Timeline of science and engineering in the Muslim world

This timeline of science and engineering in the Muslim world covers the time period from the eighth century AD to the introduction of European science to the Muslim world in the nineteenth century. All year dates are given according to the Gregorian calendar except where noted.

Eighth Century

Astronomers and astrologers

Biologists, neuroscientists, and psychologists


  • 780  850: al-Khwarizmi Developed the "calculus of resolution and juxtaposition" (hisab al-jabr w'al-muqabala), more briefly referred to as al-jabr, or algebra.

Ninth Century

The Conica of Apollonius of Perga, "the great geometer", translated into Arabic in the ninth century


  • 801  873: Al-Kindi writes on the distillation of wine as that of rose water and gives 107 recipes for perfumes, in his book Kitab Kimia al-'otoor wa al-tas`eedat (book of the chemistry of perfumes and distillations.)[citation needed]
  • 854  930: Al-Razi wrote on Naft (naphta or petroleum) and its distillates in his book "Kitab sirr al-asrar" (book of the secret of secrets.) When choosing a site to build Baghdad's hospital, he hung pieces of fresh meat in different parts of the city. The location where the meat took the longest to rot was the one he chose for building the hospital. Advocated that patients not be told their real condition so that fear or despair do not affect the healing process. Wrote on alkali, caustic soda, soap and glycerine. Gave descriptions of equipment processes and methods in his book Kitab al-Asrar (book of secrets) in 925.



Tenth Century

By this century, three systems of counting are used in the Arab world. Finger-reckoning arithmetic, with numerals written entirely in words, used by the business community; the sexagesimal system, a remnant originating with the Babylonians, with numerals denoted by letters of the arabic alphabet and used by Arab mathematicians in astronomical work; and the Indian numeral system, which was used with various sets of symbols. Its arithmetic at first required the use of a dust board (a sort of handheld blackboard) because "the methods required moving the numbers around in the calculation and rubbing some out as the calculation proceeded."



  • 920: al-Uqlidisi. Modified arithmetic methods for the Indian numeral system to make it possible for pen and paper use. Hitherto, doing calculations with the Indian numerals necessitated the use of a dust board as noted earlier.
  • 940: Born Abu'l-Wafa al-Buzjani. Wrote several treatises using the finger-counting system of arithmetic and was also an expert on the Indian numerals system. About the Indian system, he wrote: "[It] did not find application in business circles and among the population of the Eastern Caliphate for a long time."[1] Using the Indian numeral system, abu'l Wafa was able to extract roots.
  • 980: al-Baghdadi Studied a slight variant of Thabit ibn Qurra's theorem on amicable numbers.[1] Al-Baghdadi also wrote about and compared the three systems of counting and arithmetic used in the region during this period.

Eleventh Century


  • 1048  1131: Omar Khayyam. Persian mathematician and poet. "Gave a complete classification of cubic equations with geometric solutions found by means of intersecting conic sections.".[1] Extracted roots using the decimal system (the Indian numeral system).

Twelfth Century


  • 1100–1165: Muhammad al-Idrisi, aka Idris al-Saqalli aka al-sharif al-idrissi of Andalusia and Sicily. Known for having drawn some of the most advanced ancient world maps.


  • 1130–1180: Al-Samawal. An important member of al-Karaji's school of algebra. Gave this definition of algebra: "[it is concerned] with operating on unknowns using all the arithmetical tools, in the same way as the arithmetician operates on the known."[1]
  • 1135: Sharaf al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī. Follows al-Khayyam's application of algebra of geometry, rather than follow the general development that came through al-Karaji's school of algebra. Wrote a treatise on cubic equations which [2][page needed] describes thus: "[the treatise] represents an essential contribution to another algebra which aimed to study curves by means of equations, thus inaugurating the beginning of algebraic geometry." (quoted in [1] ).

