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1001 Islamic Inventions 1034

Posted by Roblimo
from the innovations-come-from-everywhere dept.
pev writes "There's a new traveling exhibition in the UK entitled 1001 inventions. It contains some of the most interesting inventions from the past few thousand years. The common theme, however, is that they all came from the Islamic world and not the west. In some cases [the list is] quite surprising. For the lazy, the Independent newspaper in the UK printed their top 20 from the exhibition."
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1001 Islamic Inventions

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  • But... (Score:5, Informative)

    by tsa (15680) on Monday March 13, 2006 @10:23AM (#14907034) Homepage
    Mohammed lived a few hundred years after Jesus, so the Islam can never be more than 1.5 thousand years old!
    • Re:But... (Score:3, Informative)

      by stupidfoo (836212)
      570 AD [wikipedia.org]
    • Re:But... (Score:5, Funny)

      by caliph_salahuddin (695795) on Monday March 13, 2006 @10:41AM (#14907193)
      Actually Islam didn't start with Mohammed. This is a fairly common misconception. It actually started with Adam & Eve. Mohammed didn't 'found' Islam, he is merely the last Prophet and perfected it.
      • Re:But... (Score:4, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 13, 2006 @10:47AM (#14907269)
        >> perfected

        Yeah. Perfect.
      • Re:But... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by v0x0j (99584) on Monday March 13, 2006 @11:00AM (#14907397)
        Mohammed didn't 'found' Islam, he is merely the last Prophet and perfected it.
        Yeah, like Bobby Henderson did not 'found' Flying Spaghetti Monster - FSM actually found Bobby Henderson. Or L. Ron Hubbard did not start scientology, it started when Xenu thrown thetans into hawaiian volcanos or did something equaly fscked up.
        • Re:But... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by fatphil (181876) on Monday March 13, 2006 @12:12PM (#14908066) Homepage
          No, exactly not like that.

          Islam, as its holy tracts, includes (some subset of*) the Hebrew and the Christian testaments. Mohammed added very little, volume-wise, to the corpus. Bugger all, in reality, as it was people 100-200 years after Mohammed who were the creative ones** in their compilation of FoaF-attested Suras.

          FP.
          [* Likewise, Judaism only accepts a subset of the books into its current version of the official list; and Christianity only accepts a _tiny_ subset - there are several dozen Gospels that have bubbled into and out of popularity over the last 2 millennia, not just 4, for example.]
          [** Just like Christianity.]
          • Re:But... (Score:5, Informative)

            by operagost (62405) on Monday March 13, 2006 @01:46PM (#14908969) Homepage Journal
            The other "Christian gospels" were left out because they are historically inaccurate and contradictory. Also, some may be called "Christian" but they were really created by Gnostics who predate Christianity and modified some Christian concepts for their own uses, much like Mohammed did.
      • Re:But... (Score:4, Informative)

        by Zenmonkeycat (749580) on Monday March 13, 2006 @12:59PM (#14908514)
        Why is this "funny?" I think that's one of the fundamental ideas behind Islam. If I remember correctly, Adam and Eve were both supposed to have been the first "muslims," living under God's (Allah's) laws before the fall, and Mohammed simply rediscovered those laws and made people follow them again. Whether or not you believe it is a matter of faith, but I wouldn't consider it "funny."
        • Agreed (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Billly Gates (198444) on Monday March 13, 2006 @02:13PM (#14909215) Journal
          Look at his name? It sounds kind of arabic so my guess is he could be a muslim.

          I am not a muslim but I do hear them talk about allah being with mohammed with x, and then with noah with y, just as he was with adam.

          Its part of their belief structure to incorporate islam as the extension of judiasm after it became corrupt(muslim belief).To a muslim its the truth and mohammed came to be set the true faith again.

    • Re:But... (Score:5, Funny)

      by arvindn (542080) on Monday March 13, 2006 @10:45AM (#14907246) Homepage Journal
      Islam can never be more than 1.5 thousand years old!

      Come on! A thousand years from now, Islam will clearly be more than 1.5 thousand years old ;^)

      [I'm actually surprised no one beat me to it.]

    • Re:But... (Score:5, Informative)

      by pnewhook (788591) on Monday March 13, 2006 @10:46AM (#14907256)

      No, Mohammed didn't create the religion, he's just the last prophet.

      Similarly, Jesus didn't really create Christianity, he was Jewish. The Jews that became Christians decided that Jesus was the son of God as foretold in the old Testament, while the rest of the Jews decided that he was just another prophet and the true son of God hadn't come yet.

      Christianity traces its roots to before Christ, just as Islam traces its roots to a time before Mohammed.

