Islamic Contributions and Achievements



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Al-Khwarizmi, a Muslim mathematician, studied Indian sources and wrote a textbook in the 800's about al-jabr (the Arabic word for algebra), which was later translated into Latin and used throughout Europe. Muslim mathematicians also adopted Arabic numerals from the Indians and used them in a place-value system.


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Physician al-Razi wrote a medical reference encyclopedia, the Comprehensive Book and Treatise on Smallpox and Measles. Ibn Sina (Avicenna) wrote the five-volume The Canon of Medicine. These books were translated into Latin and other languages and influenced doctors in Europe. The excerpt below, taken from an Islamic medical book, and the explanation from the textbook World History: Patterns of Interaction, show the level of medical expertise of Islamic doctors.


Medical Reference Books
When Europeans learned that Muslims had preserved important medical texts, they wanted to translate the texts into Latin. In the eleventh century, scholars traveled to libraries in places such as Toledo, Spain, where they began translating--- but only after they learned to read Arabic.
Through this process, European medical schools gained access to vital reference sources such as al-Razi's Comprehensive Book and Ibn Sina's The Canon of Medicine. Ibn Sina's five volume encyclopedia guided doctors of Europe and Southwest Asia for six centuries. For nearly 500 years, al Qasim's work, The Method, which contained original drawings of some 200 medical tools, was the foremost textbook on surgery in Europe.


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