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Early Islamic World

Scientists and Scholars

History for Kids >> Early Islamic World

The Islamic Empire was the center of many great advances in the areas of mathematics, science, philosophy, physics, geography, and medicine. We've listed some of the most famous Islamic scholars and scientists here:

Alhazen, the great Persian polymath
Al-Haytham by Unknown
Al-Haytham (945-1040 CE) - Al-Haytham (also known as Alhazen) was one of the world's first theoretical physicists. He made contributions in many areas including optics, astronomy, and mathematics. He also described ways of performing experiments and helped to develop the scientific method. Perhaps his most important work was in the area of optics. His series of papers on optics, called The Book of Optics, influenced future western scientists including Roger Bacon, Leonardo da Vinci, and Johann Kepler.

Al-Khwarizmi (780-850 CE) - Al-Khwarizmi was one of the most noted mathematicians of the Middle Ages. His innovative work on solving equations earned him the nickname the "Father of Algebra." The word "algebra" comes from a method he used to solve equations called "al-jabr." Al-Khwarizmi also worked in other areas such as trigonometry, astronomy, and geography. His westernized name "Algoritmi" became the word used for the mathematical term "algorithm."

Al-Kindi (801-873 CE) - Al-Kindi was an Arab philosopher who studied the works of the Greek scientist and philosopher Aristotle. He wrote many works of his own and is often called the "Father of Arab Philosophy." In addition to philosophy, Al-Kindi studied mathematics, music, and medicine.

Portrait of Al-Zahrawi
Al-Zahrawi by Unknown
Al-Nafis (1213-1288 CE) - Al-Nafis was a physician who is mostly known for his work in describing pulmonary circulation. He explained how blood flows from the right side of the heart, then to the lungs (to pick up oxygen), and then back to the left side of the heart.

Al-Razi (854-925 CE) - Al-Razi was one of the most influential doctors of the Middle Ages. He recorded many of his medical observations in several books that were later used as textbooks in many western medicine schools. His discoveries included observations on how to distinguish different diseases from each other. One example of this was his work on smallpox and measles.

Al-Zahrawi (936-1013 CE) - Al-Zahrawi was a doctor who specialized in surgery. He wrote many books on the subject and is sometimes called the "Father of Surgery."

Ibn Rushd ( 1126-1198 CE, also called Averroes) - Ibn Rushd was a polymath, meaning that he was a scholar who studied many different subjects. He is most famous as a philosopher and an expert in Islamic law. He was a follower of the Greek philosopher Aristotle and insisted that the natural world followed scientific laws that God created.

Portrait of Ibn Sina (Avicenna) from a Tadjik banknote.
Ibn Sina by Unknown
Ibn Sina (980-1037 CE, also called Avicenna) - Ibn Sina was considered one of the great scholars of the Middle Ages. He made advances in a variety of areas including astronomy, geography, mathematics, medicine, and philosophy. He is most famous for writing The Canon of Medicine, which became a standard textbook in medical schools for several hundred years.

Omar Khayyam (1048-1131 CE) - Omar Khayyam studied a wide range of subjects, but is most famous for mathematics, astronomy, and poetry. In mathematics, he made advances in geometry and algebra. In astronomy, he is known for using the stars to create a very accurate calendar. He also became very famous in the west as one of the great poets from the Middle East.

Activities More on the Early Islamic World:

Timeline and Events
Timeline of the Islamic Empire
First Four Caliphs
Umayyad Caliphate
Abbasid Caliphate
Ottoman Empire

Scholars and Scientists
Ibn Battuta
Suleiman the Magnificent
Daily Life
Trade and Commerce
Science and Technology
Calendar and Festivals

Islamic Spain
Islam in North Africa
Important Cities
Glossary and Terms

Works Cited

History for Kids >> Early Islamic World

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