Thirteenth Century




  • Mechanical engineering: Ismail al-Jazari described 100 mechanical devices, some 80 of which are trick vessels of various kinds, along with instructions on how to construct them
  • Medicine; Scientific method: Ibn Al-Nafis (1213–1288) Damascene physician and anatomist. Discovered the lesser circulatory system (the cycle involving the ventricles of the heart and the lungs) and described the mechanism of breathing and its relation to the blood and how it nourishes on air in the lungs. Followed a "constructivist" path of the smaller circulatory system: "blood is purified in the lungs for the continuance of life and providing the body with the ability to work". During his time, the common view was that blood originates in the liver then travels to the right ventricle, then on to the organs of the body; another contemporary view was that blood is filtered through the diaphragm where it mixes with the air coming from the lungs. Ibn al-Nafis discredited all these views including ones by Galen and Avicenna (ibn Sina). At least an illustration of his manuscript is still extant. William Harvey explained the circulatory system without reference to ibn al-Nafis in 1628. Ibn al-Nafis extolled the study of comparative anatomy in his "Explaining the dissection of [Avicenna's] Al-Qanoon" which includes a preface, and citations of sources. Emphasized the rigours of verification by measurement, observation and experiment. Subjected conventional wisdom of his time to a critical review and verified it with experiment and observation, discarding errors.

Fourteenth Century



  • 1380–1429: al-Kashi. According to,[1] "contributed to the development of decimal fractions not only for approximating algebraic numbers, but also for real numbers such as pi. His contribution to decimal fractions is so major that for many years he was considered as their inventor. Although not the first to do so, al-Kashi gave an algorithm for calculating nth roots which is a special case of the methods given many centuries later by Ruffini and Horner."

Fifteenth Century


  • Ibn al-Banna and al-Qalasadi used symbols for mathematics "and, although we do not know exactly when their use began, we know that symbols were used at least a century before this."[1]


  • Astronomy and mathematics: Ibn Masoud (Ghayyathuddin Jamshid ibn Mohamed ibn mas`oud, d. 1424 or 1436.) Wrote on the decimal system. Computed and observed the solar eclipses of 809AH, 810AH and 811AH, after being invited by Ulugh Beg, based in Samarqand to pursue his study of mathematics, astronomy and physics. His works include "The Key of arithmetics"; "Discoveries in mathematics"; "The Decimal point"; "the benefits of the zero". The contents of the Benefits of the Zero are an introduction followed by five essays: On whole number arithmetic; On fractional arithmetic; on astrology; on areas; on finding the unknowns [unknown variables]. He also wrote a "Thesis on the sine and the chord"; "thesis on the circumference" in which he found the ratio of the circumference to the radius of a circle to sixteen decimal places; "The garden of gardens" or "promenade of the gardens" describing an instrument he devised and used at the Samarqand observatory to compile an ephemeris, and for computing solar and lunar eclipses; The ephemeris "Zayj Al-Khaqani" which also includes mathematical tables and corrections of the ephemeris by Al-Tusi; "Thesis on finding the first-degree sine".

Seventeenth century


  • The Arabic mathematician Mohammed Baqir Yazdi discovered the pair of amicable numbers 9,363,584 and 9,437,056 for which he is jointly credited with Descartes.[3]

Eighteenth century

  • A 17th century celestial globe was made by Diya’ ad-din Muhammad in Lahore, 1663 (now in Pakistan).[4] It is now housed at the National Museum of Scotland. It is encircled by a meridian ring and a horizon ring.[5] The latitude angle of 32° indicates that the globe was made in the Lahore workshop.[6] This specific 'workshop claims 21 signed globes—the largest number from a single shop’ making this globe a good example of Celestial Globe production at its peak.[7]

See also



  1. Arabic Mathematics at the University of St-Andrews, Scotland
  2. Rashed, R (1994). The development of Arabic mathematics: between arithmetic and algebra. London, England.
  3. http://amicable.homepage.dk/apstat.htm#discoverer
  4. "Celestial globe". National Museums Scotland. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  5. Savage-Smith, Emilie (1985). Islamicate Celestial Globes: Their History, Construction, and Use. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press. p. 67.
  6. Savage-Smith, Emilie (1985). Islamicate Celestial Globes: Their History, Construction, and Use. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press. p. 69.
  7. Savage-Smith, Emilie (1985). Islamicate Celestial Globes: Their History, Construction, and Use. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press. p. 43.