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Al-Cordoby  
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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote Al-Cordoby Replybullet Posted: 08 October 2010 at 2:06am

Muslim Heritage in Our Hospitals - Bettany Hughes

Historian Bettany Hughes introduces us to the underappreciated wealth of Muslim Heritage that exists all around us in our everyday lives.

She tells us how hospitals, pharmacies, sophisticated surgery, dentistry, the understanding of blood circulation, vaccination and many other medical developments came to us from Muslim civilisation.

Discoveries made from the 7th to 17th centuries by multi-faith scientists in Muslim civilisation have had a huge but hidden influence on the modern world.

Knowledge from Assyrian, Babylonian, Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, Indian, Persian and Roman civilisations was highly prized in the Muslim world.

Men and women scholars advanced science by building upon the ancients and making breakthroughs that paved the way for the European Renaissance.

This Golden Age of Discovery in the Muslim World (southern Europe, Africa, Middle East, Asia and to China) took place during the so-called Dark Ages of Europe.

Muslim civilisation promoted free-thinking, rationalism and tolerance. Many scholars expressed their faith by seeking to serve society and improve quality of life for others

http://www.youtube.com/user/DiscoverIslamTV#p/f/5/mkXm8NVizpI

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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 12 October 2010 at 10:55am
Sacred Arts and Mathematics
 
Very rarely found in the sacred arts of most traditions is the role of mathematical principles and geometric forms, except for that which is found in Islamic Art. It is widely assumed that Islamic Art is mainly composed of geometric patterns and shapes as a result of the belief and practice of aniconism, but this is not solely the case
 

Islamic patterns are indeed reflections of the subliminal mind and world of the sacred. Such archetypal forms employ an intricate geometrical system that refers back to the Oneness (tawhid) of God. Often seen by Westerners as abstract art, lacking the concreteness of that which is found in Christendom and Hindu India, Islamic Art’s reflection of spiritual realities on the material plane is a means by which one can comprehend the only reality that is in fact concrete.Seyyed Hossein Nasr, when referring to Westerners’ forgetfulness of the Pythagorean doctrine of mathematics and the writings of certain early Christian theologians, states in his book Islamic Science: An Illustrated Study:

 

If one studies these traditional sources, which express the same truths concerning the world of mathematics as those that determined the Islamic vision of things, it becomes evident that number and figure exist on three levels of reality: in the Divine Intellect as archetypes in the principal domain; in the intermediate world of the mind, which Nichomachus refers to as ‘scientific’; and in the external world, corresponding to ‘concrete’, quantitative numbers and figures. The modern world knows only the second and third levels, whereas Islam has remained always aware of all three.

 

It is apparent through the sacred forms in Islamic Art that Muslims, in fully understanding the hierarchical structure of the universe and the symbols within it, had unraveled the principles of physics and matter early on. Concrete objects on the physical plane were archetypes of the Ultimate Reality. God’s Oneness was the sum of all the multiplicities found on this temporal plane. This explains early Muslims affinity with numbers and love for arithmetic, which Westerners have evidence of in their use of Arabic numerals, introduced by Muslim Arabs along with the word “cipher” or sifr, which was actually a concept adopted from ancient India that meant “void” or “non-being.”

 

