Singapore-based scientist wins top science and technology award of Islamic world


Professor Jackie Ying will be awarded the inaugural Mustafa Prize in the Top Scientific Achievement category on Friday. Photo Courtesy: TST/Seah Kwang Peng

Samantha Boh


A SINGAPORE-based scientist has won the top science and technology award of the Islamic world, which comes with a $700,000 cash prize.

Professor Jackie Ying, 49, executive director of the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN), will be awarded the inaugural Mustafa Prize in the Top Scientific Achievement category on Friday (Dec 25), in a ceremony to be held in Teheran, Iran.

This prize is meant for individuals whose research has improved human life and “expanded the boundaries of our perception about the world”.

Among her numerous scientific contributions, Prof Ying was recognised in particular for her role in developing glucose-sensitive nanoparticles that deliver insulin to diabetic patients only when their blood glucose levels are high.

The system does away with external blood glucose monitoring by finger pricks, and allows insulin to be delivered orally or by the nasal passage, instead of through injections.

Professor Hossein Zohour, head of the scientific committee of the Mustafa Prize, said the groundbreaking research is “an outstanding scientific approach of great promise for improving the quality of life of mankind in the near future”.

The other top award winner, under the Nano Science and Nanotechnologies category, was Jordanian chemist Omar Yaghi, co-director of the Kavli Energy NanoSciences Institute at the University of California, Berkeley.

The pair edged out 600 other nominees, including Nobel laureates and scientists in the top of their fields.

The Mustafa Prize recognises leading researchers and scientists of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states, and Muslim researchers from around the world.

Prof Ying, who was born in Taipei, and raised in Singapore and New York, converted to Islam in her 30s.

She told The Straits Times that she intends to use a portion of the prize money to get more students intrigued about science, such as through exchange trips to renowned overseas science institutions and better-equipped school laboratories. She will start her effort at her alma mater Raffles Girls’ School.

The Straits Times

Thursday, 24 December 2015

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


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,, Saudi Aramco World (July/August 2003, pp 24-33)


“The Inventor of the Cataract Operation”

 Ammar Ibn Ali Al-Mosuli

Ammar Ibn Ali Al-Mosuli

Name : Ammar Ibn Ali Al-Mosuli
Title : Oculist (kahhal), ophthalmologist, scientist,
Birth : 1010 in Mosul, Iraq
Death : NA
Nationality : Iraqi Arab
Occupation : Eye surgeon, oculist, ophthalmologist, researcher
Main interest : Ophthalmology, eye surgery, research.
Notable ideas : The inventor of the cataract operation by suction, using a fine hollow needle inserted through the limbus (where the cornea joins the conjunctiva). This was the best-performed operation of its time. This type of cataract operation among others is still carried out today. The operation of “couching”, i.e. violent displacement of the lens, dates back to Babylonian times, but this had its obvious complications and risks.
Works : Kitab al-Muntakhab fi ilm al-Ayn wa Mudawatiha bi’l Adwiya wal Hadid (Book of Choices in the Treatment of Eye Disease and Its Medicines and Medical Instruments), deals with anatomy, pathology and describes six case histories for cataract operation and a case of optic neuritis.



“Mr. Crack”

Prof. Dr. H. BJ Habibie

Prof. Dr. H. BJ Habibie

Name: Prof Dr Hj Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie
Title: ‘Mr. Crack’, Aerospace engineer, technologist, aviation scientist, aviation industrialist, politician, researcher, author
Birth: 25 June 1936 in Pare-Pare, South Sulawesi, Indonesia
Ethnicity: Javanese and Bugisnese
Nationality: Indonesia
Career: Research assistant at the Lehrstuhl und Institut fur Leichtbau RWTH Aachen, Germany; CEO of PT Nurtanio (Changed to PT IPTN, then PT Dirgantara Indonesia); Chairman, Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT), 1978-1998); Chairman, Agency for Strategic Industries (BPIS, 1989-1998), State Minister for Research and Technology (1978-1998); The 7th Vice President of Indonesia (March 10, 1998-May 21, 1998), and the 3rd President of Indonesia (May 21, 1998-October 20, 1999), lecturer, reeearcher.
Main interest: Aerospace engineering, aviation and strategic industries, politics, writing
Notable ideas: Producing theories on thermodynamics, construction, and aerodynamics, known as the ‘Habibie Factor’, ‘Habibie Theorem’, and ‘Habibie Method’; inventing the theory of crack on the aircraft’s boday so he later known as ‘”Mr Crack”; indirectly involved in the calculation and design of BO-105 Helicopter, Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA) and Several Missile and Satellite Projects; succeeded in flying a ‘N-250’ (dubbed ‘Gatotkoco’) commuter plane; adopting and approach called ‘Begin at the End and End at the Beginning’, a method that things such as basic research became the last things that the workers at IPTN focused on while actual manufacturing of the planes was placed as the first objective and “fly-by-wire”; introducing ‘Habibieonomics’ to overcome the Indonesia’s economic crisis; and involved in establishing the Association of All-Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals (ICMI).
Works: Detik-detik Yang Menentukan: Jalan Panjang Indonesia Menuju Demokrasi (Decisive Moments: Indonesia’s Long Road Towards Democracy) (Memoir 2006); and Habibie & Ainun (Memoir, November 2010 – made a movie with the same title in 2012)
Awards: Honorary Professor on Aircraft Construction, Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB, 1977) and Doctor of Science Honoris Cause, Ranfield Institute of Technology, England (1993).

Sources: Wikipedia;

Islamia/The Brunei Times
Friday, 10 June 2011

IBN JAZLA (1074 -1100): ‘The Philanthropist Doctor from Baghdad’

A frontispiece and page opposite of an Ibn Jazla's work.

A frontispiece and page opposite of an Ibn Jazla’s work.

Name: Abu Ali Yahya ibn Isa Ibn Jazla Al Baghdadi.
Title: Buhahylyha Bingezla (Latin), Byngazlawas, Bengesla, physician, pharmacist, philanthropist
Birth: 1074 in Baghdad
Death: 1100
Ethnicity: Iraqi Arab
Education: Tutelage in medicines from Mu’tazili Abu-Ali Ibn al-Walid and Said ibn Hibat Allah, the doctor of the Abbasid caliph al-Mouqtadi bi Amr Allah.
Main interest: Medicines, pharmacy
Notable ideas: 1. Composing a 44-table of 325 diseases which were arranged like the stars in astronomical tables. It provided a detailed explanation on the causes and symptoms of the diseases completed with the tables of plants and medicines which were used to cure the diseases and the steps to cure them, enabling ordinary people to classify one disease with another and to provide health treatment. 2. Promoting the value of music in cure, equating its effect with that of drugs. He was generous to his friends and acquaintances, giving them medical treatment free of charge and providing them with free medicine.
Works: Taqwim al-Abdan fi Tadbir al-Insan (translated to Latin by Sicilian Jewish physician Faraj ben Salim in 1280: Dispositio Corporum de Constittutione Hominis, Tacuin Agritudinum), the Latin version was published in 1532. A German translation was published at Strasbourg in 1533 by Hans Schotte; and Al Minhaj fi Al Adwiah Al Murakkabah (Methodology of Compound Drugs, contains an alphabetical listing of medicines and plants;) (translated to Latin by Jambolinus: Cibis et Medicines Simplicibus), Al Ishara fi Talkhis al-i’bara, Risalat fi Madh Tib wa Muafakatahu li Sharâ, (Treatise Lauding Medicine and its Compliance with the Islamic Precepts); and Risalat fi Ar-Rad ‘ala Al-Nasraniyah (Treatise Responding to Christianity).