Seeking Knowledge an Imperative

Abu Rayhan al-Biruni was a great scientist, physicist, astronomer, sociologist, linguist, historian and mathematician whose true worth may never be known. He is considered the father of unified field theory by Nobel Laureate – late Professor Abdus Salam. He lived nearly a thousand years ago and was a contemporary of Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and Sultan Mahmoud of Ghazni.

When he was on his deathbed, Biruni was visited by a jurisprudent neighbor of his. Abu Rayhan was still conscious, and on seeing the jurisprudent, he asked him a question on inheritance law or some other related issue. The jurisprudent was quite amazed that a dying man should show interest in such matters. Abu Rayhan said, “I should like to ask you: which is better, to die with knowledge or to die without it?” The man said, “Of course, it is better to know and then die.” Abu Rayhan said, “That is why I asked my first question.” Shortly after the jurisprudent had reached his home, the cries of lamentation told him that Abu Rayhan had died. (Murtaza Motahari: Spiritual Discourses)

That was then, nearly a millennium ago, when Muslims were the torchbearers of knowledge in a very dark world. They created an Islamic civilization, driven by inquiry and invention, which was the envy of the rest of the world for many centuries.

In the words of Carli Fiorina, the former highly talented and visionary, CEO of Hewlett Packard, “Its architects designed buildings that defied gravity. Its mathematicians created the algebra and algorithms that would enable the building of computers, and the creation of encryption. Its doctors examined the human body, and found new cures for disease. Its astronomers looked into the heavens, named the stars, and paved the way for space travel and exploration. Its writers created thousands of stories; stories of courage, romance and magic. When other nations were afraid of ideas, this civilization thrived on them, and kept them alive. When censors threatened to wipe out knowledge from past civilizations, this civilization kept the knowledge alive, and passed it on to others. While modern Western civilization shares many of these traits, the civilization I’m talking about was the Islamic world from the year 800 to 1600, which included the Ottoman Empire and the courts of Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo, and enlightened rulers like Suleiman the Magnificent. Although we are often unaware of our indebtedness to this other civilization, its gifts are very much a part of our heritage. The technology industry would not exist without the contributions of Arab mathematicians.”

Truly, there is hardly a field that is not indebted to these pioneering children of Islam. Here below is a short list, by no means a comprehensive one, of Muslim scientists from the 8th to the 14th century CE: 1

