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The Islamic Golden Age

Muslim Contributions During the Islamic Renaissance

© Christine Benlafquih


 May 19, 2009

 While Europe was entrenched in the Dark Ages, Muslims made historical contributions to art, architecture, medicine, astronomy, math, literature and other disciplines.


During the Middle Ages, Muslim cities such as Baghdad, Istanbul, Cairo, Tripoli and Cordoba became cultural and intellectual centers where theologians, scholars, scientists, artists, writers, philosophers, mathematicians and others convened for scholarship, experimentation and discovery. The significant achievements made by Muslims from approximately 750 to 1500 A.D. led to the naming of this period as the Islamic Renaissance, or the Islamic Golden Age.


Muslims were at the forefront of discoveries in ophthalmology, anatomy, physiology, pathology, surgery, chemistry and pharmaceuticals during the Islamic Renaissance. Great advances were also made in astronomy and mathematics, as well as in architecture, art and literature.


Famous Muslims from the Islamic Golden Age

A large number of Muslims made historical achievements during the Islamic Renaissance. Only a few are listed below.


Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi, regarded as the "father of modern surgery," invented and documented more than two hundred surgical instruments. He was also a pioneer in the use of anesthesia.

Abu Ali al-Hasan (Alhazen) is famous for his groundbreaking work in the field of optics.

Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi developed algebra and algorithms.

Ibn al-Nafis was the first person to accurately describe the human circulatory system. He also authored Islamic texts and the first work of science fiction, Theologus Autodidactus.

Abu Bakr al-Razi, the "father of pediatrics," wrote the first book which specialized in childhood diseases. He also discovered the relationship between bacteria and infections, and initiated the use of antiseptics to clean wounds.

Ibn Sina (Avicenna) compiled the famous 14-volume medical encyclopedia, The Canon of Medicine (the Qanun). Completed in 1025, The Canon of Medicine remained a medical standard in the West up until the early 19th century.

Other Contributions in the Islamic Golden Age

The Islamic world's heightened interest in learning during the Middle Ages resulted in significant achievements in many fields. Frequently cited contributions of the Golden Age include:


The world's oldest degree-issuing university, Al-Karaouine, was established in Fez in 859 and the first full university, Al Azhar, opened in Cairo in 975.

Distillation, filtration, crystallization, evaporation and other chemical processes were introduced by Muslim alchemists.

The first pharmacies were established in Baghdad in the 8th century.

Spherical trigonometry, analytical geometry, integral calculus and many other advances were made by Muslim mathematicians.

Many masterpieces of Islamic architecture were built, including the Alhambra in Granada (Spain), the Great Mosque of Xi'an (China), the Great Mosque at Cordoba (Spain), and the Great Mosque of Samarra (Iraq).

The world's first observatories, public hospitals, psychiatric institutions and universities emerged in the medieval Islamic world.

The renowned work of Arabic fiction, One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights), took shape between the 10th and 14th centuries.

Exquisite works of Islamic art were produced in ceramics, woodworking, painting, calligraphy, carpet making, mosaics and more.

End of the Islamic Golden Age

The Crusades in the 12th and 13th centuries, the Mongol invasions in the 13th century and a number of plagues contributed to the weakening of the Islamic world and a gradual ending of the Islamic Golden Age. In subsequent centuries, Western invasions, colonialism, and economical and political issues all led to the eventual abolishment of the Islamic Caliphate in 1924. & Muslim Swimwear

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Seeking Knowledge in Islam

The accomplishments of the Islamic Golden Age reflect the belief that learning is incumbent upon Muslims and becomes an act of worship when done with the intention of pleasing Allah (God).


"Allah will raise up, to (suitable) ranks (and degrees), those of you who believe and have been granted Knowledge. And Allah is well-acquainted with all you do.” (Qur'an 58:11)

“Any person who goes along a course seeking knowledge, Allah will make for him the path to Paradise easy because of it.” (Muslim)

Seeking knowledge is not limited to Qur'an and religious studies. Rather, the learning incumbent on Muslims involves seeking knowledge in many fields and disciplines. The numerous contributions made by Muslims during the Golden Age exemplify that.


The copyright of the article The Islamic Golden Age in Islam is owned by Christine Benlafquih. Permission to republish The Islamic Golden Age in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.                      



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