10 Things You Use Every Day That Are Invented by Muslims

Along with the first university, and even the toothbrush, there are many surprising Muslim inventions that have shaped the world in which we live today. The origins of these fundamental ideas and objects are the focus of “1001 Inventions”, a book celebrating the forgotten history of 1,000 years of Muslim heritage. From this book, I have summed up ten outstanding Muslim inventions which we still use today.

Coffee

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Coffee

More than twelve hundred years ago, hard-working people have fought to stay awake without this stimulant, until a herd of curious goats and their watchful master, an Arab named Khalid, discovered this simple, yet life-changing substance. As his goats grazed on the Ethiopian slopes, he noticed they had become lively and excited after eating a particular berry. Instead of just eating the berries they were taken and boiled to create “al-qahwa”.

Clocks

An ingenious man called al-Jazari from Diyarbakir in South-East Turkey was a pious Muslim and a highly skilled engineer who gave birth to the concept of automatic machines. By 1206, al-Jazari had made numerous clocks of all shapes and sizes. Just as we need time today to structure our lives, so did Muslims over seven hundred years ago. Al-Jazari was sticking to the long Muslim tradition of clock-making. They knew it was important to know the time so it could be used well through doing good deeds: knowing when to pray at the right time each day and announce the call to prayer in mosques.

Al-jazari_elephant_clock
The elephant clock was a medieval invention by al-Jazari (1136–1206), consisting of a weight powered water clock in the form of an Asian elephant.

Camera

Ibn al-Haitham revolutionized optics, taking the subject from one being discussed philosophically to an actual science based on experiments. He rejected the Greek idea that an invisible light emitting from the eye caused sight, and instead rightly stated that vision was caused by light reflecting off an object and entering the eye.

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The camera obscura, a precursor to the modern camera.

By using a dark room with a pinhole on one side and a white sheet on the other, he provided the evidence for his theory. Light came through the hole and projected an inverted image of the objects outside the room on the sheet opposite. He called this the “qamara”. It was the world’s first camera obscura.

Cleanliness

A Muslim’s faith is based on purity and cleanliness, whether it is in its physical or spiritual form. In the Islamic world of the 10th century, the products found in bathroom cabinets and hygiene practices could compete with those we have today. In the 13th century, the same engineer, al-Jazari, wrote a book describing mechanical devices, including “wudhu” machines. This machine was mobile, and it was brought in front of a guest. The guest would then tap the head and water would ensue in eight short bursts, providing enough water for ablution. This method also conserved water.

Muslims wanted to be really clean and not just splash themselves with water, so they made soap by mixing oil (usually olive oil) with “al-qali”, a salt-like substance. This was then boiled to achieve the right mix, left to harden and used in the hammams, the bath houses.

Al-Kindi also wrote a book on perfumes called “Book of the Chemistry of Perfume and Distillations”. He was best known as a philosopher, but was also a pharmacist, opthalmologist, physicist, mathematician, geographer, astronomer and chemist. His book contained more than a hundred recipes for fragnant oils, salves and aromatic waters. The centruries-old tradition of perfume-making was all made possible by Muslim chemists and their methods of distillation: they distilled plants and flowers and made perfumes and substances for theapeutic pharmacy.

Universities

The quest for knowledge is close to the heart of Muslims. In the Quran, they are urged to seek knowledge, and to observe and reflect. So Fatima al-Fihri, a devout and pious young woman, wanted to give the Fez community a learning centre. Like some of the grand mosques, al-Qarawiyin in Fez soon developed into a place for religious instruction and political discussion. It gradually extended its education to all subjects, particularly the natural sciences, and so it earned its name as one of the first universities in history.

Did you know that the first university was founded by a Muslim woman?

Apart from astronomy, there were studies of the Quran and theology, of law, rhetoric, prose and verse writing, logic, arithmetic, geography and medicine. There were also courses on grammar, Muslim history, and elements of chemistry and mathematics. This variety of topics and the high quality of its teaching drew scholars and students from all over. Still operating almost 1,200 years later, Hassani says he hopes the center will remind people that learning is at the core of the Islamic tradition and that the story of the al-Firhi sisters will inspire young Muslim women around the world today.

Flying machine

Abbas Ibn Firnas
Abbas Ibn Firnas

Abbas ibn Firnas was the first person to make a real attempt to construct a flying machine and actually fly. In the 9th century he designed a winged apparatus which roughly resembled a bird costume. In his most famous trial, near Cordoba in Spain, Firnas flew upward for a few moments, before plummiting to the ground and partially breaking his back. His designs would have undoubtedly been an inspiration for the famous Italian artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci some six hundred years later.

