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History of Islamic Science: Books

Selected Books

1. Ahmad, Shabeer. The Development of Sience and Technology in Islamic History. Dar-Us-Salam Publications, 2008.

[One of the areas that is not covered enough for the English reader is the historical development of science and technology in the Muslim world, and the factors that led to its rise and decline. This book focuses on the strides made by the Muslims in various disciplines of science and technology from the early period of the Islamic State to its last days in the 20th century CE.]

2. Al-Daffa', Ali A. The Muslim Contribution to Mathematics. Humanities Press, 1977.

[Al-Daffa’ presents Muslim contribution to mathematics from the seventh century through the thirteenth century during the Golden Age of Islam.]

 3. Al-Hassani, Salim T.S., ed. 1001 Inventions - Discover The Muslim Heritage In Our World. 2nd ed. Foundation for Science Technology and Civilisation, 2007. [KAUST CALL Number: L901 G76]

[This book covers a thousand years of science and technology that have had a huge impact on the modern world, bringing to light the   discoveries made by men and women in the Muslim civilization during the Golden Age (more commonly known as the Dark Ages to Western civilizations.

4. Avicenna. Canon of Medicine. Kazi Publications, 1999.

[Ibn Sina’s famous Cannon of Medicine (Qanun fi al-tibb) maintained its authority until modern times and served as a medical encyclopedia for 700 years.  This English translation is only the first part of his five books, centered around generalities concerning the human body, sickness, health, and general treatment and therapeutics.]

5.Berggren, Lennart J. Episodes in the Mathematics of Medieval Islam. New York, NY: Springer, 2003.

[This book is a detailed study of the Islamic scientific and mathematical discoveries starting from the 8th century.  It includes six chapters: an Introduction (Islamic Scientists), Islamic Arithmatic, Geometrical Constructions in the Islamic World, Algebra in Islam, Trigonometry in the Islamic World, and Spherics in the Islamic World.]

6. Ead, Hamed A. History of Islamic Science. 2008.

[Professor Hamed A. Ead goes through the history of Islamic science from 700CE – 1400CE.  His work is divided into seven sections (half centuries), with each section discussing the major figures that played an important role in the history of science.  This work is taken from and inspired by George Sarton's Introduction to the History of Science.]

7. Esposito, John L., ed. The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World. USA: Oxford University Press, 1995.

[This unique reference is a comprehensive encyclopedia dedicated to the institutions, religion, politics, and culture in Muslim societies throughout the world. Beginning coverage in the sixth century and extending it to the present day, the Encyclopedia covers Muslims in the Arab heartland as well as South and Southeast Asia, Europe, and the Americas.]


8. Goodman, Lenn E. Islamic Humanism. USA: Oxford University Press, 2005.

[This book is an attempt to explain how Muslim thinkers continued to pursue essentially humanistic, rational, and scientific discourse in the quest for knowledge, meaning, and values. Drawing on a wide range of Islamic writings, from love poetry to history to philosophical theology, Goodman shows that medieval Islam was open to individualism, occasional secularism, skepticism, even liberalism.]

9. Grant, Edward. The Foundations of Modern Science in the Middle Ages: Their Religious, Institutional and Intellectual Contexts. Cambridge University Press, 1996.

[Contrary to prevailing opinion, the roots of modern science were planted in the ancient and medieval worlds long before the Scientific Revolution of the seventeenth century. This volume illustrates the developments and discoveries that culminated in the scientific revolution.]

10. Hill, Donald R., and Ahmad Y. Al-Hassa. Islamic Technology: An Illustrated History. 1st ed. Cambridge University Press, 1992.

[The book explores the major technological achievements of Islamic civilizations.  It also explores the impact of these technological achievements on today’s world.]

11. Hill, Donald R. Islamic Science and Engineering. Edinburgh University Press, 1994.

[Donald Hill gives an introduction to the physical sciences and engineering of the Islamic world, tracing the extent of Muslim scientific achievement between 750-1500. The book describes how Muslim scientists and engineers contributed enormously to the technology of medieval Europe.]

