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10 Muslim Inventions We Use Every Day

From the first university to the toothbrush and beyond, there are numerous astounding Muslim inventions that have shaped the world we live in. The roots of these fundamental ideas and objects are the focal point of a book called “1001 Inventions,” which unveils the forgotten history of the 1000-year Muslim legacy. In our list, we’ll highlight ten of these inventions that continue to be an integral part of our lives. We hope you enjoy reading about them.



Until the 13th century, people struggled with sleep without the stimulant we all know today as coffee. It was a simple yet essential discovery made by a goat herd and an observant shepherd named Khalid that changed this. He noticed that when his goats ate a certain fruit on the slopes of Ethiopia, they became more lively and energetic. The beans from these fruits were later collected, roasted, and brewed, thus giving birth to the discovery of “coffee.”



A devout Muslim and a skilled engineer, Al-Jazari, was the first to conceive the concept of an automatic machine. Starting in 1206 and beyond, he crafted countless clocks in various sizes and forms. Just like us today, Muslims back then needed to discipline their lives around time. Al-Jazari remained true to Islamic traditions in his clock-making, recognizing the importance of knowing time for performing religious rituals at the right times.



Ibn al-Haytham transformed optics from a philosophical subject open to debate into one grounded in scientific observation. He rejected the Greek claims of viewing what is unseen through an unseen light and established that sight was made possible by light reflecting from objects. He demonstrated this theory by conducting the dark room experiment and named this dark room “qamara,” which was the world’s first Camera Obscura.

Hygiene Products

HIjyen Malzemeleri

For a Muslim, faith is built on both spiritual and physical cleanliness. In the 10th century, hygiene products used in the Islamic world had no match even in today’s world. Muslims went beyond just washing with water; they sought real cleanliness, and this led to the invention of soap. This hygiene product was widely used in public baths. The same Al-Jazari, known for his clock-making, also developed an automatic device for pouring water when performing ablution (wudu). Additionally, although renowned for his philosophical works, the polymath Al-Kindi wrote a book with hundreds of exquisite, aromatic perfume recipes. Europe learned the art of perfume-making from this very book.



Research has always been crucial to Muslims. The Quran encourages them to seek knowledge, observe, and learn. Therefore, an earnest and devout young woman, Fatima al-Fihri, aimed to establish an educational center in Morocco. Much like some major mosques, Al-Qarawiyyin quickly evolved into a place for religious studies and political debates. It gradually expanded its educational fields to become the first university in history. With a history of approximately 1,200 years, the university is still active and continues to host seekers of knowledge.

Early Ventures in Flight

Ucmaya Dair GIrisimler
Abbas Bin Firnas

Abbas ibn Firnas was the first person who engaged in serious attempts to create a flying machine and partially succeeded in doing so. In the 9th century, he designed a flying apparatus that resembled a bird costume. His most famous experiment near Cordoba in Spain allowed him to remain in the air for a few minutes. However, during the landing, he got injured as he lacked a tail, and he could not make another attempt. Without a doubt, his endeavors served as inspiration to many, including later figures like Leonardo da Vinci, who ventured into this field.

Surgical Instruments

Cerrahi Malzemeler

In the 10th century, a Muslim physician known as Abulcasis, or Albucasis in the West, wrote a comprehensive medical encyclopedia called “al-Tasrif.” In the surgical section of his work, he detailed over 200 surgical instruments. The use of these tools was nothing short of revolutionary in surgical interventions. With this development, medicine evolved from a theoretical practice into one based on scientific foundations. This work is the first known illustrated guide on surgical instruments, many of which are still usable today with minor modifications.



Maps have been essential for people to navigate for over 3,500 years. From the first maps etched into clay tablets, the invention of paper marked a significant advancement. Nowadays, technology like satellites aids our navigation. In the past, travelers and traders from the Muslim world embarked on journeys driven by religious and commercial motivations, and they shared their experiences, describing the landscapes, peoples, and places they encountered. Initially verbal, these accounts later developed into written guides, and by the 8th century, they started to be recorded on paper in Baghdad, paving the way for the creation of the first maps and travel guides.



Did you know that the foundations of the songs you enjoy today were laid by Muslim artists from the 9th century? Muslim artists, especially Al-Kindi, used a music notation system that involved transcribing melodies into written form. They created a system that not only recorded music but also made it suitable for solfege, naming notes with syllables. Today’s musical notations (do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, si) closely resemble the syllable-based system used by these early Muslim musicians. Besides, Muslims also invented musical instruments like the kanun.



The first work on algebra was found in a book titled “Kitab al-Jabr wa’l-Muqabala,” written by Al-Khwarizmi in the 9th century. Considering that Greek mathematics was mainly geometric, the importance of this innovative system becomes evident. Al-Khwarizmi’s work paved the way for algebra to become an integral part of mathematics. He also introduced the concept of using powers and the term “al-jabr” for addition and “al-muqabala” for subtraction, which contributed to the development of modern algebra.

As you can see, diligent Muslim scholars of the past made significant contributions and inventions in various fields, which continue to influence our lives today. Subsequently, a certain inertia seemed to settle upon us, while the Western world embraced and developed our values, rendering us seemingly bound for inevitable defeat in the technical realm. However, our Lord clearly states in the Quran that knowledge and success are granted to those who seek them. Let us awaken from our slumber, shake off the dust of laziness, and be free from the chains that bind us to our comfort. We pray that this may happen as soon as possible.

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