The Caliphs Gave News Services and Postal Systems to the World

April 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Mohammad Yacoob

The book, The Timeline of History, published during the fourth quarter of the 20th century, documents historical facts by establishing a linkage between people and events, and records introduction of the first organized news service in the Muslim world by the Caliph in 650 C.E. It also mentions the availability, in 942 C.E., of approximately 1000 stations of postal and news services to the public in the Caliph’s Empire. This timeline does not provide any details.

These milestones provided advanced communication between the various strata of the Muslim society in the Muslim world. The Divine message of ‘Read’ and spread the word of Allah, was taken to heart by the Muslim Ummah during the life of Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless and greet him, whose instructions and guidance brought a change in the lives of tribal and ethnic groups.

A cursory look at the golden age of Islam reveals that the scientific achievements made by Muslims were continuous during that era. The decline of the Muslim political power saw total absence of scientific achievements. Yet, the Muslim contributions to the human civilization are enormous and include astronomy, mathematics, physics, chemistry, natural sciences, medicine, music, philosophy, literature, history, geography, political sciences, sociology, architecture and arts. These are some of the representative achievements of some and not all of the scientists, inventors, philosophers and thinkers in the Muslim world.

Astronomy: The Caliphs, Sultans and Khans in the various regions of the Muslim world and during various times were very much interested in astronomy. This gave rise to the development and establishments of observatories throughout the Islamic world in cities of Baghdad, Cairo, Cordova, Toledo and Samarkand. The most famous Baghdad School of Astronomy was established by Caliph Mansur, whose reign lasted from 754 to 775 C.E. This school is credited for discovery of the movement of the sun’s apogee. It was also involved in evaluation of the obliquity of the elliptical diminution, which means the determination of the inclination of the earth towards the plane of orbit around the sun and the orbital path. The scientists at the Baghdad astronomy school also made detailed study of exact duration of the year, forecasted sunspots, studied eclipses and appearances of comets. These findings and other information data were recorded and compiled in the “verified Tables” prepared by Yahya Ben Abu Mansur. The great astronomers were Al Batani, Abul Wefa, Maslamah Al Maherbi, Omar Ibn Khaldoun, Averroes, Ali Ibn Younis, who invented pendulum and edited Hakemite Tables; Hasan Ibn Al Haitan wrote treatise on optics; Al Biruni published a list of towns and their latitudes and longitude; Nasr Ed Dine authored Ilkanian Tables of astronomy; and Ulug Beg’s work on astronomy was published in France in 1437.

Mathematics: Basic principles of arithmetic, geometry and algebra were developed by the Arab mathematicians. Al Khawarizmi wrote the algebra treatise entitled Hisab Al-Jabr Wal Muqabalah, Thabit Ben Garrah translated Ptolemy’s Almagest, Al Batani developed trigonometry and Mohammed Ben Ahmed is credited with the invention of zero.

Physics: Hassan Ali Haitan (Alhasan) conducted research into magnifying lenses and gave an exact description of eye, lenses and binocular vision. He finally completed a lengthy treatise on optics. Documented proof mentions that Muslim scientists were involved in perfecting the compass. Arab discovered use of pendulum for clocks. Ben Hamin of Toledo, Spain, gave description of the famous clock in the Mosque of Damascus. Muslim scientists developed navigational system and put compass to practical use by applying the magnetic needle.

Chemistry: The science of Kimiah was cultivated and advanced by Muslims scientists who discovered alcohol, sulphuric acid, aqua regia and nitric acid. They developed many chemical processes including distillation, sublimation, crystallization, coagulation cupellation, and more. Abu Mussa DJafar Al Sufi prepared Chemistry Scientific Encyclopedia called Sum of Perfection. Zakaria Al Razi (Razes) wrote a book on chemistry entitled al Hawi that listed the procedure and method of making sulphuric acid and alcohol. The other areas of chemistry that were given to this world are camphor, distilled water, plasters, syrups, ointments, art of dyeing, curing leather, tampering steel, paper and gunpowder.

Medicine: Medical services attracted Muslims most after mathematics and chemistry. Medicine formed an integral part of the education system during the first centuries of Hijri calendar. The medical research, encyclopedias, books and treatises written by Abu Bakr Ibn Zakaria Al Razi (Rhases), Abu Ali Al Hussein Ibn Abdulla Abi Sina (Avicenna), Abul Cassis and Ibn Zohar were used in European universities for centuries and these books were responsible for the advancement of medical sciences in Europe. Medical manual written by Abu Bakr Ibn Zakaria Al Razi became part of the curriculum of the Paris Faculty of Medicine in 1395. Abu Ali Al Hussein Ibn Abdulla Abi Sina’s Qanoon Fil Tib, published in Rome in 1593, deals with physiology, hygiene, pathology, therapeutics treatment methods and much more. The Qanoon Fil Tib was the most revered book that was used for medical studies in France and Italy from 12th to 17th centuries. A pharmacopoeia prepared at that time listed approximately 760 drugs for the treatment of diseases.

Natural Sciences: The Arab pharmacopoeia contained names of plants and medical substances which were unknown to Europeans and Greeks. Some of them are rhubarb, tamarind pulp, cssia, manna, sana leaves and camphor. The Arabs developed processes and used sugar instead of honey to concoct syrups, juleps, and also preserve herbs and fruits. They introduced perfumes and spices to the whole world including incense, sweet-smelling resins, attars of roses, nutmeg, cloves and pepper; also, tomatoes, asparagus, artichokes and exquisite flowers. The coffee was discovered by Arabs; it originated in Yemen.

Bernard Grunn wrote a book entitled The Timetable of History – A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. It was published by Simon and Schuster, New York in 1982. The recorded achievements of Muslims given in that book are listed here:

Seventh Century: Year 650: News Services. The Caliph Introduced the First Organized News Service. 695: Coin; First Arab Coinage.

Eighth Century: 711: Spanish Jews, Freed by Arabs, Begin their Cultural Development. 720: Abu Musa Dshaffar, Arab Chemist; Sulphuric Acid, Nitric Acid and Aquaregia. 750: Medicine and Various Sciences. Spain, Prime of Medicine, Astronomy, Mathematics, Optics and Chemistry. 760: Arabic Numerals in Baghdad. 774: Euclid’s ‘Elements’ Translated into Arabic. 782: Jabir, Great Arab scientist Begins Chemical Studies, Distinct from Alchemy.

Ninth Century: 810: M. Ibn Musa Alkhawarazmi wrote a book on equations and coined “Algebra”. 813: School of Astronomy in Baghdad. 814: Zero – Arabs take over Indian numerals including Zero to multiply by ten. 828: Astronomical System of Ptolemy translated into Arabic “Almagest”. 850: Coffee. Arabian Goat Herder Kaldi credited with discovery of coffee.

850: Astrolabe perfected by Arabs. 870: Philosopher / mathematician Al Farabi died. Al Kindi also died. 873: Physician Honain Ibn Iszhak died. 878: Al Battani, Arab astronomer, begins his observations. 885: Ibn Khordadbeh completed The Book of Roads and Countries. 889: Ibn Koteiba, Arab scholar and historian died. 900: Arab physician Rhases (died 923) mentions plague, consumption small pox and rabies as infectious diseases and describes them.

Tenth Century: 904: Ibn Doried prepared a manual of genealogy and etymology. 930: Cordoba, Spain, Seat of Learning, Science, Commerce and Industry. 940:  Abu Wefa, Astronomer / Mathematician, Born in Baghdad. 942: Arabs bring kettledrum and trumpet to Europe. 942: Postal and news services in the Caliph’s Empire have at their disposal approximately 1000 stations.

Eleventh Century:  1009: Ibn Junis authored Hikmite Table of astronomy. 1020: Poetry: Firdusi died. 1027: Omar Khayyam, poet and scientist born. 1038: Al Hazen, Arab physicist died. 1050: Important astronomic instruments arrive in Europe from eastern countries. 1059: Al Ghazali, Arab Theologian born. 1080: Astronomy. Toledan tables of position of stars completed.

Twelfth Century: 1100: Decline of Islamic science begins. 1150: Arabs in Spain manufacture paper. 1154: Geography – Mohammad Al-Idrisi published Geography at Palermo.

Thirteenth Century:         1200: Scientists – Ibn Al-Baiter, Arab Scientist born. 1201: Scholar Nasir Ed-din Et-Tusi born. 1201: Abdullah Ur-Rumi (1179-1229) published, Mu’jam Ul-Bulda, a Geographical Encyclopaedia.

Fourteenth Century: 1352: Ibn Battuta explores Sahara Desert.

The timeline of history does not record any other significant scientific events after the world famous Ibn Batutta travels. This timeline, however, mentions about News Services and Postal System introduced in 650 C.E.

The caliphs and the administrators working under the caliphs established a very strong communication system based on the words of Prophet Muhammad (s), may Allah bless and greet him, whose main purpose in life was to bring about the spiritual renaissance in this world and propagate the word of Allah. They used news services and postal system as early as 650 C.E. to spread the word of God.

