Ibn al-Haytham – 1040 CE – The Birth of Modern Science

Yasir Qadhi


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Today Sharla let's do one of our atypical talks shall a little bit about Islam and science and also one of the most interesting stories in our history and also a little bit about the decline of science. A lot of various topics coming together and the persona I chose to, inshallah illustrate some of these lessons is one of the greatest scientists not only in our tradition, but in fact, in all of human history, so much so that in fact, most modern researchers say that this particular person is the father of modern science, and he is somebody by the name of Ibn Al Haytham Ibn Al Haytham. Now our story is not going to be just about him is going to be broader than him, but we

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have to begin with him so that we understand what we're talking about. Even though Haytham was born around 960 BCE in Basra. His name is Al Hasan Ibn Al Hassan Ibn Al Haytham. And so it has a liberal Hessen. The West called him Al has in a housing, they call them and housing. So in the West, they call them and housing. And he will grew up in Basra. And from a young age, he started studying the sciences, in particular physics and optics. And he started writing, he wrote over 250 books. I mean, this is a polymath, and he rose in fame. Now there's an interesting story here. And it is said that one of the reasons why he chose to study science instead of Religious Studies, which was the more

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common at the time, was that in the above said, caliphate at the time, at the end of the 10th century, there was a lot of sectarianism going on, which is very true. So a little bit of footnote here. The Vizier dynasty was the boy hit or the Bucha dynasty, and this is a dynasty that is not Sunni in nature, there are internationally and the above, Caliphate was very hardcore Sunni. And their main rival was actually the Phantom is in Egypt, which was a smiley. So there was a lot of sectarianism, warfare going on between the Sunnis, the eternal machetes, the southerners Israelis, and so it is said that this particular person became disillusioned with religious studies, he went

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to another discipline, and that is sciences. So he kept on rising. And he wrote, wrote treatises, one of the things he began to say at the time default of Empire was at its pinnacle, and the Nile had flood, and hundreds of people had died. It was one of the worst floods in in recent history in the last century. And so Ibn Al Haytham remarked, if I had power, I could stop the flooding of the Nile. And he perhaps wrote a treaties we're not sure exactly how about how to build the dam to stop the overflowing of the Nile. The Fatimid caliphate heard of this, and his name was Al Hakim amarilla. And so he sent him a job offer come and work for me, I'll pay you a fortune. You're going

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to be my engineer, come over to my site, leave the Abbasids I come over to my site. And so he accepted it was a very lucrative job offer. He accepted the job offer he moved from Basa all the way to Cairo to Fatimid Egypt. And he traveled to a swan a swan dam there's a dam right now he traveled to a swan. And he realized he had never seen the Nile before and the dam could not be built. There was too much water, the width of the river the velocity, he realized it could not be built. But there was now one problem. What is the problem?

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And how can we amarilla one madaraka Well, how can be umbrella the out of some of them? No, especially the Egyptians. For those of you who are not familiar with Al How can be umbrella. Let me begin our first tangent and this is intentional. Okay. One of the most bizarre leaders ever to rule over segments of the Muslim world is this particular persona. He is actually called the Mad King, the Mad Cow bailiff. He's called the Mad Khalifa. And Al Hakim, the umbrella of course, he's a foul timid. So this means he is from the summary the branch because the Ottomans were smiley, and how can they umbrella? We don't know. Was there a screw loose? Was he just whatever we don't know, he was

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very bizarre. He ruled for almost what 27 years, and his whole reign was full of one strange he'll come after another. For example, he decided for whatever reason, all the socks will be shut during the day. They're gonna be open during the night. So for a period of time, the whole night the souks had lights, and the daytime was shut. Another year he decided some dog must have worked at night, all the dogs of Cairo gonna be executed. So all of the dogs were killed, right? For some reason he didn't like women for some reason. So he said no women is going to leave their house for a particular period of time. Women were still leaving. So he told the the shoe makers stopped making

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shoes of women because women cannot go without shoes. So all the shoe shops that said

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big fitna for the women, all the shoe shops shut down. And so women didn't have shoes and so they could go on and on some bizarre rulings, and he was bloodthirsty. He would kill anybody for any reason. He did the most bizarre things. Now, of course, if another Haytham

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now he is in trouble, because he took the offer thinking he can do it, get the money, get rich and go back. Now when he realized he cannot do it, he is in serious trouble. So what did he do? He pretended to go mad.

