By Suhaib Shahab

Not Namaz! Not Oneness of God! The first word revealed to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ at Cave Hira in 610 C.E. was ‘Iqra’ – READ or EDUCATE yourself at a time when the world never had universities, internet, libraries, scientific technologies and paper just produced by China was yet to be introduced to the world. Mass scale production of paper began in the Muslim world when they began reading and writing the Qur’ān, hadiths and the community as a whole joined the learning culture. Libraries were established, book stalls were pioneered and universities had found their way in.

The stereotype – “Is Islam incompatible with modernity?” OR “Is Islam hostile to science?” kill its very own argument from core as history suggests otherwise. From the 8th to the 16th centuries – Islamic civilization underwent what is now known as the Islamic Golden Age. The period of economic growth, intellectual, and cultural developments resulted in a number of inventions and advancements which we still rely on today.

A man called Al-Khwarizmi, one of the greatest of all time mathematician was Muslim, worked in the golden age Islam. He’s the guy who came up with not just Algebra but Algorithms, without Algorithm we won’t have laptops, Oh! without laptops I couldn’t even imagine the ‘Scientific advancements’ and Yes! definitely without which you would not be reading this text of mine right now. Windmills and carpets are some other inventions coming from the Muslim world.

 “COFFEE – the favourite drink of the civilized world,” as said by Thomas Jefferson – was first brewed in Yemen around the 9th century. In its earliest days, coffee helped Muslim worshippers stay awake at late nights for devotion. Later brought to Cairo by a group of students, the coffee buzz soon caught on around the empire. By the 13th century it reached Turkey, but not until the 16th century did the beans start boiling in Europe, brought to Italy by a Venetian trader. So next when you visit a CCD grabbing a cup of Cappuccino in your hands remember Mr KALDI, an Ethiopian goatherd who discovered coffee when he noticed after eating the berries from a certain tree, his goats became so energetic that they refused having a goodnight sleep.

Did You Know That the First University Was Founded by a Muslim woman? In 859 a young princess named Fatima al-Firhi founded the first degree-granting university in Fez, Morocco. Still operating almost 1,200 years later. Learning is at the core of the Islamic tradition.

The ancient Greeks thought light emitted from the eye (like a laser) causing us to see. It was a Muslim mathematician in the 10th century that instead realised light entered into the eye. Astronomer and physicist Ibn al-Haitham invented the first pin-hole camera after observing light entering a hole in the shutters. It was Islamic ritual to bathe and wash during times in Europe when bathing was considered bad for one’s health.

Arabs originated the general recipe for soap we still use today: vegetable oils with sodium hydroxide and aromatic oils such as orange or thyme. England saw its first shampoo thanks to a Muslim. The 10th century Muslim surgeon called al-Zahrawi designed many of our modern surgical instruments still in use today: scalpels, bone saws, forceps, and fine scissors for eye surgery. The first hospital was established in the Muslim world and was free to get treatments.

In 953, the Sultan of Egypt asked for a pen that would not leak all over his clothes and hands. The fountain pen was invented in which the ink would be held in a reservoir and be delivered to the paper (or papyrus) by gravity. The idea for our modern checking accounts came from the Arab world. To avoid having to transport money across dangerous terrain, a written vow was honoured to pay for goods upon delivery. “In the 9th century, a Muslim businessman could cash a check in China drawn on his bank in Baghdad.”

Who says today’s Muslims have obliterated their bequest in scientific contributions of their glorious history. When Covid-19 pandemic engendered the world to its knees, an invisible and a tiny virus became the world’s top most scientists’ pain, The Husband-and-Wife team worked out a vaccine to solve Covid-19. Dr. Ugur Sahin and Dr. Özlem Türeci a Turkish Muslim couple who founded BioNTech, a German company, teamed up with Pfizer on a vaccine that was found to be more than 90 per cent effective. “It could be the beginning of the end of the Covid era,” Dr. Sahin said in an interview while finding a cure for a disease that has killed more than 1.2 million.

Islam or Muslims furnished the very revolutionary inventions which had changed the course of human civilization, scientific researches and economics. From coffee to checks and the three-course meal, the Muslim world has rendered many innovations that is taken for granted in our day-to-day life.

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