      • Uh, no... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Dh2000 (71834) on Monday March 13, 2006 @11:32AM (#14907677) Journal
        Jews did not and do not believe a "son of God" is coming back. Some do believe in a messiah, but that's completely different.

        Christians like to read a lot into the Old Testament that isn't there.

      • Re:But... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by c_forq (924234) <forquerc+slash@gmail.com> on Monday March 13, 2006 @11:56AM (#14907919)
        Jesus didn't really create Christianity

        I would have to disagree with this. Jesus's teachings went beyond the messiah prophesied by Isiah, and he did start a new religion (you know those stories about new wine and old wine skins, and you know that whole this third cup is a new cup now thing).

        rest of the Jews decided that he was just another prophet and the true son of God hadn't come yet.

        This is very telling. One of the main reasons that Jesus was dismissed by many as the messiah is because of his claim to be the son of God. The prophesies of the messiah say nothing about it being God's son. The jews are waiting for the messiah, not for God's son.

        Christianity traces its roots to before Christ, just as Islam traces its roots to a time before Mohammed.

        Christianity traces its roots to Christ. Before Christ it is judaism, and it is not Christian history but Jewish history. Now Jewish history is important to Christianity, but labeling it as christian roots is a bit like labeling British history as American roots (which while is important to America there are many more influences then just the British).
    • Noticed also. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by alexhs (877055) on Monday March 13, 2006 @10:46AM (#14907260) Homepage Journal
      For one it is yet another misleading headline, briefly checking in TFA those inventions came later than Mahomet.

      However it doesn't make sense to me to associate those inventions from Arabs, Persians, Ottomans, ... to some religion, especially as these articles do not seem to cover other culture and civilization aspects and influences at all.

      It's just about a book with fancy colours illustrating inventions from parts of the world where Islam is the main religion now.
      • Re:Noticed also. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tabdelgawad (590061)
        The association of these inventions to a religion comes from the fact that Islam was the uniting force that led to the formation of an empire. This probably resulted in economic growth and the formation of markets that made these inventions possible.

        Some of the inventions may have been spurred directly by religious motives. I'm sure the interest in astronomy had to do with the adoption of a lunar calendar and the need to determine prayer times, for example. Other inventions probably had more to do with w
        • Re:Noticed also. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by The Cydonian (603441) on Monday March 13, 2006 @12:11PM (#14908059) Homepage Journal
          There's a huge tract of scientific literature out there that credits a pan Greco-Chaldean (that's Greeks, Romans, Bactrians, ancient Persians, Indo-Greeks some of who may or may not have been Muslim; the Indo-Greeks of Gandhara, or Kandhahar, as the city is now known, were Buddhist, for instance) tradition with most of the astronomic contributions lately. For instance, it was the Greco-Chaldeans who introduced solar measurements into Indic astronomy, with the result that South Asians stopped following a five-year yuga-cycle, and instead started following the solar-yearly samvatsara instead.

          As such, to account for Al Kharismi's genius and Omar Khayyam's literary talent to their religion is as short-sighted as saying Einstein was brilliant because he was a Jew. At their respective zeniths, Islamic centers of excellence such as Istanbul, Baghdad or Kabul weren't solely Muslim; they were uniquely multi-cultural unlike the west European centers of power then. Civilizational excellence knows no religion, only regional decay does.

      • Re:Noticed also. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by eck011219 (851729)
        Agreed. However, I suspect what's happening here is that the exhibit curators are trying desperately to remind people that now-Muslim peoples are not just terrorist monsters. I think it's probably a quite sloppy and amateurish but very well-meant attempt by academics to use what they have at their fingertips (a bunch of antiquities and information) to prove to the western world that people we now think of as Muslims are not all simply religious fundamentalists or zealots.

        Again, I do think it's sloppy and mi
      • Re:Noticed also. (Score:5, Informative)

        by mnmn (145599) on Monday March 13, 2006 @12:34PM (#14908280) Homepage
        I agree.

        I'm Muslim, but I'm certainly not an Arab. For some reason Muslims are always associated with Arabs. Most Muslims are NOT Arabs.

        My ancestor civilization was associated with the invention of guns and paper money, but since they were not Arab, those inventions will not be listed as Muslims.