The Qur’an itself, though being the word of God, is also an archetype. It is an archetype of the cosmos, a sacred tablet that we are here to discover. The Qur’an is made up of surahs (chapters) and ayahs (verses). Interestingly, the word ayah in Arabic also means “sign” or “symbol.” This linguistic fact can lead to the interpretation of the holy word of God on an even broader scale. The first word of the Qur’an revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) through the angel Gabriel was iqra’.  This word is often wrongly translated and interpreted as “read.” One may ask how in fact such a command could be given to a man who was illiterate. The miracle of Prophet Muhammad was not anything else but his receiving the revelation of the Holy Qur’an. He was a indeed an extraordinary man, but at the same time an ordinary one with no magical powers. Hence, he was not miraculously taught to read. Iqra’ is sometimes also translated as “recite,” which I find more suiting, being that the culture of the people to whom the Qur’an was first revealed was that of an oral tradition. This period was the pinnacle of Arabic language, where reciting poetry and discussing philosophy was the Arabs’ source of nightly entertainment. Therefore, Gabriel’s commanding the recitation of the holy Word was in indeed what occurred, yet keeping in mind the richness of the Arabic language, where one word could have at least eleven different meanings, iqra’ could also be interpreted as “comprehend,” or “see.” In other words, recognize and understand the mysteries of the universe and the signs within it, for the universe is the macrocosm and the Holy Qur’an is the microcosm, of which we can also refer to when God taught His vicegerent Adam all the names (2:31); in other words, He taught Adam the mysteries of the universe.

 

In conclusion, Islamic thought is deep and complex. It has an archetypal tendency and a love for numerical symbols that cannot easily be deciphered amongst the many distractions of the modern world. It is highly recommended that both Westerners and Muslims carry out an extensive study of the history and philosophy of not only the plastic arts that were discussed here, but also in the art of poetry in Islam, which also strictly adhered to the complex principles of numerical symbolism and mathematics, and was never in a separate branch from mathematics itself. This is a perfect example reflecting the coherence of Islamic education, where subjects were not divorced from one another, but interconnected, a characteristic that is sadly unavailable in any university in the world today.

 http://www.lastprophet.info/sacred-arts-and-mathematics_2013.html

 

Inspired by Seyyed Hossein Nasr’s Islamic Science: An Illustrated Study

patterns by Keith Critchlow

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Religious Belief and Scientific Belief   
 
"Are those who know and those who do not know equal!?"
 
(Qur'an 39:9)
 
What we tend nowadays to call "science" in the narrow or strict sense covers the latest developments and discoveries in the mathematical, physical, and biological sciences. Yet the expression continues to be used in a wider sense, one that covers our contemporary social sciences and occasionally human sciences (including perhaps the science of religion) as well. If, when speaking of the Islamic perspective on, or conception of, religious belief, scientific belief, and the relation between them, we mean to address the entire Islamic tradition, we will invariably be faced with an impossible task. To do this successfully, we would have to start from the Qur'an and go through Islamic history century by century, if not generation by generation, and see how the Qur'anic perspective was realized by the Muslim community in diverse regions and disciplines. This process would reveal what tensions and conflicts arose, how these were resolved, and what happened when the Muslim world was faced with the adoption of what we now call "science."

Putting this task aside, we can perhaps touch on a few points in that long and complex history. First of all, we will speak briefly of the Qur'anic perspective and then say a few words about how the different sciences, when developed, were organized into a general scheme of human knowledge and how this organization implies a certain view of the relation between religious belief and scientific belief. This talk will conclude with the raising of some questions regarding what we understand by the term "Islamic science" when we use it as a historical or classificatory notion.
 
The Qur'anic Perspective
 
The Arabic expressions in the Qur'an that are used to signify mental discipline and usually translated into English as "science" are primarily two: 'ilm, normally rendered as "science" or "knowledge" (a faculty of sciences is regularly called kulliyat al 'ulum in Arabic, 'ulum being the plural of 'ilm) and hikmah, normally tendered as "wisdom." To begin with science or knowledge,’ one cannot but be struck by the frequency with which words derived from the root ‘-l-m, from which ‘ilm is derived, in the Qur’an. They appear with such persistence that one is forced to teach the conclusion that this is one of the key notions in the Qur’an and therefore of Islam itself. A Muslim hearing or reading the Qur’an can have little doubt that its constant repetition is meant to impress on him/her that this is a matter of great import for one’s salvation. There can remain no doubt in the mind of a non-Muslim reading the Qur’an and observing the emphasis placed on this expression that science or knowledge is meant to occupy a central place in Islam.
 