701 (died) C.E.  * Khalid Ibn Yazeed * Alchemy 
721-803 * Jabir Ibn Haiyan (Geber) * Alchemy (Great Muslim Alchemist) 
740 * Al-Asma’i * Zoology, Botany, Animal Husbandry
780 * Al-Khwarizmi (Algorizm) * Mathematics (Algebra, Calculus), Astronomy
776-868 *  Amr ibn Bahr al-Jajiz * Zoology
787 * Al Balkhi, Ja’far Ibn Muhammas (Albumasar) * Astronomy 
796 (died) * Al-Fazari,Ibrahim Ibn Habib * Astronomy 
800 * Ibn Ishaq Al-Kindi – (Alkindus) * Medicine, Philosophy, Physics, Optics 
815 * Al-Dinawari, Abu-Hanifa Ahmed Ibn Dawood * Mathematics, Linguistics
816 * Al Balkhi * Geography (World Map)
836 * Thabit Ibn Qurrah (Thebit) * Astronomy, Mechanics, Geometry, Anatomy
838-870 * Ali Ibn Rabban Al-Tabari * Medicine, Mathematics
852 * Al Battani Abu Abdillah * Mathematics, Astronomy, Engineering
857 * Ibn Masawaih You’hanna * Medicine 
858-929 * Abu Abdullah Al-Battani (Albategnius) * Astronomy, Mathematics
860 * Al-Farghani, Abu al-Abbas (Al-Fraganus) * Astronomy, Civil Engineering
864-930 * Al-Razi (Rhazes) * Medicine, Ophthalmology, Chemistry
873 (died) * Al-Kindi * Physics, Optics, Metallurgy, Oceanography, Philosophy
888 (died) * Abbas ibn Firnas * Mechanics, Planetarium, Artificial Crystals
900 (died) * Abu Hamed Al-ustrulabi * Astronomy 
903-986 * Al-Sufi (Azophi) * Astronomy
908 * Thabit Ibn Qurrah * Medicine, Engineering 
912 (died) * Al-Tamimi Muhammad Ibn Amyal (Attmimi) * Alchemy 
923 (died) * Al-Nirizi, AlFadl Ibn Ahmed (Altibrizi) * Mathematics, Astronomy
930 * Ibn Miskawayh, Ahmed Abu-Ali * Medicine, Alchemy 
932 * Ahmed Al-Tabari * Medicine 
934 * al Istakhr II * Geography (World Map)
936-1013 * Abu Al-Qasim Al-Zahravi (Albucasis) * Surgery, Medicine
940-997 * Abu Wafa Muhammad Al-Buzjani * Mathematics, Astronomy, Geometry 
943 * Ibn Hawqal * Geography (World Map)
950 * Al Majrett’ti Abu-al Qasim * Astronomy, Alchemy, Mathematics 
958 (died) * Abul Hasan Ali al-Mas’udi * Geography, History
960 (died) * Ibn Wahshiyh, Abu Baker * Alchemy, Botany
965-1040 * Ibn Al-Haitham (Alhazen) * Physics, Optics, Mathematics
973-1048 * Abu Rayhan Al-Biruni * Astronomy, Mathematics, History, Linguistics
976 * Ibn Abil Ashath * Medicine 
980-1037 * Ibn Sina (Avicenna) * Medicine, Philosophy, Mathematics, Astronomy
983 * Ikhwan A-Safa (Assafa) * (Group of Muslim Scientists) 
1001 * Ibn Wardi * Geography (World Map)
1008 (died) * Ibn Yunus * Astronomy, Mathematics.
1019 * Al-Hasib Alkarji * Mathematics 
1029-1087 * Al-Zarqali (Arzachel) * Astronomy (Invented Astrolabe) 
1044 * Omar Al-Khayyam * Mathematics, Astronomy, Poetry 
1060 (died) * Ali Ibn Ridwan Abu’Hassan Ali * Medicine 
1077 * Ibn Abi-Sadia Abul Qasim * Medicine 
1090-1161 * Ibn Zuhr (Avenzoar) * Surgery, Medicine 
1095 * Ibn Bajah, Mohammed Ibn Yahya (Avenpace) * Astronomy, Medicine
1097 * Ibn Al-Baitar Diauddin (Bitar) * Botany, Medicine, Pharmacology
1099 * Al-Idrisi (Dreses) * Geography, Zoology, World Map (First Globe) 
1110-1185 * Ibn Tufayl, Abubacer Al-Qaysi * Philosophy, Medicine 
1120 (died) * Al-Tuhra-ee, Al-Husain Ibn Ali * Alchemy, Poem 
1128 * Ibn Rushd (Averroe’s) * Philosophy, Medicine, Astronomy 
1135 * Ibn Maymun, Musa (Maimonides) * Medicine, Philosophy 
1140 * Al-Badee Al-Ustralabi * Astronomy, Mathematics 
1155 (died) * Abdel-al Rahman Al Khazin * Astronomy 
1162 * Al Baghdadi, Abdel-Lateef Muwaffaq * Medicine, Geography 
1165 * Ibn A-Rumiyyah Abul’Abbas (Annabati) * Botany 
1173 * Rasheed Al-Deen Al-Suri * Botany 
1180 * Al-Samawal * Algebra
1184 * Al-Tifashi, Shihabud-Deen (Attifashi) * Metallurgy, Stones 
1201-1274 * Nasir Al-Din Al-Tusi * Astronomy, Non-Euclidean Geometry 
1203 * Ibn Abi-Usaibi’ah, Muwaffaq Al-Din * Medicine 
1204 (died) * Al-Bitruji (Alpetragius) * Astronomy
1213-1288 * Ibn Al-Nafis Damishqui * Anatomy 
1236 * Kutb Aldeen Al-Shirazi * Astronomy, Geography 
1248 (died) * Ibn Al-Baitar * Pharmacy, Botany
1258 * Ibn Al-Banna (Al Murrakishi), Azdi * Medicine, Mathematics 
1262 (died) * Al-Hassan Al-Murarakishi * Mathematics, Astronomy, Geography
1270 * Abu al-Fath Abd al-Rahman al-Khazini * Physics, Astronomy
1273-1331 * Al-Fida (Abdulfeda) * Astronomy, Geography 
1306 * Ibn Al-Shater Al Dimashqi * Astronomy, Mathematics 
1320 (died) * Al Farisi Kamalud-deen Abul-Hassan * Astronomy, Physics
1341 (died) * Al-Jildaki, Muhammad Ibn Aidamer * Alchemy 
1351 * Ibn Al-Majdi, Abu Abbas Ibn Tanbugha * Mathematics, Astronomy
1359 * Ibn Al-Magdi, Shihab-Udden Ibn Tanbugha * Mathematic, Astronomy
1375 (died) * Ibn Shatir * Astronomy
1393-1449 * Ulugh Beg * Astronomy.
1424 * Ghiyath al-Din al Kashani * Numerical Analysis, Computation

With such a train of Muslim scholars, it is not difficult to understand why George Sarton said, “The main task of mankind was accomplished by Muslims. The greatest philosopher, Al-Farabi was a Muslim; the greatest mathematicians Abul Kamil and Ibrahim Ibn Sinan were Muslims; the greatest geographer and encyclopaedist Al-Masudi was a Muslim; the greatest historian, Al-Tabari was still a Muslim.”

