Muslims Contribution To Science

Muslims Contribution To Science
Muslims have always had a special interest in astronomy. The moon and the
sun are of vital importance in the daily life of every Muslim. By observing
the moon, Muslims determine the beginning and the end of the months in
their lunar calendar. By observing the sun the Muslims calculate the times
for prayer and fasting. It is also by means of astronomy that Muslims can
determine the precise direction of the Qiblah, to face the Ka'bah in
Makkah, during prayer. The most precise solar calendar, superior to the
Julian, is the Jilali, devised under the supervision of Umar Khayyam.
The Qur'an contains many references to astronomy.
"The heavens and the earth were ordered rightly, and were made
subservient to man, including the sun, the moon, the stars, and
day and night. Every heavenly body moves in an orbit assigned to
it by God and never digresses, making the universe an orderly
cosmos whose life and existence, diminution and expansion, are
totally determined by the Creator." [Qur'an 30:22]
These references, and the injunctions to learn, inspired the early Muslim
scholars to study the heavens. They integrated the earlier works of the
Indians, Persians and Greeks into a new synthesis. Ptolemy's Almagest (the
title as we know it is Arabic) was translated, studied and criticized. Many
new stars were discovered, as we see in their Arabic names - ALGOL,
Deneb, Betelgeuse, Rigel, Aldebaran. Astronomical tables were compiled,
among them the Toledan tables, which were used by Copernicus, Tycho
Brahe and Kepler. Also compiled were almanacs - another Arabic term.
Other terms from Arabic are zenith, nadir, albedo, azimuth.
Muslim astronomers were the first to establish observatories, like the one
built at Mugharah by Hulagu, the son of Genghis Khan, in Persia, and they
invented instruments such as the quadrant and astrolabe, which led to
advances not only in astronomy but in oceanic navigation, contributing to
the European age of exploration.

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