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What is Taught: The first mention of man in flight was by Roger
Bacon, who drew a flying apparatus. Leonardo da Vinci also
conceived of airborne transport and drew several prototypes.

What Should be Taught: Ibn Firnas of Islamic Spain invented,
constructed and tested a
flying machine in the 800's
A.D. Roger Bacon learned
of flying machines from
Arabic references to Ibn
Firnas' machine. The latter's
invention antedates Bacon
by 500 years and Da Vinci
by some 700 years.

What is Taught: Glass
mirrors were first produced
in 1291 in Venice.

What Should be Taught: Glass mirrors were in use in Islamic Spain
as early as the 11th century. The Venetians learned of the art of fine
glass production from Syrian artisans during the 9th and 10th
centuries.

What is Taught: Until the 14th century, the only type of clock
available was the water clock. In 1335, a large mechanical clock was
erected in Milan, Italy. This was possibly the first weight-driven clock.

What Should be Taught: A variety of mechanical clocks were
produced by Spanish Muslim engineers, both large and small, and
this knowledge was transmitted to Europe through Latin translations
of Islamic books on mechanics. These clocks were weight-driven.
Designs and illustrations of epi-cyclic and segmental gears were
provided. One such clock included a mercury escapement. The
latter type was directly copied by Europeans during the 15th century.
In addition, during the 9th century, Ibn Firnas of Islamic Spain,
according to Will Durant, invented a watch-like device which kept
accurate time. The Muslims also constructed a variety of highly
accurate astronomical clocks for use in their observatories.

What is Taught: In the 17th century, the pendulum was developed
by Galileo during his teenage years. He noticed a chandelier swaying
as it was being blown by the wind. As a result, he went home and
invented the pendulum.

What Should be Taught: The pendulum was discovered by Ibn
Yunus al-Masri during the 10th century, who was the first to study
and document its oscillatory motion. Its value for use in clocks was
introduced by Muslim physicists during the 15th century.

What is Taught: Movable type and the printing press was invented
in the West by Johannes Gutenberg of Germany during the 15th
century.

What Should be Taught: In 1454, Gutenberg developed the most
sophisticated printing press of the Middle Ages. However, movable
brass type was in use in Islamic Spain 100 years prior, and that is
where the West's first printing devices were made.

What is Taught: Isaac Newton's 17th century study of lenses, light
and prisms forms the foundation of the modern science of optics.

What Should be Taught: In the 1lth century al-Haytham determined
virtually everything that Newton advanced regarding optics centuries
prior and is regarded by numerous authorities as the 'founder of
optics.' There is little doubt that Newton was influenced by him. Al-
Haytham was the most quoted physicist of the Middle Ages. His
works were utilized and quoted by a greater number of European
scholars during the 16th and 17th centuries than those of Newton
and Galileo combined.

What is Taught: Isaac Newton, during the 17th century, discovered
that white light consists of various rays of colored light.

What Should be Taught: This discovery was made in its entirety by
al-Haytham (11th century) and Kamal ad-Din (14th century). Newton
did make original discoveries, but this was not one of them.

What is Taught: The concept of the finite nature of matter was first introduced by Antione Lavoisier during the 18th century. He discovered that, although matter may change its form or shape, its mass
always remains the same. Thus, for instance, if water is heated to steam, if
salt is dissolved in water or if a piece of wood is burned to ashes, the
total mass remains unchanged.

What Should be Taught: The principles of this discovery were elaborated centuries before by Islamic Persia's great scholar, al-Biruni
(d. 1050). Lavoisier was a disciple of the Muslim chemists and
physicists and referred to their books frequently.

What is Taught: The Greeks were the developers of trigonometry .

What Should be Taught: Trigonometry remained largely a theoretical
science among the Greeks. It was developed to a level of modern
perfection by Muslim scholars, although the weight of the credit must
be given to al-Battani. The words describing the basic functions of this
science, sine, cosine and tangent, are all derived from Arabic terms.
Thus, original contributions by the Greeks in trigonometry were
minimal.

What is Taught: The use of decimal fractions in mathematics was first
developed by a Dutchman, Simon Stevin, in 1589. He helped advance
the mathematical sciences by replacing the cumbersome fractions, for
instance, 1/2, with decimal fractions, for example, 0.5.

What Should be Taught: Muslim mathematicians were the first to
utilize decimals instead of fractions on a large scale. Al-Kashi's book,
Key to Arithmetic, was written at the beginning of the 15th century and
was the stimulus for the systematic application of decimals to whole
numbers and fractions thereof. It is highly probably that Stevin
imported the idea to Europe from al-Kashi's work.