        OTOH Arab inventions since before the time of Mohammed are listed. To really know Muslims, you have to travel to Indonesia, Pakistan, Iran, Central Asia, Africa and Turkey as well as Arabia.
      • Re:Noticed also. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by NeoOokami (528323) <neowolf@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Monday March 13, 2006 @03:31PM (#14909964) Homepage
        It's fairly note worthy historically to remind us that while the West was in it's period lovingly referred to as the dark ages, where where we'd lost most of our Greek heritage (such as the works of Aristotle) and religion was maintaining a stranglehold on free thought; Islam was fostering a period of intellectual thinking, and scientific progress. Of course it's also worth mentioning that as the dark ages broke into the Renaissance, Islam entered a sort of decline leading to their own dark ages with the exact same problem of religion dominating free thought.
  • by voice_of_all_reason (926702) on Monday March 13, 2006 @10:24AM (#14907046)
    "Party happy long time boom boom belt" is in the top 20, right?
  • Computer Science 101 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 13, 2006 @10:25AM (#14907050)
    Remember we owe the "Algorithm" to a dude who was writing 'programs' 800 years before Ada Loveleace and Alan Turing were about.
    • by Burb (620144) on Monday March 13, 2006 @10:42AM (#14907210)
      Not quite. The dude in question was a talented mathematician, one of those responsible for introducing the concept of hindu-arabic numeration to the middle east and, later, to the west. But the attribution of a corruption of his name to the concept of algorithm is a historical accident. From wikipedia: "The word algorithm comes from the name of the 9th century Persian mathematician Abu Abdullah Muhammad bin Musa al-Khwarizmi. The word algorism originally referred only to the rules of performing arithmetic using Hindu-Arabic numerals but evolved via European Latin translation of al-Khwarizmi's name into algorithm by the 18th century. The word evolved to include all definite procedures for solving problems or performing tasks."
      • by Otter (3800)
        And, while we're bursting politically correct bubbles -- there's no evidence that Ada Lovelace "wrote programs" either. She contributed a bit to Charles Babbage's work, but the idea that she was the coder behind his enterprise is pure myth.
  • It's sad . . . (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 13, 2006 @10:26AM (#14907059)

    . . . when a group of people lets all of their scientific achievements throughout history become overshadowed by religious fundamentalism. Let's hope we don't end up going down the same route here in the States.

    (It's even more sad when I have to post anonymously for fear that people who disagree with my post might interpret it to be against their version of Islam and harm myself and my family).

    • Re:It's sad . . . (Score:4, Insightful)

      by teslar (706653) on Monday March 13, 2006 @10:47AM (#14907270)
      Let's hope we don't end up going down the same route here in the States.
      What, like ending up with leaders who claim [bbc.co.uk] that God told them to go to War with other countries?
      • Re:It's sad . . . (Score:5, Insightful)

        by chill (34294) on Monday March 13, 2006 @11:12AM (#14907511) Journal
        What, like ending up with leaders who claim that God told them to go to War with other countries?

        Yes, but in the United States we can vote him out because a U.S. President is limited to two four-year terms. Contrast that with those in power in most of the Middle East and Africa, not to mention several places in Asia, Cuba and S. America. How long was Saddam in power? How many countries in Asia, the M.E. and Africa have had peaceful transitions of governments?

        At least with G.W. Bush you know he'll be gone after 2008.

          -Charles
        • yeah, but he'll be replaced by someone with the same policies, so its really no different.
        • vote him out?? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Comboman (895500)
          Yes, but in the United States we can vote him out because a U.S. President is limited to two four-year terms.

          What do term limits have to do with voting someone out? I agree, term limits are a good thing and unfortunately the only thing that will get rid of Bush (since he has been able to fix the last two elections), but they have nothing to do with voting. That's why they work so well; they require no effort on the part of the lazy, uninformed electorate.

        • Re:It's sad . . . (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Minwee (522556)
          "Yes, but in the United States we can vote him out"

          That's what you all said two years ago.

          "At least with G.W. Bush you know he'll be gone after 2008."

          And then it will be eight years of President Cheney. I feel so much better now.

      • Re:It's sad . . . (Score:4, Insightful)

        by NitsujTPU (19263) on Monday March 13, 2006 @01:22PM (#14908753)
        That was pretty much what he said. Sheesh, you know Slashdot's gone down the toilet when an anti-Bushism nagging that another Anti-Bushism wasn't quite anti-Bush enough gets modded insightful.

        I wonder if we'll ever talk about technology on this site again.
  • Nothing after 1300 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LeonGeeste (917243) on Monday March 13, 2006 @10:27AM (#14907064) Journal
    Nothing on the list came from after 1300 CE/AD. What does that tell you?
    • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Monday March 13, 2006 @10:42AM (#14907205) Homepage Journal
      The Mongols.
  • by MyDixieWrecked (548719) on Monday March 13, 2006 @10:27AM (#14907071) Homepage Journal
    That's hilarious that they had this to say:

    Baghdad international airport and a crater on the Moon are named after him.

    about the muslim who attempted to build a flying machine.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 13, 2006 @10:28AM (#14907077)
    Those inventions were created by people, not by Islam. Islam is merely a religion, and hence useless and incapable of anything at except stroking peoples emotions (for good or bad).

