Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Truth About “Islamic Science”

Anyone who was around in the 1950s or ’60s knows that the Russians invented everything. From the steam engine to the atom bomb, from the paper clip to the zipper — Bolshevik propagandists insisted that all were Russian or Soviet inventions.

Now we find out that we were mistaken: in reality, everything significant was invented by Muslims. As reported in many places, Islam was responsible all important scientific and technological accomplishments, not to mention the discovery of America.

Fjordman has written a recent series of articles about Islam, Europe, and Science. Today he posted a follow-up essay on the same topic at Dhimmi Watch. Here are some excerpts:

Bassam TibiThe German-Syrian Muslim reformist Bassam Tibi writes in his book Islam Between Culture and Politics that “rational sciences were — in medieval Islam — considered to be ‘foreign sciences’ and at times heretical. At present, Islamic fundamentalists do not seem to know that rational sciences in Islam were based on what was termed ulum al-qudama (the sciences of the Ancients), that is, the Greeks.”

Science was viewed as Islamic science, the study of the Koran, the hadith, Arab history etc. Tibi believes it is thus incorrect to call institutions like al-Azhar in Cairo, Egypt, the highest institution of learning in Sunni Islam, a university: “Some Islamic historians wrongly translate the term madrasa as university. This is plainly incorrect: If we understand a university as universitas litterarum, or consider, without the bias of Eurocentrism, the cast of the universitas magistrorum of the thirteenth century in Paris, we are bound to recognise that the university as a seat for free and unrestrained enquiry based on reason, is a European innovation in the history of mankind.”

Al-Azhar was created in the tenth century and is hailed as one of the oldest universities in the world. However, as late as the early twentieth century, the blind Egyptian author Taha Husayn complained about the total lack of critical thinking he encountered at the institution:
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“The four years I spent [at al-Azhar, from 1902] seemed to me like forty, so utterly drawn out they were….It was life of unrelieved repetition, with never a new thing, from the time the study began until it was over. After the dawn prayer came the study of Tawhid, the doctrine of [Allah’s] unity; then fiqh, or jurisprudence, after sunrise; then the study of Arabic grammar during the forenoon, following a dull meal; then more grammar in the wake of the noon prayer. After this came a grudging bit of leisure and then, again, another snatch of wearisome food until, the evening prayer performed, I proceeded to the logic class which some shaikh or other conducted. Throughout these studies it was all merely a case of hearing re-iterated words and traditional talk which aroused no chord in my heart, nor taste in my appetite. There was no food for one’s intelligence, no new knowledge adding to one’s store.”

Taha Husayn was the kind of genuine intellectual who found absolutely no room for free inquiry at this leading Islamic madrasa. He enrolled at the new, secular University of Cairo, founded after Western models, in 1908, and continued his education at the Sorbonne in Paris. Although best know for his autobiography Al-Ayyam abroad, he created a huge controversy in Egypt by daring to suggest that some passages of the Koran should not be read literally, and for claiming that some pre-Islamic poetry had been forged by Muslims to give credibility to traditional Islamic history. For this he was accused of heresy, and had he lived in the aggressive Islamic atmosphere a couple of generations later, he might well have been killed.

Go over to Dhimmi Watch and read the whole thing.


Zarxos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alexis said...

Speaking of science and Islam...

The international scientific establishment is in the process of learning something about the utter backwardness of "Islamic science". Harun Yahya has been very adept at getting the attention of scientists who had been hitherto oblivious of the phenomenon of a theological polemic in the guise of a scientific treatise, of scientific nonsense written in a book with high production value and glossy photographs.

Adnan Oktar, a.k.a. Harun Yahya, has written a classic treatise of Islamic creationist propaganda, The Atlas of Creation.

Is it ever a doozy. For one thing, Harun Yahya claims that Darwinism is the cause of the September 11 attacks, not Islam. Let's say that Harun Yahya has an interesting point of view. I don't agree with that point of view, but President Bollinger would have been much wiser to invite Harun Yahya than the man he actually did invite to speak at Columbia University...

David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 11/10/2007 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention updated throughout the day…so check back often.
This is a weekend edition so updates are as time and family permits.

Steven Luotto said...


Anyone who was around in the 1950s or ’60s knows that the Russians invented everything. From the steam engine to the atom bomb, from the paper clip to the zipper

No sir, not if you're Czech. In that blessed country they have something far better than Islamic Science, they have a much beloved "urban legend" figure called Jára Cimrman, the man overwhelmingly voted the "Greatest Czech of All Time" in a nationwide poll in 2005... ardent Czech patriot, poet, painter, inventor, physicist, scientist, skier, researcher, composer, playwright, first man on the Moon, founder of the CERN Institute, inventor of the electronic computer, LAN, WAN, TCP, soda, C-language, telephone, wireless telegraph, soap, floppy disk and many other marvelous inventions which forever changed the course of history.

Leave it to the Czechs to elect a fictitious character as their country's most important personage.

The Czech inventor of everything

Unknown said...

Islam is Submission. There is no room for “free and unrestrained enquiry based on reason”.

“Critical thinking” is Arabic for Thoughtcrime.

CarnackiUK said...

And not just science either. Listening to BBC Radio 3 (the classical music station) earlier tonight, I learned from a gushing Lucie Skeaping that the Crusaders picked up the concept of chivalry from their muslim opponents. And such activities as jousting. And the Crusaders were so terrified by such completely unheard of instruments as trumpets and drums that they covered their ears and plugged their horses' nostrils...well, you would, wouldn't you?


Indigo Red said...

IoshkaFutz, you and all the Czechs are wrong. Anybody who knows anything knows you are describing Al Gore.

"Islamic science" ... isn't that an oxymoron like jumbo shrimp, journalistic ethics, daily special, and Microsoft Works?

Baron Bodissey said...

Indigo Red --

Don't forget "liberal thought".