Saturday, May 2, 2015

Rise and Fall of Islamic Civilization: Why Do Stars Have Arabic Names?

Where did star names like Ain ( عين),  Betelgeuse (إبط الجوزاء ) and Cursa ( الكرسي) come from? Who named Californium and Berkelium elements of the periodic table?  Famous American scientist Dr.Neil deGrasse Tyson answered these and other questions in some recent video presentations.

Neil deGrasse Tyson is an American astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, and science communicator, according to Wikipedia. Since 1996, he has been the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space in New York City.

What Dr. Tyson describes as "naming rights" simply means that those who discover new things get to name them. Californians got the naming rights to some of the elements of the periodic table  while the Arabs got to name vast majority of the stars in the Cosmos. In modern western astronomy, most of the accepted star names are Arabic, a few are Greek and some are of unknown origin.

Alhazen 965-1040 AD
Continuing on the naming rights theme, Dr. Tyson also describes the Islamic origins of Arabic numerals, Algebra, Algorithm, Alchemy and Alcohol as products of the Islamic Golden Age of Science in 800 to 1100 AD.

The lesson Dr. Tyson draws from the rise and fall of of Muslims is as follows: Islamic civilization remained dominant in sciences and mathematics as long as Muslims practiced Ijtihad to ask questions and find answers to questions. What led to their decline was Taqlid, the unquestioning faith in Revelation.

Dr. Tyson credits the great Muslim philosopher Alhazen (Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥasan ibn al-Ḥasan ibn al-Haytham 965-1040 AD) with inventing the modern scientific method. Alhazen questioned everything, especially the things everyone took for granted, says Dr. Tyson. Alhazen's work was lavishly funded by the Muslim Caliphs. All of it changed when Imam Al Ghazali, or Algazel, a highly influential Islamic scholar of his time, succeeded in persuading Muslims to accept Taqlid that triggered rapid decline of the Islamic world.

Dr. Tyson has used the example of the great Islamic Civilization's decline to warn Americans against repeating it. He has particularly targeted those in America who denounce Darwin's theory of evolution or reject the validity of climate science.

Here are three important video presentations made by Dr. Tyson on the subject:

Islamic Golden Age of science يوم كانت العربية لغة العلم from Mahmoud Ibrahim on Vimeo.

How Imam Ghazali's teachings ended the Islamic... by zemtv

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Muslims Have Few Nobel Prizes

Ibn Khaldun: The Father of Modern Social Sciences

Obama Speaks to the Muslim World

Lost Discoveries by Dick Teresi

Physics of Christianity by Frank Tipler

What is Not Taught in School

How Islamic Inventors Changed the World

Jinnah's Pakistan Booms Amidst Doom and Gloom


Singh said...

Muslims took this method from Romans and Romans took these from Greeks.

Age of reasons has its origins all the way back to Socrates.

Riaz Haq said...

Singh: "Muslims took this method from Romans and Romans took these from Greeks. Age of reasons has its origins all the way back to Socrates."

Scientific method didn't exist before the Islamic Civilization. Greeks and Romans took too many things for granted without rays of light coming out of people's eyes until Muslims like Alhazen questioned it and found a better explanation of how we see....this idea then helped discover most of the named stars today...from Acamar to Zubeneshamali.

Ayesha said...

You are right, but there was one more factor, a final blow - the Mongol invasions, and the complete destruction of Baghdad. Science, arts, literature, almost every constructive human activity declined due to that.

Riaz Haq said...

In addition to physical sciences, Muslims also made a huge contribution to social sciences.

Ibn Khaldun is considered the father of modern social sciences. Let's heed his advice

FH said...

Islam as a regligion has always been anti-Science. Hence Makkah and Madina the center of Islam were scientifically dark regions for 100s if not 1000s of years.

Riaz Haq said...

FH: "Islam as a regligion has always been anti-Science. Hence Makkah and Madina the center of Islam were scientifically dark regions for 100s if not 1000s of years."

Your statement shows your ignorance of Islam and the Holy Quran.

Please read the Holy Quran.

First, Islam is not limited a place or ethnicity or race; it's universal.

Second, the Holy Quran exhorts its readers/listeners to think, ponder, reason over and over again.

Afala Ta'qilon, Afala Tadabbarun, Afala Tafakkarun, Afala Tubsiron and similar verses appear over 700 times in the Holy Book of Muslims, far more often than exhortation to salat (prayer), zakat (charity) and saum (fasting).

Riaz Haq said...

FH: "Islam as a regligion has always been anti-Science. Hence Makkah and Madina the center of Islam were scientifically dark regions for 100s if not 1000s of years."

Your statement shows your ignorance of Islam and the Holy Quran.

Please read the Holy Quran.

First, Islam is not limited a place or ethnicity or race; it's universal.

Second, the Holy Quran exhorts its readers/listeners to think, ponder, reason over and over again.

Afala Ta'qilun, Afala Yatadabbarun, Afala Tatafakkarun, Afala Tubsirun and similar verses appear over 700 times in the Holy Book of Muslims, far more often than exhortation to salat (prayer), zakat (charity) and saum (fasting).

Bahmi said...

do you have any links to Ghazalis work's? Ive recently been reading Ibn Khaldun's Al Muqaddimah ( Wouldnt mind reading up on what Ghazali specifically has to say on Ijtihad.

