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Islamic And Middle East Contributions


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They have not made any contributions recognized worldwide.


Let's see...


1) Algebra

2) Alchemy (chemistry)

3) Preservation of classical greek and latin texts

4) Coffee

5) Modern Chess

6) Distillation by heat

7) The pointed arch

8) Innoculation/vaccination

9) The fountain pen

10) The characters I'm using to itemise this list.

11) Carpeting of floors with woven textile mats

12) Military application of a chemically improved gunpowder

13) Bankers Cheques

14) Dissolving sutures

15) Anaesthetics

16) Quilting



The time between the height of the Roman Empire and the rise of the Islam Empire was a time of great tragedy for the west in terms of laying the foundation for academic decay and the fall of the rational practices of science and medicine. The sheer volume of literature on the observations and discoveries of the natural world must have been enormous, if one only considers the loss of the library of Alexandria and the sackings of libraries and early monastaries rampant at the time. However, out of the fire that spread the Islamic Empire emerged, praises to Allah and strange social practices aside, a very pragmatic culture.

How much of this aspect be attributed to Islam? How much did Islamic middle eastern populations

share in common with their earlier non-Islamic counterparts? From where did the knowledge arise to achieve what GH has compiled above?

Perhaps these advancements are quite old indeed, as old as middle eastern civilization itself. And let's not forget middle eastern civilization predated and gave rise to Greco-Roman civilization. We can only speculate on what was practiced and what influence was spread by the seafaring Mediterranean cultures like the Minoans, who were basically wiped out by a volcano around 1645 bce.


So, who knew what, and when did they know it? An analytical discussion on the spread of knowledge, practices, and discoveries, a topic which I'm woefully ignorant about but very interested in, through the ancient middle eastern and mediterranean cultures.

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It's important not to be era centric when considering this issue as well. During the middle ages it was the xian nations that were backwards and the islamic nations that were the ruling empire, which reigned with dignity. Just because the tables have turned now doesn't somehow prove that the west is superior. Only history will tell. We may find that we in the west wasted our opportunities and foolishly spent our capital on a system that will fall like a house of cards. It's rather arrogant to imagine that we are the epitomy of all that is good and truthful when viewing our progress without a historical perspective.

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The Islamic mindset of the time was that they were pragmatists... they frequently took partial idea from other cultures (the concept of zero, for example, from the hindu mathematics of massive numbers) and applied it to other problems (Algebra, double entry accounts systems etc)


They studied the works of the Romans and the Greeks to see if there was anything worth using... and incorporated some into the general philosophy.


To place the destruction of the Great Library of Alexandria at the feet of the Islamics is spurious at best. The Romans probably did it accidentally when Aurelian attacked the city in the 3rd century. The smaller library was destroyed by the Christian Theophilus, bishop of Alexandria. There is no extant evidence that the destruction in 642 occured, and its been regarded as a Crusader propaganda since the mid-18th C by scholars (Christian and otherwise)


The Roman church, however, has a pretty robust attitude to book burning since the council of Nicea...

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