The presence and importance in a revealed book, which itself holds a central position in the religion, of an expression that is normally perceived as related to secular matters appears as something unnatural to a student of the history of religion.
 
The correspondence between some of the senses of ‘ilm and the Greek term gnosis tempts one to think of possible influences that may explain this Qur’anic phenomenon. Such a hypothesis appears useful because of the extremely limited role played by science or knowledge in pagan pre-Islamic Arabia, where one would normally look for the source or inspiration of this unusual Qur’anic emphasis. But since our knowledge of preIslamic Arabia, including its relations with neighboring regions, in such matters is far from perfect, such a hypothesis is no more than a wild guess. For, perhaps precisely the absence of any interest in and concern for science or knowledge (or the prevalence of ignorance, in that “age of ignorance” [jahiliyyah]),” in the immediate environment in the cradle of Islam was the reason for its emphasis. This would be similar to the case of the Qur’anic emphasis on God’s unity, as the prevailing norm was certain types of polytheism, against which Islam rebelled. In any case, the remarkably persistent presence of science or knowledge in the Qur’an is echoed by the Prophet, who called himself the city of knowledge: “I am the city of knowledge (madinat al ‘ilm) and ‘Ali is its gate.”
 
The word hikmah, usually rendered as "wisdom," is derived from the root h-k-m, which expresses something like practical judgment or practical wisdom, the kind of activity associated with decisions made by a judge or ruler (it is understood that this kind of juridical, administrative, military, or political wisdom requites previous experience and knowledge, as well as the ability to make the right decision in particular cases). Thus, wisdom in the sense of practical judgment, perhaps because it has to do with the most important of human affairs, is said to be more than mere science or knowledge: it serves the purpose of science or knowledge-the making of well-constructed or well-fitted (muhkam) things (the physician, because of his healing art, is thus popularly called hakim ) , as well as pursuing right human conduct and the right way of life.
 
Wisdom is distinguished from science or knowledge in another way: as comprehensive knowledge of things human and divine, especially the latter, or knowledge of the most important things, and thus distinguished from specialized knowledge and trivial knowledge. In this respect, the distinction between hikmah and 'ilm, which have been tendered as wisdom and science or knowledge, respectively, is comparable to the distinction between sophia and episteme in Greek and between sspientia and scientia in Latin. It so happens that in the case of Greek literature translated into Arabic, sophia (i.e., the knowledge of things human and divine) was occasionally translated falsafah (i.e., philosophy). Thus, wisdom and philosophy were in some cases used to mean the same thing: knowledge of the remote causes of things or knowledge of the highest things. When used to mean different things, wisdom reverted to its original sense of practical wisdom or else referred to a particular science or art. Hence the use of the expressions "highest wisdom" and "wisdom of wisdom" to mean the highest science and science of sciences.

http://i-epistemology.net/science-a-technology/504-religious-belief-and-scientific-belief.html

 
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Islam and Western Epistemology
 
A dialogue on Epistemology: How do we know what we know?
 
Dialogue between a Muslim, a  Christian, and a Secular Humanist....
 
Part1/3
 
 
Part2/3
 
 
Part3/3
 
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Ibn Khaldun: His Life and Works

Dr Muhammad Hozien

Abd al-Rahman ibn Khaldun, the well known historian and thinker from Muslim 14th-century North Africa, is considered a forerunner of original theories in social sciences and philosophy of history, as well as the author of original views in economics, prefiguring modern contributions.