History before Islam was a jumble of conjectures, myths and rumors. It was left to the Muslim historians who introduced for the first time the method of matn and sanad tracing the authenticity and integrity of the transmitted reports back to eyewitness accounts. According to the historian Buckla “this practice was not adopted in Europe before 1597 AD.” Another method: that of historical research and criticism – originated with the celebrated historian Ibn Khaldun. The author of Kashfuz Zunun gives a list of 1300 history books written in Arabic during the first few centuries of Islam. That is no small contribution!

Now look at today’s Muslim world. When was the last time you heard of a Muslim winning the Nobel Prize in science or medicine? How about scientific publications? Unfortunately, you won’t find too many Muslim names in scientific and engineering journals either. Why such a paucity? What excuses do we have? 

A recently published UN report on Arab development noted that the Arab world comprising of 22 countries translated about 330 books annually. That is a pitiful number, only a fifth of the number of the books that (tiny) Greece (alone) translates in a year! (Spain translates an average of 100,000 books annually.) Why such an allergy or aversion from those whose forefathers did not mind translating older works successfully to regain the heritage of antiquity, analyzing, collating, correcting and supplementing substantially the material that was beneficial to mankind?

Why is the literacy rate low among Muslims when the first revealed message in the Qur’an is ‘Iqra (meaning: Read)? Are they oblivious of the celebrated hadith of their Prophet : “The search of knowledge is an obligation laid on every Muslim”?

How about the following Prophetic hadith?

“A learned person is superior to a worshipper as the full moon is superior to all the stars. The scholars are heirs of the prophets and the prophets do not leave any inheritance in the shape of dirhams and dinars, but they do leave knowledge as their legacy. As such a person who acquires knowledge acquires his full share.” [Abu Dawud and Tirmizi]

Muslims today seek wealth more than they know how to even spend it. Such a mentality is silly, if not risky.

Knowledge is superior to wealth for ten reasons

Ali (RA) was once asked what was better: wealth or knowledge. He said, Knowledge is superior to wealth for ten reasons:

(1) Knowledge is the legacy of the prophets. Wealth is the inheritance of the Pharaohs. Therefore, knowledge is better than wealth.

(2) You have to guard your wealth but knowledge guards you. So knowledge is better.

(3) A man of wealth has many enemies while a man of knowledge has many friends. Hence knowledge is better.

(4) Knowledge is better because it increases with distribution, while wealth decreases by that act.

(5) Knowledge is better because a learned man is apt to be generous while a wealthy person is apt to be miserly.

(6) Knowledge is better because it cannot be stolen while wealth can be stolen.

(7) Knowledge is better because time cannot harm knowledge, but wealth rusts in course of time and wears away.

(8) Knowledge is better because it is boundless while wealth is limited and you can keep account of it.

(9) Knowledge is better because it illuminates the mind while wealth is apt to blacken it.

(10) Knowledge is better because knowledge induced the humanity in our Prophet to say to Allah, “We worship Thee as we are Your servant," while wealth engendered in Pharaoh and Nimrod the vanity which made them claim Godhead.

What wisdom! Yet today our people are dispassionate about seeking knowledge. Why? Do they know what Imam Ibn Hazm (RA) – the great Spanish Muslim theologian, jurist and poet – said? “If knowledge had no other merit than to make the ignorant fear and respect you, and scholars love and honor you, this would be good enough reason to seek after it… If ignorance had no other fault than to make the ignorant man jealous of knowledgeable men and jubilant at seeing more people like himself, this by itself would be reason enough to oblige us to feel it… If knowledge and the action of devoting oneself to it had no purpose except to free the man who seeks it from the exhausting anxieties and many worries which afflict the mind, that alone would certainly be enough to drive us to seek knowledge.” I only wish that his remarks would wake our people to seeking and mastering knowledge.

Solutions to our present-day predicament:

While there are many solutions that I can point out to get us out of our current predicament, I choose to discuss three major ones below, of which the first two relates to personal and community/social obligations.

1. Seeking knowledge:

The main reason behind the success of early Muslims rested in their seeking knowledge where it was evident and also from places where it was hidden. As true sons of Islam, they understood the meaning of the Prophetic Traditions:

“A Muslim is never satiated in his quest for good (knowledge) till it ends in paradise.” [Tirmizi: narrated by Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri (RA)]

“A person who goes (out of his house) in search of knowledge, he is on Allah’s way and he remains so till he returns.” [Tirmizi: Anas (RA)]

“One who treads a path in search of knowledge has his path to Paradise made easy by Allah thereby.” [Muslim: Abu Hurayrah (RA)]

“To seek knowledge for one hour at night is better than keeping it (night) awake.” [Darimi: Abdullah ibn Abbas (RA)

They did not shy away from translating and learning from others in the best of the Prophetic Traditions:

“The word of wisdom is [like] the lost property of a wise man. So wherever he finds it, he is entitled to it.” [Tirmizi: Abu Hurayrah (RA)]

