Sunday, 12 May 2013


Consider the following Qur’aanic verses:

“He has let free the two bodies Of flowing water, Meeting together: Between them is a Barrier Which they do not transgress.” [Al-Qur’aan 55:19-20]

In the Arabic text the word barzakh means a barrier or a partition. This barrier is not a physical partition. The Arabic word maraja literally means ‘they both meet and mix with each other’. Early commentators of the Qur’aan were unable to explain the two opposite meanings for the two bodies of water, i.e. they meet and mix, and at the same time, there is a barrier between them.

Modern Science has discovered that in the placeswhere two different seas meet, there is a barrier between them. This barrier divides the two seas so that each sea has its own temperature, salinity and density. 7 Oceanologists are now in a better position to explain this verse. There is a slanted unseen water barrier between the two seasthrough which water from onesea passes to the other.

But when the water from one sea enters the other sea, it loses its distinctive characteristic and becomes homogenized with the other water. In a way this barrier serves as a transitional homogenizing area for the two waters. This scientific phenomenon mentioned in theQur’aan was also confirmed by Dr. William Hay who is a well-known marine scientist and Professor of Geological Sciences at the University of Colorado, U.S.A.
The Qur’aan mentions this phenomenon also in the following verse:

“And made a separating bar between the two bodies Of flowing water?” [Al-Qur’aan 27:61]

This phenomenon occurs in several places, including the divider between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean at Gibralter. But when the Qur’aan speaksabout the divider between fresh and salt water, it mentions the existence of “a forbidding partition” with the barrier.

“It is He Who has Let free the two bodies Of flowing water: One palatable and sweet, And the other salty and bitter; Yet has He Made a barrier between them, And a artition that is forbidden Tobe passed.” [Al-Qur’aan 25:53]

Modern science has discovered that in estuaries,where fresh (sweet) and saltwater meet, the situation is somewhat different from that found in places where two seas meet. It has been discovered that what distinguishes fresh water from salt water in estuaries is a “pycnocline zone with a marked density discontinuity separating the two layers.” This partition (zone of separation) has salinity different from both the fresh water and the salt water. 

This phenomenon occurs in several places, including Egypt, where the river Nile flows into the Mediterranean Sea.


Saturday, 23 February 2013

Columbus was (Not) the First to Cross the Atlantic

The old poem that most American school children recognize begins “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue…” Indeed, in the year 1492, Christopher Columbus (whose real name in Italian was Cristoforo Colombo) sailed across the Atlantic in the name of the Spanish crown and landed in the Caribbean part of North America. For hundreds of years, it has simply been accepted that Columbus was the first explorer to valiantly sail across the sea and “discover” the Americas. However, this theory no longer stands up to modern scholarship.

It goes without saying that the first people to truly discover America were the ancestors of the Native Americans, who probably crossed into North America through Russia and Alaska about 12,000 years ago. Discussion of the “discovery” of the Americas by Europeans, Africans, or Asians is an insult to the history of it’s indigenous peoples. That said, the first daring souls to cross the Atlantic ocean by boat are important to know, and the theory of Columbus does no justice to their story.

While the common knowledge about Columbus is that he lived in a time where everyone assumed the world was flat, this is clearly not the case. Ancient Greek scholars such as Aristotle and Pythagoras suggested that the earth was in fact, round. It was during the Muslim Golden Ages (c. 750-1100s) that advanced scholarship into the shape and size of the earth began. Contrary to what most people may believe, in those years, it was common understanding that the earth was not flat. The debate, instead, was about exactly how large the earth was. In the early 800s, the Abbasid Caliph al-Ma’mun assembled the brightest minds of the day (including al-Khawarizmi) in Baghdad who calculated the earth’s circumference and were off by only 4% of it’s actual size.

Knowing that the earth was round, and knowing its size to a very good degree of accuracy (without the modern technology we have today), some intrepid Muslims must have attempted to go around the world, hundreds of years before Columbus. The proof of these voyages is in front of us, in black and white.

