African contributions to Muslim Civilisation

Black History Month UK is an International annual month, celebrating, recognising and valuing the inspirational individuals and events from within the Black and Minority Ethnic communities. During Black History Month, we remember and celebrate the important people from the past and also who contribute to and help our society today[*]. This Black History Month, Muslim Heritage would like to draw your attention to some articles concerned with the African input in Muslim Civilisation in the fields of science, technology and civilisation. Some of these contributions include mathematics, philosophy, translation works, architecture, governance along with the founding and/or support given towards formidable centres of learning.

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To name but a few renowned scholars of African origin in Muslim civilisation, one can observe the great works of zoologist Al-Jahiz, geographer Al-Idrisi, mathematicians such as Labana of Cordoba, Muhammed ibn Muhammed al-Fulani al-Kishnawi, Abu Kamil Shuja ibn Aslam, al-Qurashī, al-Hassār, Ibn al-Yāsamīn and Ibn Mun‘im, founder of the Al-Qarawiyyin university Fatima al-Fehri, inventor Abbas Ibn Firnas and many more by exploring the Muslim Heritage website.

Muslim Heritage Articles


Sub-Saharan Centres of Learning
by Natty Mark Samuels
Though we may think of Timbuktu as the pre-eminent site of pre-colonial West African scholarship, we must remember that there were other places spanning across the Western and Central Sudan that were renowned for their tradition of teaching.



Ode to Ahmad Baba Al-Massufi
by Natty Mark Samuels
Abu al-Abbas Ahmad ibn Ahmad al-Takruri Al-Massufi al-Timbukti, otherwise commonly known as Ahmad Baba for short, was a well-known teacher, professor, philosopher, Arabic grammarian and an author of over forty books and various works.



Song of Suwari: Ode to West African Scholars
by Natty Mark Samuels
Although some contemporary historians may argue otherwise, in the past, particularly in places such as West Africa, Muslims and non-Muslims lived together in relative harmony and prosperity. The positive impact of the spread of Islam on West Africa, in particular on Mali, was noticeable to explorers.



The University of Sankore, Timbuktu
by Zulkifli Khair
Sankore's achievement in higher education is important to Islamic Civilisation even though it is less known in comparison to Al-Azhar, Al-Qayrawan, Al-Qarawiyyin and Qurtuba Universities.


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Lecture on Timbuktu Manuscripts at Al-Furqan Foundation
by Muslim Heritage Editorial Team
Many manuscript collections, separated by multiple national borders represent a single Islamic scholarly heritage (that is, in part, linked to Timbuktu). But this can only be demonstrated by examining the most commonly found teaching texts found in manuscript collections across West Africa. This lecture will look at this 'core curriculum' used during the last 300 years and ask how we can move from venerating the manuscripts that have preserved it to understanding the intellectual achievements these manuscripts contain.


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West African Mosque Architecture - A Brief Introduction
by Kafia Cantone
In areas where Islam spread mostly by returning traders, traditions of mosque building were determined more by local skills and approaches. Here is a brief look at the tradition in West Africa.



Muslim Roots, U.S. Blues
by Jonathan Curiel
To many the idea that American blues music has its origins with Muslims and even the Islamic call to prayer is inconceivable. It is also largely unknown that up thirty percent of American slaves, the sources of blues music were in fact African Muslims. This fascinating article delves deeper into the Muslim history of American blues music.


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Architecture of Muslim Spain and North Africa
by Muslim Heritage Editorial Team
First in a series of articles on the Architecture of Muslim Spain and North Africa (756-1500 CE). A brief historical background on the Muslim architectural achievement concentrating on important historical and architectural monuments.



Maths in the Medieval Maghrib: General Survey on Mathematical Activities in North Africa
by Ahmed Djebbar
In this important article, Professor Ahmed Djebbar, the renowned scholar and specialist of the history of Arabic sciences, especially in the Islamic West, presents a general survey on mathematical activities in the Medieval Maghrib since the 9th century.


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The Impact of Islam on Urban Development in North Africa [PDF]
by Dr. R Saoud
The present paper seeks to remind the readers of the contribution of Islam to the civilisation of peoples of North Africa by looking at its influence on the urbanisation of the region. The aim is to define the forces and circumstances underlying the urbanisation process during the Islamic period, discuss the nature and character of the urban development activity, and assess the urban morphological consequences resulting from it.


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Interior Architecture of Desert Climate: Case Study of Gadames city – Libyan Desert [PDF]
by Hadi Ali Shateh
The present paper examines the design principles of the interior of desert houses in the city of Gadames (Libya). The paper argues for the great congruence between the characteristics of the physical fabric of Gadames houses and its environmental conditions. Such a feature should provide lessons for solving the inadequacies of contemporary housing in Libya.


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