Question: Does modern science benefit from Islamic scholarship hundreds of years ago?
"Absolutely" says Yusuf Estes, former U.S. Muslim Chaplain, "Just think of the major contributions Muslims gave the whole world over the last 1,400 years.."
Muslim Contributions to the West
The Muslims played a principal role in the history of Spain. Their presence illuminated the Iberian Peninsula while the rest of Europe was engulfed in darkness. And so, Andalusia produced a great civilization far ahead and advanced than the rest of Europe.
The Islamic civilization had reached its peak in the 10th century, and by 1100, the number of Muslims rose to 5.6 million.
In Muslim Spain, knowledge from Greece and Rome was preserved. Arab scholars produced encyclopedias on medicine and astronomy in 11th century, also including astrology, psychology, zoology, biology, botany, chemistry, physics, mathematics, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, etc., which Christian scholars acquired and translated. Toledo thrived essentially because of its Muslim rule, and became the "cradle of learning," and the chief point of interaction between the Muslims, Christians and Jews.
The Muslim artisans applied their remarkable skills to architecture in making mosques (masajid) and palaces. The Muslims mastered technique and design. The Alhambra Palace, and The Great Mosque of Cordoba, are just two of the famous magnificent architectural masterpieces of the Muslims which can still be seen today. Of the Alhambra, it is called, "a utopia, the brightest memory of a lost golden age of pleasure, poetry, tolerance, art, and learning." 19 One Muslim poet wrote:
"A sun dwells in this place and even its shadow is blessed. In this palace a multitude of pleasures capture the eye and suspend the intellect. Here a crystal world teaches marvels. Everywhere Beauty is carved, opulence is manifest."
The Islamic architecture in Spain is elaborate and decorative with intricate designs. Stone, and stucco, plaster for coating exterior walls, were widely favored. Later, brick replaced stone. 20 The "Mezquita" or The Great Mosque of Cordoba and the Alhambra of Granada are two Islamic monuments that utilize this design.
Narrated by Ibn Abbas (RA), the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: "Whoever makes images of living creatures in this world (i.e., human, animal) will be charged with putting a soul in it which he will never be able to do."
Muslim artists stayed away from making images of living creatures and concentrated on the oneness of God. Paintings of inanimate objects, trees and flowers were permitted. Islamic ideology teaches that the making of images can lead to idolatry.
It can also lead to praising of one's own work, which does away with humility and humbleness, important virtues stressed in Islam.
It is also rivaling with Allah Himself who is the sole creator of the Universe and its inhabitants.
Though many of Muslims therefore abstained from painting figures of people and animals, Islamic art was far from lacking beauty.
Muslim scribes in Spain developed calligraphy into art form. Islamic art is known for its repetitious patterns, a constant reminder of the uniqueness of God. 22 Calligraphical, floral, arabesque, and geometric designs flourished in the Muslim world.