Islamic attitudes towards science  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

(Redirected from Islamic science)
Jump to: navigation, search

"It is related that the Caliph Omar, being asked what should be done with the library at Alexandria, answered in these words. “If the books in the library contain anything contrary to the Alcoran, they are evil and ought to be burnt; if they contain only what the Alcoran teaches, they are superfluous.” This reasoning has been cited by our men of letters as the height of absurdity; but if Gregory the Great had been in the place of Omar, and the Gospel in the place of the Alcoran, the library would still have been burnt, and it would have been perhaps the finest action of his life." --Discourse on the Sciences and Arts (1750) by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, see Islam and science


"The Islamic Arabs developed in the course of a few years a culture which has influenced all the subsequent developments of Europe, and which, even when we allow for the cultural impulse which it inherited from Persia, was marvellous in the rapidity of its growth. Our own modern civilization has risen out of darkest barbarism in the course of three or four centuries." --The Making of Humanity, Robert Briffault


"It was Islam that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment. It was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed." --Obama, June 4, 2009 speech in Cairo


"Gouguenheim attacks the "thesis of the West's debt" as advanced by the historians Edward Said, Alain de Libera and Mohammed Arkoun. He says it replaces formerly dominant notions of cultural superiority advanced by Western orientalists, with "a new ethnocentrism, oriental this time" that sets off an "enlightened, refined and spiritual Islam" against a brutal West."[1], 2008 review of Sylvain Gouguenheim's Aristote au mont Saint-Michel by John Vinocur

Related e

Google
Wikipedia
Wiktionary
Wiki Commons
Wikiquote
Wikisource
YouTube
Shop


Featured:
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Enlarge
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

In the Muslim world today, most of the focus on the relation between Islam and science involves scientific interpretations of the Quran (and sometimes the Sunna) that claim to show that these sources make prescient statements about the nature of the universe, biological development and other phenomena later confirmed by scientific research, thus demonstrating proof of the divine origin of the Qur'an (and sometimes the Sunna). This effort has been criticized by scientists and philosophers as containing logical fallacies, being unscientific, likely to be contradicted by evolving scientific theories.

In the Muslim world, many believe that modern science was first developed in the Muslim world rather than in Europe and Western countries, that "all the wealth of knowledge in the world has actually emanated from Muslim civilization," and what people call "the scientific method", is actually "the Islamic method." Muslims often cite verse 239 from Surah Al-Baqara —- He has taught you what you did not know. —- in support of their view that the Qur'an promotes the acquisition of new knowledge. Theoretical physicist Jim Al-Khalili believes the modern scientific method was pioneered by Ibn Al-Haytham (known in the Western world as "Alhazen"), whose contributions he likened to those of Isaac Newton. Robert Briffault, in The Making of Humanity, asserts that the very existence of science, as it is understood in the modern sense, is rooted in the scientific thought and knowledge that emerged in Islamic civilizations during this time.

In contrast, some people worry that the contemporary Muslim world suffers from a "profound lack of scientific understanding," and lament that, for example, in countries like Pakistan post-graduate physics students have been known to blame earthquakes on "sinfulness, moral laxity, deviation from the Islamic true path," while "only a couple of muffled voices supported the scientific view that earthquakes are a natural phenomenon unaffected by human activity."

As with all other branches of human knowledge, science, from an Islamic standpoint, is the study of nature as stemming from Tawhid, the Islamic conception of the "Oneness" of God. In Islam, nature is not seen as something separate but as an integral part of a holistic outlook on God, humanity, the world and the cosmos. These links imply a sacred aspect to Muslims' pursuit of scientific knowledge, as nature itself is viewed in the Qur'an as a compilation of signs pointing to the Divine. It was with this understanding that the pursuit of science, especially prior to the colonization of the Muslim world, was respected in Islamic civilizations.

Muslim scientists and scholars have subsequently developed a spectrum of viewpoints on the place of scientific learning within the context of Islam, none of which are universally accepted. However, most maintain the view that the acquisition of knowledge and scientific pursuit in general is not in disaccord with Islamic thought and religious belief.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Islamic attitudes towards science" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools