This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?

# THE

ISLAMIC

CONNECTION

John E. Sasser

The Islamic Connection

3

CONTENTS

Foreword...............................................……............... 5

Dedication..................................................…….......... 7

Preface........................................................…….......... 9

Acknowledgments......................................…….......... 11

Map............................................................…….......... 13

List of Illustrations…………………………………... 14

Introduction..................................................……........ 15

PART I - ISLAM

The Geological Arabian Peninsula: The Cradle of the

Semites......................................................……….......

17

The Iron Age (2000 BCE - 200 CE)...........…............. 19

The Rise of Islam......................................…............... 21

The Connection Between Islam and the Arabian

Peninsula: Mohammed........................……................

23

The Spread of Islam...........................…….................. 27

The Quran............................................……................ 31

Islamic Beliefs and Duties....................…................... 35

Beliefs..................................................….................... 35

Duties..................................................……................. 36

The Connection Between Islam and Modern Science:

The Quran..................................……………..............

39

PART II - MATHEMATICS

The Connection Between Islam and

the Search for Knowledge.....................…...................

49

The Connection Between Antiquity and the European

Renaissance: Translations.......……………….............

51

The Islamic Connection

4

The Connection Between Islam‘s Five Pillars of

Faith and Mathematics..........……...............................

55

Shahada......................................………......................

55

The Connection Between Shahada and

Geometry: Islamic Calligraphy and Geometric

Constructions

55

Salah....................................................……................

61

The Connection Between Salah and

Trigonometry: Direction and Time of Prayer……..

Direction of Prayer…………………………….

Time of Prayers………………………………..

61

67

71

Zakat...................................................……........….... 73

The Connection Between Islam and Number

Theory: The Zakat………………………………

73

The Hindu-Arabic Numeration System.......….... 74

Saum Ramadan and Hajj....…….............…............. 89

The Connection Between Islam and Astronomy &

the Calendar: Ramadan and Hajj……………..

89

The Connection Between Islam and Algebra: Shariath 91

Conclusion..........................................……................. 102

References........................................……................... 105

Glossary……………………………………………... 111

Index......................................................…….............. 115

The Islamic Connection

5

FOREWORD

The Islamic Connection is historical and

immediately contemporary. For, today, Islam is

perceived negatively by many in the West. This

tension establishes a framework essentially

limiting knowledge of Islam. So long as this

framework stands, the Islamic culture, as a vitally

lived experience for Muslims, cannot be known.

This, unfortunately, is particularly true in the

United States.

This is why the author lived in Saudi Arabia

and traveled throughout the Middle East during

the year he researched and wrote this book. To

learn about Islam is to learn about the people and

cultures that live within it, speak its language,

breathe its air and produce its histories and

societies.

By showing the influence Islam has had on the

Muslim contribution to mathematics, the author

has performed a great service in helping the reader

to both understand something of Islam and

appreciate the vast and important contribution

made by the Arab Muslims to mathematics.

Prof. Dr. Boris Kit

The Islamic Connection

6

The Islamic Connection

7

DEDICATED

to

my granddaughter

KAYLA ROSE

SASSER KILLETTE

The Islamic Connection

8

The Islamic Connection

9

PREFACE

Most people in the United States have a very limited

knowledge of Islam, indeed, they have a distorted and negative

view. Also, they know little of the debt our mathematics owes

Arabian medieval Islam.

There are a few books on the Islamic contribution to

Mathematics, particularly A.A. Daffa‘s, The Muslim Contribution

to Mathematics and J.L. Berggren‘s Episodes in the Mathematics

of Medieval Islam. I am indebted to both of these authors and

especially Professor Daffa and two of his graduate students, Ali

Mohammed Al-Farras and Khaled Ahmed Al-Haddi at King Fahd

University of Petroleum and Minerals in Saudi Arabia.

Additionally, there are hundreds of excellent books on Islam.

Despite this, there exist no book written specifically on the

influence Islam has had on the Muslim contribution to

mathematics.

It is not the intention of the author to try to add anything new to

what has been written on Islam or to do justice to the Muslim

contributions to mathematics, but rather to show the influence

Islam has had on the Muslim contribution to mathematics.

I have included a map to which I occasionally make reference

so the reader may see the locations. I have also included

photographs of people, places and architecture germane to my

account.

I wish to thank my wife, Heidi, who stayed at home and made

it possible for me to live and travel throughout the Middle East

researching this book.

The Islamic Connection

10

The Islamic Connection

11

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The cover design, Figure 5, and the map of the Geological

Peninsula are by my daughter, Rosemary Sasser Thomas. The

small circular portion, representing the ―moon‖ is inscribed by a

diagram and writing from a manuscript kept in the University

Library, Leiden, Netherlands (Ms. Or. 185). It appears on the

cover of the video, Qubba for Al-Kashi, copyrighted in 1995 by

the University of Heidelberg and distributed by the American

Mathematical Society. The photograph of the Jeddah Mosque in

Saudi Arabia was taken by Robert H. Neff, Jr.

The six pictures of 1) Abu Abdullah al-Battani 2) Abu Raihan al-

Biruni 3) Mohammad Bin Musa al-Khawarizmi 4) Yaqub Ibn

Ishaq al-Kindi and 6) Thabit Ibn Qurra are by courtesy of Shaykh

Mohammad Mazar Jamil, Jamil Islamic Center of California,

Web-Site: http://www.jamil.com/Personalities. The reader is

encouraged to peruse this web-site.

Samir Azer, a mathematical physicist and graduate of the Faculty

of Science, Tanta University in Egypt, provided invaluable advice

and help in the translation of Arabic into English and much of the

Arabic Script found within this book.

Dr. Professor Ali A. Daffa, past chairman of the Department of

Mathematics at the University of Petroleum and Minerals,

Dhahran, Saudi Arabia and a leading scholar on the Muslim

contribution to mathematics encouraged me and provided me with,

not only important information, but also generous, friendly and

warm Arabian hospitality in his home to include the Arab coffee

served with dates!

Ali Mohammed Al-Farras of Saudi Arabia and Khaled Ahmed Al-

Haddi of Yemen – graduate students at King Fhad University - for

The Islamic Connection

12

their translations of many important documents and answering my

unending questions concerning Islam and the Quran.

Barraq Ali for his helpfulness and companionship while in the

Middle East. He provided me with my initial introduction to the

Arabic Muslim culture and customs; encouraged me in my

research; read and re-read the first pages of my manuscript

offering valuable suggestions.

Robert H. Neff, Jr. took the following photographs and provided

them to me for this book: The Empty Quarter – p.18; Bedouin on

Camel – p.25; Arab door with Islamic Calligraphy – p.34; Road to

Mecca – p.89 and the photograph of the Mosque on the front

cover.

Kizzie Payton found grammatical and typographical errors that

were introduced in final editing.

The Islamic Connection

13

MAP

The Geological Peninsula

The Islamic Connection

14

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

Number Photographs Page

1 The Empty Quarter 18

2 Bedouin on Camel 25

3 Children Learning Holy Quran 31

4 Arab Door with Islamic Calligraphy 34

5 Page of Holy Quran 40

6 Gentle Curves of White Arches-Mosque 56

7 Al-Battani 62

8 Al-Biruni 64

9 Al-Kindi 78

10 Thabit ibn Qurra 86

11 Pythagorean Theorem in Qurra‘s Translation of

Euclid

87

12 Road to Mecca 89

13 Al-Khwarizmi 96

14 Ali A. Al-Daffa‘ and John E. Sasser 104

Number Figures Page

1 First Verse of the Quran 44

2 Arabic Letters of Verse One 45

3 Pythagorean Theorem 57

4 Spherical Triangle showing Qibla 68

5 Time of Afternoon Prayer 71

6 Sanskrit Related Numerals 75

7 Early Arabic Numerals with Modern Arabic

Numerals below.

76

8 Isosceles Right Triangles of

Al-Khwarizmi

99

Number Tables Page

1 New Interpretation of the Quranic Miracle 46

2 Spherical Trigonometric Laws of Sines and Cosines 69

Number Charts Page

1 Arabic Translations of Greek Mathematical Works 54

2 Mathematical Vocabulary Borrowed from Arabic 76

3 Works of Arabic Muslim Mathematicians 101

The Islamic Connection

15

INTRODUCTION

This book is concerned with the Muslims, their contributions in

mathematics and the accompanying influence of Islam. This

Islamic influence not only permeated the Muslims‘ original

thinking and research but also the translations they made during

the course of several centuries. These translations transmitted

knowledge to medieval Europe and are no less essential than

original works, for had the research of mathematicians such as

Aristotle, Euclid, Pythagoras, and Ptolemy been lost to posterity,

the world would have been as poor as if they had never been

produced.

What is unknown about Islam and the Muslims is much greater

than what is known. There is as much misinformation as a lack of

information concerning Muslims and Islam, especially among

those of us born, reared and educated in the United States. Other

peoples and countries, on a level approaching the Muslims in

historical interest and importance, have received much greater

consideration and study in modern times than have they.

From the cradle of the Semitic family, the Arabian peninsula,

these people, who were to become the first Muslims, later

migrated into the Fertile Crescent and became the Babylonians,

Assyrians, Phoenicians and the Hebrews of history. The deserts of

the peninsula is where the element of Islam, Judaism and

consequently of Christianity began.

In the sixth century of the common era [CE], Arabia gave birth

to a people who conquered the civilized world and to Islam which

claims nearly one billion people representing all races. Every fifth

person in our world today is a follower of Islam. Islam - the

religion, philosophy and culture of the Arabians - permeates all

aspects of their lives. It is a living force and way of life to its

adherents. Islam, like Judaism and Christianity, is the product of a

spiritual life, the Semitic life. Within a century after the birth of

Islam this empire and culture extended from the Atlantic Ocean to

China, an empire greater than that of the Roman Empire at its

The Islamic Connection

16

zenith. They coupled their own civilization of the Babylonians

with the Egyptians and the Greeks and acted as a medium for

transmitting to Europe those intellectual influences which resulted

in the Renaissance. No people in the Middle Ages contributed to

human progress so much as did the Arabic speaking people. For

over five centuries (700 CE - 1100 CE) during the Middle Ages

more works were produced in philosophy, medicine, history,

religion, science and mathematics through the medium of Arabic,

than through any other language. The reader should keep in mind

that within this book ―Arabi an‖ refers to an inhabitant of the

geological peninsula [See map] and ―Arab ‖ for any Arabic-

speaking person.

The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam

17

PART I

ISLAM

The Geological Arabian Peninsula:

The Cradle of the Semites

The geological peninsula of Arabia is the south-western

peninsula of Asia. The area exceeds a million square miles and

comprises Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman,

Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, and

Yemen. (See map). It is considered by many historians to have

developed urban life under a common traditional patriarch long

before written records existed. It was the cradle of the Semitic

people - the Semites. These people became the Babylonians, the

Assyrians, the Phoenicians and the Hebrews. Ibrahim (Abraham)

came from the Ur of the Chaldees. One can visit the archeological

site in Iraq today, located at 30.56 degrees North and 46.08

degrees East. [24].

The two surviving representatives of the Semitic people are the

Arabians and the Hebrews. The Arabians have, to a larger degree

than the Hebrews, preserved the characteristic physical features

and mental traits of the Semitic family. Their language, Arabic,

has conserved more of the peculiarities of the Semitic tongue -

including the inflection - than the Hebrew.

We will later see how this Semite origin became a primary

factor in the development of mathematics by the Arabs along the

lines of their pragmatic philosophy.

In the United States the word ―Semite‖ has come to possess a

Jewish connotation. But to be ―a nti-Semitic‖ is to be unfavorable

towards Arabs and Hebrews -- Muslims and Jews.

The term ―Semite‖ comes from ―Shem‖, the eldest son of Noah

(Gen. 10:1). [28].

Two major Semitic migrations began around 3500 before the

common era [BCE] from the area of what is today Northern Saudi

The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam

18

Arabia. One planted itself on top of the earlier Hamitic population

of Egypt and the amalgamation produced the Egyptians of history.

A parallel migration struck root in the Tigro-Euphrates Valley,

already populated by the Sumerians. The admixture of the two

gave us the Babylonians.

Not long after the time of the Nile and Mesopotamia

civilizations the southern part of Arabia, primarily what is today

the country of Oman, became a populated commercial center.

Precious metals, such as gold and copper which were mined in

Arabia, became a common supply to northern civilizations along

with gum resin, frankincense and myrrh. Commodities were

transported by camel from the trading center, by caravan routes

from Arabia to Egypt and Babylonia.

The Empty Quarter

The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam

19

The Iron Age

(2000 BCE - 200 CE)

The first recorded empire in history was that of Akkad in the

area known as Babylonia, about 2369 BCE located in what is

today called Iraq. (See map). Their influence spread beyond

Mesopotamia to Arabia. However, after two centuries, it was

overthrown by invading Amorites, from the present area of Syria,

and who later became known as Aramaeans. A tribe from Asia

Minor called Hittites conquered the Amorites in 1600 BCE and

absorbed Syria. The barbarians from Europe overthrew the

Hittites in 1200 BCE and were able to establish the Kassite

Dynasty that ruled Babylonia successfully for four hundred years.

The Assyrians, who came from northern Mesopotamia

thereafter ruled Babylonia. They introduced and developed

cultural ideas of their own and these were assimilated with those

of the Babylonians and Sumerians. They remained and ruled

powerfully, employing iron weapons to arm their armies for

several centuries, until they were overthrown by a combined force

of Medes, Babylonians and Persians in 612 BCE.

Nebuchadnezzer was the greatest King of the Babylonian Empire.

He conquered Egypt, destroyed Jerusalem in 586 BCE and rebuilt

Babylon which became one of the most impressive capitals the

world has ever seen. In 539 BCE, his Empire fell to Cyrus, the

Persian conqueror, and Nebuchadnezzer went into exile.

The Persians were able to conquer a vast region extending from

Asia Minor, Egypt and even as far as India. About two centuries

later, Alexander the Great finally conquered the Persian Empire in

323 BCE . He, however, died in Babylonia in the same year. The

Sassanids were able to revive the Persian Empire during 226

common era [CE]. They were conquered by Moslem Arab armies

in 640 CE through their Jihad or Holy Wars only 70 years after

the Prophet Mohammed was born. [14].

The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam

20

The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam

21

The Rise of Islam

The name of this religion is Islam. The word Islam means

―pe aceful submission.‖ The root of which is Silm, which means

the kind of peace represented by the opposite of war and Salam

which means peace. Salam is also a greeting with peace. One of

the many names of Allah (God) is that He is the Peace. It means

submission to the One God, and to live in peace with the Creator,

within one's self, with other people and with the environment.

Thus, Islam is a total system of living. A Muslim is supposed to

live in peace and harmony with all these segments.

The followers of Islam are called Muslims. Muslims are not to

be confused with Arabs. Muslims may be Arabs or any other

nationality.