When others were hesitant to do experiments to check their hypotheses, they courageously filled the vacuum. In that they were true to the Prophetic dictate:

“Knowledge is a treasure house whose keys are queries.” [Mishkat and Abu Na’im: Ali (RA)]

Muslims should also ponder over the statement made by Mu’adh ibn Jabal (RA): “Acquire knowledge for the pleasure of Allah, for learning engenders piety, reverence for one’s Lord and fear of wrongdoing. Seeking knowledge for Allah’s pleasure is an act of worship, studying it is a celebration of God’s glory (lit. Zikr),, searching for it is a rewarding struggle (lit. Jihad), teaching it to someone who realizes its worth is a charity (lit. Sadaqa),, and applying it in one’s home strengthens family unity and kinship. … Knowledge is a comforting friend in times of loneliness. It is the best companion to a traveler. It is the innermost friend who speaks to you in your privacy. Knowledge is your most effective sword against your foe, and finally, it is your most dignifying raiment in the company of your close comrades.” [Hilyat’ul Awliya Wa Tabaqat’ul Asfiya]

Similarly, Sharafuddin Maneri (RA) said, “Knowledge is the fountainhead of all happiness, just as ignorance is the starting point of all wretchedness. Salvation comes from knowledge, destruction from ignorance.” [Maktubat-i Sadi]

2. Quality of leadership and Government patronage:

In the early days of Islam, Muslim rulers were not only the great patrons of learning they were great scholars themselves. They surrounded themselves with learned men: philosophers, legal experts, traditionalists, theologians, lexicographers, annalists, poets, mathematicians, scientists, engineers, architects and doctors. Scholars held high ranks in their courts. They built libraries, academies, universities, research centers, observatories and astrolabes. They invited scholars of all races and religions to flock to their capitals. Thus the cities they built became intellectual metropolises in every sense of the term. Like today’s MIT, Stanford, Harvard, Yale and Princeton, their universities were then the most sought after academies.

And what do we have today? Most of the rulers in Muslim countries are half-educated individuals, who are surrounded (with very few exceptions) by cronies whose most important qualification is not competence or education but “connections” with the ruler or his/her family.

Our rulers (with very few exceptions) are utterly corrupt and self-serving. Not surprisingly, they are surrounded by equally corrupt people who have been put into positions of authority to fatten the coffer of their patrons and peers. Thus, while the number of palaces and mansions increase exponentially, not a single university has been built by most of these rulers. Only a token fraction of the state budget is spent today on education and research. So, it is all too natural to witness the dismal record of invention from Muslim countries. Not a single university in the Muslim world ranks within the top 100 universities of the world. The brightest minds naturally are draining out of their respective countries, only to settle (with very few exceptions) in more prosperous western countries, where they can apply their talents and skills appositely.

Our society remains so much entrenched in a system of patronage and clientage that government contracts are almost always doled out on the basis of personal and professional relationships rather than what is good for our people. So a new breed of half-literate billionaires has emerged who sees no value in education or its patronizing. 

Why this behavior, when Islam teaches that anyone who is seeking after virtue should keep company with the virtuous and should take no companion with him on his way except the noblest friend – one of those people who is learned, sympathetic, charitable, truthful, sociable, patient, trustworthy, magnanimous, pure in conscience and a true friend?

So if Muslim countries want to regain their lost heritage in knowledge, they must retrace their path that once made them successful and discard the current aberrant methodology that only leads to doom and gloom. 

Let me again quote here from Carli Fiorina, who said, “Leaders like Suleiman contributed to our notions of tolerance and civic leadership. And perhaps we can learn a lesson from his example: It was leadership based on meritocracy, not inheritance. It was leadership that harnessed the full capabilities of a very diverse population-that included Christianity, Islamic, and Jewish traditions. This kind of enlightened leadership – leadership that nurtured culture, sustainability, diversity and courage – led to 800 years of invention and prosperity.” 

Would our leaders take heed and amend their actions?

3. Going beyond the expected:

As I hinted above, Muslims are far behind in every field of learning. Simply going with the flow or doing just the bare minimum is simply not sufficient to close this widening gap. Our strategy ought to be – going beyond the normal call of duty, doing extra things. To elucidate this point, let me here close with a story from our Prophet’s time.

Talha bin ‘Ubaidullah narrated that a man from Najd with unkempt hair came to Allah’s Apostle and we heard his loud voice but could not understand what he was saying, till he came near and then we came to know that he was asking about Islam. Allah’s Apostle said, “You have to offer prayers perfectly five times in a day and night (24 hours).” The man asked, “Is there any more (praying)?” Allah’s Apostle replied, "No, but if you want to offer the Nawafil prayers (you can).” Allah’s Apostle further said to him: “You have to observe fasts during the month of Ramad, an.” The man asked, "Is there any more fasting?” Allah’s Apostle replied, "No, but if you want to observe the Nawafil fasts (you can.)” Then Allah’s Apostle further said to him, “You have to pay the Zakat (obligatory charity).” The man asked, “Is there any thing other than the Zakat for me to pay?” Allah’s Apostle replied, "No, unless you want to give alms of your own.” And then that man retreated saying, “By Allah! I will neither do less nor more than this.” Allah’s Apostle said, “If what he said is true, then he will be successful (i.e. he will be granted Paradise).”

