5 Muslim Contributions to Modern Society: The Huffington Post

By Rua Rani, Coauthored by Danyal Hameed.

5 Muslim Contributions to Modern SocietyThe inaugural Muslim Awards for Excellence (MAX) Gala, taking place in Toronto, Canada on March 24, is an initiative to recognize and honour the achievements and contributions of Canadian Muslims. Inspired by the Islamic Golden Age, the MAX Gala will honor and motivate contemporary outstanding Muslim achievers in Canada.

Islamic history is replete with pioneering inventions and discoveries, many of which are ingrained in modern society, such as:

1. Public Libraries
During the early decades of Islam, mosques acted as hubs for intellectual discourse across the Muslim lands. They were not only places of worship, but also housed libraries full of books on religion, philosophy and science. These libraries were open to the masses and not just the ruling and intellectual elite, as was the common practice then.

2. Surgical Tools
The great 10th-century Muslim surgeon Qasim al Zahrawi, described as the father of surgery, invented many surgical tools still used in modern medicine, including the scalpel, the surgical needle and surgical scissors. He also discovered catgut as a reliable material to administer internal stitches as it can be absorbed by the body, preventing the need for a second surgery to remove them.

3. Algebra
The study of algebra flourished during the Islamic Golden Age under the scholarship of mathematician al-Khwarizmi. The word algebra is derived from ‘al-jabr’, an operation he used to solve quadratic equations. The introduction of algebra as a unifying theory significantly broadened the concept of mathematics and its development path.

4. Optics
In the 11th century, the scientist Ibn Haytham overturned ancient ideas of how our eyes see. While some said light rays came out of the eyes, others thought something entered the eyes to represent an object. Through systematic reason and experiment, Ibn Haytham discovered that light is not emitted from the eye itself, but in fact is reflected off an object and enters the eye.

5. Coffee
Coffee beans were native to Ethiopia, but the Muslim Arabs developed the beverage we know as coffee in the 15th century in Yemen when they traded with the Ethiopians. They ground and roasted the beans, then boiled them in water. Religious men (Sufis) began to drink coffee to refrain from sleeping so that they could spend the night in prayer.

The writer of this article, Rua Wani has a background in media production and communications. She works in scripted programming in the television industry. Rua holds a Master of Arts from the RTA School of Media at Ryerson University, and a Bachelor of Commerce from McGill University. As a Muslim third culture kid, Rua is interested in issues of race, religion and identity. She is the media lead for the first annual MAX (Muslim Awards for Excellence) Gala, taking place this March in Toronto. The MAX Gala is an awards ceremony to recognize and honour the achievements and contributions of the Canadian Muslim community.

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