    Those are human inventions.
    • by tjic (530860) on Monday March 13, 2006 @10:56AM (#14907353) Homepage

      Islam is merely a religion


      Islam is not *merely* a religion; it is a combined religion, culture, and political system, in a way that western religions are not. The Bible has been translated into hundreds of languages - the Koran is *inherently* an Arabic document, and - it is argued -can not be translated, but only glossed in other languages. Christianity and Judaism speak to morality and salvation, but do not specify the political system. Islam does, and specifies crimes, punishments, etc.

      From time to time other Western religions have taken control of the apparatus of governments, and resulted in theocracy. In Islam, this is not an abberation - it is a key tenet of the politico-religious philosophy.
      • by uradu (10768) on Monday March 13, 2006 @11:11AM (#14907497)
        > Christianity and Judaism speak to morality and salvation, but do not specify
        > the political system. Islam does, and specifies crimes, punishments, etc.

        I beg your pardon? I guess you haven't read the Bible much, especially the Old Testament. It does very much outline the framework of a political and social system, complete with excruciating detail regarding crimes and their punishment. That we choose not to structure our societies according to those rules ANYMORE is an entirely different matter. Christianity and Islam are a lot similar than you would like to think, and were even more so before the Reformation. Islam merely haven't had their Martin Luther (yet).
      • by OwnedByTwoCats (124103) on Monday March 13, 2006 @12:13PM (#14908075)
        Your thesis is interesting.

        Unfortunately, the nations with the most muslims are not places where arabic is spoken. India is number one, Indonesia is number two, and Pakistan is number three.
    • Those inventions were created by people, not by Islam. Islam is merely a religion, and hence useless and incapable of anything at except stroking peoples emotions (for good or bad).

      Yet the relative social order and stability brought about by the Baghdad caliphate was sufficient to allow some branches of science advance. That order ended with the Abbasid dynasty in 1200's with the Mongol invasions. Since then much of the middle east has been a backwater. The Sharia no longer serves Muslim civilization we

    • Those inventions were created by people, not by Islam.

      The point is merely that these were created by a society in which Islam was the predominant religion. That's historically and sociologically interesting, demonstrating that in the general case Islam is not incompatible with an inventive society, and raising questions like "How the hell did things get so screwed up over there?", "Can the same sort of screwing-up happen to societies where Christianity is the predominant religion?", and "What is the wo

  • by briancarnell (94247) on Monday March 13, 2006 @10:29AM (#14907083) Homepage
    Odd that the person who submitted this is surprised that the inventions are from the Islamic world. Anyone who knows anything about the history of the regions whose inventions are included here knows there were a lot of innovations created in the first 500-600 years after the founding of Islam.

    The problem is that such inventiveness and scholarly pursuits largely stopped/stagnated as Muslim countries and culture turned inward.
  • by jcostantino (585892) on Monday March 13, 2006 @10:31AM (#14907102) Homepage
    Flying carpet

    Magic Lamp

    (rimshot)

  • by Otter (3800) on Monday March 13, 2006 @10:32AM (#14907104) Journal
    To sum this up, even if myth is treated as fact, the Muslim world has accomplished essentially nothing in the last 500 years. I'd regard this as less "surprising" than depressing.
  • Islamic? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thenetbox (809459) on Monday March 13, 2006 @10:33AM (#14907115)
    I don't know why the word "Islamic" is attached to this article.

    Just like terrorism isn't "Islamic", these inventions aren't necessarily Islamic either.

    The religion of the inventor had nothing to do with these inventions.
    • Re:Islamic? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by radtea (464814) on Monday March 13, 2006 @11:05AM (#14907438)

      The religion of the inventor had nothing to do with these inventions.

      The religion of the inventor doesn't matter so much as the culture they lived in, which is completely unrelated to the predominant religion. This can easily be demonstrated empirically.

      Culture in the sense I mean it has far more to do with the specific beliefs and institutions that dominate a given society, not the abstract generalizations that a word like "Islam" or "Christianity" captures. There have throughout history been "Christian" nations that have been violent, oppressive, belligerant totalitarian states (consider the England of Elizabeth I), and "Christian" nations that have been peaceful, enlightened and liberal (consider modern Denmark). Islam has been the dominant religion in a similarly diverse set of cultures, from the relatively enlightened caliphates of the middle ages to dark age tribal societies like Afghanistan under the Taliban.

      Empirically, religion has literally nothing to do with culture.

