Muslim Contributions to the Numeral System

Numbers
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As Muslims, Allah (SWT) has created us with some of the most impressive gifts of intellect. All we need to do is just follow the principles of Islam and Allah (SWT) will give us victory. That is precisely what early Muslim scholars did and to date, their works are still with us. This piece is going to focus on the outstanding contributions of Muslims to the numeral system. Today, the numeral system forms the foundation of everything we do in science and technology and it is even almost impossible to think of a world without the numeral system.

The exploits of Muslim mathematicians made the world to experience leaps and bounds in this area. From outstanding equations to wonderful formulas, the Muslim brains were all over the place showcasing their Allah-given talents. Now, even if you did not study mathematics at all in school, you must have heard of the Arabic numbers, or at least, the Hindu-Arabic numerals. And even if you have not heard of them, you must have come across them because we use them all the time and in practically all we do. This indispensable decimal number system that is now used globally has significant Muslim contributions to it.

This should not come as a surprise to anyone because if there is anything that Islam encourages us Muslims to do, it is to seek and gather as much knowledge as possible. Then when we have such knowledge, we should use it for the benefit of humanity and also for the praise of Allah (SWT) at all levels. It is this tenet of Islam that greatly assisted in the advancement of all kinds of sciences by the Muslims, and that included mathematics.

Muslim scholars of that era, especially the early Islamic mathematicians contributed to what we now referred to as the Arabic numeral system. It will be interesting to discover that this number system which included 1 to 9 and the idea of 0 as a number originated initially from India and not even from Arabia as the name might indicate.

However, the system is referred to as the Arabic numeral system or Hindu-Arabic numeral system as a great testament to the efforts of Muslim scholars. It is at this point that some will be wondering precisely what did the Islamic scholars do for them to enjoy such accolades. Well, even though the numbering system originated in the Indian subcontinent as hinted at earlier, it was the Muslims who quickly understood the immense promise that the system held.

Hence, they did not only adopt this system but they also vastly expanded the use. This is in addition to taking the idea of the numeral system with them to different parts of the globe far away from India itself. It is safe to conclude that without the efforts of the Muslim scholars, what we have today as the predominant numbering system on the planet would have just remained a localized numbering system used only in one corner of India. Knowledge is very valuable in Islam and may Allah (SWT) raise another generation of Muslims like the early Islamic scholars, aameen.