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Started blabbering started going crazy. So he pretended he pretended to be senile, he pretended to go crazy. And so he was brought in front of Al Hakim, blabbering whatnot, and the doctors assumed that he's crazy. So and Hakim said okay, imprison him for life, otherwise, he will be executed, because he pretended to be crazy. Al Hakim said imprison him for life throw him in the dungeons of Cairo Subhanallah in the dungeons of Cairo, one of the greatest methodological changes occurred to which modern Western scientists say this is the birth of modern science in the dungeons of Cairo again, all of these quirks of history. Allah subhanaw taala brings everything together and amazing

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things happen. What happened in the dungeons of Cairo? He was shut there, not for 123 10 years. But instead of going crazy, he was doing research. How can you do research and the Dunn's at what are you going to do research on? What happened was one day he was in pitch darkness. So it was like, you know, solitary confinement, no light anything like this. And one day, from a crack in the wall, small hole in the wall, it was a very tiny hole that was supposed to be complete dark, he saw this hole come and give a complete image on the side of the cell. But upside down. The image was upside down. And this began to intrigue him what's going on here. And slowly but surely, he began

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researching optics and light and the theory of light rays in jail, and he began writing eventually al Hakim dies he's released. And he writes, he wrote over 250 books, one of his largest is a seven volume book seven volumes, called Kitab OLMA novel, The Book of another the book of light and optics, the book of manava, seven volumes, and in this book, he began the theory of light. Now, you should be aware that before before April, Haytham,

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Euclid and other ancient Greek physicist, they had a bizarre theory, they thought our eyes give rays. They thought our eyes give rays and those rays can see. And then we're seeing what the eyes emit. They had a bizarre theory. If another Haytham said this cannot be the case, because the image is upside down, because of that dot because of that hold the images upside down. So therefore, the rays are not coming from the eyes, they're coming from where

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the object, the object is sending rays to my eyes, and the rays travel, and that hold it that aperture, reverses. The top goes down and the bottom goes up, go back to grade seven physics the same diagram. Even Al Haytham was the first to draw that diagram that you now have when you're grade seven textbooks of science, even I hate him, he literally has diagrams like this, the top goes through here, the bottom goes through there, and the image has reversed around. And he began what is called the techniques of modern science, how so he writes in his Kitab manava, that one of the biggest problems of people is they trust previous scholarship too much. And they consider anything

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written by people before them to be valid. So we need to begin by doubt by skepticism. We need to begin by not trusting what people in the past have set and bringing a theory and then testing to see if that theory is valid. This is the beginning of modern science, right? You posit a theory, and then you bring tests. And so after he was released from jail, he did so many tests turned into the seven volumes of these tests that he did is to demonstrate that in fact light does come or rays are reflected from the object they are reversed around. He did research and optics he was the first to invent the camera box right so he wrote a treaties that was trying to say we're gonna get to this

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and this treaties paved the way for our theories of optics for telescopes for cameras, so some say I'm gonna hate them invented the camera. This is a bit of an exaggeration. He didn't invent the camera, but he invented the technology that is used for the camera. This is imminent, Haytham and so his book became extremely popular as we said it

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just called eatable mother. And so in his own lifetime he became a living legend he passed away in Cairo in 1040 BCE or so. Now, once his book spread across the Muslim world, there were three hola at this time. There's the Khalifa in Baghdad. There's the Khalifa in Egypt, and then there was the third Califa.

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Under this, there's three calibers at the time, each one wanted his writings. So the Khalifa of Andalus orders his entire writings, right. So they are brought to underdose within a few decades, and in underdose. Again, this is Allah's cover all of this happening at the same time. In Andalus, the Reconquista has begun the conquering of Muslims, Spain, but it is still 10 100 1100. So Granada is going to be protected for another 500 years. What was the first city to fall, the first city to fall in 1084 was Pullela. Toledo. The first city to fall was Toledo. And the rest of Spain was Muslim. So what happened here was that Toledo then became the one place in the whole world where

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Muslims and Christians lived side by side, no animosity. The Muslims were not expelled from Toledo. Why would they not expel because all of Andorra says Muslim, they're not there's no war right now is just the Christians have conquered and the Muslims can live in Toledo. This is 10 at 1100 1150. So in Toledo, what happens? The translation movement begins. And what is this translation movement, from Arabic into?

