Imam Ilyas Sidyot

1st robot invented by Muslims

Makkah, April 25:

Makkah's Umm Al-Qura University President Bakri Assas opened the Innovation and Business Forum at the university auditorium in the holy city yesterday. Several prominent figures, including experts, academics and knowledge innovation specialists from within the Kingdom and abroad as well as university officials are taking part in the three-day forum, organized by the university's Business & Knowledge Innovation Agency.

In his opening speech, Assas highlighted the significance of outstanding scientific contributions made by Muslims to the world in the early period of Islam. He claimed that the first robot was the invention of Muslims.


"During the sixth Hijri century, a Muslim scientist called Abul Izz bin Ismail bin Al-Razzaz Al-Jazari was the first to make a mobile robot to carry out domestic services,"

Assas said while quoting excerpts from his magnum opus: "A compendium on the theory and practice of the mechanical arts."

Al-Jazari wrote the book in response to the request of Nasir Al-Din Mahmud, a caliph of the Artuqid dynasty, Turkey. Al-Jazari, a well-known scientist and mechanical engineer in the medieval period, says in his introduction that he started his service at the Artuqid court in the year 570/1174. Referring to the robotic inventions, Assas said: "Al-Jazari says in the book that the caliph asked him to make a machine to help him, instead of servants, whenever he wanted to perform ablution for prayer. Al-Jazari made a machine in the shape of a servant that carries a pitcher of water in one hand and a towel in the other. That robot has a bird standing on his turban. When the time of prayer comes, the bird twitters, then the robot moves forward toward the caliph and pours water in certain amounts. When the caliph finishes his ablution, the robot gives him the towel, and then the bird sings as the robot goes back to its place."


According to Assas, this is one of several scientific inventions by Muslims. "Scientists of our glorious civilization made outstanding contributions to the modern world, and credit goes to Muslims for many of the scientific achievements. It is Muslims who first separated gold from silver, made artificial leather, invented the camera, discovered zero, introduced the modern logarithm table and magnetic index for navigators," he said, adding that the scientific revolution in the modern world drew upon the discoveries and contributions made by Muslim scientists and nobody can neglect their footprints in the scientific pioneering fields. Nabeel Koshak, undersecretary for Business & Knowledge Innovation at the university, chaired the forum's first session on initiatives and experiments of universities worldwide.


The second session on initiatives and experiments from the private sector was presided over by Sharaf Muhammad Dabbagh, adviser of private small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The topic of Tuesday's last session was on experiments in spreading the culture of innovation and pioneering business. Osama Al-Amri, dean of the Institute of Research and Scientific Studies, chaired the session. Several prominent academics from prestigious global institutes presented papers in the sessions. They included Abdul Ali, associate professor at Babson College, whose paper was on major fundamentals of pioneering business.