Islamic history is full of internationally recognized
and renowned polymaths who laid the foundations of the modern scientific
knowledge. From 8th till 13th century, the world witnessed the grandeur
of Muslim scientists and artists. One of the earliest and most
celebrated scientists was Jabir Bin Hayyan; called Geber in the West. He
has been titled “Father of Chemistry” due to his invaluable contribution
to the field of chemistry.
Jabir bin Hayyan was born in 721 A.D. in the Persian city of Tus. He
gained excellence in the fields of Alchemy, Astronomy, Physics,
Pharmacy, Philosophy, Astrology, and Geography. He has been found to
acknowledge the early works of Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, and
Pythagoras, as well as, the prominent Muslim jurist Imam Jafar as-Sadiq’s
knowledge on alchemy, chemistry, philosophy, and astronomy.
Jabir bin Hayyan prepared chemicals, discovered many acids, and
prepared, as well as, improved many chemical processes. He stressed the
significance of experimenting one’s theory, and this is why we see a lot
of inventions and discoveries made by him. In fact, he was the one who
introduced experimental techniques in the field of chemistry.
He gave a detailed description of acetic acid, tartaric acid, and citric
acid. Discovery of hydrochloric acid, sulphuric acid, and nitric acid
are few of the greatest contributions made by Jabir bin Hayyan. He
combined nitric acid with the hydrochloric acid and invented another
acid termed today as “Aqua Regia”. The latter is strong enough to
He discovered chemical procedures as significant as crystallization,
melting, distillation, calcination, reduction, liquidation, and
sublimation. Dyeing of cloth and leather, as well as, preparation of
steel are also associated with this great Islamic scientist. His
division of substance into three different classes worked as the basis
for modern day classification of metals and non metals.
He worked hard for devising methods to refine and purify metals. We get
to know from his works that he was dedicated towards finding out the
individual properties of elements. Preparation of antimony, basic lead
carbonate, and arsenic from their respective sulphides also connects
back to Jabir bin Hayyan.
According to historians, Jabir respected his mentor
Imam Jafar As-Sadiq a lot. To fulfil his teacher’s desire, Jabir bin
Hayyan made revolutionary inventions including;
– A Substance that could rust proof iron surfaces, while waterproof
– A paper that couldn’t catch fire.
– An ink which could be seen and read in the dark (at night time).
Books and Treatises:
Around 3000 books and treatises are attributed to the name of Jabir bin
Hayyan. The topics are diverse in nature; ranging from music, magic,
philosophy, logic and metaphysics to chemistry, alchemy, physics,
medicine, astrology, geography, and astronomy.
The “Book of Seventy” is a collection of his various works like “Book of
Venus”. Other noteworthy works of Jabir bin Hayyan include Book of
Stones, Book of 112, Composition of Alchemy, Kitaab-ur-Rahmah, and
His research has been translated to many European languages, and has
been used in western educational institutions for centuries. This is why
he is called the ‘Father of Modern Chemistry’.