Anyone who built a pinhole camera from a cereal box to watch the solar eclipse last week owes a debt to Islamic scholar Abu Ali al-Hassan Ibn al-Haytham (ca. 965-1041), known in the West as Alhazen. Alhazen began his career as just another Islamic polymath. He soon got himself in trouble with the ruler of…

Read More

In 2013, Charlie English, then international news editor of The Guardian, became obsessed with the news coming out of Timbuktu. Jihadists were destroying the city’s religious monuments because they were not properly Islamic and librarians were smuggling medieval books out of the city in order to preserve them from the jihadists. He was not the…

Read More

‘Abbas Ibn Firnas is not well known in the west but he’s a hero to little boys and aviation buffs throughout the Arab-speaking world. The Andalusian scientist was court poet and astronomer to Abd al-Rahman III in the days when Cordoba was the wealthiest and most civilized city in Europe.  Like many Muslim scientists of…

Read More