An Arab could be a Muslim, a Christian, a Jew or an adherent

to some other religion. Any person who adopts the Arabic

language is called an Arab. However, the language of the Quran

(the Holy Book of Islam) is Arabic. Muslims all over the world try

to learn Arabic so that they may be able to read the Quran and

understand its meaning. They pray in the language of the Quran,

namely Arabic. Supplications to God could be in any language.

While there are one billion Muslims in the world there are

about 200 million Arabs. Among them, less than ten percent,

probably closer to five percent, are not Muslims. Thus Arab

Muslims constitute only about twenty percent of the Muslim

population of the world.

Muslims believe that Islam is a total and a complete way of

life. It encompasses all aspects of life. As such, the teachings of

Islam do not separate religion from science. As a matter of fact,

science and religion, as well as politics and the state, are under the

obedience of Allah through the teachings of Islam.

The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam

22

The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam

23

The Connection Between Islam and the Arabian Peninsula:

Mohammed

Mohammed was born in 570 CE in Mecca. His father died

before he was born and his mother died when he was only six

years of age. He grew up under the guardianship of his

grandfather and then his father‘s brother, whom he accompanied

on a business trip to Syria. As a young man he was employed by a

rich merchant widow, Khadija Bint Khuwailed, whom he married

when he was 25 years old and she 40 years of age. They had

several children, of whom none of the sons lived beyond

childhood.

His wife, Khadija, was the first to accept his mission when he,

at the age of 40 or more, went before his countrymen with

religious revelations and the conviction that he was a chosen

―messenger‖ (rasul) of God who was given responsibility in

matters of faith, not only for himself but for all mankind.

At first, Mohammed recited his revelations to a small circle of

friends and relatives and only later went before a larger public.

Among the first adherents to the new faith, in addition to his

wife, were his cousin and later son-in-law, Ali ibn Abi Talib, and

his adopted son Zaid ibn Haritha. Along with others, the rich and

upright merchant Abu Bakr allied himself with them and stood by

Mohammed faithfully during all attacks and dangers and later

became the first successor (Khalifa or ―Ca liph‖) to Mohammed,

assuming leadership of the community of believers. At first the

Meccans (the people who lived in the city of Mecca) did not give

Mohammed's revelations any special attention. This changed,

however, when Mohammed began energetically to oppose

polytheism and the worship of idols. The Meccans now had to be

concerned with their religious festivals and the profitable business

that accompanied them.

He and his followers met persecution and torture in Mecca and

for this reason they moved to Madinah in September, 622 CE.

The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam

24

Immediately following the emigration of Mohammed and his

followers to Madinah, a war commenced between the Moslems in

Madinah and the Polytheists in Mecca which eventually ended

with the Hudaibeya Peace Treaty in 628 CE. The following year,

the Moslems entered Mecca. Most of the inhabitants agreed to

embrace Islam, and the Holy Ka‘aba was cleared of idols by the

hands of the Prophet Mohammed, who then set about the

unification of Arabia.

In February or March 632 CE, Mohammed undertook the last

pilgrimage and firmly established on this occasion the Islamic

calendar, in so far as it proceeds strictly according to the lunar

year of 354 days without inserted months. The year 1 of the

Islamic era begins with July 16, 622 of the Gregorian calendar.

There is a perfect correlation between the Julian and the Lunar

calendar:

Hijra, The year of the Prophet Mohammed, or 1 A.H. (Anno

Hegirae), the Lunar Year, began July 16, 622 A.D., The Gregorian

solar year.

Shortly after Mohammed undertook his last pilgrimage he

became ill and died on the 7th or 8th of June in Madinah in the

arms of his old companion Ali ibn Abi Talib. [25].

The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam

25

Bedouin on Camel

The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam

26

The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam

27

The Spread of Islam

The first stage of the expansion of Islam covered the period

from 622 CE to 732 CE, which included the period of the Prophet,

from 622 CE to 632 CE and the period of the first Caliphs (Abu

Bakr and Umar Ibn Al Khattab) from 632 CE to 661 CE. During

this period Islam spread to Persia and the territories occupied by

the Romans in Syria and to North Africa from Egypt to Tunisia.

The Muslims spread the message of Islam through Iraq and

Syria and defeated the Persians in 636 CE. The Battle of

Nahavand (642 CE), in Iran, between Arab and Sassanian forces

ended in disastrous defeat for the Sassanian armies and paved the

way for the Arab conquest, which resulted in the Islamization of

Iran. As Islam spread northward into Syria, Egypt, and the Persian

empire, it came face to face with the sciences of antiquity whose

heritage had been preserved in centers which now became a part

of the Islamic world. Alexandria had been a major center of

sciences and learning for centuries. The Greek learning cultivated

in Alexandria was opposed by the Byzantines who had burned its

library long before the advent of Islam. The tradition of

Alexandrian learning did not die, however. It was transferred to

Antioch and from there farther east to such cities as Edessa by

eastern Christians who stood in sharp opposition to Byzantium and

wished to have their own independent centers of learning.

Moreover, the Persian king, Shapur I, had established Jundishapur

in Persia as a second great center of learning matching Antioch.

He even invited Indian physicians and mathematicians to teach in

this major seat of learning, in addition to the Christian scholars

who taught in Syriac as well as the Persians whose medium of

instruction was Pahlavi, the Iranian language of Sassanian Persia.

Once Muslims established the new Islamic order during the

Umayyad period, they turned their attention to these centers of

learning which had been preserved and sought to acquaint

themselves with the knowledge taught and cultivated in them.

They therefore set about with a concerted effort to translate the

philosophical and scientific works which were available to them

from not only Greek and Syriac (which was the language of

eastern Christian scholars) but also from Pahlavi, the scholarly

language of pre-Islamic Persia, and even from Sanskrit. The great

movement of translation lasted from the beginning of the 8th to

the end of the 9th century, reaching its peak with the establishment

The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam

28

of the House of Wisdom (Bayt alhikmah) by the Caliph al-Mamun

at the beginning of the 9th century. The result of this extensive

effort of the Islamic community to confront the challenge of the

presence of the various philosophies and sciences of antiquity and

to understand and digest them in its own terms and according to its

own world view was the translation of a vast corpus of writings

into Arabic. Most of the important philosophical and scientific

works of Aristotle and his school, much of Plato and the

Pythagorean school, and the major works of Greek astronomy,

mathematics and medicine such as the Almagest of Ptolemy, the

Elements of Euclid, and the works of Hippocrates and Galen, were

all rendered into Arabic. Furthermore, important works of

astronomy, mathematics and medicine were translated from

Pahlavi and Sanskrit. As a result, Arabic became the primary

scientific language of the world for five centuries (700CE-1200

CE) and the depository of much of the wisdom and the sciences of

antiquity. The Muslims did not translate the scientific and

philosophical works of other civilizations out of fear of political or

economic domination but because the structure of Islam itself is

based upon the primacy of knowledge. Nor did they consider these

forms of knowing as "un-lslamic" as long as they confirmed the

doctrine of God's Oneness which Islam considers to have been at

the heart of every authentic revelation from God. Once these

sciences and philosophies confirmed the principle of Oneness, the

Muslims considered them as their own. They made them part of

their world view and began to cultivate the Islamic sciences based

on what they had translated, analyzed, criticized, and assimilated,

rejecting what was not in conformity with the Islamic perspective.

By the conquest of the Fertile Crescent and the lands of Persia

and Egypt the Arabians came into possession not only of

geographical areas but of the earliest seats of civilization in the

whole world. Thus, the sons of the desert fell heir to these

cultures with their long traditions going back to Greco-Roman,

Iranian, Pharaonic and Assyro-Babylonia times.

With an ever sharp sense of curiosity and with latent

potentialities never aroused before, these Muslem Arabians

encouraged by the Quran and in collaboration with their subject

people began now to assimilate, adapt and reproduce their

intellectual and esthetic heritage. In places such as Damascus,

Jerusalem and Alexandria they viewed, admired and copied the

work of these people. [34].

The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam

29

After the subjugation of the North African coast as far as the

Atlantic, the way was open for the conquest of the neighboring

south-western part of Europe. [46, 47].

In 711 CE, Tariq Bin Ziad took the momentous step of crossing

into Spain on a raid that developed into a conquest of the Iberian

Peninsula (al-Andalus). The Goths were defeated and Andalusia

was converted to Islam.

This constituted the last and most sensational of the major

campaigns of the Arabs and by 732 CE resulted in the addition to

the Moslem world the largest European territory ever held by

them.

By the year 732 CE, marking the first centennial of the death of

the Prophet Mohammed his followers were the masters of an

empire greater than that of Rome at its zenith. The name of the

Prophet Mohammed, son of Arabia, joined with the names of

almighty Allah, was being called five times a day from across an

empire extending over south-western Europe, northern Africa and

western and central Asia.

After Mohammed died at age 63, leadership was passed to Abu

Bakr in 632 A.D., who was the first caliph (khalifa) which means

"successor."

Umar Ibn Al Khattab the 2nd Caliph until 611 C.E. The first

four caliphs were from the Qumayyad family (Qoureish tribe) and

their rule was centered in Damascus.

The 3rd caliph, Outhman, was murdered and his Ali, cousin of

the Prophet Mohammed, became the fourth caliph. Mouaweeia,

governor of Syria, accused Ali of complicity in the murder of

Outhman and gained the caliphate after Ali was assassinated.

These rivalries resulted in the major division in the Muslem

faith: the Sunni, who believed that the caliphate was an elective

office and the Shi'a who believed that the heirs of Prophet

Mohammed, namely his daughter Fatima and her husband Ali,

were entitled to the caliphate.

The Qumayyard dynasty was overthrown in 750 CE by the

descendants of Abbas. The Abbasid dynasty ruled from Baghdad

until 1258 with the invasion of the Mongols. Prosperity reached

The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam

30

its greatest peak during the Caliphate of Horoun Al-Rashid (786-

809).

It was during the rule of Al-Rashid that the Arab Empire made

its most significant achievements in mathematics.

Under Abu Bakr's leadership, General Khalid Ibn Al-Walid led

the Arab Army in defeating the Byzantine and Sassonid Armies.

The Byzantine Army was defeated in 636 A.D. and Iraq and

Persia between 637 & 650. Jerusalem was conquered in 638 and

Egypt in 641. Conquests continued for a century expanding the

Arab Empire from China to France.

The second stage [732 CE - 998 CE] of the expansion of Islam

spread eastwards to the Sind Valley, Farghana and other areas

bordering West China and westward to equatorial Africa.

The third stage occurred between 998 CE and 1243 CE, when

Islam spread through India and Asia Minor. Among the reasons

for the rapid and peaceful spread of Islam was the simplicity of its

doctrine. Islam calls for faith in only One God worthy of worship.

It also repeatedly instructs man to use his powers of intelligence

and observation.

Within a few years, great civilizations and universities were

flourishing, for according to the Prophet "seeking knowledge is an

obligation for every Muslim man and woman." The synthesis of

Eastern and Western ideas and of new thought with old, brought

about great advances in medicine, mathematics, physics,

astronomy, geography, architecture, art, literature, and history.

Many crucial systems such as algebra, the Arabic numerals, and

also the concept of the zero (vital to the advancement of

mathematics), were transmitted to medieval Europe from Islam.

Sophisticated instruments which were to make possible the

European voyages of discovery were developed, including the

astrolabe, the quadrant and good navigational maps. The prophet

said, "Seek knowledge even into china…‖ The Hui Shen mosque

was built in the seventh century.

The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam

31

The Quran

The sacred sources of Islam are the Quran and the Hadith.

Muslims believe the Quran is the infallible, inerrant, Word of God.

They believe it is authentic, original and complete. The Quran is a

record of the exact words revealed by God through the Angel

Gabriel to the Prophet Mohammed. It was memorized by

Mohammed and dictated to his Companions and written down by

scribes.

A Hadith is a reliably transmitted report of what Prophet

Mohammed said, did or approved. The Sunnah is the practice

and example of the Prophet. Belief in the Sunnah is part of the

Islamic faith. The Seerah is the writings of followers of

Mohammed about the life of the Prophet.

The Quran is considered by Muslims to be the exact

reproduction of a heavenly document, transmitted to Mohammed

through divine revelations in the period from 610 CE to his death.

Children learning to recite the Holy Quran

The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam

32

Mohammed began early the practice of reciting passages from

the Quran to his followers for as long as necessary until they knew

them by heart. The revelation involved a recitation or something to

be recited. This is the meaning of the Aramaic word ―quran.” It

is not uncommon among the Arabs Muslims to find those that

have memorized the entire Quran.

The Quran was revealed piecemeal within a period of 22 years,

2 months and 22 days, according to the needs of the time and

provided solutions to the problems which came before the prophet.

The first revelation occurred after the 15th night of the month of

Ramadan when Mohammed was 41 years of age and the last verse

was revealed when Mohammed was 63 years of age.

The Quran is divided into 114 chapters and contains 86,430

words. [45]. It is not organized into chronological order as it was

received by Mohammed.

Muslims believe that the holy Quran is the book of Allah sent

through the last of the Prophets, Mohammed. That it contains the

knowledge imported by Allah and the guidance for men who are

righteous for all time to come. That it is the final revelation from

Allah.

According to the Muslim belief, The Quran provides a code of

conduct for every believer and is the commandment and a warrant

for him.

The Quran, as God's speech, cannot be translated but, rather,

must be studied in its original Arabic form. Arabic played a

leading role in other areas of Islamic literature, to include

mathematics, which would have been unthinkable without the

significance of the Arabic Quran.

Islam permeates every aspect of the Muslim‘s life and the

Quran is the declaration of Allah to show the right path. Thus,

once one understands some things the Quran teaches, then one

sees how the influence of Islam cannot be divorced from the Arabs

contributions in Mathematics.

From the 7th through the 11th centuries, significant

contributions were made to mathematics by the Arabic speaking

people because of Islam.

The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam

33

Unlike the thinking of most adherents of Christianity and the

Bible, there is no contradiction between the doctrines of the

intellect and the revelation of the Quran. While Europe remained

in mathematical darkness [Dark Ages] because the Christians

thought the Bible contained the answers to science, Islam made

significant advancements in their own original thinking and

translations of earlier original works in mathematics because the

Quran unambiguously encourages intellectual involvement with

nature.

There have been, and are, Christians for whom their religion is

not an impediment to mathematical advances. However, in

Europe between the 7th and 11th centuries, the narrowly

dogmatic, and fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible by church

authorities and in turn the rulers of the countries, hindered

mathematical progress. The persecution of Galileo is an example.

The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam

34

Arab door with Islamic calligraphy

The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam

35

Islamic Beliefs and Duties

This book is about mathematics and history related to Islam

and the Muslims; the continuity of knowledge through their

original contributions and translations and the Muslem belief that

all knowledge is sacred and leads ultimately to the knowledge of

God.

We see these beliefs expressed in Islamic calligraphy -

geometric, decorative and invocatory. These beliefs are reflected

in their architecture - the gentle curves of the white arches,

suggestive of the traditional madrasah or Mosque School, where

learning and a closer relationship to the Creator were inseparable

pursuits. [23].

