March 10, 2006
The Guardian

Charting the Lost Innovations of Islam

by Paul Lewis

It is the thread that links cars, carpets and cameras and is also responsible for three-course meals, bookshops and modern medicine. The Islamic civilisation, according to the curators of a national exhibition that opened this week, has made an enormous but largely neglected contribution to the way we live in the west.

The project, 1001 Inventions: Discover the Muslim Heritage of Our World, supported by the Home Office and the Department for Trade and Industry, uncovers the Islamic civilisation's overlooked contribution to science, technology and art during the dark ages in European history.

It lifts the veil on hundreds of innovations - from kiosks and chess through to windmills and cryptography - that are often popularly associated with the western world but originate from Muslim scholarship and science.

Based on more than 3,000 peer-reviewed academic studies, the exhibition charts Islamic innovations during ten decades of "missing history" spanning from the 6th to the 16th century and covering an area stretching from China to southern Spain. . . .


Islamic World Contributions to Medieval Europe

1001 Inventions Book, Teachers' Pack, Educational Posters

VIDEO: 1001 Inventions and The Library of Secrets

Islam's Contribution To Europe's Renaissance


[There was once a civilization that was the greatest in the world.

It was able to create a continental super-state that stretched from ocean to ocean, and from northern climes to tropics and deserts. Within its dominion lived hundreds of millions of people, of different creeds and ethnic origins.

. . . The technology industry would not exist without the contributions of Arab mathematicians. Sufi poet-philosophers like Rumi challenged our notions of self and truth. Leaders like Suleiman contributed to our notions of tolerance and civic leadership. . . .

This kind of enlightened leadership - leadership that nurtured culture, sustainability, diversity and courage - led to 800 years of invention and prosperity.--Carly Fiorina, "Technology, Business and Our Way of Life: What's Next,", September 26, 2001 - read last 12 paragraphs]

Maria Rosa Menocal, "The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain," Back Bay Books; Reprint edition (April 2, 2003)

Paul Vallely, "How Islamic inventors changed the world," Independent, January 16, 2006

VIDEO: "Islam: Empire of Faith," PBS, February 11, 2006

Joshua Hammer, "The Treasures of Timbuktu," Smithsonian Magazine, December 2006

Will Dunham, "Medieval Muslims made stunning math breakthrough," Reuters, February 22, 2007

Michael H. Morgan, "Lost History: The Enduring Legacy of Muslim Scientists, Thinkers, and Artists," National Geographic (June 19, 2007)

VIDEO: "An Islamic History of Europe," BBC, June 30, 2007

Xan Rice, "In fabled city at the end of the earth, a treasury of ancient manuscripts," Guardian, July 2, 2007

Sylvia Poggioli, "Venice Exhibit Traces the Migration of Culture," NPR, August 6, 2007

IN THE BEGINNING. THERE WERE TWO NATIONS. ONE WAS A VAST, mighty and magnificent empire, brilliantly organized and culturally unified, which dominated a massive swath of the earth. The other was an undeveloped, semifeudal realm, riven by religious factionalism and barely able to feed its illiterate, diseased and stinking masses. The first nation was India. The second was England. . . .

Though governed by Muslims under a legal system based loosely on sharia law, its millions of non-Muslim subjects - Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists - were allowed freedom of conscience and custom.

This empire was ruled by the world's most powerful man, Akbar the Great. Akbar was one of the most successful military commanders of all time, a liberal philosopher of distinction and a generous patron of the arts. . . . His hobbies were discussing metaphysics, . . .--Alex Von Tunzelmann, "Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire," Henry Holt and Co.; 1st edition (August 7, 2007)

VIDEO: "Cities of Light: The Rise and Fall of Islamic Spain," PBS, September 14, 2007

Charles Haviland, "The roar of Rumi - 800 years on," BBC News, September 30, 2007

Michael Hamilton Morgan, "How the Muslims Saved the West,", October 26, 2007

Bettany Hughes, "When the Moors Ruled in Europe," June 10, 2008

[A series of documentary travelogues in which Tim Mackintosh-Smith follows in the footsteps of 14th Century Moroccan scholar Ibn Battutah, who covered 75,000 miles, 40 countries and three continents in a 30-year odyssey. He was Islam's and perhaps the world's greatest traveller--"The Man Who Walked Across The World," BBC, August 29, 2008]

Paul M. Barrett, "Peace Be Upon Us: Islamic and Arabic traditions have long been part of American culture," Washington Post, November 9, 2008

Amid a heightened wave of xenophobia directed at Arabs and Muslims, San Francisco Chronicle writer Curiel reminds readers of a rich store of cultural borrowings and relationships that have gone deep into the very fabric of American society, including its most precious symbols and artifacts.--Jonathan Curiel, Al' America: Travels Through America's Arab and Islamic Roots," New Press (November 11, 2008)

Jonathan Lyons, The House of Wisdom: How the Arabs Transformed Western Civilization," Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (February 2, 2009)

[After 150 years, The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam still has an uncannily modern moral - enjoy yourself while you can--Libby Purves, "Life is short but this delightful poem lives on," Times, March 23, 2009]

Sulaiman Ismail Ibrahim Nabibukhsh, "Aristotle and Western Civilization," The Wisdom Fund, January 2010

Raana Bokhari and Mohammad Seddon, The Illustrated Guide to Islam: History, philosophy, traditions, teachings, art and architecture, with 1000 pictures," Lorenz Books; Ill edition (July 16, 2012)

BBC Documentary: Jim Al-Khalili, "Science and Islam," BBC, March 27, 2013

Firas Alkhateeb, "Lost Islamic History: Reclaiming Muslim Civilisation from the Past,", Hurst; 1 edition (September 1, 2014)

Eric Broug, "The complex geometry of Islamic design," TEDxOslo, May 14, 2015

Erin Blakemore, "The Statue of Liberty Was Originally a Muslim Woman,", November 24, 2015

The orient isle of Elizabethan England, for so long almost a confederate of the Islamic world, became an island of orientalism, as one set of myths and misconceptions of Islam gave way to another.(p. 299)--Jerry Brotton, "The Sultan and the Queen: The Untold Story of Elizabeth and Islam," Viking (September 20, 2016)

"Science in a Golden Age - Al-Razi, Ibn Sina and the Canon of Medicine," Al Jazeera, February 6, 2017

"Fazlur Rahman Khan: His invention made today's skyscrapers possible,", April 3, 2017

Jason Webster, "Revealing Flamenco's Mystical Muslim Roots,", September 26, 2017

Mustafa Akyol, "Who's Afraid of Arabic Numerals?,", June 4, 2019

Diana Darke, Stealing from the Saracens: How Islamic Architecture shaped Europe, SOAS University of London, December 8, 2020

'History of Islamic Science in 100 objects' exhibition, TRT World, April 18, 2021

Dr. Roy Casagranda, How Islam Saved Western Civilization, The Austin School, September 30, 2022

knowledge diffusion - from the cuneiform writings of Babylon to the machine-made genius of artificial intelligence, by way of Gutenberg, Google, and Wikipedia--Simon Winchester, "Knowing What We Know: The Transmission of Knowledge: From Ancient Wisdom to Modern Magic," Harper (April 25, 2023)

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