Muslim Spain

Al-Masudi’s world map of 956, showing the “unknown land” across the Atlantic across from Africa

The great Muslim historian and geographer, Abu al-Hasan al-Masudi wrote in 956 of a voyage in 889 from al-Andalus (Muslim Spain). The voyage left from the port of Delba (the same place Columbus’ voyage would begin) and sailed for months westward. They eventually found a large landmass across the ocean where they traded with the natives, and then returned to Europe. Al-Masudi records this land across the ocean in his famous map and refers to it as “the unknown land”.

Two more voyages from Muslim Spain to the Americas are recorded in history. One was in 999 and was led by Ibn Farrukh, from Granada. The other is recorded by the genius mind of the geographer al-Idrisi, who worked in the multi-cultural and religiously tolerant Sicily of King Roger II in the 1100s. He wrote of a group of Muslims who sailed west from Lisbon for 31 days and landed on an island in the Caribbean. They were taken prisoner by the Native Americans on that island for a few days. Eventually, they were freed when a translator who lived among the natives that spoke Arabic arranged for their release. They eventually sailed back to al-Andalus and told their tale. The important part of this account is the existence of an Arabic speaker among the natives, indicating that there must have been more unrecorded contact between the Arab world and the Americas.

West Africa

There is another part of the Muslim world that had contact with the Americas before Columbus. In West Africa in the 1300s, a powerful and incredibly wealthy empire called Mali existed. The most famous leader of this empire was Mansa (king) Musa. The most memorable event of his reign was his epic hajj journey in 1324. The caravan of over 60,000 people made an impression everywhere they went, including Egypt, where Mansa Musa told the story of how he came to power. His brother, Abu Bakr was the Mansa before he was. During his reign, Abu Bakr sent a fleet of 400 ships to explore the Atlantic Ocean. Only 1 ship returned, but reported that they found a land across the ocean. Mansa Abu Bakr then outfitted a fleet of 2000 ships, which he sailed with personally, that sailed west into the ocean. They were never heard from again.

While there is no record in Mali of the result of that voyage, there is evidence of their arrival in the Americas. There are numerous archaeological sites in North and South America that attest to that Malian presence. Early Spanish explorers and pirates recorded abandoned cities in Brazil that had inscriptions identical to the language of the Mandinka (the people of Mali). More inscriptions in the Mandinka language were found in the United States as well. Near the Mississippi River, many inscriptions exist that recorded their exploration of the Americas. In Arizona, an inscription was found that reads “The elephants are sick and angry. At present there are many sick elephants”. This inscription also includes a rough sketch of an elephant. Elephants are not native to the Americas. They were brought by the Mandinka to the Americas, and the inscriptions are proof of Mansa Abu Bakr’s successful journey over 100 years before Columbus.

The Ottoman Empire

In 1929, an amazing discovery was made in Istanbul, Turkey. A map drawn in the year 1513 by the Ottoman cartographer, Piri Reis was found. Reis wrote that his map was based on earlier sources, including ancient Greek and Arabic maps, including maps by Christopher Columbus, who had sailed only 21 years earlier. What is remarkable about this map is the level of detail of the map, which forced historians to re-evaluate the Columbus theory of exploration.

The Piri Reis map of 1513

The map clearly shows the eastern coast of South America, which is in the correct position with regards to Africa. The coast of Brazil is shown in incredible detail, with many rivers accurately placed on the map. Although Reis used Columbus’s maps as a source, Columbus never went to South America, so Reis must have gotten that from earlier Muslim maps that he used as sources. Furthermore, Reis’s map includes the Andes Mountains, which were not even explored by Europeans until the 1520s, a full decade after the drawing of Reis’s map!

Piri Reis based his map on earlier sources, which clearly had a very good understanding of the Americas and had explored the area well before the first Europeans. The map is perhaps the strongest physical evidence of Muslim exploration of the Americas before Columbus

What Did Columbus Say?

