The Story of Mary and the Birth of Jesus in the Qur’an

mary yes scluptMarwa El-Naggar

IN Islam, Jesus (`Isa in Arabic) is considered one of the five greatest prophets sent by God to mankind. Muslims’ knowledge about Jesus is based on the two main sources of Islamic knowledge: the Qur’an and Hadith. In the Qur’an, Jesus is referred to as `Isa ibn Maryam, or Jesus, the son of Mary. The story of Mary and Jesus is best described in the Qur’an in the surahs of Aal `Imran and Maryam.

Mary: A Precocious Girlhood

The story starts with Mary, who was blessed as a child with God’s protection. Mary was born to the pious household of Aal `Imran, or the family of `Imran. Many people argued for the honor of taking care of the child, but the responsibility was given to Zachariah, an elderly and childless man, who immediately noticed that the young girl was special. One day, Zachariah noticed that the girl had in her possession certain provisions for which he could not account. He asked her how she came by the food and she answered,

[“From Allah: for Allah Provides sustenance to whom He pleases without measure.”](Aal `Imran 3:37)

This simple answer had a deep impact on the elderly man. Having long wished for a son, the devout Zachariah prayed to God for progeny. As the Qur’an relates in the verses below, his prayers were answered almost immediately, although his wife was barren and beyond childbearing age:

[Then Zachariah prayed unto his Lord and said: My Lord! Bestow upon me of Thy bounty goodly offspring. Lo! Thou art the Hearer of Prayer.

And the angels called to him as he stood praying in the sanctuary: Allah giveth thee glad tidings of (a son whose name is) John, (who cometh) to confirm a word from Allah lordly, chaste, a prophet of the righteous.] (Aal `Imran 3:38-39)

The uniqueness of Mary, noticed by Zachariah, was spelled out to her by the angels:

[Behold! The angels said: “O Mary! Allah hath chosen thee and purified thee- chosen thee above the women of all nations. O Mary! Worship thy Lord devoutly: Prostrate thyself, and bow down (in prayer) with those who bow down.”] (Aal `Imran 3:42-43)

Here the story of Mary’s upbringing and girlhood, as related in the Qur’an, ends.

The Miracle of Jesus

For more on the birth of Jesus, and the virginity of Mary, read In Defense of Mary the Virgin.

In the surah entitled “Maryam,” we hear more of this special woman’s story, best told by the Qur’an itself.

[Relate in the Book (the story of) Mary, when she withdrew from her family to a place in the East.

She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them; then We sent her our angel, and he appeared before her as a man in all respects.

She said: “I seek refuge from thee to (Allah) Most Gracious: (come not near) if thou dost fear Allah.”

He said: “Nay, I am only a messenger from thy Lord, (to announce) to thee the gift of a holy son.”

She said: “How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste?”

He said: “So (it will be): Thy Lord saith, ‘that is easy for Me: and (We wish) to appoint him as a Sign unto men and a Mercy from Us’: It is a matter (so) decreed.”

So she conceived him, and she retired with him to a remote place.] (Maryam 19:16–22)

“He hath made me blessed wheresoever I be, and hath enjoined on me Prayer and Charity as long as I live…”

From the Qur’anic description of events, we can deduce that Mary spent most of her pregnancy alone. What happened to her during this period is not mentioned in the Qur’an. The Qur’an picks up the story at the moment that Mary goes into labor.

[And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm-tree: She cried (in her anguish): “Ah! Would that I had died before this! Would that I had been a thing forgotten and out of sight!”

But (a voice) cried to her from beneath the (palm-tree): “Grieve not! for thy Lord hath provided a rivulet beneath thee;

“And shake towards thyself the trunk of the palm-tree: It will let fall fresh ripe dates upon thee.”] (Maryam 19:23-24)

God, knowing the reaction of society, further guided her how to deal with the situation:

[“So eat and drink and cool (thine) eye. And if thou dost see any man, say, ‘I have vowed a fast to (Allah) Most Gracious, and this day will I enter into not talk with any human being.’”] (Maryam 19:25)

When she carried the baby Jesus to her people, they questioned her; and as a baby in her arms, Jesus gave them the answer. The Qur’an describes this scene in detail:

[At length she brought the (babe) to her people, carrying him (in her arms). They said: “O Mary! Truly an amazing thing hast thou brought!