Here in this hadith lies the formula for rejuvenating the Muslim nation. May we be guided to reclaim our lost heritage!

 

References

1. Hamed Abdel-Reheem Ead, Professor of Chemistry at Faculty of Science-University of Cairo Giza-Egypt and director of Science Heritage Center, http://www.frcu.eun.eg  See also the books: 100 Muslim Scientists by Abdur Rahman Sharif, Al-Khoui Pub., N.Y; Muslim Contribution to Science by Muhammad R. Mirza and Muhammad Iqbal Siddiqi, Chicago: Kazi Publications, 1986.

 

Dr. Habib Siddiqui lives in suburban Philadelphia, PA, and is the author of the book Islamic Wisdom. He can be reached at saeva@aol.com



By: habib siddiqui | Source: IslamiCity | Category: Articles, Faith, Society | Topic: astronomy, education, health, islam, knowledge, medicine | Values: education, knowledge | Views: 30,291 | Comments: 41

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41 Comments

  1. Why are we waiting on Western organizations to recognize and reward Muslims. We should, Insha Allah, establish our own Noble Prizes and reward and recognize Muslims, our own int’l finacial system, our own trading body, our own Military Alliance, our own sporting games, etc etc etc.

  2. As-Salaamu Alaikum. This is an excellent article, well written, with a wealth of references. If only the leaders of Islamic countries would heed this advice, they would strive to provide for the education of the common people, finance more educational institutions and appoint or see to the election of qualified staff and leaders.

  3. Excellent! Well written and the exactly 100% the truth. Thank you! Thank you a 1000 times over. Its what I have been trying to get into my children and young relatives brains for years. Education=Allah.

  4. Seek and distribute knowledge. When this brother said ‘we should insha’allah estabish our own…’, that phrase in itself is a niyyat. Allaah always make ways when one come with a good niyyat, and with good niyyat there should be action that follows. I am sure there are thousands of you bothers and sisters out there who have that similar niyyat together with some rough idea of how to action and project so that knowledge are distributed. We all aware of the downfall of certain parts of Africa etc. where with some better knowledge some could be avoided. We all aware of the financial capacity of many and many muslim countries. What do we wait to use knowledge to fight the poverty of Africa. Give lives to our brothers and sisters’ child. Insh’ ALLAH we have a niyyaat of building schools for very deprieve parts and supply teachers and technology required with help of other organisations and bodies. Same as seeking, sharing and giving iilm is an imperative.

  5. salam alykum !

    as a muslim we have have to make brother hood environment between others muslim,beccause prophet mohammad(pbuh)said,that each muslim are the guardian of other.

  6. The early Muslims lived the Holy Qur’an. We should be ashamed to call ourselves Muslims. We need to read and study the life of Prophet Muhammad and his companions to see how far we have strayed from the message of the Holy Qur’an.

  7. lets spread knowledge by giving our zakat properly .n make schools in our own countries all educated cream is sitting out side to get the dunia which is kalil.lets get back .

  8. we the muslims had a lot of scholars back then. now we are fighting each other, fighting with ourselves, our own group- (shias and sunnis). we have to be togehther. i would say now a days muslims are diverted in fighting not to gather knowledge. we have to correcet ourselves then you will see the better of islam.

  9. The article was very knowledgeable. It answered many of my questions. I have done my masters here but in the field of science & engineering, I always use to consider ourselves (Muslims) inferior to people of other religion. In Information Technology industry there is hardly any big company owned by a Muslim. All the IT revolution has been brought by people of other faiths. Wherever you go for jobs in Software Industry there is hardly any Muslim representation except handful of few individuals. After reading the article I gain some kind of confidence and a hope that I can also achieve what great scholars of my religion achieved in the past. Illiteracy is so rampant today in the Islamic world that most of the people consider Muslims and illiterates (uncivilized) to be synonymous.

    The article also gave birth to desire in me to be best at what I do. Before pointing fingers to others I also have sense of responsibility towards my duties and task of acquiring the knowledge. I sincerely pray to Allah to give me the wisdom and knowledge to help humanity and bring a good name to my religion and community for which it was known in the past and be a Ideal for others.

    May Allah bless us all.

    Mushtaq.

  10. As-salamu alaikum

    What a wonderful reminder that seeking authentic sacred knowledge is the only way to success, both here and in the Hereafter. We need to start from within, as individuals, teach our families, demonstrate what we know through community service and good manners with everyone (no matter what they do). A good place to start here in the U.S. is the Islamic American University (www.islamicau.org) where classes are local (Michigan) and internet-based and offered in both Arabic and English. The curriculum is Islamic Studies. I just completed 2 years (in English) and it has been the best time of my life and I would like my brothers and sisters to benefit as much and more than I, Insha’Allah.