With regards to the decline of the sciences in the Islamic world there are a multitude of reasons in my opinion. I am open to corrections.

1) One of the biggest reasons is the geopolitical change in the Muslim world which saw the decline of Ummayad Spain into Taifa's which the Christians gobbled up one by one. Roughly simultaneously the Mongols emerged in the East and ransacked C. Asia, Persia and finally Baghdad. Cordoba and Baghdad were the intellectual hubs of the Islamic world within which were stored the intellectual wealth of not only Islamic scholars but also the works of the ancient Greeks, Persians etc. To emphasize this point it is said that when Hulagu Khan captured Baghdad whereas usually the rivers were said to turn red after the Mongols ransacked a city, in the case of Baghdad the Tigris is said to have turned black because so much paper and parchments were thrown into the river that the ink from them turned the river black. Baghdad was of course home to the Bayt al Hikma (House of Wisdom), House of Wisdom - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia The loss of major intellectual hubs such as Cordoba and Baghdad deprived future Muslims of the knowledge of their predecessors.

2) Building upon the first point, during the end of the Golden Age also began the Crusade for Palestine which saw the emergence of a Frankish Christian state right at the heart of the Muslim world. The resources of all Muslim states in the region were thus geared towards regaining Jerusalem and religious dogmatism will surely have entered the mindset of Muslims of that time i.e. we are loosing lands and wars because we are Bad Muslims, therefore we need to become more orthodox Muslims to regain our former political glory.

3) Up to the latter Middle Ages, the Middle East had been dominated ethnically by Arabs, Persians and pre Turkish Anatolians (Armenians, Assyrians etc). However gradually nomadicTurkic tribes started migrating into the Mid East bringing their warlike culture to the use of the Islamic cause in Palestine and Anatolia. A general rule is that nomads due to scarcity of resources and lack of a sedentary lifestyle will not attach that much importance to the sciences. The earliest humans for example were primitive but as we urbanized so did our ability to maximize our intellectual capacity. The migrations of the Turkic tribes thus changed the demographic makeup of large parts of the Mid East and being nomads who only gradually adopted a sedentary lifestyle they would have placed little value on patronizing scientists and men of arts as compared to the Abbasid Caliphs of Baghdad who had a vast amount of resources to allocate to such purposes.

4) With the eventual failure of the Crusades, the Islamic world was for centuries roguhly divided up into three major Empires, the Ottomans from Algeria to Iraq, the Safavids from Checnya/Azerbaijan to W. Afghanistan and the Mughals from E Afghanistan to Bengal. These three empires were largely secure in their borders and only occasionally had any major territorial disputes. Further they benefitted greatly form the tariffs they imposed on silk route traders carrying goods from E Asia to Europe.

If one thus juxtaposes late Medieval, early Renaissance Middle East/South Asia with Europe the situation is totally different. Europe which is roughly the same size of the three Islamic Empires previously mentioned was divided up into dozens of small states all vying and competing with each other for dominance. There was serious competition amongst these states thus and this prompted European rulers to invest heavily in the sciences especially in relation to warfare.

Riaz Haq said...

Bahmi: " do you have any links to Ghazalis work's? Ive recently been reading Ibn Khaldun's Al Muqaddimah ( Wouldnt mind reading up on what Ghazali specifically has to say on Ijtihad."

You will find support for your explanation of the decline in Ibn Khaldun's work.

Ibn Khaldun has argued in his masterpiece"Muqaddima" that tribesmen and barbarians have often had more courage and social cohesion than settled and civilized folk. He cited many instances in history when rag-tag bands of ill-educated and uncivilized insurgents have swept in and conquered lands whose rulers became corrupt and complacent.

As to Ghazali, there's been a lot of discussion on Ibn Rushd versus Ghazali which illuminates the debate between Revelation-inspired Ghazali and Greek-inspired Muslim philosophers like Ibn Sina, Al Farabi and Ibn Rushd.

Taj said...

Excellent read. Attached is a related article.

Academics have long maintained that the great Islamic theologian, Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, who lived from 1055 to 1111, single-handedly steered Islamic culture away from independent scientific inquiry towards religious fundamentalism.
Al-Ghazali was a Muslim theologian, jurist, philosopher, and mystic. His work marked a turning point in Islamic philosophy in its vehement rejections of the 'falasifa', a group of Islamic philosophers who drew intellectually upon the Ancient Greeks. Pictured: Supposed mausoleum of Al-Ghazali in Tus, Iran

In a remarkable intellectual shift, he concluded that falsafa (which literally means philosophy but included logic, mathematics and physics) was incompatible with Islam.

After writing his book, The Incoherence of Philosophers, Algazel as he was known in medieval Europe, is said to have "stabbed falsafa in such a manner that it could not rise again in the Muslim world". Thanks to his unparalleled mastery of falsafa and Islamic theology, he injected repugnance among Muslims for science that ultimately led to its decline and, in the process, the decline of Islamic civilisation.
Or at least, this is what academics and Orientalists have argued for over a century. I believe this assessment is misinformed.

The "true culprit": Nizam Al Mulk, vizier of the Seljuq Empire, had created a system of education known as "Nizamiyah" that focused on religious studies at the expense of independent inquiry
Not only did Nizamiyah colleges focus on religion but they also adopted a narrow Sunni interpretation of Islamic jurisprudence as the source of curricula: the Shafi'i school. The choice was not arbitrary. The Shafi'i school focused on the fundamentalist principles of Sharia and disdained the rationalist approach that had gained momentum during the reigns of Damascus-based Umayyad dynasty and the Baghdad-based Abbasid dynasty.

