The Golden Age of Islam produced a large number of scholars, scientists, writers, translators and thinkers who changed the world forever. People of different faiths, nationalities and cultural backgrounds collaborated on ambitious studies that extended and preserved the knowledge of the ancient world. They translated the works of classical writers which are the foundations of modern Western civilisation and which today would be lost. They also used these works as the basis for their own research and discoveries, enriching the world at a time where everywhere people were still mired in superstition.
Here is a list of famous people from the Islamic Golden Age. Many of them were polymaths, which means that they were experts in lots of different subjects.
Muhammad ibn Musa Al-Khwarizmi was a scientist from Persia. Also a gifted mathematician, he is considered the father of algebra. He developed the subject into the form still taught in schools today. In fact, algebra is named after his landmark , book, Kitab Al-Jabr w-al `Muqabala. The word 'algorithm' is also based on his name.
Al-Khwarizmi also wrote books on astronomy, geography and arithmetic. He was so respected in Baghdad that he was appointed the astronomer and the head librarian at the famous House of Wisdom.
Fatima Al-Fihri (800CE to 880CE) lived in the 9th century. Born in Tunisia, she moved to Fez with her rich family. Like her sister Maryam, she became an expert in the works of the Holy Prophet. When her father died, Fatima used her inheritance money to rebuild an old mosque which had possibly the world's first university attached. To make sure her building project was sustainable, Fatima only used building material from the site.
People came to her university from all over the world to study astronomy, science, languages and Islamic studies. It is still running today.
Mariam Al-Asturlabi lived in the 10th century CE. She worked in the city of Aleppo, now part of Northern Syria.
Mariam made astrolabes, a very early kind of calculator that helped the user identify stars and work out latitudes. It was used by navigators to work out where in the world they were and by astronomers to study planets. Muslims also used astrolabes to determined the direction of Macca, the holy city. She was employed by the Emir, the ruler of Aleppo.
Mariam Al-Asturlabi has an asteroid named after her, the 7060 Al-'ljliya.
Hassan Ibn al-Haytam, (965CE to 1040CE) also known as Alhazen, was also a famous mathematician and scientist. Born in the Iraqi city of Basra, he spent most of his working life in Cairo, Egypt.
He was the first person to discover how our eyes work and published his idea in a book called Kitab Al-Manazir which spanned seven volumes.
When this work was translated from Arabic to Latin, the common language for scholars in Europe it influenced the whole world of medicine. Because of this Alhazen is considered the father of optics.
Abu Ali Sina (980CE to 1037CE), known in the West as Avicenna, is considered the most famous scholar of the Golden Islamic Age. A native of modern-day Uzbekistan, he memorised the entire holy Quran by the age of ten.
Avicenna was the most famous philosopher of his time. He wrote over 450 books, many of which survive. His most famous works were two medical encyclopedias, the Book of Healing and The Canon of Medicine. They were used in universities all over the world for hundreds of years. Through Avicenna's work, the world rediscovered the lost writing of ancien Greek scholars like Aristotle. Without his books, we would know very little about how the Ancient Greeks thought.