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Al-Jazari (1136-1206) May 20, 2008

Al-Jazari was a mechanical genius of the muslim world. He was born Badi al-Zaman Abu al-Iz ibn Ismail ibn al-Razzaz al-Jazari. He was born in a place called al-Jazira situated between the Tigris and the Euphrates and what now known as northern Iraq and northeastern Syria.

His corpus was Kitáb fí ma’rifat al-hiyal al-handasiyya or Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices in which he wrote 50 types of mechanical devices. Like his father, al-Jazari served the Diyarbakir branch of the Turkish Artuqid dynasty as chief engineer.

Among his inventions:

Crankshaft and connecting rod mechanism
This mechanism transforms continuous rotary motion into a linear reciprocating motion. al-Jazari was the first to incorporate the mechanism into a machine. This mechanism is central to the operation of modern machinery such as the steam engine and the internal combustion engine.

Water-raising machines
From his crankshaft and connectiong rod mechanism, al-Jazari developed his crank-driven saqiya chain pump and the double-action reciprocating piston suction pump, both for the transportation of water without manual labour.

A water raising device

Automate according to the Britannica Encyclopedia are any of various mechanical objects that are relatively self-operating after they have been set in motion. al-Jazari was known to have invented automatic moving peacocks and gates driven by hydropower.
He also invented a fountain automata that flow into alternate tanks in an intervals and a musical automata with 4 automatic musicians on a boat to entertain guests at royal parties.

Musical automata

” While many of al-Jazari’s inventions may now appear to be trivial, the most significant aspect of al-Jazari’s machines are the mechanisms, components, ideas, methods and design features which they employ ” Donald Routledge Hill, Mechanical Engineering in the Medieval Near East.

See animations of Al-Jazari’s mechanical devices:
Al-Jazari, 800 years after http://muslimheritage.com/topics/default.cfm?ArticleID=851


Ibn Sina (980-1037) May 8, 2008

Filed under: Muslim Scholar of the Week — sugary @ 12:24 am

Ibn Sina, known in Latin as Avicenna, was born Abu Ali al-Husin ibn Abdullah in the year 370H in Bukhara. He was given him the honorary title “Shaikhal-Rai’s” (Leader among Wise Men) by his compatriots and was the one of the most influential philosopher-scientist of Islam.
His corpus were 450 in number and the most outstanding were The Book of Healing and Qanun fi al-Tibb (Canon of Medicine). The Canon was made the standard medical text in many Islamic as well as European universities up until the 19th century.

The Canon of Medicine
The book is known for its introduction of systematic experimentation and quantification into the study of physiology,the discovery of contagious diseases and sexually transmitted diseases,the introduction of quarantine to limit the spread of infectious diseases, the introduction of experimental medicine, clinical trials, neuropsychiatry, risk factor analysis, and the idea of a syndrome in the diagnosis of specific diseases and hypothesized the existence of microrganisms.
It classifies and describes diseases,
with experimental medicine, evidence-based medicine, randomized controlled trials and efficacy tests and it laid out the following rules and principles for testing the effectiveness of new drugs and medications, which still form the basis of clinical pharmacology and modern clinical trials.


In chemistry, steam distillation was described by Ibn Sīnā. The technique was used to produce alcohol and essential oils.

As other muslim scholars, Ibn Sina studied other branches of science he was also an astronomer, Hafiz, logician, mathematician, poet, psychologist, physicist.

He refused to live life slow, stating that: “I prefer a short life with width to a narrow one with length”. On his deathbed remorse seized him; he bestowed his goods on the poor, restored unjust gains, freed his slaves, and every third day till his death listened to the reading of the Qur’an. He died in June 1037, in his fifty-eighth year, and was buried in Hamedan, Iran.

For more on Ibn Sina’s biography, corpus and works on him: