, he was able to create a balance between religion and reason, and identified their respective spheres as being the infinite and the finite, respectively.
In religion, particularly mysticism, he cleansed the approach of sufism of its excesses and reestablished the authority of the ortho- dox religion. Yet, he stressed the importance of genuine sufism, which he maintained was the path to attain the absolute truth.
He was a prolific writer. His immortal books include Tuhafut al-Falasifa (The Incoherence of the Philosophers), Ihya al-'Ulum al-Islamia (The Rivival of the Religious Sciences), "The Beginning of Guidance and his Autobiography", "Deliverance from Error". Some of his works were translated into European languages in the Middle Ages. He also wrote a summary of astronomy.
Ghazali's influence was deep and everlasting. He is one of the greatest theologians of Islam. His theological doctrines penetrated Europe, influenced Jewish and Christian Scholasticism and several of his arguments seem to have been adopted by St. Thomas Aquinas in order to similarly reestablish the authority of orthodox Christian religion in the West. So forceful was his argument in the favour of religion that he was accused of damaging the cause of philosophy and, in the Muslim Spain, Ibn Rushd (Averros) wrote a rejoinder to his Tuhafut.
ABU RAIHAN AL-BIRUNI
(973--1048 A.D.)
Abu Raihan Mohammad Ibn Ahmad al-Biruni was one of the well-known figures associated with the court of King Mahmood Ghaznawi, who was one of the famous Muslim kings of the 11th century A.D. Al-Biruni was a versatile scholar and scientist who had equal facility in physics, metaphysics, mathematics, geography and history. Born in the city of Kheva near "Ural" in 973 A.D., he was a contemporary of the well-known physician Ibn Sina. At an early age, the fame of his scholarship went around and when Sultan Mahmood Ghaznawi conquered his homeland, he took al-Biruni along with him in his journeys to India several times and thus he had the opportunity to travel all over India during a period of 20 years. He learnt Hindu philosophy, mathematics, geography and religion from thre Pandits to whom he taught Greek and Arabic science and philosophy. He died in 1048 A.D. at the age of 75, after having spent 40 years in thus gathering knowledge and making his own original contributions to it.
He recorded observations of his travels through India in his well-known book Kitab al-Hind which gives a graphic account of the historical and social conditions of the sub-continent. At the end of this book he makes a mention of having translated two Sanskrit books into Arabic, one called Sakaya, which deals with the creation of things and their types, and the second, Patanjal dealing with what happens after the spirit leaves the body. His descriptions of India were so complete that even the Aein-i-Akbari written by Abu-al- Fadal during the reign of Akbar, 600 years later, owes a great deal to al-Biruni's book. He observed that the Indus valley must be considered as an ancient sea basin filled up with alluvials.
On his return from India, al-Biruni wrote his famous book Qanun-i Masoodi (al-Qanun al-Masudi, fi al-Hai'a wa al-Nujum), which he dedicated to Sultan Masood. The book discusses several theorems of astronomy, trigonometry, solar, lunar, and planetary motions and relative topics. In another well-known book al-Athar al-Baqia, he has attempted a connected account of ancient history of nations and the related geographical knowledge. In this book, he has discussed the rotation of the earth and has given correct values of latitudes and longitudes of various places. He has also made considerable contribution to several aspects of physical and economic geography in this book.
His other scientific contributions include the accurate determination of the densities of 18 different stones. He also wrote the Kitab-al-Saidana, which is an extensive materia medica that combines the then existing Arabic knowledge on the subject with the Indian medicine. His book the Kitab-al-Jamahir deals with the properties of various precious stones. He was also an astrologer and is reputed to have astonished people by the accuracy of his predictions. He gave a clear account of Hindu numerals, elaborating the principle of position. Summation of a geometric progression appropos of the chess game led to the number:
1616° - 1 = 18,446,744,073,709,551,619.
He developed a method for trisection of angle and other problems which cannot be solved with a ruler and a compass alone. Al-Biruni discussed, centuries before the rest of the world, the question whether the earth rotates around its axis or not. He was the first to undertake experiments related to astronomical phenomena. His scientific method, taken together with that of other Muslim scien- tists, such as Ibn al-Haitham, laid down the early foundation of modern science. He ascertained that as compared with the speed of sound the speed of light is immense. He explained the working of natural springs and artesian wells by the hydrostatic principle of communicating vessels. His investigations included description of various monstrosities, including that known as "Siamese" twins. He observed that flowers have 3,4,5,6, or 18 petals, but never 7 or 9.
He wrote a number of books and treatises. Apart from Kitab-al- Hind (History and Geography of India), al-Qanun al-Masudi (Astro- nomy, Trigonometry), al-Athar al-Baqia (Ancient History and Geography), Kitab al-Saidana (Materia Medica) and Kitab al-Jawahir (Precious Stones) as mentioned above, his book al-Tafhim-li-Awail Sina'at al-Tanjim gives a summary of mathematics and astronomy.
He has been considered as one of the very greatest scientists of Islam, and, all considered, one of the greatest of all times. His critical spirit, love of truth, and scientific approach were combined with a sense of toleration. His enthusiasm for knowledge may be judged from his claim that the phrase Allah is Omniscient does not justify ignorance.
ABU ALI HASAN IBN AL-HAITHAM
(965-1040 A.D.)
