IBN SAHL (940-1000): “The Inventor of the Refraction Law”

Ibn Sahl

Ibn Sahl

Name: Abu Sa’d al-A’la ibn Sahl
Title: Mathematician, physicist and optic engineer
Death: 1000
Ethnicity: Iraqi Arab
Occupation: Scientist at the Abbasid Court, Baghdad.
Main interest: Physics, optics and mathematics.
Notable ideas: Discovering the law of refraction and useing it to derive lens shapes that focus light without geometric aberrations, known as anaclastic (aspehric lens). Designing elaborate mechanisms for drawing his lenses and irrors, dealing with parabolic mirrors, ellipsoidal mirrors, biconvex lenses, and techniques for drawing hyperbolic arcs. Ibn Sahl’s studies led to the development of instruments and theories on optis in Europe in the 17 century.
Works: On Burninbg Mirrorrs and Lenses (984). Credited by the Egyptian historian of science Prof Roshdi Rashed in 1990 for developing the first law of refraction, also known as Snell’s Law, named after the 17th century Dutch scientist Willebrord Snellius (1580-1626).
Sources: Wikipedia; fanousscientists.com; http://www.indiavisitinformation.com

Islamia/The Brunei Times
Friday, 12 May 2012

AL-JAZARI (1136-1206): “Father of Modern Mechanical Engineering”



Name: Abu al-‘Iz ibn Isma’il ibn al-Razaz al-Jazari
Title: Muslim polymath: a scholar, inventor, mechanical engineer, craftsman, artist, mathematician and astronomer
Birth: 1136 in Al-Jazira, Mesopotamia
Death: 1206
Ethnicity: Kurdish
Region: Mesopotamia (Iraq-Syria-border)
Main interests: Mathematics, engineering, astronomy, arts
Notable ideas: 1. Invented an early crankshaft, which he incorporated with a crank-connecting rod mechanism in his twin-cylinder pump. Like the modern crankshaft, Al-Jazari’s mechanism consisted of a wheel setting several pins into motion, with the wheel’s motion being circular and the opins moving back-and-forth in a straight line. The crankshaft described by Al-Jazari transforms continuous rotary motion into a linear reciprocating motion, and is central to modern machinery such as the steam engine, internal combustion engine and automatic control. 2. The camshaft, a shaft to which cams are attached, was first introduced in 1206 by Al-Jazari, who employed them in European mechanism from the 14th century; 3. Hand-washing autmotation with flush mechanism Al-Jazari invented a handwashing automation incorporating a flush mechanism now used in modern flush toilets. It features a female humanoid automation standing by basin filled with water. When the user pulls the lever, the water drains and the female automation refills the basin; 4. In the Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices, he gave intructions of his inventions and illustrated them using miniature paintings, a medieval style of Islamic art.
Works: Kitab fi ma’rifat al-hiyal al-handasiya (Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices) (1206), where he described fifty mechanical devices along with intructions on how to construct them, and Al-Jami’ bayn al-‘ilm wa ‘amal, al-nafi’ fi sina’at al-hiyal (A Compendium on the Theory and Practice of the Mechanical Arts)
Wikipedia; http://www.history-science-technology.com


Mohammad Natsir

MOHAMMAD Natsir, a leading Muslim figure and former prime minister, passed away, On 6 February 1993. His death followed from complications from a heart disease, pneumonia, and bronchitis. He died at the Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital where he had been in intensive care for three months. He was buried the next day at the public cemetery of Karet, Central Jakarta, beside the tomb of his wife, Putri Nurnahar.

Mohammad Natsir, who bore the traditional Minangkabau “Datuk Sinaro Panjang”, was born in Alahan Panjang, Solok Regency, West Sumatra, on 17 July 1908. After completing the Adabiyah (Arts) section of the HIS (Hollandsch-Inlandsche School – Duthc-Native School), and madrasah as well as the MULO (Meer Uitgebreid Lager Onderweij – Dutch tyoe of extended primary education) in Padang (1916-1927), West Sumatra, he continued his studies at the AMS – Algemene Middlebare School (Dutch-type General Secondary School) in Bandung, West java. In this city, he also studied Islamic religion with A Hassan, one of the founders of the Persatuan Islam (Persis) and was involved in political life through some Islamic-oriented organizations such as the Jong islamieten Bond (JIB), Boedi Oetomo, Syarikat Islam (SI), and the Muhammadiyah. With Hassan, he directed the magazine Pembela Islam (Defender of Islam).

