Wednesday, 14 December 2011


Islamic Period
With the advent of Islam, the world was introduced to a new civilisation. No civilisation gave more importance to education than Islam did in the Holy Quran, Allah has repeatedly directed and encouraged people to ponder on and investigate thoughtfully the happenings in this universe. He has also emphasised to pay attention to the study of natural phenomena and the physical and biological principles and interpret them as Allah's manifestations (Ayat-Ullah). Man can get appreciation and understanding of Allah after getting the knowledge of the universe and the phenomena taking place in it. For this reason the Muslim scientists made rich contributions in all disciplines of science during the period of their political and cultural and opened the way for scientific and technological progress. The sound foundations for the modern science.
Jabir-Bin Haiyan is known as the father of Chemistry. He was the student of Imam Jaafar Sadiq. Imam Jaafar Sadiq himself was a well-known chemist durning his period. Jabir-Bin Haiyan modified the Greek concept of elements. He gave the metallic concept of sulphur and mercury. According to him the difference in metals is due to the difference in the amounts of sulphur and mercury present in them. He gave the concept of geological knowledge  and practical arts of handicrafts, introduced new modes of theoretical and practical aspects of chemistry. He explained culmination and reduction scientifically and improved the methods of evaporation, melting, sublimation distillation and crystallisation. He extracted antimony and arsenic from the sulphides. He refined the methods of extraction of metals from their ore sand preparation of steel. He discovered the method of preparing varnish using manganese dioxide and applied it to prevent  rusting of iron. He developed glass industry and water proofing of cloth. He prepared concentrated acetic acid by  concentration of vinegar and developed the process of golden script writing with iron pyrites. Jabir's major contribution in chemistry is the discovery of nitric acid and sulphuric acid. He prepared Aqua Regia (Royal water) to dissolve.
Another famous muslim scientist in the history of chemistry is Prince Khalid Bin Yazeed. He wrote a book titled "Firdous Al Hikmat Fe-Ilmul Kermia". He translated many Greek book in Arabic. Abu Yousaf Yaqoob-Al-Kundi was also a famous chemist. In hisopinion it was impossible to convert one metal to another metal. It should be mentioned here that during muslim era and after that in the period of renaissance in Europe, there was a concept spread all over the world that some metals like copper and silver could be converted into gold through chemical reactions. Some of the ambitious scientists who believed in this superior ones using physical and chemical processes. They failed to achieve of the this concept are called Alchemist and this branch of chemistry is called Alchemy. This arabic term indicates that it was first introduced by arab muslims. Alrazi did a lot of work on the apparatus used in chemistry. He has mentioned twenty five such items in his book. He determined the specific gravities of the  different things. Alrazi also classified compounds into four groups i.e., minerals, botanical, zoological and the derived ones. This division is still valid to some extent.
Aljahiz used the process of distillation for getting ammonia from animal urine. Abu-Mansoor differentiated sodium carbonate from potassium carbonate. He was familiar with arsenic oxide. Cupric oxide and antimony. He knew the chemical composition of plaster of Paris and its use in surgery. He also knew the technological uses of lead and copper. Abu-Rehan Muhammad  Al-Beruni worked on eighteen precious stones and metals and determined their specific gravity. Buali Sina was an expert of many science disciplines. He studied the properties of minerals.
In industrial chemistry Muslim industrialists scientifically developed the paper industry. The muslims used their knowledge of chemistry in tile making and preparing glass and ceramics. They also introduced new shades of colours.
In short we can find countless Muslim personalities who did prominent discoveries in chemistry alongwith other fields of science. We have mentioned there some of the representative personalities just to expose the readers to the broad field of Muslim science. The period of scientific advancements of the muslims extends up to sixteenth century, which means that Muslim scientists led the world in sicience and technology for more than one thousand years. The knowledge treasures of the Muslim countries of the east and those of muslim Spain were then transferred to Europe. This transfer of knowledge helped a lot in the advancement of science. But there also occurred a loss to the civilization. Some people started separating science from religion. In this way the spirit of revealed wisdom of the Creator of the universe started vanishing from the scientific world. It is the need of the hour that the Muslims should start giving full attention to their scientific heritage. They should develop a taste, which their ancestors had, in the field of science and technology, so that they may be able to provide scientific leadership to the mankind and make this world a place of peace and happiness.


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