Islam also has a glorious and great history and heritage that has shaped the modern civilization in the West, including culture, education, and scientific developments. Unlike other religions such as Christianity where science and religion form two separate entities, the study of science has always been compatible with Islam religion. One such contribution is found in the field of mathematics where Muhammad bin Moosaa Al-Khawaarizmi is credited as one of remarkable founders of Algebra. He introduced the basic algebraic methods of balancing and reduction, and developed a number of formulas for solving such problems. In such a way, he was able to produce a powerful abstract mathematical language that is still useful across the world today.
In the first place algebra is defined as a mathematical formula dealing with the study of quantity, structure and relationships of items. It is believed that algebra was first developed by the Egyptians and the Babylonians. Algebra was first mentioned 9th century Egyptians. This brought out the basics of the formula which include; solving of equations, and comparison of solutions. But this formula had been in existence since the 1st millennium BC. The Babylonian developed formulas similar to what is used today in solving linear and quadratic equations (Merzbach and Carl 35). The Egyptians used geometry to solve the same problems.
The above mentioned traditions helped shape the development of modern algebra. It is believed that the Islamic communities and governments gave much support to their own local mathematicians who helped in the early development of algebra. To understand the origin of algebra, it is good for us to first have a look at the emergence of several Islamic scholars.
There lived an Islamic scholar named Harun Al-Rashid, he belonged to Abbasid dynasty. At around the same time Al-khwarizmi the father of modern algebra was also born. He had two sons born to him. The dynast was well established and by the time of his death his rule had expanded and well organized. After his death, the two sons fought over the rights of their father’s rule and eventually the younger son succeeded. As the younger son inherited the reigns of his father, he made it a responsibility to expansion of the dynasty. The son named Almamun succeeded in expanding his father’s work, To help expand this works he decided to build a library in order to be used for storage for collection of manuscripts and other astronomical collections from different Islamic scholars in and around the east. He believed in Allah and Mohamed the prophet, he stated that as he searches for more knowledge he follows the path of Allah. The library expanded and became one of the biggest centre in the Islamic world. Muslims from all works of life came to study in the library. One of the notable scholars who attended and studied in the library was Al-khwarizmi (Klein 241). He specialized in the following fields; algebra, geometry, and astronomy. Al-khwarizi’s work was influenced much by the tradition of the ancient near east.
The Arabic numerals, which originated from India, contributed more to further development of algebra. During this time, Algebra was practically used in solving communal problems such as tax collection, contracts, and partitions among others. Trade became most significant feature in the life of Muslims around that time and with the help of algebra business was booming. This Muslim scholar embarked on a mission make his contribution to the mathematics field through the invention of Algebra formula.
After writing many books on calculation by completion and balancing, they gave a title al-jabra, which is translated as today’s Algebra. Thus making the Islamic community one of the few people who had adopted advanced technology in the east by then. The introduction of algebra into the western world came after subsequent development by the Arabs. In Europe for example, the works of Mohamed ibn Musa Al-khwarizmi was translated by Gugleolmo de Lunis, Gerhard von Cremona(1145) and Robert of Chester(1450), and liber Abaciof Fibonacci(1202) (Karpinski, Louis and John 52). The latter dedicated one of his last books to algebra and he even used most of the problems and solutions from the works of Al-khwarizmi. Even though, the original Arab algebra developed highly sophisticated over the next centuries, it is the original content of this early works that are known in Europe. There is also a new picture in the algebra development in Italian schools between the two contributors, including Fibonacci and Luca Pacioli’s Summa de arithmetica geometria proportioni(1494) (Franci and Rigatelli, 1985).
Sources indicate that it has taken almost four centuries before the completion of algebra development. It has taken over a span of 3000 years in the development of algebra, and as time goes, new improvement have been made by upcoming mathematicians. This formula has been adopted all over the world. It is no doubt that the Arabs were originally the first to develop this formula. It is evident that at some point in time, there ware drastic changes in the way arithmetic problems that were solved from the basic number system to the present day compound and complex formula.
In addition to the above Islamic contribution, Babylonians and Indian mathematical works, also contributed to the development of algebra. This background gave way to the creation of new modern kind of mathematics that is much more detailed that former combination of traditions formulas. As it is noted that the new way of mathematical thinking was as a result of gradual changes, this came about because over the years mathematics became more interested in new subject matter in regard to algebra which was not in the sense of solving equations but the study of structures which is similar to the traditional algebra operations, which comprised of rational and real numbers. There are some of the latest theories that came into existence as a result of algebra, these include; commutative ring theory, and syper-complex systems.
The beginning of the next generation of algebra development was the invention of quaternions by Hamilton. It was later proved that quaternion is the only extension of complex numbers which made divisions possible, subsequently another prove was made two years later by C.S. Pierce. Today there has been more use of algebra as indicated by the Americans, British and Germans in relation to its modern sense. For example, a ring with finite-dimensional vector space over the complex numbers. Around 1850, other developments of algebra were made over the complex numbers but the real study of algebras begun around1870s by B.pierce andC.S, when they introduced the Idempotent and nilpotent elements. British and American mathematicians worked on the problem of classifying algebras of small dimensions over the complex numbers.
The concept of group algebra also gave additional ideas, In 1896 Dedekind defined this concept in relation to the general concept of algebras. In my own view, the gradual development of Algebra from the time of Al-khwarizmi and subsequent contributions by the Indians, the Greeks, Babylonians, the Jews to the lately American and British contribution, gives a conclusion of the contribution of Islam to the field of mathematics through algebra.
In conclusion, Muslims played a significant role in the development of artistic and scientific achievements that greatly influenced the West. The scientific revolution and the renaissance drew much from the contributions and discovers made by Muslims to the field of sciences and mathematics.
Merzbach, Uta C., and Carl B. Boyer. A History of Mathematics. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley, 2011. Print.
Karpinski, Louis Charles., and John Garrett. Winter. Contributions to the History of Science. Ann Arbor: Univ. Of. Michigan, 1930. Print.
Klein, Jacob. Greek Mathematical Thought and the Origin of Algebra. Cambridge, MA: M.I.T., 1968. Print.
Malet, Antoni, and Marco Panza. “The Origins of Algebra: From al-Khwarizmi to Descartes:
International Workshop help at Barcelona, 27-29 March 2003. “ Historia Mathematica
Feb. 2006: 1+.Acadmeic Search Premier. Web. 27 Feb. 2013