His political career continued when he became an executive member of the Komite Nasional Indonesia Pusat (KNIP – Central Indonesian National Committee) (1945-1946), minister of information in three successive cabinets (1946-1949), chairman of the Masyumi Party (1949-1958), prime minister (1950-1951), and member of the rebellious Pemerintah Revolusioner Republik Indonesia (PRRI, Revolutionary Government of the Indonesian Republic) (1958-1960). For this last mentioned activity, he was jailed by the Soekarno regime in Batu, near Malang, East Java (1960-1962) and in Jakarta (1962-1966).

His monumental merit to Indonesian political history was when his proposal, which was known as “the integral motion of Natsir”, was accepted by the Parliament in 1950. The proposal led to re-creation of the unified state of Republik Indonesia (RI) and the end of the one-year old Republik Indonesia Serikat (RIS, United States of Indonesia). The RIS consisted of 17-Dutch-created puppet states. It was on these grounds that President Sukarno appointed him prime minister.

In the same year, he represented the Indonesian government at an international Islamic meeting in Karachi, Pakistan. On this occasion, he spoke on Pancasila, the first speech made by an Indonesian leader abroad on the Indonesian state ideology. In 1982, however, he once more spoke on Pancasila to the House of Representatives. This time together with a number of leaders from various Islamic organizations, he asked the government to purify the ideology because it had deviated from the original spirit.

He was also known for his polemics on religious and poltical matters with Sukarno, who represented the (“secular”) Nationalist group, when the latter figure in exile in Ende, Flores, East Nusa Tenggara, in the 1930s.

Likewise famous was his address of 12 November 1957 before the Dewan Konstituante entitled Pilih Antara Dua Jalan: Agama atau Tanpa Agama (Choose Between Two Ways: Religion or without Religion). Natsir pronounced his address at the moment that the Konstituate had to decide on the fundamental ideology of the state. However, before the Konstituante could take a decision, it was dispersed by President Sukarno using the argument that the quorum had not been reached. This was what Natsir called a coup d’etat by Sukarno.

Natsir also criticized Soeharto’s presidency, saying that he limited the activities of the Indonesian mass organizations and political parties. In 1980, he was one of the signatories to a critical petition to the Indonesian government. Because of the number of signatories, their statement became known as the “Petisi 50”. As a consequence of this move the signatories underwent what they called “the loss of civil rights”. They were hampered in their business and in traveling abroad. Natsir was several times unable to attend international Islamic meetings.

However, a month before the Indonesian election in June 1992, he called on Muslims to support the Muslim-backed PPP. According to him, his call was aimed at defending the multi-party system in Indonesian political life. He even urged the MPR to limit the maximum span of office for an Indonesian president to two terms. The MPR should dare to discuss this matter before they elected the new president, he added.

Since 1967, Natsir had been concentrating on Islamic propagation by establishing the Yayasan Dewan Dakwah Islamiyah Indonesia (Yayaan DDII, Foundation of the Indonesian Islamic Propagation Council). Afterwards, he was appointed vice president of the Karachi-based Mu’tamar al-Alam al-Islami (World Muslim League, 1969), member of Majlis al-a’la al-Islami lil-Masajid (the World Mosques council, 1972), member of the Founding Board of the International Islamic Charitable Foundation, Kuwait (1985), as well as member of the Founding Board of the Oxfors Centre for Islamic Studies, Great Britain, and member of the Council of Trustees of the International Islamic university of Islamabad, Pakistan (1986). In 1980, he received the “Faisal Award” for his dedication to Islam from the King Faisal Foundation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Besides politics and religion, he was also active in the education sector. He was director of Islamic education of Bandung for ten years (1932-1942) and afterwards head of the Office for Education in the same city (1942-1945).

He also wrote a number of books, among them Kapita Selecta, Marilah Salat! (Let’s Pray!) and Islam dan Kristen di Indonesia (Islam and Christianty in Indonesia). His address of 1957, Pilih antara Dua Jalan, was translated into Arabic by Geys Ammar (the present chairman of Al-Irsyad) and was published in the Syrian Muslim magazine Al-Muslimun (managed by Sa’id Ramadan, a figure of al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun organization and son-in-law of Hasan al-Banna, founder of the organization. In 1970, this Arabic translation was published as a book under the title Ikhtaru ahad al-sabilayn: al-din aw al-ladiniyah. Accordng to Geys Ammar, this book has become a reference work in the Middle East.

In the middle of February 1993, a group of students from the Universitas Islam Bandung (Unisba), West Java, issued an appeal to the government to name M. Natsir a national hero. Later they were followed by a number of Muslim students in Yogyakarta, united in the Generasi Muda Muslim Yogyakarta (GMYY, Muslim Young Generation of Yogyakarta).