Beliefs

Islam is the submission to the will of Allah. It involves belief

in Allah and His angels, His ―book‖ and His messengers and belief

in the ―Las t Day.‖ It‘s first and greatest dogma is: ―No god

whatsoever but Allah.‖ In belief (iman) the conception of God

stands supreme.

The second dogma treats Mohammed as the messenger (rasul)

of Allah, His prophet, the admonisher of his people, the last of a

long line of prophets of whom he is the ―s eal,‖ and therefore the

greatest. Mohammed is but a human being whose only miracle is

being the receiver of the Quran.

The Quran is the Word of Allah. It contains the final revelation

and is ―un created.‖ In its phonetic and graphic reproduction and

in its linguistic form the Quran is identical and co-eternal with a

heavenly archetype. Of all miracles, Muslims believe it is the

greatest.

In its angelology Islam gives the foremost place to Gabriel, the

bearer of revelation who is also ―the spirit of holiness.‖ He is the

messenger of the supreme deity.

The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam

36

Sin can be either moral or ceremonial. The worst and only

unpardonable sin is shirk, joining or associating of other gods with

the true God. (Allah).

The most impressive part of the Quran deals with eschatology.

It speaks at length about the ―Dayof Resurrection‖ and ―t he Day

of Judgment.‖

Duties

The religious duties (‗ibadat) of the Muslems center on the five

pillars of Islam:

(1) Shahada - The Profession of Faith or Creed is ―No god

whatsoever but Allah; Mohammed is the Messenger of Allah."

(2) Salah - Prayers - The performance of the daily prayers. Five

times a day the faithful Muslem turns his face toward Mecca and

recites his prescribed prayer. The ritual prayer is a legally defined

act performed by all with the same general bodily postures and

genuflection and with the same proper orientation. The

worshipper should be in a state of legal purity (taharah) and the

use of Arabic as a medium of expression is absolutely incumbent

upon him, no matter what his native tongue may be. The Friday

noon prayer is the only public one and is obligatory for all adult

males. Certain mosques have places reserved for women. One

feature of the Friday service is the khutbah (address) delivered by

the leader (imam) in which intercessory prayer is offered on behalf

of the ruling head of the state.

Standing erect in self-arranged rows in the Mosque and

following the leadership of the imam with precision and reverence,

the worshippers present a sight that is always impressive.

(3) zakat - Almsgiving or Purifying Tax - To pay annually 2.5%

tithe of one‘s net savings on which a year has passed as a religious

duty and purifying sum to be spent on poorer sections of the

community.

The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam

37

(4) Saum Ramadan - Fasting - The Moslems during the month of

Ramadan not only abstain from food, drink and sexual intercourse

from dawn to sunset, but also from evil intentions and desires.

(5) Hajj - Pilgrimage is the fifth and last pillar of Islam. Once in

a lifetime every Muslem of either sex, who is financially and

physically able, is supposed to undertake at a stated time of the

year a holy visit to Mecca. „Umrah ‗ is the lesser pilgrimage to

Mecca and may be made individually and at any time.

The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam

38

The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam

39

The Connection Between Islam and

Modern Science:

The Quran

In the West when science and religion are discussed, Judaism

and Christianity are among the religions referred to, but Islam is

rarely mentioned. When it is mentioned, statements made about

Islam are generally erroneous. Sometimes this is a result of

ignorance and sometimes of systematic denigration. The most

serious of all the untruths told about Islam are those not in

accordance with facts. Mistaken opinions are excusable; the

presentation of facts running contrary to the reality is not.

It is hoped that the following discussion of the Quran and

science will help change the inaccurate views on Islam that are so

widely held.

At the height of Islam, between the eighth and twelfth

centuries, CE, at a time when restrictions on scientific

development were in force in the Christian world, a very large

number of studies and discoveries were being made at Islamic

universities. It was there that the remarkable cultural resources of

the time were to be found. A very great number of ancient

manuscripts have come down to us thanks to cultivated Arabs who

acted as the vehicle for the culture of conquered countries.

We are greatly indebted to Arabic culture for mathematics,

astronomy, physics, geology, botany and medicine. For the very

first time, during the Middle Ages, science took on an

international character in the Islamic universities.

The period between 700-1100 CE was for the Christian world,

a time of stagnation and absolute conformity. Following the

Renaissance, the scientists in the West developed an attitude of

vengeance toward religion which permeates their thinking today

and affects the thinking of all young people who receive a

university education today in the West.

In the Islamic world, this did not happen, because the Quran

did not prevent them from being both believers and scientists.

Science was the twin of religion and the Quran was the connection

between the two.

The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam

40

The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam

41

An objective examination of the Quran in the light of modern

knowledge leads us to recognize the agreement between the two.

This agreement is even more astonishing when one considers

the fact that Mohammed was uneducated and functionally

illiterate. Additionally, how could any person of the 6th century

CE utter such scientific truths contained in the Quran?

Below are only four examples to illustrate this connection. The

reader is encouraged to read Mauric Bucaille‘s works [12] for a

complete discussion.

1.) Formation of stars and planets. Sura 41:9&12. The formation

of the sun and its sub-product the earth occurred by a process of

condensation of the primary nebula and then their separation. The

Quran refers to the processes that produced a fusion and

subsequent separation starting from a celestial ―s moke.‖

The Quran gives much more information about the Creation of

the universe which have been confirmed by scientific data. There

is no opposition between the data in the Quran on the Creation and

modern knowledge on the formation of the Universe.

2.) The Organization of the Universe. Fourteen centuries ago

the Quran described the organization of the Universe. In over 40

verses in the Quran, information on astronomy is provided, much

of which modern science has verified; none of which is shown to

be scientifically inaccurate. The reader should keep in mind that

scientific knowledge in Islamic countries is post-Quranic, and still

would have been insufficient to explain the surprising statements

on astronomy found in the Quran. In sura 51:47, where God is

speaking:

“The heaven, we have built it

with power. Verily. We are

expanding it.”

“We are expanding it” is the translation of the plural present

participle musi‟una of the verb ausa‟a meaning ―to make wider,

The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam

42

more spacious, to extend, to expand.” Modern physics confirms

that the universe is expanding.

3.) The Origin of Life. Sura 21:30:

“Do not the unbelievers see that

the heavens and the earth were

joined together, then we clove

them asunder and we got every

living thing out of the water.

Will they then not believe?”

Life is in fact of aquatic origin and water is the major

component of all living cells.

Sura 20:53

“(God is the One Who) sent water down

from the sky and thereby were brought

forth pairs of plants each separate from

the other.”

Modern scientific data confirms the oldest living things

belonged to the Vegetable Kingdom (algae: pre-Cambrian period).

Sura 24:45

“God created every animal from water.”

Organisms belonging to the animal kingdom appeared later --

they came from the sea.

The statements contained in the Quran on the origin of life are

strictly in accordance with modern scientific data. None of the

myths on the origins of life that abounded at the time the Quran

appeared are mentioned in the text.

The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam

43

4.) The Source of the Constituents of Animal Milk.

Sura 16:66.

“Verily, in cattle there is a lesson for you. We

give you to drink of what inside their bodies,

coming from a conjunction between the contents

of the intestine and the blood, a milk pure and

pleasant for those who drink it.”

Maurice Bacaille, M.D., a French surgeon, wrote in "La

Bible, le Coran et la Science" ("The Bible, The Quran and

Science", p. 196&197) [12]:

“From a scientific point of view, physiological notions

must be called upon to grasp the meaning of this verse.

The substances that ensure the general nutrition of the

body come from chemical transformations which occur

along the length of the digestive tract. These substances

come from the contents of the intestine. On arrival in the

intestine at the appropriate stage of chemical

transformation, they pass through its wall and towards

the systemic circulation. This passage is effected in two

ways: either directly, by what are called the “lymphatic

vessels”, or indirectly, by the portal circulation. This

conducts them first to the liver, where they undergo

alterations, and from here they then emerge to join the

systemic circulation. In this way everything passes

through the bloodstream.

The constituents of milk are secreted by the mammary

glands. These are nourished, as it were, by the product

of food digestion brought to them via the bloodstream.

Blood therefore plays the role of collector and conductor

of what has been extracted from food, and it brings

nutrition to the mammary glands, the producers of milk,

as it does to any other organ.

The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam

44

Here the initial process which sets everything else in

motion is the bringing together of the contents of the

intestine and blood at the level of the intestinal wall

itself. This very precise concept is the result of the

discoveries made in the chemistry and physiology of the

digestive system. It was totally unknown at the time of

the Prophet Mohammed and has been understood only in

recent times. The discovery of the circulation of the

blood, was made by Harvey roughly ten centuries after

the Quranic Revelation.”

5.) Mathematics Found Within The Quran.

There are two major facets of the Quran's mathematical

system: (1) The mathematical literary composition, and (2) The

mathematical structure involving the numbers of suras and verses.

Finally, because this book is specially concerned with the

connection between Islam and mathematics, the following

mathematics found within the Quran itself is included without

commentary.

Consider the first verse of the Quran:

Figure 1

“In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the

Most Merciful.”

The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam

45

The Arabic letters of this verse number nineteen (19):

Figure 2

The frequency of each word of this verse in the entire Quran is

always a multiple of 19. The word ism (name) is repeated 19

times; Allah (God), 2698 (19 X 142) times; Al-Rahman (The

Most Gracious), 57 (19 X 3) times and Rahim (The Most

Merciful), 114 (19 X 6) times.

Moreover, there is the same numeral relationship (number 19)

between the letters of the first verse of the Quran and these same

letters at the beginning of certain chapters (the Opening).

Below is a table which appears in a copy of a lecture delivered

in Kuwait by Dr. Mohammed Rashad Khalif, entitled ―Number 19

- New Interpretation of the Quranic Miracle.‖

Translation into English for the first three entries are as

follows:

(1) The letter nun the opening of Chapter 64 is used

133 (7x19) times.

(2) The letter kaf is used as an opening for Chapters 50

and 57. The frequency of this letter in both chapters is 57 which

equals a total of 114 (6x19).

(3) The letter sad is used in the openings of three

chapters: 7, 19 and 38. The frequency of this letter totals 152

(8x19).

The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam

46

Number 19 - New Interpretation of the Quranic Miracle

Table 1

The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam

47

The remaining part of this book will describe selected principal

contributions to mathematics and the accompanying influence

Islam had on these contributions. Selection of appropriate

examples to illustrate these contributions does not begin to

approach the vast contributions made by the Arab Muslims during

the five centuries from 700 CE to 1100 CE, known as the Muslim

Golden Age.

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

48

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

49

PART II

MATHEMATICS

The Connection Between Islam

and

the Search for Knowledge

Islam through the Quran, Sunnah and Seerah exhort the

Muslim to search for knowledge.

On several occasions Prophet Mohammed admonished all

Muslims to search for knowledge as we see from the following

quotes:

“The search for knowledge is an obligation laid

on every Muslim,”

“If anyone pursues a path in search of knowledge,

Allah will thereby make easy for him a path to

paradise.”

“Two greedy persons never attain satisfaction: he

who is greedy for knowledge can never get enough

of it, and he who is greedy for worldly goods can

never get enough of them.”

“The worst evil consists in learned men who are

evil, and the best good consists in learned men who

are good.” [4].

In addition to the fact that the Prophet Mohammed, himself

having implored his followers to seek knowledge from the cradle

to the grave, Muslims were encouraged to study the sky and the

earth to find proofs to their faith.

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

50

There was also a practical religious need for mathematics and

astronomy. Such as developing trigonometric methods to find the

direction to Mecca, towards which they turn daily in their prayers;

using arithmetic and algebra to calculate inheritances and to count

days and years. From Astronomy, Muslims could determine the

beginning of Ramadan, the month of fasting, and other great holy

days. Investigations in mathematics was given impetus by the

teaching of Prophet Mohammed and the Quran. For example, a

Latin translation of a Muslim arithmetic text was discovered in

1857 at the Library of the University of Cambridge. Entitled

Algoritmi de numero Indorum, the work opens with the words:

―Spoken has Algoritmi. Let us give deserved praise to God, our

leader and defender.‖[48]

As a result of the Quran, Sunnah and Seerah, Muslims directed

their attention to intellectual activities during the early days of

Islam, approximately 700 CE, turning first to the practical

sciences, such as mathematics and astronomy. Additionally, the

Muslim mind has always been attracted to the mathematical

sciences in accordance with the ―a bstract‖ character of the

doctrine of Oneness which lies at the heart of Islam. (Surah 6:19;

Surah 112:1-4) [45]. The mathematical sciences have traditionally

included astronomy, mathematics itself and much of what is called

physics today.

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

51

The Connection Between Antiquity and

the European Renaissance

The Translations

Translations of antiquity began under Caliph Al-Mansur and

were further developed under his grandson, Al-Ma‘mun.

Beginning in 762 CE, al-Mansur established his capital in

Baghdad and the caliph Harun al-Rashid, established a library.

Following Al-Rashid's construction of a library to house both

original and Arabic translations, Caliph al-Ma'mun (who reigned

from 813 to 833) founded a translations and research institute

known as "The House of Wisdom."

Many different translators rendered scientific works from the

Greek, Sanskrit and Persian into Arabic. Euclid's work on

geometry entitled Book of Basic Principles and Pillars was the

first Greek work to be translated into Arabic. Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf

translations included the first six books of Euclid and the

Almagesti written by Ptolemy. Among the many very important

translations done by Hunayn b. Ishaq was Menelaos' Spherica.

His son, Quota bin Luqa translated Diophantos' Arithmetica and

Al-Hajjaj bin Matar translated Euclid's Elements.

As was pointed out earlier in this book under the discussion of

The Spread of Islam, most of the important philosophical and

scientific works of Aristotle, Plato, the Pythagorean school, major

works of Greek astronomy, mathematics, medicine, the Elements

of Euclid and the works of Hippocrates and Galen were rendered

into Arabic by the Islamic community. In addition to translations

of the Greek works, important works of astronomy, mathematics

and medicine were translated from Patilavi (Persia) and Sanskrit

(India).

As a result, Arabic became the most important scientific

language of the world for many centuries and the depository of

much of the wisdom and sciences of antiquity.

The Moslems translated these works because the structure of

Islam itself is based upon the primacy of knowledge.

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

52

From 1050 onward Western science and mathematics benefited

from Arabic materials and their translators.

In the course of the Muslim conquests the Hindu-Arabic

numerals and their arithmetic were carried by the Moors through

North Africa and into Spain. Arabic numerals were known to

Gerbert [Pope Sylvester II] in the 10th century and he introduced

these numerals in the place of the awkward Roman numerals.

