فتح واستحرا ب الدولة الاسلاميه الى الدّول الاخرى, قد جعل الاسلام يعّرف الثقافة الكبيرة فى هذه الدّنيا. مصر و يونان و صين والروم, هى مراكز الحضرة التى تملك الصفات القويه فى تكوين ثقافتها. و الاسلام هو مورّث ومستمّرثقافة الدّنيا المختلفة. قيمة الحضرة كفلسفة والفنون والعلوم, تندمج شرعة فى الحضرة الاسلامية لتجعل الثقافة الكبيرة وتكون مقدرة لتقدم الدنيا فى الأت. الكميا هو المعرفة التى يرثها الاسلام. وهو معرفة عن الشئ فى المادية والرومية. فى الاسلام قد نشأ الكميا ونقل الى معرفة التى تلأم لامتحانها. اعلى التقدّم الكميا الاسلامى قدّره العلماء الاسلام الذين عملوا فى الدهر الثامن من المسيح, حتى تحصل دياكرم كوسمولوجى الكميا المشهور فى تبيين مقرّن العناصر فى المعادن. كم من احتلاط الكميا المهمّ التى ننفعها واسعا الى هذا اليوم, قد احضرها فى الكميا كالقوهل ومحلول.

الحمض (asam), باسا (basa), nitrat, و aqua regia. واما التكنولوجية, قد ابتدأت بجعل عنا صر الكميا كتصفيّة المعادن و تقطير الماء و انتفاع الذهب.

تأخر الكميا تكون علامة لحضور علم الكميا وابتدأ التفرّق بين الكميا وكميا يكون هذا العصر دهر نهضة العلوم فى اوروبا. حصول الكميا فى انشاء العلوم عن العالم. يكون اساسا فى تكوين بناء الكميا فى هذا اليوم التقدّم.

A. Introduction

Emergence, expansion, dismissing, and revival of the Islamic civilization, make an extraordinary sight in the world history. For the last fourteen centuries, philosophers and poets, artists and scientists, princes and Moslem workers, create together a unique culture, which have the current influence to several societies in the world until the recent time.

What is Islam? This word is taken from some cases. Islam is the last of the three monotheism religions.[1] Islam is the life way, which arranges all aspects of human conducts. Islam is intellectual and emotional force which integrate everyone of five peoples in the world today, integrate its followers through the same belief and language, though their identity, race, nation, the interests of political backgrounds, paroles and styles are very different.

Moslems who become the joint heirs of Asian, Greek, ancient Roman, Byzantium, African cultures, have been taking this variety of heirs[2], and receive most of them. Culture and political experience of Moslems have the very big influence in West Europe where the Moslems have been playing the important role for renaissance. Therefore, it made society until the recent time.[3]

One of the Islamic heirs, which is not known until the recent time, but had become the basic of all life after medieval centuries, is the historical success of the Islamic philosophers, technologists, and scientists. Moslems received the riches of the scientific and philosophy thought from the obvious cultures through translation into Arabic language. The intellectual heirs were enriched by the fusing harmony of discovering and reformation, which resulted the surprise Islamic sciences, i.e. the first international sciences in the world.[4]

Alchemy is one of nature sciences, which had influence to Islamic intellectual discourse in fourteen centuries ago. Alchemy was grout as the other exact sciences, more than an effort to solve physical problems in order to formulate and expand the supra structure of Islamic empire, but for spiritual motivation and nature demystification as one of science objects.[5] Alchemy is considered as the basic of modern chemistry before scientific method is formulated.[6] Alchemy is called by proto-science, which have fused chemical, physical, and astrological, art, metallurgy, medic, mysticism, and religion elements. Therefore, the fusing among several elements made alchemy as a science which have more metaphysic and philosophic than empiric.

The popular understanding about science development, especially alchemy is often based on the brilliant idea of scientists which is formulated in the mathematic formulation and its effort in order to change material-economy and social-symbolic in the world where human have been exiting. The writing invite to see that alchemy as one of sciences is resulted as the part of cultural process, and to know how its relation in Islamic civilization dynamic.

