Alhazen 965-1040, Egypt, ‘the first scientist’ also person of faith

Hey Max,

Have you heard of this guy? He is one of a series of leading people of science across history who were also people of faith.

Look him up on Wikipedia and other stuff, I did.

Alhazen 965-1040, Egypt

No picture is shown out of respect for Arab Islamic views on images.

Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥasan ibn al-Ḥasan ibn al-Haytham (c. 965 – c. 1040) was an Arab[5] scientist, polymath, mathematician, astronomer and philosopher. Al-Hasan was the first person to test hypotheses with verifiable experiments, developing the scientific method more than 200 years before European scholars learned of it by reading his books. He made significant contributions to the principles of optics, as well as to astronomy, mathematics, visual perception, and to the scientific method. He also wrote insightful commentaries on works by Aristotle, Ptolemy, and the Greek mathematician. He was nicknamed Ptolemaeus Secundus (“Ptolemy the Second”)[8] or simply “The Physicist”[9] in medieval Europe.

A devout Muslim, Alhazen believed that human beings are flawed and only God is perfect. To discover the truth about nature, Ibn a-Haitham reasoned, one had to eliminate human opinion and allow the universe to speak for itself through physical experiments.

“The seeker after truth is not one who studies the writings of the ancients and, following his natural disposition, puts his trust in them, but rather the one who suspects his faith in them and questions what he gathers from them, the one who submits to argument and demonstration.”

According to one version of his biography, overconfident about practical application of his mathematical knowledge, he assumed that he could regulate the floods of the Nile.[10] After being ordered by Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, the sixth ruler of the Fatimid caliphate, to carry out this operation, he quickly perceived the impossibility of what he was attempting to do. Fearing for his life, he feigned madness[1][11] and was placed under house arrest, during which he undertook scientific work. After the death of Al-Hakim he was able to prove that he was not mad, and for the rest of his life he made money copying texts while writing mathematical works and teaching.[12] He has been said to be the father of modern optics, experimental physics and scientific methodology[13][14][15][16] and could be regarded as the first theoretical physicist.[14]

Alhazen made significant improvements in optics, physical science, and the scientific method. Alhazen’s work on optics is credited with contributing a new emphasis on experiment.

The Latin translation of his main work, Kitab al-Manazir (Book of Optics),[24] exerted a great influence on Western science: for example, on the work of Roger Bacon, who cites him by name.[25]

Bradley Steffens wrote: Ibn al-Haytham: First Scientist, the world’s first biography of the Muslim polymath. 2006, Morgan Reynolds publishers


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