John N. Crossley and Alan S. Henry in their article, “Thus

Spake al-Khawarizmi: A Translation of the Text of Cambridge

University Library Ms. Ii.vi.5” published in Historia

Mathematica, Vol. 17, No. 2, May 1990, says:

―The process involved in using Hindu-Arabic numerals, as

opposed to Roman numerals, acquired the name

“algorism” in the West. It is generally agreed that the

word “algorithm” comes from the name of the scholar

Abu Jafar Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi, who lived

about 800-847 and used the Arabic language. The Oxford

English Dictionary states that the word “algorithm” was

originally spelled “algorism” in its English version about

the 12th century or perhaps slightly earlier. It was only

very much later that the world “algorithm,” spelled with

“th,” became current. In the 12th century and for a long

time thereafter the spelling “algorism,” with an “s,”

meant the rules and procedures for using the nine Hindu-

Arabic numerals 1,2,3,4,5,7,8,9 and the cypher (Arabic

“sifr”) 0, though the actual shapes of these characters

were different in those days.‖

Gilbert was followed by others such as Constantinus Africanus

in the eleventh century. Africanus traveled for thirty years in

Muslim lands and studied under Arab (Muslim) teachers and

translated several Arabic works into Latin.

In the 12

th

century the algebra of Al-Khwarizmi was translated

into Latin by Gerard of Cremona. Among the more than seventy

Arabic books Gerard translated into Latin was Archimedes‘

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

53

Measurement of the Circle. Arabic translations and knowledge

passed from Spain into Lorrains, Germany, Central Europe and

England.

Adelard of Bath was among the first of many scholars of

England who traveled extensively in search of Arabic books. He

translated works on Mathematics and Astronomy to include a

Latin translation of Euclid's Elements from Muslim sources, Al-

Khwarizmi's tables and other works on the abacus and astrolabe.

His Quaestiones Naturales consists of 76 scientific discussions

derived from Muslim sciences.

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

54

Chart 1 is a summary of important mathematical works

translated from the Greek into Arabic.

Arabic Translations of Greek Mathematical Works

AUTHOR TITLE TRANSLATOR

Euclid The Elements Al-Hajjad b. Matar

Ishaq b. Hunayn

Thabit b. Qurra

Ptolemy Almagesti Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf

Archimedes Sphere and

Cylinder

Measurement of

the Circle

Heptagon in

the Circle

The Lemmas

Ishaq b. Hunayn

Thabit b. Qurra

Thabit b. Qurra

Thabit b. Qurra

Apollonios The Conics Hilal al-Himsi

Ahmad b. Musa

Thabit b. Qurra

Diophantos Arithmetic Qusta b. Luqa

Menelaos Spherica Hunayn b.Ishaq

Chart 1

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

55

The Connection Between Islam‟s Five Pillars of Faith and

Mathematics

1.) SHAHADA

Shahada - The Profession of Faith or Creed

is:

―No god whatsoever but Allah; Mohammed is

the Messenger of Allah."

The Muslim mind has always been attracted to the

mathematical sciences in accordance with the ―a bstract‖ character

of the doctrine of Oneness which lies at the heart of Islam.

The Connection Between Shahada

and

Geometry

Islamic Calligraphy and Geometric Constructions

Dominate in Islam are the elaborate geometrical designs

executed in wood, tile or Mosaics. (See page 34). While there

had always been a strong tradition of geometric design in the

Middle East since the time of Egypt, the Islamic interest reflected

its beliefs in their architecture - the gentle curves of the white

arches of the Mosque School, where learning and a closer

relationship to the Creator were inseparable pursuits.

On the next page you see a Mosque that reflects these gentle

curves of the white arches in its architecture.

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

56

Gentle curves of white arches

Abu Nasr al-Farabi (870 CE), who taught philosophy in

Baghdad and Syria, wrote a book on geometry with the title, A

Book of Spiritual Crafts and Natural Secrets in the Details of

Geometrical Figures.

Abul al-W‘afa, incorporated all of al-Farabi‘s work in a book

of his own, entitled, On Those Parts of Geometry Needed by

Craftsmen.

Abul al-W‘afa is best known for the first use of the tangent

function and compiling tables of sines and tangents at 15'

intervals. This work was done as part of an investigation into the

orbit of the Moon, written down in Theories of the Moon. He

also introduced the secant and cosecant and studied the

interrelations between the six trigonometric lines associated with

an arc. He and the prince Abu Nasr Mansur stated and proved

theorems of plane and spherical geometry that could be applied by

astronomers and geographers, including the laws of sines and

tangents.

It was Abu Nasr Mansur‘s pupil, al-Biruni (973-1050), who

produced a vast amount of high-quality work, and was one of the

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

57

masters in applying these theorems to astronomy and to such

problems in mathematical geography as the determination of

latitudes and longitudes, the distances between cities, and the

direction from one city to another, specifically, from a given city

to Mecca.

It is in Abul al-W‘afa‘s work entitled, On Those Parts of

Geometry Needed by Craftsmen, in which problems on

geometrical constructions that are possible using only a

straightedge and a compass with one fixed opening are discussed

and solved.

Problems using only a straightedge and compass will generally

involve circles and polygons, which will invariably produce

constructions involving isosceles triangles.

This suggests an answer to the question, why Al-Khwarizmi

gave a proof of ―the sum of the squares of the two legs of an

isosceles right triangle is equal to the square of the hypotenuse‖

[3] rather than right triangles in general, as Pythagoras did. All

Al-Khwarizmi needed do to prove the theorem of Pythagoras, was

let the square HGRT inscribed in square ABCD (see Figure 3)

have vertices not equal distant from the vertices of the larger

square ABDC, so that:

Figure 3

a is not necessarily equal to b, and then instead of adding the areas

of the triangles, (i.e., TA

2

= area of 2 triangles and AH

2

= area of 2

triangles and TH

2

= area of four triangles) subtract the area of the

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

58

triangles from the area of ABDC which would leave the area of

THGR:

(a+b)

2

- 4(

2

1

ab)= c

2

a

2

+ b

2

= c

2

.

Al-Khwarizmi‘s algebra contained other geometrical ideas. In

his section on Mensuration he calculated areas of triangles,

parallelograms, pyramids, and circles. He says:

“If you multiply the diameter of any

circle by itself, and subtract from the

product one-seventh and half one-

seventh of the same, then the remainder

is equal to the area of the circle.”

That is, t = 3

7

1

.

So we see how Islam‘s first pillar of faith, Shahada, with the

accompanying calligraphy involving geometric constructions is

connected to the extensive development in geometry.

Shahada was the impetus for the Arab Muslim‘s work in

geometry, beginning with Euclid‘s work on geometry entitled

Book of Basic Principles and Pillars, [48], the first Greek work to

be translated for students in Arab lands. Shahada was the

motivation for Thabit ibn Qurrah, his grandson Ibrahim ibn Sinan

(909-946), Abu Sahl al-Kuhi (c 995), and Alhazen resulting in the

solution of problems involving the pure geometry of conic

sections and including the areas and volumes of plane and solid

figures from which they were formed.

Translations of various works began under Al-Mansur and

were further developed under his grandson, Al-Ma‘mum. A

prince with a fine intellect, a scholar, philosopher, and theologian,

Al-Ma‘mum was instrumental in the discovery and translation of

the works of ancient people. During the reign of Harun Al-

Rashid, Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf translated into Arabic several Greek

works. Among these translation were the first six books of Euclid

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

59

and the Almagest. [The name ‗Almagest‘ is a Latinized version of

the Arabic title Almagesti.] The Almagest, written by Claudius

Ptolemy of Alexandria, was the most outstanding ancient Greek

work on astronomy. [18]. The work of the Muslims in the

application of geometry to the solution of algebraic equations

suggests they were the first to establish the close interrelation of

algebra and geometry. This was a leading contribution toward the

later development of analytic geometry. It was during the ninth

and tenth centuries that the Arab Muslims gave to Europe the first

information about Euclid‘s Elements. [37].

Thabit ibn Qurra (836-911 CE) of Harran, Mesopotamia, is

often regarded as the greatest Arab geometer. [19]. He carried on

the work of Al-Khwarizmi and translated into Arabic seven of the

eight books of the conic section of Apollonious. [6]. He also

translated certain works of Euclid, Archimedies, and Ptolemy

which become standard texts. [13].

Archimedes‘ original work on the regular heptagon had been

lost, but the Arab translation by Thabit ibn Qurra proves the Greek

manuscript still existed at the time of translation. Carl Schoy

found the Arabian manuscript in Cairo, and revealed it to the

Western public. It was translated into German in 1929. [35]. As

the signs of mathematical awakening of Europe appeared in the

1200‘s, the Greek classics were available for translation. As the

Christian monks made contact with Muslim universities in Spain,

opening the way to the Renaissance, Euclid‘s Elements were

translated again, but this time from Arabic to Latin.

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

60

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

61

2.) SALAH

Salah - Prayers - The performance of the daily prayers. Five

times a day the faithful Moslem turns his face toward Mecca and

recites his prescribed prayer.

Salah was the impetus for the Arab Muslims developing

trigonometric methods in order to find the direction to Mecca,

towards which they turn daily in their prayers.

The Connection Between Salah

and

Trigonometry

Direction and Time of Prayer

The era from 700 CE to 1100 CE was a period during which

the Arab Muslims came into possession of a spirit of discovery

and scholarship which distinguished the era as the ―Muslim Arab

Renaissance‖ and led to setting the stage for the European

Renaissance.

The study of science and mathematics was kept alive by the

Muslims during a period when the Christian world was in the

―DarkAges.‖ The Muslims had more than a passing interest in

the works of earlier civilizations. One can see this interest in the

fact that they translated virtually all known information of their

day into Arabic. Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf translated Ptolemy‘s work

from Greek into Arabic and based their trigonometry on his

theorem of half-chords.. However, the Arabs made two important

and superior differences: (1) They employed the sine where

Ptolemy used the chord and (2) they wrote their trigonometry in

algebraic instead of geometric form.

The perpendiculars drawn from the end point of the radii, to the

original directions, form segments which correspond to the half-

chords of Ptolemy. Half-chord in Arabic is jiba and became

confused with jaib. Jaib, had nothing to do with the length of a

half-chord, but rather meant, ―The opening of a garment at the

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

62

neck and bosom.‖ European mathematicians translated the Arabic

word ―jaib‖ by the Latin word ―sinus‖, meaning ―bosom‖ or

―fold.‖ And ―sine‖ was derived from ―sinus.‖

Rene Taton writes, ―The Muslims were vastly superior to the

Greeks and Indians in the area of trigonometry.‖ [44]. Here,

Islam exerted its influence by connecting the commandments of

the Quran with the developments in trigonometry in two ways: (1)

They needed the use of trigonometry to present a clear model of

the heavens and (2) its relationships to the Muslim‘s mode of life,

which included the problem of finding the direction of Mecca and

prayer times. In studying the mystery of God and the relationship

between heaven and earth, the Muslims directed their attention to

spherical trigonometry, and Al-Battani became their chief

proponent.

Al-Battani

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

63

Mohammed ibn Jabir Abu Abdullah Al-Battani was born in

Battan, Mesopotamia in 850 CE and died in Damascus in 929

CE.[1] He was an Arabian prince, governor of Syria, and is held

as one of the greatest astronomers of Islam. He is responsible for a

number of important discoveries in astronomy.

His well-known discovery is the remarkably accurate

determination of the solar year as being 365 days, 5 hours, 46

minutes and 24 seconds, which is very close to the latest estimates.

His excellent observations of lunar and solar eclipses were used by

Dunthorne in 1749 to determine the acceleration of motion of the

moon.

He also provided very neat solutions by means of orthographic

projection for some problems of spherical trigonometry. Al-

Battani determined with remarkable accuracy the obliquity of the

ecliptic, the length of the seasons and the true and mean orbit of

the sun.

In mathematics, he was the first to replace the use of Greek

chords by sines, with a clear understanding of their superiority.

He also developed the concept of cotangent and furnished their

table in degrees.

He wrote a number of books on astronomy and trigonometry.

His most famous book was his astronomical treatise with tables,

which was translated into Latin in the 12th century and flourished

as De scienta stellerum — De numeris stellerum et motibus.

His treatise on astronomy was extremely influential in Europe

until the Renaissance, with translations available in several

languages. His original discoveries both in astronomy and

trigonometry were of great consequence in the development of

these sciences. Copernicus in his book De Revolutionibus Orbium

Clestium expresses his indebtedness to Al-Battani.

Al-Biruni was another among those who laid the foundation for

modern trigonometry. [39].

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

64

Al-Biruni

As a philosopher, geographer, and astronomer, Al-Biruni was

not only a mathematician but a physicist as well. Taki Ed Din al-

Hilali considers Al-Biruni to be ―one of the very greatest scientists

of all time.‖ Six hundred years before Galileo, Al-Biruni had

discussed the possibility of the earth‘s rotation around its own

axis. [33].

Al-Biruni was born outside of the city of Khwarizmi, present

day Khiva, a city of Uzbekistan in 972 C.E. and died in 1048 C.E.

in Ghazna (Afghanistan) after a forty-year illustrious career.

Many scholars recognize in al-Biruni the exemplification of the

true Islamic spirit in scientific inquiry. Trained initially as a

mathematician, al-Biruni ventured into the fields of chemistry,

astronomy, history, geography, and pharmacology. He proved to

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

65

be the authority, par excellence, of classical Islamic knowledge.

His mastery of Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, and Greek gave him

access to the treasures of ancient civilizations and a means to

grasp their ``truths".

He said: "My experience in the study of astronomy and

geometry and experiments in physics revealed to me that there

must be a Planning Mind of Unlimited Power. My discoveries in

Astronomy showed that there are fantastic intricacies in the

universe which prove that there is a creative system and a

meticulous control that cannot be explained through sheer physical

and material causes."

Al-Biruni carried out geodesic measurements [15] and

determined the magnitude of the earth‘s circumference. [38].

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

66

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

67

Direction of Prayer

From all his contributions to mathematics and physics, Al-

Biruni is best known in the World of Islam for fixing the direction

to Mecca in mosques all over the world. [5]. And, if it had not

been for the influence of Islam in his life, he probably would never

have acquired the knowledge of mathematics and science

sufficient to accomplish this feat.

Mecca is the birthplace of the Prophet Mohammad and the

most sacred spot in the Islamic world. Every year, during

Ramadan, more than one million Muslims make a pilgrimage, or

hajj, to Mecca.

The city is surrounded by mountains and valleys which during

Hajj season turn to towns of white tents for pilgrims.

Non-Muslims are strictly banned to enter Mecca or the nearby

pilgrimage towns such as Mina, Arafat, and Mozdalifah.

The Ka‘aba, a windowless cube-shaped building, fifty-feet

high, in the courtyard of the mosque, is believed by Muslims to

have been built by the Hebrew patriarch Ibrahim (Abraham). It is

draped in black and gold material which is traditionally renewed

annually.

In the southeastern corner of the Ka‘aba is the black

cornerstone, cast down by God to Adam after he was removed

from the Garden of Eden. This is a symbol of God‘s reconciliation

with mankind.

