1001 Inventions: Discover the Muslim Heritage in our World is a touring exhibition which opens at the Museum of Science & Industry in Manchester during Science Week (10 - 19 March).
According to organisers, the accepted history of man's scientific achievements is incomplete, and the exhibition is an attempt to put the record straight on 1000 years of missing Muslim heritage.
|Pendulum In Mosque, 15th century|
For instance: who do you think made the first serious attempt at flight? And when? Da Vinci? Not according to Professor Salim Al-Hassani, originator of the exhibition.
"The first really scientific attempt to fly in the Muslim World was made in the 9th century - 600 years before Leonardo da Vinci. Abul Qasim Ibn Firnas, who lived in the Spanish city of Cordoba, built a glider which was capable of carrying a human being.
"People from the city turned out to see the maiden flight from a mountain top. His plane carried him some distance but then it crashed and he was fatally injured."
From coffee to clocks
This is one of many revelations of the exhibition which uses engineering principles, historical manuscripts and multi-media technology to revive a golden age of scientific innovation by Muslim scholars between 500 and 1500 AD.
Professor Al Hassani is chairman of the Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilisation. He says there are many things we rely on today which originated centuries ago in the Muslim world. These include:
- clocks including the first pendulum
- discovering coffee and sherbert, the first soft drink
- soap and public baths
- advances in medicine from pills to the first surgical tools
- astronomy, algebra and architecture
“The extent to which Muslims have contributed to Western Civilisation is not generally well known," says Prof Al Hassani.
"Yet these ancient scholars from the Islamic world gave us many of the everyday things we use today such as coffee, soap and clocks. This exhibition shows that Muslims have always shared the heritage that provides a platform for developments that makes the Western World tick."
The exhibition is non-religious and non-political but is aimed at dispelling negative perceptions of Muslims