Art & Architecture

Digital Storytelling of Muslim Scholar Inventions Adapted from Islamic Ancient Manuscript

Historical Background

Many Islamic engineers, geographers, artists, philosophers, scholars, traders and poets from the Islamic world contributed substantially to sciences, agriculture, economics, law, the arts, sociology, literature, philosophy, navigation and technology in the Islamic Golden Age. This, they did through the preservation of the existing earlier traditions or by making their own additions through innovations and inventions (Ceccarelli, 2007). Researchers have been concentrating on the digitization of the inventions made by the western inventors, in which they are converted from the 2D dimension to the 3D dimension thus transferring the information from the analog form to the digital form. After the conversion to digital form, the information is integrated into the digital libraries bringing it closer to the user’s focus.

Such inventions have received worldwide acclamations while those of the Islamic inventors have been ignored substantially (Russo, et al, 2009). Due to the advancement in technology and the digitization of the western inventions, the younger generations have gained enough knowledge of who is who among the western inventors but they lack considerable knowledge of the Islamic inventors who made significant contributions to modern technology. Conversely, the inventions of such important Islamic inventors as Al-Jazari have received acclamation of late with the digitization of his book, Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices, but the digitization is taking place at a very slow rate thus, it should be fastened to provide adequate information on the Islamic inventions to the world.

Problem Statement

Many Islamic inventors have not gained the worldwide acclamation that they deserve as a result of their significant inventions that have contributed greatly to modern technology. This is because the Islamic manuscripts have not been subjected to the rigorous digitization process that the western invention manuscripts have been subjected to (Biddle, et al, 2003). This problem makes undertake this study because the bulk of people who have knowledge about the Islamic inventions are few as compared to those who have knowledge about the western inventions.

Significance of the Study

The significance of this study is to ensure that the attention of scholars, researchers and institutions is drawn towards the palpable crucial issue of the digitization, safeguarding and scientified study of the Islamic inventors as well as their fundamental inventions, which have been thrown into modern technology (Boden, 2008). The inventions had a significant influence on medieval Europe and these influences led to the birth of the modern technology that has been embarked on in the modern world as well as the western civilization. The major focus of most scholars, researchers and institutions has been on the inventions of the western inventors such as Alexander Graham Bell due to the widespread digitization of their work.

Many scholars, researchers and institutions have been conducting an extensive reach on the main reasons behind western civilization and with the digitization of the Islamic inventions, they will learn more about the contribution of this era to western civilization (Lapidus, 2006). Different Islamic scholars, researchers and institutions have exhausted all the research topics about Islam but this is a topic that has not been dwelt on by most people thus the information from this study will effectively impart more technical knowhow on their research. This study will impart appreciation to the younger generation for the struggles and perseverance and determination exhibited by the Islamic inventors as they produced technological and scientific advances harmoniously inline with individuals originating from other faiths. This study can also enhance the production of books by both researchers and scholars, which can acquire high economic value especially from the Islamic community.

Significance of the Findings

Digitization involves the conversion of analog material into a digital form in which the digitized material is integrated together and sent enroute to a targeted database that acts as a rich source of valuable information (King & Donald, 1998). The digitization of information culminates into the creation of digital libraries that bring information into the closer focus of the targeted user. In this case, with the digitization of the Islamic manuscripts containing Islamic inventions, users can easily search and manipulate the information as a valuable contributor to further research in the field of mechanical technology. Information sharing is one of the most important aspects of research and knowledge acquisition. With the digitization of Islamic inventions, scholars and researchers can share crucial information that can be the foundation for innovative inventions in the future, based on the basics of the Islamic inventions.

With digitization of information, a young generation of inventors can come up based on the accessible information they will unearth on the technological inventions made by the Islamic inventors of the past (Krebs, 2004). In addition, with the digitization of the Islamic inventions, new research techniques and skills will be adopted by the students of the institutions that make the information available through the diverse opportunities engendered from the online imaging techniques. The narrowing of the digital divide can impart positive norms on the generation that believes on the negativity of the teaching of Islam while on the other hand; the same teaching encompasses diverse positive lessons. When the Islamic inventions are digitized, they will contribute largely to modern knowledge management in which tacit information is diffused to a larger audience after being codified. In this case, the finding of this study will enhance the diffusion of important historical information to the generation to come thus enhancing the learning processes in the institutions of learning that adopt the method.

Aim and Objectives

The aim of this study is to focus on the importance of the digitization of the work of one Islamic inventor by the name Al-Jazari such that different people will acquire knowledge of the functionality of his machines without focusing on the physical machines (Miranda, 2007). This is for the reason that the current machines, which have been constructed from his instruction found in his Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices, have greatly diverged from the original specifications due to the lack of mathematical calculations in his instructions.

