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Muhammad and the Spread of Islam
Guide: Islamic Science and Medicine

Islamic scholarship played a key role in preserving and expanding upon ancient knowledge, laying the foundation for future scientific developments. Use this collection of primary and secondary sources to explore key figures and major advancements in the fields of biology, astronomy, mathematics, and medicine undertaken during the height of the Islamic empire. Use the Export to My Lists button above to turn this into a research list for your students.

Time Period Key Understandings

  • Relatability and promise of a better life in religious traditions attract converts and followers
  • Geography and previous cultural traditions impacted the spread of Islam
  • The relationship between religion and government can impact empirical stability, growth, and success
  • Dynastic rule can bring personal strife into governmental affairs
  • Religious division or fragmentation occurs as religion spreads geographically and there are various interpretations of leadership, key text, and doctrines
  • The relationship between religion and science changes over time
  • Preservation of Greek, Roman, and Indian academic achievements is significant to the continuation and advancement of knowledge
  • The religious identity of Spain impacts its empirical alignment and alliances throughout history
  • Religious text and interpretation of religious text can lead to differences in the practice of the religion across time and space
  • Strong bureaucratic systems positively impact the effectiveness of both civilizations and empires
  • Religious conflict negatively impacts the rule of the governmental system in place
  • Social stratification can lead to both stability and conflict

Key Questions

  • How did Muslim scholars help preserve the texts of ancient Greece and Rome? How did they build on the knowledge they found in Greek and Roman works?
  • Why was scholarship in science and medicine able to thrive in the Islamic world? Why did that eventually change?
  • What was the legacy of Islamic scholarship for Europe's Renaissance?


  1. Overview: Islamic Science and Medicine
  2. Visuals: Islamic Science and Medicine (Visual)
  3. Outline: Outline
  4. Transcript: Transcript
  5. Lesson: Introduction
  6. Lesson: 1-Math and Astronomy
  7. Lesson: 2-Physics and Chemistry
  8. Lesson: 3-Biology and Medicine
  9. Lesson: 4-Legacy of Islamic Science
  10. Lesson: Closing
  11. Photos & Illustrations: Avicenna: physician's visit from The Canon of Medicine
  12. Photos & Illustrations: Egypt: al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo
  13. Reference Articles: Islamic Astronomy
  14. Reference Articles: Islamic Medicine
  15. Biographies: Avicenna
  16. Political Cartoons, Posters & Document Images: Islamic alchemy equipment
  17. Cultural Documents: Avicenna: on the causes of health and illness (ca. 1020)

MLA Citation

"Islamic Science and Medicine." History Hub, ABC-CLIO, 2019, historyhub.abc-clio.com/Search/Display/2158319. Accessed 17 Feb. 2019.

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Entry ID: 2158319

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