FH said...

Riaz bhai

you are sadly trying to live in 1000 AD

The world has moved on.

If you want to learn how science changes, then start with some excellent work by Thomas Kuhn, then move on to other European philosophers.

Otherwise you will be stuck in sand dunes forever.

Riaz Haq said...

FH: "you are sadly trying to live in 1000 AD The world has moved on. If you want to learn how science changes, then start with some excellent work by Thomas Kuhn, then move on to other European philosophers. Otherwise you will be stuck in sand dunes forever."

You call yourself a historian but you have no interest in history as a guide for our actions now.

This is in sharp contrast to Dr. Tyson who's using the reasons for rise of fall of Muslims to warn Americans against rejecting Theory of Evolution and climate change.

Riaz Haq said...

Hadith-based laws unnecessary, says Dr Mahathir. "We've rejected the Quran in favor of the Hadith" #Malaysia,#Islam

In a statement that is likely to invite brickbats from several quarters, Mahathir said injunctions from the Hadith were merely guidance and not meant to be enforced as law.
“The teachings, or the performance, or the traditions of the Prophet come after he had been given the message of Allah, which is recorded in the Quran,” he said.
“Between the two, it is obviously the Quran that is superior.”
Mahathir pointed out that stoning to death for fornication is not called for in the Quran, but only in the Hadith, which mentions the enforcement of such punishment on two occasions.
“Allah is merciful and compassionate,” he said. “One who is merciful and compassionate would not enjoy stoning people to death.”
Mahathir stressed that any Islamic law would have to be just. If it were unjust, he said, it would not be Islamic.
Thus, he said, he disagreed with the law that requires a woman to produce four witnesses to back her claim of being raped.
He said deviations from the message of the Quran had led to deviant behaviour among Muslims. He cited atrocities committed by organisations like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria as well as the recent conviction of a Malaysian student in London for possession of child pornography.
“We used to have great scientists and mathematicians, but now our mathematicians are downloading 30,000 pornography images,” he lamented. (The convicted student was pursuing a mathematics degree.)
Mahathir also expressed his disagreement with the practice of turning fatwas into law.
Fatwas, he said, were merely opinions, and the laws derived from them were sometimes impractical and unnecessary. He gave the example of old fatwas that prohibited the use of light bulbs and motorised vehicles because they were invented by “infidels”.
“There’s no necessity to Islamise everything,” he said. “Of course, there are things that should be abstained from as they are forbidden in Islam, but there’s no reason to give unnecessary fatwas to Islamise them.”

Riaz Haq said...

There have been scientific studies recently that raise serious questions about the reliability of both the oral tradition and eyewitness testimony. Different people recall what they see and hear very differently.

From Time Magazine:
It’s easy enough to explain why we remember things: multiple regions of the brain — particularly the hippocampus — are devoted to the job. It’s easy to understand why we forget stuff too: there’s only so much any busy brain can handle. What’s trickier is what happens in between: when we clearly remember things that simply never happened.

The phenomenon of false memories is common to everybody — the party you’re certain you attended in high school, say, when you were actually home with the flu, but so many people have told you about it over the years that it’s made its way into your own memory cache. False memories can sometimes be a mere curiosity, but other times they have real implications. Innocent people have gone to jail when well-intentioned eyewitnesses testify to events that actually unfolded an entirely different way.

What’s long been a puzzle to memory scientists is whether some people may be more susceptible to false memories than others — and, by extension, whether some people with exceptionally good memories may be immune to them. A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences answers both questions with a decisive no. False memories afflict everyone — even people with the best memories of all.

To conduct the study, a team led by psychologist Lawrence Patihis of the University of California, Irvine, recruited a sample group of people all of approximately the same age and divided them into two subgroups: those with ordinary memory and those with what is known as highly superior autobiographical memory (HSAM). You’ve met people like that before, and they can be downright eerie. They’re the ones who can tell you the exact date on which particular events happened — whether in their own lives or in the news — as well as all manner of minute additional details surrounding the event that most people would forget the second they happened.

To screen for HSAM, the researchers had all the subjects take a quiz that asked such questions as “[On what date] did an Iraqi journalist hurl two shoes at President Bush?” or “What public event occurred on Oct. 11, 2002?” Those who excelled on that part of the screening would move to a second stage, in which they were given random, computer-generated dates and asked to say the day of the week on which it fell, and to recall both a personal experience that occurred that day and a public event that could be verified with a search engine.

“It was a Monday,” said one person asked about Oct. 19, 1987. “That was the day of the big stock-market crash and the cellist Jacqueline du Pré died that day.” That’s some pretty specific recall. Ultimately, 20 subjects qualified for the HSAM group and another 38 went into the ordinary-memory category. Both groups were then tested for their ability to resist developing false memories during a series of exercises designed to implant them.

Riaz Haq said...

There have been scientific studies recently that raise serious questions about the reliability of both the oral tradition and eyewitness testimony. Different people recall what they see and hear very differently.

Encyclopedia of Public Relations
edited by Robert L. Heath

Fadel said...