In conclusion, a greater emphasis should be placed on holding on to the Islamic values. We must vigorously commence research into the past scientific achievements by Muslims. At the same time, we must continue research and knowledge acquisition in modern technology. It is our responsibility to help correct deficiencies found in contemporary world regarding Muslim achievement. This will also identify the ideas put forth by Muslims, discoveries made by them and treatises written that were stolen and plagiarized by the Europeans. We have to expose these people. We gave to the world the news services and postal system and why did we lose their ownership? We must find the causes of the decline of scientific achievement among Muslims. We must move into the forefront of spiritual renaissance and scientific advancement. We must work for welfare and improvement of mankind. We must work for Deen and Duniya. 

The world must be made aware of the contributions made by Muslims to modern civilization. We must provide this as a basis for our children to excel in achieving scientific knowledge. We must help our children become leaders not only in the spiritual arena but also in the scientific fields.

This can be done at two fronts: Visibility and Leverage. Become more visible in the scientific field. Involve yourself in scientific conferences, seminars and workshops. Display Islamic hospitality. Write a thesis, if involved in research, on a Muslim scientist, scholar or philosopher. Invite Muslims and non-Muslims to these conferences. Assert yourself, while holding on to the Islamic values. Continue to work hard. Make others realize that Muslims excelled and can still achieve excellence in scientific and communication fields. Remember, during the golden age of Islam, Muslims were making things happen. In this world, there are three types of people: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what happened. We must struggle, strive and make tireless strivings, and consider this as a part of survival. We must make this happen.

[The writer is Industrial Engineer and Engineering Proposal Analyst working at Northrop Grumman Aircraft Company in Los Angeles, California]


Examples of Advanced Ancient Technology

February 26, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

By Harun Yahya

Excerpted from the book A Historical Lie: the Stone Age

The Nimrud Lens

A discovery made by the archaeologist Sir John Layard in 1850 raised the question of who actually used the first lens? During a series of excavations in what is now Iraq, Layard discovered a piece of a lens dating back 3,000 years. Currently on display in the British Museum, this fragment shows that the first known lens was used in the days of the Assyrians. Professor Giovanni Pettinato of the University of Rome believes that this rock-crystal lens—which, according to him, is a major discovery shedding considerable light on the history of science—could also explain why the ancient Assyrians knew so much about astronomy, having discovered the planet Saturn and the rings around it.

To what use was this lens put? That answer may be debatable, but it’s still obvious that not all bygone societies lived simple lives, as evolutionist scientists maintain. Past societies made use of science and technology, built deeply-rooted civilizations and enjoyed advanced life styles. Only limited information regarding their daily lives has come down to us today, but practically all we know shows that none of these societies ever underwent evolution.

The Baghdad Battery

In 1938, the German archaeologist Wilhelm König discovered a vase-like object now known as the “Baghdad Battery.” But how was it concluded that this object, some 2,000 years old, was used as a battery? If it actually was used as a battery—which the research carried out certainly indicates—then all theories to the effect that civilization always progresses and that societies in the past lived under primitive conditions, will be totally demolished. This earthenware pot, sealed with asphalt or bitumen, contains a cylinder of copper. The bottom of this cylinder is covered with a copper disk. The asphalt stopper holds in place an iron rod, suspended down into the cylinder, without making any contact with it.

If the pot is filled with an electrolyte, a current-producing battery is the result. This phenomenon is known as an electrochemical reaction, and is not far different from the way that present-day batteries work. During experiments, between 1.5 and 2 volts of electricity was generated by some reconstructions based on the Baghdad Battery.

This raises a very important question: What was a battery used for 2,000 years ago? Since such a battery existed, obviously there must have been tools and devices that it powered. This once again shows that people living 2,000 years ago possessed far more advanced technology—and by extension, living standards—than was previously thought.

The Mayans: Another Civilization That Refutes the Idea of the Evolution of History

Almost all evolutionist publications have one thing in common: All of them devote considerable space to imaginary scenarios regarding why some biological structure or characteristic of a living thing might have evolved. The striking factor is that all the stories evolutionists dream up are depicted as scientific fact. The fact is, however, that these accounts are nothing more than Darwinist fairy tales. Evolutionists seek to present the scenarios they come up with as scientific evidence. Yet these accounts are all entirely misleading, of no scientific worth, and can never constitute evidence for evolutionist claims.

One tale so frequently encountered in the evolutionist literature is that of allegedly ape-like creatures turning into human beings, and of primitive man gradually becoming a social entity. Despite there being no scientific evidence to support them, reconstructions of these supposed primitive human beings—in which they are depicted as walking only semi-upright, grunting, walking together with their “cave-families” or hunting with crude stone tools—are the best known parts of this scenario.

These reconstructions amount to an invitation to imagine and believe. With them, evolutionists seek to convince people not on the basis of concrete facts, but of fantastic speculation, because these are based on their authors’ prejudices and preconceptions, rather than on scientific facts.