In the following detailed and documented article, Muhammad Hozien outlines the bio-bibliography of Ibn Khaldun and presents insights into his theories, especially by comparing his analysis with that of Thucydides, and by characterizing Ibn Khaldun's view on science and philosophy

http://muslimheritage.com/topics/default.cfm?ArticleID=1287

 

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Two Souls in Search of an Oasis       
Umer O. Thasneem

This paper studies the quest for self and identity in the works of Muhammad Asad and Kamala Das (known as Kamala Surayya after she embraced Islam) from a broadly comparative perspective. . I explore how these two authors, belonging to two disparate geographical and cultural milieus, found refuge in Islamic monotheism from the existential crisis that haunts modern humanity. Questions concerning self and existence have baffled humanity ever since people became conscious that each one of them has a self. Does life make any sense in or beyond itself? Does it have any definable aim or goal? What differentiates human beings from other animals, apart from their status as a “talking biped”? These questions, which arise from issues lying at the core of this concern, are treated with the utmost negativity and skepticism in the works of existentialist authors, who attribute no inherent value or significance to human destiny.

Introduction

In his “Waiting for Godot” (1952), for example, Samuel Beckett represents this dilemma in the form of two clowns who, trapped in the web of existence, find themselves unable even to commit suicide to break free of the chains of existence. For atheists like Friedrich Nietzsche and George Bernard Shaw, the current human state was so disgusting that they awaited the arrival of a superman who, they assumed, would be free of all puerile human instincts. As Nietzsche himself  put it in his famous statement:

What is the ape to man? A laughing stock or a painful embarrassment. And just so shall man be to the superman: a laughing stock or a painful embarrassment.

More than a century after Nietzsche predicted the coming of a superman, his prophesied “super species” remains a chimera. As for the visionary himself, he died an inglorious death in a mental asylum. On the other hand, humanity seems busier than ever plumbing even further depths of spiritual and ethical degeneration, as epitomized by the self-indulgent, exploitative, and Epicurean person of modern capitalist societies. American poet Robert Lowell compares this greedy, gluttonous person to a pack of stinky skunks foraging for crumbs in a junkyard. For him, nothing exemplifies the modern human condition better than these slimy, despicable creatures.

We have to place the works of Muhammad Asad and Kamala Das, both of whom address questions of self and existence from a radically different perspective, against this intellectual background. They are not willing to wait for the birth of a superman, nor are they driven by despondency to nihilism. For them, self-fulfillment lies in spiritual elevation – a continual process of redemption to be attained through divine guidance as established by the Qur’an. For them, this redemption is more fulfilling than being a superman.

The Road Taken

The New York Post described Muhammad Asad’s spiritual biography, The Road to Mecca, as “a very rare and powerful book raised completely above the ordinary by its candor and intelligence. … [that] should permanently affect our view of the world.”

Being an autobiographical narrative resembling Henri Charrière’s Papillon (1969) andAxel Munthe’s The Story of San Michele (1929), The Road to Mecca deserves a unique place as a literary masterpiece, for it encompasses a whole range of issues related to philosophy, religion, psychology, geography, and history. It also has a multilayered structure, with an autobiographical narrative fitted into the frame of a travelogue. Nevertheless, the central thread running through it is the quest for self and identity. The following passage illustrates how this quest formed an obsession for Asad right from his childhood days:

Under the soles of my feet I can feel the thin trickle of water [Asad was taking a bath in a shallow desert well after a long journey] seep upward from the underground spring that feeds the well in a slow, unceasing stream of eternal renewal.

Above me the wind hums over the rim of the well and makes its interior sound faintly like the inside of a sea shell held against the ear – a big humming sea shell such as I loved to listen to in my father’s house many, many years ago, a child just big enough to look over the table top. I pressed the shell against my ear and wondered whether the sound was always there or only when I held it to my ear. Was it something independent of me or did only my listening call it forth? Many times did I try to outsmart the shell by holding it away from me, so that the humming ceased, and then suddenly clapping it back to my ear: but there it was again – and I never found out whether it was going on when I did not listen.

I did not know then, of course, that I was being puzzled by a question that had puzzled much wiser heads than mine for countless ages: the question whether there is such a thing as “reality” apart from our minds, or whether our perception creates it. I did not know it then; but, looking back, it seems to me that this great riddle haunted me not only in my childhood but also in later years – as it probably has haunted at one time or another, consciously or unconsciously, every thinking human being: for, whatever the objective truth, to every one of us the world manifests only in the shape, and to the extent, of its reflection in our minds: and so each of us can perceive of “reality” only in conjunction with our own existence.

