SCIENCE AND ISLAM
By Dr. Mahathir Mohamad on February 8, 2010 9:56 AM
1. A commentator asked "if the Islamic Empire (there never was an
Islamic empire in the sense of the other Empires - only an Islamic
community - the Ummah) was so good in science before why are the
Orgainisation of Islamic Conference countries lagging behind in
science and technology?".
2. I had explained why before but i think I should repeat.
3. The early Muslims accepted the message of Allah in the Qur'an
enjoining upon Muslims to read (Iqraq). The verse (the first to be
received by the Prophet - an illiterate man) did not specify, much
less limit what Muslims should read.
4. There were no books on Islam at that time but there were many books
on the Hebrew and the Christian religions. There were also many books
or tracts on Greek science and philosophy as well as Indian
5. The early Muslims read and eventually translated all the writings
of the Greeks, the Indians and others. Obviously they had to learn
these languages first. Then they followed up by doing their own
6. And so the early Muslims were learned in the subjects pioneered by
these other races and this added to the body of knowledge they had
7. The Europeans on the other hand were wallowing in the superstitions
of the Dark Ages despite having embraced Christianity. The superior
civilisation of the Muslims overwhelmed the Europeans so that Spain,
Portugal, Sicily, Greece and much of Eastern Europe fell under Muslim
8. But around the 15th Century of the Christian era, fatwas were made
by Muslim Ulamas that "Iqraq" or read was intended for reading and
studying religion only. From then on the Muslim scientists,
physicians, mathematicians etc stopped their study of these subjects
in order to study religion exclusively.
9. On the other hand the Europeans noticing the greatness of the
Muslim civilisation decided to acquire the knowledge of the Muslims in
the different subjects, including those of the Greeks. To do this
Christian priests learnt Arabic and were thus able to gain access to
the great libraries of Cordoba, Baghdad and elsewhere. They translated
the work of the Muslim scholars and scientists into Latin and then
into the other European languages.
10. If we care to read the history of the Muslims and the Europeans we
would notice that from around the 15th Century of the Christian era
when the Muslims rejected what they regarded as non-religious
knowledge, the Muslim civilisation began to regress.
11. The Europeans, after acquiring the knowledge of the Muslims
started to emerge from the Dark Ages and to build the civilisation
that we see today.
12. Unfortunately Muslim historians seem not to have noticed the
significance of the fatwas of the 15th Century A.D. Even today Muslims
seem unwilling to connect this decline of their civilisation with the
neglect of non-religious knowledge. But European historians admit that
their emergence from the Dark Ages, their Renaissance, coincided with
their study of the Islamic civilisation and its origins.
SCIENCE AND ISLAM