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Islam and Science (18 Mar 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Muslim World Need To Concentrate on Science

By Dr Ummer Rashid Zargar

Mar 8 2017

One may wonder why second most populous community (Muslim world: 23.2% of global population) of the world has no say in world affairs. Even internal affairs of the Muslim world are being run by elite world powers. Whether it is implementation of strict immigration laws by the United States against Muslim nations or negative narrative in world media about Islam, the Muslim community is being discriminated against worldwide. The only positive news came recently when Pew Research Centre (PRC) concluded in their study that Muslim population will match with the Christian population in both number and share of global population in next four decades and further stated that Muslim population will surpass Christian population in 2070.

 It is early to say whether prevailing conditions of the Muslim world will change after becoming world’s most populous community. However, it is important to understand that productive human resource can have a major impact if properly utilized. There is an urgent need for Muslim countries to take lead in Science so that presence of this community is felt in a better way. For achieving this goal, tough reforms are needed in native Muslim countries in order to generate the pool of innovative and talented youth who can contribute for the human welfare.

There is unanimity among philosophers and researchers that Muslim world is currently lagging behind in key scientific and economic areas. The question can be raised why the second most populous human community of world is not able to contribute in science irrespective of the fact that many countries have immense natural resources. The sad part of the story is that the Muslim World, which once was at its peak in scientific endeavours, is spending only 2.4% of GDP on research, has 1.6% of patents and 6% of publications in top journals (Muslim World Science Initiative, MWSI report). There is an urgent need to address key issues which hamper the scientific innovation and technological growth in the Muslim world.

While western scholars advocate that Renaissance started in 14th century AD in Europe, but the history speaks itself that first innovations in the field of science started from Arabian Peninsula from 8th to 12th century AD. History has forgotten the great contribution of great Muslim scientists like Ibn Khuldun, Al Razi etc. The contribution of Islamic Golden Age are too numerous but has not been given full credit. With the passage of time western historians omitted the references of Muslim scientists and presented it in new manipulated form giving whole credit to western contributors.

However, there are some Western writers who appreciate the contribution of Muslim scientists. These include Rosanna Gorini, Robert Briffault, George Sarton, Oliver Joseph Lodge, Sir John Bagot Glubb and others.

Robert Briffault wrote in The Making of Humanity:

“The debt of our science to that of the Arabs does not consist in startling discoveries or revolutionary theories; science owes a great deal more to Arab culture, it owes its existence. The ancient world was, as we saw, pre- scientific.”

 The illustrious poet of East Allama Muhammad Iqbal wrote in, “The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam”:

 “Thus the experimental method, reason, and observation introduced by the Arabs were responsible for the rapid advancement of science during the medieval times.”

At the moment we are living in the world dominated by western theories and inventions. One may reason how western world reached to achieve great successes in science and technology? The Western world gave stress to innovative research and developed research laboratories for attaining set goals. It took almost 300 years to West to finally reach to this hi-tech stage. One may wonder why Muslim world was silent during these 300 years while the West was deciphering new theories and discoveries.

It is important to understand the root cause of current downward trend in scientific endeavour among Muslim countries and find a proper way. There are only a few Muslim countries (Iran, Egypt, Malaysia and Indonesia) that are competing well with a western world with reference to scientific achievements and rest of countries are still lagging in many areas of scientific endeavours.

Guessoum and Osama (2015) suggested that in order to boost science in Muslim World, there is a dire need that students in universities must be provided broad education and also universities should become ‘meritocratic’. How can research improvement in Muslim universities help overall progress in science if young generations are unable to compete in science at the school level? Lack of proper vision and a faulty curriculum is responsible for the declining trend of scientific innovations in 57 member states of OIC. So, local governments in these countries need to take new initiative to frame science-based syllabus in consultation with all stakeholders including religious scholars.

In the same way, if brain drain is stopped in Muslim countries by providing best salaries and incentives, there is a possibility that best human resource will be available for increasing the scientific output. It has been reported earlier that about 15% of all expatriates who migrated to West (Munir Nayfeh, 2007) contributing nothing to their native countries.

 The involvement of many Muslim countries in internal as well as external conflicts is a big hurdle for improving the standards of science. Any initiative for improving science in universities of countries like Syria and Iraq, currently under deadly civil war, will not fetch results. The low investment in science in many member states, due to a diversion of budget towards defence, is also affecting the progress in science.

 There is need of taking a holistic approach by Muslim states to take lead in the scientific world. In my opinion, there is a lack of direction and vision among Muslim states which hinders them to dominate in science. Richest Muslim countries should finance on science education at school, college and university level.

Let us hope that Muslim scientists achieve great heights in coming 100 years and rediscover our glorious past.

As is rightly said by EDWARD COUNSEL, “Hope is the beacon which points to prosperity”

Dr Ummer Rashid Zargar is DST-SERB Fast Track Fellow, Department of Zoology, Central University of Kashmir

Source: greaterkashmir.com/news/opinion/muslim-world-need-to-concentrate-on-science/243139.html

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-science/dr-ummer-rashid-zargar/muslim-world-need-to-concentrate-on-science/d/110442


  • I think the author is also spreading false information about the greatness achieved in science by the 8th century Muslims. It is a well known fact that the many of the early Muslims of the 8th century  were forcible converts from Jews and Syriac Christians residing in present day Arabia, Syria, Turkey etc. They  were the leaders in science in the whole world at that time along with the Greek scientists. So it is wrong to take the credit  of scientific achievements of the  jews and chritsians of these regions  by the muslim community. When these countries became fully muslim due to forceful conversion by the  use of sword, the scientific temper also died. Please check the history and then write such articles. Please do not spread any more false theories to claim  non existent supremacy just as saying Islam stands for peace
    By J T Vallianeth - 3/20/2017 11:04:16 PM

  • An article urging Muslims to concentrate on science and reminding them of their earlier interest in science would rankle only those whose sole purpose in life is to  badmouth Muslims!

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 3/19/2017 10:49:05 AM

  • those that cannot envision a future will generally fall back on their doubtful past.

    a religion that is "perfect" cannot imagine a future.

    a prophet who controls his god and commandeers his voice for himself is probably unworthy of homage - or even respect.

    By hats off! - 3/19/2017 7:00:19 AM

  • In repeating “how great was the scientific past” of the early Muslims there is lack of acceptance of the fact that, that greatness was achieved on the shoulders of pre-eight century giants that enabled them (early Muslims) to see further and gaze the heavens. The greatness was not achieved in vacuum of human endeavors to “invent the wheel”.

    To their credit it can only be said that it was their thirst for knowledge and State sponsorship of the early Muslims; which has been lacking for centuries, that propelled them to scientific leadership, unlike say the last six seven centuries when the religious brigades restricted I’lm-knowledge- as being religious knowledge. Later day Al Azhar and its offshoots mad-rasaas are prime example of that. Hence Iqbal’s taunt:

    “They were your forefathers, but what are you—just twiddling your thumbs waiting for day of resurrection!”

    By Rashid samnakay - 3/19/2017 3:01:44 AM

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