Evolutionists have no qualms about keeping these stories in the professional literature, nor about presenting them as if they were scientific truth, even though they are well aware of the erroneous nature of their accounts. However, these scenarios so frequently voiced by evolutionists constitute conjectures, not scientific evidence, for the theory of evolution, because there is no evidence that Man is descended from an ape-like ancestor. In the same way, no archaeological or historical evidence suggests that societies evolve from the primitive to the more advanced. Man has been Man ever since he first came into existence, and has created different civilizations and cultures in all periods of history. One of these civilizations is the Mayan, whose remains still inspire amazement today.

Historical sources refer to a tall figure in white robes who came to the communities living in this region. According to the information contained on monuments, the belief in a single God spread for a short time, while advances were made in science and art.

The Mayans: Expert Mathematicians

The Mayans lived in Central America around 1,000 BCE, at a considerable distance from other advanced civilizations like those in Egypt, Greece and Mesopotamia. The most important features of the Mayans are the scientific advances they made in the fields of astronomy and mathematics, and their complex written language.

The Mayans’ knowledge of time, astronomy and mathematics was a thousand years ahead of that of the Western world at the time. For example, their calculation of the Earth’s annual cycle was a great deal more accurate than any other such calculations before the invention of the computer. The Mayans used the mathematical concept of zero a thousand years before its discovery by Western mathematicians, and used far more advanced figures and signs than their contemporaries.

The Mayan Calendar

The Haab, the civil calendar used by the Mayans, consisting of 365 days, is one of the products of their advanced civilization. Actually, they were aware that a year is slightly longer than 365 days; their estimate was 365.242036 days. In the Gregorian calendar in use today, a year consists of 365.2425 days. 67 As you can see, there’s only a very small difference between the two figures—further evidence of the Mayans’ expertise in the fields of mathematics and astronomy.

The Mayans’ Knowledge of Astronomy

Three books which have come down to us from the Mayans, known as the Maya Codices, contain important information concerning their lives and astronomical knowledge. Of the three—the Madrid Codex, the Paris Codex and the Dresden Codex—the latter is the most important in terms of showing the depth of the Mayan knowledge of astronomy. They possessed a very complex system of writing, of which only less than 30% has been deciphered. Yet even this is enough to show the advanced level of science they attained.

For example, page 11 of the Dresden Codex contains information about the planet Venus. The Mayans had calculated that the Venusian year lasted 583.92 days, and rounded it up to 584 days. In addition, they produced drawings of the planet’s cycle for thousands of years. Two other pages in the codex contain information about Mars, four are about Jupiter and its satellites, and eight pages are devoted to the Moon, Mercury and Saturn, setting out such complicated calculations as the orbits of these planets around the Sun, their relationships with one another, and their relationships with the Earth.

So accurate was the Mayans’ knowledge of astronomy that they were able to determine that one day needed to be subtracted from the Venusian orbit every 6,000 years. How did they acquire such information? That is still a matter of debate for astronomers, astro-physicists and archaeologists. Today, such complex calculations are made with the help of computer technology. Scientists learn about outer space in observatories equipped with all kinds of technical and electrical apparatus. Yet the Mayans acquired their knowledge 2,000 years before the invention of present-day technology. This yet again invalidates the thesis that societies always progress from a primitive to a more advanced state. Many bygone societies had just as advanced a level of civilization as current ones, and sometimes even more so. Many communities today have not yet achieved the levels attained by societies in the past. In short, civilizations sometimes move forwards and at other times backwards, and both advanced and primitive civilizations sometimes exist at the very same time.

Network of Roads in the Ancient Mayan City of Tikal

Tikal, one of the oldest Mayan cities, was founded in the 8th century BCE. Archaeological excavations in the city, which stands in wild jungle, have unearthed houses, palaces, pyramids, temples and assembly areas. All these areas are connected to one another by roads. Radar images have shown that in addition to complete drainage system, the city also enjoyed a comprehensive irrigation system. Tikal stands neither by a river nor by a lake, and it was found that the city made use of some ten water reservoirs.

Five main roads lead from Tikal into the jungle. Archaeologists describe them as ceremonial roads. Aerial photographs show that Mayan cities were linked to one another by a large network of roads totaling some 300 kilometers (190 miles) in length and demonstrating detailed engineering. All the roads were made from broken rocks and were covered over with a light-color hard-wearing layer. These roads are perfectly straight, as if laid out with a ruler, and the important questions remain of how the Mayans were able to determine direction during the construction of these roads and what equipment and tools they used. The evolutionist mentality cannot provide rational and logical answers. Because we are dealing with a marvel of engineering, hundreds of kilometers long, it is crystal-clear that these roads are the product of detailed calculations and measurements and the use of the necessary materials and tools.