This Islamic scholar laid the foundation for the scientific method of the modern world.

Science is a really Big Deal. So who really invented the concept that would revolutionize our world? Throughout the course of history, there are a lot unsung heroes, sometimes its because someone else took their credit, or sometimes its because they were women in a male-dominated world, and sometimes too, its because the West didn’t include their works in history books. What a pity! Dear friends, meet Hassan Ibn al-Haytham — the father of the scientific method, or basically the inventor of Science.

Related media: Inventions And The World of Ibn Al Haytham

The Father Of Science

Hassan Ibn al-Haytham, an Islamic scholar and one of the pioneers of science, was born in what is now Basra, Iraq, sometime around 965 C.E. He later moved to Cairo in Egypt around the dawn of the 11th century, where he did most of his influential and revolutionary work. Though we can’t provide most details about his life and work, we can be certain about two things about his time in Egypt.

One, his intellectual competence was apparently recognized by all; and two, he had a habit of working beyond his imagination, and easily angering the wrong people. His first major project was to design and engineer a dam that was meant to regulate the flooding of the River Nile, but he later realized that was virtually impossible (and impractical). He later had a plum administrative title that also didn’t turnout well either, which displeased the Caliph.

The Dawn Of The Scientific Method

According to a 13th century account of his life and work, al-Haytham was feigned with fury to protect himself from the wrath of the ruler, who settled on placing him under house arrest instead of making him retire. But fortunately for al-Haytham, a comfortable penitentiary full of texts and tools was exactly what he really needed.

Over the decade, al-Haytham was able to prove that light travels in a straight line, and demonstrated how mirrors work, and finally made a compelling (though correct) argument that proved that light bends when traveling through water. His most impressive achievement and revolutionary contribution to science was, well, Science; or at least the scientific method.

Fascinatingly, not only did he want to show his works to the world but he also wanted to show the world how he did it — and wanted others to try their hands on his experiments. Meticulously, he documented his entire experiments in his infamous 40 plus academic work, which ranged in topics from the behavior of light to the motion of the planet to architecture and engineering.

Some revolutionary achievements of Ibn al-Haytham

A Foundation Laid For Geniuses

Nowadays, Ibn al-Haytham isn’t really a household name in the West as most scientists like Newton and Einstein are. But a couple of centuries ago, European scholars were influenced by his work. Al-Haytham’s most influential work, “The Book Of Optics,” became a top-seller among Europe’s favorite thinkers, which was translated into Latin about 100 years after his death.

Legendary critical thinker like Roger Bacon, Johannes Kepler, and even Leonardo da Vinci were influenced by his thoughts — although they mispronounced his name as “Alhazen” instead. As a matter of fact, the Selenographia — a 17th-century treatise on the nature of the Moon — placed al-Haytham at the frontier alongside the astronomical legend Galileo Galilei.

There’s no undisputed fact that Western science had it’s transformation by the works of al-Haytham. His meticulous approach really did pay off, and its high time we gave him some credits.

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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Fri, Apr 12, 2019.

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