Qur'anic Sciences


The very name alchemy as well as its derivative chemistry comes from the Arabic al-kimiya. The Muslims mastered Alexandrian and even certain elements of Chinese alchemy and very early in their history, produced their greatest alchemist, Jabir ibn Hayyan (the Latin Geber) who lived in the 8th century. Putting the cosmological and symbolic aspects of alchemy aside, one can assert that this art led to much experimentation with various materials and in the hands of Muhammad ibn Zakariyya al-Razi was converted into the science of chemistry.

To this day certain chemical instruments such as the alembic (al-anbiq) still bears their original names and the mercury-sulphur theory of Islamic alchemy remains as the foundation of the acid-base theory of chemistry. Al-Razi's division of materials into animal, vegetable and mineral is still prevalent and a vast body of knowledge of materials accumulated by Islamic alchemists and chemists has survived over centuries in both East and West. He used alcohol as an antiseptic in the 10th century. For example the use of dyes in objects of Islamic art ranging from carpets to miniatures or the making of glass have much to do with this branch of learning which the West learned completely from Islamic sources since alchemy was not studied and practiced in the West before the translation of Arabic texts into Latin in the 11th century.



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

June / July 1992
Dul-Hijjah 1412
Note from the Editors
Letters to the Editor
Italy turns to Islam
The Hajj
Dietary Laws
Quranic Miracles
Qur'an and Science
The Kid's Corner
Why I Embraced Islam
Women in Islam
The Prophet Ishaq (Isaac)
Stories of the Sahabah
Teachings of the Prophet