Surgical instruments

al-Zahrawi
al-Zahrawi

If we journeyed back into the 10th century, we could look over the shoulder of a cutting-edge surgion called Abul Qasim Khalaf ibn al-Abbad al-Zahrawi, a man known in the West as Abulcasis. He wrote al-Tadrif, his medical encyclopedia which included a treatise called “On Surgery”. This held a staggering collection of over two hundred surgical tools. Using instruments for surgery was a revolutionary concept because it enabled science to change from being speculative to something experimental. This was the first treatise in the history of medicine to illustrate the use of surgical instruments. In fact, their design was so accurate that they have had only a few changes in a millennium. It were these illustrations that laid the foundations for surgery in Europe.

Maps

 

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Muhammad al-Idrisi drew a map of the world in Sicily in 1154 and it is said to be one of the most advanced ancient world maps.

Maps have helped people find their way for about 3,500 years, the earliest ones being on clay tablets. The introduction of paper was a huge leap forward in the art of map making. Modern technology uses a system of satellites and other receiving devices to compute positions on the earth. Back in history, maps were made from travellers’ and pilgrims’ accounts. The bug of traveling had bitten the 7th century Muslims, and they soon began to leave their homes for trade and for religious reasons, to explore the world they lived in. They walked routes, sometimes simply gathering knowledge about new places, and when they returned they gave accounts of the ways they had trodden and the people and sights they had encountered. First this was by word of mouth, but with the introduction of paper in Baghdad in the 8th century, the first maps and travel guides could be produced.

Music

Al-Kindi
Al-Kindi

Do 20th century artists and singers know that much of their craft lies in the hands of Muslims from the 9th century? These artists, al-Kindi in particular, used musical notation: the system of writing down music. They also named the notes of a musical scale with syllables instead of letters, called solmization. These syllables make up the basic scale in music today and we are all familiar with doh, ray, me, far, so, la, tee. The Arabic alphabet for these notes is Dal, Ra, Mim, Fa, Sad, Lam, Sin. The phonetic similarity between today’s scale and the Arabic alphabet used in the 9th century is astonishing. On top of that, Muslims were also developing musical instruments.

Algebra

Algebra
Algebra

The word “algebra” comes from the title of a Persian mathematician’s famous 9th century treatise “Kitab al-Jabr Wa l-Mugabala” which roughly translates into “The Book of Reasoning and Balancing”. Al-Khwarizmi introduces the beginnings of the algebra. It’s important to understand just how significant this new idea was. In fact, it was a revolutionary move away from the Greek concept of mathematics, which was essentually based on geometry. The same mathematician, Al-Khwarizmi, was also the first to introduce the concept of raising a number to a power.

Written by Sumeyye Copoglu

Sumeyye Copoglu

Sumeyye Copoglu is 23 years old and studies Islamic theology at the Islamic University of Rotterdam. She is an artist, with a passion for culture and travel.

  • J&B Partnership

    That’s very impressive, of course, but why is there nothing in the last 800 years? What went wrong with Islam back then that brought Muslim scholarship and creativity to a halt?

    • abu

      They lost Islam that’s why they didn’t invent anything more

      • Arraik Cruor

        But civilisations without Islam invented things all the time and are still inventing. ‘Losing Islam’ is a stupid excuse to be honest.

        • Haseeb Yakub

          But muslim’s success is only with islam as Allah promised us.

          • Arundeep Chohan

            They couldn’t rip other people off anymore..

          • nushin youssefian

            KEEP BELIEVEING DARLING,NOTHING IS PROMISED. IT’S ALL A LIE,JUST LIKE YOUR 15 VIRGINS

          • Maffi Oxford

            Only 15 I thought it was 72 😂

          • Maffi Oxford

            Oh fuck off. Destruction is not success! Neither is rape!

        • nushin youssefian

          Arraik, Civilization was made from people who went against ISLAM. the WORLD INVENTED BEFORE ISLAM AND AFTER AND STILL INVENTING, MILLIONS OF NON- MUSLIMS INVENT. so what tha guy say is complete Horse shit. Muslims are useless

    • Lin

      Imperialism happened

      • J&B Partnership

        Imperialism existed long before, so that can’t be the reason. And the days of empire are over, not least the Ottoman Empire, but still there is no intellectual or technical innovation coming from the Muslim world.

    • Mohammed zaman

      Sorry wasn’t it a Muslim who co founded YouTube?
      Jawad Karim search it

      • Adrian

        Haha exactly, he didn’t invent it. He co founded it. Can you not give us an example which revolutionised modern life?