B. Chemistry: A Historical Perspective

The word alchemy is taken from Arabic word ‘al-kimiya’ or ‘al-khimiya’ الكيمـيـاء أو الـخـيـمـيـاء ) ( the word ‘al-‘ is taken from Egypt language which is meaning the black ground between two sides of Nil river which was poured when the river water overflow, while the word ‘kimia” is taken from Greek language, which is meaning “to print together”, “to pour together”, “to fuse”, alloy, etc. (from the word ‘khumatos’, is meaning ‘which is poured’, “piece of metal”). The term is taken from Egypt Alexandria nation who used it early, especially to explain natural matter, which relates to human spiritually. Other etymology hooks the word on the word “Al Kemi”, which is meaning “Egypt Art”. Al-Kimia fused among the spiritual, furniture, magic characters and nature element condition, especially in manufacturing metal and medicine.

Alchemy had grout in Islamic world trough the transformation of several intellectual cultures in earlier era, such as Roman, Chinese, Persian, and Greek. This culture influence is the roots of Islamic sciences generally. At the first stage, it can be separated between the two characters, namely Chinese alchemy which centrals in Chine and its culture area; and West alchemy which its central removed among Egypt, Greek, and Roman, Islamic world, and then return to the Europe. Alchemy relates closely to Taoism, while West alchemy developed its philosophy system and related to religion.

1. Alchemy in The Ancient Egypt

Iskandariah city in Egypt is the central of alchemy knowledge. It is magnified until the destroying of Egypt culture. No origin Egypt document about alchemy, which exists today. The writing may lost when Diocletian Caesar from Greek order the burning books alchemy after dismissing the rebellion in Iskandariah, as the central of Egypt alchemy. Most of Egypt alchemy are known through ancient Greek philosophers (Hellenism) writings, which known as Islamic translation today.

Egypt alchemy founder is Dewa Thoth, which is called Hermes-Toth or Thrice-Great Hermes (Hermes Trimesgistus) by Greek nation. He was considered as the writer of what is called 42 science books. They involve all science disciplines –alchemy is including in them. Hermes symbol is caduceus or snack stick, which becomes one of many alchemy prime symbols. Egypt alchemists studied mysticism behind the change of dull ore to light metal. The change is like magic capability; therefore priest’s class understood alchemy in ancient Egypt.[7]

According to Egypt alchemists, human body (microcosm) is influenced by outside of the world (macrocosm). It involves the sky through astrology, and the earth through element. At the same time, Egypt people have known the ways to extract metals such as golden, silver, iron, copper, and tin .The assumptions in Egypt alchemy is belief that it was very old. After Macedonia nation whose Greek language had occupied the Egypt and seek Iskandariah city, Greek thought started to enter to Egypt culture.[8]

2. Alchemy in Greek

Greek nation took the belief to the Egypt nation Hermetic and fused it to Pythagoreans, Ionians and Gnosticism philosophy. In the essence, Pythagorean philosophy is the belief that number can arrange the nature, the belief from observation of the sound, stars, and geometric shape, such as triangle or whatever is accounted to be able to result ratio number. Ionia philosophy is based on the belief that the nature can be explained through studying the nature phenomena. Thales and his pupils Anaximender create the philosophy, and then it is grout by Plato and Aristotle, who their works became the part of alchemy. According to this belief, some natural laws, which can be known through carefully, and exactly philosophic searching can describe the nature. While Gnosticism is the belief which spread widely in Christian Roman Empire, that the world is not perfect because it was created by the wrong way, and that studying the spiritual matter character will bring us to the safety. He created Greek nation belief that God didn’t create the nature in the classic meaning, but the nature, and then it was destroyed (it was not destroyed by Adam and Hawa, as heir sin). According to Gnosticism belief, worship the nature, cosmos, and human being in the world is worship God truly. Gnostics didn’t look for the safety from sin, but tried to escape from unknowing, to belief that sin is only the consequences from unknowing.[9]

Empedocles introduced an important concept bout nature composition, and then Aristotle developed it.[10] These four elements was belief by Greek nation as qualitative aspect or primary and general characters of a matter, than quantitative aspect as modern chemistry elements. Then, this mystic aspect was grout widely.[11]