With all of this evidence of Muslim exploration before Columbus’s voyage in 1492, is it possible that Columbus himself knew he was not the first? It’s more than likely to be the case. Columbus sailed from Spain in the same year the last Muslim dynasty of Iberia was destroyed in the Reconquista. Many of the people of Iberia were still Muslims, and carried with them the knowledge of the Muslim Golden Ages. Numerous people on Columbus’s voyage were Moriscos, Muslims who were forced to convert to Catholicism or die. Columbus could have heard from Spain’s Muslims of the New World and was thus inspired to go exploring.

Once he got to the Americas, Columbus records numerous examples of Muslims already present. He commented on the gold that the natives had, which was made the same way, in the same alloy, as the Muslims of West Africa did. Furthermore, Columbus records that the native word in that area for gold is guanin, which is very similar to the Mandinka word for gold, ghanin, which probably comes from the Arabic word for wealth, ghina’. 

In 1498, Columbus recorded seeing a ship loaded with goods, heading towards America, filled with Africans who were probably on their way to trade with Native Americans. Columbus also records in his journal that Native Americans told him of black Africans who came regularly to trade with them.
Even Columbus knew that he was not the first to cross the Atlantic Ocean.


Clearly, the theory that Columbus discovered America is nothing but an old tale that has not stood the test of time. There is no doubt that the Columbian Era was a pivotal time in world history that changed the way of life in the Americas and Europe forever. However, he was not the first to make the crossing to the Americas. Evidence exists from the Arabs, West Africans, and Ottomans of Muslim voyages to the Americas well before Columbus and Christian Europe. For whatever reason, the textbooks continue to extoll the voyage of Columbus and the courage of his crew, the “first” to make it across the Atlantic. This idea clearly needs to be re-examined in light of evidence from earlier Muslim explorations, to bring their contributions to the general public. (lostislamichistory)

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Friday, 31 August 2012

இஸ்லாமிய அறிவியல் துறை


மத்திய காலத்திலோ அதற்கு பின்னரோ இஸ்லாமிய அறிவியல் துறைக்கு அரபிகளால் தான் பங்களிப்பு வழங்கப்பு வழங்கப்பட்டது என்ற வாதம் தவறானதாகும். பாரசீகமும், இந்தியத்துணைக் கண்டமும் தந்த அறிஞர்கள் இருக்கவில்லை என்றால் அந்த இடைவெளியை இன்றும் பூர்த்தி அடைவதற்கான வாய்புக்கள் கிடைத்திருக்காது


Friday, 17 August 2012

The Golden Age of Islam under the Caliphate Inventions, Research and Advancements


During the Middle Ages the Islamic World had a very significant impact upon Europe, which in turn cleared the way for the Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution. In the Medieval age, Islam and Muslims influenced Europe in a number of different ways. One of the most important of these subjects was Science.

Ever since Islam was born, Muslims had made immense leaps forward in the area of Science. Cities like Baghdad, Damascus, Cairo and Cordoba were the centres of civilization. These cities were flourishing and Muslim scientists made tremendous progress in applied as well as theoretical Science and Technology. In Europe, however, the situation was much different. Europe was in the Dark Ages. It had no infrastructure or central government. To the Muslims, Europe was backward, unorganized, carried no strategic importance and was essentially irrelevant.

This considering the time period was in fact true. Nevertheless the Catholic Church (which at the time was the strongest institution in Europe) successfully convinced Christian Europe that the Muslims were infidels. This caused Europeans to think that Muslims were culturally inferior to Europe and thus Europe was unable to benefit from the new scientific discoveries being made in the Islamic lands before the 1100's. By doing this Europe kept itself in the Dark Ages while from China to Spain Islamic Civilization prospered.
During the Crusades there was limited contact between Muslims and Christians and not much was transferred. As A. Lewis explains, "The Crusaders were men of action, not men of learning".

