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Arhcives of Truth (Part II)

In the last edition I explained that history is a vast tree of knowledge, however
little is known about Muslim history its contributions to society in regards to
medicine, science, mathematics, navigation etc…I would like to enlighten you on
some of these missing elements, I first started with navigation and medicine and
now I would like to tell of more missing elements, this time in science.

The Advent of Experimental Chemistry

One of the most sticking points in the history of science, a fact that has suffered
much from the distortion of scholarship dealing with the history of science is the
development of Experimental Science/Chemistry! Experiment is what
differentiates Muslim science from Greek speculations (called science).

Here are some of the founders of Experimental Chemistry: Jabir Ibn Hayyan, Al-
Razi and Al-Majriti

Jabir Ibn Hayyan(722-815)

Jabir Ibn Hayyan one of the earliest scientist and the promoter of chemistry (not to
use that silly word of the scholars father as if science has a father and a son) was
acquainted with chemical operations of crystallization, calcinations, solution,
sublimation, reduction, etc…Jabir sought to understand the changes that took
place during the process, besides giving opinions to their aims; for instance,
explaining how the aim of calcination is to remove impurities from metals,and
how metal are calcinated in different ways.
Jabir also describes processes for the preparation of steel, the refinement of other
metals, for dying cloth and leather, for the preparation of hair dyes. He also gives
recipes for making s cheap illuminating ink for manuscripts and mentions the use
of manganese dioxide in glass making. Some of his other achievements include his
writing Al-khawass(the greatest book of chemistry properties), Al-mawazin
(weight and measures). On top of that he built a precise scale that weighed 6,480
times smaller then the ratl(approx 1kg) ten centuries before John Dalton. He
defined chemical combinations as a union of the elements together, in too small
particles for the naked eye to see. And he invented a kind of paper that resisted
fire. He also identified many new products, including alkalines, acids, salts, paints
and grease.

Jabirs works with metals and salts subsequently helped develop foundry
techniques and glazing processes for tiles and other ceramics. Thus are illustrated
Jabirs tremendous achievements in science. Yet many Western scholars discredit
Muslim chemistry.

Al Razi to follow Jabir

Nearly a century after Jabir, flourished another Muslim maker of modern


chemistry: Al-Razi (b. 866). In his work Secret of Secrets, he made the very useful
classification of natural substances, dividing them into earthly, vegetable and
animal substance, to which he also added a number of artificially obtained ones
such as lead oxide, caustic soda, and various alloys. Al-Razi also set up the
laboratory in the modern sense, designing, describing and using more than twenty
instruments. Al-Razi did not just list the instruments used in chemistry, he also
gives details of making composite pieces of apparatus, and provides the same sort
of information as can be found today in manuals of laboratory art. Also his
systematic classification of carefully observed and verified facts regarding
chemical substances, reactions and apparatus, all in very clear language further
contribute to make Al- Razi of exceptional importance in the history of chemistry.

The Chemist from Madrid

Al- Majriti (950-1007), from Madrid hence his name, and already cited briefly,
was particularly for his work Al Butbat Al Hakim (The Rank of the Wise), which
amongst other things gives formula and instruction for the purification of precious
metals. This was collected and put together in the yr. 1009, two yrs. after his
death. Al- Majriti was also the first to prove the principle of conservation of mass,
credited 8 centuries later to French Lavoisier, the so called father of chemistry.