Believe me, that's not a revelation to the muhaddithun, who were not nearly as credulous as you might think. Neverthless, the issue in my mind is that of universal accessibility to revelation's teachings: it is unreasonable to expect universal knowledge of sunna as defined by the later tradition: perhaps certain widely reported hadiths is one thing, but isolated transmissions, even if reasonably verifiable, should not form the basis of religious obligation.

Riaz Haq said...

Fadel: " Believe me, that's not a revelation to the muhaddithun, who were not nearly as credulous as you might think. Neverthless, the issue in my mind is that of universal accessibility to revelation's teachings: it is unreasonable to expect universal knowledge of sunna as defined by the later tradition: perhaps certain widely reported hadiths is one thing, but isolated transmissions, even if reasonably verifiable, should not form the basis of religious obligation."

Studies have shown that honest people routinely make mistakes in recalling what they have directly seen and heard in person. Sahih Muslim and Sahih Bukhari were compiled in 9th century by people who were distant from the source in both time and space. They relied entirely on long and complex chains of narrations for their work.

Zia said...

My take on it. Mr Mahatir is no religious expert to give such a sweeping opinion. He should confine himself to what he knows best.

Arabs had a very strong oral tradition and were very gifted in memory perhaps due to this emphasis on oral tradition (see Road to Mecca by Muhammad Asad and other references) so we need to be careful applying results from today to people of 1400+ years ago.

To those who question Hadith in its entirety, the question is where do you draw the line. Should all of us devise our own way to pray and prostate five times a day. Aren't most of prayer routines derived from how people saw the Prophet SAW praying in His SAW 's lifetime. Isn't that also akin to Hadith.

I will leave at that. I think Hadith are an important part of religious tradition. however where do you draw the line, I don't know. I am a jahil to even try to comment on it.

Riaz Haq said...

Zia: " My take on it. Mr Mahatir is no religious expert to give such a sweeping opinion. He should confine himself to what he knows best."

Leaving it to the "religious experts" is costing the Muslims dearly. It is widely believed among watchers of Islam and Muslims that taqlid is responsible for the end Golden Age of Islamic Civilization in 800-1100AD and continuing decline since then, particularly in terms of the sciences and the arts. Quran tells repeatedly to learn, think and reflect on our own. Afala Ta'qilon, Afala Tadabbarun, Afala Tafakkarun, Afala Tubsiron and similar verses appear over 700 times in the Holy Book of Muslims, far more often than exhortation to salat (prayer), zakat (charity) and saum (fasting).

Riaz Haq said...

No inspiration from above. #Innovation inversely proportional to religiosity. #religion #science #Pakistan

MORE religious countries tend to be less innovative, according to a paper published last month by America’s National Bureau of Economic Research. In “Forbidden Fruits: The Political Economy of Science, Religion, and Growth”, Roland Benabou of Princeton and Davide Ticche and Andrea Vindigni of the IMT Institute for Advanced Studies Lucca find a strong negative correlation between innovation, as measured by patents, and religiosity, measured by the share of a population that self-identifies as religious. “I am interested in how people form beliefs that are relevant to economics,” says Mr Benabou. “That thought takes you to belief with a capital B, and that’s religion.”

The authors do not claim to prove that religion causes an innovation deficit. However, they hypothesise that theocratic models of government, in which political leaders are strongly influenced by religious institutions, may provide a channel for anti-scientific views to influence public policy. As examples, they cite the banning of printing in the Ottoman Empire, and the controversial decision by the former American president George W. Bush to limit the federal government’s funding of stem-cell research. Even after taking into account these restrictions, the existence of the United States is still problematic for the theory: a fifth of the world’s GDP comes from a country that is both religious and innovative. And if religion does in fact depress innovation, that does not necessarily mean it is bad for economic growth. After all, faith could quite plausibly offer benefits, such as social cohesion, that outweigh its costs.

Riaz Haq said...

Charles Darwinís On the Origin of Species (1859) initially met some opposition, but within
a few decades became widely accepted by the scientiÖc community and in many Western
countries, especially more secularized ones where a literal reading of Genesis had already
been undermined by developments in geology and natural sciences. In more religious parts of
the world, human evolution was and remains highly controversial, and a minority view. For
instance, a recent survey (Hameed (2008)) found that fewer than 20% of adults in Indonesia,
Malaysia and Pakistan believed Darwinís theory to be ìtrue or possibly trueî, and only 8% in
Egypt. In Europe, the Vatican kept silent on the issue for nearly a century, until Pope Pius
XIIís 1950 encyclical Humani Generis. While still not accepting evolution as an established
fact, it allowed important doctrinal adaptation (in our model, ìrepairî) by introducing a
distinction between the possibly material origins of the human body and the necessarily divine
and immediate imparting of the soul.

Anonymous said...

This is the reason, religious schools:
How the decline of Muslim scientific thought still haunts

Riaz Haq said...

Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg has committed to reading an important book every two weeks as part of his 2015 New Year’s resolutions, and up next is “The Muqaddimah,” a 14th century tome written by Islamic historian Ibn Khaldun.

The book, whose title translates to “The Introduction,” traces the progress of humanity while attempting to remove the biases captured in historical records and reveal the universal elements that connect us. It is often considered the most important Islamic history of the premodern world.

Kaldun, a lauded Arab scholar, is credited as one of the foundational thinkers of modern sociology, ethnography, and the philosophy of history.

