Talk:Science in the medieval Islamic world

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Al-Farabi is described as a "Persian scholar" by the majority of historians and this is evident and well-documented from his article, also, there's no evidence for Ibn Turk being an ethnic Turk, other people also had "Turk" epithet but weren't ethnic Turks, like Ishaq al-Turk, and no reliable historian described him as an ethnic Turk. -- Kouhi (talk) 17:52, 22 January 2017 (UTC)

And Ali Qushji's ethnicity is also disputed, some sources described him as Persian, others as Turkic. See the article for the sources. -- Kouhi (talk) 18:23, 22 January 2017 (UTC)

You are a Persian nationalist and Persian-centrist. Farabi was a Turk and almost off all historians say Farabi was a Turk. Sources in the middle. Mean of Ibn Turk is Son of Turk. Ibn Turk's ethnicity is undisputed. One, just one source is unavailable that say Ibn Turk was not a Turk in the world. Ninety-nine percent of the historians say that Ali Qushji was Turkic. This is really undisputed. Also saying Turkic about them Avicenna etc. What will these be? (talk) 18:33, 22 January 2017 (UTC)

Please be civil, this is a requirement on talk pages here. The question is what reliable sources say, not what editors believe. Please provide evidence from the best sources here, and we will together consider and assess the evidence and decide what to do. Chiswick Chap (talk) 18:43, 22 January 2017 (UTC)
I see no reason for ethnicity to be mentioned at all. Commonly when refering to an Islamic scientist in another article, no mention is given of their ethnicity. Why not instead list these scientists by time period? FYI, Al-Farabi's ethnicity is disputed.--Kansas Bear (talk) 19:02, 22 January 2017 (UTC)
  • I think the article should focus on scientific fields (mathematics, astronomy, etc), rather than scientists themselves, the title of the article is "Science in the medieval Islamic world", not "Scientists of medieval Islam". In this current form, the article is no different than List of Muslim scholars. But this requires a major rewrite. I opened this section because of IP's edit war, but if we are going to restructure the article, I think the best thing to do is to rewrite it based on scientific fields. -- Kouhi (talk) 19:44, 22 January 2017 (UTC)

If Farabi's ethnicity is disputed, Avicenna, Khwarizmi, Biruni, Hayyan etc. were not certain Persian. Very sources are available about these people's Turkishness.

These sources about Ali Qushji's Turkishness: [1][2]

These sources about Farabi's Turkishness: [3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10] (talk) 19:23, 22 January 2017 (UTC)

Both Kansas Bear and Kouhi see little or no need to talk about ethnicity of scientists; I'd agree that an article on science should pay very little attention to where people came from. I doubt we can reframe the article to avoid mentioning people altogether, but we can certainly refactor it in terms of the sciences that were studied at different times, mentioning who did what when as we do so. If readers need to know a scientist's ethnicity or city of origin, they can go to that scientist's article. Chiswick Chap (talk) 20:01, 22 January 2017 (UTC)
I agree, along with each scientific(mathematics, astronomy, etc) field be in chronological order. :) --Kansas Bear (talk) 20:07, 22 January 2017 (UTC)

Even if the ethnicity of the scientists is not to be written, must add Turks to this sentence: Scientists within the Muslim-ruled areas had diverse ethnic backgrounds & included Arabs, Persians, Assyrians, Kurds and Egyptians. (talk) 20:32, 22 January 2017 (UTC)

Since that statement has proven to be contentious, and we seem to be coming to the view that we would be better off not mentioning ethnicity at all in the article, that sentence would be the first thing we'd delete. But let's wait and see what other editors feel about the matter. Chiswick Chap (talk) 20:33, 22 January 2017 (UTC)
Well, since it has gone quiet I am restructuring the article, removing discussion of where people came from and what ethnicity or religion they had, to focus on the science that was done in the medieval Islamic world. This will take time so I have created empty sections for the sciences involved. Chiswick Chap (talk) 09:33, 23 January 2017 (UTC)