Herein perhaps may be found a valid explanation for man’s persistent belief, since the earliest stirrings of consciousness, in individual survival after death – a belief too deep, too widely spread through all races and times to be easily dismissed off as “wishful thinking.” It would probably not be too much to say that it has been unavoidably necessitated by the very structure of the human mind. To think in abstract theoretical terms of one’s own death as ultimate extinction may not be difficult; but to visualize it, impossible: for this would mean no less than to be able to visualize the extinction of all reality as such – in other words to imagine nothingness: something that no man’s mind is able to do.

As Asad puts it, questions concerning reality’s essential nature have exercised the minds of countless philosophers and intellectuals; their responses to it have often exhibited skepticism rather than certainty. For Plato, the physical world as we perceive it is merely the shadow/reflection of an ideal metaphysical world beyond. Secured and sealed off from each other, the shadow has no chance of becoming the ideal. For Hindu theologian Shankaracharya, Earth and the entire cosmos are mere delusion. Islam, on the other hand, as Asad saw it, recognizes the empirical world’s contingent reality while asserting a supreme metaphysical reality having an incontestable nature. This supreme reality represents infinite power and absolute authority. Unlike Aristotle’s passive “immovable mover,” the supreme power is always active and alert, accessible to all His servants, even to the humblest and the least tutored. He demands no corporal mortification or tortuous self-denial.

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Muhammad Institute for Space Science Begins Fundraising for Canadian Space Launch Site
 
The Muhammad Institute for Space Science -- a Canadian organization dedicated to putting the Islamic world back at the forefront of scientific discovery -- wants to build a space-launch facility in Canada.

It cites on its website two chief goals:
— "Giving the Islamic world community a top-level scientific space institution it can call its own."

— "Contributing to the promotion of British Columbia as a world hub for space science and technology."
"The Muhammad Institute for Space Science is a framework for collaboration between Canada and the Islamic World at large, which includes not only the Muslim World community but also the many religious and ethnic minorities that are culturally part of the great Islamic civilization," says the group's website.


Dr. Al Fakir told The Canadian Press his target is to complete the space-port project by 2015....

http://en.islamtoday.net/artshow-236-3878.htm



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Seyyed Hossein Nasr. Science and Civilization in Islam.

In the Name of God Most Merciful and Compassionate

The Principles of Islam

The history of science is often regarded today as the progressive accumulation of techniques and the refinement of quantitative methods in the study of Nature. Such a point of view considers the present conception of science to be the only valid one; it therefore judges the sciences of other civilizations in the light of modern science and evaluates them primarily with respect to their "development" with the passage of time. Our aim in this work, however, is not to examine the Islamic sciences from the point of view of modern science and of this "evolutionistic" conception of history; it is, on the contrary, to present certain aspects of the Islamic sciences as seen from the Islamic point of view.

To the Muslim, history is a series of accidents that in no way affect the nontemporal principles of Islam. He is more interested in knowing and "realizing" these principles than in cultivating originality and change as intrinsic virtues. The symbol of Islamic civilization is not a flowing river, but the cube of the Kaaba, the stability of which symbolizes the permanent and immutable character of Islam.

The arts and sciences in Islam are based on the idea of unity, which is the heart of the Muslim revelation. Just as all genuine Islamic art, whether it be the Alhambra or the Paris Mosque, provides the plastic forms through which one can contemplate the Divine Unity manifesting itself in multiplicity, so do all the sciences that can properly be called Islamic reveal the unity of Nature. One might say that the aim of all the Islamic sciences and, more generally speaking, of all the medieval and ancient cosmological sciences is to show the unity and interrelatedness of all that exists, so that, in contemplating the unity of the cosmos, man may be led to the unity of the Divine Principle, of which the unity of Nature is the image...