One reviewer of the original English translation called it, “Undoubtedly the greatest work of its kind that has ever been created by any mind in any time or place … the most comprehensive and illuminating analysis of how human affairs work that has been made anywhere.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s 2015 New Year’s resolution was to read an important book every two weeks and discuss it with the Facebook community.

Zuckerberg’s book club, A Year of Books, has focused on big ideas that influence society and business. His selections so far have been mostly contemporary, but for his eleventh pick he’s chosen “The Muqaddimah,” written in 1377 by the Islamic historian Ibn Khaldun.

“The Muqaddimah,” which translates to “the introduction,” is an early attempt at stripping away biases of historical records and finding universal elements in the progression of humanity.

Ibn Khaldun’s revolutionary scientific approach to history has established him as one of the foundational thinkers of modern sociology and historiography.

The influential 20th century British historian Arnold J. Toynbee described “The Muqaddimah” as “a philosophy of history, which is undoubtedly the greatest work of its kind that has ever yet been created by any mind in any time or place,” according to the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Zuckerberg explains his latest book-club pick on his personal Facebook page:

It’s a history of the world written by an intellectual who lived in the 1300s. It focuses on how society and culture flow, including the creation of cities, politics, commerce and science.

While much of what was believed then is now disproven after 700 more years of progress, it’s still very interesting to see what was understood at this time and the overall worldview when it’s all considered together.

Riaz Haq said...

#PopeFrancis #encyclical on #climatechange cites ninth century mystical #Muslim poet Ali-al-Khawas. …

Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change cited many of the usual sources: the Bible, his predecessors in the Vatican and his namesake, Saint Francis of Assisi. It also cites ninth century mystical Muslim poet Ali-al-Khawas.

In the sixth chapter of the nearly 200-page papal letter, Francis writes that humanity can “discover God in all things.”

“The universe unfolds in God, who fills it completely. Hence, there is a mystical meaning to be found in a leaf, in a mountain trail, in a dewdrop, in a poor person’s face,” the pope writes.

In a footnote to that quote, he credits al-Khawas for the concept of nature’s “mystical meaning,” noting how the poet stressed “the need not to put too much distance between the creatures of the world and the interior experience of God.”

He then directly quotes the poet: “The initiate will capture what is being said when the wind blows, the trees sway, water flows, flies buzz, doors creak, birds sing, or in the sound of strings or flutes, the sighs of the sick, the groans of the afflicted.”

Alexander Knysh, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of Michigan, said that the idea Pope Francis is drawing on in this passage has been influential in literature, including Western figures such as English Romantic poet William Blake.

“According to (the idea), God actively and constantly reminds his servants about his immanent presence not just by means of various phenomena but also by various sounds and noises—rustling of leaves, thunder, rainfall,” Knysh says.

It’s unusual for a pope to cite a Sufi poet, but those who have known Francis since his days in the slums of Argentina say that shows his personal touch on the encyclical.

“He’s trying to foster ecumenical and interfaith dialogue about shared spirituality,” Father Augusto Zampini, an Argentinian priest and theological advisor to the Catholic Agency For Overseas Development, tells TIME.

“He’s inviting all human beings to transcend, to go out of themselves and therefore to improve the relationship that we have with our people, with the Earth, with God.”

Riaz Haq said...

Why Sir Syed loses and Allama Iqbal wins in #Pakistan? Rationalists vs Traditionalists. #Islam …

Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy's Op Ed on Sir Syed and Allama Iqbal:

In Tahzib-ul-Akhlaq, he writes: “Yes, if the Mussulman be a true warrior and thinks his religion correct, then let him come fearlessly to the battleground and do unto Western knowledge and modern research what his forefathers did to Greek philosophy. Only then shall our religious books be of any real use. Mere parroting and praising ourselves will not do.” (“Apnay moon mian mithoo kahney say koee faida nahin”)

In his mind, the way forward was clear: Indian Muslims must learn the English language, practice the scientific method, accept that physical phenomena are explainable by physics only, and support British imperial rule against the rule of Mughals (who had by then sunk into decadence and depravity). This last piece of advice made him a target of bitter ridicule by secular nationalists such as Jamaluddin Afghani.

Sir Syed accepted the Holy Quran as divinely revealed but he frequently reminded his readers of Islam’s forgotten rationalist (Mutazilite) tradition, as in the works of Averroes. He proposed a radical reinterpretation of the Holy Quran to make it compatible with science and modernity. Among other matters this involved understanding miracles, which science cannot accept as factual. Sir Syed therefore explained the Great Flood, as well as various miracles of Jesus, to be purely allegorical and symbolic. He also interpreted Islamic laws as actually forbidding polygamy and amputation of limbs. Quite expectedly, his claims provoked a furious reaction from the ulema of the time and he was decried as a heretic.

Sir Syed’s writings are all in Urdu and, whether or not one agrees with him, his clarity in supporting modernity and science is manifest. Equally, his remedies for social reform are clear and unambiguous. On the other hand the Allama’s only serious prose is to be found in English, and he leaves key questions unanswered or ambiguous. At times, to revive Islamic civilisation, Iqbal appears to call for a return to the sword. But at other times he stresses the enhancement of khudi — a sophisticated philosophical construct roughly describable as self-esteem. This construct, however, has a plethora of interpretations. Does it belong to the physical world? Will more khudi bring more order or more anarchy?