“O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a man of evil, nor thy mother a woman unchaste!”

But she pointed to the babe. They said: “How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?”

He said: “I am indeed a servant of Allah: He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet;

“And He hath made me blessed wheresoever I be, and hath enjoined on me Prayer and Charity as long as I live;

“(He) hath made me kind to my mother, and not overbearing or miserable;

“So peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again)”!] (Maryam 19:26-33)

And so the baby Jesus defended his mother from any accusations of adultery, and in a nutshell, explained who he was and why he was sent by God.

Here ends the story of Mary and miraculous birth of one of the greatest prophets of God, Jesus.

[Such was Jesus, son of Mary: (this is) a statement of the truth concerning which they doubt.] (Maryam 19:34)

Marwa Elnaggar is the Managing Editor of the Discover Islam zone in She has an M.A. in English and comparative literature and teaches Qur’an on a volunteer basis in Cairo, Egypt.

Monday, 28 February 2005

mary itali min

Who Is Raymond “Butcher” Westerling?

raymond Westerling-poster
WESTERLING in Indonesia is known as a reference to the assassination of thousands of civilians in South Sulawesi conducted by KNIL (Royal Netherlands East Indies Army) led by Dutch Depot Speciale Troepen commander that named Raymond Pierre Paul Westerling. This incident happened in December 1946 – February 1947 during the counter insurgency military operations.

First Stage: The Military Operation
The first day of Dutch Depot Speciale Troepen (DST) operation begins in the evening on December 11. Primary objective was Batua village and several small villages in the east of Makassar and Raymond Paul Pierre Westerling himself who led the operation. The first troops numbered 58 people, led by Sergeant Major H. Dolkens stormed Borong and DST forces led by Sergeant Major Instructor J. Wolff operates in Batua and Patunorang village. Westerling alongside Sergeant Major Instructor W. Uittenbogaard assisted by two task personnels and one radio operator, meanwhile 10 people were waiting in Batua village to start the raid.

In the first phase, at 04.00 Batua village was surrounded, at 5:45 DSL forces started to search people’s homes. All the people were herded into the center of Batua village. 9 people who tried to escape were immediately shot. After walking several kilometers, at around 8:45 all the people from the villages were collected in the center of Batua village. Westerling reported that the numbers between 3,000 to 4,000 people, women and children were separated from the men.

Raymond Pierre Westerling

Raymond Pierre Westerling

In the second phase, Dutch Depot Speciale Troepen (DST) forces that led by Raymond Pierre Paul Westerling started to look for the Islamists, rebels, robbers, criminals and murderers. Westerling himself in charge of this action and talk to the people, which translated into Bugis language. He has a list of the Islamist and rebel names which have been compiled by Vermeulen. Heads of village and tribe helps him to identify the name. The result was 35 people accused and directly executed on the spot. This Westerling method was known as the “Standrecht (the court and execution)” on the spot. Then Westerling said in its report that he had sentenced 11 Islamists, 23 robbers and a murderer.

In the third phase, Dutch Depot Speciale Troepen (DST) declare that the replacement of the head of village and the formation of rural policy should be subject to Dutch decisions, then all people were told to return to their villages. Operation that started from 04.00 to 12.30 had claimed 44 lives. With the same Westerling sweeping style, the massacre of the people continues in South Sulawesi. Westerling also leads his own operations in Tanjung Bunga village in night of December 12 – 13, 1946. 61 people were allegedly as Islamists shot dead. Besides that, houses in several small villages around Tanjung Bunga village have been set on fire and the numbers of death has reached 81 people.

Next in the evening of December 14 – 15, it was the turn of Kalukuang village located on the outskirts of Makassar city, 23 people were shot dead. According to their intelligence reports, Wolter Monginsidi and Ali Malakka those who hunted by Dutch Depot Speciale Troepen (DST) forces in this region, could not be found. On the night of December 16 – 17, Jongaya village which situated in the southeast of Makassar became the next target, 33 people were executed in this village alone.

Second Stage: The Elimination Of Indonesian Resistance Fighters In Makassar
After cleaning the area around Makassar, the second stage of the action began on December 19, 1946 in Polobangkeng which located in the south of Makassar. According to the Dutch Depot Speciale Troepen (DST) intelligence reports, there are approximately 150 military troops and about 100 members of the armed irregulars.