It is based on the belief that scientia -- human knowledge -- is to be regarded as legitimate and noble only so long as it is subordinated to sapientia -- Divine wisdom. Muslim sages would agree with Saint Bonaventure's "Believe, in order to understand." Like him, they insist that scientia can truly exist only in conjunction with sapientia, and that reason is a noble faculty only insofar as it leads to intellection, rather than when it seeks to establish its independence of its own principle, or tries to encompass the Infinite within some finite system...

The Western world has since concentrated its intellectual energies upon the study of the quantitative aspects of things, thus developing a science of Nature, whose all too obvious fruits in the physical domain have won for it the greatest esteem among people everywhere, for most of whom "science" is identified with technology and its applications. Islamic science, by contrast, seeks ultimately to attain such knowledge as will contribute toward the spiritual perfection and deliverance of anyone capable of studying it; thus its fruits are inward and hidden, its values more difficult to discern. To understand it requires placing oneself within its perspective and accepting as legitimate a science of Nature which has a different end, and uses different means, from those of modern science. If it is unjust to identify Western science solely with its material results, it is even more unjust to judge medieval science by its outward "usefulness" alone. However important its uses may have been in calendarial work, in irrigation, in architecture, its ultimate aim has always been to relate the corporeal world to its basic spiritual principle, through the knowledge of those symbols which unite the various orders of reality. It can only be understood, and should only be judged, in terms of its own aims and its own perspectives.

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Arguing God from Being?
 
Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr
 
 
(About 8 mins)
 
 
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Science in Islamic History
 
 
(Around 7 mins)
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New York Exhibit Highlights 1,001 Muslim Innovations

A hang glider model at “1001 Inventions,” a show about Muslim contributions to science, at the New York Hall of Science, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens. Photo: NY Times
 
 

Eight-year-old Marissa Campis is playing a game that is part of the new exhibition, “1,001 Inventions: Discover the Muslim Heritage in Our World” at the New York Hall of Science in Queens, New York. The touch screen displays a family room, asking visitors to select the items invented during the height of Islam’s “Golden Age”, which lasted for 1,000 years between the 7th and 17th centuries.

“What they made was interesting – like an old fashioned camera,” said Marissa, referring to her favourite invention, a camera obscura, which paved the way for modern day photography. She didn’t know it yet, but she was learning about Muslim culture from Asia, Africa and the southern part of Europe.

The New York Hall of Science was the first stop of the American tour after installations in London and Istanbul drew a recording-breaking 800,000 visitors.

The exhibition’s displays engage visitors not only by explaining how scientific inventions work, it also challenges negative stereotypes of Muslims that have become commonplace as a result of those who associate their hateful actions with Islam. This was reflected by a Pew Research Center report from 2009 that states 38 percent of Americans say Islam encourages violence more than other faiths.

The exhibition breaks down the stereotype that Muslims are associated with violence. By informing visitors of the rich cultural heritage of Muslims, the installation also dispels the narrative that has been shaped by Orientalism, a Western perspective of the East that is often criticised for misrepresenting Eastern civilisation as being less innovative and generally in opposition to Western culture. This view has prevailed for centuries in the West. The scientific achievements from Islam’s Golden Age are surprising to all visitors regardless of their religion; this will be the first time many Muslim Americans learn about these inventions as well since it is a period of time that is not taught in most schools in the West. 

While the era covered by the exhibition is considered the Golden Age of Muslim civilization, this was the same period as Europe’s Dark Ages. This disparity is addressed in the short film 1001 Inventions and The Library of Secrets that introduces the exhibition, starring Academy Award-winning actor Ben Kingsley. The film, in which Kingsley plays 12th century Turkish inventor Al Jazari, follows a group of 21st century teenagers who are taken by Al Jazari on a journey to meet scientists and engineers from Islam’s Golden Age. The film won the Best Educational Film award at 2010 Cannes Film Festival.