Finally, their efforts were successful after fifteen years later. On 6 November 2008, the Indonesian government bestowed Natsir a national hero.

Source: Darul Aqsha, Dick van der Meij and Johan Hendrik Meuleman, Islam in Indonesia: A Survey of Events and Developments from 1988 to March 1993. Jakarta: INIS, 1995); Wikipedia


Dr. H. Ali Akbar

Dr. H. Ali Akbar

Dr. H. ALI Akbar, founder of the University of the Yayasan Rumah Sakit Islam (Yarsi – Islamic Hospital Foundation), died after a ten months’ illness in Jakarta on 24 June 1994. Ali Akbar was born in Bukittinggi, West Sumatra, on 12 August 1912.

He studied at the Nederlandsch-Indische Artsen School (NIAS – Netherlands Indies Medicine School) in Surabaya, East Java, and continued his study under the Japanese occupation, in 1943, at the Ika Dai Gakku (Medicine College), Jakarta.

He dedicated most of his life to the public interest. As a physician, he was assigned to Painan (1945-1947), and Mecca, Saudi Arabia (1950-1954). He was also nominated rector of the Muhammadiyah University of Jakarta (1957) and the Ibnu Chaldun University of Jakarta (1960) as well as being a lecturer in the School of Medicine of Universitas Indonesia (UI).

In 1967, with Prof. Dr. Asri Rasad and Dr. Jurnalis Uddin, he realized his dream to create an institute for the training of Muslim paramedics and physicians: they established the Islamic Medical College, which was later transformed into the Yarsi University. In order to form paramedical and medical professionals imbued with Islamic values, he included a larger portion of Islamic studies in the study programme than was the case at other medicine schools and obliged all prospective physicians to write a thesis on a particular medical problem studied from the point of view of Islamic law.

Ali Akbar was also the chairman of the Executive Body of the Yarsi, and chairman of the Expert and Fatwa Commission of the Council for Health Development of the Muhammadiyah Central Board.

He wrote several books about hygiene and Islam. One of his books, entitled Merawat Cinta Kasih (Caring Love), has been reprinted 19 times since 1974. Among his other functions were the chairmanship of the Kongres Buruh Islam Merdeka (Free Muslim Labourers Congress), and the Majelis Pertimbangan Kesehatan dan Syara (Consultative Council of Hygiene and Islamic Law). The latter body produced a number of fatwas relating to medical problems such as artificial insemination, transplantation of body organs, mother’s milk banks, etc.

Ali Akbar was active in politics, too. In 1955, he was elected a member of the DPR for the Masyumi party. In 1980, he was dismissed from the Ministry of Health for his action in signing the “Petisi 50”, a public petition of fifty prominent citizens criticizing government policy.

He also wrote several books about hygiene and Islam. One of his books, entitled Merawat Cinta Kasih (Caring Love), has been reprinted 19 times since 1974. (RE, 8 July 1994)

Source: INIS Newsletter Vol. XII 1996, p. 148


“Afro-Asian Slave Who Changed Andalusian Culture Forever”

ziryabName: Abu l-Hasan ‘Ali Ibn Nafi’
Title: Ziryab (Blackbird), polymath: a poet, musician, singer, chemist, cosmetologist, fashion designer, trendsetter, strategist, astronomer, botanist and geographer.
Birth: 789 in Baghdad, Iraq
Death: 857 in Cordoba, Andalusia (Islamic Spain)
Race: Afro-Arab
Education: Studied art of music to Ishaq al-Mawsili (d.850) in Baghdad.
Occupation: Musician, chef, singer, trendsetter, fashion designer.
Activities: Musician in the courts of Harun al-Rashid of the Abbasid Dynasty and of Abd al-Rahman II of the Umayyad Dynasty (822-52).
Interested fields: Music, astronomy, history, geography, chemicals, fashion, botany, cosmetics, culinary, health, poetry.
Notable ideas: Ziryab revolutionised the court at Caacórdoba and made it the stylistic capital of its time, changed Andalusian culture forever. Introducing Middle East fashion styles to Andalusia, including sophisticated styles for different season and time and introducing velvet; styles (short hair style); foods (fruit and vegetables such as asparagus, serving in three separate courses consisting of soup, the main course, and dessert, use of crystal as a container for drinks); hygiene products (deodorant, toothpaste, promoting morning and evening baths); and music (establishing school of music, improving the Oud or Laaacúd by adding a fifth pair of strings, and using an eagle’s beak or quill instead of a wooden pick, and laying the early groundwork for classic Spanish music).