  11. I strongly believe that we can still get it right and take back our rightful and natural place. What we need to do is to go back to the drawing board and find out where we got it wrong.

    The acknowledgement by the western world of the contribution of our forebearers to science is a pointer to the fact that we got it wrong at a particular point along the way. What we therefore need to do is to recognise this fact and commence the process of building on what has already being achieved whether by a muslim on non muslim for as the prophet has said- seek for knowledge even if it is at the end of the world.

    We should know that the purpose of this is to make the world a better place for all of us, afterall has not the quran said the we are the vicegrents of ALLAH on earth?

    Ma salam

  12. Asalam O alaikum,

    We dont have much excuse apart from the fact that rich muslim countries dont care about education. They are more interested in how to spend their oil money in building new palaces for their kings. Moreover the middle class Muslim countries like Pakistan are trying a little bit to promote a culture of scientific development but no help is coming from their rich Muslim brothers. The poor Muslim countries cant be blamed for anything because they are poor and have very meagre resources to do anything. Its mind boggling to know that the largest oil producing countries in the world dont even have a single multinational oil company of their own. Thats says a lot about how they are being managed by corrupt and dishonest elite.

    Masalama

  13. Salamun alaikum,

    This article is a master piece of advice to all muslim males and females.Our major problem today the muslim World is lack of zeal to assist fellow brothers and sisters wihing to excel in academic pursuits.If the privileged are ready to assist the underprivileged, the lost heritage od Muslims will be returned to them. For example i graduated for the past ten years but due to the fact that i came from less privileged family could not go further. What of other Muslims who are daily battling of how to get square meals. Muslim World have to rethink of assisting those who doesn’t have the means to excel academically forlack of finances

  14. Really interesting article i had some knowledge of muslims contribution toward science but this article was really an eye opener,keep the work going.

    allahhafiz

  15. asalam alakum,may Allah(s w t)Accept all your did as an act of ibadah.may he may it hugger for you and not againt you on the day of resuration(amin).to me i believe if not that Allah(s w t) is in controll there won’t be anything like islam again because will have left our duty wich is knowledge about Allah said as a muslim we should seek for knowledge not only on ARABIC both arabic and western eduction,not untill we stat preching that we will contineou having problem,because there so many alfa outside who were illitrate they have nothing to do at the end of the day they become laibility to the state.so we have a lot to do on these area.salamalakun

  16. As usual, Islamic science and civilization is being overrated.

    “Its architects designed buildings that defied gravity”

    I wont bother with this one.

    “Its mathematicians created the algebra and algorithms that would enable the building of computers, and the creation of encryption.”

    Algebra was dicovered primarily by the Babylonians and Greeks. If you bother to look at the actual history of mathematics, instead of propaganda, you’ll discover Diophantus (classic Greek mathematician) is the father of Algebra. The word “algebra” is named after the Arabic word “al-jabr” from the title of the book al-Kitāb al-muḫtaṣar fī ḥisāb al-ğabr wa-l-muqābala, meaning The book of Summary Concerning Calculating by Transposition and Reduction, a book written by the Persian Muslim mathematician Muhammad ibn Mūsā al-khwārizmī in 820. This is a book that gives a “summary” of past work in this field of mathematics. Now, the fact that al-jabr became algebra in the english language, doesnt mean that the math behind it is Arabic in origin.

    Euclid was the first to begin using algorithms, long before Islam came into being. Along with his book “Elements”, Euclid began work on his GCD (greatest common divisor) algorithm. Euclidean Algorithm (stick that into your search engine) is one of the most basic foundations of mathematics that we know today.

    “Its astronomers looked into the heavens, named the stars, and paved the way for space travel and exploration.”

    Naming the stars (which any 5-year-old can do), and sighting the moon is hardly paving the way for space travel and exploration!

    Carli Fiorina needs to get a grip, and actually look into the actual history of math and science before making these kinds of claims… I dont even want to get into George Sarton’s silly claims! It is well-known that this guy had an obsession with the Arabic/Islamic culture which skewed his perceptions.

  17. Islamic civilization did not discover Algebra or Algorithms first, Diophantus was the father of Algebra (Greek), and Euclid (Greek) was the first to use Algorithms.

  18. To those denouncing muslim contributions to math and science…Stop dissing it just because it hurts your ego and you don’t belong to the faith. Open your minds and accept that others are out there who contribute as well.

  19. I Challange the Muslim leaders/masses of the Muslim World to promote education versus hate and plundering the wealth of the masses. As the prophet said “The scholars are heirs of the prophets” I couldn’t agree more.