As they walk through the purple and gold themed exhibition hall, visitors are drawn to the centrepiece of the display, a 20-foot replica of a water-powered clock created by Al Jazari. And across from the clock is a suspended model of a flying machine designed by 9th century inventor Abbas ibn Firnas, who some consider to be the first person to make a scientific attempt at flying. Yet another popular feature is a drawing of the ship used by the 15th century Muslim Chinese admiral Zheng He, whose ships have been estimated to be as large as football fields.

The display also focuses on non-Muslim scientists and inventors, such as Maimonides – the 12th century Jewish physician from Cordoba, Spain – who worked with Muslim philosophers. His place in the exhibition reveals the successful intercultural partnerships of scientists that led to some of the greatest scientific inventions in history. This history of partnerships is also reflected by the fact that inventors from Islam’s Golden Age built upon the knowledge of their predecessors from Ancient Rome and Greece, and the work of Muslim scientists was later used by European inventors during the Renaissance Era. 

Such links demonstrate the rich legacy of scientific achievements shared by humanity.

The “1,001 Inventions” exhibition, an initiative of the Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilisation, a non-profit, non-religious and academic organisation in the UK, will be in New York until April. Its next stop will be the California Science Center in Los Angeles before it moves to the National Geographic Museum in Washington, DC in 2012. Visitors of the exhibition will learn that we can look past today’s differences between East and West because history shows us that the greatest scientific inventions still used today are a result of the partnerships of scientists from across the world.

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From Salman Hameed of Irtiqa:

It is my absolute pleasure to announce that Nidhal Guessoum has a new book out: Islam’s Quantum Question: Reconciling Muslim Tradition and Modern Science.

There are very few good books out there that tackle the issue of Islam and science in a rational way. Often, we find apologetic writings that grossly misunderstand science and end up doing a disservice to both Islam and science. Then we have books that address the issues of science and religion, but without a deeper understanding of religion. It is very rare (and I’m quite familiar with the terrain) where the writer takes both religion and science equally seriously. Nidhal’s book is in this rare category.

If I were to write a one line review of his book, here is what I would say: His understanding of science and his interpretation of Islam are both solid in this book, and he makes a thoughtful and passionate effort to reconcile Islam and modern science.

This does not mean that I agree with all his conclusions, but the differences are more at the philosophical level rather than on misunderstood science or misrepresented religion. What I liked best about the book is that even when Nidhal completely disagrees with someone—and there are many in the book with whom he disagrees—he still manages to present their ideas fairly, clearly, and with respect.

Nidhal’s book starts with Islamic theology, addressing the notion of Allah/God in Islam and the concept of knowledge in the Quran. The second part of the book addresses Islam and some issues of contemporary science. As expected, two big areas of discussion here are modern cosmology and biological evolution. He again presents the thinking of various Muslim scholars on the topic, and then presents his own thoughtful analysis.

So if you are looking for an example of how a Muslim scientist (an astrophysicist, in this particular case) might reconcile modern scientific discoveries with his own faith and the Quran, then this is the book for you. Even if you disagree with some parts, you will still end up learning a lot.

La ilaha ill-Allah, Muhammadur Rasulullah
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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote LionKing Replybullet Posted: 03 April 2011 at 3:43am
Originally posted by searching

I'm the PBS documentary Inside Islam, they discussed how the Qur'an described fetal development. It was absolutely amazing to me how accurate it was. Modern science only relatively recently solved this mystery. And it's in the Qur'an which is an ancient text. I was very impressed.
 
