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15 Famous Inventions And Discoveries By Muslims


Muslims have made countless contributions to every field of life. They have done many discoveries in the areas of medicine, mathematics, algebra, chemistry, physics, geometry, and so on.

Many of the inventions and technology advancements made today are actually due to the pioneering works of great Muslim scientists and scholars.

Following are some of the great inventions by Muslims, which reshaped the world.

  1. Coffee

Coffee was discovered by an Arab named Khalid in southern Ethiopia when he was grazing his goats, and he accidentally came to know about some berries. He later on boiled those berries and made the first coffee.

These beans came into the limelight when they were started exporting from Ethiopia to Yemen for the Sufis to make them stay awake for their religious rituals on special occasions. It arrived in Makkah and Turkey by the end of 15th century and at last it reached Venice in 1645. A Turk named Pasqua Rosee opened the first coffee house in England in 1650, and this was the first time that the English people came to know about this drink.

  1. Optics

For many centuries, the Greeks believed that light leaves the eyes like a laser, but Ibn-al-Haytham was the first person who proved that light enters the eyes. According to him, light reflects from the objects and enters the eyes as a result of which humans can see. Ibn-al-Haytham was a great Muslim mathematician, astronomer, and physicist of the 10th century. He also invented the first pinhole camera.

The word ‘camera’ is derived from the word ‘qamara’ in Urdu which we use in our rooms in dark. Because Ibn-al-Haytham invented the pinhole camera in the dark.

  1. Universities

World’s first degree-granting university was founded by a young princess named Fatima Al-Firhi in 859 in Morocco. Later on, Fatima and her sister expanded the University and also founded an adjacent mosque with it. Together this compound was called ‘Al-Qarawiyyin Mosque and University.’ This university is still operating for 1200 years and clearly states the fact that Muslims have their true belief in the quest for knowledge and also spreading the knowledge to other people. These two sisters are a role model for all the Muslim young girls and shout out to the whole world that Islam does not restrict the women from acquiring education and going to universities.

  1. Surgery

The first surgeon in human history is a Muslim called Abul Qasim Khalaf ibn-al-Abbad-al-Zahrawi. The western world calls him  ‘Abulcasis.’ He also wrote a book about surgery and its related terms by the name of ‘Al-Tadrif’. This book contained his vast experience of operations and the innumerable surgical instruments he used during his career.

All these inventions are now used in the modern medicine by the world’s renowned surgeons.

  1. Hospitals

‘Ahmad ibn Tulun Hospital’ was the world’s first hospital with the provision of wards, nurses, beds and all other facilities which are present nowadays in a modern hospital. It was founded by the founder Tulunid dynasty in 872 in Cairo.

The Tulun Hospital provided free medical service to anyone from any religion or cast, and all its patients were treated equally. Although some basic hospitals existed before this one in Baghdad, it was the Tulun Hospital that laid the foundation of a modern day hospital.

  1. Algebra

Algebra is the most important contribution of the Muslim scholars to the modern world. Although its origin is Indian and Greek, the style of numerals is Arabic, and it was first used by Muslim mathematicians Al-Khwarizmi and Al-Kindi in 825. The word Algebra is derived from Al-Khwarizmi’s book ‘Al-Jabr’ which means completion.

The way these two scholars solved the real world problems using Algebra is worth mentioning. Their work was transferred to the scholars in Europe some 300 years later by an Italian mathematician called Fibonacci.

  1. Windmill

The windmill was initially invented in 634 to grind the corn and draw up water for electricity purpose. Basically, it was developed for a Persian caliph. It was later on used in the dry deserts of Arabia where the wind was the only source of power. The idea traveled to Europe after almost 500 years.

  1. Vaccinations

The modern medicine world cannot thank enough the Muslims for this life-saving invention. As it is known to many people that the technique of inoculation by Jenner and Pasteur was wrong. The right method of vaccination was developed by the Muslims. In 1724, the idea of the vaccine was brought to Europe by the wife of the English ambassador from her way back from Turkey.

It was used in Turkey for the treatment of deadly cowpox.

  1. Rocket and Torpedo

The Arabs used the potassium nitrate to purify the gunpowder and used it as a weapon. The Muslims used different devices in their military wars to frighten the Crusaders. By the end of 15th century, they had developed a rocket and a torpedo. The Muslim warriors called the rocket as ‘self-moving and combusting egg,’ and they called a torpedo as ‘ a self-propelled pear-shaped bomb.

  1. Crankshaft

The crankshaft is a device which converts the rotary motion into linear motion and is used in many machines from small bicycles to big combustion engines.

The crankshaft was invented by a Muslim engineer Al-Jazari in the 12th century. It is the most important invention in the history of machines. He is also the author of the famous ‘ Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices’. Besides the achievement of the crankshaft, Al-Jazari invented some 50 other machines like pistons, mechanical clocks, combination lock, and much more.

  1. Earth As A Sphere

Ibn Hazm was the first astronomer who proofed that Earth is a sphere in shape by mentioning that the Sun is always in a vertical position to a particular spot on Earth. It was 500 years before this discovery that Galileo also confirmed it.

The Muslim astronomers even accurately calculated the Earth’s circumference to be 40,253.4 km in the 9th century.

  1. Fountain pen

In  953, the sultan of Egypt demanded a kind of pen which would not stain his hands or his clothes and also which did not need the inkpot. So to fulfill his orders, a fountain pen was born. It had ink in its reservoir rather than a separate inkpot and used the concept of gravity and capillary action to transfer the ink from reservoir to the nib.

  1. Pay cheques

As it is known to everyone, that trading was a very famous profession of Muslims. The cheques were developed by a Muslim businessman as a written evidence to be shown to the receiving party at the time of delivery to get payment for the goods.

  1. Shampoo

The first soap was made by Hazrat Saalih (A.S) as washing and bathing are mandatory for Muslims to keep themselves clean for praying. The Arabs combined vegetable oils with sodium hydroxide and also added thyme oil for fragrance.

Similarly, shampoo was introduced to the people of England by a Muslim, who was appointed as shampooing surgeon to the Kings.

  1. Parachute

The concept of flying and parachute was used by Muslims a thousand years before the Wright Brothers. The first person to fly was a Muslim astronomer and engineer called Abbas ibn Firnas.

He managed to jump and fly from the minaret of the Grand Mosque in Cordoba using a cloak tied with the help of wooden sticks. He managed to fly properly, but the cloak reduced his pace, and he was left with minor injuries only after falling to the ground.

But his quest for flying did not stop here. In 875, t the age of 70, he managed to fly from a mountain top using a kind of winged apparatus. He flew to a significant height for about ten minutes but ultimately crashed to the ground. Later on, it was found out that the crashed happened because the device did not have a tail to its end.

His ideas are surely the inspiration for the modern day flying and parachutes.


Saman Fawad is a professional content and creative writer. She is an MBA, who loves to write about technology, startups, and different business articles. She can be reached at samanfawad88@gmail.com

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