[were united at least on the purely religious plane] for ninety percent of its history and this is in contrast to other major religions. This is also explained by Islam’s universality with its capacity to embrace all intellectual activities and adapt its teachings to all cultures.
The effort to maintain this unity via the integration of all religious disciplines moved beyond simply the religious and into broader â€œsecularâ€ subjects. Here, although the process was slightly more convoluted the result was the same: new sciences found its home in a broader and more enriched Islam. Initially because of needs related to record-keeping, calculation for the detailed Islamic rules regarding inheritance, for Salah timings and Qibla direction (of Prayer), the rulers appointed scholars of other cultures trained in astronomy and mathematics to translate works in these fields. From this early period Khalid b. Yazid (d. 843) and al-Khawarizmi (d. 850) and various other astronomers made their early and lasting contributions. The Prophetic medicine that grew out of the hadith literature was paralleled by intellectuals who wished to use resources of antiquity to learn medicine; and the Quran’s fascination with the ant, the bee, the spider, the cow after which suras are named may have contributed to the vast literature on zoology, particularly in al-Jahiza’s (d. 869) Book of Animals. The most advanced medieval chemistry also took root in this period with the works of Jabir b. Hayyan (d. 815). Furthermore, Islam’s superb architecture and civil infrastructure was not without theoretical considerations, and in this early period the Banu Musa brothers of the ninth century produced ingenious compilations on engineering. Due to the resourceful nature of Greek and to a lesser extent Persian and Syriac science, the rulers patronised scholarly activity directed at recovering texts of antiquity, translating and developing them. During this period of appropriation many non-Muslim scholars were employed in the translation movement. Following the eleventh century, however, after the institutionalisation of the madrasa, the sciences took on a more Islamic and mature form, creating the culture with the most advanced science of its time until the sixteenth century, when it had influenced the European civilization during its renaissance. These later scientists were men of religion (theologians) first and foremost and many were mosque time-keepers (muwaqqits). One historian of Islamic science summarised Whether it was in mechanics, with the works of Jazari (1205); or in logic, mathematics and astronomy, with the works of Athir al-Din al-Abhari (c. 1240), Mu’ayyad al-Din al-Urdi (d. 1266), Nasir al-Din al-Tusi (d. 1274), Qutb al-Din al-Shirazi (d. 1311), Ibn al-Shatir (d. 1375), al-Qushji (d. 1474), and Shams al-Din al-Khafri (d. 1550); or in optics, with the works of Kamal al-Din al-Farisi (d. 1320); or in Pharmocology, with the works of Ibn al-Baitar (d. 1248); or in medicine, with the works of Ibn al-Nafis (d. 1288), every one of those fields witnessed a genuine original and revolutionary productionâ€ (George Saliba, Islamic Science and the Making of the European Renaissance, 2007, p. 21). The decline of Islamic civilisation was characterised by a movement away from the core values of the religion, aggravated only by the onslaught of the West which had now become economically affluent through its adventures in the New World. Nonetheless, Islam’s success in producing such a vast and fruitful civilisation which went on to influence Europe, bears testimony to its uniqueness as a complete and universal faith capable of embracing and enhancing all useful human endeavours.