Cover image for Science in medieval Islam : an illustrated introduction
Science in medieval Islam : an illustrated introduction
Turner, Howard R., 1918-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Austin : University of Texas Press, 1997.

Physical Description:
xviii, 262 pages : illustrations, maps ; 23 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
Q127.I742 T78 1995 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



During the Golden Age of Islam (seventh through seventeenth centuries A.D.), Muslim philosophers and poets, artists and scientists, princes and laborers created a unique culture that has influenced societies on every continent. This book offers a fully illustrated, highly accessible introduction to an important aspect of that culture—the scientific achievements of medieval Islam. Howard Turner opens with a historical overview of the spread of Islamic civilization from the Arabian peninsula eastward to India and westward across northern Africa into Spain. He describes how a passion for knowledge led the Muslims during their centuries of empire-building to assimilate and expand the scientific knowledge of older cultures, including those of Greece, India, and China. He explores medieval Islamic accomplishments in cosmology, mathematics, astronomy, astrology, geography, medicine, natural sciences, alchemy, and optics. He also indicates the ways in which Muslim scientific achievement influenced the advance of science in the Western world from the Renaissance to the modern era. This survey of historic Muslim scientific achievements offers students and general readers a window into one of the world's great cultures, one which is experiencing a remarkable resurgence as a religious, political, and social force in our own time.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Over the ages, in all cultures, inquiring minds have probed into, reflected upon, and drawn conclusions about the phenomenal world of experience in a great many ways. The record of all this constitutes the history of science. This book, by documentary and educational film and TV writer Turner, but with the assistance of innumerable experts and scholars, is based largely on material collected for an exhibition (The Heritage of Islam). It is a very readable compendium of the major achievements of Islamic science in the Middle Ages: its men, its findings, its explorations, its translations, and its services of transmission. Dynamic, creative, and intrusive civilizations are also curious about other cultures from which they draw freely; this is reflected in the evolution of medieval Islamic civilization. Subdued and long-unproductive civilizations are also defensive and afraid of foreign influences, and have a tendency to glorify their own past. This too is reflected in modern Islamic civilization. Though much of the information in the book is available in other works (as indicated in the extensive bibliography), this book is interesting for at least three reasons: (1) its very fine and interesting photographs; (2) its general readership level; and (3) its perceptively written epilogue, which reflects on Islam in the modern world. V. V. Raman Rochester Institute of Technology

Table of Contents

Foreword and Acknowledgments
1 Islam as Empire
2 Forces and Bonds: Faith, Language, and Thought
3 Roots
4 Cosmology: The Universes of Islam
5 Mathematics: Native Tongue of Science
6 Astronomy
7 Astrology: Scientific Non-science
8 Geography
9 Medicine
10 Natural Sciences
11 Alchemy
12 Optics
13 The Later Years
14 Transmission
15 The New West
16 EpilogueIslam and the World: A Summary Timeline
Works Consulted
Illustration Sources