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Medieval Islamic Science: A Resource Guide

A guide to selected resources on the history of science in Islamic tradition.


Carol M. Highsmith, photographer. North Corridor, Great Hall science mosaic. 2007. Carol M. Highsmith Archive. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

At one point, it was held as fact that knowledge flowed from the ancient Greeks directly to Renaissance Europe via the translation and preservation of Greek texts by Islamic scholars. This view of knowledge persisted due to many factors but has become less prevalent as the years have passed. What is known today is that Islam and science have a rich relationship going back over a thousand years. Not only did Islamic scholars translate and preserve earlier Greek texts, they expanded and enriched those works and introduced invaluable works of their own during what historians have called the Islamic Golden Age.

The Islamic Golden Age is often pointed to in order to describe the flourishing intellectualism roughly from the 9th to 14th centuries CE. The establishment of the House of Wisdom in Baghdad under the Abbasid Caliphate in 832 CE is sometimes used as the beginning event. The rulers of Islamic civilizations put great stock in science, establishing centers of learning and funding translators, scholars, and philosophers to pursue knowledge in a variety of disciplines such as astronomy, mathematics, and medicine.

While the Library does have many English language resources on this topic, which are highlighted in this guide, we also have many non-English language materials. More information on non-English resources specific to the relationship between Islam and science from the Library of Congress can be found in the African & Middle Eastern Division Reading Room.

This guide is in no way meant to be comprehensive, but to give the researcher a good starting off point for this topic. Some resources will be duplicated on pages of different disciplines where they overlap.

About the Science Section

Part of the Science & Business Reading Room at the Library of Congress, the Science Section is the starting point for conducting research at the Library of Congress in the subject areas of science, medicine and engineering. Here, reference specialists in specific subject areas of science and engineering  assist patrons in formulating search strategies and gaining access to the information and materials contained in the Library's rich collections of science, medicine, and engineering materials.