The Null Device

Science and the Islamic world

A physics professor and university chair from Pakistan writes about the position of science in today's Islamic world:
Science finds every soil barren in which miracles are taken literally and seriously and revelation is considered to provide authentic knowledge of the physical world. If the scientific method is trashed, no amount of resources or loud declarations of intent to develop science can compensate. In those circumstances, scientific research becomes, at best, a kind of cataloging or "butterfly-collecting" activity. It cannot be a creative process of genuine inquiry in which bold hypotheses are made and checked.
In the 1980s an imagined "Islamic science" was posed as an alternative to "Western science." The notion was widely propagated and received support from governments in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and elsewhere. Muslim ideologues in the US, such as Ismail Faruqi and Syed Hossein Nasr, announced that a new science was about to be built on lofty moral principles such as tawheed (unity of God), ibadah (worship), khilafah (trusteeship), and rejection of zulm (tyranny), and that revelation rather than reason would be the ultimate guide to valid knowledge. Others took as literal statements of scientific fact verses from the Qur'an that related to descriptions of the physical world. Those attempts led to many elaborate and expensive Islamic science conferences around the world. Some scholars calculated the temperature of Hell, others the chemical composition of heavenly djinnis. None produced a new machine or instrument, conducted an experiment, or even formulated a single testable hypothesis.

There are 2 comments on "Science and the Islamic world":

Posted by: JM Wed Oct 3 04:11:17 2007

Completely unrelated, but you might be interested: http://www.projo.com/news/content/Mall_Dwellers_10-02-07_1F7B9KA.34baf91.html

Posted by: Gerrr Wed Mar 19 00:24:27 2008

Science begins with the premise that an item, artifact or theory can be proved. I have read the Torah, Christian Bible and the Koran and found each book has anecdotal stories, told by word of mouth and then written. Written by mortal men with all the faults of men. In a decision made by men other men are elevated to positions of Holy men, with all the faults of men. Science is based on what can be proven in the physical universe. If it cannot be proven then it is cannot be science. And yes science is both boring and creative.

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