Thanks for the Coffee, Algebra, and Optics

from Shane's Muslim Connect

I’m feeling Thanksgivingly these days. Living in southern Colorado in 2019 and typing on an Apple computer give me a pretty high baseline for gratitude! 

When we think of Muslims, thankfulness might not be the first thing to come to mind. Much is said and some things are actually happening which generate concern. Not to challenge any particular bit of that, but maybe to very slightly balance the equation, here are three things for which we can be grateful to Muslims. 

  1. Optical Advances: Back when smart people were still puzzling over whether our eyes see by generating light or receiving it, a failed dam builder and civic administrator named Al-Haytham penned a seven-volume treatise on optics. He also popularized an early form of camera and the scientific method. As I look at my MacBook through prescription glasses, I’m grateful for his contribution to the understanding of sight.
  2. Algebraic Achievements: Apparently who should bear the title “Father of Algebra” is disputed. What is clear is that both the word and much of our fundamental understanding of algebra traces to Muslim scholar Al-Khwarizmi. You may find being thankful for algebra a challenging task, and I would not disagree. But I’m grateful for the algebraic underpinnings of every bridge you and I will cross today as well as Al-Khwarizmi’s contributions to algorithmic thinking that help get this email to you.
  3. Coffee Culture: Santriani Bohari says, “No, Muslims didn't invent coffee itself; the plant has been around for ages. But it was Muslims of Yemen, and then Turkey, who popularized coffee in their societies, and later on, in the Western world.” Thank you, early adopters! She goes on to say, “Muslims used to drink coffee to help them stay awake during long nights of worship,” which roughly parallels the lattes our barista proffers before I preach on Sunday morning!

Thank you, God, for these people you’ve made and the contributions they’ve made to our world.