Faces of 1,000 years of Innovation 

1001 Inventions

Meet some of the leading lights of the Golden Age of science in Muslim civilisation in this exhibit, put together by 1001 Inventions curators, with help from actors and an artist.

Sutayta al-Mahamili

This tenth-century mathematician from Baghdad excelled in practical mathematics like arithmetic (hisab) and complex calculations. She was also an expert witness in courts.

Maryam al-Ijliya al-Astrulabiya

This skilled maker of astrolabes used for astronomy and time telling, lived in the 10th century in Aleppo, Syria.

Rufayda al-Aslamiya

She lived in the seventh century in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and was considered the first nurse in Islam.

Labana al-Qurtubiya

This tenth-century mathematician from Cordoba, Al-Andalus, was known for her knowledge in solving complex geometry and algebra problems.

Fatima al-Fihriya

Nicknamed Um al-Banin or "the mother of children", this ninth-century patron of art and buildings from Fez (Fes), Morocco, founded Al-Qarawiyin mosque which was dedicated to learning. It later became one of the oldest university in the world.

Zaynab al-Shahda

This tenth-century calligrapher from Dinavar, present-day Iran, who lived in Baghdad, was renowned for her work in fiqh (Islamic law) and hadiths (traditions or sayings of the prophet).

She was appointed as teacher of Yaqut, the last Abbasid Caliph’s calligrapher.

Al-Shifaa bint Abdulla

Living in seventh-century Makkah, Al-Shifaa administered medical healing at her house. Her real name was Layla, but she was nicknamed Al-Shifaa meaning healing.

She was appointed Muhtasibah - health and safety executive for the city of Madina.

Ibn Battuta

Abu Abdullah Muhammad, known as Ibn Battuta, was a renowned 14th century traveler, explorer, and chronicler.

His accounts document his travels over almost 30 years, covering 73,000 miles.

Ibn al-Baytar

Abu Muhammad Dia' al-Din Abdullah ibn Ahmad was a physician, herbalist, pharmacist, and botanist who lived in 13th-century Málaga, Spain. He wrote a dictionary of over 3000 plants and their uses.

Muhammad al-Fatih

Known as Mehmed II or al-Fatih, Muhammad al -Fatih lived in the 15th century in Adrianople, Thrace, Turkey.

He was an Ottoman sultan who conquered and ruled from Constantinople (1451-1481) and constructed many lasting buildings, including the first Muslim cultural buildings in modern Istanbul.

Ibn Khaldun

Abd al-Rahman ibn Mohammad lived in Tunis, Tunisia in the 14th and early 15th centuries.

He was a sociologist, historian, philosopher, and economist. In his famous Al-Muqaddimah or Introduction, Ibn Khaldun traced the rise and fall of human societies.

Ibn al-Haytham

Al-Hasan Ibn al-Haytham, also known by his Latinised name Alhazen, is an 11th century polymath who was born in Basra, Iraq.

He was a physicist and mathematician who made important contributions to the understanding of vision, optics and light.


Abul Rayhan al-Biruni was born in Khwarizm in 973 and died in Gazna in 1050.

He was a mathematician, geographer, pharmacist, physicist, and earth sciences scholar. He calculated the Earth’s circumference by using a highly complex geodesic equation.

Ibn al-Shatir al-Dimashqi

This famous fourteenth-century astronomer lived in Damascus, Syria. He invented a time-keeping device that was placed in the Great Umayyad Mosque in the city. He is also credited with measuring the inclination of the zodiac.


Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Yahya, also known as Arzachel and Al-Zarqali, lived in 11th-century Toledo, Spain.

He was an astronomer who compiled the Toledo Tables of astronomical and astrological data. He invented a universal astrolabe known as Saphea Arzachelis, which worked anywhere.


Abul Qasim Al-Zahrawi, also known by his Latinised name Abulcasis, is a 10th century physician and surgeon from Córdoba, Spain.

He listed over two hundred surgical instruments in his famous medical encyclopaedia Al-Tasrif.


Abu Yusuf Yaqub ibn Ishaq al-Sabbah from Kufa, Iraq was a cryptanalyst, mathematician, astronomer, physician, and geographer who lived in the 9th century.


Hailing from Diyarbakir in southern Turkey, Al-Jazari was fascinated by every kind of mechanism and designed machines and clocks in his The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices, completed in 1206.

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Created by 1001 Inventions
Producers: Ahmed Salim, Shaza Shannan

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