Abu Ali Hasan Ibn al-Haitham was one of the most eminentphysicists, whose contributions to optics and the scientific methodsare outstanding . Known in the West as Alhazen, Ibn al-Haithamwas born in 965 A.D. in Basrah, and was educated in Basrah andBaghdad. Thereafter, he went to Egypt, where he was asked to findways of controlling the flood of the Nile. Being unsuccessful in this,he feigned madness until the death of Caliph al-Hakim. He alsotravelled to Spain and, during this period, he had ample time for hisscientific pursuits, which included optics, mathematics, physics,medicine and development of scientific methods on each of whichhe has left several outstanding books.
He made a thorough examination of the passage of light through various media and discovered the laws of refraction. He alsocarried out the first experiments on the dispersion of light into its constituent colours. His book Kitab-al-Manadhir was translated intoLatin in the Middle Ages, as also his book dealing with the coloursof sunset. He dealt at length with the theory of various physicalphenomena like shadows, eclipses, the rainbow, and speculated onthe physical nature of light. He is the first to describe accuratelythe various parts of the eye and give a scientific explanation of theprocess of vision. He also attempted to explain binocular vision,and gave a correct explanation of the apparent increase in size of thesun and the moon when near the horizon. He is known for the earliest use of the camera obscura. He contradicted Ptolemy'sand Euclid's theory of vision that objects are seen by rays of lightemanating from the eyes; according to him the rays originate in theobject of vision and not in the eye. Through these extensiveresearches on optics, he has been considered as the father of modern Optics.
The Latin translation of his main work, Kitab-al-Manadhir, exerted a great influence upon Western science e.g. on the work of Roger Bacon and Kepler. It brought about a great progressin experimental methods. His research in catoptrics centred on spherical and parabolic mirrors and spherical aberration. He madethe important observation that the ratio between the angle ofincidence and refraction does not remain constant and investigatedthe magnifying power of a lens. His catoptrics contain the importantproblem known as Alhazen's problem. It comprises drawing linesfrom two points in the plane of a circle meeting at a point on thecircumference and making equal angles with the norrnal at that point.This leads to an equation of the fourth degree.
In his book Mizan al-Hikmah Ibn al-Haitham has discussed the density of the atmosphere and developed a relation between it and the height. He also studied atmospheric refraction. He discoveredthat the twilight only ceases or begins when the sun is 19° below the horizon and attempted to measure the height of the atmosphereon that basis. He has also discussed the theories of attractionbetween masses, and it seems that he was aware of the magnitudeof acceleration due to gravity.
His contribution to mathematics and physics was extensive. In mathematics, he developed analytical geometry by establishing linkage between algebra and geometry. He studied the mechanicsof motion of a body and was the first to maintain that a bodymoves perpetually unless an external force stops it or changes itsdirection of motion. This would seem equivalent to the first lawof motion.
The list of his books runs to 200 or so, very few of which have survived. Even his monumental treatise on optics survived through its Latin translation. During the Middle Ages his books on cosmology were translated into Latin, Hebrew and other languages. He has also written on the subject of evolution a book that deserves seriousattention even today.
In his writing, one can see a clear development of the scientificmethods as developed and applied by the Muslims and comprisingthe systematic observation of physical phenomena and their linkingtogether into a scientific theory. This was a major breakthrough inscientific methodology, as distinct from guess and gesture, and placed scientific pursuits on a sound foundation comprising systematic relationship between observation, hypothesis andverification.
Ibn al-Haitham's influence on physical sciences in general, and optics in particular, has been held in high esteem and, in fact, it ushered in a new era in optical research, both in theory andpractice.
YAQUB IBN ISHAQ AL-KINDI
(800-873 A.D.)
Abu Yousuf Yaqub Ibn Ishaq al-Kindi was born at Kufa around 800 A.D. His father was an official of Haroon al-Rashid. Al-Kindi was a contemporary of al-Mamun, al-Mu'tasim and al-Mutawakkil and flourished largely at Baghdad. He vas formally employed by Mutawakkil as a calligrapher. On account of his philosophical views, Mutawakkil was annoyed with him and confiscated all his books. These were, however, returned later on. He died in 873 A.D. during the reign of al-M'utamid.
Al-Kindi was a philosopher, mathematician, physicist, astrono- mer, physician, geographer and even an expert in music. It is surprising that he made original contributions to all of these fields. On account of his work he became known as the philosopher of the Arabs.
In mathematics, he wrote four books on the number system and laid the foundation of a large part of modern arithmetic. No doubt the Arabic system of numerals was largely developed by al- Khawarizmi, but al-Kindi also made rich contributions to it. He also contributed to spherical geometry to assist him in astronomical studies.
In chemistry, he opposed the idea that base metals can be converted to precious metals. In contrast to prevailing alchemical views, he was emphatic that chemical reactions cannot bring about the transformation of elements. In physics, he made rich contribu- tions to geometrical optics and wrote a book on it. This book later on provided guidance and inspiration to such eminent scientists as Roger Bacon.
In medicine, his chief contribution comprises the fact that he was the first to systematically determine the doses to be adminis- tered of all the drugs known at his time. This resolved the conflic- ting views prevailing among physicians on the dosage that caused difficulties in writing recipes.
Very little was known on the scientific aspects of music in his time. He pointed out that the various notes that combine to produce harmony, have a specific pitch each. Thus, notes with too low or too high a pitch are non-pleatant. The degree of harmony depends on the frequency of notes, etc. He also pointed out the fact that when a sound is produced, it generates waves in the air which strike the ear-drum. His work contains a notation on the determination of pitch.
He was a prolific writer: the total number of books written by him was 241, the prominent among which were divided as follows:
Astronomy 16, Arithmetic 11, Geometry 32, Medicine 22,
Physics 12, Philosophy 22, Logic 9, Psychology 5, ar,d Music 7.