The real exchange of ideas which led to the scientific revolution and to the renaissance occurred in Muslim Spain. Cordoba was the capital of Muslim Spain. It soon became the centre for all light and learning for the entire Europe. Scholars and students from various parts of the world and Europe came to Cordoba to study. The contrast in intellectual activity is demonstrated best by one example: 'In the ninth century, the library of the monastery of St. Gall was the largest in Europe. It boasted 36 volumes. At the same time, that of Cordoba contained over 500,000!'.The idea of the college was a concept which was borrowed from Muslims. The first colleges appeared in the Muslim world in the late 600's and early 700's.

In Europe, some of the earliest colleges are those under the University of Paris and Oxford they were founded around the thirteenth century. These early European colleges were also funded by trusts similar to the Islamic ones and legal historians have traced them back to the Islamic system. The internal organization of these European colleges was strikingly similar to the Islamic ones, for example the idea of Graduate (Sahib) and undergraduate (mutafaqqih) is derived directly from Islamic terms.In the field of Mathematics the number Zero (0) and the decimal system was introduced to Europe, which became the basis for the Scientific revolution.

The Arabic numerals were also transferred to Europe, this made mathematical tasks much easier, problems that took days to solve could now be solved in minutes. The works of Al-Khwarizmi (Alghorismus) were translated into Latin. Alghorismus, from whom the mathematical term algorism was derived, wrote Sindhind, a compilation of astronomical tables. He, more importantly, laid the ground work for algebra and found methods to deal with complex mathematical problems, such as square roots and complex fractions. 

He conducted numerous experiments, measured the height of the earth's atmosphere and discovered the principle of the magnifying lens. Many of his books were translated into European languages. Trigonometric work by Alkirmani of Toledo was translated into Latin (from which we get the sine and cosine functions) along with the Greek knowledge of Geometry by Euclid. Along with mathematics, masses of other knowledge in the field of physical science was transferred. Islamic contributions to Science were now rapidly being translated and transferred from Spain to the rest of Europe.

Ibnul Hairham's works on Optics, (in which he deals with 50 Optical questions put to Muslim Scholars by the Franks), was translated widely. The Muslims discovered the Principle of Pendulum, which was used to measure time. Many of the principles of Isaac Newton were derived from former Islamic scientific contributions. In the field of Chemistry numerous Islamic works were translated into Latin. One of the fields of study in this area was alchemy. The Muslims by exploring various elements, developed a good understanding of the constitution of matter.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Monday, 11 October 2010

1001 Inventions Exhibition London

1001 Inventions is a global educational initiative that promotes awareness of the scientific and cultural achievements of Muslim civilisation during the Middle Ages and how those contributions helped build the foundations of our modern world.

Working with worlds leading academics, 1001 Inventions engages with the public through educational media and interactive global exhibitions, in order to highlight the shared cultural and technological inheritance of humanity.

Launched in the United Kingdom in March 2006, 1001 Inventions has successfully educated more than a million people, promoted cross-cultural understanding and strengthened social cohesion.

1001 Inventions was created by the academic Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilisation (FSTC) with support from the British Government.

The 1001 Inventions touring exhibition will embark upon a global tour, starting at the London Science Museum in January 2010 and visiting major international cities over a four-year period.

Muslim Heritage In Our Hospitals - Bettany Hughes

Historian Bettany Hughes introduces us to the underappreciated wealth of Muslim Heritage that exists all around us in our everyday lives.

She tells us how hospitals, pharmacies, sophisticated surgery, dentistry, the understanding of blood circulation, vaccination and many other medical developments came to us from Muslim civilisation.

Discoveries made from the 7th to 17th centuries by multi-faith scientists in Muslim civilisation have had a huge but hidden influence on the modern world.

Knowledge from Assyrian, Babylonian, Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, Indian, Persian and Roman civilisations was highly prized in the Muslim world.

Men and women scholars advanced science by building upon the ancients and making breakthroughs that paved the way for the European Renaissance.

This Golden Age of Discovery in the Muslim World (southern Europe, Africa, Middle East, Asia and to China) took place during the so-called Dark Ages of Europe.

Muslim civilisation promoted free-thinking, rationalism and tolerance. Many scholars expressed their faith by seeking to serve society and improve quality of life for others.

Muslim Heritage In Our Schools - Bettany Hughes