Faces of 1,000 years of Innovation

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 (tenth century)Original Source: 1001 Inventions

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 (944-967)1001 Inventions

Maryam al-Ijliya al-Astrulabiya

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

Rufayda al-Aslamiya (seventh century)Original Source: 1001 Inventions

Rufayda al-Aslamiya

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

Labana al-Qurtubiya (tenth century)Original Source: 1001 Inventions

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 (ninth century)Original Source: 1001 Inventions

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 (tenth century)Original Source: 1001 Inventions

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).

Al-Shifaa bint Abdulla (seventh century)Original Source: 1001 Inventions

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 (1304-1368/70)Original Source: 1001 Inventions

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 (1197-1248)Original Source: 1001 Inventions

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 (1432-1481)Original Source: 1001 Inventions

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 (1332-1406)Original Source: 1001 Inventions

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 (965-1039)Original Source: 1001 Inventions

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.

Al-Biruni (973-1050)Original Source: 1001 Inventions


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 (1304-1375)Original Source: 1001 Inventions

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.

Al-Zarqali (1029-1087)Original Source: 1001 Inventions


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.

Al-Zahrawi (936-1013)Original Source: 1001 Inventions


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.

Al-Kindi (801-873)Original Source: 1001 Inventions


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

Artist impression of 12th-century engineer Al-JazariOriginal Source: 1001 Inventions


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.

Credits: Story

Created by 1001 Inventions
Producers: Ahmed Salim, Shaza Shannan

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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