      But culture certainly has something to do with intellectual achievement. 20th century Russia was a major force in mathematics not so much because Russians had a genetic proclivity for mathematical prowess (as certain crazed pseudo-evolutionists might want to argue) but because it was a lot harder to get into trouble with Communist Party doctrine as a pure mathematician than as a physicist (who might wind up using "Jewish physics" like relativity or quantum mechanics) or as a biologist (who might run afoul of Lysenko).

      And all that "Jewish physics" was done by Jews in part because it was easier for them to get chairs in theoretical physics in early 20th century Europe than in experimental physics, because theoretical physics just wasn't seen as being all that important or interesting.

      On the more positive side, I've always felt that Newton was archetypally English, for his time--he had the grandiose sweep of Contential intellectuals combined with the practical, detail-oriented, hair-splitting obsessiveness of the great medieval English logicians and experimentalists. And the world he grew up in was one where all the walls had been torn down, where a king had been beheaded in living memory, where any kind of radically intellectual restructuring must have seemed possible.

      But while culture and poltics can contribute to an inventor's success, it is the individual who matters in the end.
  • by syphax (189065) on Monday March 13, 2006 @10:35AM (#14907140) Journal
    Arab/Muslim societies produced some fantastic engineering in their day, much of which is described in the dry but quite informative A History of Engineering in Classical and Medieval Times [amazon.com].

    For reasons that I don't understand, the Christian and Muslim worlds seem to have flip-flopped regarding the dominance of religion vs. rational thought somewhere in the past 200-500 years. Of course this is a great over-simplification, but it's worth remembering that there was a time when the Arab world was the center of learning and enlightenment in the non-eastern-Asian world (I phrase it like that b/c I don't want to flamebait the Indians or Chinese).
    • by Frangible (881728) on Monday March 13, 2006 @11:31AM (#14907670)
      The reason is the relative age differences in each religion; Islam right now is about the same relative age of Christianity during the Dark Ages. Teachings have strayed far from what the prophet Mohammad wrote, and the various formal organizations have placed their word above that of the Koran and prophet. Much was the same in the case of the Catholic church, at the same point in Christianity's relative age, until Martin Luther worked to change that by denouncing the Church's "interpretive" teachings, returning to a more Biblical viewpoint, aiding the understanding of the common man with the small catechism, and those of the clergy with the large catechism.

      And unfortunately I think the fallout of this is becoming all too appearent. The Koran records Mohammad as stating:

      Only argue with the People of the Book in the kindest way - except in the case of those of them who do wrong - saying, 'We have Faith in what has been sent down to us and what was sent down to you. Our God and your God are one and we submit to Him. (Surat al-`Ankabut; 29:46).

      Islam at various points in history was actually much more tolerant than Christianity during its day. Mohammad did indeed show tolerance to Christians and Jews, and for a while even Jews were shown acceptance, reversing a long conflict that began over land before Islam existed. Saladin during the Crusades was not only a brilliant commander, but a very reasonable and tolerant guy, and those kind of values actually spurred the rise of chivalry in Europe.

      Unfortunately it seems the "people of the book" are still a long ways off from following it, but the British have done good work here and it is exactly these type of things that can help reverse the dehumanization of our fellow man that has taken place lately. Hopefully as Islam ages, they will abandon many of the precepts created by man as was the case during the great schism in Christianity, but it is a two-way street, and more Christians will also have to think more like Jesus and Tom Fox than we have been. I think that within each religion of the "people of the book" lies a path to peace, the question is how many more deaths it will take before we can all find it.

    • by Ugmo (36922) on Monday March 13, 2006 @01:35PM (#14908858)
      For reasons that I don't understand, the Christian and Muslim worlds seem to have flip-flopped regarding the dominance of religion vs. rational thought somewhere in the past 200-500 years. Of course this is a great over-simplification, but it's worth remembering that there was a time when the Arab world was the center of learning and enlightenment in the non-eastern-Asian world (I phrase it like that b/c I don't want to flamebait the Indians or Chinese).

      I, too, find this an interesting observation and have recently read a great deal about the mediteranean world between the fall of Rome and 1000 A.D, during which Islam became a powerful force, culturally and politically and Europe declined. This period was followed by the Crusades, when European contact with Islam brought about an infusion of many of the ideas and inventions mentioned in the article. The period 1000-1500 seems to be a point at which the European and Islamic cultures were neck and neck after which the Europeans pulled ahead during the Rennaisance and the Enlightenment.

      During the first period, The Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) suffered from some early defeats due to un-preparedness and bad policy decisions. Also a sort of hubris. They thought, "We're the ROMAN EMPIRE, a bunch of desert tribes can't mess with us, they'll go away if we pay them off". What happened next is key, I believe. It became a popular idea in the Eastern Roman Empire that the reason they were repeatedly defeated by the Muslims was because they had strayed from the favor of God. This is an idea they got from the Old Testemant of the Bible which on a number of occasions said that Israel was defeated (e.g. the Babylonian captivity) because the people had strayed from proper religious observance. In Byzantium people decided that icons, for example, were a violation of the rule against idol worship and that by destroying icons they would regain the favor of God thereby turning the tide and begin winning battles against the Muslims. In reality, the iconoclastic movement caused civil war further weakening Byzantium.

