Founded in the Arabian peninsula in the 7th century AD, Islam is followed by more than 1.5 billion people worldwide, particularly in North Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Asia. The ritual observances and moral code of Islam were said to have been given by Allah to Muhammad as a series of revelations, which were later recorded in the Qur’an.
So we all know the usual arguments some bandy around about how dangerous Islam is supposed to be, about how it has nothing good to offer us and how we should fear it (yet not, apparently, extremists from any other faiths or lack thereof) and so on, but I got to thinking a bit more about it. Is there something which we have to thank Muslims for? Have they contributed positively in any way throughout history?
In short, what have the Muslims ever done for us?
OK, they brought us the number zero and the whole Arabic numbering system, without which we’d still be lumbered with Roman numerals and the associated major problems those create (not to mention the major problems the lack of the concept of Zero, also an Arabic word, brings).
OK, so they kept translations of all the major works by the likes of Aristotle, Socrates, Ptolemy, Galen, Pythagorus and Euclid amongst others; without these, we would not have heard of these people nor their contributions.
OK, so they discovered the properties of acids and alkalis.
OK, so they discovered the process of distillation without which we would not be able to extract useful oils from crude oil.
OK, so they are to thank for algebra.
OK, without Ibn al-Haytham’s work on light and vision, Newton would have been far less likely to have formulated his theories on optics.
OK, without Al-Tusi’s mathematical models Copernicus could not have proved that the Earth orbits the sun.
OK, so Ibn al-Nafis discovered the pulmonary circulation in 1242 (although thanks to the Christians and their less than enlightened stance, his discoveries were condemned and hidden, but the fact remains that Muslims knew about the pulmonary circulation almost 400 years before we did, and had Christians not been so nasty, we’d have benefited too).
OK, so they discovered that the Earth rotates on its axis back in the 1400s.
OK, so it was Muslims who kickstarted the rest of Europe out of the Dark Ages.
OK, so Islamic scholars developed the concepts of modern hospitals, universities, observatories and civil systems.
But apart from bringing us the number zero, preserving and promoting the great works of earlier civilisations which form the basis of a lot of modern science, discovering the properties of acid and alkali, discovering that the Earth rotates, inventing algebra, discovering distillation, discovering pulmonary circulation, providing the essential groundwork for the work of Copernicus and Newton, developing the concepts of hospitals universities observatories etc and kickstarting the rest of Europe out of the Dark Ages, what have the Muslims ever done for us?