In this operation, DST with 11 platoons of The Royal Netherlands East Indies Army (Koninklijk Nederlands Indisch Leger; KNIL) Infantry Forces XVII, led by Lt. Col. KNIL Veenendaal raids Renaja and Ko’mara village, while the others were focussed to raid Polobangkeng village. Furthermore, in this operation 330 people were killed.

Third Stage: The Cleansing Of Islamist
The third stage began on December 26, 1946 against Gowa region and conducted in three waves, December 26 – 29 and January 3, 1947. For the sake of greater flexibility for Raymond Pierre Paul Westerling in Sulawesi. On January 6, 1947, General Simon Spoor imposed “noodtoestand” (state of emergency) in South Sulawesi. The massacre of the people conducted by DST and KNIL moved on in many places, Westerling who was leading the operation, gunning down those all who accused of being Islamists.

raymond westerling1950After that, there were still ongoing massacre in some villages and areas that subjected to operation zone of DST forces on February 7 – 14 in the coastal Tanete Riattang, Bone, meanwhile on February 16 -17, Taraweang and Bornong-Bornong village have become the operation zone as well. In Mandar village alone reported 364 residents were killed. The cleansing of “Islamists” escalates in Kulo, Amparita and Maroangin where 171 people were killed.

General Spoor assumed that the state of emergency in South Sulawesi have been overcome, then on February 21, 1947, he reinstated “Voorschrift voor de uitoefening van de Politiek-Politionele Taak van het Leger – VPTL (Guidelines for Dutch army and police in the field of political)”, and DST troops pulled back to Java.

With the success to crush the Islamists in Sulawesi, Westerling had been praised by the Dutch military and civilians, his reputation as Special Forces commander has been considered having good career. DST camp then moved to Kalibata, then transferred to Batujajar near Cimahi. Westerling holds larger armies, more powerful and gained the rank of Captain.

Raymond westerling oldThousands of people in South Sulawesi who became victims of DST operation remains unclear until now. In 1947, a delegation of the Republic of Indonesia told the UN Security Council, number of victims during the massacre conducted by Raymond Westerling since December 1946 in South Sulawesi reached 40,000 people. While the examination of Dutch government in 1969 estimated, about 3,000 people had been killed by DST Special Forces, while Westerling himself says, that the numbers of the victim killed by his troops only 600 people.

The Massacre By Westerling In South Sulawesi Was Approved
The acts of Westerling and his forces could escape from the demands of human rights violations, because the actual terror acts that conducted by Westerling had obtained a permission from Lt. Gen. Spoor and Deputy Governor General Dr. Hubertus Johannes van Mook. So who will actually responsible for the massacre in South Sulawesi was the Dutch Government and their military.

The massacre conducted by Dutch army in South Sulawesi can be put in the category of crimes against humanity, which even now can be brought to an international court, because the genocide or crimes against humanity, there is no expiration for that. According to Director of Cabinet P.J. Koets which also confirmed by Idenburg, in the meeting, Dutch Government decided not to legitimize the slaughter with Westerling method, despite the action Westerling did, gets approval from all high officials.

In a later memorandum, Attorney General Felderhof writes that the Westerling method was “allowed in a precarious situation, which can force the implementation of the court and execution without process of law”.

Centre for Information and Analysis (CIA)
Wed, 8 Oct 2014



Samuel Zwemer

Samuel Zwemer

SAMUEL Marinus Zwemer (April 12, 1867 – April 2, 1952), nicknamed The Apostle to Islam, was an American missionary, traveler, and scholar. He was born at Vriesland, Michigan. In 1887 he received an A.B. from Hope College, Holland, Mich., and in 1890, he received an M.A. from New Brunswick Theological Seminary, New Brunswick, N. J.. His other degrees include a D.D. from Hope College in 1904, a L.L.D. from Muskingum College in 1918, and a D.D. from Rutgers College in 1919.

After being ordained to the Reformed Church ministry by the Pella, Iowa Classis in 1890, he was a missionary at Busrah, Bahrein, and at other locations in Arabia from 1891 to 1905. He was a member of the Arabian Mission (1890–1913). Zwemer served in Egypt from 1913–1929. He also traveled widely in Asia Minor, and he was elected a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society of London.

