The Muslim Contribution to Mathematics
Ali Abdullah Al-Daffa'
This book, first published in 1977, discusses the Muslim contribution to mathematics during the golden age of Muslim learning from the seventh to the thirteenth century. It was during this period that Muslim culture exerted powerful economic, political and religious influence over a large part of the civilised world. The work of the Muslim scholars was by no means limited to religion, business and government. They researched and extended the theoretical and applied science of the Greeks and Romans of an earlier era in ways that preserved and strengthened man’s knowledge in these important fields. Although the main object of this book is to trace the history of the Muslim contribution to mathematics during the European Dark Ages, some effort is made to explain the progress of mathematical thought and its effects upon present day culture. Certain Muslim mathematicians are mentioned because of the important nature of their ideas in the evolution of mathematical thinking during this earlier era. Muslim mathematicians invented the present arithmetical decimal system and the fundamental operations connected with it – addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, raising to a power, and extracting the square root and the cubic root. They also introduced the ‘zero’ symbol to Western culture which simplified considerably the entire arithmetical system and its fundamental operations; it is no exaggeration if it is said that this specific invention marks the turning point in the development of mathematics into a science.
2. Historical Setting