According to Islamic tradition, Muslims around the world must

face Mecca during their daily prayers. This direction toward

Mecca is called al-qibla.

If we know where we are (point Z); where Mecca is (point M)

and where the North Pole (point P) is, then we have a spherical

triangle (ZPM), as shown in Figure 4:

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

68

Figure 4

Angle PZM is the local azimuth of Mecca, the qibla. To find

the qibla we must know two sides and the included angle in

triangle ZPM.

Al-Biruni stated, justified and then applied the Sine Theorem

(law of sines) to a series of spherical triangles to determine the

qibla. The law of sines (Sine Theorem) states: For a plane

triangle, the sides of a triangle are proportional to the sines of the

opposite angles. If the angles are A, B, C, and the lengths of the

sides opposite these angles are a, b, c, this law is:

C sin

c

B sin

b

A sin

a

= =

Expressed in modern notation Al-Biruni stated, justified and

applied the law of sines to a series of spherical triangles as appears

in Table 2 below:

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

69

Table of Spherical Trigonometric Laws of

Sines and Cosines

Plane Trigonometry Spherical Trigonometry

Law of Sines

C sin

c

B sin

b

A sin

a

= =

C sin

c Sin

B sin

b Sin

A sin

a Sin

= =

Law of Cosines

a

2

= b

2

+ c

2

- 2bcCosA Cos a = CosbCosc +

SinbSincCosA

b

2

= c

2

+ a

2

- 2caCosB Cos b = CoscCosa +

SincSinaCosB

c

2

= a

2

+ b

2

- 2abCosC Cos c = CosaCosb +

SinaSinbCosC

where for the plane triangle a, b, and c have units of length, and

for the spherical triangle a, b and c are the angles subtended at

the center of the sphere by the great circle arcs, e.g.

sphere of radius

a arc of length

a =

Note that the spherical triangle formulae reduce to the plane

triangle formulae when a, b and c (in radians) are all much less

than 1.

Table 2

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

70

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

71

Time of Prayers

In addition to finding the ―d irection of prayer,‖ spherical

trigonometry was used for the purpose of determining the time of

the daily Muslim prayers.

These times were defined in terms of the position of the sun

relative to the horizon, hence the composition of tables for prayer

times was an exercise in spherical applied astronomy that was

used for civil and astronomical purposes as well.

This science of time-keeping („ilm al-miqat ) gave rise to a

group of astronomers who were associated with major mosques

and whose duty it was to tell the muezzin when to call the faithful

to prayer.

In the case of the afternoon prayer, for example, the convention

used is when the shadow of an upright rod in the ground equals the

length of its noon shadow plus the length of the rod. For each

degree of longitude of the sun, from the altitude of the sun at the

beginning of prayer until sunset determines the permitted time for

this prayer, as illustrated in figure 5:

Figure 5

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

72

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

73

3) ZAKAT

Zakat - Almsgiving or Purifying Tax - To pay annually 2.5%

tithe of one‘s net savings on which a year has passed as a religious

duty and purifying sum to be spent on poorer sections of the

community.

The Connection Between Islam

and

Number Theory:

The Zakat (The Poor Due or The Tithe)

One of the principal topics to be studied by the Muslims has

always been arithmetic - which has been proliferated over the

centuries into what we today refer to as number theory.

The calculation of the Zakat, Islam‘s influence on the use of

arithmetic is commanded by Islam:

“And they are ordered naught else than to

serve Allah, in sincere devotion to Him, being

monotheists, and to perform prayer perfectly

and to pay the Zakat. That is true religion.”

[surt-al-Bayyinah]

As explained in Part I (Duties) of this book, the religious duties

(„ibadat) of the Muslims center on the five pillars of Islam. The

third pillar of Islam is ―Paying The Poor Due.‖

Allah ordained every Muslim who possesses a certain amount

of property to pay annually the Zakat (poor due) of his possessions

to the poor, or to the other categories mentioned in the Quran.

The minimum amount of gold liable to payment of Zakat is 20

miskals of gold (a miskal is a weight equals 4.68 grams) and the

minimum amount of silver is 200 dirhams (a dirham is a weight

that equals 3.12 grams) or an equivalent sum of current money to

this amount.

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

74

There is also a minimum amount for goods of commerce liable

to payment of Zakat. As for cereals and grains, its minimum

amount is 300 saas (a saa‟ is a cubic measure used by Arabs).

The minimum amount for real estates prepared for sale should be

estimated in accordance with its value, but if the real estate is

prepared for lease, the estimation is considered in accordance with

its rent.

The annual amount of Zakat fixed on gold, silver and goods of

commerce is 2.5%.

Diophantus of Alexandria, compiled the first text on number

theory. He collected existing problems and invented new ones,

and entitled his treatise, Arithmetica. Number Theorists today,

still refer to this specialty as ―Arithmetic.‖ For 400 years

Alexandria had been the intellectual capital of the civilized world.

The library where Diophantus had spent his life-time compiling

the Arithmetica, was the largest in the world and contained among

its vast holdings six hundred years of mathematical progress.

Only six of the 13 books comprising the Arithmetica survived it‘s

destruction in 389 CE.

For the next 400 years, a few adroit individuals in India copied

the formulae from the surviving Greek manuscripts and added new

elements to mathematics. The Hindus began to use Sanskrit

characters as their numbers, which was the practice the Greek

used. It was from these characters our present day Hindu-Arabic

numerals evolved.

The Hindu-Arabic Numeration System

The most often asked question by the general public regarding

the history of Arabian mathematics concerns the origin of our

numeral system.

It is impossible to give a definitive answer to this question

because it is not possible to trace precisely the development of the

Hindu-Arabic numeral system.

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

75

The Hindu numerals were known to the early Arabic

mathematicians and references to the Hindu numerals are

mentioned by Arab Muslims as early as the 9th century.

In his book on the Principles of Hindu Reckoning, Folio 268a,

Kushybar ibn Labban (ca 971-1029 CE), gives the nine numerals

(left to right) as:

(Sanskrit related)

Figure 6

The above numerals are related to the Sanskrit characters the

Hindus began to use around 400 CE, following the practice of the

Greeks who used letters of their alphabet as their numerals.

It was the Muslim's that gave us zero. The Hindu's used it as a

place holder but the Muslim's treated it as a number. Also, the

earliest Muslim zero is contained in a manuscript that predates the

earliest Hindu manuscript which contains a "zero." Our word

"zero" derives from the Arabic sifr, which was Latinized into

"zephirum." The word sifr itself was an Arabic translation of the

Sanskrit word sunya, meaning "empty." An alternate Medieval

translation of sifr into "cifra" led to our modern English "cipher."

There are many words in the mathematical vocabulary which

are borrowed from Arabic words, such as the following:

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

76

Mathematical vocabulary borrowed from Arabic

Chart 2

The Muslim's used a dot '-' for zero. It was also the Muslim‘s

that gave us the modern notation for common fractions and the use

of decimal fractions. We call our numerals Arabic because the

principles in the two systems are the same and the variations that

took place over time resulted in today‘s numeration system.

From the beginning of the 10th century, the Arabs were using

the following numerals which are still used in Saudi Arabia today:

(Early Arabic Numerals)

Figure 7

The above symbols were finally transformed into today‘s

modern Hindu-Arabic numerals (reading right to left) zero-0, one-

1, two-2, three-3, four-4, five-5, six-6, seven-7, eight-8, nine-9.

Latinized Name Arabic Name

Algebra

al-Jabr

Algorism, Algorithm Al-Khawarizmi

Atlas Atlas

Azimuth Al-sumut

Cipher, Zero Sifr

Cosine Cosine

Nadir Nadir, Nazir

Sine Sine

Tangent Tangent

Zenith Cenit

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

77

The details of how the symbols were transformed into today's

modern Hindu-Arabic numerals are missing and unimportant.

The important thing was that in the 10th century, Gerbert of

Aurillac, from France, learned the numerals from the Moors of

Spain and introduced the system to the West through his teaching

positions in churches and schools in Europe.

The Arabian Muslims had replaced the primitive Greek

symbols and cumbersome Roman numerals with the numeral

system Europe adopted by the 13th century and is used universally

today.

Among the Muslim mathematicians, Abu-Yusef Ya‘qub ibn

Ishaq Al-Kindi contributed the most to Arithmetic [7].

Following is a list of the eleven texts he wrote on the subject:

1. An Introduction to Arithmetic.

2. Manuscript on the Use of Indian Numbers.

3. Manuscript on Explanation of the Numbers mentioned by Plato

in his politics.

4. Manuscript on the Harmony of Numbers.

5. Manuscript of Unity from the Point of View of Numbers.

6. Manuscript on Elucidating the Implied Numbers.

7. Manuscript on Prediction from the Point of View of Numbers.

8. Manuscript on Lines and Multiplication with Numbers .

9. Manuscript on Relative Quantity.

10. Manuscript on Measuring of Proportions and Times.

11. Manuscript on Numerical Procedures and Cancellation.

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

78

Al-Kindi

Yaqub ibn Ishaq Al-Kindi (Alkindus) was born of noble

Arabic descent at Kufa, approximately 800 A.D., and flourished

in Iraq under the caliphs al-Ma`mun (813-833) and al-Mu'tasim

(833-842). He died in 873 A.D. Al-Kindi was not only a

mathematician, but the first outstanding Islamic philosopher,

known as "the philosopher of the Arabs." He was also a physicist,

astronomer, physician, geographer and an expert in music.

He was a prolific writer, having written more than 270 works.

A large number of his books were translated into Latin by

Gherard of Cremona. In addition to the 11 books he wrote on

Arithmetic, he wrote extensively on Astronomy, Geometry,

Medicine, Physics, Philosophy, Logic, Psychology, and Music.

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

79

Al-Kindi also wrote various monographs concerning tides,

astronomical instruments, rocks, and precious stones.

Most of his books are no longer in existence, but those that

have survived, are reportedly significant in both content and

scholarship. His work on shadows and chords of circles led to

further development of mathematics and his work on springs and

the specific weight of precious stones and metals led to further

development of physics. His accurate calculations of latitude and

longitude were based on the actuality that the earth rotated on its

axis. He invented a plane projection of the sphere that could be

used to produce a map of a hemisphere. In 1030 he wrote al

Qanun al-Mas‟udi which contains a collection of 23 observations

of equinoxes beginning with observations by Hipparchus and

Ptolemy and ending with two observations which he made

himself. Cardano considered him as one of the twelve greatest

minds during the Middle Ages.

Al-Karkhi of Baghdad (Abu Bekr Mohammed ibn Al-hosain

Al-karkhi) was the most scholarly and the most original writer of

arithmetic. He was born in Karkh, a suburb of Baghdad, and died

in the decade 1019-29. A Muslim mathematician at Baghdad, he

wrote on arithmetic, algebra, and geometry. Two of his works are

known: Al-Kafi fi al-Hisab, which means ―Essentials of

Arithmetic‖ and Al-Fakhri, which was the name of his friend, the

grand vizier in Baghdad at that time. [36].

W.W. Rouse Ball, reports that:

“Al-Karkhi gave expressions for the sums of the

first, second, and third powers of the first n

natural numbers; solved various equations,

including some of the forms 0 c bx ax

p p 2

= ± ± ; and

discussed surds, showing for example, that

50 18 8 = + .” [8].

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

80

Diophantus‘ Arithmetica discussed the solution of linear and

quadratic equations, but he lacked an easy system of numerals to

build his solutions. The Muslims brought a new number language

from the East and the classical mathematics from Greece to

Fibonacci, who studied in Muslim schools and in 1202 CE

introduced Arabian numerals to Europe. [25]. By 1453 CE, when

the Turks ransacked Constantinople, they discovered the

manuscripts which survived the destruction of the Alexandria

library had been carefully preserved by the Muslim scholars.

Diophantos‘ Arithmetica had been translated into Arabic by Qusta

ibn Luqa of present-day Lebanon, probably in the ninth

century.[9].

Diophantus was now in the hands of Byzantine Scholars

headed for the desk of Pierre de Fermat who was already in

possession of the Arabic numeral system. As Fermat read

Diophantus, he would write comments in the margins of the book.

While studying Book II of the Arithmetica, Fermat read the

observations, problems and solution concerned with Pythagoras‘

Theorem and Pythagorean triples. Euclid‘s Elements had been

translated again, but this time by al-Hajjaj bin Matar, from Arabic

to Latin, which Fermat read, and thus was familiar with Euclid‘s

proof that there are an infinite number of Pythagorean triplets. As

he played with Pythagoras‘ equation, he wrote an equation, which

was very similar to Pythagoras‘ equation, but had no solution at

all. Instead of considering the equation:

2 2 2

z y x = + , Fermat wrote:

3 3 3

z y x = + , which turns Pythagoras‘ equation with an infinite

number of solutions into an equation with no solutions. So in the

margin of his Arithmetica, next to Problem 8, Fermat wrote a

note that said there are no whole numbers which satisfy:

n n n

z y x = + , where n > 3.

Then Fermat added the comment:

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

81

―On the contrary, it is impossible to separate a

cube into two cubes, a fourth power into two

fourth powers, or, generally, any power above the

second into two powers of the same degree: I have

discovered a truly marvelous demonstration

which this margin is too narrow to contain.‖

(Fermat, Oeuvres, III, p. 241)

Over 300 years later, this was the equation Andrew Wiles read

about at ten years of age and gave the world a proof for 30 years

later.

The West, and indeed the whole world is familiar with this

story of ―Fe rmat‘s Last Theorem.‖ However, the world is not

familiar with the following episode in the history of number theory

which involved Fermat. Before Fermat reached Problem 8 of Book

II, where he wrote his now so very famous quotation, he made a

discovery concerning amicable numbers. Amicable numbers are

pairs of numbers such that each number is the sum of the divisors

of the other number. The Pythagoreans knew that 220 and 284 are

amicable or ―friendly‖ numbers, and are given credit for

discovering this fact. But this was known long before the

Pythagoreans. Before mathematicians discovered “Amicable”

numbers, the Bible used them four times. The first time is in

Geneses 32:14.

Notice that Amicable, is an adjective. Defined by Webster as:

Characterized by or showing goodwill; peaceable.

And that amicable numbers are defined by Webster as: Two

numbers, each of which is equal to the sum of all the exact divisors

of the other except the number itself.

For example, the numbers 220 and 284 are amicable numbers,

because:

If m = {1, 2, 4, 5, 10, 11, 20, 22, 44, 55, 110} then m|220

and

1 + 2 + 4 + 5 + 10 + 11 + 20 + 22 + 44 + 55 + 110 = 284

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

82

If n = {1,2,4,71,142} then n| 284

and

1 + 2 + 4 + 71 + 142 = 220

[Note: The symbol “|” means “divides”; for

example 55|220 (read “fifty-five divides 220”)

means that 55 is an exact divisor of 220.]

We arrive at the number 220 by “amalgamating” 200 females

and 20 males.