      The tide began to turn against Islam, about 1500 ironically, just after the complete defeat and capture of Byzantium. Actually, Islam was as strong and as healthy as ever at that time but Europe began to grow and expand through exploration and experimentation and this lead to their advancement and Islam's RELATIVE decline. They began to think like the former Eastern Roman Empire. They had just conquered Constantinople (now Istanbul), their goal for 700 years, the greatest city in the world (in the Turk's mind). The rest of Europe were a bunch of barabrians by comparison and would fall eventually.

      In more recent times, as you mention the last 200 years, Islam has fallen behind (really they just never advanced, they stagnated). Currently, they are looking around and saying. "Why are we not as great as we once were?" and some are coming up with the same answer the Byzantines did. Some believe that they are not religiously observant enough and that if they get fundamentalist enough they will win back the favor of God and start to defeat the West.

      After 9/11 some of the American fundamentalist preachers tried to pull the same B.S. They said that 9/11 was a punishment by God because we listen to Rock and Roll and try to legalise gay marriage etc. We also have been trying to restrict the free flow of people (locking out foreign students) and ideas (the fight against teaching evolution in schools, though this is not directly connected 9/11). The point is, a resting on our laurels attitude and a turning away from cultural growth and economic expansion and towards ignorance, stagnation and fundamentalism could weaken the U.S as much as it did the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires before it.

      The Byzantines, the Muslims and the American fundametalists were all wrong. What wins in the long run is openess to new ideas, economic expansion and not resting on your former glory.

      Religious fundamentalism and internal fighting only weaken cultures. God won't come to our rescue if we all become vegitareans. God helps those who help themselves.
  • by mikejz84 (771717) on Monday March 13, 2006 @10:36AM (#14907154)
    I looked over the sites, and i find something intresting: The complete lack of any modern innovations. This project has completely backfired, instead of trying to promote Islamic society, it has proven the harsh reality that the middle-east is centeries behind the developed world.
  • From TFA (Score:5, Informative)

    by obender (546976) on Monday March 13, 2006 @10:41AM (#14907195)
    The windmill was invented in 634 for a Persian caliph

    The moslems only attacked Persia in 638. It seems to me that at least one of these inventions have nothing to do with Islam.

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Monday March 13, 2006 @10:42AM (#14907211) Journal
    Because I could have sworn that Islam isn't thousands of years old.

    While it is difficult to spot exactly where the islamic fate starts in history most people seem to assume it starts with the prophet Muhammad.

    Who came a good 700 years after Jesus Christ who himself came from a fate even older. If you go back several thousand years the only bible fate around that is still around (as far as I know) are the Jews.

    Wich means that most of the inventions claimed here are in fact not made by muslims but either by their predecessors (christians or jews) OR one of the many other fates that used to exist in the world.

    It always suprises me when people talk about the rich history of the middle east and attribute it to Islam when in fact islam had next to nothing to do with it. Just check islamic attitudes to the great pyramids.

    When an article already makes a basic mistake by attributing achievements to a fate that happened hundreds of years earlier I smell propoganda. Would be like attributing the Great Wall to the Chinese Communist Party.

    Same region, same ethnic people but totally different nonetheless.

    Basically this whole things sound to me like, thousands of years ago when the world was totally different some guy invented a thing wich was kinda of usefull so now a whole group of religious freaks must be liked despite the fact that everything they say and do is exactly against the believes of that guy thousands of years ago.

    No thanks. I just judge muslims by the ones I meet in daily life.

    My greatest problem with the muslims in general is that they never seem to have heard of the saying "what is good for the goose is good for the gander" (what goes for you goes for me). Take the recent riots over those danish cartoons. Arab media have spouted hate for decades but that is alright. One rule for the muslims, another for the rest of the world. No thank you.

    The only thing I know that in holland a mere 3-4% of the population seems to be in the news 80% of the time. You can turn on the tv without some program about them. Enough already.

    Oh, and those who think that hatred against muslims is extreme right. Consider this. What do nazi's hate? Homosexuals, equal rights for women, jews, etc. What do muslims hate?

    Those lefties defending muslims bashing gays and supressing womens mystify me. Sometimes the enemy of your enemy is your enemy as well. Just because your against Bush doesn't mean you have to be pro muslim.

