Ibn Firnas was born during the rise and development of Islam in the Middle East. He was a member of the Berber community that was ruled by the Umayyad Caliphate. “The exact date of his birth is not clear, but he lived from 810 to 887 A.D”.
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Since his childhood, Ibn Firnas keenly observed his surroundings. After the death Abd al-Rahman, Armen Firman became the new caliph in 852 and was interested in promoting inventions.
He attempted to fly using a makeshift cloak, but he accidentally fell down. His invention became the initial parachute in the Middle East. Ibn Firnas witnessed this experiment and got interested in performing a similar test.
Ibn Firnas created a workshop in which he performed various experiments. Thus, “he attempted to make transparent glassware items using various materials, which he assembled from his surroundings”. He created a water timepiece, which was dubbed “Al-Maqata”.
In the field of astronomy, Ibn Firnas created various instruments that he applied in studying the sky. Ibn Firnas was also interested in writing poems and songs. Besides, he made remarkable efforts in making ornaments by shaping rocks into various designs.
A part from the aforementioned inventions, Ibn Firnas created a glider and attempted to fly. His flight was good, but he made a dangerous landing. Unfortunately, he sustained a serious back injury that almost crippled him.
His critiques contended that he hurt himself because he did not carry out proper research. After this accident, “Ibn Firnas never attempted to fly again and died after about twelve years”.
Benson, A. (2009). Great Lives from History: Inventors & Inventions Set. New York: Sage.
Morgan, M. (2008). Lost History: The Enduring Legacy of Muslim Scientists, Thinkers, and Artists. New York: National Geographic.
Salim, T., & Woodcock, E. (2006). 1001 Inventions: Muslim Heritage in Our World. Manchester: Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilisation.