The Remarkable Contributions of Al-Kindi

Al-Kindi
Al-Kindi | Unknown Author

There is no way you are going to be a Muslim and not be fascinated by the display or pursuit of knowledge. Almighty Allah (SWT) enjoined us on this in the Holy Quran when He said:

Allah will exalt in rank those of you who believe and those who have knowledge. Allah is aware of all that you do. – The Majestic Quran, 58:11

As you have seen in the verse above, knowledge has high esteem before the sight of Allah (SWT) so it is not a surprise that many of the scholars of Islam were also highly-respected intellectuals of science. This article is going to focus on one of such scholars in the person of Al-Kindi.

Abu Yusuf Yaqub Ibn Ishaq As-Sabbah Al-Kindi (better known simply as Al-Kindi or Alkindus) was a Muslim physician, polymath, philosopher, and mathematician. Born in what is now modern-day Iraq, he became known as the father of Arab philosophy. He had his education in the capital city of Baghdad and became one of the most influential characters in the Grand Library of Baghdad. As hinted at earlier, he was a multidimensional genius who contributed to different areas of knowledge.

Take philosophy for example, he did not only take his time to comprehend the philosophy of the day, he also redefined many philosophical concepts and also contributed his original thoughts. An avid writer, he wrote a lot of works on ethics, pharmacology, mathematics, astronomy, zoology, meteorology, psychology, pharmacology, medicine, metaphysics, logic and so many others.

As far as mathematics is concerned, the name Al-Kindi remains one of the most respected. This is because he was one of those who brought the Indian numerals (also known as the Hindu-Arabic numeral system which is now used worldwide) to the areas of the Muslims. It was his efforts alongside those of another great Muslim scholar (Al-Khwarizmi) that led to this numbering system to be known as Arabic numerals.

However, that was not all there is to Al-Kindi. Many know him as a brilliant mathematician but what many are not even aware of is that he is considered as one of the pioneers of cryptography. By drawing inspiration from the works of Al-Khalil, Al-Kindi was able to produce one of the most timeless books of cryptography. He named the book Manuscript on Deciphering Cryptographic Messages. It was this book that laid the foundation for statistical inference while also introducing new ways of decoding ciphers.

One aspect of Al-Kindi’s that remains exemplary is that even though he dwelt on various aspects of knowledge, he never forgot to make his religion a priority. He went as far as becoming a scholar in theology. He focused on topics such as the knowledge of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW), the nature of Almighty Allah (SWT), and even the soul. Hence, he was an all-rounder and a good example of what a Muslim scholar should be. May Allah (SWT) accept the efforts of Al-Kindi and grant him the best of the Hereafter, aameen.