  • by MadTinfoilHatter (940931) on Monday March 13, 2006 @10:43AM (#14907219)

    From TFA: By the 9th century, many Muslim scholars took it for granted that the Earth was a sphere. The proof, said astronomer Ibn Hazm, "is that the Sun is always vertical to a particular spot on Earth". It was 500 years before that realisation dawned on Galileo.

    The fact that the Earth was round (contrary to popular belief) was not big news in the 9th century. The ancient Greeks knew very well that the Earth was a sphere, and they too had calculated the circumference with surprising accuracy several centuries B.C. (not to mention before Mohammed). Also Galileo wasn't controversial because he claimed the Earth was round - it was because he claimed that the Earth revolved around the sun, and not vice versa. Sigh.

  • by l2718 (514756) on Monday March 13, 2006 @10:45AM (#14907244)
    At #18, the Guardian notes that by the 9th century Muslim astronomers knew the Earth was round and had measured the circumference. The writer conveniently omits to mention that more than a thousand years before, the greek philosopher Eratosthenese [wikipedia.org] has already done that. Certainly Muslim astronomy of the 9th century was far more advanced than European astronomy of the same time, but this article smacks to me of an attempt to say "everything was invented by a Islam". This is strengthed by #14 where they say "the zero was invented in India, but we use arabic numerals". I submit that the shape of the numerals is not very important, while the decimal notation and especially the concept of zero are the major invention here.
  • by Hays (409837) on Monday March 13, 2006 @10:49AM (#14907287)
    From their list:
    18) By the 9th century, many Muslim scholars took it for granted that the Earth was a sphere. The proof, said astronomer Ibn Hazm, "is that the Sun is always vertical to a particular spot on Earth". It was 500 years before that realisation dawned on Galileo. The calculations of Muslim astronomers were so accurate that in the 9th century they reckoned the Earth's circumference to be 40,253.4km - less than 200km out. The scholar al-Idrisi took a globe depicting the world to the court of King Roger of Sicily in 1139.

    But as I understand it, the Egyptian Eratosthenes had discovered this same thing 11 centuries earlier:
    http://outreach.as.utexas.edu/marykay/assignments/ eratos1.html [utexas.edu]

    Galileo was responsible for many great discoveries, but I've never seen anyone claim that he discovered the Earth was round. Many argue that a round world was common knowledge in Europe, despite what their maps might make us believe.
  • "qamara" obscura (Score:5, Informative)

    by ebcdic (39948) on Monday March 13, 2006 @10:50AM (#14907295)
    I'm very doubtful of the claim that the term "camera obscura" comes from an Arabic word "qamara", since it is a Latin phrase meaning "dark chamber", and the Latin word comes from the Greek "kamara".
  • by kh+ln (947238) on Monday March 13, 2006 @11:05AM (#14907435)
    I read the "Top 20" article and found the following inaccuracies that warrant clarification:
    3 A form of chess was played in ancient India but the game was developed into the form we know it today in Persia. From there it spread westward to Europe - where it was introduced by the Moors in Spain in the 10th century - and eastward as far as Japan. The word rook comes from the Persian rukh, which means chariot.
    The Indian game mentioned is Pachisi [wikipedia.org], precursor to the Americanized Parcheesi [wikipedia.org] "Royal Game of India"
    14 The system of numbering in use all round the world is probably Indian in origin but the style of the numerals is Arabic and first appears in print in the work of the Muslim mathematicians al-Khwarizmi and al-Kindi around 825...Algorithms and much of the theory of trigonometry came from the Muslim world.
    The system of numbering commonly called "Arabic Numerals" is now deprecated, and in fact, reads Hindu Arabic Numerals [wikipedia.org] as the article alludes to. Trigonometry was first discovered much earlier (by nearly 1000 years) by the Indians [wikipedia.org],Egyptians, & Greeks. Arab scholars recognized it as a distinct branch 2000 years later.

    I note a trend: the Arabs, perhaps because of their geographic location at the crossroads of the East and West, are bound to discover many new and exciting ideas and teaching from their neighbors. They were in pretty good company (Greco-Roman thoughts to the West, Indian thoughts to the East) so they are bound to pick up something.

  • From TFA: (Score:3, Informative)

    by PFI_Optix (936301) on Monday March 13, 2006 @11:19AM (#14907571) Journal
    One of the top 20 was Chess.

    First of all, Persian != Islamic. Second, Chess predates Islam.
  • by LS (57954) on Monday March 13, 2006 @11:49AM (#14907843) Homepage
    As others have commented, this list should probably be described as Arabic inventions, and not Islamic.