Iqbal’s politics, routed through his soul-stirring poetry, is the real reason why he is Pakistan’s supreme icon today. In his epic poem shikwa, like Samuel Huntington, he frames the world exclusively in terms of us-versus-them and the superiority of one civilization over all others. His pan-Islamic mard-e-momin belongs to the ummah and this perfect human aspires to martyrdom: shahadat hai matloob o maqsood-e-momin. Like a falcon, the mard-e-momin is a fighter and above worldly desire: tu shaheen hai basera kar paharon kee chatanon main. These verses can be found in Pakistan Army magazines, on its recruiting banners, and are sung with great fervour.

Iqbal, unlike Sir Syed, leaves the gap between science and religion unbridged. He takes no explicit position on miracles. On the contrary, he asserts that, “Classical Physics has learned to criticise its own foundations. As a result of this criticism the kind of materialism, which it originally necessitated, is rapidly disappearing.” But no real physicist can take this statement seriously. Even with the discovery of quantum physics — which superseded and improved upon classical physics — the description of observed physical phenomena requires nothing beyond material causes. In the battle for Pakistan’s soul, Sir Syed’s rational approach ultimately lost out and the Allama’s call on emotive reasoning won. Iqbal said what people wanted to hear — and his genius lay in crafting it with beautifully chosen words. Unfortunately, his prescriptions for reconstructing society cannot help us in digging ourselves out of a hole.

Ritesh Kumar said...

Islam is totalitarian religion and anti science. However almost all religion are anti science BT islamic people are nt ready to leave faith on basis of evidence. All religious people shud shun false thing called faith and be atheist

Riaz Haq said...

How #Muslim Governments Impose Ignorance, intellectually impoverish minds via censorship #Pakistan #Islam #Blasphemy

These censors like to think that by protecting believers from dangerous ideas they are doing a great favor to Muslim societies. They are doing the opposite. Their thought-policing only helps enfeeble and intellectually impoverish Muslims: When Muslim minds aren’t challenged by “dangerous” ideas they cannot develop the sophistication needed to articulate their own...
This willful closed-mindedness is not an inherent feature of Islam. A thousand years ago, Muslim societies were open and curious, while Christian Europe was insular and fearful of “blasphemy.” Aristotle’s books were translated and studied in Baghdad and Córdoba, and banned in Paris and Rome. No wonder the Muslim world was then the home to groundbreaking discoveries in science, medicine and mathematics. In theology, too, Muslim thinkers like Ibn Rushd, also known as Averroës, developed sophisticated arguments that would inspire Christian thinkers like Thomas Aquinas — thanks to the Muslim engagement with Greek philosophy.
Today, many Muslims, including those who censor books or punish “heretics,” long for that “golden age of Islam” and lament that our civilization is no longer great. Few seem to realize, however, that the greatness of Islam was made possible thanks to its openness to foreign cultures and ideas. The Muslim world began to stagnate and then decline after the 13th century, as this cosmopolitanism was replaced with self-isolating dogmatism. In the meantime, Europe flourished as Europeans began to think more openly.
The Muslim world today is in a state of malaise. Muslim societies are underdeveloped in science, technology, economics and culture. This will be overcome only with more freedom. Progress depends on more Muslims questioning whether policies that promote ignorance are really devised to protect their faith — or to protect the power of those who rule in its name.

Anonymous said...

This notion that Muslim Arabs were responsible for all types of endeavors of world achievements is totally false and ridiculous . Let's here it straight from the mouth of
one of their greatest Islamic Scholars Ibn Khaldūn .
Ibn Khaldūn (1332–1406) Was a Famous Arab Historiographer and Historian born in present-day Tunisia, and is sometimes viewed as one of the forerunners of modern historiography, sociology and economics

Ibn Khaldun was the World’s most Renowned Muslim Thinker. The remains of Khaldun’s writings confirm that Arabs Did Not Create The Ancient Sciences and knowledge Muslims of today try to lay claim to . The Muslim Arabs were nothing but Thieves ,murderers ,and war mongering enslavers who have been getting a pass on all the human misery that they were responsible for .

Ibn Khaldun discussed the History Of Science, and wrote the following on the history of Islamic science:The Muslims desired to learn the sciences of foreign nations. They made them their own through translations. They pressed them into the mould of their own views. They took them over into their own language from the non-Arab languages and surpassed the achievements of the non-Arabs in them.[63]

Hollister David said...

One of the those videos contain a falsehood invented by Tyson. In Tyson's memory Bushed seized the 9-11 disaster as an opportunity to sow division between Christians and Muslims. Bush's actual post 9-11 speech was a call for tolerance and inclusion.

Tyson eventually admitted his story was false:

I have not seen the al Ghazali passages demonizing math and science. I believe this is also a Tyson fiction. Until someone shows me the Ghazali passages saying math is the work of the devil, I will list it my list of Tyson errors:

Riaz Haq said...