The main objectives of this study include:

  • To convert Al-Jazari’s inventions from 2D to 3D, thus enhancing the understanding of their importance to modern technology as well as how they can function if built.
  • To present the inventions in a 3D presentation thus enhancing the understanding of the importance of digitizing all Islamic inventions as they contributed greatly to western civilization.
  • To focus on the manner that can be utilized in the digitization process to reduce the amount of time taken for digitization as the study is fundamental and will contribute greatly to research and the learning process.
  • To create awareness to both the non-Muslims and Muslim communities together with the Muslim spirit that created capable minds that created a breakthrough in scientific technology that culminated to the renaissance of technological inventions in the western world. Those technological inventions made in the western world are the main focus of modern research while the contributors of these inventions are ignored.


My stand at the beginning of the study is that the Islamic inventions of the medieval times should be digitized to provide information to all people on their importance to the birth of modern day technology. Digitization involves the conversion of data from 2D dimension to 3D dimension. In line with this stand, the hypothesis of this study focuses on bringing into the focus of diverse generations, the work of Al-Jazari who was a prominent Muslim Polymath of the 12th to13th century (Selin, 1997). Under his role as a mechanical engineer, he made many quality inventions that have been re-modified to fit into the modern technology by the integration of mathematical calculations into their design as the instructions that he left did not contain any mathematical calculations.

In this case, with the elevation of the important knowledge exhibited by this prominent Muslim, the public will adequately acquire the needed knowledge about the Islamic culture such that they can be competitive in the modern day knowledge intensive economy. The hypothesis bases the study of the different inventions by Al-Jazari in 3D form as opposed to the 2D dimensions, which complicate the design and make it difficult to decipher the real meaning of some significant parts articulated into the modified designs (King & Donald, 1998). The hypothesis is based on the calculation of the time needed for the digitization process to be successful, as digitization has been known to require a lot of time. The reason why most of his work has not been digitized is the amount of time required to manage the feat of digitizing without any form of biasness.

The study explains the systematic conversion of his manuscript from the 2D Dimension to the 3D dimension thus bringing the significance of the inventions into clear focus (Thompson, 2005). The instructions to be followed when building the different inventions did not contain any calculations as Al-Jazari built them based on the trial and error method. In this case, calculations have to be attached to the inventions and these calculations have to be made in the basis of the required size of the invention. The research made on this case will be a great archive for the future generations due to the particular manner that it will be preserved and made accessible to all people. Thus all the information above will aid in supporting the stand that I take at the beginning of the study

Limitations and Delimitations


The first limitation to the study is that the amount of time allocated for the study will not be enough as extensive research has to be carried out to enable the incorporation of a paper that transverses through all religious divide to bring out the relevance of the Islamic inventions that contributed to the western civilization. The finances allocated to this study make-up the second limitation (Krebs, 2004). This is because initially, the study was not meant to use up all the finances allocated to it but due to the amount of data needed and the increase in the number of materials to be used for the study, the allocated finances have to be increased considerably. The study instead of focusing on other inventions made by other Islamic inventors will only focus on the inventions made by Al-Jazari, which limits the scope of the study. Due to the amount of time required for digitization only a few inventions can be digitized thus limiting the scope of the study.


The limitation of time can be dealt with by conducting online research on the topic, which will provide more information than going to the library to find and read all the books that touch on the topic. Other research silks should be utilized such as sharing of information with other people who have ever done research on the topic. The limitation of finances can be dealt with through the reduction of the unnecessary materials that can be successfully eliminated in the study while assuring the success of the study on the other hand (Russo, et al, 2009). The limitation of the scope of the study can be reduced including the recommendation that the people accessing the study can take their time to research on the other Islamic inventors, at the end of the study. With the incorporation of the above delimitations, the success of the study will be assured.


Works Cited:

Biddle, Jeff, John, Davis, & Warren, Samuels. A Companion to the History of Economic Thought. Malden: Blackwell, 2003. Print.

Boden, Margaret. Mind as Machine: 1. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2008. Print.

Ceccarelli, Marco. Distinguished Figures in Mechanism and Machine Science: Their Contributions and Legacies. Dordrecht: Springer, 2007. Print.

King, David & Donald, Hill. Studies in Medieval Islamic Technology: From Philo to Al-Jazarī – from Alexandria to Diȳar Bakr. Aldershot: Ashgate Variorum, 1998. Print.

Krebs, Robert. Groundbreaking Scientific Experiments, Inventions, and Discoveries of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Westport: CT, 2004. Print.

Lapidus, Ira. A History of Islamic Societies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. Print.

Miranda, Adriana . Water Architecture in the Lands of Syria: The Water Wheels. Roma: L’Erma di Bretschneider, 2007. Print.

Russo, Flavio, Ferruccio Rossi, & Cesare, Rossi. Ancient Engineer’s Inventions: Precursors of the Present. Dordrecht: Springer, 2009. Print.

Selin, Helaine. Encyclopedia of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures. Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1997. Print.

Thompson, John. Books in the Digital Age: The Transformation of Academic and Higher Education Publishing in Britain and the United States. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2005. Print.


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