12. Hogendijk, Jan P., and Abdelhamid I. Sabra, eds. The Enterprise of Science in Islam: New Perspectives. Illustrated Edition ed. The MIT Press, 2003.

[This book offers an overview of this newly energized field of historical investigation on Islamic scientific tradition.  The emphasis throughout the book is on the transmission of scientific knowledge, either from one culture to another or within the medieval Islamic world.]

13. Ibn Battuta. The Travels of Ibn Battuta: in the Near East, Asia and Africa, 1325-1354. Trans. Samuel Lee. Dover Publications, 2004.

[In 1326, Ibn Battuta began a pilgrimage to Mecca that ended 27 years and 75,000 miles later. His engrossing account of that journey provides vivid scenes from Morocco, southern Russia, India, China, and elsewhere.  His famous travels helped with the documentation of history of his time in history.]  

14. Yons, Jonathan. The House of Wisdom: How the Arabs Transformed Western Civilization. 1st Edition ed. Bloomsbury Press, 2010.

[Lyons gives credit to the Arab thinkers of the past, and explores and reveals the extent of their learning, and documents the adventures of those who went in search of it and who, in doing so, laid the foundations of what we now call the Renaissance.]

15. Masood, Ehsan. Science and Islam: A History. London, UK: Icon Books Ltd., 2006.

[Masood studies a time when Islamic civilization was in the middle of a scientific revolution, between 700 and 1400 CE.  In Science and Islam, Masood carefully picks his way through a tangle of fact and mythology, to argue that by rights, names like Abbas ibn-Firnas, ibn al-Nafis, and Jabir ibn-Hayyan should be as familiar to the world as Leonardo da Vinci and Robert Boyle.]

16. Morgan, Michael H. Lost History: The Enduring Legacy of Muslim Scientists, Thinkers, and Artists. Reprint Edition ed. National Geographic, 2008.

[Morgan records the Golden Age of Islam, beginning in 570 a.d. with the birth of Muhammad, until today. He introduces scholars like Ibn Al-Haytham, Ibn Sina, Al-Tusi, Al-Khwarizmi, and Omar Khayyam, towering figures who revolutionized the fields of mathematics, astronomy, and medicine and paved the way for Newton, Copernicus, and many others.]

17. Nasr, Seyyed H. An Introduction to Islamic Cosmological Doctrines. Revised Edition ed. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1993.

[This is the only book to deal with classical Islamic cosmology as it was formulated by the Ikhwan al-Safa al Biruni and Ibn Sina during the seventh and tenth centuries. This book is unique in its treatment of classical Islamic cosmology as seen from within the Islamic World view and provides a key for understanding traditional Islamic thought.]

18. Pormann, Peter, and Emilie Savage-Smith. Medieval Islamic Medicine. 1 Edition ed. Georgetown UP, 2007.

[This short volume presents an overview of the subject highlighting particular examples rather than an attempt at a comprehensive survey.]

19. Saliba, George. Islamic Science and the Making of the European Renaissance. Illustrated Edition Edition ed. USA: MIT Press, 2007.

[Saliba demonstrates the originality of Islamic scientific thought using astronomy as a template.  He details the innovations made by the Islamic astronomers from the thirteen to sixteenth centuries.  Saliba has a unique approach to the study of the rise and fall of Islamic science, rather than centering on politics and religion he focuses on the scientific production itself and the complex social, economic, and intellectual conditions that made it possible.]

20. Turner, Howard R. Science in Medieval Islam: An Illustrated Introduction. University of Texas Press, 1997.

[This book provides insight on Islam's contributions to science, medicine, and philosophy. It also provides wonderful illustrations which make it even more understandable.]

21. Ullmann, Manfred. Islamic Medicine. Edinburgh University Press, 1997.

[Manfred Ullmann describes the development of Islamic medicine and its influence on Western medical thought. The book explains four main features of Islamic medicine: the system of human physiology; the nature of disease; rules for diet and the use of drugs; and the relationship with astrology and the occult.]


Sarah Samaha, Library Volunteer (2011)


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