What is Taught: The first man to utilize algebraic symbols was the
French mathematician, Francois Vieta. In 1591, he wrote an algebra
book describing equations with letters such as the now familiar x and
y's. Asimov says that this discovery had an impact similar to the
progression from Roman numerals to Arabic numbers.

What Should be Taught: Muslim mathematicians, the inventors of
algebra, introduced the concept of using letters for unknown variables
in equations as early as the 9th century A.D. Through this system, they
solved a variety of complex equations, including quadratic and cubic
equations. They used symbols to develop and perfect the binomial
theorem.

What is Taught: The difficult cubic equations (x to the third power)
remained unsolved until the 16th century when Niccolo Tartaglia, an
Italian mathematician, solved them.

What Should be Taught: Cubic equations as well as numerous
equations of even higher degrees were solved with ease by Muslim
mathematicians as early as the 10th century.

What is Taught: The concept that numbers could be less than zero,
that is negative numbers, was unknown until 1545 when Geronimo
Cardano introduced the idea.

What Should be Taught: Muslim mathematicians introduced negative
numbers for use in a variety of arithmetic functions at least 400 years
prior to Cardano.

What is Taught: In 1614, John Napier invented logarithms and
logarithmic tables.

What Should be Taught: Muslim mathematicians invented logarithms
and produced logarithmic tables several centuries prior. Such tables
were common in the Islamic world as early as the 13th century.

What is Taught: During the 17th century Rene Descartes made the
discovery that algebra could be used to solve geometrical problems. By
this, he greatly advanced the science of geometry.

What Should be Taught: Mathematicians of the Islamic Empire
accomplished precisely this as early as the 9th century A.D. Thabit bin
Qurrah was the first to do so, and he was followed by Abu'l Wafa,
whose
10th century book utilized algebra to advance geometry into an exact
and simplified science.

What is Taught: Isaac Newton, during the 17th century, developed the
binomial theorem, which is a crucial component for the study of
algebra.

What Should be Taught: Hundreds of Muslim mathematicians utilized
and perfected the binomial theorem. They initiated its use for the
systematic solution of algebraic problems during the 10th century (or
prior).

What is Taught: No improvement had been made in the astronomy of
the ancients during the Middle Ages regarding the motion of planets
until the 13th century. Then Alphonso the Wise of Castile (Middle
Spain) invented the Aphonsine Tables, which were more accurate than
Ptolemy's.

What Should be Taught: Muslim astronomers made numerous
improvements upon Ptolemy's findings as early as the 9th century.
They were the first astronomers to dispute his archaic ideas. In their
critic of the Greeks, they synthesized proof that the sun is the center of
the solar system and that the orbits of the earth and other planets
might be elliptical. They produced hundreds of highly accurate
astronomical tables and star charts. Many of their calculations are so
precise that they are regarded as contemporary. The AlphonsineTables
are little more than copies of works on astronomy transmitted to
Europe via Islamic Spain, i.e. the Toledo Tables.

What is Taught: The English scholar Roger Bacon (d. 1292) first
mentioned glass lenses for improving vision. At nearly the same time,
eyeglasses could be found in use both in China and Europe.

What Should be Taught: Ibn Firnas of Islamic Spain invented
eyeglasses during the 9th century, and they were manufactured and
sold throughout Spain for over two centuries. Any mention of
eyeglasses by Roger Bacon was simply a regurgitation of the work of al-
Haytham (d. 1039), whose research Bacon frequently referred to.

What is Taught: Gunpowder was developed in the Western world as a
result of Roger Bacon's work in 1242. The first usage of gunpowder in
weapons was when the Chinese fired it from bamboo shoots in
attempt to frighten Mongol conquerors. They produced it by adding
sulfur and charcoal to saltpeter.

What Should be Taught: The Chinese developed saltpeter for use in
fireworks and knew of no tactical military use for gunpowder, nor did
they invent its formula. Research by Reinuad and Fave have clearly
shown that gunpowder was formulated initially by Muslim chemists.
Further, these historians claim that the Muslims developed the first firearms.
Notably, Muslim armies used grenades and other weapons in
their defence of Algericus against the Franks during the 14th century.
Jean Mathes indicates that the Muslim rulers had stock-piles of
grenades, rifles, crude cannons, incendiary devices, sulfur bombs and
pistols decades before such devices were used in Europe. The first
mention of a cannon was in an Arabic text around 1300 A.D. Roger
Bacon learned of the formula for gunpowder from Latin translations of
Arabic books. He brought forth nothing original in this regard.

What is Taught: The compass was invented by the Chinese who may
have been the first to use it for navigational purposes sometime
between 1000 and 1100 A.D . The earliest reference to its use in
navigation was by the Englishman, Alexander Neckam (1157-1217).

What Should be Taught: Muslim geographers and navigators learned
of the magnetic needle, possibly from the Chinese, and were the first
to use magnetic needles in navigation. They invented the compass and
passed the knowledge of its use in navigation to the West. European
navigators relied on Muslim pilots and their instruments when
exploring unknown territories. Gustav Le Bon claims that the magnetic
needle and compass were entirely invented by the Muslims and that
the Chinese had little to do with it. Neckam, as well as the Chinese,
probably learned of it from Muslim traders. It is noteworthy that the
Chinese improved their navigational expertise after they began
interacting with the Muslims during the 8th century.

What is Taught: The first man to classify the races was the German
Johann F. Blumenbach, who divided mankind into white, yellow,
brown, black and red peoples.

What Should be Taught: Muslim scholars of the 9th through 14th
centuries invented the science of ethnography. A number of Muslim
geographers classified the races, writing detailed explanations of their
unique cultural habits and physical appearances. They wrote
thousands of pages on this subject. Blumenbach's works were
insignificant in comparison.

What is Taught:The science of geography was revived during the 15th,
16th and 17th centuries when the ancient works of Ptolemy were
discovered. The Crusades and the Portuguese/Spanish expeditions also
contributed to this reawakening. The first scientifically- based treatise
on geography were produced during this period by Europe's scholars.

What Should be Taught: Muslim geographers produced untold
volumes of books on the geography of Africa, Asia, India, China and
the Indies during the 8th through 15th centuries. These writings
included the world's first geographical encyclopedias, almanacs and
road maps. Ibn Battutah's 14 th century masterpieces provide a
detailed view of the geography of the ancient world. The Muslim
geographers of the 10th through 15th centuries far exceeded the
output by Europeans regarding the geography of these regions well into
the 18th century. The Crusades led to the destruction of educational
institutions, their scholars and books. They brought nothing substantive
regarding geography to the Western world.

What is Taught: Robert Boyle, in the 17th century, originated the
science of chemistry.

What Should be Taught: A variety of Muslim chemists, including ar-
Razi, al-Jabr, al-Biruni and al-Kindi, performed scientific experiments in
chemistry some 700 years prior to Boyle. Durant writes that the
Muslims introduced the experimental method to this science.
Humboldt regards the Muslims as the founders of chemistry.

What is Taught: Leonardo da Vinci (16th century) fathered the science
of geology when he noted that fossils found on mountains indicated a
watery origin of the earth.

What Should be Taught: Al-Biruni (1lth century) made precisely this
observation and added much to it, including a huge book on geology,
hundreds of years before Da Vinci was born. Ibn Sina noted this as
well . it is probable that Da Vinci first learned of this concept from
Latin translations of Islamic books. He added nothing original to their
findings.

What is Taught: The first mention of the geological formation of
valleys was in 1756, when Nicolas Desmarest proposed that they were
formed over a long periods of time by streams.

What Should be Taught: Ibn Sina and al-Biruni made precisely this
discovery during the 11th century (see pages 102 and 103), fully 700
years prior to Desmarest.

What is Taught: Galileo (17th century) was the world's
first great experimenter.

What Should be Taught: Al-Biruni (d. 1050) was the
world's first great experimenter. He wrote over 200
books, many of which discuss his precise experiments.
His literary output in the sciences amounts to some
13,000 pages, far exceeding that written by Galileo or,
for that matter, Galileo and Newton combined.

What is Taught: The Italian Giovanni Morgagni is
regarded as the father of pathology because he was the
first to correctly describe the nature of disease.

What Should be Taught: Islam's surgeons were the first
pathologists. They fully realized the nature of disease
and described a variety of diseases to modern detail.
Ibn Zuhr correctly described the nature of pleurisy,
tuberculosis and pericarditis. Az-Zahrawi accurately
documented the pathology of hydrocephalus (water on
the brain) and other congenital diseases. Ibn al-Quff
and Ibn an-Nafs gave perfect descriptions of the diseases of circulation.
Other Muslim surgeons gave the first accurate descriptions of certain
malignancies, including cancer of the stomach, bowel and esophagus.
These surgeons were the originators of pathology, not Giovanni
Morgagni.

What is Taught: Paul Ehrlich (19th century) is the originator of drug
chemotherapy, that is the use of specific drugs to kill microbes.

What Should be Taught: Muslim physicians used a variety of specific
substances to destroy microbes. They applied sulfur topically
specifically to kill the scabies mite. Ar-Razi (10th century) used
mercurial compounds as topical antiseptics.

