From Huffington Post:
Here, the Huffington Post Germany presents eight things we owe to great Muslim civilizations.
Many Westerners, Germans in particular, are proud of their feats of technology and engineering. But where would engineers be without algebra?
The mathematical system became known in Europe in the twelfth century, when British Arabist Robert of Chester translated the writings of Arab scholar Al-Khwarizmi. Al-Khwarizmi, for whom algorithms are named, is known as the developer of modern algebra.
2. The toothbrush
Islam was the one of the first world religions to place particular emphasis on bodily hygiene. The Qur’an includes instructions for ritual washing. It is no wonder, therefore, that dental hygiene also grew in popularity as Islam did. Admittedly, the ancient Egyptians are thought to have chewed on twigs from the “toothbrush tree.”
However, the twigs, also known as “miswak”, only became known to a wider public when the Prophet Mohammed regularly used them to brush his teeth. While there is no mention of miswak twigs in the Qur’an, they are mentioned many times in writings by Muslim scholars.
3. Marching bands
Military marching bands date back to the Ottoman Mehterhane. These were bands which played during the entire battle and only ceased their music-making when the army retreated or the battle was over.
During the wars with the Ottoman Empire, the bands are thought to have made a considerable impression on European soldiers – after which they adapted the principle for their own use.
4. The guitar
The guitar, as we know it today, has its origins in the Arabic oud – a lute with a bent neck. During the Middle Ages, it found its way to Muslim Spain, where it was referred to as “qitara” in the Arabic of Andalusia.
It is said that a music teacher brought one to the court of the Umayyad ruler Abdel Rahman II in the ninth century. The modern guitar developed as a result of many influences, but the Arabic lute was an important predecessor.
5. Magnifying glass/glasses
Not only did the Arab world revolutionize mathematics – it also revolutionized optics. The scholar Alhazen (Abu al-Hasan) from Basra was the first person to describe how the eye works.
He carried out experiments with reflective materials and proved that the eye does not sense the environment with “sight rays,” as scientists had believed up until then. He also discovered that curved glass surfaces can be used for magnification.
His glass “reading stones” were the first magnifying glasses. It was from these that glasses were later developed. Furthermore, Alhazen wrote important scholarly texts on astronomy and meteorology.
Coffee is the best known of the Muslim world’s exports. While it originated in Ethiopia, it soon found its way over the Red Sea to the Arabian peninsula, where it grew in popularity.
It is thought that an Ottoman merchant brought the bean-based beverage to London in the 17th century. Venice gained its first coffee house in 1645, while Germany got to know the drink following the retreat of the Turks from Austria in 1683. Legend has it that the Sultan’s soldiers left sackloads of coffee behind.
The first modern hospital with nurses and a training centre was in Cairo. In the Ahmed Ibn Tulun hospital (named for the founder of the Tulunid dynasty), which was established in the year 872, all patients received free health care – a Muslim tradition which was institutionalized with the advent of the hospital.
8. Surgical Innovations
The Andalusian-born doctor Albucasis (Abu al-Kasim) was one of the most significant medical figures of the Middle Ages. In the more than 30 volumes he wrote, the tenth-century Arab scholar described how important a positive patient-doctor relationship is, and argued for the same standard of medical care for all, regardless of social class.
What if I told you that Islam once produced the world's most scientifically advanced and intellectually productive civilization?
It's true, and you'll probably hear more about it, this being 2015, the United Nations International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies, in which Islamic science will be showcased.
Many Americans might find far-fetched the idea that Islam spawned the most advanced and sophisticated civilization of its time -- especially now that some Islamic sects slaughter thousands of innocents in their bloody campaign to spread tyrannical Sharia law.
Yet Islam's Golden Age, extending from the 7th century to the 13th century, flourished while Europe and Christendom wallowed in the Dark Ages. Western society was considered a backwater, if considered at all.
Islam generated impressive advances in medicine, chemistry, physics, mathematics, astronomy, optics and philosophy. It created cities, observatories and libraries, and it engaged in far-flung commerce well before Christopher Columbus set sail.
Credit Islamic genius for the magnetic compass and navigational innovation, for algebra and the refinement of the numbering system that originated in India, for papermaking and the scientific method. While Greek and Roman learning faded in the medieval West, Islamic scholars were preserving and enlarging it -- long before the European Renaissance or Age of Enlightenment.
All this and more will be spotlighted during the International Year, which will open Jan. 19 at UNESCO headquarters in Paris and will aim to raise awareness of light science and its importance to mankind.
And by doing that, it necessarily will have to highlight Islamic achievements. For example, the opening event will focus on the multiple accomplishments of the 11th century polymath Ibn al-Haytham in optics, mathematics and astronomy. The Golden Age will get more attention Sept. 14 during a conference on its impact on "knowledge-based society."
So, what went wrong? How did Islamic society fall from one so open and inquisitive to the repressive and closed one that has produced few scientific advances and staggering intolerance?
Historians have offered complex and conflicting explanations that seem to fall along two lines: (A) It's our fault. Or, (B) it's their fault.
Read more at http://www.arcamax.com/politics/opeds/s-1604819