There are great contributions of Muslims scientists in Biology especially dealing with plants and animals.
1- Ibn al- Haitham
Ali Alhassan Ibn Al-Haytham
(Basra, Iraq 965 – 1040)
Ibn al-Haytham was an astronomer, biologist, mathematician, and physicist.
His full name was Abu Ali al-Ḥasan, ibn al-Ḥasan, ibn al-Haytham Latinized as Alhazen. He was born in a small village of Basra(Iraq) in 965 AD. He was invited to Egypt for help to build a dam on the Nile. Then he settled in Cairo where he wrote a book which gave him enormous success, Kitab al-Manazir, a book on optics. Al-Haytham wrote approximately 200 books on science. (list of books by Ibn al Haytham ). After serving science he died at the age of 74 in about 1040 in Cairo, Egypt.
- He totally changed the ancient theories about light and the process of vision, by observing the pathway of light entering a dark room. He not only described different parts of the eye but also explained how light travel within the eye and forms image. He gave names to several parts of the eye, such as the lens, the retina, and the cornea.
- Book of Optics: Ibn al Haytham also set new standards in experimentation and wrote his great book “Kitabul Manazir” in about 1021 in Arabic, which was later translated with the title of “Book of Optics” around 1027.
- His Book of Optics was translated into Latin and other languages and is the most influential book written on optics that is why he is also called the father of optics. Before his book two theories of vision were present, the extra mission or emission theory presented by Euclid and Ptolemy, and the intromission theory given by the followers of Aristotle and Galen. Ibn al Haytham presented his own theory of vision and said that light coming from the infinite number of points from an object, enters the eye to make objects visible.
- He also wrote another book on humans titled as“Mizanul- Hikma”.
2- Abdul Malik Asmai (Basra, Iraq 740 – 828 A.D)
His full name is Abu Saeed, Abd al-Malik ibn Quraib al-Aṣma. He was born in Basra, Iraq in 740 A.D. and died there in 828 A.D.
He worked on various subjects such as poetry, Arabic grammar, Botany, zoology and animal husbandry. He was also interested in breeding horses and camels and the classification of plants.
He is regarded as the first Muslim zoologist because he is the first Muslim scientist who studied animals in detail.
Major books on biology written by him are
- Disposition of Man or Humanity (كتاب خلق الانسان) – Kitab Khalaq al-Insan
- Horses (كتاب الخيل) – Kitāb al-Khail
- The Camel (كتاب الابل) – Kitāb al-Ibil
- Sheep (كتاب الشاء) – Kitāb al-Shā
- Wild Beasts (كتاب الوحوش) – Kitab al-Wuhush
- Kitab al farq, The book of rare animals
- His botanical work includes 276 plant species, such as dates, figs, olives, etc.
3- Bu Ali Sina
(Bukhara, Uzbekistan, 980-1037 A.D.)
Ibn-Sina (Latinized, Avicenna) was born in Bukhara, present-day Uzbekistan, in 980 AD. He was a physician, philosopher, astronomer, and poet. He was died at the age of 56, in June 1037 in Hamadan, Iran.
Bu-Ali Sina wrote hundreds of books, among which two are the most prominent “Al-Qanoon Fit Tib” and “Kitab Al-Shifa”. He is regarded as the founder of medicine and is acknowledged in medicines, by the expert of his time in east and west.
- Ibne Sina wrote his famous book “Al-Qanoon Fit Tib” translated in English as “The Canon of Medicine”, an encyclopedia of medicine. He also wrote another marvelous encyclopedia named “Kitab Al-Shifa” (The Book of Healing) focusing on science and philosophy.
- He worked on psychology and described several human psychological disorders and their causes. He described the relationship between mental and physical activities of the body, defining how the mind affects mood and behavior in humans.
- He wrote on almost every discipline i.e. physics, mathematics, medicine, geology and geography, astronomy, human biology, chemistry, Islamic theology, logic, and poetry. He wrote almost 450 texts over 240 survived, most of them were in philosophy.
4- Jabir ibn Haiyan (721 – 815 AD):
He was born in Iran and practiced medicine in Iraq. He introduced experimental investigation in chemistry. He wrote a number of books on plants and animals e.g. “Al-Nabatat” and “Al-Hayman”.