Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi

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Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī
Born c. 780
Khwarezm, Uzbekistan
Died c. 850
Baghdad, Iraq
Other names Algorithmi
Employer House of Wisdom
Occupation mathematician, astronomer, geographer, historian
Notable works The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing (al-Jabr)
Book of the Description of the Earth
Astronomical tables of Siddhanta
Extraction of the Jewish Era
Book of History

Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī (محمد بن موسی خوارزمی) was a massively influential 9th century polymath from Islamic Persia who produced key works in mathematics, astronomy, geography, and history. Best known for his contributions to algebra (a field now eponymous with Khwarizmi's work that is known in Arabic al-Jabr) and to the concept of the algorithm (also eponymous with the latinization of Khwarizmi's name, Algorithmi), Khwarizmi also famously improved upon Ptolemy's Geography, studied the history of calendars, and advanced key developments in trigonomerty. Prominent in his time as well as after, Khwarizmi was appointed head of library and resident astronomer at the famous House of Wisdom (بيت الحكمة) in Baghdad during the rule of al-Ma'mun in the Abbasid Golden Age (775-861) which, under the rule of the unorthodox and rationalist Mu'tazilites, was responsible for the translation of Greek works into Arabic.


Islamic world

He was looked down upon by notable Sunni Islamic scholars who held him in contempt for his unorthodox religious views. Commonly championed today as an icon of Islamic science by activist Muslims and non-Muslim alike, Khwarizmi's reception (as with the reception of most of his peers) among orthodox Sunni Muslim scholars (both contemporary and subsequent) was far from favorable, as his religious views were deemed heretical. Indeed, the Abbasid caliphal patrons who had supported the work of Khwarizmi and his peers were themselves party to the Mu'tazilite heresy of Islam, who would be rejected the scholars of the coming Ash'ari, Maturidi, and Hanbali orthodoxy.

Ibn Taymiyyah wrote about Khwarizmi:

انه وإن كان علمه صحيحا إلا إن العلوم الشرعية مستغنية عنه وعن غيره

Even if his science is correct, regardless, the Islamic sciences are dispensed of him and his likes.

مجموع الفتاوى: 9/214 - 215

See also