The Exceptional Fifteen

The fifteen who could be considered bonafide scientists in the physical and social sciences in Muhammad Mojlum Khan's seminal ranking of the greatest Muslims of times, The Muslim 100 - The Lives, Thoughts and Achievements of the Most Influential Muslims in History, Kube Publishing, 2008,

What is most striking about the short list of fifteen exceptional Muslim men is not that more than half are Persians, but that nearly two thirds made their noteworthy contribution to the advancement of science between the 8th and 10th century. It could not have been otherwise.

Between the 8th and 10th century there emerged an Islamic school of thought largely influence by Plato and Aristotle and which became known as Mu’tazilism or Philosophy of Rationalism or simply Islamic Philosophy. Mu'tazilites argued that verses of the Koran should not be taken literally and that human reason was more reliable than scriptures.

The leaders of the believers of the time, the most noteworthy being Caliphs al-Ma'mun, Mu'tasim Billah and Wathiq actively supported this sensible open-minded interpretation, allowing it to thrive, until dogma reasserted itself with a vengeance and revelation again smothered reason.

19 Al Khwarizmi (b. 780 - d. 847) was Persian mathematician who "presented the first systematic solution of linear and quadratic equations in Arabic … his contributions to mathematics is reflected in the word 'Algebra' which is derived from al-jabr, one of the two operations he used to solve quadratic equations." Wiki

21 Ibn Khaldun (b. 1332 - d. 1406) was North African Arab historian who, by including the human factor in the study of history, foreshadowed the modern disciplines of sociology and demography.

25 Ibn Sina (also known as Avicenna) (b. 980 - d. 1037), "was a Persian polymath and prolific writer on philosophy and medicine. His most famous works are The Book of Healing – a philosophical and scientific encyclopedia, and The Canon of Medicine – a medical encyclopedia which became a standard medical text at many medieval universities and remained in use as late as 1650." Wiki

35 Al-Burini (b. 973 - d. 1051) was another Persian polymath "he is regarded as one of the greatest scholars of the medieval Islamic era and was well versed in physics, mathematics, astronomy, and natural sciences, and also distinguished himself as a historian, chronologist and linguist … He also made contributions to Earth sciences, and is regarded as the 'father of geodesy' for his important contributions to that field, along with his significant contributions to geography." Wiki

41 Ibn Rushd (also known as Averroes) (b. 1126 -d. 1198) "was a medieval Andalusian polymath. He wrote on logic, Aristotelian and Islamic philosophy, theology, the Maliki school of Islamic jurisprudence, psychology, political and Andalusian classical music theory, geography, mathematics, and the medieval sciences of medicine, astronomy, physics, and celestial mechanics … he was known by the sobriquet the Commentator for his detailed emendations to Aristotle. Latin translations of his work led the way to the popularization of Aristotle." Wiki

44 Al-Farabi (b. 870 - d. 950) "a renowned philosopher and jurist who wrote in the fields of political philosophy, metaphysics, ethics and logic. He was also a scientist, cosmologist, mathematician and music scholar. In Arabic philosophical tradition, he is known with the honorific 'the Second Master', after Aristotle. He is credited with preserving the original Greek texts during the Middle Ages because of his commentaries and treatises ... His birthplace is in modern Kazakhstan or Greater Khorasan (modern day Afghanistan)." Wiki

47 Jabir ibn Hayyan (b. 738 - d. 813) "Persian, also known as Geber, was a prominent polymath: a chemist and alchemist, astronomer and astrologer, engineer, geographer, philosopher, physicist, and pharmacist and physician … He is sometimes referred to as the father of early chemistry." Wiki

48 Mimar Sinan (b. 1469 - d. 1588) "was the chief Ottoman architect and civil engineer for sultans Suleiman the Magnificent, Selim II, and Murad III. He was responsible for the construction of more than 300 major structures and other more modest projects, such as schools. His apprentices would later design the Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul, Stari Most in Mostar, and help design the Taj Mahal in the Mughal Empire." Wiki

49 Abu Bakr al-Razi ( b. 841 - d. 925) "was a Persian polymath, physician, alchemist, philosopher, and important figure in the history of medicine. A comprehensive thinker, Razi made fundamental and enduring contributions to various fields, which he recorded in over 200 manuscripts, and is particularly remembered for numerous advances in medicine through his observations and discoveries. An early proponent of experimental medicine, he became a successful doctor, and served as chief physician of Baghdad. Wiki

51 Ibn al-Haytham (b. 965 - d. 1039) "also known by the Latinization Alhazen or Alhacen, was an Arab scientist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher. Ibn al-Haytham made significant contributions to the principles of optics, astronomy, mathematics, visual perception, and the scientific method. He was the first to explain that vision occurs when light bounces on an object and then is directed to one's eyes … Ibn al-Haytham is widely considered to be one of the first theoretical physicists, and an early proponent of the concept that a hypothesis must be proved by experiments based on confirmable procedures or mathematical evidence—hence understanding the scientific method 200 years before Renaissance scientists." Wiki

57 Abul Hasan al-Mas'udi (b. 895 - d. 957) "was an Arab historian and geographer. He is sometimes referred to as the Herodotus of the Arabs. Al-Mas‘udi was one of the first to combine history and scientific geography in a large-scale work, The Meadows of Gold and Mines of Gems, a world history." Wiki

58 Abul Qasim Al-Zahrawi (b. 936 - d. 1013) "popularly known as Al-Zahrawi  Latinised as Abulcasis, was an Arab Muslim physician and surgeon who lived in Al-Andalus. He is considered the greatest medieval surgeon to have appeared from the Islamic World, and has been described as the father of surgery. His greatest contribution to medicine is the Kitab al-Tasrif, a thirty-volume encyclopedia of medical practices. His pioneering contributions to the field of surgical procedures and instruments had an enormous impact in the East and West well into the modern period, where some of his discoveries are still applied in medicine to this day." Wiki

60 Umar Khayyam (b. 1048 - d. 1129) "was a Persian mathematician, astronomer, philosopher, and poet, widely considered to be one of the most influential thinkers of the Middle Ages. He wrote numerous treatises on mechanics, geography, mineralogy and astronomy … He wrote one of the most important treatises on algebra written before modern times, the Treatise on Demonstration of Problems of Algebra (1070), which includes a geometric method for solving cubic equations by intersecting a hyperbola with a circle." Wiki

69 Nasir al-Din al-Tusi (b. 1201 - d. 1274) " Persian … established a reputation as an exceptional scholar … Writing in both Arabic and Persian, Nasir al-Din Tusi dealt with both religious ('Islamic') topics and non-religious or secular subjects ('the ancient sciences'). His works include the definitive Arabic versions of the works of Euclid, Archimedes, Ptolemy, Autolycus, and Theodosius of Bithynia." Wiki

91 Muhammad Yunus (b. 1940) "Muhammad Yunus is a Bangladeshi social entrepreneur, banker, economist, and civil society leader who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for founding the Grameen Bank and pioneering the concepts of microcredit and microfinance" Wiki

Bernard Payeur