3. Alchemy in Roman Empire

Roman nation took alchemy and most of sciences from Greek philosophy. At the last Roman Empire, Greek alchemy philosophy was fused with Egypt nation philosophy and then made Hermetic.[12] A Christian philosophy, Augustine (354-430 M) wrote his belief that he reject experiment philosophy in alchemy. It is believed that reason and belief can be used to understand the God, but experimental philosophy is bad.[13]

Augustinian idea against the experiment which started to be known in the West, implied to the society in the medieval era to claim that alchemy as unscientific knowledge. At the last medieval era, the flow of thought created a permanent gap, which separated alchemy and religion. In Alexandria, the center of alchemy study in Roman Empire is told in parole to defend its secret; therefore the alchemy works were written less.[14]

C. Alchemy in Islamic World

According to George Sarton,[15] Moslems scientific effort in continuing science heir and then developing it, progress in some stages. Firstly, from 700 to 900 M period, is the stage of translation, adaptation, and assimilation from the elements, therefore Islamic science was built on the classical knowledge and thought. Secondly, the period from 900 M to Islamic glory century and after it, Islamic science stood as interpretation result from classical thought (especially neo-Platonic and Aristotle soul), criticism and the significant modification.

The centuries before emergence of Islamic civilization, alchemy basic premises had stood strongly when scholastic natural philosophy shaped it.[16] The Moslems heirs of study scoop in alchemy were influenced by philosophy concept and Egypt, Greek and Roman metaphysics. Therefore, since its first emergence, alchemy is related to aspects, which had metaphysic, and philosophic characters, such as the cases relate to cosmos and soul. Alchemy became the important part in exploring nature phenomena, both in practice and mystic orientation.[17]

The basic premise doesn’t follow modern chemistry rules generally, because the study of modern chemistry tend to the nature matter character and its reactions[18], and alchemy rationality in understanding the matter character doesn’t base on scientific values, or scientific method[19], but bases to the myth.

  1. Islamic Alchemy: The Beginning of Modern Chemistry

Islamic alchemists in the medieval century, in studying many concepts abut nature matter from the civilization of earlier century, were adapted gradually and assimilated continuously into Islamic philosophy frame. In Islamic intellectual culture, alchemy had grout to leave from its origin so far by resulting many important works and discovering, that it disregarded spiritual aspects. The more empiric and important discovering had become the basic of modern chemistry.[20]

In Islamic alchemy, the fusion of alchemic themes, spiritual, and mystic influenced alchemists in doing their works, therefore they were often considered Pseudo-scientists. Alchemy attention tended to the change of ordinary metal into gold. It is called by transmutation. The fact became general work in alchemy, until it was formulated cosmology tables and diagrams by scientist Jabir bin Hayyan.[21]


[1] Budy Munawar Rahman, “Islam Pluralis: Wacana Kesetaraan Kaum Beriman”, (Jakarta: Paramadina, 2001), p. 16. that Islam is the part of religions which are not worship but Allah, such as Nasrani and Yahudi religion, and because of it, al-Qur’an invites them to the meeting point (kalimatun sawa’). See al-Baqarah (2): 62.

[2] Cultural heir is the basic of Islamic sciences, which was in Moslems hands after occupation of outside Islamic empire area befor 7th century. The lost of Gondeshapur Persian in 638th year by Ummayah empire, symbolized the early of Islamic intellectual resurgence. Howard R. Turner, “Science in Medieval Islam: An Illustrated Introduction”, (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1997), p. 37-38. read, K. Ali, “Sejarah Islam: Tarikh Pramodern”, (Jakarta: Raja Grafindo, 2003), p. 327

[3] Mehdi Nakosteen, “Kontubusi Islam atas Dunia Intelektual Barat: Deskripsi Analisis Abad Keemasan Islam, (Surabaya: Risalah Gusti, 2003), p. 253.