In addition, various monographs written by him concern tides, astronomical instruments, rocks, precious stones, etc. He was also an early translator of Greek works into Arabic, but this fact has largely been over-shadowed by his numerous original writings. It is unfortunate that most of his books are no longer extant, but those existing speak very high of his standard of scholarship and contribution. He was known as Alkindus in Latin and a large number of his books were translated into Latin by Gherard of Cremona. His books that were translated into Latin during the Middle Ages comprise Risalah dar Tanjim, Ikhtiyarat al-Ayyam, Ilahyat-e-Aristu, al-Mosiqa, Mad-o-Jazr, and Aduiyah Murakkaba.
Al-Kindi's influence on development of science and philosophy was significant in the revival of sciences in that period. In the Middle Ages, Cardano considered him as one of the twelve greatest minds. His works, in fact, lead to further development of various subjects for centuries, notably physics, mathematics, medicine and music.
AL-FARGHANI
(C. 860)
Abu'l-Abbas Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Kathir al-Farghani,born in Farghana, Transoxiana, was one of the most distinguished astronomers in the service of al-Mamun and his successors. He wrote"Elements of Astronomy" (Kitab fi al-Harakat al-Samawiya waJawami Ilm al-Nujum i.e. the book on celestial motion and thoroughscience of the stars), which was translated into Latin i n the 12thcentury and exerted great influence upon European astronomybefore Regiomontanus. He accepted Ptolemy's theory and valueof the precession, but thought that it affected not only the starsbut also the planets. He determined the diameter of the eart h tobe 6,500 miles, and. found the greatest distances and also thediameters of the planets.
Al-Farghani's activities extended to engineering. According toIbn Tughri Birdi, he supervised the construction of the GreatNilometer at al-Fustat (old Cairo) . It was completed in 861, the yearin which the Caliph al-Mutawakkil, who ordered the construction,died. But engineering was not al-Farghani's forte, as transpires fromthe following story narrated by Ibn Abi Usaybi'a.
Al-Mutawakkil had entrusted the two sons of Musa ibn Shakir,Muhammad and Ahmad, with supervising the digging of a canalnamed al-Ja'fari. They delegated the work to Al-Farghani, thusdeliberately ignoring a better engineer, Sind ibn Ali, whom, outof professional jealousy, they had caused to be sent to Baghdad,away from al-Mutawakkil's court in Samarra. The canal was to runthrough the new city, al-Ja'fariyya, which al-Mutawakkil had builtnear Samarra on the Tigris and named after himself. Al-Farghanicommitted a grave error, making the beg inning of the canal deeperthan the rest, so that not enough water would run through thelength of the canal except when the Tigris was high. News of thisangered the Caliph, and the two brothers were saved from severepunishment only by the gracious willingn ess of Sind ibn Ali to vouchfor the correctness of al-Farghani's calculations, thus risking hisown welfare and possibly his life. As had been correctly predictedby astrologers, however, al-Mutawakkil was murdered shortly beforethe error became apparent. T he explanation given for Al-Farghani'smistake is that being a theoretician rather than a practical engineer,he never successfully completed a construction.
The Fihrist of Ibn al-Nadim, written in 987, ascribes only twoworks to Al-Farghani: (1 ) "The Book of Chapters, a summary ofthe Almagest" (Kitab al-Fusul, Ikhtiyar al-Majisti) and (2) "Bookon the Construction of Sun-dials" (Kitab 'Amal al-Rukhamat).
The Jawami, or 'The Elements' as we shall call it, was Al-Farghan i's best-known and most influential work. Abd al-Azizal-Qabisi (d. 967) wrote a commentary on it, which is preserved inthe Istanbul manuscript, Aya Sofya 4832, fols. 97v-114v. TwoLatin translations followed in the 12th century. Jacob Anatoliproduced a Heb rew translation of the book that served as a basis fora third Latin version, appearing in 1590, whereas Jacob Goliuspublished a new Latin text together with the Arabic original in1669. The influence of 'The Elements' on mediaeval Europe isclearly vindicat ed by the presence of innumerable Latin manuscriptsin European libraries.
References to it in madiaeval writers are many, and there is nodoubt that it was greatly responsible for spreading knowledge ofPtolemaic astronomy, at least until this role wa s taken over bySacrobosco's Sphere. But even then, 'The Elements' of Al-Farghanicontinued to be used, and Sacrobosco's Sphere was evidentlyindebted to it. It was from 'The Elements' (in Gherard's translation)that Dante derived the astronomic al knowledge displayed in the 'Vitanuova' and in the 'Convivio'
ABUL HASAN ALI AL-MASU'DI
(DIED 957 A.D.)
Abul Hasan Ali Ibn Husain Ibn Ali Al-Masu'di was a descen- dant of Abdallah Ibn Masu'd, a companion of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). An expert geographer, a physicist and historian, Masu'di was born in the last decade of the 9th century A.D., his exact date of birth being unknown. He was a Mutazilite Arab, who explored distant lands and died at Cairo, in 957 A.D.
He travelled to Fars in 915 A.D. and, after staying for one year in Istikhar, he proceeded via Baghdad to India, where he visited Multan and Mansoora before returning to Fars. From there he travelled to Kirman and then again to India. Mansoora in those days was a city of great renown and was the capital of the Muslim state of Sind. Around it, there were many settlements/townships of new converts to Islam. In 918 A.D., Masu'di travelled to Gujrat, where more than 10,000 Arab Muslims had settled in the sea-port of Chamoor. He also travelled to Deccan, Ceylon, Indo-China and China, and proceeded via Madagascar, Zanjibar and Oman to Basra.
