Muslim Inventions 3

From coffee, cheese and cheques to the three-course meal, the Muslim world has given the West many innovations that they take for granted in daily life. These are some of the 20 chosen by Paul Vallely of The Independent:

A form of chess was played in India but was developed into the form we know today in Persia. From there it spread to Europe, where it was introduced by Muslims in Spain in the 10th century, and eastward as far as Japan. The word rook comes from the Persian rukh, which means chariot.

The windmill was invented in 634 for a Persian ruler and was used to grind corn and draw water for irrigation. It was 500 years before the first windmill was seen in Europe.

The system of numbering used round the world is probably Indian in origin but the numerals’ style is Arabic and first appears in print in the work of Muslim mathematicians around 825.

The fountain pen was invented for the Sultan of Egypt in 953 after he demanded a pen which wouldn’t stain his clothes. It held ink in a reservoir and, like modern pens, fed ink to the nib by gravity and capillary action.

The modern cheque comes from the Arabic saqq, a written vow to pay for goods when delivered, to avoid money being transported across dangerous terrain. In the 9th century, a Muslim businessman could cash a cheque in China drawn on his bank in Baghdad.