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54 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shockingly Brilliant and Absorbing!!, 19 Jan. 2008
This review is from: 1001 Inventions: Muslim Heritage in Our World (Hardcover)
A brilliantly compiled and gripping encyclopedia of knowledge, which will have the reader wanting to know more. This book is essential reading for students and for those seeking to understand Islam and the Muslim peoples. A must read in my humble opinion for anyone who is interested in history, science and culture. I just could not put it down! Informative would be an understatement.. It's got quality written all over it. Made from quality glossy paper, it's definitely worth the price I paid for it, and I intend to buy more copies for my family and friends. It's beautifully illustrated, full of wonderful photographs, maps and diagrams. It's main theme and core is highlighting Muslim Scientists, Thinkers and Artists, and their contributions in our world. Its simple layout makes it a most enjoyable read. What really intrigued me was that `The Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilisation (FSTC)' has authenticated, and published this book.

It contains an ocean of facts, especially things we take for granted in our daily lives:

Who would have thought that it was through early Muslim advancements in science and culture that went on to lay the foundations/cornerstones of the European Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and modern Western society.

Who would have thought it was in translation from Arabic, not the original Greek, that knowledge of Greek philosophy became prominent in Christian thought.

Who would have thought that Western mathematics are based on Arabic numerals and calculations. Never!! I hear you all shout? Sadly I thought the same.. Truth can be stranger than fiction, and very hard to stomach.

Who would have thought that `Coffee' is actually a Muslim discovery, and the word is derived from the Arabic word Al-Qawah (Café).

Who would have thought that the word `Checkmate' is actually Persian in origin and a corruption of Shah Mat (The king is dead).

Who would have thought that paper and gun powder was brought to Europe by Muslims via the Muslim lands.

Who would have thought that the first Libraries, Hospitals and Universities were created by the Muslims.

Who would have thought that it was the Muslims who first brought and cultivated in Europe many crops and fruits from far lands as China and India, ranging from oranges, bananas, rice, cotton, sugar cane, silk and spices.

Unbelievably, the list goes on!

This book I am not ashamed to admit has managed to remove many prejudices that I held previously against Islam and its contribution to human life and the world. It has given me a whole new outlook to Islam, and has brought about a sense of respect, admiration and gratitude to all those great Muslim contributions that have brought about the quality of life that most of us take for granted. After reading this book, I'm sure most people like me will be convinced that Western civilization owes a huge dept to the Islamic culture. Without their contribution, sacrifices and efforts, we in the West would probably still be living in the dark ages.
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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 4 Mar 2010 15:47:04 GMT
Last edited by the author on 4 Mar 2010 15:48:45 GMT
Midasin says:
Dear Mr Michael,

It is well-known that rulers of empires pull together strands of knowledge which are useful to them from different sources and cultures. Naturally, some of the Muslim empires were among these. But I think some balance is required here.

Did you know the numerals English speakers call "Arabic" are called in Arabic "al-Hindi" because they were invented by people from India who were not Muslims?

Did you know that the translations of Greek texts into Arabic were made by Syriac-speaking people who were members of both the Church of the East and the Syrian Orthodox Church? The most famous of these was Hunayn bin Ishaq (809-873). These people were non-Muslims, but their services were utilized by Muslims. Muslims (while still in the minority) were taught by them. But later, when Muslims became a majority in these countries, the posts were filled by Muslims and other people, however skilled, were forced to accept secondary posts.

The same applies to Jewish medical practitioners and inventors, etc.

Of course, Muslims made scientific and mathematical contributions, but many of the inventions developed in the Arab world came from nonMuslims who were were granted only secondary status in the Muslim world.

I only write this as I think there is a danger of going over the top here.

All the best, Midasin.

Posted on 5 May 2010 13:12:04 BDT
Last edited by the author on 16 Jul 2011 12:11:23 BDT
Eccles says:
Who would have thought that so many delusions required repeated debunking.

'Setting the Record Straight: The Non-Miracle of Islamic Science'

'the word `Checkmate' is actually Persian in origin and a corruption of Shah Mat (The king is dead).'
Indeed? Chess was 'condemned by Muhammad who compared playing chess with dyeing one's hand with the flesh and blood of swine'.

Posted on 6 May 2010 18:15:32 BDT
S. U. Larsen says:
Sigh, here we go again. There WERE civilizations before the arrival of Islam, with public libraries and hospitals and what not.