At Basra he completed his book Muruj-al-Thahab, in which he has described in a most absorbing manner his experience of various countries, peoples and climates. He gives accounts of his personal contacts with the Jews, Iranians, Indians and Christians. From Basra he moved to Syria and from there to Cairo, where he wrote his second extensive book Muruj al-Zaman in thirty volumes. In this book he has described in detail the geography and history of the countries that he had visited. His first book was completed in 947 A.D. He also prepared a supplement, called Kitab al-Ausat, in which he has compiled historical events chronologically. In 957 A.D., the year of his death, he completed his last book Kitab al-Tanbih wa al-Ishraf, in which he has given a summary of his earlier book as well as an errata.
Masu'di is referred to as the Herodotus and Pliny of the Arabs. By presenting a critical account of historical events, he initiated a change in the art of historical writing, introducing the elements of analysis, reflection and criticism, which was later on further improved by Ibn Khaldun. In particular, in al-Tanbeeh he makes a systematic study of history against a perspective of geography, sociology, anthropology and ecology. Masu'di had a deep insight into the causes of rise and fall of nations.
With his scientific and analytical approach he has given an account of the causes of the earthquake of 955 A.D., as well as the discussions of the water of the Red Sea and other problems in the earth sciences. He is the first author to make mention of windmills, which were invented by the Muslims of Sijistan.
Masu'di also made important contributions to music and other fields of science. In his book Muruj al-Thahab he provides important information on early Arab music as well as music of other countries.
His book Muruj al-Thahab wa al-Ma'adin al-Jawahir (Meadows of Gold and Mines of Precious Stones) has been held as 'remarkable' because of the 'catholicity of its author, who neglected no source of information and of his truly scientific curiosity'. As mentioned above, it was followed by his treatise Muruj al-Zaman. In addition to writing a supplement Kitab al-Ausat, he completed Kitab al-Tanbih wa al-Ishraf towards the end of his career. It is, however, unfortunate that, out of his 34 books as mentioned by himself in Al-Tanbih, only three have survived, in addition to Al-Tanbih itself.
Some doubts have been expressed about some claims related to his extensive travelling e.g., upto China and Madagascar, but the correct situation cannot be assessed due to the loss of his several books. Whatever he has recorded was with a scientific approach and constituted an important contribution to geography, history and earth sciences. It is interesting to note that he was one of the early scientists who propounded several aspects of evolution viz., from minerals to plant, plant to animal and animal to man. His researches and views extensively influenced the sciences of historiography, geography and earth sciences for several countries.
ABU AL-QASIM AL-ZAHRAWI
(936-1013 A.D.)
Abul Qasim Khalaf ibn al-Abbas al-Zahrawi (known in thewest as Abulcasis) was born in 9 36 A.D. in Zahra in the neighbour-hood of Cordova. He became one of the most renowned surgeonsof the Muslim era and was physician to King Al-Hakam-II of Spain.After a long medical career, rich with significant original contribu-tion, he died in 1013 A.D.< /P>
He is best known for his early and original breakthroughs insurgery as well as for his famous Medical Ecyclopaedia calledAl-Tasrif, which is composed of thirty volumes covering differentaspects of medical science. The more important part of t his seriescomprises three books on surgery, which describe in detail variousaspects of surgical treatment as based on the operations performedby him, including cauterization, removal of stone from the bladder,dissection of animals, midwifery, stypics, and surgery of eye, ear andthroat. He perfected several delicate operations, including removalof the dead foetus and amputation.
Al-Tasrif was first translated by Gherard of Cremona into Latinin the Middle Ages. It was followed by several other editors inEurope. The book contains numerous diagrams and illustrations ofsurgical instruments, in use or developed by him, and compriseda part of the medical curriculum in European countries for manycenturies. Contrary to the view that the Muslims fought shy ofsurgery, Al-Zahrawi's Al-Tasrif provided a monumental collectionfor this branch of applied science.
Al-Zahrawi was the inventor of several surgical instruments, ofwhich three are notable: (i) an instrument for internal examina-tion of the ear, (ii) an instrument for internal inspection of theurethra, and (iii) and instrument for applying or removing foreignbodies from the throat. He specialized in curing disease by cauteriza-tion and applied the technique to as many as 50 differentoper ations.
In his book Al-Tasrif, Al-Zahrawi has also discussed the prepara-tion of various medicines, in addition to a comprehensive accountof surgical treatment in specialized branches, whose modern counter-parts are E.N.T., Ophthalmology, etc . In connection with thepreparation of medicines, he has also described in detail the applica-tion of such techniques as sublimation and decantation. Al-Zahrawiwas also an expert in dentistry, and his book contains sketches ofvarious instruments used ther eof, in addition to a description ofvarious important dental operations. He discussed the problem ofnon-aligned or deformed teeth and how to rectify these defects.He developed the technique of preparing artificial teeth and ofreplacement of defective teet h by these. In medicine, he was thefirst to describe in detail the unusual disease, haemophelia.
There can be no doubt that Al-Zahrawi influenced the field ofmedicine and surgery very deeply and the principles laid down byhim were recognized as auth entic in medical science, especiallysurgery, and these continued to influence the medical world for fivecenturies. According to Dr. Cambell (History of Arab Medicine),his principles of medical science surpassed those of Galen in theEuropean medical curriculum
ABUL WAFA MUHAMMAD AL-BUZJANI
(940-997 A.D.)
