By Ku Amina
Abu Ja’far Muhammad Ibn Musa Al-Khawarizmi or better known as Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Musa Al-Khawarizmi (770-850) was one of the great Muslim scholars in the field of mathematics. He worked at Baitul Hikmah during the time of the caliph Al-Ma’mun as a translator of many manuscripts from Greek into Arabic.
Al-Khawarizmi wrote many books on mathematics, astronomy, geography and other subjects under the sponsorship of caliph Al-Ma’mun. It can be seen here that the caliph’s encouragement and financial support played a very important role in educational development and advance of knowledge during the peak of Islamic civilization. For instance, Al-Khawarizmi produced a book related to geography, entitled ‘Surat Al-Ard’, on request coming from the caliph.
Al-Khawarizmi is called as a father of algebra (from Arabic Al-Jabr) due to his great book entitled ‘Kitab al-Mukhtasar fi Hisab al-Jabra wa ‘ilm al-Muqabala’. It has been stated that this book provided approximately 800 solutions for problems in the field of mathematics. For example, he discussed the solutions of equations that are composed of units, roots and squares.
Based on the formula of al-Jabr, he succeeded to provide the solution on dividing the inheritance and also been used by the Westerners for understanding the computer science in 1960s.
Another important point that Al-Khawarizmi has extended is related to studies about numerals of India. He clarified that the system of numerals is based upon how many angles are in the number.
‘Kitab Sharah fi Tariqa li Ma’arifa Al-Waqat Bi Wasatat-il-Shams’ and ‘Kitab Al-Rukhama’ are another examples of excellency from him. These books touched the method of calculating the regulation of times for daily prayers and fasting. Thus, Al-Khawarizmi used mathematic formulas to know about the longitude, latitude and techniques of measurements to determine prayer times.
In addition, Al-Khawarizmi contributed greatly by his usage of Zero or called as Sifr in Arabic for the first time in matematics. He explained the formula of place value which is originated from China. Other than that, he also put efforts in making research on the rules of figures and the volume of solids such as sphere, cone, and pyramid.
Many of his books had been translated into various languages Let say, his ‘Kitab al-Mukhtasar fi Hisab al-Jabra wa ‘ilm al-Muqabala’ was translated into Latin by the title of ‘Liber Algebrae Et Almucabal’. It was said that in 1500s, this book of Al-Khawarizmi initiated serious studies on the field of al-Jabr or algebra in Europe. Thus, it can be said that Al-Khawarizmi’s works contributed to the development of sciences not only in Islamic civilization, but also in European (Western) civilization as well.