Did #Arab #Muslim Scholars Discover #Evolution in the Ninth Century? Inb-Khadun al-Jahiz … via @HuffPostScience

It may not be a coincidence that many aspects of our understanding of the world have roots in this age. Arab and Persian scholars (Muslim and non-Muslim alike) not only translated the writings of the Greeks, but also made original contributions about mathematics, medicine, and social science (among other topics). Regarding biology, one of the more interesting claims that surfaces from time to time concerns evolution:

The theory of biological evolution in its complete form was presented by a great early zoologist, al-Jahiz in the ninth century.
wrote the Turkish theologian Mehmet Bayrakdar in a 1983 issue of the London-based Islamic Quarterly. But in its complete form?
Not quite. There are indeed some tantalizing quotes that evoke evolutionary ideas from medieval Arabic scholars. The Englishman John William Draper famously referred to “The Mohammedan Theory of Evolution” in his 1874 book History of the Conflict Between Religion and Science, probably in reference to the Arabic scholar Ibn Khaldun, who wrote in his 14th century The Muqaddimah,

creation ... started out from the minerals and progressed, in an ingenious, gradual manner, to plants and animals. The last stage of minerals is connected with the first stage of plants, such as herbs and seedless plants. The last stage of plants, such as palms and vines, is connected with the first stage of animals, such as snails and shellfish ... the last stage of each group is fully prepared to become the first stage of the next group.
And 500 years before Khaldun, al-Jahiz articulated a kind of biological selection in his Kitab al-Hayawan (Book of Animals).
In 1930, the Spanish scholar Miguel Asin Palacios translated one such passage from al-Jahiz:

In sum, no animal can survive without nourishment. The hunting animal cannot escape being hunted. Every weak animal devours those that are weaker; every strong animal cannot avoid being consumed by those that are stronger.... God, in sum, made some beings the cause of life to others, and in turn made these the cause of death to yet others.
These two observations—- continuity of existence across different forms of life (and indeed non-life) from Ibn Khaldun, and a struggle for existence among individuals from al-Jahiz—- are indeed relevant to the contemporary theory of biological evolution. However, this is a far cry from “biological evolution in its complete form”. First of all, the goal of al-Jahiz’s Book of Animals was, according to the German historian Herbert Eisenstein, “not actually the study of animal species, but a proof of the existence of the Creator that is evident from his creation“ (p. 122 in Einfürung in die arabische Zoographie). Moreover, al-Jahiz was a gifted philosopher and theologian interested in biology, not vice-versa. He saw free will and the autonomy of God’s creation as the reason why animals were “created” with the means (e.g., claws, fangs, spines) to attack others and defend themselves. According to Einsenstein (continuing the passage quoted above), al-Jahiz wrote that

when you see an animal ... of great danger, and concerning whom Man must be very careful, such as snakes and wolves provided with fangs ... thus may you know ... that God—- sublime and powerful is He—- gives to the steadfast, those who understand that free will and rational experience could not exist if the world were purely evil or entirely good.
Whether or not you think this argument is convincing (and it remains a key part of modern religion’s approach to theodicy), the point is that al-Jahiz was less interested in the natural mechanisms by which life became diverse over time than he was in understanding nature in the context of monotheistic philosophy.

Riaz Haq said...

The Force awakens
Salman Hameed TFT Issue: 09 Sep 2016
What is behind the flourishing amateur astronomy scene in Pakistan? Salman Hameed explains

Pakistan does not have an enviable record in the sciences. The current Nature Index for research output places Pakistan at number 52 – just between Georgia and Bulgaria. However, there is currently a thriving amateur astronomy scene in several Pakistani cities, where the love of the sciences and the joy of sharing the knowledge of the night sky are in full display. Later this month, the various amateur astronomy societies in the country will gather together to launch a new umbrella organisation, The Astronomical League of Pakistan (ALOP). Given the state of the education and the sciences in the country, it is worth exploring the reasons for this unqualified success.

I have been involved with and following the astronomy scene in Pakistan for close to thirty years. I was part of a group of FSc. Intermediate students in Karachi who started Amastropak, the first amateur astronomy society in Pakistan back in 1988. While there were ups and downs in the activities of the society over the years, it could never muster a critical mass of active members, and it eventually shut down in the late 1990s. But now things are different and I have never seen the state of amateur astronomy in Pakistan so lively and so strong. Last month I had the pleasure of meeting astronomy enthusiasts in Lahore and Karachi, and what a treat it was! Both the Lahore Astronomical Society (LAST) and the Karachi Astronomers Society (KAS) boast an active membership of well over a hundred each and they are passionate devotees of the night skies. Most of the members have day jobs unrelated to astronomy, but they squeeze every last second of their free time (or not so free time) for astronomy.


Perhaps the biggest reason astronomy is flourishing is that there is now a committed community of astronomers around and they are eager to spread their own knowledge and passion. This community did not materialise overnight. No one guided the process. No one pressed for any direction. But there has been a thread of continuity, sometimes tenuous and sometimes strong, over the past three decades, and it is that thread that provided comfort in knowing that are others who share common interests across local space and local time.

Riaz Haq said...