What is Taught: Purified alcohol, made through distillation, was first
produced by Arnau de Villanova, a Spanish alchemist, in 1300 A.D.

What Should be Taught: Numerous Muslim chemists produced
medicinal-grade alcohol through distillation as early as the 10th
century and manufactured on a large scale the first distillation devices
for use in chemistry. They used alcohol as a solvent and antiseptic.

What is Taught: The first surgery performed under inhalation
anesthesia was conducted by C.W. Long, an American, in 1845.

What Should be Taught: Six hundred years prior to Long, Islamic
Spain's Az-Zahrawi and Ibn Zuhr, among other Muslim surgeons,
performed hundreds of surgeries under inhalation anesthesia with the
use of narcotic-soaked sponges which were placed over the face.

What is Taught: During the 16th century Paracelsus invented the use
of opium extracts for anesthesia.

What Should be Taught: Muslim physicians introduced the anesthetic
value of opium derivatives during the Middle Ages. Opium was
originally used as an anesthetic agent by the Greeks. Paracelus was a
student of Ibn Sina's works from which it is almost assured that he
derived this idea.

What is Taught: Modern anesthesia was invented in the 19th century
by Humphrey Davy and Horace Wells.

What Should be Taught: Modern anesthesia was discovered, mastered
and perfected by Muslim anesthetists 900 years before the advent of
Davy and Wells. They utilized oral as well as inhalant anesthetics.

What is Taught: The concept of quarantine was first developed in
1403. In Venice, a law was passed preventing strangers from entering
the city until a certain waiting period had passed. If, by then, no sign of
illness could be found, they were allowed in.

What Should be Taught: The concept of quarantine was first
introduced in the 7th century A.D. by the prophet Muhammad, who
wisely warned against entering or leaving a region suffering from
plague. As early as the 10th century, Muslim physicians innovated the
use of isolation wards for individuals suffering with communicable
diseases.

What is Taught: The scientific use of antiseptics in surgery was
discovered by the British surgeon Joseph Lister in 1865.

What Should be Taught: As early as the 10th century, Muslim
physicians and surgeons were applying purified alcohol to
wounds as an antiseptic agent. Surgeons in Islamic
Spain utilized special methods for maintaining
antisepsis prior to and during surgery. They also
originated specific protocols for maintaining hygiene
during the post-operative period. Their success rate
was so high that dignitaries throughout Europe came
to Cordova, Spain, to be treated at what was
comparably the â€˜Mayo Clinic' of the Middle Ages.

What is Taught: The discovery of the scientific use of
drugs in the treatment of specific diseases was made
by Paracelsus, the Swiss-born physician, during the
16th century. He is also credited with being the first
to use practical experience as a determining factor in
the treatment of patients rather than relying
exclusively on the works of the ancients.

What Should be Taught: Ar-Razi, Ibn Sina, al-Kindi,
Ibn Rushd, az -Zahrawi, Ibn Zuhr, Ibn Baytar, Ibn al-
Jazzar, Ibn Juljul, Ibn al-Quff, Ibn an-Nafs, al-Biruni,
Ibn Sahl and hundreds of other Muslim physicians
mastered the science of drug therapy for the treatment of specific
symptoms and diseases. In fact, this concept was entirely their
invention. The word â€˜drug' is derived from Arabic. Their use of
practical experience and careful observation was extensive. Muslim
physicians were the first to criticize ancient medical theories and
practices. Ar-Razi devoted an entire book as a critique of Galen's
anatomy. The works of Paracelsus are insignificant compared to the
vast volumes of medical writings and original findings accomplished by
the medical giants of Islam.

What is Taught: Medical treatment for the insane was modernized by
Philippe Pinel when in 1793 he operated France's first insane asylum .

What Should be Taught: As early as the 1lth century, Islamic hospitals
maintained special wards for the insane. They treated them kindly and
presumed their disease was real at a time when the insane were
routinely burned alive in Europe as witches and sorcerers. A curative
approach was taken for mental illness and, for the first time in history,
the mentally ill were treated with supportive care, drugs and
psychotherapy. Every major Islamic city maintained an insane asylum
where patients were treated at no charge. In fact, the Islamic system
for the treatment of the insane excels in comparison to the current
model, as it was more humane andwas highly effective as well.

What is Taught: Kerosine was first produced by the an Englishman,
Abraham Gesner, in 1853. He distilled it from asphalt.

What Should be Taught: Muslim chemists produced kerosine as a
distillate from petroleum products over 1,000 years prior to Gesner
(see Encyclopaedia Britannica under the heading, Petroleum).

The Islamic Bulletin

P.O. Box 410186, San Francisco, CA 94141-0186