      • Maffi Oxford

        Maybe but that’s no big deal. Couldn’t do it on his own though could he?

    • Connor Larkin

      Inbreeding.

  • hakimghoula

    Great but you forgot Hospitals.

  • Josh

    You forgot that Indians, Chinese and Greeks knew these even before the term ‘Muslim’ was coined in the history.

  • DCW

    Most, if not all of these, have been debunked as complete fiction, with the discoveries having happened centuries before islam, or by other religious or social groups of the time

    • Toto

      Wrong. Those sources are not credible and nothing but Islamophobic propaganda. Muslims did indeed introduce the modern sciences. Westerners like Copernicus plagiarized from Ibn Shatir, Al-Tusi, etc. but did not give them credit. Western lies got to stop.

      • Maffi Oxford

        Be my guest, show us real proof!

        • Anti-dandruff

          Only thing Europeans created was gay porn. I still come across Europeans who don’t even wash their hands after visiting the bathroom u filthy pig skins. White people in Europe were still living in mud huts still trying to figure out how to make paper whilst cities like Baghdad had libraries. Go back to doing DNA testing to figure out who ur father is n don’t waste people’s time
          Here u filthy red neck

          • Maffi Oxford

            Well some acuracy in what you say would be nice. I dont leave the bathroom without washing my hands. Oh and I don’t drink camel piss either. Porn is subjective. At least we dont abuse little girls and boys as apart of our culture. Every Arab I met in Saudi asked me about porn.

            The library in Baghdad was Arabic it was not islamic. It was destroyed by islam as were most other depositorys of information/learning. A tenet of islam is to destroy all history/culture of the conquered land. Arabs may have done some wonderful things pre islam but post islam all they have done is destroy.

            Oh I am not a redneck. They reside in the US.

      • John Parker

        Sources are not credible?? than how are muslims sources credible.
        Open up your mind. If muslims really invented modern sciences than they would have continued to do so in last 800 years. The fact that they did not invent anything in last 800 years is enough proof that they just ruled previously non muslim societies and presented their work as their own.

  • Maffi Oxford

    During the rise of Islam to conquer the then known world they took all learning from those whom they attacked and claimed it as their own. As they do with Adam & Eve (the so called first moslems) and all the prophets. Even the Kabah was built on the foundation of a temple built long before Mo’s time.
    A simple statement in the koran that an embryo looks like a piece of chewed gum is their claim to ‘inventing’ gynaecology! Don’t make me laugh!!!

    • Ema Rock

      Do not make me laugh.

      • Maffi Oxford

        You are not paying attention.

  • nushin youssefian

    HAHAHAH BULLSHIT , FUCKING MUSLIMS TRYING TO SHOW OFF. I RESEARCHED EVERYTHING!!!! U FUCKING MUSLIMS DIDN’T DO SHIT!!! AND I RESEARCHED DEEPLY!!! IT DOESNT COME DIRECTLY FROM ”MUSLIM”, , BUT FROM PEOPLE WHO INTRODUCED THEM TO MUSLIMS AND THEN MUSLIMS TOOK CREDIT FOR IT! COFFEE= ===== Kaldi, noticing that when his goats were nibbling on the bright red berries of a certain bush, they became more energetic (jumping goats), chewed on the fruit himself. His exhilaration prompted him to bring the berries TO AN ISLAMIC MONK ( TO HIM ) in a nearby Sufi monastery (zawiyah),but the Sufi monk disapproved of their use and threw them into a fire, from which an enticing aroma billowed. The roasted beans were quickly raked from the embers, ground up, and dissolved in hot water, yielding the world’s first cup of coffee —- HA! YOU FUCKING MUSLIM IGNORANT EVEN THROW IT INTO THE FIRE! BUT THEN U LIKED IT AH???AND TOOK CREDIT FOR INVENTING IT???FUCK YOU PIECE OF SHIT

  • Stick With Facts

    1. Coffee
    From the Ethiopians, who are predominately Christian. Further, though Islam arose in the 7th century and coffee was invented in the 11th century, Islam did not take a foothold in Ethiopia until the 16th century.

    2. Clocks
    Sundials, the original clocks, predate Islam.

    3. Camera
    Invented by the Chinese in the 1st century. Predates Islam.

    4. Cleanliness
    I have yet to see a clean muslim

    I’m going to stop here so as not to embarrass the author and his lack of scholarship. The rest are easily debunked.

    Stop defending your stupid religion with lies.