ziryab maqamat

Sources: Wikipedia, muslimheritage, dubsahara.com, Saudi Aramco World (July/August 2003, pp 24-33)


“I had been saying ‘Dear Allah’ instead of ‘Dear God”

Lauren Booth

Lauren Booth

Name : Sarah Booth
Birth : July 22, 1967 in Islington, London, England
Education : Copthall Girls School, London
Spouse : Craig Darby
Children : Alexandra Booth, Holly Booth
Parent :Tony Booth (father), Pamela Smith (mother)
Occupation : Journalist, broadcaster, columnist, human right activist, a patron of Cageprisoners ( June 2011)
Previous faith : Judaism, Catholicism
Revert : Mid-September, 2010
Reason : “My own path to Islam began with an awakening to the gap between what had been drip-fed to me about all Muslim life – and the reality. I began to wonder about the calmness exuded by so many of the “sisters” and “brothers”… And on my visit to Iran this September (2010, ed.), the washing, kneeling, chanting recitations of the prayers at the mosques I visited reminded me of the west’s view of an entirely different religion; one that is known for eschewing violence and embracing peace and love through quiet meditation. A religion trendy with movie stars such as Richard Gere, and one that would have been much easier to admit to following in public – Buddhism. Indeed, the bending, kneeling and submission of Muslim prayers resound with words of peace and contentment. Each one begins, “Bismillahir rahmanir Rahim” – “In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate” – and ends with the phrase “Assalamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh” – Peace be upon you all and God’s mercy and blessing… Almost unnoticed to me, when praying for the last year or so, I had been saying “Dear Allah” instead of “Dear God”. They both mean the same thing, of course, but for the convert to Islam the very alien nature of the language of the holy prayers and the holy book can be a stumbling block. I had skipped that hurdle without noticing. Then came the pull: a sort of emotional ebb and flow that responds to the company of other Muslims with a heightened feeling of openness and warmth. Well, that’s how it was for me, anyway…”

Reuters, Wikipedia, The Guardian

Islamia/The Brunei Times
Friday, 25 November 2011


“I was comparing in my mind what I had read in the Old Testament and the Talmud with what was taught in the Quran and Hadith…”

Maryam Jameelah

Maryam Jameelah

Original name: Margaret Marcus
Birth: May 23, 1934 in New Rochelle, New York City
Ethnicity: Jewish
Nationality: Pakistani
Education: University of Rocheste; Judaism in Islam in New York University (dropped out in 1956)
Occupation: Author, Islamic ideologist, critic of secularism, materialism and modernization.
Spouse: Muhammad Yusuf Khan with five children
Parent: Myra and Herbert Marcus
Works: Wrote some 25 articles and books, among of them: Ahmad Khalil: The Story of a Palestinian Refugee and His Family (novel), Correspondences between Maulana Mawdoodi and Maryam Jameelah, Why I Embraced Islam, Islam and Modernism, Westernization and Human Welfare, Islam and Muslim Woman Today, Three Great Islamic Movemenets in the Arab World of the Recent Past, Islam and Western Society, Modern Technology and the Dehumanization of Man, Islam and Modern Man, and Generation Gap – Its Causes and Consequences
Previous faith: Judaism, humanistic philosophy, atheism, Bahaism
Revert: May 24, 1961 in New York City
Reason: “One morning in November 1954, Professor Katsh during his lecture, argued with irrefutable logic that the monotheism taught my Moses (PBUH) and the Divine laws related to him at Sinai were indispensable as the basis for all higher ethical values. If morals were purely man-made as the Ethical Culture and other agnostic and atheistic philosophies taught then they could be changed at will according to mere whim, convenience or circumstance. The result would be utter chaos leading to individual and collective ruin. Belief in the Hereafter as the Rabbis in the Talmud taught, argued Prof. Katsh, was not mere wishful thinking but a moral necessity. Only those he said who firmly believed that each of us will be summoned by God on judgment Day to render a complete account of our life and rewarded or punished accordingly, will possess the self-discipline to sacrifice transitory pleasures and endure hardships and sacrifice to attain lasting good. While Prof. Katsh was lecturing thus, I was comparing in my mind what I had read in the Old Testament and the Talmud with what was taught in the Quran and Hadith and finding Judaism so defective , I was converted to Islam.” (Quoted from her book Islam and Modernism)

http://maryam–jameelah.blogspot.com; wikipedia

Islamia/The Brunei Times
Friday, 2 March 2012