The Greek scientists Galen writes in AD150, in his treatise De Semines:
 
But let us take the account back again to the first conformation of the animal, and in order to make our account orderly and clear, let us divide the creation of the foetus overall into four periods of time. The first is that in which. as is seen both in abortions and in dissection, the form of the semen prevails (Arabic nutfah). At this time, Hippocrates too, the all-marvelous, does not yet call the conformation of the animal a foetus; as we heard just now in the case of semen voided in the sixth day, he still calls it semen. But when it has been filled with blood (Arabic alaqa), and heart, brain and liver are still unarticulated and unshaped yet have by now a certain solidarity and considerable size, this is the second period; the substance of the foetus has the form of flesh and no longer the form of semen. Accordingly you would find that Hippocrates too no longer calls such a form semen but, as was said, foetus. The third period follows on this, when, as was said, it is possible to see the three ruling parts clearly and a kind of outline, a silhouette, as it were, of all the other parts (Arabic mudghah). You will see the conformation of the three ruling parts more clearly, that of the parts of the stomach more dimly, and much more still, that of the limbs. Later on they form "twigs", as Hippocrates expressed it, indicating by the term their similarity to branches. The fourth and final period is at the stage when all the parts in the limbs have been differentiated; and at this part Hippocrates the marvelous no longer calls the foetus an embryo only, but already a child, too when he says that it jerks and moves as an animal now fully formed (Arabic ‘a new creation’) ...

... The time has come for nature to articulate the organs precisely and to bring all the parts to completion. Thus it caused flesh to grow on and around all the bones, and at the same time ... it made at the ends of the bones ligaments that bind them to each other, and along their entire length it placed around them on all sides thin membranes, called periosteal, on which it caused flesh to grow.

Before him, Hippocrates writes:
 
"... both partners alike contain both male and female sperm (the male being stronger than the female must originate from a stronger sperm). Here is a further point: if (a) both partners produce a stronger sperm then a male is the result, whereas if (b) they produce a weak form, then a female is the result. But if (c) one partner produces one kind of sperm, and the other another then the resultant sex is determined by whichever sperm prevails in quantity. For suppose that the weak sperm is much greater in quantity than the stronger sperm: then the stronger sperm is overwhelmed and, being mixed with weak, results in a female. If on the contrary the strong sperm is greater in quantity than the weak, and the weak is overwhelmed, it results in a male"
 
Galen says:
"when it has been filled with blood, and heart, brain and liver are (still) unarticulated and unshaped ... this is the period ... that Hippocrates (called) foetus."
 
Qur'an 22:5 says:
O mankind! if ye have a doubt about the Resurrection, (consider) that We created you out of dust, then out of sperm, then out of a leech-like clot, then out of a morsel of flesh, partly formed and partly unformed
 
Galen says:

"And now the third period of gestation has come ... Thus it (nature) caused flesh to grow on and around all the bones."

Qur'an 23:14:

And we clothed the bones (with) meat.

Both Galen and the Qur'an were incorrect about flesh clothing bones. Histiogenesis is the formation of flesh, it occurs months before ossification, the growth of bone inside the tissue.
 
However Hippocrates who came before, turned out to be correct, as he stated flesh coming before bone.
 
Both were also unaware of the ovum, the female egg, a crucial part of embryology. Aristotle knew two components were necessary, he knew sperm was one, but didn't know the other component, the egg. So he referred to them as "the two sperms". The Qur'an mentions one sperm, no hint of any ovum, which accounts for half the genetic contribution to a child.
 
100 years before Muhammad, 16 of Galens books were translated into Syriac, spoken by some Arab tribes, one of which lived near Madinah.
 
How could Muhammad know one or two paragraphs of Greek science?
 
As he was an international merchant for decades, it's unthinkable he wouldn't have come across SOME information known for centuries.
 
For certainty, we need to find a person who Muhammad knew, that was learned to some extent in Greek medicine.
 
That person was his physician, Nafi Ibn Al-Harith, who studied Greek and Indian medicine in Persia.
 
It is clear, taking into account there was already more accurate knowledge in the world, simply hearing about it once would be enough. The fact he knew someone personally that studied Greek medicine, and the fact the Qur'an fails to mention crucial aspects of embryology as well as incorrectly describing flesh coating bones - renders this miracle non-existant.
 
 
 
 


Edited by LionKing - 03 April 2011 at 3:46am
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