  1. ^ Siddiqi, Amir Hasan (1970), Cultural centres of Islam, Jamiyat-ul-Falah Publications, p. 90, Among them, a Turk from Central Asia, Ali Kuscu, was one of the finest mathematicians and astronomers of his epoch 
  2. ^ "During the fifteenth century this method of representing decimal fractions came to be known outside the Islamic world as the Turkish method, after a Turkish colleague of al-Kashi, known as Ali Qushji, who provided an explanation." Joseph, George Gheverghese (2010) The crest of the peacock: non-European roots of mathematics Princeton University Press, p. 469. ISBN 0-691-13526-6, ISBN 978-0-691-13526-7
  3. ^ Ateş 1990, p. 11
  4. ^
  5. ^ B.G. Gafurov, Central Asia:Pre-Historic to Pre-Modern Times, (Shipra Publications, 2005), 124; "Abu Nasr Farabi hailed from around ancient Farabi which was situated on the bank of Syr Daria and was the son of a Turk military commander".
  6. ^ Will Durant, The Age of Faith, (Simon and Schuster, 1950), 253.
  7. ^ Nicholas Rescher, Al-Farabi's Short Commentary on Aristotle's Prior Analytics, University of Pittsburgh Pre, 1963, p.11, Online Edition.
  8. ^ Antony Black, The History of Islamic Political Thought: From the Prophet to the Present, Routledge, p. 61, Online Edition
  9. ^ James Hastings, Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, Kessinger Publishing, Vol. 10, p.757, Online Edition
  10. ^ * edited by Ted Honderich. (1995). The Oxford companion to philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 269. ISBN 0-19-866132-0 "Of Turki origin, al-Farabi studied under Christian thinkers"

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:Science in the medieval Islamic world/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer: Seraphim System (talk · contribs) 01:55, 29 May 2017 (UTC)

GA review (see here for what the criteria are, and here for what they are not)
  1. It is reasonably well written.
    a (prose, spelling, and grammar): b (MoS for lead, layout, word choice, fiction, and lists):
  2. It is factually accurate and verifiable.
    a (reference section): b (citations to reliable sources): c (OR): d (copyvio and plagiarism):
  3. It is broad in its coverage.
    a (major aspects): b (focused):
  4. It follows the neutral point of view policy.
    Fair representation without bias:
  5. It is stable.
    No edit wars, etc.:
  6. It is illustrated by images and other media, where possible and appropriate.
    a (images are tagged and non-free content have fair use rationales): b (appropriate use with suitable captions):
  7. Overall:


The lede should summarize the content of the article. Science in the Islamic World was not limited to the Abbasid Caliphate, and continues beyond 1250.

@Seraphim System: I've extended it, and moved a paragraph into Context. Chiswick Chap (talk) 20:11, 30 May 2017 (UTC)

The context section should be developed to provide context for the article topic. From reading the article, I can't distinguish between what the Abbasid achievements were, and what the contributions of non-Arabic speaking Islamic civilizations were, including not only the Ottomans but the Persians (who are mentioned as a non-Islamic influence, but at some point became part of Islamic civilization)

Extended the section and added a map. Chiswick Chap (talk) 20:44, 29 May 2017 (UTC)

I think the mathematics, botany and pharmacology sections need more inline citation.

Mathematics has 11 citations, surely sufficient. I have added some more refs to the others. The article as a whole uses multiple reliable sources; there is no such requirement for individual sections. Chiswick Chap (talk) 19:23, 29 May 2017 (UTC)

If there is "considerable uncertainty as to the actual provenance of many works that are ascribed to" Jabir ibn Hayyan, can you discuss a little more what that means, and what scholars have said about it?

I don't think we should have mentioned it. Turner writes "No matter that the actual sources of the Jabirian corpus are debated, the work embraces much of what was known of alchemy at the time". In other words, the debate is great for academic papers but not relevant to an overview. Have removed it. Chiswick Chap (talk) 19:15, 29 May 2017 (UTC)

I think the cartography section is very brief, and leaves out important information. For example, Piri Reis is an Ottoman Turkish admiral - many readers will not know this. Ottoman cartography is a major subject, and should be mentioned, even if only briefly.

It's of a similar length to other sections. I have glossed and wikilinked Reis and mentioned Ottoman cartography. Chiswick Chap (talk) 19:21, 29 May 2017 (UTC)

In general, I think most of the sections may be a little too brief - a GA article, even a broad overview like this one, should be somewhat more detailed and precise. I find it difficult to because it is not clear which culture the persons are from - we know it is al-Idrisi, and that he created a map for the Norman King of Sicily, but it would be nice to know which Islamic culture in particular made this contribution. I think the mathematics section is a good example, because it gives a brief overview of the cultural and historical context, and then lists some of the individual contributions.