Abul Wafa Muhammad Ibn Muhammad Ibn Yahya Ibn Ismail al-Buzjani was born in Buzjan, Nishapur in 940 A.D. He flourished as a great mathematician and astronomer at Baghdad and died in 997/998 A.D. He learnt mathematics in Baghdad. In 959 A.D. he migrated to Iraq and lived there till his death.
Abul Wafa's main contribution lies in several branches of mathematics, especially geometry and trigonometry. In geometry his contribution comprises solution of geometrical problems with opening of the compass; construction of a square equivalent to other squares; regular polyhedra; construction of regular hectagon taking for its side half the side of the equilateral triangle inscribed in the same circle; constructions of parabola by points and geometri- cal solution of the equations:
x4 = a and x4 + ax3 = b
Abul Wafa's contribution to the development of trigonometry was extensive. He was the first to show the generality of the sine theorem relative to spherical triangles. He developed a new method of constructing sine tables, the value of sin 30' being correct to the eighth decimal place. He also developed relations for sine (a+b) and the formula:
2 sin2 (a/2) = 1 - cos a , and
sin a = 2 sin (a/2) cos (a/2)
In addition, he made a special study of the tangent and calcula- ted a table of tangents. He introduced the secant and cosecant for the first time, knew the relations between the trigonometric lines, which are now used to define them, and undertook extensive studies on conics.
Apart from being a mathematician, Abul Wafa also contributed to astronomy. In this field he discussed different movernents of the moon, and discovered 'variation'. He was also one of the last Arabic translators and commentators of Greek works.
He wrote a large number of books on mathematics and other subjects, most of which have been lost or exist in modified forms. His contribution includes Kitab 'Ilm al-Hisab, a practical book of arithmetic, al-Kitab al-Kamil (the Complete Book), Kitab al-Handsa (Applied Geometry). Apart from this, he wrote rich commentaries on Euclid, Diophantos and al-Khawarizmi, but all of these have been lost. His books now extant include Kitab 'Ilm al-Hisab, Kitab al- Handsa and Kitab al-Kamil.
His astronomical knowledge on the movements of the moon has been criticized in that, in the case of 'variation' the third inequality of the moon as he discussed was the second part of the 'evection'. But, according to Sedat, what he discovered was the same that was discovered by Tycho Brache six centuries later. Nonethe- less, his contribution to trigonometry was extremely significant in that he developed the knowledge on the tangent and introduced the secant and cosecant for the first time; in fact a sizeable part of today's trigonometry can be traced back to him.
ABU AL-HASAN AL-MAWARDI
(972-1058 A.D.)
Abu al-Hasan Ali Ibn Muhammad Ibn Habib al-Mawardi was born at Basrah in 972 A.D. He was educated at-first in Basrah where, after completion of his basic education, he learned Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) from the jurist Abu al-Wahid al-Simari. He then went to Baghdad for advanced studies under Sheikh Abd al-Hamid and Abdallah al-Baqi. His proficiency in jurisprudence Ethics, Political science and literature proved useful in securing a respectable career for him. After his initial appointment as Qadi (Judge), he was gradually promoted to higher offices, till he became the Chief Justice at Baghdad. The Abbasid Caliph al-Qaim bi Amr Allah appointed him as his roving ambassador and sent him to a number of countries as the head of special missions. In this capacity he played a key role in establishing harmonious relations between the declining Abbasid Caliphate and the rising powers of Buwahids and Seljukes. He was favoured with rich gifts and tributes by most Sultans of the time. He was still in Baghdad when it was taken over by Buwahids.
Al-Mawardi died in 1058 A.D.
Al-Mawardi was a great jurist, mohaddith, sociologist and an expert in Political Science. He was a jurist in the school of Fiqh and his book Al-Hawi on the principles of jurisprudence is held in high repute.
His contribution in political science and sociology comprises a number of monumental books, the most famous of which are Kitab al-Ahkam al-Sultania, Qanun al-Wazarah, and Kitab Nasihat al-Mulk. The books discuss the principles of political science, with special reference to the functions and duties of the caliphs, the chief minister, other ministers, relationships between various elements of public and govemment and measures to strengthen the government and ensure victory in war. Two of these books, al-Ahkam al-Sultania and Qanun al-Wazarah have been published and also translated into various languages. He is considered as being the author/supporter of the 'Doctrine of Necessity' in political science. He was thus in favour of a strong caliphate and discouraged unlimited powers delegated to the Governors, which tended to create chaos. On the other hand, he has laid down clear principles for election of the caliph and qualities of the voters, chief among which are attainment of a degree of intellectual level and purity of character.
In ethics, he wrote Kitab Aadab al-Dunya wa al-Din, which became a widely popular book on the subject and is still read in some Islamic countries.
Al-Mawardi has been considered as one of the most famous thinkers in political science in the middle ages. His original work influenced the development of this science, together with the science of sociology, which was further developed later on by Ibn Khaldun.
IBN SINA
(980-1037 A.D.).
Abu Ali al-Hussain Ibn Abdallah Ibn Sina was born in 980 A.D. at Afshana near Bukhara. The young Bu Ali received his early education in Bukhara, and by the age of ten had become well versed in the study of the Qur'an and various sciences. He started studying philosophy by reading various Greek, Muslim and other books on this subject and learnt logic and some other subjects from Abu Abdallah Natili, a famous philosopher of the time. While still young, he attained such a degree of expertise in medicine that his renown spread far and wide. At the age of 17, he was fortunate in curing Nooh Ibn Mansoor, the King of Bukhhara, of an illness in which all the well-known physicians had given up hope. On his recovery, the King wished to reward him, but the young physician only desired permission to use his uniquely stocked library.
