John E. Sasser

The Islamic Connection



Foreword...............................................……............... 5
Dedication..................................................…….......... 7
Preface........................................................…….......... 9
Acknowledgments......................................…….......... 11
Map............................................................…….......... 13
List of Illustrations…………………………………... 14
Introduction..................................................……........ 15


The Geological Arabian Peninsula: The Cradle of the

The Iron Age (2000 BCE - 200 CE)...........…............. 19
The Rise of Islam......................................…............... 21
The Connection Between Islam and the Arabian
Peninsula: Mohammed........................……................

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..................................……………..............



The Connection Between Islam and
the Search for Knowledge.....................…...................

The Connection Between Antiquity and the European
Renaissance: Translations.......……………….............


The Islamic Connection


The Connection Between Islam‘s Five Pillars of
Faith and Mathematics..........……...............................



The Connection Between Shahada and
Geometry: Islamic Calligraphy and Geometric



The Connection Between Salah and
Trigonometry: Direction and Time of Prayer……..
Direction of Prayer…………………………….
Time of Prayers………………………………..

Zakat...................................................……........….... 73
The Connection Between Islam and Number
Theory: The Zakat………………………………

The Hindu-Arabic Numeration System.......….... 74
Saum Ramadan and Hajj....…….............…............. 89
The Connection Between Islam and Astronomy &
the Calendar: Ramadan and Hajj……………..

The Connection Between Islam and Algebra: Shariath 91
Conclusion..........................................……................. 102
References........................................……................... 105
Glossary……………………………………………... 111
Index......................................................…….............. 115

The Islamic Connection



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
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

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my granddaughter


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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
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
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.

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The Islamic Connection



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: 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
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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

Kizzie Payton found grammatical and typographical errors that
were introduced in final editing.

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The Geological Peninsula

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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
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.
8 Isosceles Right Triangles of
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



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
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


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



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
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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

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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].

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The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam


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
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.

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The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam


The Connection Between Islam and the Arabian Peninsula:

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
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.
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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
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].

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Bedouin on Camel

The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam


The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam


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

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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
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

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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
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


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
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


Arab door with Islamic calligraphy

The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam


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
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].


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
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


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.‖


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
The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam


(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


The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam


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


The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam


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

“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


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


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


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

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


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

(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

The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam


Number 19 - New Interpretation of the Quranic Miracle

Table 1

The Islamic Connection - Part I - Islam


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


The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics



The Connection Between Islam
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

“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

“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


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


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
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


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.” 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
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


Measurement of the Circle. Arabic translations and knowledge
passed from Spain into Lorrains, Germany, Central Europe and
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


Chart 1 is a summary of important mathematical works
translated from the Greek into Arabic.

Arabic Translations of Greek Mathematical Works
Euclid The Elements Al-Hajjad b. Matar
Ishaq b. Hunayn
Thabit b. Qurra

Ptolemy Almagesti Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf

Archimedes Sphere and

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


The Connection Between Islam‟s Five Pillars of Faith and


Shahada - The Profession of Faith or Creed
―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

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


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
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
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


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
= area of 2 triangles and AH
= area of 2
triangles and TH
= area of four triangles) subtract the area of the
The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics


triangles from the area of ABDC which would leave the area of
- 4(
ab)= c

+ b
= c

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
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


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


The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics



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

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
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


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

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics


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
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



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


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


The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics


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
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


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
B sin
A sin
= =
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


Table of Spherical Trigonometric Laws of
Sines and Cosines

Plane Trigonometry Spherical Trigonometry

Law of Sines

C sin
B sin
A sin
= =
C sin
c Sin
B sin
b Sin
A sin
a Sin
= =

Law of Cosines

= b
+ c
- 2bcCosA Cos a = CosbCosc +
= c
+ a
- 2caCosB Cos b = CoscCosa +
= a
+ b
- 2abCosC Cos c = CosaCosb +

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


The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics


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


The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics



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

The Connection Between Islam
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.”

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


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


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


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


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


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
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



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


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


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
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


―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
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,

If m = {1, 2, 4, 5, 10, 11, 20, 22, 44, 55, 110} then m|220
1 + 2 + 4 + 5 + 10 + 11 + 20 + 22 + 44 + 55 + 110 = 284

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics


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


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
Vs. 6: The sons of Merari, 220 Merarites, descendants of
Merari living in Jerusalem after the rebuilding.