Two things seem to need to be said immediately, as these are critical to understanding why the article should be structured as it is.
  • 1) The article is an overview of a set of topics, each of which has a linked main article. The section on each of those topics is intentionally brief, as its job is to summarize the main article and to point interested readers to that article. Recalling that a GA should cover "the main points", it is clear that the main points of Science in the medieval Islamic world are that there were different sciences (Alchemy .. Zoology), in each of which named people made described discoveries or advances at stated dates. The article does exactly this, and is of a good length for a GA.
  • 2) The nationalities of the people mentioned are intentionally played down, as there had been serious edit-warring on that question, and point-of-view editing had, for whatever reason, taken over. Since the restructuring, to refocus on the actual science, that problem has happily gone away. Because the article's focus is the "Islamic world", and because ideas flowed throughout that area, a regional emphasis is not required and could be considered off-topic. Chiswick Chap (talk) 07:05, 29 May 2017 (UTC)

The "Significance" section could be expanded - I think there are a lot of different views on this that are not covered by the Further Information links. I think this section, in particular, needs significant work.

I've thought about this. I've added a small paragraph from McClellan and Dorn who seem to me to have it covered precisely—basically, any search for external significance is doomed to failure: it was a successful period on its own terms and that was all. The section does what it should, which is to report the alternative views on the topic neutrally. It links to other articles, notably to Islamic contributions to Medieval Europe, but to try to argue that a flourishing period is more or less significant because of what happened elsewhere, later is to do something very wrong historically. In short, we should stop here. Chiswick Chap (talk) 20:44, 29 May 2017 (UTC)

I don't really think it is ready for GA yet Seraphim System (talk) 01:55, 29 May 2017 (UTC)

Thanks for taking this on. Please note my reply to your "In general" comment above, where I provide a general defence of the article's philosophy: I believe this is a robust and well-structured article. I will respond to the individual comments one by one, with edits to the article as needed: in particular, I will certainly extend the lead and the Significance section. I look forward to working with you to bring the article to a state that we are both happy with. Chiswick Chap (talk) 07:05, 29 May 2017 (UTC)
Right now it sounds like the article is about the Abbasid Caliphate. It does not need to say too much, but surely the Ottoman Empire, the Safavid and possibly some others would need to be mentioned, however briefly. Perhaps the timeline and table of contents in this book will help you Science and Islam - the emphasis is not regional, it is historical. Major advanced in cartography that are discussed in the article are from the post-Abbasid era. Seraphim System (talk) 07:30, 29 May 2017 (UTC)
Extended the context. Chiswick Chap (talk) 20:08, 29 May 2017 (UTC)
I see you've introduced this sentence the Islamic world went into a cultural decline, possibly because European trade worldwide destroyed the Islamic monopoly on valuable commodities such as spices. - what did the trade in spices have to do with scientific progress? I've checked the source and it says this is about "economic decline." The scientific decline thesis is that religious conservatism took hold after Tamerlane destroyed Damascus and disrupted scientific progress - is this a widely held view in secondary sources, or is it still being debated? Seraphim System (talk) 01:58, 30 May 2017 (UTC)
I've trimmed it to 'economic and cultural'. Here's what the source says: "Other experts have focused on the economic decline of Islamic civilization after 1492 as a contributing factor in the cultural decline of its science... once European seafaring traders penetrated the Indian Ocean in 1497, the Islamic world lost its monopoly on the valuable East Asian spice and commodity markets. In such shrinking economic circumstances, the argument suggests that science could hardly have been expected to flourish". I think I had actually paraphrased this briefly and well, but it doesn't matter. Religious conservatism too may well have contributed, it's on pp 114–5.Chiswick Chap (talk) 08:24, 30 May 2017 (UTC)
Congrats, this is the first review I closed, so hopefully I did it correctly. Seraphim System (talk) 10:59, 5 June 2017 (UTC)

Minor wording issues[edit]

@Seraphim System - I've responded to all your comments, including rewriting the lead. Hope that's good for you now. Chiswick Chap (talk) 10:47, 31 May 2017 (UTC)

