Antoine El Tayah
Thursday, November 27, 2014
How Islam shaped knowledge
By: Antoine El Tayah
In 1543, Nicolaus Copernicus released his book "De revolutionibus orbium coelestium" (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres). He mainly expresses that, contrary to old beliefs, the world revolves around the sun and itself. Little that the europeans know that behind this revolutionary theory other experiments conducted by non-europeans. Precisely Muslims. In his book he even includes latin translations of Arab findings. In this documentary, conducted by BBC, Jim Al-Khalili goes around the Mediterranean coast and Arab world to find evidence proving that Islam was in fact the center of scientific knowledge.
Astronomy was of major interest to the Islamic world. Especially the moon and the sun, they had a big part in their religion thus deciding when it was time to pray, they have a strict praying routine, 5 times a day at different times.
This directs the major attention given by Islam to astronomy. Copernicus argues that the world goes around the sun, people believed a different view, one where the earth is static, stars, sun and planets move around it. Three major astronomers influenced and helped him prove his theory: The first one is Al-Battani. He's the only muslim mentioned in Copernicus' book. He had done a data of stars chart, which were translated in latin and helpful to Copernicus. he also gave a very close approximation of the length of a year thanks to a sphere. The second astronomer is Ibn Al-Shatter. He explained the epicycles of different planets/orbits like Mercury or the moon. Thus proving Ptolemy wrong. He was able to prove it through his sundial. It was situated at the top of the minaret of the Umayyad Mosque. This sundial uses shades to know...