But Islam has elegantly taken much of the honor for it nowadays ("we captured it, it´s ours, WE done it") and that in spite of all the evidence saying that if anything Islam soon became a stifler of innovation and science, once the Arab conquerors had laid the barbarian curiosity aside.
Really, was it not for the Arabs we would know a lot of these things under Persian, Indian, Greek or even Chinese names. Had the Arabs not smashed the Byzantines and the Persians I suspect things would be much the same. Perhaps more advanced.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Nov 2010 18:59:50 GMT
Last edited by the author on 24 Nov 2010 19:02:43 GMT
Jamhead says:
@ Eccles; "Chess was 'condemned by Muhammad who compared playing chess with dying ones hand with the flesh and blood of swine'."

Shatranj; original form of chess, mastered and introduced to Europe by Muslims

Early Arabic Shatranj literature
During the Golden Age of Arabic, many works on shatranj were written, recording for the first time the analysis of opening games, chess problems, the knight's tour, and many more subjects common in modern chess books. Many of these manuscripts are missing, but their content is known due to compilation work done by the later authors.
The earliest listing of works on chess is in the Fihrist, a general bibliography produced in 377 AH (988 CE) by Ibn al-Nadim. It includes an entire section on the topic of chess, listing:
Al-Adli's Kitab ash-shatranj ('Book of chess')
Ar-Razi's Latif fi'sh-shatranj ('Elegance in chess')
As-Suli's Kitab ash-shatranj (two volumes)
Al-Lajlaj's Kitab mansubat ash-shatranj ('Book of chess-positions or problems')
B. Aliqlidisi's Kitab majmu'fi mansubat ash-shatranj ('Collection of chess problems')
There is a passage referring to chess in a work said to be by Hasan, a philosopher from Basra who died in 728 CE. However the attribution of authorship is dubious.

Player classification
Al-Adli as well as as-Suli introduced classifications of players by their playing strength. Both of them specify 5 classes of players:
Aliyat (or aliya), grandees
Mutaqaribat, proximes - players who could win 2-4 games out of 10 in the match against grandee. They received odds of a pawn from grandee (better players g-, a- or h-pawn, weaker ones d- or e-pawn).
Third class - players who received odds of a fers from grandee.
Fourth class - received odds of a knight.
Fifth class - received odds of a rook.
To determine his or her class, a player would play a series or match with a player of a known class without odds. If he won 7 or more games out of 10, he belonged to a higher class.

Famous players
During the reign of the Arab caliphs, shatranj players of highest class were called aliyat or grandees. There were only a very few players in this category. The most well known of them were:
Jabir al-Kufi, Rabrab and Abun-Naam were three aliyat players during the rule of caliph al-Ma'mun.
Al-Adli was the strongest player during the rule of caliph al-Wathiq. At this time he was the only player in aliyat category.
Ar-Razi in 847 won a match against an already old al-Adli in the presence of caliph al-Mutawakkil and so become a player of aliyat category.
As-Suli was the strongest player during the reign of caliph al-Muktafi. Ar-Razi was already dead and there were no players of comparable strength before as-Suli appeared on the scene. In the presence of al-Muktafi he easily won a match against a certain al-Mawardi and thus proved that he was the best player of that time. As-Suli considered Rabrab and ar-Razi as the greatest of his predecessors.
Al-Lajlaj was a pupil of as-Suli and also a great shatranj master of his time.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Dec 2010 12:54:35 GMT
Canopus72 says:
Well done Larsen for your unfettered racist predilictions and bare faced audacity, to arrogantly assume and allege that the author (a post doctoral research scientist) of this magnificent book (and indeed, the Foundation of science and technology, who have officially approved and endorsed this book) have poor and misleading knowledge of Islamic history and achievement. No doubt you believe that you somehow have a far 'superior' understanding of Islam. I would like to determine exactly what legitimate academic credentials you have, for you to make such an arrogant statement?. I assume absolutely none whatsoever. In fact, it is only your anti-muslim predilictions that motivates you to write such drivel. I can bet my egg rolls, if the scientific achievements in this book were attributed to either christians or jews (and not muslims), you would not be griping at all. Instead, you would be jumping for joy and singing praises for this book.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Aug 2011 08:56:41 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 5 Aug 2011 09:04:08 BDT]

In reply to an earlier post on 4 May 2012 23:02:07 BDT
[Deleted by Amazon on 5 May 2012 16:10:30 BDT]

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Jul 2013 07:57:59 BDT
S. U. Larsen says:
Suhail, while happily offending other religions, always accuses criticism of anything Islamic as being "racist" and done from the basest of motives, unlike his own ubiased opinions.
I discovered this later, having much fun with his reviews.
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