In 1929 he was appointed Professor of Missions and Professor of the History of Religion at the Princeton Theological Seminary where he taught until 1937. He had married Amy Elizabeth Wilkes on May 18, 1896. He was famously turned down by the American Missionary Society which resulted in him going overseas alone. He founded and edited the publication The Moslem World for 35 years. He was influential in mobilizing many Christians to go into missionary work in Islamic Countries.

Zwemer retired from active work on the faculty of Princeton College Seminary at the age of seventy, but continued to write and publish books and articles as well as doing a great deal of public speaking. Zwemer died in New York City at the age of eighty-four.

According to Ruth A. Tucker, Samuel Zwemer’s converts were “probably less than a dozen during his nearly forty years of service” and his “greatest contribution to missions was that of stirring Christians to the need for evangelism among Muslims.” — Wikipedia

The Charmed Stall (Short Story)

By Ahmad Tohari

The dry, sharp sound came each time the tip of the Kartawi’s hoe cut into the parched rice field. Each time dust rose from the limestone earth. Each time Kartawi felt a powerful jerk in the muscles in his hands and back. Still the young farmer continued to swing his hoe. The dry, sharp sound, the spattering of dust and the jerking on the muscles continued in succession under the scorching sun of the dry season. Sweat had soaked Kartawi’s singlet. Both his legs were covered with dust up to the knees. And under the shadow of his bamboo caping, Kartawi’s face looked old and weary.

When he arrived at the end of his land, Kartawi stopped swinging the hoe. The farmer stood straight and silent. He wanted to recover his power by pumping air from his lungs into his tired muscles. A gentle breeze might help cool his hot body, but Kartawi’s hope died with the dead wind and blistering air.

Kartawi was rooted to this spot, straight as a pole. His eyes narrowed and stared far ahead of him. Before him, as far as the eye could see, was the face of drought spreading on the limestone plain. The clumps of grass had lost their greenness. The trees were bare and hundreds of hectares of rice fields were parched. Far in the north, the slope of the limestone hill was a gray- colored wall with white blotches; silent and barren. The air above the land surface seemed to shimmer at a distance. Birds flew silently in the cloudless sky.

Kartawi continued to stare. Suddenly, Kartawi saw the image of Jum, his wife, emerging from the shimmering earth. Kartawi felt a pang sear his chest and a wad of coconut fiber choke his throat. He felt as if all his energy was being drained from his muscles. His fingers relaxed on the handle of his hoe. His head bowed. Kartawi heaved a sigh, then, numbed, left his tilled land to shelter under the johar tree. All of a sudden the young farmer had lost his heart for work, all because Jum had entered his mind.

Kartawi stood in the shade of the johar tree, which was struggling to defend what remained of its leaves. Jum’s image was still clearly visible in his head. His memories brought him back to the time Jum was in her stall, serving neighbors who wanted to buy chilies, spice or salted fish. Or the various kinds of kitchen goods the neighbors needed. Jum always looked fresh and hard-working in her stall. Jum with her big dream of having a stone house, a television set and a Honda bebek motorcycle. Jum felt there was no other way than to work hard. She was prepared to do anything to make her warung a success.


Kartawi knew everything about Jum since she was still a toddler. When Jum was a child, there was nothing she liked to play more than warung-warungan. Jum always acted as the warung’s owner and she asked all her friends to be customers. Jum could stand all day long for the game played under the jackfruit tree behind her house.

After Jum married Kartawi, she asked only that he build her a real warung. Kartawi loved Jum dearly so he sold two goats and felled several trees to build her the stall. One of the trees was a bacang tree. The bacang tree was Jum’s idea. Jum said there must be a fruit tree in the structure of a warung.

“Kang, the old people said the wood from the fruit trees could lure customers,” Jum had told her husband. Kartawi only smiled, but two days later a small warung was standing in the front of the young couple’s house.