  20. My friends, Trevor and e.r: I just want to elaborate a little further on what my friends who posted comments above said, that it wasn’t until the 16th or 17th century at the max that the Europeans even started considering reading the teachings of “Diaphanous the father of Algebra (Greek), and Euclid”. Before in the ‘Western world’ it was known as heresy (It is a fact.)

    What Europeans read and studied was what Muslims have written or refined it a whole lot more, or let’s say took it to the next level. But Muslims never denied the (Greek) contributions but westerner’s didn’t even bother to recognize the Muslim’s contribution. In modern academic terms it is known as ‘Plagiarism.’ The world would have been at least a thousand years back if Muslims wouldn’t have made all those advancements. That’s not a claim it’s a fact Please visit this website where this fact is explained in detail:

    http://www.muslimheritage.com/

    Here one can also read what Prince Charles Heir to the British Monarchy said if you think Carli Fiorina is not that literate. Please visit the above website and click on ‘About us’ and there one can read what Prince Charles said.

    I am sorry if I have offended my friends in anyway, because my purpose is not to argue but it’s awareness.

  21. some people are claiming here that Muslims did not create algebra and referred to some Greeks but it was before the Greek civilization.So for those people- please kindly do not be so ignorant.

  22. Masha Allah even in the 20th Century to the present Millenium Muslims continued to make contribution of their own quota in the field of knowledge.One English Muslim who embraced Islam more than 100 years in 1903 Dr Khaled Sheldrik a journalist questined the creed of trinity which looks strange to him.How can it be possible for the father and the son to live together in all ages?Human intellect cannot accept this peculiar idea.He continued if Islam has no real reality why the Europeans criticize it so vehemently and raise hue and cry against it.If Christian writers are not afraid of the power and dynamism of Islam they would not try to combat its prevailing influence.So imagine this was noted more than 100 years ago.He said he studied books on Islam written by Muslims and tried to understand Islam in its true perspective and hoped Allah willing one day the entire world will hold the banner of Islam.But it will happen only when the persons professing Islam present Islam before the world in a practical form.Allahu Akbar what a challenge by our Brother Dr Khaled Sheldrik who embraced Islam in 1903 in the hands of another English Convert Sheikh Abdullah who was said to have converted more than 500 Englishmen to Islam.Therefore it is our responsibility to take this message to each and every nook and corner of the world present the message in the best form by showing practical example as our Brother Dr Khaled suggested more than one hundred years back.

  23. To Rajiv…

    Algebra is a branch of mathematics concerning the study of structure, relation and quantity. The name is derived from the treatise written by the Persian mathematician Muhammad bin Ms al-Khwrizm titled Al-Kitab al-Jabr wa-l-Muqabala (meaning “The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing”), which provided symbolic operations for the systematic solution of linear and quadratic equations.

    The origins of algebra can be traced to the ancient Babylonians,who developed an advanced arithmetical system with which they were able to do calculations in an algebraic fashion. With the use of this system they were able to apply formulas and calculate solutions for unknown values for a class of problems typically solved today by using linear equations, quadratic equations, and indeterminate linear equations. By contrast, most Egyptians of this era, and most Indian, Greek and Chinese mathematicians in the first millennium BC, usually solved such equations by geometric methods, such as those described in the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus, Sulba Sutras, Euclid’s Elements, and The Nine Chapters on the Mathematical Art. The geometric work of the Greeks, typified in the Elements, provided the framework for generalizing formulae beyond the solution of particular problems into more general systems of stating and solving equations.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algebra

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad_ibn_M%C5%ABs%C4%81_al-Khw%C4%81rizm%C4%AB

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muslim_inventions

    What is taught in science and What Should be Taught

    http://world.mediamonitors.net/content/view/full/20380

  24. I liked many comments made by readers of this article that Education is the key. It is also very enlightening to realize that we are becoming aware that we do not have enough schools,colleges and universities to meet the needs of our young generation. I am always thinking why none of us come up with an idea to promote a program where we can all make a difference by merely starting a collection project called “Muslim awakening” and donate money and make schools and universities till each muslim is educated. Nothing is impossible and we can do it.

  25. Islam is a religion which promotes seeking of knowledge. There may be some people here objecting to this article’s matter but dont they realize that Islamic history doesnt have an incident where a scientist or a thinker had been executed because his/her invention is going against their holy scripture or belief. There is no established scientific fact which has gone against the Holy Quran Alhamdulillah. Its just muslims’ ignorance that today they are being called backward and illiterate. Islam does promote seeking of knowledge.

  26. I truely agreed with he author of this article that we place more emphasis on seeking wealth than we even know how to spend or enjoy it. Our educational system is tailored in the way that the child is educated to graduate in a profession, acquire a job and settle for the meager of life. We do not encourage life long love of learning, which was the acts of our predecessors. The moment a child or a student is made to beleive that he or she is studying to earn both worlds, I think we can be a step ahead in eleviating our condition as the less knowledgeable people in today’s world.

