Main articles: Islamic science and Timeline of science and technology in the Islamic world
Muslim scientists made significant advances in the sciences. They placed far greater emphasis on experiment than had theGreeks. This led to an early scientific method being developed in the Muslim world, where significant progress in methodology was made, beginning with the experiments of Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen) on optics from circa 1000, in his Book of Optics. The most important development of the scientific method was the use of experiments to distinguish between competing scientific theories set within a generally empirical orientation, which began among Muslim scientists. Ibn al-Haytham is also regarded as the father of optics, especially for his empirical proof of the intromission theory of light. Some have also described Ibn al-Haytham as the “first scientist” for his development of the modern scientific method.
The mathematician Al-Khwarizmi, from whose name the word algorithm derives, is considered to be the father of algebra (which is named after his book, kitab al-jabr). Recent studies show that it is very likely that the Medieval Muslim artists were aware of advanced decagonal quasicrystal geometry (discovered half a millennium later in 1970s and 1980s in West) and used it in intricate decorative tilework in the architecture. Muslim mathematicians also made several refinements to the Arabic numerals , such as the introduction of decimal point notation.
Muslim physicians contributed significantly to the field of medicine, including the subjects of anatomy and physiology: such as in the 15th century Persian work by Mansur ibn Muhammad ibn al-Faqih Ilyas entitled Tashrih al-badan (Anatomy of the body) which contained comprehensive diagrams of the body’s structural, nervous and circulatory systems; or in the work of the Egyptian physician Ibn al-Nafis, who proposed the theory of pulmonary circulation. Avicenna‘s The Canon of Medicine remained an authoritative medical textbook in Europe until the 18th century. Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi (also known as Abulcasis) contributed to the discipline of medical surgery with his Kitab al-Tasrif (“Book of Concessions”), a medical encyclopedia which was later translated to Latin and used in European and Muslim medical schools for centuries. Other medical advancements came in the fields ofpharmacology and pharmacy.
In astronomy, al-Battani improved the precision of the measurement of the precession of the Earth’s axis. The corrections made to the geocentric model by al-Battani, Averroes, Nasir al-Din al-Tusi, Mo’ayyeduddin Urdi and Ibn al-Shatir were later incorporated into the Copernican heliocentric model. Heliocentric theories were also discussed by several other Muslim astronomers such as Abu-Rayhan Biruni, Al-Sijzi, Qutb al-Din al-Shirazi, and Najm al-Dīn al-Qazwīnī al-Kātibī. The astrolabe, though originally developed by the Greeks, was perfected by Islamic astronomers and engineers, and was subsequently brought to Europe.
Muslim chemists and alchemists played an important role in the foundation of modern chemistry. Scholars such as Will Durant and Alexander von Humboldt regard Muslim chemists to be the founders of chemistry. In particular, Jābir ibn Hayyān is regarded as the “father of chemistry”. The works of Arab chemists influenced Roger Bacon (who introduced the empirical method to Europe, strongly influenced by his reading of Arabic writers), and later Isaac Newton. A number of chemical processes (particularly inalchemy) and distillation techniques (such as the production of alcohol) were developed in the Muslim world and then spread to Europe.
Some of the most famous scientists from the Islamic world include Jābir ibn Hayyān (polymath, father of chemistry), al-Farabi (polymath), Abu al-Qasim (father of modernsurgery), Ibn al-Haytham (universal genius, father of optics, founder of psychophysics and experimental psychology, pioneer of scientific method, “first scientist”), Abū Rayhān al-Bīrūnī (universal genius, father of Indology and geodesy, “first anthropologist“), Avicenna (universal genius, father of momentum and modernmedicine), Nasīr al-Dīn al-Tūsī (polymath), and Ibn Khaldun (father of demography, cultural history, historiography, the philosophy of history, sociology, and the social sciences), among many others.
In technology, the Muslim world adopted papermaking from China. The knowledge of gunpowder was also transmitted from China via Islamic countries, where the formulas for pure potassium nitrate and an explosive gunpowder effect were first developed.
Advances were made in irrigation and farming, using new technology such as the windmill. Crops such as almonds and citrus fruit were brought to Europe through al-Andalus, and sugar cultivation was gradually adopted by the Europeans. Arab merchants dominated trade in the Indian Ocean until the arrival of the Portuguese in the 16th century.Hormuz was an important center for this trade. There was also a dense network of trade routes in the Mediterranean, along which Muslim countries traded with each other and with European powers such as Venice, Genoa and Catalonia. The Silk Road crossing Central Asia passed through Muslim states between China and Europe.
Muslim engineers in the Islamic world made a number of innovative industrial uses of hydropower, and early industrial uses of tidal power, wind power, steam power, fossil fuels such as petroleum, and early large factory complexes (tiraz in Arabic). The industrial uses of watermills in the Islamic world date back to the 7th century, while horizontal-wheeled and vertical-wheeled water mills were both in widespread use since at least the 9th century. A variety of industrial mills were being employed in the Islamic world, including early fulling mills, gristmills, hullers, sawmills, shipmills, stamp mills, steel mills, sugar mills, tide mills and windmills. By the 11th century, every province throughout the Islamic world had these industrial mills in operation, from al-Andalus and North Africa to the Middle East and Central Asia. Muslim engineers also inventedcrankshafts and water turbines, employed gears in mills and water-raising machines, and pioneered the use of dams as a source of water power, used to provide additional power to watermills and water-raising machines. Such advances made it possible for many industrial tasks that were previously driven by manual labour in ancient times to be mechanized and driven by machinery instead in the medieval Islamic world. The transfer of these technologies to medieval Europe had an influence on the Industrial Revolution.
A number of industries were active during the Arab Agricultural Revolution, producing goods including astronomical instruments, ceramics, chemicals, clocks, glass, matting, pulp and paper, perfume, petroleum, pharmaceuticals, rope, silk, sugar, textiles, and weapons. Also important to the economy of the period were the use of mechanical hydropower and wind power, shipbuilding, and the mining of minerals such as sulfur, lead and iron. Early factories (tiraz) were built for many of these industries, and knowledge of these industries was later transmitted to medieval Europe, especially during the Latin translations of the 12th century. For example, the first glass factories in Europe were founded in the 11th century by Egyptian craftsmen in Greece. The agricultural and handicraft industries also experienced high levels of growth during this period.
Economy and trade
In circa 1800, the gross domestic product of the Muslim world was estimated[who?] at about 12 per cent of the world total. By the end of the 19th century, this share had plunged to about 5 per cent of the world total. This share then stagnated throughout the 20th century.
As of 2008, the Arab World accounts for two-fifth of the gross domestic product and three-fifth of the trade of the wider Muslim World. Oil industry and related services account for almost two-fifth of the gross domestic product of the Muslim world.