On his father's death, Bu Ali left Bukhara and travelled to Jurjan where Khawarizm Shah welcomed him. There, he met his famous contemporary Abu Raihan al-Biruni. Later he moved to Ray and then to Hamadan, where he wrote his famous book Al-Qanun fi al-Tibb. Here he treated Shams al-Daulah, the King of Hamadan, for severe colic. From Hamadan, he moved to Isphahan, where he completed many of his monumental writings. Nevertheless, he continued travelling and the excessive mental exertion as well as political turmoil spoilt his health. Finally, he returned to Hamadan where he died in 1037 A.D.
He was the most famous physician, philosopher, encyclopaedist, mathematician and astronomer of his time. His major contribution to medical science was his famous book al-Qanun, known as the "Canon" in the West. The Qanun fi al-Tibb is an immense encyclo- paedia of medicine extending over a million words. It surveyed the entire medical knowledge available from ancient and Muslim sources. Due to its systematic approach, "formal perfection as well as its intrinsic value, the Qanun superseded Razi's Hawi, Ali Ibn Abbas's Maliki, and even the works of Galen, and remained supreme for six centuries". In addition to bringing together the then available knowledge, the book is rich with the author's original eontribution. His important original contribution includes such advances as recognition of the contagious nature of phthisis and tuberculosis; distribution of diseases by water and soil, and interaction between psychology and health. In addition to describing pharmacological methods, the book described 760 drugs and became the most authentic materia medica of the era. He was also the first to describe meningitis and made rich contributions to anatomy, gynaecology and child health.
His philosophical encyclopaedia Kitab al-Shifa was a monu- mental work, embodying a vast field of knowledge from philosophy to science. He classified the entire field as follows: theoretical knowledge: physics, mathematics and metaphysics; and practical knowledge: ethics, economics and politics. His philosophy synthesises Aristotelian tradition, Neoplatonic influences and Muslim theology.
Ibn Sina also contributed to mathematics, physics, music and other fields. He explained the "casting out of nines" and its applica- tion to the verification of squares and cubes. He made several astronomical observations, and devised a contrivance similar to the vernier, to increase the precision of instrumental readings. In physics, his contribution comprised the study of different forms of energy, heat, light and mechanical, and such concepts as force, vacuum and infinity. He made the important observation that if the perception of light is due to the emission of some sort of particles by the luminous source, the speed of light must be finite. He propounded an interconnection between time and motion, and also made investigations on specific gravity and used an air thermo- meter.
In the field of music, his contribution was an improvement over Farabi's work and was far ahead of knowledge prevailing else- where on the subject. Doubling with the fourth and fifth was a 'great' step towards the harmonic system and doubling with the third seems to have also been allowed. Ibn Sina observed that in the series of consonances represented by (n + 1)/n, the ear is unable to distinguish them when n = 45. In the field of chemistry, he did not believe in the possibility of chemical transmutation because, in his opinion, the metals differed in a fundamental sense. These views were radically opposed to those prevailing at the time. His treatise on minerals was one of the "main" sources of geology of the Christian encyclopaedists of the thirteenth century. Besides Shifa his well-known treatises in philosophy are al-Najat and Isharat.
ABU MARWAN IBN ZUHR
(1091-1161 A.D.)
Abu Marwan Abd al-Malik Ibn Zuhr was born at Seville in 1091/c. 1094 A.D. After completing his education and specializing in medicine, he entered the service of Almoravides (Al-Murabatun), but after their defeat by the Al-Mohades (Al-Muwahadun), he served under 'Abd al-Mu'min, the first Muwahid ruler. He died in Seville in 1161/c. 1162 A.D. As confirmed by George Sarton, he was not a Jew, but an orthodox Muslim.
Ibn Zuhr was one of the greatest physicians and clinicians of the Muslim golden era and has rather been held by some historians of science as the greatest of them. Contrary to the general practice of the Muslim scholars of that era, he confined his work to only one field medicine. This enabled him to produce works of everlasting fame.
As a physician, he made several discoveries and breakthroughs. He described correctly, for the first time, scabies, the itch mite and may thus be regarded as the first parasitologist. Likewise, he prescribed tracheotomy and direct feeding through the gullet and rectum in the cases where normal feeding was not possible. He also gave clinical descriptions of mediastinal tumours, intestinal phthisis, inflammation of the middle ear, pericarditis, etc.
His contribution was chiefly contained in the monumental works written by him; out of these, however, only three are extant. Kitab al-Taisir fi al-Mudawat wa al-Tadbir (Book of Simplification concerning Therapeutics and Diet), written at the request of Ibn Rushd (Averroes), is the most important work of Ibn Zuhr. It describes several of Ibn Zuhr's original contributions. The book gives in detail pathological conditions, followed by therapy. His Kitab al-Iqtisad fi Islah al-Anfus wa al-Ajsad (Book of the Middle Course concerning the Reformation of Souls and the Bodies) gives a summary of diseases, therapeutics and hygiene written specially for the benefit of the layman. Its initial part is a valuable discourse on psychology. Kitab al-Aghthiya (Book on Foodstuffs) describes different types of food and drugs and their effects on health.
Ibn Zuhr in his works lays stress on observation and experiment and his contribution greatly influenced the medical science for several centuries both in the East and the West. His books were translated into Latin and Hebrew and remained popular in Europe as late as the advent of the 18th century.
JALAL AL-DIN RUMI
(1207-1273 A.D.)
