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Muslim astronomers and the Italian scientist, astronomer, and physicist, Galileo Galilei

Compiled By: Syed Ali Shahbaz

On January 8, 1642 AD, the Italian scientist, astronomer, and physicist, Galileo Galilei, died at the age of 78. Born in the city of Pisa, he studied literature until the age of 19 and thereafter mastered physics and mathematics. With the usage of lens, invented by the famous Muslim astronomer, Ibn al-Haytham, he developed a telescope for observing stars. With this instrument, and with the aid of the writings of Islamic scientists, he wrote that the surface of moon has plains and altitudes and each galaxy is made of small and large stars.

He also recorded as his own discoveries of Islamic scientist that the sun is at the centre of the Solar System and other planets, including Earth, revolve round it. These discoveries were already made several centuries earlier in the Islamic world by the renowned Iranian astronomer, Abu-Rayhan Birouni, who had proved the circular movement of earth around the sun. Following the publication of Galileo’s theory about the movement of earth and other planets of the solar system round the sun, the Roman Church charged him with blasphemy, forcing him to renounce his views or risk execution.

Muslim navigators help European expeditions

On January 13, 1450 AD, the Portuguese sailor and explorer, Bartholomew Diaz, was born. In 1488, after sailing the Atlantic Ocean toward the south, with the help of Muslim navigators, he became the first European to land on the Cape of Good Hope, in the most southern region of African Continent. Ten years after Diaz, his compatriot, Vasco da Gama, again with the help of Muslim navigators, became the first European to discover the sea route to India by rounding the southern peninsular tip of Africa. The discovery of this sea route was important for the West because the Ottoman Turks, after conquering Constantinople in the year 1453 and renaming it Istanbul had blocked Europe’s path to Asia. Diaz died in the year 1500.

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