The Fate of Islamic Science Between the Eleventh and Sixteenth Centuries: A Comprehensive Review of Scholarship from Ibn Khaldun to the Present
Islamic science was originally viewed as mere translator and transmitter of Greek, Indian and pre-Islamic Persian science. Recent research has shifted our understanding of Islam's contribution to what is now called "the exact sciences." We now know that Islamic science "was even richer and more profound than we had previously thought." A substantial amount of genuine science was done in Islam, it predated similar discoveries in the West, and it also impacted upon the Renaissance. For example, in the late 1950's, E. S. Kennedy and his students at the American University of Beirut discovered an important work of a fourteenth century Muslim astronomer by the name of Ibn al-Shatir. This discovery showed that Ibn al-Shatir's astronomical inventions were the same type of mechanism used by Copernicus a few centuries later," and may have played a key role in the Copernican revolution. Consequently, an unprecedented acceleration of research into Islamic science started from the 1950s onwards. Recently, historian of Islamic science George Saliba was able to show that one of Copernicus's Muslim contemporaries - Kliafri - was a "brilliant astronomer, whose ability to work with the mathematics of his time is unsurpassed, including that of Copernicus," and that he could use mathematics much more fluently, and much more competently, than Copernicus could do.