  • Old Git

    i wondered what great invention had been born by the great people of muslim faith, so took to google and ended up on this page 🙂

    i wasted ten minuets reading a total load of bullshit. i wont waste another 20 minutes educating the author.
    maybe before you post any further total crap you could do some very basic research on the topic you wish to post. or maybe just stop posting till your knowledge reaches a point that it out weighs your stupidity.

    • Momminator

      And quite likely, if the time frames were accurate in this article, then they were the creations of Christians and Jews under conditions of Islamic slavery and/or dhimmitude.

  • HKoomy

    For the Islamophobics or maybe just haters, im not sure about some of those maybe the author did mention few needless stuff, HOWEVER before i even come here i first heard it from Niel Dagrass Tyson in Cosmos (Seth MacFarlane show) 2 Atheists great minds btw, about the Muslim invented Algebra, the number zero and Algorithms (and if u never heard of Arabic numerous then i dont know what to say), which revolutionized mathematics and astronomy if u dont know that math is the language of the Universe.
    And the medical tools (also from Egyptians most of the medical knowledge but not sure if they were muslim but middle eastern thats for sure)
    And the Camera, im not sure when i check Wikipedia it says invented by Chinese and then ibn al haytham wrote a book about optics but when u check ibn al haytham in Wikipedia it says hes the father of optics and the man that introduced the idea that light reflects from objects to our eye but also mentioned in Cosmos better check there since Wikipedia itself confused.
    Also two third of the named stars are named in Arabic but im not surprised u guys not knowing and denying it since George Bush said “our god named the stars in the universe” so if a president is that stupid im not surprised at all, oh and yes also Niel degrass tyson said that in one of hes lectures in the university of Washington in 2011
    So the most important stuff cant be debunked since its Fact, but for example cleaningness, im 100% sure many racist ignorant people will and did say something about us muslims being smelly or brown commenting about this, well i really dont have to prove this (its not even an invention and the author added it so its stupid) but id like to just say for those racist people, we are the only religion that have to pray five times a day and each time u have to wash ur hands, arms, mouth, nose, face, ears, hair, and feet with water before u pray and its called Wodooa, oh and also if u ejaculate (ejected seemen) u HAVE to take full shower before u even can enter any mosque or touch the quran, its very absurd that you people think Muslim so strictly dedicated when it comes to terrorism (its always muslims) but then when it come to hygiene nah they’re not that dedicated, true definition of hypocrisy

    Note: im not saying Niel dagrass tyson loves us im just saying he’s smart enough to recognize and appreciate facts whether if he personally liked it or not, and thats why i respect him of course other than the fact hes an amazing astrophysicist.

    So next time when u try debunk, i dont mind when its true but when u say (u didnt invent shit or u didnt do shit) even if u then say one true fact or more, ur basically debunking ur own statement with a false idiotic sentence full of hate.

  • Maxi Moline

    Bruh everyone need to chill in this convo

  • Bobloblaw

    As someone who has studied cartography (although only as a requirement for my bachelor in geography) her point about maps is a first for me. The ancient Greeks were making maps as were the Chinese in the 4th century and were already using paper to make them (paper was invented a few centuries before that). Aristotle made a map that showed the earth to be spherical and was only a few degrees of from modern maps. Muslims invented maps is something that I have never heard of before and she uses completely made up evidence to back up he claims. Also, a guy falling wearing a bird costume does not equal the invention of flying.

  • Jeff

    Watch Sam Harris’s “The Golden Age of Islam” Youtube video if you want to know what Islam has contributed to mankind in the past 1200 years.

  • Taha Khan

    i am Muslim and i am be ashamed because i try to find some thing what we give today world what we invent but i found nothing accept this bullshits. Muslim have to do something because all over the world islam is second biggest religion but we had no voice we millions died in iraq,syria,afghanistan,burma but we had no voice after we are 1.5 billion in the world …….why ?

  • John Parker

    Coffee: Surely coffee plant wasn’t invented by muslims. if its about how we consume coffee than its more like a food recipe than scientific discovery.
    Maps: were used long before islam
    Universities : Were there in indian vedic period(long before islam). Modern universities were later introduced by europeans. Not sure how muslims invented them.
    Cleanliness : doesn’t even count as invention imo
    Music: Muslims invented do re me??…. Sanskrit vedas provide mention of sargam (sanskrit version of music notes) long before islam was invented.
    Flying machine: Well according to the author muslims invented the flying machine that did not work. Somebody please make a non working time machine or muslims will take the credit for inventing time machine as well.