Did you know the toothbrush, such a daily feature of our lives, is an invention by the Prophet Mohammed? If you did, let’s see if you know the next four.
Prophet Mohammed popularized the use of the first toothbrush in around 600. Using a twig from the Meswak tree, he cleaned his teeth and freshed his breath. Substances similar to Meswak are used in modern toothpaste.
Around the year 1,000, the celebrated doctor Al Zahrawi published a 1,500 page illustrated encyclopedia of surgery that was used in Europe as a medical reference for the next 500 years. Among his many inventions, Zahrawi discovered the use of dissolving cat gut to stitch wounds – before a second surgery had to be performed to remove sutures. He also reportedly performed the first caesarean operation and created the first pair of forceps.
Coffee was first brewed in Yemen around the 9th century. In it’s earliest days, coffee helped Sufis stay up during late nights of devotion. Later brought to Cairo by a group of students, the coffee buzz soon caught on around the empire. By the 13th century it reached Turkey, but not until the 16th century did the beans start boiling in Europe, brought to Italy by a Venetian trader.
The word algebra came from the title of a Persian mathematician’s famous 9th century treatise ‘Kitab al-Jabr Wa I-Mugabala’, which roughly means ‘The Book of Reasoning and Balancing’. Built on the roots of Greek and Hindu systems, the new algebra order was a unifying system for raionalising numbers, irrational numbers and geometrical magnitudes. The same mathematician, Al-Khwarizmi, was also the first to introduce the concept of raising a number to a power.
Muslim musicians have had a profound impact on Europe, dating back to Charlemagne tried to compete with the music of Baghdad and Cordoba, according to Hassani. Among many instruments that arrived in Europe through the Middle East are the lute and the rahab, an ancestor of the violin. Modern musical scales are also said to derive from the Arabic alphabet.