Based on the research on primary sources in the last few decades, we now know that some of the most fundamental notions of modern mathematics and science are a legacy of medieval Islamic civilization. Although the current research is far from giving us a full account of their contributions, we know that this legacy includes the number system that we use today, the fields of algebra and trigonometry, the concept of the algorithm, foundations of optics, the scientific method, important research in astronomy that played a crucial role in the Copernican revolution, and much more. These contributions, however, are generally not known, neither in the West nor in the Islamic World. In addition, misconceptions on the subject are widespread. A key reason for this lack of awareness is the absence of education about Islamic contributions to math and sciences and its influence on Renaissance Europe in the school curriculum. There is a great need to disseminate findings from academic research to the general public and include it in the school curriculum, to present a more accurate and inclusive history of science. Much effort is needed to remedy the damage caused by a Eurocentric narrative of the history of science that is inaccurate and incomplete and has dominated research and education for a long time.
We believe there is a need for teaching materials for a school curriculum on this topic. This project is an effort towards meeting this need. The materials presented on this page can be used by all who are interested in the subject: teachers, professors, researchers, students, and the general public.
Please note that this project covers a small subset of Islamic contributions to sciences. We focus on mathematics and mathematical sciences, only summarizing some of the contributions in this area. Islamic contributions to sciences extend to many more disciplines. Though we discuss some of the contributions to sciences from other civilizations as well, this topic is beyond the scope of this project. Many other civilizations made essential contributions to mathematics and sciences. The non-European roots of sciences are connected to many other regions and civilizations.
The materials on this page are produced by Lynn Butzlaff (Kenyon College student, class of 2022) under the supervision of Professor Aydin in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Kenyon College. The project was funded by the Mellon Foundation through a digital storytelling grant to Kenyon College. If you have any questions or comments, please contact Professor Aydin.