Aydın Sayılı

Professor of the History of Science, Ankara University

Keywords: Turkish Contributions to Islam, Scientific Work in Islam, History of Science, History of Islam


Mesopotamia and Egypt are the cradles of our present-day civilization. The origins of our science can be traced back to these two civilizations of four or even five thousand years ago. The Greeks inherited the science of these countries, appropriated it eagerly. They also endowed it with greater power of articulation and imparted fresh momentum to scientific work. In their hands scientific knowledge was not only considerably enriched, but it also gained substantially in refinement and theoretical stature. But with the advent of Christianity a period of stagnation gradually set in, and the era called the Dark Ages with all its superstitions and dearth of wellfounded scientific enlightenment began to weigh heavily upon the old classical Mediterranean world and the Near East. The situation changed with the advent of Islam. The history of Islam starts with the Hijra in 622 A. D. In that year Muhammed transferred the scene of his activities from the city of Mekka to Medina. The Prophet died ten years later, but before 650 the Arabs had managed to conquer Syria, Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Persia, and in these rapid conquests religious faith had served remarkably as a motive power for building a gigantic empire.