INTELLECTUAL ACHIEVEMENTS OF MUSLIMS
By Dr. Ibrahim B. Syed
REVIEWED BY Yacoub E. Yacoub, MD
(This Book Review will appear in the Courier-Journal of Louisville, KY in the near future)
In his book, Intellectual Achievements of the Muslims, Dr. Ibrahim B. Syed, Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Louisville, reminds us that, "Muslims were the great torchbearers of international knowledge" and higher learning at a time when Europe was still struggling through the dark ages.
For example, Muslims used paper 200 years before it was used in Europe. Muslims invented spherical trigonometry in the late 10th century, developed mathematical solutions for equations of the third and fourth degree, solved binomials to the nth degree, and developed differential and integral calculus. They discovered the force of gravitation and laws of motion, measured the circumference of the earth, and calculated the values for specific gravities of solids correct to three decimal places almost a thousand years ago. Muslim doctors studied the intricacies of blood circulation, and a naturalist named Al-Biruni even developed a theory of evolution some 800 years before Darwin.
Subjects researched and taught in Muslim universities included medicine, algebra, advanced mathematics, astronomy, optics, and philosophy. Dr. Syed notes that, "the zeal and enthusiasm to reach such a peak was the result of Islam's insistence on learning. The first and most important obligation of a Muslim is to acquire knowledge; correct knowledge leads to correct action." This charged atmosphere of intellectual advancement eventually flowed westward and helped spark the European Renaissance.
Dr. Syed encourages modernization, saying, “Our ancestors established an integrated society by combining religion, science, politics, and administration, following principle of balance and compassion, justice and goodness. There is a great need to achieve a balance between Islam and modernity through ... creative and independent thinking. We need to rebuild our educational system, human rights, law and order, entitlement of women and minorities and to close the gap between the rich and the poor.”
It is very gratifying to know that a scholar with such insight makes his home in Louisville.
Yacoub E. Yacoub, MD
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