Jum’s warung sprang to life straightaway. Diligent Jum seemed happy with her warung. Jum probably believed she was destined to run a warung. With her warung Jum proved she could develop her household economy. By the third year, with two children already, Jum made one of her wishes come true, which was to have a stone house. By the following year she had a 14-inch, black-and-white television set. The next thing Jum wanted was the Honda bebek motorcycle. Kartawi fully supported his wife’s desire for the simple reason that to have a wife who sold goods on a motorcycle was an achievement which was hard for fellow villagers to match. Kartawi felt lucky to have a wife like Jum.

Why he had heard his neighbors gossip about Jum these past few days was beyond Kartawi. Nobody knew who had started the rumor that last week Jum visited Pak Koyor, the sorcerer from a neighboring village. And without her husband’s knowledge. People said Jum went there to get a charm for her warung. As for the charm, Kartawi knew about it, even approved of it. Yes. Kartawi believed that to reach one’s goals hard work alone was not enough. There must be more than real effort, but the rumors had gotten out of control. Neighbors said Jum had paid Pak Koyor an offering. Kartawi knew that sorcerer required something to guarantee the success of the magic, sometimes money, sometimes a cemani chicken, or sometimes the client’s body. The neighbors said Jum had given the latter to the sorcerer.


Once again Kartawi felt the pang in his chest. Kartawi hoped the neighbors’ talk was unfounded. They were probably jealous of Jum’s success and intentionally inflated the story, thought Kartawi. What if the rumors were true? The pain returned to Kartawi’s chest, even harder. Kartawi felt torn with uncertainty. It tortured him.

Aware that only Jum could an answer him, Kartawi decided to go home immediately. Accompanied only by his shadow, Kartawi followed the footpath which split the dry rice fields, his hoe slung on his shoulder and a drinking pot in his hand. He turned east at a small junction. Dry leaves crunched under the young farmer’s every step.

When he arrived home, Kartawi saw Jum was serving several customers. Kartawi was to impatient to wait, but, with his annoyance ready to burst, he restrained himself to wait. Jum must serve her customers. Even after the warung was closed, there were certain to be customers knocking on the door.

Kartawi was only able to ask about the rumors when night had far advanced. The children had fallen asleep long ago, and Jum, who was enjoying a TV show, did not seem interested in responding to her husband’s questions. Overcome by anger, Kartawi got up from his seat and switched off the television, sat down and repeated his question.

“Yes, Kang, last week I went to Pak Koyor,” Jum said lightly. “Setiyar, Kang, to keep our warung selling well. You know Kang, now we have many rivals.”

Kartawi swallowed. He felt a tidal wave had hit his veins. Under the light of a 10-watt bulb his face looked stout and sour.

“And you gave him the offering? Didn’t you?” Kartawi asked. His voice sounded deeper and heavier. His gaze stabbed his wife’s eyes. Jum held her head up, only to bend it the next second. She smiled lightly and calm returned to her face.

Kang, what’s the matter with you? To give an offering is usual. So…”

“So it’s true that you …”

Kartawi’s hand reached for an empty glass on the table. It looked as if he was going to crush it with his hands. The muscles in his jaw tightened. His eyes glared. Jum hid her face because she thought Kartawi was going to throw the glass at her. No. Kartawi managed to restrain himself although his entire body was trembling with anger.

Kang,” Jum said when the tension had loosened. “Listen, I want to tell you something.” Jum stopped, finding it hard to swallow. “What I gave to Pak Koyor was not the real thing. I was only acting, it was all a trick. Not with my heart. Kang, I am still sane. The real thing is only for you. It’s true, Kang.”

Kartawi kept silent. His eyes remained glaring. His jaw was still contorted. Kartawi was a lighted firecracker ready to explode. His heart burned with anger. Kartawi saw that the private areas where his dignity and male pride rested had been violated. Shattered. Damn. Jum had invited the obscene sorcerer to invade and mar the very private area.

Once again Kartawi’s fingers strained to squeeze the glass in his grip.

Jum even tried to smile to break the tension. Jum was shocked when Kartawi suddenly shouted.

“So what is the difference between acting the thing and the real one?” he bellowed.

Jum swallowed again. Only her ability to regain her composure forced Kartawi to restrain himself.

“Ow, Kang, it has a lot of differences. Men are stupid. Men cannot tell the difference between the real thing and a playful act. No wonder a lot of men resort to rape because it makes no difference to them; raping or asking for the real thing, the most important thing for them is the bar!