The second, third and fourth time these numbers are used we

find in:

Ezra 8:20:

Also of the Nethinims, whom

David and the princes had

appointed for the service of the

Levites, two hundred and

twenty Nethinims: all of them

were expressed by name.

I Chronicles 15:6

Of the sons of Merari; Asaiah

the chief, and his brethren two

hundred and twenty:

Nehemiah 11:18

All the Levites in the holy city

were two hundred fourscore

and four.

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

83

These three places are “amicably” related: All are connected

to the tribe of Levi, whose name derives from the wish of Levi‘s

mother to be “amicably” related to his father:

(Gen. 29:34):

And she conceived again, and

bare a son; and said, Now this

time will my husband be joined

unto me, because I have born

him three sons: therefore was

his name called Levi.

The above three references have to do with (1) Ezra 8: - the

returning exiles (Levites) to Jerusalem, the rebuilding of the walls

of Jerusalem with (Nehemiah 11:18) the 284 Levites living there

with (I Chronicles 15:6) 220 descendants of Merari. As follows:

- Ezra 8: The list of Ezra‘s company of returning exiles, and

their arrival at Jerusalem.

Vs. 20: David had appointed 220 Nethinims for the service of

the Levites.

- Nehemiah: The rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem.

Ch. 11: The call for people to dwell in Jerusalem.

Vs. 18: 284 of these people were Levites.

- I Chronicles 15: The Ark brought to Jerusalem.

Vs. 2: None to carry the Ark except the

Levites.

Vs. 6: The sons of Merari, 220 Merarites, descendants of

Merari living in Jerusalem after the rebuilding.

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

84

In summary, the connection between the numbers 220 and 284

and all the above scriptures is the fact they are ―a micably‖ related.

All are connected to the Tribe of Levi, whose name derives from

the wish of Levi‘s mother to be ―a micably‖ related to his father

Jacob. The West still thinks that ―no other amicable numbers

were identified until 1636 when Fermat discovered the pair 17,296

and 18,416.‖ [41]. In his number-1 bestseller, Singh goes on to

say:

“Descartes discovered a third pair

(9,363,584 and 9,437,056) and Leonhard

Euler went on to list sixty-two amicable

pairs.” [41].

During the last half of the 9

th

century, over 700 years before

Fermat was born, the Arabian Muslim, Thabit ibn Qurra (826 CE -

901 CE), who is particularly noted for his translations of works

from Greek to Arabic by Euclid, Archimedes, Appollonius,

Ptolemy and Entocious [36], had already identified the amicable

number pairs 17,296 and 18,416. As a matter of fact, he did a

great deal more! A remarkable formula for amicable numbers is

credited to him [11]. The formula is as follows:

If p, q and r are prime numbers, and if they are of the form,

p= 3-2

n

- 1, q = 3-2

n-1

- 1, r = 9-2

2n-1

- 1,

Then p, q and r are distinct primes and 2

n

pq and 2

n

r are a pair

of amicable numbers.

For Example: For n = 2, p =3(4)-1=11, q=3(2)-1=5,

r=9(8)1=71 and 2

2

(11)(5) = 220 and 2

2

(71)=284.

Notice that when n=4 you get: p =47, q=23, r=1151 and

2

4

(47)(23) = 17 296 and 2

4

(1151)=18 416.

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

85

Without the many translations of Thabit ibn Qurra, the number

of Greek mathematical works known today would be smaller. For

example, we would have only the first four of the seven books or

more of Apollonius‘ Conics. In adherence to Prophet

Mohammmed‘s admonition:

“He who is asked about something he knows and

conceals it will have a bridle of fire put on him

on the day of resurrection.” -Prophet

Mohammed [4].

Thabit ibn Qurra did not conceal his knowledge of the Greek

mathematical classics, but widely disseminated, through his

translations, modifications and generalizations of mathematics

findings which created an interest in particular areas of

mathematics, such as amicable numbers, that these topics formed a

continuing tradition in Islam. Kamal ad-Din al-Farisi (who, by

the way, translated Brahmagupta‘s astronomical work into Arabic)

gave the pair 17,926 and 18,416 as an example of Thabit's rule,

and in the 17th century Muhammad Baqir Yazdi gave the pair

9,363,584 and 9,437,056.

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

86

Thabit ibn Qurra

Thabit ibn Qurra was born in Harran (present day Turkey) in

northern Mesopotamia in 836 CE, and died in Baghdad in 901 CE.

He was an Arab mathematician, physician, and philosopher, and a

representative of the flourishing Arab-Islamic culture of the 9th

century. He went to Baghdad and obtained a thorough

mathematical and philosophical training. Through the influence

of several men who were trusted advisors of the 'Abbasid caliph

al-Mu'tadid, Thabit secured appointment as a court astronomer in

Baghdad, where he spent the remainder of his life writing

mathematical, philosophical, and medical works. He applied

arithmetical terminology to geometrical quantities, and studied

several aspects of conic sections, angle trisection and magic

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

87

squares. A number of his computations aimed at determining the

surfaces and volumes of different types of solids.

Pythagorean Theorem in Qurra‘s Translation of Euclid

Courtesy of The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Classics in Mathematics Education, A Series, “The Pythagorean

Proposition.”

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

88

It is not the intention of the author to try to do justice to the

Muslim contributions to mathematics in this book, but rather, as

stated in the preface, to show the influence Islam has had on the

Muslim contribution to mathematics. However, in the limited

reading and research that I did in producing this work, it is my

sense that there exist manuscripts, some of which have yet to be

translated into English, that would yield an abundance of work

done by the Arabic Muslims in the field of number theory. For

example, we know that the Muslim mathematician, Al-Karkhi

gave expressions for the sum of the first, second, and third powers

of the first n natural numbers as follows: [5].

1 + 2 + 3 + ... + n =

2

) 1 n ( n +

1

2

+ 2

2

+ 3

2

+ ... + n

2

=

6

) 1 n 2 )( 1 n ( n + +

1

3

+ 2

3

+ 3

3

+ ... + n

3

=

4

) 1 n ( n

2 2

+

.

We also know that the introduction of the line separation

between the numerator and denominator of a common fraction is

due to the Muslims. To denote a fraction in the Muslim method,

one writes three-fourths as

4

3

, the same way it is still written.

Additionally, it is to Muslim mathematicians that credit is due for

the first use of the decimal fractions. The Arabic word for

fraction, al-kasr, is derived from the stem of the verb meaning ―t o

break.‖ [29].

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

89

4) SAUM RAMADAN and 5) HAJJ

Saum Ramadan - Fasting - The Moslems during the month of

Ramadan not only abstain from food, drink and sexual intercourse

from dawn to sunset, but also from evil intentions and desires.

The Connection Between Islam

and

Astronomy & The Calendar

Ramadan and Hajj

From Astronomy, Muslims could determine the beginning of

Ramadan, the month of fasting, and other great holy days.

Hajj - Pilgrimage is the fifth and last pillar of Islam. Once in a

lifetime every Moslem of either sex, who is financially and

physically able, is supposed to undertake during Ramadan a holy

visit to Mecca.

Umrah - is the lesser pilgrimage to Mecca and may be made

individually and at any time.

To Mecca: Moslems Only

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

90

The year 1 of the Islamic era begins with July 16, 622 of the

Gregorian calendar. There is a perfect correlation between the

Julian and the Lunar calendar:

Hijra, The year of the Prophet Mohammed, or 1A.H. (Anno

Hegirae), the Lunar Year, began July 16, 622 A.D., The

Gregorian solar year.

One lunar month is equal to the cycle between two new moons

encompassing:

29 days + 12 hours + 44 minutes + 2.8 seconds

Thus, a Lunar year = 354 days and

30

11

of a day. In 30 years

this equals 11 days (30 X

30

11

days = 11 days)

Letting x = Gregorian year and y = Hijra year we can write a

set of equations:

¦

¦

¹

¦

¦

´

¦

÷ =

+ =

) 622 x (

32

33

y

y

33

32

622 x

The above equations give us the corresponding years between

the two. For example, the Hijra year corresponding to the year

2000 A.D. is:

( ) . H . A 1421 1378

32

33

) 622 2000 (

32

33

y = = ÷ =

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

91

The Connection Between Islam

and

Algebra

The Shariath ('ilm al-fara'id)

The mathematics that the Muslims inherited from the Greeks

made many problems important to Islam scholars extremely

complicated or impossible. For example, the division of an estate.

This topic, known in Arabic as 'ilm al-fara'id [10, 21] (the

science of the legal shares of the natural heirs). In Islam, if a man

dies his wife receives 1/8 of the estate (1/4 if there are no children)

and each male child receives twice what the female child receives.

If there are only female children, 2/3 of the estate is divided

among the girls. If there is only 1 female child, 1/2 the estate goes

to the female child. All of this is further complicated by the

inheritance of 1/6 of the estate, each, for the parents of the

deceased and the inheritance of the brothers of the deceased if

there were no male children. [17].

Abu Abdullah Mohammad Ibn Musa al-Khawarizmi‘s algebra

served as a model for later writers in its application of arithmetic

and algebra to the distribution of inheritances according to the

complex requirements of Muslim religious law.

It was the search for more accurate, comprehensive, and

flexible methods that led Mohammed ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi (c.

825 CE) to make modifications in the algebra inherited from the

Greeks and on to epoch-making original contributions in algebra.

In his Arithmetica, [16] Diophantus of Alexandria (c. 275 CE)

gave a method of reducing indeterminate equations to simple

equations that can be solved directly or take the form of

determinate equations.

A single equation is indeterminate if it has more than one

variable and has an infinite number of solutions. An example

would be: 6x + 8y = 46. When the coefficients are integers and it

is required to find solutions in a restricted class of numbers, for

example, positive integers, then the equation is called Diopantine

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

92

equations. Diophantus was the first to pose and solve problems

that called for solutions in integers or rational numbers.

In solving these determinate equations Diophantus followed

definite methods. For example, in solving ax

2

+ bx = c, he

multiplied both sides by ―a ‖ in order to make the first term a

perfect square (a

2

x

2

).

The Arab scholars translated and used what the Greeks

achieved in algebra to make original contributions themselves

which proved to be epoch-making achievements. Al-Khowarizmi

made modifications in Diophantus‘ methods. For example, in

solving the same equation, ax

2

+ bx = c, he divides both sides of

the equation by “a”, in order to reduce the first term to a perfect

square (x

2

), which is the method used today.

While engaged in astronomical work at Baghdad and

Constantinople, Al-Khowarizmi wrote the algebra which brought

him fame, Al-jabr ma-al-muqabala (The Science of Cancellation

and Reduction) written in 820 CE. [3]. Al-jabr ma-al-muqabala

is devoted to finding solutions to problems posed by the

requirements of Islam and practical problems which the Muslims

encountered in daily life concerning matters of inheritance,

legacies, partition, lawsuits and commerce.

In his book Al-Khwarizmi first demonstrates his methods and

then turns his attention to solving those problems posed by Islamic

requirements. Al-Khwarizmi, in his introduction to Al-jabr ma-al-

muqabala explains in his introduction why he came to write his

algebra text:

―That fondness for science, by which God has

distinguished the Imam al-Ma‘mun, the Commander of the

Faithful ... has encouraged me to compose a short work on

calculating by al-jahr and al-muqabala , confining it to

what is easiest and most useful in arithmetic, such as men

constantly require in cases of inheritance, legacies,

partition, ...‖ [3].

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

93

A Latin translation of this text became known in Europe under

the title Al-Jabr. Thus, the Arabic word for reduction, al-Jabr,

became the word algebra. [22].

He cites a problem on the topic „ilm al-fara‟id, (inheritance) as

followings:

A woman dies, leaving her

husband, a son, and three

daughters and bequeathing to a

stranger one-eighth and one-

seventh of her capital;” [3,

pages 89&90].

The Shariah (Islamic Law) declares the husband receives 1/4

of the estate and the son twice that of a daughter.

Al-Khwarizmi‘s solution is as follows:

Each daughter receives 1/5

of 3/4 = 3/20, of the residue, and

the son, 6/20. Since the

stranger takes 1/8 + 1/7 = 15/56

of the capital, the residue =

41/56 of the capital, and each

1/20th share of the residue =

1/20 x 41/56 = 41/1120 of the

capital. The stranger, therefore,

receives 15/56 = (15x20)/(56x20)

= 300/1120 of the capital. [3,

page 90].

In The Supplement of Arithmetic by the Iraqi traveler, Abu

Mansur al-Baghdadi, there is a problem to pay the Zakat on 7586

dirhams. [8]. The dirham was divided into sixty fulus, the plural

of fils.

Al-Baghdadi calculates the total due on 7586 dirhams, as

follows:

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

94

“7586

From the first place we remove 1, which we

make 40, and then remove 6 from the 40. This

is the zakat due on 6 dirhams and it is 6 parts of

(the 40 into which we have divided) a dirham.

Note: 2.5% of 40 fulus = 1, so, 6 fulus is the

zakat due on 6 dirhams.

Thus, of the 40 (fulus) there remains 34

(fulus). This we put under the fils that has

remained in the units place.”

7585

34

We must now calculate 1/40 of the 80 that

arises from the 10‟s place, to obtain 2, which we

subtract from the five in the units place.

7583

34

In the 100‟s place there is 500, on which the

zakat due is 12 1/2.” (500 divided by 40 equals

12 1/2.).

Of the 40 parts into which we have divided

the dirham, 1/2 is 20, so when we subtract this

from 34, there remains 14 parts. Also, 12 from

83 leaves 71, so there now remains:

7571

14

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

95

So, for the 1st year we have left 7396

dirhams and 14 fulus.

Subtract from 7585 40

7396 14

189 d 26 fulus = 7586 fulus.”

Since 7586 dirhams = 303440 fulus, and %

2

1

2 of 303440 =

7586 fulus, we see the calculation is correct.

Since one dirham = 60 fulus, not 40, the base-40 fraction,

convenient to use, must now be converted into sexagesimal

fractions:

7586/40 = 7586 X (3/2)/(40X(3/2))=7586/40 = 7586(3/2)/40(3/2)

= 11379/60 = 189.65 which is %

2

1

2 of 7586. [9, pp 65-67].

In developing his algebra, Al-Khwarizmi transformed the

number from its earlier arithmetical character as a finite magnitude

into an element of relation and of infinite possibilities. It can be

said that the step connecting arithmetic to algebra is in essence a

step from ―be ing‖ to ―be coming‖ or from the static universe of the

Greeks to the dynamic ever-living, God-permeated one of the

Muslims. Solomon Gandz wrote the following concerning Al-

Khwarizmi:

“Al-Khwarizmi‟s algebra is regarded as the

foundation and cornerstone of the sciences. In a

sense, Al-Khwarizmi is more entitled to be called

„the father of algebra‟ than Diophantus because

Al-Khwarizmi is the first to teach algebra in an

elementary form and for its own sake,

Diophantus is primarily concerned with the

theory of numbers.” [20].