Jalal al-Din Mohammad Ibn Mohammad Ibn Mohammad IbnHusain al-Rumi was born in 604 A.H. (1207/8 A.D .) at Balkh (nowAfghanistan). His father Baha al-Din was a renowned religiousscholar. Under his patronage, Rumi received his early educationfrom Syed Burhan-al-Din. When his age was about 18 years, thefamily (after several migrations) finally settled at K onya and at theage of 25, Rumi was sent to Aleppo for advanced education and laterto Damascus. Rumi continued with his education till he was 40years old, although on his father's death Rumi succeeded him as aprofessor in the famous Madrasah at Konya at th e age of about24 years. He received his mystical training first at the hands ofSyed Burhan al-Din and later he was trained by Shams al-Din Tabriz.He became famous for his mystical insight, his religious knowledgeand as a Persian poet. He used to teach a l arge number of pupilsat his Madrasah and also founded the famous Maulvi Order inTasawwuf. He died in 672 A.H. (1273 A.D.) at Konya, whichsubsequently became a sacred place for dancing derveshes of theMaulvi Order.
His major contribution lies in Islamic philosophy andTasawwuf. This was embodied largely in poetry, especially throughhis famous Mathnawi. This book, the largest mystical exposition inverse, discusses and offers solutions to many complicated problemsin metaphysics, rel igion, ethics, mysticism, etc. Fundamentally,the Mathnawi highlights the various hidden aspects of Sufism andtheir relationship with the worldly life. For this, Rumi draws on avariety of subjects and derives numerous examples from every-day life. H is main subject is the relationship between man and Godon the one hand, and between man and man, on the other. Heapparently believed in Pantheism and portrayed the various stages
of man's evolution in his journey towards the Ultimate.
Apart from the Mathnaui, he also wrote his Diwan (collectionof poems) and Fihi-Ma-Fih (a collection of mystical sayings). How-ever, it is the Mathnawi itself that has largely transmitted Rumi'smessage. Soon after its completion, other scholars start ed writingdetailed commentaries on it, in order to interpret its rich propositionson Tasawwuf, Metaphysics and Ethics. Several commentaries indifferent languages have been written since then.
His impact on philosophy, literature, mysticism an d culture,has been so deep throughout Central Asia and most Islamic countriesthat almost all religious scholars, mystics, philosophers, sociologistsand others have referred to his verses during all these centuries sincehis death. Most difficult problems i n these areas seem to get simpli-fied in the light of his references. His message seems to have inspiredmost of the intellectuals in Central Asia and adjoining areas sincehis time, and scholars like Iqbal have further developed Rumi'sconcepts. The Math nawi became known as the interpretation of theQur'an in the Pahlavi language. He is one of the few intellectuals andmystics whose views have so profoundly affected the world-viewin its higher perspective in large parts of the Islamic World.Jabir ibn Hayyan (c. eighth and early ninth centuries) was an Islamic thinker from the early medieval period to whom is ascribed authorship of a large number of alchemical, practical, and philosophical works. Many of these works were translated and distributed throughout the learning centers of medieval Europe under the latinized form of Jabir's name, Geber. Whether or not he was genuinely the author of all the works attributed to him, his contributions were substantial, laying the foundations of modern chemistry.
The two earliest biographical sources that mention Jabir are from the tenth century. The first, Notes of Abu Suaiman al-Mantiqi al-Sijistani, disputes the authorship of several works ascribed to him, and casts doubt on his very existence. Another work, the Katib al-Fihrist of Ibn al-Nadim, part biography and part bibliography, written around 987, ascribes a long list of works to Jabir and insists that he was a real personage. Ibn al-Nadim links Jabir with his teacher, the sixth shi'ite imam, Jafar ibn Muhammad al-Sadiq, who lived between 700 and 765. Others say his teacher was another Jafar, the Barmecide vizier Jafar ibn Yahya, who was put to death in 803, by the ruler Harun al-Rashid. Either of these hypotheses lead to the conclusion that Jabir's life straddled the eighth and ninth centuries.
There can be no doubt that works ascribed to Jabir, particularly under the latinized moniker, Geber, have had a profound influence on the development of chemical knowledge in the West, including as they do advanced chemical processes such as the manufacture of nitric and sulfuric acids and the introduction of the experimental method. Many of Jabir's works, however, are written in esoteric prose that are hardly decipherable in a scientific context. The authorship of some works, particularly those in Latin with no Arabic originals, are disputed by modern scholars, many of whom claim that the chemical knowledge they display is far ahead of what was known to ninth-century practitioners. Still, there are a minority who make a case for Jabir's authorship of all the works attributed to him.
Contributions to chemistry
It is useful to differentiate the techniques, processes, and theories associated with the Arabic works ascribed to Jabir, and those of the Latin works under the authorship of Geber, Jabir's latinized name.
Jabirian contributions include:
The importance of practical knowledge gained from experience and experiment.
A broadening of the scope of investigation of materials to include not just minerals, but also plant and animal substances.
The importance of number in an understading of the universe. The numbers 17 and 28 bear a particular significance in Jabir's system.
The principle of balance in assessing the properties of substances, which can mean their actual densities or their part in the composition of other substances.
The introduction of the qualities of warm, cold, moist and dry, in addition to the ancient Greek categories or elements of fire, water, earth and air.
The possibility of the artificial production of many naturally occuring entities and phenomena, including life itself.
The importance of the religious life in pursuing the scientific. Jabir believes that the stars influence human behavior and conduct, but that through a life of prayer and offerings, the stars themselves come under human influence through the agency of the divine.
The works in Latin under the name of Geber include these important chemical processes (Von Meyer, 1906):
The manufacture of nitric and sulfuric acids;
The separation of gold from other metals through the agency of lead and saltpeter (potassium nitrate).