Thank you, it is much improved. I see a few minor wording issues:
  • In the Astronomy section, a misplaced period He discovered that the Sun's apogee moves slowly relative to the fixed stars, and obtained a good estimate of its motion.[11] for its rate of change.[12
  • In the botany section "so the whole book must have covered several thousand kinds of plant." => should be thousands, maybe "several thousands of plant species." or something similar.
No, the article is in British English. This applies to many of the other comments below also.
  • " both realistic botany and fantastic trees which grew birds on their twigs in place of leaves, but which could only be found in the far-distant British Isle" - this is a little confusing, the first time I read it I thought there were trees in the British Isles that grew birds instead of leaves.
Reworded, but yes, that's what he claimed.
  • In mathematics "though little support was provided for it" - I am not sure what this means. Little support was provided by whom? The Caliphate?
  • In medicine, run on sentence: " It is a 30 volume set mainly discussing medical symptoms, treatments, and pharmacology, but the last volume, on surgery, describes surgical instruments, supplies, and pioneering procedures"
I've split it for you, but it was not in error.
  • Medcine: "and yielded a description of pulmonary transit, the circulation of blood through the lungs." - this should be an en dash or parenthetical. (From Purdue Online Writing Lab: don't put a comma after the main clause when a dependent (subordinate) clause follows it, except for cases of extreme contrast)
Reworded, but the American authority does not apply.
  • Optics run-on sentence "By the ninth century, there were works on physiological optics as well as mirror reflections, and geometrical and physical optics."
  • Optics "Hunayn ibn Ishaq (809–873) wrote the book Ten Treatises on the Eye, influential in the West until the 17th century." - this doesn't really need a separated clause at the end, it could be written as "Hunayn ibn Ishaq's book, Ten Treatises on the Eye, was influential in the West until the 17th century."
BE, actually. I've softened it for transatlantic readers. Your version is readable and flows well, but it emphasises influence over writing, which is the reverse of my intention (to describe things of the period).
  • Optics 2 more run ons: "In the eleventh century, Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen, 965–1040) rejected Greek ideas about vision, and argued in his "Book of Optics" that light was reflected upon different surfaces in different directions, thus causing different light signatures of objects seen.[44][45][46] He also studied the effects of light refraction, and suggested that the mathematics of reflection and refraction needed to be consistent with the anatomy of the eye."
Well, again, I see no errors in BE here, but I have compromised to make life easier for American readers.
  • Ehsan ref is missing ISBN (which all the others have)
  • Physics: "In the sixth century John Philoponus had rejected the Aristotelian view of motion, and argued that an object acquires an inclination to move when it has a motive power impressed on it." => in the sixth century JP rejected etc. He instead argued that etc.
  • Physics: "In the eleventh century Ibn Sina adopted roughly the same idea, that a moving object has force which is dissipated by external agents like air resistance" - incorrect comma use.
I don't think so, but tweaked sentence.

I don't know if want more examples, but there are some problems with the commas and run on sentences throughout the article. I think it is a well-structured article and very close to GA, but I can't pass it until those issues have been resolved. Seraphim System (talk) 12:03, 31 May 2017 (UTC)

I believe most of your "issues" are about British English, which is acceptable on Wikipedia. In general this is not something to be "resolved", but I think a compromise in which sentences are kept short is a practical solution and helpful to readers. (wink) Chiswick Chap (talk) 05:49, 2 June 2017 (UTC)
No, my issue is that I am not sure the writing is on the level it would need to be to pass GA. This is not only based on my opinion, but what I think other editors would want me to consider before passing an article. If you want, we can ask for a second opinion. For example - you commented that It is a 30 volume set mainly discussing medical symptoms, treatments, and pharmacology, but the last volume, on surgery, describes surgical instruments, supplies, and pioneering procedures" is not a run on sentence. It is, in fact, a run on sentence in any kind of English - I believe the British English term for this is a "fused sentences." If you replace "but" with "however" I am sure you will see that the sentence would benefit from a full stop. Regardless, I can not say that the article is well-written by the standards I am expected to uphold before passing GA articles - though, it is better then the average article. I will read it again once you say it is ready, but I didn't appreciate your comment that this is considered well-written in "British English" - I did look it up and it does not seem that the rules, some of which depend on the common sense of the writer, are radically different. Seraphim System (talk) 06:42, 2 June 2017 (UTC)
@Seraphim System OK, I shan't argue. I have fixed all the items I could find (making another complete pass of the article); I already fixed the 30 volume set. If you know of any others, tell me and I'll fix them now. Chiswick Chap (talk) 07:43, 2 June 2017 (UTC)