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics


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

“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
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
- 1, q = 3-2
- 1, r = 9-2
- 1,
Then p, q and r are distinct primes and 2
pq and 2
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
(11)(5) = 220 and 2

Notice that when n=4 you get: p =47, q=23, r=1151 and
(47)(23) = 17 296 and 2
(1151)=18 416.

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics


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


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


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

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics


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 =
) 1 n ( n +

+ 2
+ 3
+ ... + n
) 1 n 2 )( 1 n ( n + +

+ 2
+ 3
+ ... + n
) 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
, 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



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
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


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

29 days + 12 hours + 44 minutes + 2.8 seconds

Thus, a Lunar year = 354 days and
of a day. In 30 years
this equals 11 days (30 X
days = 11 days)

Letting x = Gregorian year and y = Hijra year we can write a
set of equations:

÷ =
+ =
) 622 x (
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
) 622 2000 (
y = = ÷ =

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics


The Connection Between Islam

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


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
+ bx = c, he
multiplied both sides by ―a ‖ in order to make the first term a
perfect square (a
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
+ bx = c, he divides both sides of
the equation by “a”, in order to reduce the first term to a perfect
square (x
), 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


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

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
The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics



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.”



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.



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:


The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics


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 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
7586/40 = 7586 X (3/2)/(40X(3/2))=7586/40 = 7586(3/2)/40(3/2)
= 11379/60 = 189.65 which is %
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-

“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



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
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
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


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
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


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


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
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
+ a
b = cx
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
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


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


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

(Referenced in this Book)

Al-Farabi, Abu Nasr


A Book of Spiritual
Crafts & Natural Secrets
in the Details of
Geometrical Figures
Al-Kindi, Abu Yusef Ya‘qub
ibn Ishaq
Eleven texts on
Arithmetic and Number
Qurra, Thabit ibn 9
Number Theory
Al-Khwarizmi, Mohammed
ibn Musa
Al-jabr ma-al-muqabala
Al-Mahani 9
Al-Battani, Mohammed ibn
Spherical Trigonometry

Al-Khazin, Abu Ja‘fer


Solved Archimedes
Problem: Cutting the
sphere into two

L-Wafa, Abul


On Obtaining Cube and
Fourth Roots and Roots
Composed of These
Labban, Kushybaribn 10
Principles of Hindu

Al-Biruni, Abu l-Rayhan


Spherical Trigonometry
Physics Fixing the
direction to Mecca.

Al-Karkhi, of Baghdad


1) Al-Kafi fi al-
2) Al-Fakhri
Al-Baghdadi, Abu Mansur 11
The Supplement of
Al-Leit, Mohammad ibn 11
Quartic Equation
Chart 3

The Islamic Connection – Part II – Mathematics



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
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


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


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


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.


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.

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.


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,

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.


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.

39.) Saffouri, Mohammed and Ifram, Adnan (trans.) Al-Biruni on
Transits (Beirut, American University of Beirut Press, 1959), p.

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.


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.




Akkad – The first recorded empire in history in the area known as

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

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


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

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.


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.


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.



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,
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,
Ali ibn Abi Talib, 23, 24
Al-Jabr, 93
Al-jabr ma-al-muqabala, 92,
Al-Kafi fi al-Hisab, 79
Al-Karkhi of Baghdad, 79,
Al-Khowarizmi, 92, 101,
Al-Kindi, 77, 78, 101
Allah, 21, 29, 32, 35, 36, 44,
45, 49, 55, 73, 111, 113
Al-Leit, Mohammad ibn 99,
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,


Ausa‟a, 111
ausa'a, 41, 111
Babylonians, 15, 16, 17, 18,
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,
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


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,
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,
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,
Oman, 17, 18, 111
Opening, 45
Origin of Life, 42
Palestine, 17
Peace, 21, 24
Peninsula, 3, 13, 17, 23, 29,
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


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,
Qusta ibn Luqa, 80
Ramadan, 4, 32, 37, 50, 89,
Rasul, 113
Ratim, 45
Renaissance, 16, 39, 59, 61,
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,
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