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From The Middle Age To The Renaissance: Why Doesn’t The West Acknowledge Muslim Contribution?

The term ‘renaissance’ means ‘rebirth’ in French and refers to the social and cultural changes in Europe during the 14th and 16th century. It is, therefore, the revival of classical literature and arts of Rome and Ancient Greece.

The Renaissance was characterized by the birth of the spirit of humanism and celebrated individual achievements. Salient features were humanism, nationalism, a new approach to life, architecture, literature, scientific investigation, which led to the uplifting of the society.

However, this development in culture and socio-economic norms of Europe and the West could not have been possible without the advancements made by the Muslim scholars and scientists during the Middle Age or medieval times.

One might wonder if the medieval times were of any good. It was not a period of enlightenment for the West, as the Roman Empire had lost its control and was falling apart. However, on the other side of the world, Muslim scientists were progressing with their passion to learn, prudence, determination to complete their goals and their will to learn and quench their curiosity.

Al-Khwarzimi emerged as the Father of Algebra, Abbas ibn Firnas made the first attempt of glider flight, Fatima bint Muhammad Al-Fihriya Al-Qurashiya established the first education institution in the world. Al-Jazari invented the clock, Ibn al-Haitham revolutionised optics and devised the camera, Abul Qasim Khalaf ibn al-Abbad al-Zahrawi invented surgical instruments, Al-Khwarizmi founded algebra, Muhammad al-Idrisi was the first cartographer, Ismail al-Jazari pioneered mechanical engineering, Ibn-al-Nafis was the first to describe the pulmonary circulation of the blood, Ibn Sina was the father of early modern medicine, Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi was the pioneer of neurosurgery, Al-kindi worked on music therapy, Ahmed ibn Sahl al-Balkhi developed cognitive psychology and Abu Rayhan al-Biruni was the father of Indology or South Asian studies, among others.

The western civilisation never accepted the services rendered by Muslim scientists and scholars in enriching the society with their experiments, calculations, inventions and discoveries. There has always been a lack of acknowledgment and admiration coming from the West for Muslim scholars who used their creativity, determination and the single-minded resolution for the quest for knowledge to make discoveries and unearth the answers of the questions about the mysteries of life and science.

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While the middle ages or the medieval times in Europe was lacking any sort of innovation, it was the Islamic world in the present-day Middle East, Persia and in the eastern hemisphere where Muslim scholars were doing wonders in their pursuit of knowledge. Under the rule and reign of the Umayyads of Cordoba, the Abbadids of Seville, the Samanids, the Ziyarids, the Buyids in Persia, the Abbasid Caliphate and beyond – a period from 800 to 1250 – Islamic achievements in science and medicine, engineering and physics, chemistry and geography and in dozens of other subjects is noteworthy.

It is interesting to note that even if the West does not discuss much of its own relative non-existence during the Middle Ages in the field of science, it hides away whatever advancements Muslim scholars had achieved during that era. What Europe saw as the Middle Ages and a period of darkness and defeat, the Muslim world saw it as a golden age. It was the time when Muslim scholars were at the prime of their knowledge and were extracting whatever information they could from life and experience. They were asking questions, challenging the reality, doing research and enlightening themselves and their society with facts, figures, procedures and processes that were complex, unheard of at that time, were next to impossible and that changed the very future of this world.

Impossible and incredible feats of determining the mass of the Earth, movement of planets, revealing processes in biology and zoology, music therapy, medical surgeries, map-making, advancement in optics and other feats were performed by thoughtful planning, trial and error at a time when other humans were unaware of such fields of study.

The careful formation of a thought process among the Muslims during the Middle Ages facilitating them to study all fields of life and science was nothing short of a miracle.

Furthermore, these Muslim scholars did not reside in one country but were spread across the world and belonged to Spain, Persia, Iraq, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Oman, Central Asia, Tunisia, Iran and other parts of the globe.

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The western civilisation, once it came out of the many social predicaments, built on the discoveries and inventions of Muslim scholars to call them their own. Therefore, the renaissance era which the west is so proud of is heavily indebted to the Muslim scholars of the Middle Ages.

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