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Father of Modern Optics

Ibn al-Haytham’s Vision

He does not have a familiar name like Nicolaus Copernicus, Roger Bacon, or Galileo, but Ibn al-Haytham’s name is the reason that those aforementioned scientists carry the weight that they do today. A product of the Islamic Golden Age, Ibn al-Haytham dedicated his entire life to making sense of t...
| Sarah Winter | Issue 141 (May - Jun 2021)

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Ibn al-Haytham’s Vision

In This Article

  • Ibn al-Haytham, the “Father of Modern Optics,” has influenced the likes of many scholars like him such as Isaac Newton and René Descartes.
  • Professor George Saliba of Columbia University has said that “Ibn al-Haytham is universally acknowledged to be one of, if not the most creative scientist Islamic civilization has ever known.”
  • One of the characteristics that make Ibn al-Haytham a modern scientist is that his scientific method was characterized by experimentation, i.e., he always tried to prove what he wanted to demonstrate.

He does not have a familiar name like Nicolaus Copernicus, Roger Bacon, or Galileo, but Ibn al-Haytham’s name is the reason that those aforementioned scientists carry the weight that they do today.

A product of the Islamic Golden Age, Ibn al-Haytham dedicated his entire life to making sense of the world and improving the scientific understanding of many disciplines that we take for granted. Also known as “Alhacen” or “Alhazen” and by too few, the “Father of Modern Optics,” (Tbhaki, Amr, ASM) his work influenced the likes of many scholars after him such as Isaac Newton and René Descartes. Although he is revered by some, al-Haytham has by no means received the attention in history that he deserves, as is the case of many ancient Muslim scientists who were overshadowed by the European Renaissance. “(The) likes of these great scientists, philosophers, and artists lived their worthy existence and influenced Europe in a variety of ways” (Ali, p. 162).


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