Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Sciences and Religions

pp 1205-1212

Mathematics in Islam General

  • Jeffrey A. OaksAffiliated withDepartment of Mathematics and Computer Science, University of Indianapolis Email author 

Related Terms

Islamic; Islamicate mathematics; Medieval Arabic


By “Mathematics and Islam” we mean the mathematics practiced and developed in countries whose predominant religion was Islam, before the advent of Western colonialism. In time, this covers the eighth century CE down to about the nineteenth century, and in place from India to Muslim Spain. Despite the vast expanse of time and territory, mathematics in Islam can be said to constitute a continuous tradition, though one must always be aware of local conditions and influences.

The Cultural Background

By the time the Umayyad dynasty succumbed to the ‘Abbāsid revolution in the middle of the eighth century CE, the Islamic empire reached from the Atlantic coasts of North Africa and the Iberian peninsula to the Indian subcontinent. The unprecedented political expansion of the Muslim state in the preceding two centuries made the Arab conquerors masters of regions previously under the control of the civil ...

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