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No into Latin, from Arabic into Latin. This movement was to change Europe forever. It translated all of the classical books that the Muslims use for their sciences. By the way, they also translated the Quran the first time the Quran was translated into European language in Toledo in 10, or 1111 at 1180 by

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Robert of Catan from England, Robert F. Kennedy, Robert of Catan. I think I mentioned his story if I haven't, he came from England to study medicine and under Lucia once upon a time Europeans came to Muslim lands to become doctors. These days we come here to study right once upon a time, people would come to Muslim nuns to become doctors. So Robert of Catan Catan is a place in England small village, he traveled to under Lucia to become a doctor. But the pope requested him forget being a doctor become our translator. He started translating the Quran many books of the books that were translated in Toledo was GitHub, which GitHub, GitHub will win over of Ibn Al Haytham, one of the

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first books to be translated. And this sparked an entire, if you like generation of thinkers in Europe, including

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Roger Bacon, and including Galileo, and including what's the guy who did the stars, I forgot his name.

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I forgot his name will come to me. All of these even even know even the Italian guy DaVinci DaVinci. Some of his diagrams, you've all seen the Vinci's diagrams, they're famous, right? Some of his diagrams are copy paste from GitHub, Illuminati, right. So DaVinci, and Galileo and bacon, and all of these guys are actually reading GitHub Palmanova. And that's why Al has in his name. Everyone hates them and has him and has and they call them Al Hasan. Al hasn't became a household name in all of Europe. Unfortunately, many of us don't know him. But in the 13th 14th 15th century, he was considered one of the greatest scholars of the world so much. So the first book written in English

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the first book of poetry written in English, who can tell me what that was quizzing you guys totally different topic.

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The first book written in English,

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you should know this, the first book written English the first book of poetry, the first book of literature, written in what we call English, Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, right. Canterbury Tales. The Canterbury Tales mentions Al has him by name as one of the greatest scholars of the time. Now, all of this to conclude on this point, what happened to us? Like why did we go from being the leaders of technology from the leaders of optics, this book literally influenced the entire European concept of optics of race, Galileo couldn't have done what he did, without having read gettable, my novel. It was the basis and then he built on it. So what happened to our civilization? Why did we

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decline? This topic cannot be answered in a simple hot era. But I'll tell you five predominant theories, five simplistic solutions, the first of them, which is the most popular

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100 years ago, this was the common one in this part of the world in Western and Western world. They would say the reason why the Muslim world declined intellectually was because of the lemma.

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And in particular, they blamed one person of Azadi. And there was this theory back in the 40s, especially for producers very common that other bizarrely budgeted Islam was single handedly responsible for the decline of the OMA. Okay. Yeah. And why would they say this a long story, but simplistically, they said, Allah zali, his stance against the philosopher's and Ibn Sina, and his claim that even seen as committing Cofer and whatnot, this is the cause of the decline of the OMA. So point number one, they said, or the first theory, the scholars of Islam, the Obama shut down science and intellectual thought, now to gently respond to this or harshly respond to this. You're

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giving way too much credit to the scholars, the scholars might have said whatever they did, it didn't impact the research of the scientists. There was never a Pope or a shareholder Islam that burnt somebody on the stake that happened in Europe, there was never a trial of Galileo and said, Oh, this is cool for you're gonna be killed because you say chemistry, physics, math. No, it is true. Because it and even Tamia. And everybody that's cleric said, even Siena is outside the fold of Islam. This is a factual truth. And by the way, this is not the time to go there. But this is a very awkward topic that we need to actually be frank about. Many of our scholars did not like many of our

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scientists, that's also a factual statement. And as you know, me, I don't sugarcoat, and as you know, me, I don't romanticize the past, because there's no point in doing that fact of the matter, there was tension. And it is almost impossible to find an alum of the religion who was also a scientist. But by the way, the reason also is that you can specialize, I can specialize in medicine, and in Islamic studies, I can specialize in PhD in optical physics and interference Euro, you owe one life, right. But fact of the matter is, there was also tension. And a lot of our scholars did not like the theological, but that's the key point. They didn't care about, you know, the

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discoveries of medicine, whatnot. They didn't like some of the theological positions of many of the scientists, not all of the scientists, many of them. This is the first theory, the second theory, what is the decline of the OMA is done by most of us practicing Muslims. Who do we blame?

