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5 Muslim Inventions that Changed the World

1. Coffee

About 1,600,000,000 cups of coffee are consumed every day around the world. Billions of people rely on it as part of their daily routines. And yet, very few people know of the Muslim origins of this ubiquitous drink.

According to the historical record, in the 1400s, coffee became a very popular drink in Yemen, in the southern Arabian Peninsula.

Legend goes that a shepherd (some say in Yemen, some say in Ethiopia) noticed that his goats became very energetic and jumpy when they ate beans from a particular tree.

He had the courage to try them himself, noticing they gave him an energy boost. Over time, the tradition of roasting the beans and immersing them in water to create a sour yet powerful drink developed, and thus, coffee was born.

Regardless of whether or not the story of the shepherd really happened, coffee found its way from the highlands of Yemen to the rest of the Ottoman Empire, the premier Muslim empire of the 15th century.

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Coffeehouses specialising in the new drink began to spring up in all the major cities of the Muslim world: Cairo, Istanbul, Damascus, and Baghdad. From the Muslim world, the drink found its way into Europe through the great merchant city of Venice.

5 Muslim Inventions that Changed the World - About Islam

2. Algebra

While many secondary school students struggling through math classes may not appreciate the importance of algebra, it is one of the most important contributions of the Muslim Golden Age to the modern world.

It was developed by the great scientist and mathematician, Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khawarizmi, who lived from 780 to 850 in Persia and Iraq.

In his monumental book, Al-Kitāb al-mukhtaṣar fī ḥisāb al-jabr wa-l-muqābala (English: The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing), he set forth the basic principles of algebraic equations.

The name of the book itself contains the word “al-jabr”, meaning “completion”, from which the Latin word algebra is derived.

In the book, al-Khawarizmi explains how to use algebraic equations with unknown variables to solve real-world problems such as zakat calculation and inheritance division.

5 Muslim Inventions that Changed the World - About Islam

Without his work in developing algebra, modern practical applications of math, such as engineering, would not be possible.

His works were used as math textbooks in European universities for hundreds of years after his death.

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