“So, listen to me Kang. Because it was only an act, I did not do the thing with my heart. My goal was only to make the payment so that our warung would sell well. That’s all there is to it. You did not lose anything, Kang. Everything is intact. Kang, if our warung sells better, we are the ones who will enjoy it, aren’t we?”

Kartawi immediately stood up and the glass shattered on the floor. Kartawi slammed the door as he left. Jum cried.


Kartawi was away for three days. The neighbors said that Kartawi was distressed, shamed and humiliated after listening to Jum’s confession. There were even rumors that Kartawi had returned to his parent’s home and had decided to divorce Jum. Others said Kartawi went to cheer himself up with a prostitute. Kartawi hoped to revenge Jum: infidelity for infidelity. Kartawi felt heavier after indulging in a prostitute. He felt a part of his identity had been lost.

On the fourth day Kartawi returned home. His longing for his home, his children, and for Jum was irresistible. No matter what, Jum and his children were part of him. His profound fury failed to evict Jum from the center of his life. But when he arrived home Kartawi was confused. He looked at Jum’s warung which was selling well and had reaped huge profits.

“With this warung my household could improve,” Kartawi thought. “My family could live with a full stomach, cheerful, intact.”

But Kartawi felt his chest deflate when he remembered the offering Jum had paid. The financial improvement had cost an extraordinary sacrifice. Kartawi was doubtful; he stammered limply into his own home.

Translated by Darul Aqsha

Ahmad Tohari

Ahmad Tohari

Ahmad Tohari was born on June 13, 1948. He is best known for his novels, which include Kubah (Dome), Di Kaki Bukit Cibalak (At the Foot of Mount Cibalak) and Ronggeng Dukuh Paruk (The Dancer from Dukuh Paruk). In 1990 Ahmad joined the International Writing Program in Iowa, U.S.A. He now lives in his home villge of Tinggarjaya, Banyumas in Central Java and writes for Amanah family magazine. The short story Warung Penajem (The charmed stall) was first published in Kompas daily in November 1994 and is one of the stories which appear in Laki-laki Yang Kawin Dengan Peri: Cerpen Pilihan Kompas 1995 (The Man Who Married A Fairy: An Anthology of Kompas Short Stories 1995). It is reprinted here by courtesy of the Kompas daily.

warung: small stall
caping: traditional bamboo hat
johar: shade tree (cassiva siamea)
bacang: horse mango (mangifera foetida)
kang: a Javanese address for older men or respected males
pak: short of bapak, meaning sir or father
setiyar: making an effort
bar: climax

The Jakarta Post
Sun, Apr 14 1996

Bill Saragih: “It’s a true business”

Bill Saragih

Bill Saragih

WHAT’S in a name? It’s money. Oops, not really. But for veteran jazz musician Bill Amirsyah Saragih, a name has a lot to do with business. That is why he changed his name to Bill Simatupang.

“Simatupang is Siang malam tunggu panggilan (Waiting for order day and night),” Bill joked during the cocktail party held in conjunction with the 17th anniversary of The Jakarta Post at The Regent hotel in Jakarta on Tuesday.

Bill said he has become “a high-class unemployed man” since he stopped performing at pubs in the city recently and started to take orders from companies, “including state-owned pawnshop company Perum Pegadaian”.

But now he prefers to sing at Chinese wedding parties.

“It’s a true business,” he said. At such parties, he only sings one or two songs, but receives quite a nice sum of money.

One day, he said, after he sang one line of a song at a wedding party, suddenly there was a blackout. Not too long afterward, the family of the bride came to him and handed him a receipt to sign. He could not believe it. “It’s big money,” he said. — Darul Aqsha

The Jakarta Post
Sun, Apr 30 2000

Bill Amirsjah-Rondahaim Saragih (born January 1, 1933 in North Sumatra; died January 30, 2008) was an Indonesian jazz musician. His albums includes songs such as Billy’s Groove and original songs include Anna My Love, which was dedicated to his wife. Bill worked hard all his life to educate and promote music. his passion for Jazz Music was obvious. Bill leaves behind a son Tony and a daughter Tiana. Both reside in Sydney Australia. — Wikipedia

See also:

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;;

Islamia/The Brunei Times
Friday, 12 May 2012