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

96

al-Khwarizmi

Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi, was born about 770 C.E.

and died in Baghdad in 850 C.E. He was a Muslim

mathematician and astronomer whose major works introduced

Hindu-Arabic numerals and the concepts of algebra into European

mathematics.

In addition to being a mathematician and astronomer, Al-

Khawarizmi was a geographer. In his book on geography, The

Image of the Earth, he developed a map of the Islamic world

much superior to that known from the work of Ptolemy by

correcting Ptolemy‘s exaggerated length of the Mediterranean

Sea.

His work on algebra Kitab al-jabr wa al-muqabalah ("The

Book of Restoring and Balancing"), was translated into Latin in

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

97

the 12th century and originated the term algebra (al-jahr). He

established the subject in a systematic form and developed it to

the extent of giving analytical solutions of linear and quadratic

equations.

Another work on Hindu-Arabic numerals is preserved only in

a Latin translation, Algoritmi de numero Indorum ("Al-

Khwarizmi Concerning the Hindu Art of Reckoning"). In this

work he explained the use of zero, a numeral of fundamental

importance developed by the Arabs and, additionally, developed

the decimal system. It was from the title of this book (Algoritmi

for Al-Khwarizmi) that the term algorithm originated.

In addition to introducing the Indian system of numerals (now

generally known as Arabic numerals), he developed at length

several arithmetical procedures, including operations on fractions.

It was through his work that the system of numerals was first

introduced to Arabs and later to Europeans, through its

translations in European languages.

He developed in detail trigonometric tables containing the sine

functions. The development of astronomical tables by him was a

significant contribution to the science of astronomy, on which he

also wrote a book. He is also reported to have collaborated in the

degree measurements ordered by Mamun al-Rashid which were

aimed at measuring the volume and circumference of the earth.

The influence of Khawarizmi on the growth of science, in

general, and mathematics, astronomy and geography in particular,

is well established in history. He has been held in high repute

throughout the centuries since then.

Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi influenced mathematical

thought to a greater extent than any other mediaeval writer. He

was one of the great mathematicians of all times. [24].

In his book, Al-Khwarizmi gives a proof of: The sum of the

squares of the two legs of an isosceles right triangle is equal to the

square of the hypotenuse. He writes: [3]

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

98

Observe, that in every rectangular triangle the two

short sides, each multiplied by itself and the products

added together, equal the product of the long side

multiplied by itself. The proof of this is the following.

We draw a quadrangle, with equal sides and angles

ABCD. We divide the line AC into two moieties in the

point H, from which we draw a parallel to the point R.

Then we divide, also, the line AB into two moieties at the

point T, and draw a parallel to the point G. then the

quadrate ABCD is divided into four quadrangles of equal

sides and angles, and of equal area; namely, the squares

AK, CK, BK, and DK. Now, we draw from the point H to

the point T a line which divides the quadrangle AK into

two equal parts: thus there arise two triangles from the

quadrangle, namely, the triangles ATH and HKT. We

know that AT is the moiety of AB, and that AH is equal to

it, being the moiety of AC; and the line TH joins them

opposite the right angle. In the same manner we draw

lines from T to R, and from R to G, and from G to H. Thus

from all the squares eight equal triangles arise, four of

which must, consequently, be equal to the moiety of the

great quadrate AD. We know that the line AT multiplied

by itself is like the area of two triangles, and AK gives the

area of two triangles equal to them; the sum of them is

therefore four triangles. But the line HT, multiplied by

itself, gives likewise the area of four such triangles. We

perceive, therefore, that the sum of AT multiplied by itself,

added to AH multiplied by itself, is equal to TH multiplied

by itself. This is the observation which we were desirous

to elucidate. Here is the figure to it:

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

99

Figure 8

Since Mohammed ibn Musa Al-Khwarizmi was the founder of

the Muslim school of mathematics, the subsequent Muslim and

early medieval works on algebra were largely founded on his

algebraic treatise. Al-Khwarizmi‘s work plays an important role

in the history of mathematics, for it is one of the main sources

through which Arabic numerals and Muslim algebra came to

Europe.

This tradition of service to the Islamic faith was the enduring

feature of mathematical work in Islam and one which, in the eyes

of the Muslim‘s, such as al-Mahani, justified the study of secular

learning. Al-Mahani (c. 860), the next Muslim contributor to

algebra, took up Archimedes‘ problem of cutting the sphere into

two segments, the ratio of which is equal to a given ratio, and

rendered it such celebrity that the equation x

3

+ a

2

b = cx

2

came to

be known as the al-Mahani‟s equation. Even though he found no

solution for it, his work led Abu Ja‘far al-Khazin (c. 960) of

Khorasan to a solution for it by means of the intersection of conic

sections.

Arab mathematicians accomplished some significant results in

seeking a solution for the fourth degree equation. Among them

were Abul W‘afa, whose method was lost and Mohammad ibn

al-Leit (c. 1000), who developed a solution by the intersection of

conic sections. [30]. Al-Karkhi of Baghdad (1020 CE), the most

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

100

scholarly and the most original writer of arithmetic, who was

mentioned earlier, also made a marked contribution to algebra.

His work in algebra includes operations of algebraic quantities,

roots, equations of the first and second degree, indeterminate

analysis, and solution of problems. [30]. Al-Karkhi contributed

rational solutions to certain special equations of degree higher than

two and a method for approximating the solution to linear

equations. The Muslims not only created algebra, which was to

become the indispensable instrument of scientific analysis, but

they laid the foundations for methods in modern experimental

research by the use of mathematical models. These are but a few

of the more outstanding developments in algebra that resulted

directly from the efforts of Muslim mathematicians influenced by

Islam. The Greeks expressed their algebra in geometrical terms

and as a result their achievements were confined to a few

analytical solutions.

The Arabians influenced by their Semite origin, were endowed

with minds that valued practicality. Additionally, they were

influenced by Islam which involved problems of religious duties,

such as the calendar, hours of daily prayers and determination of

exact directions toward Mecca.

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

101

Chart 3, below, is a summary of only those works referred to in

this book.

WORKS OF ARABIC MUSLIM MATHEMATICIANS

(Referenced in this Book)

NAME CENTURY WORKS

Al-Farabi, Abu Nasr

9

th

A Book of Spiritual

Crafts & Natural Secrets

in the Details of

Geometrical Figures

Al-Kindi, Abu Yusef Ya‘qub

ibn Ishaq

9

th

Eleven texts on

Arithmetic and Number

Theory

Qurra, Thabit ibn 9

th

Number Theory

Al-Khwarizmi, Mohammed

ibn Musa

9

th

Algebra

Al-jabr ma-al-muqabala

Al-Mahani 9

th

Algebra

Al-Battani, Mohammed ibn

Jabir

9

th

/10

th

Spherical Trigonometry

Al-Khazin, Abu Ja‘fer

10

th

Solved Archimedes

Problem: Cutting the

sphere into two

segments.

L-Wafa, Abul

10

th

On Obtaining Cube and

Fourth Roots and Roots

Composed of These

Two.

Labban, Kushybaribn 10

th

Principles of Hindu

Reckoning

Al-Biruni, Abu l-Rayhan

10

th

/11

th

Spherical Trigonometry

Physics Fixing the

direction to Mecca.

Al-Karkhi, of Baghdad

11

th

1) Al-Kafi fi al-

Hisab

2) Al-Fakhri

Al-Baghdadi, Abu Mansur 11

th

The Supplement of

Arithmetic

Al-Leit, Mohammad ibn 11

th

Quartic Equation

Chart 3

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

102

Conclusion

The people of Europe and the United States are unaware of

Islam's great relevance to their own history. Most mathematicians

are unfamiliar with Islam's relevance to the history of

mathematics, and even unfamiliar with most of the mathematical

contributions made by the Arabs of the geological Arabian

Peninsula.

This is due in part to the fact that Western historians have

purposely overlooked and minimized the importance of the

Islamic society and culture, particularly in Spain beginning with

the 8th century.

All of this lack of information and misinformation continues to

permeate Western Civilization because of ethno-centric, religious

prejudice and an absence of easily obtainable sources. The

preservation of intellectual contact of ancient Greek, Roman,

Persia and Indian civilizations has been recognized, but the Arabs

original contributions have not.

Pope Urban (Claremont, France), Nov. 26, 1095) exerted the

Christians to:

"enter upon the road to the Holy

Sepulcher, wrest it from the

wicked race, and subject it."

One hundred fifty thousand men (Crusaders) responded by

meeting at Constantinople and attacking the Arabs mercilessly,

destroying and devastating all that lay in their path. Libraries,

with ancient and original works were burned and hundreds of

thousands of the inhabitants massacred.

The fate of the Islamic Arab Empire was sealed by the invasion

and destruction of the Mongols led by Hulagu Khan. By the time

the Ottoman Turks had risen to power (13th century) the Islamic

Empire had been so weakened that the Turks had no difficulty in

expanding their power to include the entire Arab World. The

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

103

Turks, ruling in the name of Islam, turned Muslim against

Christian, Sunni against Shi'a and Kurd against Armenian.

With the destruction of their great system of irrigations, that

made the region fertile; orchards razed to the ground; centers of

learning destroyed and people massacred by the hundreds of

thousands followed by the occupation of the Turks who

considered the Arab Muslims inferior, the Islamic Arab Empire

was excluded from all activities that contribute to a genuine

civilization. The Arab Muslims were made to perform menial

tasks during the European Renaissance, the Eighteenth Century

Enlightenment and during the Industrial Revolution.

The Ottoman Empire lasted until the end of WWI with the

defeat of Germany and its allies which included Turkey.

With the ending of WWI in 1918, Great Britain became the

dominant force in the region.

In 1913 Abdulaziz Al-Saud fought the Turks at the Hassa

Province (Hofuf) on the Arabian Gulf. He needed the ports in the

region to obtain armaments and food. In April, 1913, Abdulaziz

eliminated the Turks from the Hassa region and all territory from

Kuwait to Qatar was now under his control. Saudi control was

extended to the outskirts of Hail in 1917. At the end of the war

Great Britain was determined to limit Arabs self-rule. Because

the United States declared its support for Arab self-determination,

good relations were established between the Arabs and the U.S.

King Abdulaziz Al-Saud was successful in unifying the

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by 1932 and he is known today in Saudi

Arabia as the ―f ather of the country.‖

The discovery and production of oil in 1939 added to its

strategic importance and economic progress. Because Saudi

Arabia is the birthplace of Prophet Mohammed and the location of

the Holy Muslim Shrines in Madinah and Mecca, it is the spiritual

center for all Muslims.

Contrary to the Western view, Saudi Arabia is in an

energy/economic, military strategic and spiritual position to

become the Islamic force and influence, to lead the Islamic

Arabian geological peninsula to enlightened influences and

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics

104

reform movements that recognize the necessity for adapting the

old teaching to the present era.

Ali A. Daffa wrote [ 1 ]:

"There are many Muslim thinkers,

planners, and writers whose advocacy of

progress with Western ideas is reconcilable

with their allegiance to Islam. Such a view

suggest the possibility of a change for

Muslim cultural perspectives and a return

to scholarly pursuits in education and

applied research."

Ali A. Al-Daffa' and John E. Sasser

105

REFERENCES

1.) Al-Daffa, Ali Abdullah, The Muslim Contribution to

Mathematics, (Atlantic Highlands, N.J., Humanities Press, 1977)

2.) Al-Harunik, Abi ‗Abdullah Mohammed bin Sinan bin Jabir

Kitab Assif Assabi‟ (Rome, Tubi ‗a bi Madinat Rumiyah al-

‘Uzma, 1899), p. xi.

3.) Al-Khowarizmi, Mohammed Ben Musa, The Algebra of

Mohammed Ben Musa, (Edited and translated by Frederic Rosen

(London, Printed by J.L. Cox, 1831)

4.) Al-Khuli, Muhammad Ali, Traditions of Prophet Muhammad,

3rd Edition, Swaileh, Jordan, Alfalah House For Publications and

Distributions, 1998).

5.) Ali, Jamil, (trans.), Tah did al-Amakin by al-Biruni (Beirut,

The American University Press, 1966), p.8.

6.) Arnold, Thomas, Sir, and Guillaume, Alfred, The Legacy of

Islam (London, Lowe and Brydone, 1949), p. 387.

7.) Atiyah, George N., The Philosopher of the Arabs (Karachi,

Al-Karami Press, 1966), p. 185.

8.) Ball, W.W. Rouse, A Short Account of the History of

Mathematics (New York, Dover Publications, 1960), pp. 159-60.

9.) Berggren, J.J., Episodes In The Mathematics Of Medieval

Islam, (New York, Springer-Verlag, 1986).

10.) Bodleian Library, Oxford, England, March MSS, 640, fol. (f.

102).

106

11.) Boyer, Carl B., A History of Mathematics (New York, John

Wiley and Sons, 1968).

12) Bacaille, Maurice, The Bible, The Quran and Science, (trans

by Alastair Pannell and author), North American Trust

Publications, 1979.

13.) Carmody, Francis J., The Astronomical Works of B. Kurra

(Berkeley, California, University of California Press, 1960), p. 15.

14.) Coon, Carleton S. Caravan: The Story of the Middle East

[1951], 2nd ed. (Henry Holt, New York, 1958).

15.) Dampler, Sir William Cecil, History of Science (New

York, The Macmillan Company, 1943), p. 82.

16.) Diophantus. Diophantus of Alexandria, T. L. Heath,

Cambridge, 1910.

17.) Doi, Abdur Rahman I., Shariah: The Islamic Law, (Abul

Qasim Bookstore, Jedda, Saudi Arabia, 1990)

18.) Eves, Howard, An Introduction to the History of

Mathematics (New York, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1969), p.

90.

19.) Fink, Carl, A Brief History of Mathematics (Chicago, The

Open Court Publishing Company, 1900), p. 320.

20.) Gandz, Solomon, “The Source of Al-Khwarizmi‟s Algebra,”

Ostris (Bruges, Belgium, The Saint Catherine Press Ltd., 1936),

Vol. I, p 264.

21.) ------------------------, “The Algebra of Inheritance,” Osiris,,

V (1938), 324.

107

22.) ------------------------,“The Origin of the Term Algebra,” The

American Mathematical Monthly, XXXIII, (May, 1926), 437.

23.) Hill, Derek and Grabar, Oleg, Islamic Architecture and Its

Decoration , [1964] 2nd ed. (Faber and Faber, London, 1967).

24.) Hitti, Philip K., History of the Arabs, , [1981] 10th ed. (St.

Martin‘s Press Inc., New York, N.Y., 1937].

25.) --------------------, The Near East in History - a 5000-year

Story , (New York, D. V an Nostrand Company, 1960), p. 253.

26.) Hocker, Sidney G., Barnes, Wilfred E. and Long, Calvin T.

Fundamental Concepts of Arithmetic (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.,

Prentice Hall, 1963), p. 9.

27.) Hodgson, Marshall G.S. The Venture of Islam: Conscience

and History In A World Civilization , Vol. 1,2 & 3. (The

University of Chicago, 1974).