Harun al Rashid-The Age of Reason
By Professor Nazeer Ahmed
Concord, CA

It was the intellectual explosion created at the time of Harun and Mamun that propelled science into the forefront of knowledge and made Islamic civilization the beacon of learning for five hundred years. The work done by the translation schools of Baghdad made possible the later works of the physician al Razi (d. 925), historian al Masudi (d. 956), the physician Abu Ali Sina (d. 1037), the physicist al Hazen (d.1039), the historian al Baruni (d. 1051), the mathematician Omar Khayyam (d.1132) and the philosopher Ibn Rushd (d.1198).
The age of Harun and Mamun was also an age of contradictions. Indeed, no other period in Islamic history illustrates with such clarity the schizophrenic attitude of Muslims towards their own history, as does the age of Harun and Mamun. On the one hand, Muslims take pride in its accomplishments. On the other, they reject the values on which those achievements were based. Muslims exude great pride in the scientists and philosophers of the era, especially in their dialectic with the West. But they reject the intellectual foundation on which these scientists and philosophers based their work.
The age of Harun and Mamun was the age of reason. Mamun, in particular, took the rationalists in full embrace. The Mu’tazilites were the rational arm of Islam. Mamun made Mu’tazilite doctrines the official court dogma. However, the Mu’tazilites were not cognizant of the limits of the rational method and overextended their reach. They even applied their methodology to the Divine Word and came up with the doctrine of “createdness” of the Qur’an. In simplified terms, this is the error one falls into when a hierarchy of knowledge is built wherein reason is placed above revelation. The Mu’tazilites applied their rational tools to revelation without sufficient understanding of the phenomenon of time or its relevance to the nature of physics. In the process, they fell flat on their face. Instead of owning up to their errors and correcting them, they became defensive and became increasingly oppressive in forcing their views on others.
Mamun’s successors applied the whip with increasing fervor to enforce conformity with the official dogma. But the ulema would not buy the theory that the Qur’an was created. Imam Hanbal fought a lifelong battle with Mamun on this issue and was jailed for over twenty years. Any idea that compromised the transcendence of the Qur’an was unacceptable to Imam Hanbal. Faced with determined opposition, the Mu’tazilite doctrine was repudiated by Caliph Mutawakkil (d. 861). Thereafter, the rationalists were tortured and killed and their properties confiscated. Al Ashari (d. 936) and his disciples tried to reconcile the rational and transcendental approaches by suggesting a “theory of occasionalism”. The Asharite ideas got accepted and were absorbed into the Islamic body politic and have continued to influence Muslim thinking to this day. The intellectual approach of the rationalists, philosophers and scientists was forsaken and sent packing to the Latin West where it was embraced with open arms and was used to lay the foundation of the modern global civilization.

Riaz Haq said...

Thank you for sharing.

Neil deGrasse Tyson also asks the question which has been on all of our minds. If Muslims were that advanced in science and were innovative, "What hapened".

He says, "Ghazali happened". According to him Ghazali professed that pursuit of math or science was a distraction from the true mission of a Muslim. I did not know that. My father was a big fan of him so it was a startling fact that Ghazali recommended to put all this Golden Era research and mindset on the back burner.

Is this true that he said that?

Also all the Muslim scientists names proudly mentioned in your email had horrible treatments meted out to him for their radical ideas. We take pride in their pioneering ideas but the sad reality is how they were treated. No different than the scientists in Europe who promulgated the idea that Earth is round and the whole universe does not revolve around Earth.

Riaz Haq said...

How Islam Lost Its Way: Yesterday's Achievements Were Golden by Pervez Hoodbhoy

Today's sorry situation contrasts starkly with the Islam of yesterday. Between the 9th and 13th centuries -- the Golden Age of Islam -- the only people doing decent work in science, philosophy or medicine were Muslims. Muslims not only preserved ancient learning, they also made substantial innovations. The loss of this tradition has proven tragic for Muslim peoples.

Science flourished in the Golden Age of Islam because of a strong rationalist and liberal tradition, carried on by a group of Muslim thinkers known as the Mutazilites.

But in the 12th century, Muslim orthodoxy reawakened, spearheaded by the Arab cleric Imam Al-Ghazali. Al-Ghazali championed revelation over reason, predestination over free will. He damned mathematics as being against Islam, an intoxicant of the mind that weakened faith.
Caught in the viselike grip of orthodoxy, Islam choked. No longer would Muslim, Christian and Jewish scholars gather and work together in the royal courts. It was the end of tolerance, intellect and science in the Muslim world. The last great Muslim thinker, Abd-al Rahman Ibn Khaldun, belonged to the 14th century.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world moved on. The Renaissance brought an explosion of scientific inquiry in the West. This owed much to translations of Greek works carried out by Arabs and other Muslim contributions, but they were to matter little. Mercantile capitalism and technological progress drove Western countries -- in ways that were often brutal and at times genocidal -- to rapidly colonize the Muslim world from Indonesia to Morocco. It soon became clear, at least to some of the Muslim elites, that they were paying a heavy price for not possessing the analytical tools of modern science and the social and political values of modern culture -- the real source of power of their colonizers.

Despite widespread resistance from the orthodox, the logic of modernity found 19th-century Muslim adherents. Some seized on the modern idea of the nation-state. It is crucial to note that not a single Muslim nationalist leader of the 20th century was a fundamentalist.

However, Muslim and Arab nationalism, part of a larger anti-colonial nationalist current across the Third World, included the desire to control and use national resources for domestic benefit. The conflict with Western greed was inevitable. The imperial interests of Britain, and later the United States, feared independent nationalism. Anyone willing to collaborate was preferred, even the ultraconservative Islamic regime of Saudi Arabia. In 1953, Mohammed Mosaddeq of Iran was overthrown in a CIA coup, replaced by Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Britain targeted Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser. Indonesia's Sukarno was replaced by Suharto after a bloody coup that left hundreds of thousands dead.