The concept of a chemical compound; the mineral cinnabar, for example, as being composed of sulfur and mercury
The purification of mercury.
The classification of salts as water soluble, under the generic title "sal."
The introduction of the word "alkali" to designate substances such as lye and other bases.
The production of nitric acid by distilling a mixture of saltpeter (potassium nitrate), copper vitriol (copper sulfate), and alum (naturally occuring sulfate of iron, potassium, sodium or aluminum).
The production of sulfuric acid through the heating of alum .
The production of aqua regia, a solvent capable of dissolving gold, by mixing salmiac (ammonium chloride) and nitric acid.
The production of alum from alum shale by recrystallizing it from water.
The purification of substances through crystallization
The precipitation of silver nitrate crystals from a solution by the addition of common salt, thus establishing a test for the presence of both silver and salt.
The preparation of mercuric oxide from mercury by heating it with a metalic oxide, and mercuric chloride by heating mercury with common salt, alum and saltpeter.
The preparation of arsenious acid.
The dissolving of sulfur in solutions of alkalies, and its transformation when it interacts with aqua regia.
The theory that the different metals are composed of varying degrees of sulfur and mercury.
The production of saltpeter by mixing potash (potassium carbonate) and nitric acid.
The works ascribed to Geber introduced improved laboratory equipment such as water baths, furnaces, and systems for filtration and distillation.
Jabir's works paved the way for most of the later Islamic alchemists, including Razi, Tughrai and al-Iraqi, who lived in the ninth, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries respectively. His books strongly influenced the medieval European alchemists and justified their search for the philosopher's stone, a symbol for the method by which the baser metals such as lead and tin could be transformed into gold. But they also provided medieval inestigators a new source of important and practical chemical knowledge.
In tandem with his leanings toward mysticism, Jabir recognized and proclaimed the importance of experimentation. "The first essential in chemistry," he declared, "is that you should perform practical work and conduct experiments, for he who performs not practical work nor makes experiments will never attain the least degree of mastery."
Jabir applied his chemical knowledge to the improvement of many manufacturing processes, such as making steel and other metals, preventing rust, engraving gold, dyeing and waterproofing cloth, tanning leather, and the chemical analysis of pigments and other substances. He developed the use of manganese dioxide in glass-making, to counteract the green tinge produced by iron — a process that is still used today. He noted that boiling wine released a flammable vapor, thus paving the way to Al-Razi's discovery of ethanol.
In the Middle Ages, Jabir's treatises on alchemy were translated into Latin and became standard texts for European alchemists. These include the Kitab al-Kimya (titled Book of the Composition of Alchemy in Europe), translated by Robert of Chester (1144). Marcelin Berthelot translated some of his books under the fanciful titles Book of the Kingdom, Book of the Balances, and Book of Eastern Mercury.
Contributions to alchemy
Alchemy was the study of ways to turn base metals such as tin or lead into Gold. While modern science has revealed the hurdles which any such attempt would be faced with, the state of knowledge from ancient times up until the nineteenth century, was not such as to have been an adequate impediment to the pursuit of alchemical studies. Many of Jabir's writings are devoted to alchemy, and his system, often couched in obscure phraseology, bore some unique characteristics compared to earlier authors on the same subject.
Jabir states in his Book of Stones (4:12), that, "The purpose is to baffle and lead into error everyone except those whom God loves and provides for." Some of his works were written in a manner that perhaps only the inner circle of his students would have understood. It is therefore difficult, at best, for the modern reader to understand these works. Because certain of his works appear to make no sense, the term gibberish is believed to have originally referred to his writings (Hauck, p. 19).
Jabir's alchemical investigations ostensibly revolved around the ultimate goal of takwin—the artificial creation of life. The Book of Stones includes several recipes for creating creatures such as scorpions, snakes, and even humans in a laboratory environment, which are subject to the control of their creator.
Ibn Hayyan was deeply religious, and repeatedly emphasized in his works that alchemy is possible only by subjugating oneself completely to the will of Allah and becoming a literal instrument of Allah on Earth, since the manipulation of reality is possible only for Allah. The Book of Stones prescribes long and elaborate sequences of specific prayers that must be performed without error alone in the desert before one can even consider alchemical experimentation.
In his writings, Jabir pays tribute to Egyptian and Greek alchemists Hermes Trismegistus, Agathodaimon, Pythagoras, and Socrates.
Jabir's alchemical investigations were theoretically grounded in an elaborate numerology related to Pythagorean and Neoplatonic systems. The nature and properties of elements was defined through numeric values assigned the Arabic consonants present in their name, ultimately culminating in the number 17.
To Aristotelian physics, Jabir added the four properties of hotness, coldness, dryness, and moistness (Burkhardt, p. 29). Each Aristotelian element was characterised by these qualities: Fire was both hot and dry, earth cold and dry, water cold and moist, and air hot and moist. This came from the elementary qualities which are theoretical in nature plus substance. In metals two of these qualities were interior and two were exterior. For example, lead was cold and dry and gold was hot and moist. Thus, Jabir theorized, by rearranging the qualities of one metal, based on their sulfur/mercury content, a different metal would result (Burckhardt, p. 29). This theory appears to have originated the search for al-iksir, the elusive elixir that would make this transformation possible—which in European alchemy became known as the philosopher's stone.
Only a few of Jabir's works have been edited and published, and fewer still are available in translation. Scholars generally admit that much more research needs to be done to understand the breadth and depth of Jabir's contribution.
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