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Hindu and Buddhist contribution to science in medieval Islam

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Hindu and Buddhist contributions to science in medieval Islam have been numerous, affecting such varied areas as medicine, astronomy and mathematics. From the 7th to the 13th century, Persian and Arab Muslims absorbed knowledge from the Indian civilization.

Indian books translated

Indian Text Translator Arabic name of Translation Date Attribution Subject Note
Brahmasiddhanta of Brahmagupta *Alfazari into Arabic as Az-Zīj ‛alā Sinī al-‛Arab.,[1] or the Sindhind. This translation was possibly the vehicle by means of which the Hindu numerals were transmitted from India to Islam.[2] * Yaqūb ibn Tāriq Sindhind[3] 753–774 Khalif Mansur Astronomy As Sindh was under the actual rule of the Khalif Mansur (AD 753–774), there came embassies from that part of India to Bagdad and among them scholars, who brought with them two books.[4]

With the help of these Pandits Alfazari, perhaps also Yaqūb ibn Tāriq, translated them. Both works have been largely used, and have exercised a great influence. It was on this occasion that the Arabs first became acquainted with a scientific system of astronomy. They learned from Brahmagupta earlier than Ptolemy.[5]
Khandakhadyaka (Arakand) of Brahmagupta Alfazari Arakand [6] 753–774 Khalif Mansur Astronomy .[7] Through the resulting Arabic translations known as Sindhind and Arakand, the knowledge of Indian numerals passed on to the Islamic world [8]


Much of the Hindu approach to mathematics was certainly conveyed to western Europe through Arabs . The Algebraic method formerly considered to have been invented by Al Khowarizimi can now be seen to stem from Hindu sources[9]
As in the rest of mathematical science so in Trigonometry, were the Arabs pupils of the Hindus and still more of the Greeks, but not without important devices of their own.
For over five hundred years Arabic writers and others continued to apply to works on arithmetic the name Indian.
Another important early treatise that publicised decimal numbers was Iranian mathematician and astronomer Kushyar ibn Labban's Kitab fi usual hisab al-hind ( principals of Hindu reckoning ) a leading arithmetic book .

Medical texts

“ A large number of Sanskrit medical , pharmacological and Toxicological texts were translated into Arabic under the patronage of Khalid, the vizier of Al-Mansur . Khalid was the son of a chief priest of a Buddhist monastery at Balkh. Some of his family was killed when the Arabs captured Balkh ; others including Khalid survived by converting to Islam . They were to be known as the Barmakids of Baghdad who were fascinated by the new ideas from India . Indian medical knowledge was given a further boost under the Caliph Harun al Rashid (788–809) who ordered the translation of Susruta Samhita into Arabic . ”
“ We know of Yahya ibn Khalid al Barmaki (805) as a patron of physicians and, specifically, of the translation of Hindu medical works into both Arabic and Persian. In all likelihood however, his activity took place in the orbit of the caliphal court in Iraq , where at the behest of Harun al Rashid (786–809), such books were translated into Arabic. Thus Khurasan and Transoxania were effectively bypassed in this transfer of learning from India to Islam, even though, undeniably the Barmakis cultural outlook owed something to their land of origin, northern Afghanistan, and Yahya al Barmaki's interest in medicine may have derived from no longer identifiable family tradition. ”
“ The Caraka Saṃhitā was translated into Persian and subsequently into Arabic by Abd-Allah ibn Ali in the ninth century . ”


“Probably the first Islamic hospital (Bimaristan or Maristan) was established in Baghdad Yahya ibn Khalid ibn Barmak, tutor and subsequently vizier of Harun al-Rashid when the latter became Khalif in 786. Yahya ibn Khalid ibn Barmak's hospital, usually referred to as the Barmakid Hospital must have been established before 803 , the year in which the Barmakid family fell from power . The Hospital is mentioned in two places in the Fihrist.(written in 997). Ibn Dahn, Al Hindi , who administered the Bimaristan of the Barmak. He translated from the Indian language into Arabic.
Yahya ibn Khalid ordered Mankah (Kankah), the Indian to translate it (an Indian book of medicine) at the hospital to render it in the form of a compilation”


Zumurrud Khaton tomb in Baghdad, 1202 has Indian features.

The city of Baghdad was built by the Barmakids. A number of canals, mosques and other public works owe their existence to the initiative and munificence of the Barmakids. Al-Fadl, son of Yahya ibn Khalid al-Barmaki, is credited with being the first to introduce the use of lamps in the mosques during the holy month of Ramadan. They are also credited with the establishment of the first paper mill in Baghdad. Ja'far, another son of Yahya acquired great fame for eloquence, literary activity and pen-manship. Hitti argues that chiefly because of him, Arab historians regard the Barmakids as the founders of the class designated as 'people of the pen' (ahl al-qalam). The long neck which Barmakids possessed is said to have been responsible for the introduction of the custom of wearing high collars. The first extant Arabic report on India was prepared under the directions of Yahya ibn Barmak (d. 805) by his envoy. Barmaks were responsible for inviting several scholars and physicians from India to the court of Abbasids. When Sindh was attacked by the Arabs during the Battle of Rajasthan; the city of Brahmanabad/Mansura was built by a Barmak. Later he was commissioned with building the capital of Baghdad. On 30 July 763, the caliph Al Mansur concluded the construction of the city. It is said that the Baghdadi capital had numerous Indian architectural influences, now largely ignored by historians.

Islamic Arab and Persian scholars

Various eminent Arabic and Persian scholars absorbed Indian knowledge .


  1. E. S. Kennedy, A Survey of Islamic Astronomical Tables, (Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, New Series, 46, 2), Philadelphia, 1956, pp. 2, 7, 12 (zijes no. 2, 28, 71).
  2. * D. E. Smith and L. C. Karpinski: The Hindu-Arabic Numerals (Boston, 1911), p.92.).
  3. India, the ancient past: a history of the Indian sub-continent from c. 7000 BC to AD 1200 By Burjor Avari page 219
  4. Alberunis India translated by Dr Edward C Sachau page xxxiii
  5. Alberunis India translated by Dr Edward C Sachau page xxxiii
  6. India, the ancient past: a history of the Indian sub-continent from c. 7000 BC to AD 1200 By Burjor Avari page 219
  7. Alberunis India translated by Dr Edward C Sachau page xxxiii
  8. India, the ancient past: a history of the Indian sub-continent from c. 7000 BC to AD 1200 By Burjor Avari page 219


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