    Also, I notice that the tone of the Slashdot story and the comments in this article is rather antagonistic and condescending. I am reminded of Chris Rock's standup routine, when he talks about how white people viewed Colin Powell's possible run for presidency:

    "Whenever Colin Powell is on the news, white people give him the same compliments: 'How do you feel about Colin Powell?', 'He speaks so well! He's so well spoken. I mean he really speaks so well!' Like that's a compliment, shit. 'He speaks so well' is not a compliment, okay? 'He speaks so well' is some shit you say about retarded people that can talk. What do you mean he speaks so well? He's a fucking educated man, how the fuck you expect him to sound, you dirty motherfucker? 'He speaks so well.' What are you talking about? What voice were you expecting to come out of his mouth? 'Imma drop me a bomb today', 'Imma be Pwez o dent!'."

    LS
  • by Tsu Dho Nimh (663417) <abacaxi.hotmail@com> on Monday March 13, 2006 @12:21PM (#14908151)

    " Children in Turkey were vaccinated with cowpox to fight the deadly smallpox at least 50 years before the West discovered it."

    This is just plain WRONG! The practice of deliberately infecting people with SMALLPOX (not cowpox) from a mild case to make them immune (variolation) was a process developed sometime around the 10th century in China and/or India. It involved taking pus from the pox of someone suffering from smallpox, or the scabs from the pox, and inoculating healthy people with it. Usually a mild case of smallpox developed, giving lifelong immunity afterwards. The first written account of variolation describes a Buddhist nun practicing around 1022 to 1063 AD. She would grind up scabs taken from a person infected with smallpox into a powder, and then blow it into the nostrils of a non-immune person. Another method, more common, involves rubbing the pus from the pox into a scratch in the skin of the non-immune person.

    By the 1700's, variolation was common practice in China, India, and Turkey, where it was carried to England by a diplomat's wife. In the late 1700's European physicians used this and other methods of variolation, but reported "devastating" results in some cases. Overall, 2% to 3% of people who were variolated died of smallpox, but this practice decreased the total number of smallpox fatalities by 10-fold. However, a variolated patient could transmit genuine smallpox and could even start an epidemic!

    Jenner, on the other hand, was the first to use cowpox (vaccinia virus) instead of live smallpox ... hence the name of "vaccination".

  • by teetam (584150) on Monday March 13, 2006 @03:14PM (#14909793) Homepage
    It is amazing how many of these "inventions" are of following form - "Even though such-and-such was probably invented in India or China, it was the muslims who [wrote it down/polished it/revealed it to the west].

    The truth is, until Vasco De Gama discovered the sea route to India, Arabs were the conduit for all communication and trade between the West and India. Hence, many inventions and goods that are actually Indian are often misnamed as Arabic. The so-called "Arabic numeric system" is an excellent example.

    One would think, after all these years, there would be more clarity on this issue.
  • by mhollis (727905) on Monday March 13, 2006 @03:25PM (#14909899) Journal

    I have read a lot of history about the Islamic empire that stretched from India to Iberia. This is largely an extension of my desire to understand Spanish history.

    To say that Islam created these wonders is to ignore what was actually happening in the society that was the Islamic empire. The empire was tolerant of all religions and beliefs, including people "not of the book," which would include persons that were not Jews and Christians. This empire preached tolerance and benefitted from having non-believers because the government taxed non-believers more (which may have influenced the less-firm in their beliefs to convert).

    The end result was a polycultural society that valued innovation, high art and wonderful architecture. And I would argue that it's not the dominant religion that was responsible but the society.

    If you look at the last century, you'll see lots of Nobel Prize winners in the sciences coming from America (that would be The Great Satan to many Islamic societies -- especially Iran). Could it be that a polycultural society with vast natural resources is what helps in the creation of these innovations?

    I look at these monocultural and intolerant societies as non-creators of advancements. For examples, one merely needs to look at Afghanistan under the Taliban, Iran and China under the Cultural Revolution.

    I agree that it is important to look to history and appreciate those innovations and inventions that came before but to suggest that a religion created these is to ignore what really happened.

    I should note that, when Iberia turned monocultural and intolerent under the Kings of Castile and Aragon, they created and innovated such wonderous examples as the Spanish Inquisition [rotten.com], the expulsion and forced conversion (and further persecution) of Jews and the encomienda system [answers.com] of tributory labor that was used to enslave and destroy Native American nations and civilizations. [sarcasm]It's a shame these innovations happened so long ago; they surely would have been awarded Nobel prizes for them.[/sarcasm]

    I do not wish to detract from the religion that is Islam. I know a great number of practicing muslims and they are good people with whom I have very good friendships. I believe that people should get along with their neighbors and appreciate them more by striving to understand them. But the article seems to gloss over the fact that the culture probably begat the advancements rather than the religion.

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