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Who do we blame? Who do we like to blame?

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The West,

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how do we blame the West? What one particular issue? Colonialism? So this is the second theory, that the cause of the decline is not us. It's you guys. You guys came in invaded. You guys took over you guys colonize 90% of the Muslim world. You guys created 55 nation states, although this is correct, but there's one problem. Our decline began far before colonization, factually speaking. So this is a simplistic throwing away but it doesn't the book still with us. Okay. So that's the second theory. The third theory is that the level of confidence that the OMA had when it reached his pinnacle, load them into a sense of superiority, we don't need to do any more research now. We don't need to be

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cutting edge. Once they became a global empire. They felt a level of confidence where this curiosity this inquisitiveness just went on the decline. Now, the problem with this theory is difficult to prove. It's a theory. How do you prove this? But it's there. The fourth theory is that the main cause of decline is the Mongol invasion.

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The Mongol invasion the sack of Baghdad and the 1250s when the one when hula Chohan came, Genghis Khan came before him and then Hulagu Khan came, the invasion of the Mongols destroyed the abovesaid caliphate, right? dispersed hundreds of libraries were destroyed millions of books and 10s of millions of people. So the Mongol invasion has single handedly said this was the biggest catastrophe that stopped the OMA in its tracks. Now, this theory actually does have a little bit of sense because we really see a sharp divide pre Mongol and post Mongol invasion. We really do see this right. So actually, this theory might have some some legitimacy to it. Okay. And then the fifth and

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final theory is that it's not so much that the OMA declined. It's that the West caught up and then superseded

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it's not the OMA went down. It's the Renaissance took place the Reformation took place, Europe overthrew the shackles of the Dark Ages via the catalyst of the Muslim empire, no doubt why the catalyst of the translation movements and then Europe continued to Rise, Rise Rise, and the ascent then overtook the Muslim empire. Now, this all of these theories under

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As more in my humble opinion, there is no single cause that we can unilaterally say, Oh, this is the reality. And perhaps Perhaps all of these five and more have a role to play in this regard. In the end of the day, though, we do need to move beyond romanticizing the past, we do need to move beyond Oh, we had even CNN we had Abner Haytham. Okay, what do we have now? Right? It's good to take courage from the past to learn that, indeed, once upon a time, we had all of this. But in my humble opinion, we need to move beyond just talking about the past. In order to feel good about today, we need to start thinking civilization Lee, what can we do to revive the OMA politically, economically?

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What can we do to preserve our identity beyond just what we are doing currently now? And these are questions that I don't have the answers to because it's beyond my speciality. But every one of us needs to think, why was the OMA so different? 1000 years ago, when actually the world was a very different place, we actually were in charge. Now with technology. And with all of this, we should be at the cutting edge, you would think it's easier to do more productive things. So inshallah with this, I conclude with a simple plea to all of us to not just think about the past and romanticize but to ask ourselves, what can we do to revive that spirit of civilization, that spirit of is that

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is beyond just the one aspect of religion it goes to science and technology into medicine? Once upon a time, and I know it sounds romantic past but it is true. We did have the greatest civilization, the strongest currency, the most beautiful libraries, the best scientist of every field. What happened? I don't have an easy answer, but our religion is not the cause of our decline, because our religion was the one in charge and we still had all of this is so what is that? Cause? I don't know. But every one of us should try to think about how we can preserve and keep the legacy alive. We ask Allah subhana wa Tada that he blesses us all to be in my fattier, Alfredo Cheung, sha Allah will

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continue next weeks and I'm not going to lie about it. Gotcha.

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me Mr. Heaton doll Seanie.

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Doesn't show

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me what

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to me.

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down to

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me down