[4] Howard R. Turner, “ Science in Medieval Islam: An Illustrated Introduction., p. 12

[5] Islam supposed clearly that the nature was a rapid and continuous field, universal and constant one. Firstly, the nature can be observed, because it was useful according to style and law. (al-Qur’an: 30:30; 33:62). Secondly, human science belief about the nature is important because the morality and religion asked them. Thirdly, Islam teach us that if knowledge about the nature is looked for honestly, it will be relevant to believe it. Read the complete one in Isma’il Rajih al-faruqi, “Atlas Budaya Islam: Menjelajah Khasanah Peradaban Gemilang”, (Jakarta: MIzan, 1998), p. 351-352.

[6] Scientific method (experiment method) began to be used in Europe after medieval century. It was introduced by Francis Bacon (1561-1626). Since this period, the exiting sciences had changed gradually toward modern science as it is developing today.

[7] Burckhardt, Titus “Alchemy: Science of the Cosmos, Science of The Soul”, (Trans: William Stodart. Baltimore; penguin, 1967), p. 34-42

[8] Ibid., p. 167-169

[9] Lindsay, Jack. “The Origins of Alchemy in Graeco-Roman Egypt”. (London: Muller, 1970).h. 16

[10] Ibid., p. 16. Read Mohammad Hatta, “Alam Pikiran Yunani”, (Jakarta: UI Press, 1986), p. 130. that according to Empedokles who was followed by Aristotle, it was like the nature philosophy, that the earth contains for four elements. They are fire, water, air, and ground. The elements have responsibility to the contradictories characters: heavy and light, hot and cold, dry and wet.

[11] Hitchcock, Ethan Allen “Remarks Upon Alchemy and the Alchemists”. (Boston: Crosby, Nichols 1857), h. 66

[12] Ibid., p. 17

[13] Augustine “The Confession”s. (Trans. Rex Warner. New York: Mentor Books,1963), h. 245

[14] Lindsay, Jack. “The Origins.., p.h

[15] George Sarton, “Introduction to the History of Science” (3 Vol ed: Baltimore: Willaim and Wilkins, 1948), look at Mehdi Nakosteen, “Kontribusi Islam atas Dunia Intelektual Barat: Deskripsi Analisis Abad Keemasan Islam” (Surabaya: Risalah Gusti, 2003), p. 248-249.

[16] The some premises are that gold is the most honor and pure metal, and then silver. Unorganic things have life. They were structured from soul and matter; the mixing of the things can be separated by hotness; soul which was resulted, can be steamed to become liquid which contains essences quality from its origin. Understanding about the matters was in alchemy philosophy in the medieval century. Howard R. Turner, “Science in Medieval Islam: An Illustrated Introduction., p. 201.

[17] Ibid, P. 202

[18] Chemistry studies the structure and changing of matters in the natural process or the planned experiment. By chemistry, we can know about the composition of things and using of uncomposition matters, it is natural or created, and we know the important processes in the life, and in human bodies. Keenam, Wood “General Collage Chemistry”, (Harper & Row Publisher, inc.: 1980), p. 2

[19] Thomas S. Kuhn, “The Structure of Scientific Revolution: Peran paradigma dalam Revolusi sains”, (Bandung: Rosdakarya, 2000), p. 10-11. ‘ilm began to get its technical meaning when it was implied in science about God law. Here, ‘Ilm menas knowledge which needs istiidlal (proof) which show the data observation through experiment and standard. Read the perfect one in Isma’il Rajih al-faruqi, “Atlas Budaya Islam: Menjelajah Khasanah Peradaban Gemilang”, (Jakarta: MIzan, 1998), p. 355.

[20] In Islamic Alchemy, laboratory began to be built as experiment place. The discovers and works are calcination method, distillation, and covering by antirust. Budi Wahyono, “Ilmuwan Islam Pelopor sains Modern”, (Jakarta: Pustaka Qalami, 2005), p. 69-71

[21] Jabir bin Hayyan (720-808 M) was a classical alchemist figure who lived from Harun Ar-Rasyid to Al-Makmun period. His emergence strengthened Islamic alchemy in intellectual field ion the period. Jabir made the weight to weigh the smaller thing which has 6.480 times than 1 kilogram. The discovering based balancing principle fro Jabir. Natural science in West Europe credited it in using experiment method for the first time by Jabar bin Hayyan. But, the Western scientists considerd Francis Bacon’s discovering, ibid., p. 69-71