28.) Holy Bible, New International Version, International Bible

Society, Bangkok

29.) Karpinski, Louis C. and Winter, John G., Contributions to

the History of Science (Ann Arbor, University of Michigan,

1930).

30.) Kasir, Daoud S., The Algebra of Omar Khayyam (New

York, N.Y., Bureau of Publications, Teachers College, Columbia

University, 1931.)

31.) Kushyar, Ibn Labban, Principles of Hindu Reckoning (A

translation with Introduction and notes by Martin Levey and

Marvin Petruck of the KITAB FIUSUL HISAB AL-HIND,

Madison & Milwaukee, The University of Wisconsin Press, 1965)

page 6.

108

32.) Landau, Rom, Arab Contribution to Civilization (San

Francisco, The American Academy of Asian Studies, 1958), p. 29.

33.) --------------------, The Arab Heritage of Western Civilization

(New York, Arab Information Center, 1962), p. 33.

34.) Lapidus, Ira, Muslim Cities in the Later Middle Ages, ,

(Harvard University Press, 1967).

35.) Marks, Robert W., The Growth of Mathematics from

Counting to Calculus (New York, Bantum Books, 1964), p. 120.

36.) Ore, Oystein, Number Theory and Its History (New York,

McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1948), p. 185.

37.) Reeve, William David, Mathematics for the Secondary

School (New York, Henry Holt and Company, 1954), p. 373.

38.) Sachau, C. Edward, Chronologic Orientalischer Volker, Von

al-Beruni (Leipzig, In commission Bei F. Brockhaus, 1878) pp.

184-6.

39.) Saffouri, Mohammed and Ifram, Adnan (trans.) Al-Biruni on

Transits (Beirut, American University of Beirut Press, 1959), p.

17.

40.) Sarton, George, A History of Science (Cambridge, Mass.,

Harvard University Press, 1952), Vol. I, p. 446.

41.) Singh, Simon, Fermat‟s Last Theorem (London, Fourth

Estate Limited, 1998), page 63.

42.) Smith, David E. and Karpinski, Charles, The Hindu Arabic

Numbers (Boston and London, Ginn and Company, 1911), p. 10.

109

43.) Stelzer, John, The World‟s Most Useful Islamic Software

(Rochester, NY, Eastman Kodak Co., 1998).

44.) Taton, Rene, History of Science: Ancient and Medieval

Science From The Beginning to 1450 (New York, Basic Books,

1963), vol. I, p. 70

45.) The Holy Quran, English translation of the meanings and

commentary, Revised & Edited by The Presidency of Islamic

Researches, IFTA, The Custodian of The Two Holy Mosques

King Fahd, Complex For The Printing of The Holy Quran, P.O.

Box 3561, Al-Madinah Al-Munawarah.

46.) Trimingham, J. Spencer, Islam in Ethiopia , (Oxford

University Press, 1952).

47.) ---------------------------------,A History of Islam in West

Africa,, (Oxford University Press, 1962).

48.) University Library, Cambridge, England, Arabic MSS, 1075,

fol. (00.6.55).

49.) Yeldham, Florence A. The Story of Reckoning in the Middle

Ages (London, George C. Harrap and Company, 1926), p. 64.

110

111

GLOSSARY

Akkad – The first recorded empire in history in the area known as

Babylonia.

Allah - The one and only true God; the creator of all things.

Al-qibla - In spherical trigonometry, if we know where we are

(point Z); where Mecca is (point M) and where the North Pole

(point P) is, then we have a spherical triangle (ZPM), The

direction toward M, Mecca, is called al-qibla. See Figure 4.

Amir - Leader or commander

Arab – Any Arabic-speaking person.

Arabia – Today Arabia means the country of Saudi Arabia, but

historically it was the entire eastern part of the geological

peninsula which includes Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qutar,

Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

Arabian - Refers to an inhabitant of the geological peninsula [See

map].

Ausa‟a – A verb meaning ―to make wider, more spacious, to

extend, to expand.‖

C.E. - Common Era [A.D.]

Caliph - successor (Khalifa or ―Ca liph‖) to Mohammed, assuming

leadership of the community of believers.

Hadith - Sayings of the Prophet Mohammed

112

Hajj - Pilgrimage; the fifth and last pillar of Islam.

'ilm al-fara'id -The division of an estate (the science of the legal

shares of the natural heirs).

„ilm al-miqat - The science of time-keeping.

Imam – Leader of the congregational prayer, Salat, that the

Muslims offer five time a day.

Ism - Arabic word for ―na me‖

Jaib/jiba - Half-chord in Arabic is jiba and became confused with

jaib. Jaib, had nothing to do with the length of a half-chord, but

rather meant, ―The opening of a garment at the neck and bosom.‖

Jihad - Holy War(s)

Ka‟aba - The first house of worship built for mankind. It was

originally built by Adam and later on reconstructed by Abraham

and Ismail. It is a cubed shaped structure based in the city of

Mecca, to which all Muslims turn to in their daily prayers.

Madinah - The first city-state that came under the banner of

Islam. It is where the Prophet Mohammed‘s masjid and grave are

situated.

Masjid - A place of worship and salat. The life of the early

Muslims used to revolve around the masjid. It is called in

―mosque‖ in English.

Mecca - Mecca is the site of the Ka’aba, the most sacred spot in

the Islamic world, and it is the direction to which Muslims must

turn to say their daily prayers.

113

Poor Due - Zakat - Almsgiving or Purifying Tax - To pay

annually 2.5% tithe of one‘s net savings on which a year has

passed as a religious duty and purifying sum to be spent on poorer

sections of the community. The Third Pillar of Faith.

Qibla - The same as al-qibla.

Quran - Muslims believe the Quran is the infallible, inerrant,

Word of God. They believe it is authentic, original and complete.

The Quran is a record of the exact words revealed by God through

the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Mohammed.

Ramadan - The holy month of prescribed fasting for the Muslims.

It was during this month that the Quranic revelations began.

Rasul - Messenger of God

Ratim - The Most Merciful

Salat - The five obligatory prayers that a Muslim must perform

every day.

Saum - Fasting

Seerah - Biography of Prophet Mohammed

Shahadah - Declaration of faith: ―Itestify that there is no god but

Allah and I testify that Mohammed is the Messenger of Allah.‖

Shariah – Islamic Law

Shirk – the worst and only unpardonable sin is shirk, joining or

associating of other gods with the true God. (Allah).

Sunnah- The examples of the Prophet‘s life, what he said, did,

implemented, how he implemented.

114

Taharah - A state of legal purity

Umrah – The lesser pilgrimage to Mecca and may be made

individually and at any time.

Zakat - The obligatory tax that every Muslim must give. It is one

of the five pillars of Islam. The zakat is used to provide for the

poor and destitute.

115

INDEX

Abraham, 17

Abu Bakr, 23, 27, 29, 30

Abu Ja'far al-Khazin, 99

Abu Mansur al-Baghdadi, 93

Abu Nasr al-Farabi, 56

Abu-Yusef Ya'qub ibn Ishaq,

77

Akkad, 19, 111

Al-Biruni, 63, 64, 65, 67, 68,

101, 108

Alexander the Great, 19

Al-Fakhri, 79, 101

Algebra, 4, 76, 91, 101, 105,

106, 107

Algoritmi de numero

Indorum, 50, 97

Al-Hajjaj bin Matar, 51

Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf, 51, 58,

61

Ali ibn Abi Talib, 23, 24

Al-Jabr, 93

Al-jabr ma-al-muqabala, 92,

101

Al-Kafi fi al-Hisab, 79

Al-Karkhi of Baghdad, 79,

99

Al-Khowarizmi, 92, 101,

105

Al-Kindi, 77, 78, 101

Allah, 21, 29, 32, 35, 36, 44,

45, 49, 55, 73, 111, 113

Al-Leit, Mohammad ibn 99,

101

Al-Mahani, 99, 101

Al-Ma'mum, 51, 58

Al-Mansur, 51, 58

al-qibla, 67, 111, 113

Al-qibla, 111

Al-Rahman, 45

Amir, 111

Amorites, 19

Arab, 5, 16, 17, 19, 21, 27,

30, 34, 47, 52, 58, 59, 61,

75, 86, 92, 99, 102, 103,

108, 111

Arabia, 5, 9, 15, 17, 18, 19,

24, 29, 76, 103, 106, 111

Arabian, 3, 9, 15, 16, 17, 23,

59, 63, 74, 77, 80, 84,

102, 103, 111

Arabians, 15, 17, 28, 100

Arabs, 17, 21, 29, 32, 39, 61,

74, 76, 78, 97, 102, 103,

105, 107

Aramaeans, 19

Aristotle, 15, 28, 51

Arithmetic, 54, 74, 77, 78,

79, 93, 101, 107

Arithmetica, 51, 74, 80, 91

Asia Minor, 19, 30

Assyrians, 15, 17, 19

Astronomy, 4, 50, 53, 65, 78,

89

116

Ausa‟a, 111

ausa'a, 41, 111

Babylonians, 15, 16, 17, 18,

19

Book of Basic Principles and

Pillars, 51, 58

C.E., 29, 64, 96, 111

Cairo, 59

Caliph, 23, 28, 29, 51, 111

Carl Schoy, 59

China, 15, 30

Christianity, 15, 33, 39

Common Era, 19

Conics, 54, 85

Constantinople, 80, 92, 102

Creation, 41

Cyrus, 19

Descartes, 84

Direction of, 67

Direction of Prayer, 67

dirham, 73, 93, 94, 95

Duties, 3, 35, 36, 73

Egypt, 18, 19, 27, 28, 30, 55

Egyptians, 16, 18

Elements, 28, 51, 53, 54, 59,

80

equation, 80, 81, 92, 99

Euclid, 15, 28, 51, 53, 54,

58, 59, 80, 84, 87

Euler, 84

Europe, 15, 16, 19, 29, 30,

33, 53, 59, 63, 77, 80, 93,

97, 99, 102

European Renaissance, 3, 51,

61, 103

Fermat, 80, 81, 84, 108

Fibonacci, 80

fulus, 93, 94, 95

Geometry, 4, 55, 56, 57, 78

Gerbert of Aurillac, 77

Gherard of Cremona, 78

Greeks, 16, 62, 75, 91, 92,

95, 100

Gregorian, 24, 90

Hadith, 31, 111

Hajj, 4, 37, 89, 112

Hanrun al-Rashid, 51

Harun Al-Rashid, 58

Hebrews, 15, 17

Heptagon, 54

Hindu-Arabic Numeration

System, 74

Hittites, 19

Hudaibeya Peace Treaty, 24

ibn al-Leit, 99

Ibrahim, 17, 58

'ilm al-fara'id, 91, 93

'ilm al-miqat, 71

Imam, 92, 112

India, 19, 30, 51, 74

Inheritance, 106

Iraq, 17, 19, 27, 30, 78, 111

Iron Age, 3, 19

Islam, 3, 4, 5, 9, 15, 21, 23,

24, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32,

33, 35, 36, 37, 39, 44, 47,

49, 50, 51, 55, 58, 62, 63,

67, 73, 85, 88, 89, 91, 92,

99, 100, 102, 103, 104,

105, 107, 109

Islamic Connection, 5

ism, 45, 112

117

jaib, 61, 112

Jerusalem, 19, 28, 30, 83

jiba, 61, 112

Jihad, 19, 112

Jordan, 17, 105

Judaism, 15, 39

Julian, 24, 90

Ka‟aba, 112

Ka'aba, 24

Kassite Dynasty, 19

Khadija Bint Khuwailed, 23

Kushybar ibn Labban, 75

Kuwait, 17, 45, 103

Law, 69, 93, 106

Lebanon, 17, 80, 111

Lunar, 24, 90

Madinah, 23, 24, 103, 109,

112

Map, 3

Masjid, 112

Mathematics, 4, 9, 32, 44,

53, 55, 105, 106, 108

Mecca, 23, 24, 36, 37, 50,

57, 61, 62, 67, 68, 89,

100, 101, 103, 111, 112

Meccans, 23

Medes, 19

Medicine, 78

Mensuration, 58

Mesopotamia, 18, 19, 59, 63,

86

Messenger, 36, 55

Middle Ages, 16, 39, 79,

108, 109

Middle East, 5, 9, 55, 106

Milk, 43

miskal, 73

Mohammad, 91, 99

Mohammed ibn Musa, 91,

99, 101

Moors, 52, 77

Moslem, 19, 28, 29, 35, 36,

37, 61, 89, 103

Muslim, 5, 9, 21, 30, 32, 47,

49, 50, 52, 53, 55, 58, 59,

61, 62, 71, 73, 75, 76, 77,

79, 80, 84, 88, 91, 96, 99,

100, 103, 104, 105, 108

Noah, 17

Number Theory, 4, 73, 101,

108

Oman, 17, 18, 111

Opening, 45

Origin of Life, 42

Palestine, 17

Peace, 21, 24

Peninsula, 3, 13, 17, 23, 29,

102

Persians, 19, 27

Philosophy, 78

Phoenicians, 15, 17

Pilgrimage, 37, 89, 112

poor due, 73

Poor Due, 73, 113

Prayer, 4, 61

Principles of Hindu

Reckoning, 75, 101, 107

Ptolemy, 15, 28, 51, 59, 61,

79, 84, 96

Pythagoras, 15, 57, 80

Qatar, 17, 103

qibla, 68

118

Qibla, 113

Quota bin Luqa, 51

Quran, 3, 21, 28, 31, 32, 33,

35, 36, 39, 41, 42, 43, 44,

45, 50, 62, 73, 106, 109,

113

Qusta ibn Luqa, 80

Ramadan, 4, 32, 37, 50, 89,

113

Rasul, 113

Ratim, 45

Renaissance, 16, 39, 59, 61,

63

Rene Taton, 62

Roman Empire, 15

Salat, 112, 113

Sassanids, 19

Saudi Arabia, 17, 111

Saum, 4, 37, 89, 113

Science, 3, 39, 43, 92, 106,

107, 108, 109

Semite, 17, 100

Shahadah, 113

Shariah, 93, 106, 113

Shariath, 4, 91

Shem, 17

Shirk, 113

Silm, 21

Sine, 68

sinus, 62

Solomon Gandz, 95

Spherica, 51, 54

Sumerians, 18, 19

Sunnah, 31, 49, 50, 113

Syria, 17, 19, 23, 27, 29, 56,

63, 111

Taharah, 114

Thabit ibn Qurra, 59, 84, 85,

86

The Most Merciful, 45, 113

Tigro-Euphrates, 18

Time of, 4, 61, 71

Tithe, 73

Translations, 3, 51, 54, 58

Trigonometry, 4, 61, 69, 101

Turks, 80, 102, 103

Umrah, 37, 89, 114

Universe, 41

Ur of the Chaldees, 17

Yemen, 17, 111

Zaid ibn Haritha, 23

Zakat, 4, 73, 74, 93, 113, 114

Abu Kayla