  27. I loved this article. I have often wonder myself , why we do not see Muslims making more contributions to the world of science, economic, and social sciences. During college I was often upset that my teachers did not give credit to the Muslims before us that made such great strides in the field of mathematics. There a number of Muslim scholars but there voices are muted. In the light of 9/11 it is the task of this individuals shine and let people know the true history of Islam and the great contributions Muslims have made. But also as individuals we must live up to the precedent our beloved Prophet has set and live the best of lives and be the best of examples to our fellow mankind.

  28. Just to remind some people that many books written by Islamic scholars were also translated into other languages and facts hidden on who wrote them and some valuable books were destroyed deliberately in Constantinople to stop future generations of knowing the real scholars who made these discoveries and even today in medicine there are a lot of Arabic terminologies still being used.We know and they know.Spain was at one time a center of learning during the Islamic rule and people from all over the world used to go there for knowledge.Today we find that the non Muslims are stopping the Muslims from acquiring technology in some areas of learning especially in some areas of nuclear technology.The world has become a small place today due to the vasts improvements in aerospace industry and distances have been reduced.People are integrating at high pace that eventually the whole mankind will become one and thus difficult to determine origins etc.,We will soon become one family irrespective of where we come from.

  29. Good article. but only comments which put me off is “He is considered the father of unified field theory by Nobel Laureate – late Professor Abdus Salam. “

    Author don’t need to use people like Abdus Salam. They are not muslim… an Ahmedi should not be used.

  30. If there was only a way to send this letter to the half-literate rulers of the Islamic countries! The Muslim mind is so bright but the dark shadow casted by the Islamic(i use that word cautiously) governments overshadow it.

  31. The article is,indeed, most interesting. I have often put forward the view in discussions with fellow Muslims that, in bemoaning the modern European conquests in Arab lands starting with Napolean’s invasion of Egypt, one must acknowledge that, for such an invasion to succeed in the absence of 21st century communications, logistics, etc., suggests that the Muslim-majority society was already weak. Napolean took advantage of an existing political/military situation (as did the Arabs in Iran twelve centuries before him).

    Particularly pernicious for the health of intellectual life in contemporary Muslim society, in my view, is the bandwagon approach to science and technology whereby, instead of discovering or inventing anything, we content ourselves with feeling smug when some religious scholar twists the meaning of a koranic verse to conjure up evidence that an advance recently published in America or Japan was foretold 1400 years ago in the Koran. An example of this can be found in the verses relating to the human embryo (e.g. 22.5), where a miraculous interpretation (i.e. that the Prophet – PBUH – could not possibly have known about the stages of embryonic development – see: http://www.islamicity.com/Science/Moore/) is preferred to a rational one (i.e. that the Koran is stating the obvious, observable by anyone who has seen aborted foetuses) quoted, for example, by Ibn Kathir centuries ago.

    Question such arguments, peddled as “scientific proof” of the Koran, and you will find yourself ignored; and yet they can only convince the gullible, while educated non-Muslims will understandably dismiss them as pathetic or idiotic (and, by extension, not just the argument but the faith of the person who holds it to be true).

    Ya Hadi!

  32. Alhamdulil-Lah that modern discoveries are based form contributions made by early muslim.this is a challenge to us-the Muslims of nowadays.What contribution have we given to these technlogical breakthroughs? Are we unable? the answer is yes because we do not put much dedication to the Religion as our fathers did.all knoledge is from Qur’an and traditions of the Prophet(S)

  33. An Excellent atrticle. It is an eye- opening one especially for the young Muslim students!! Thanks to the author for doing such a thorough research into the muslim scientists’ history and laying out some very good guidelines based on our history. The muslim students need to be given guidelines which will help them set their goals and then show them how to move towards achieving their goals in a most effective manner. We are in dire need of more advice and boost like this article has given us.

    From a muslim trying to seek more knowledge in the right direction.

  34. Actually i would like to advice my brothers and sisters in islam to explore their minds and further their studies.Also i request that those who are not able to pay for their studies should seek sponsorship from well wishers so as in future we have educated young muslims as doctors,professors and philosophers.

  35. Salaam alaikum, brothers and sisters. I agree with the author, as I believe most of us would, that the Muslim world is suffering a great “poverty of knowledge,” so to speak. While it is true that most of our so-called “rulers” are not doing enough to emphasize or encourage the search for “Ilm,” it must also be realized that the many decades of Western colonialism have had the greatest negative impact on the Umma, causing nothing but poverty and resentment on the Muslim side; in such an environment, who has the time for seeking any kind of luxuries (including knowledge)? I am not trying to make excuses for the deplorable conditions our people find themselves in, but it is NOT all our fault! There is a direct correlation between poverty and education. For only those who possess a high enough standard of life can realistically possess enough free-time to study, conduct research, and be able to afford to go to good schools. The remainder of the blame lies with our oil-rich emirs, in places like Dubai, who are nothing but kafirs! They spend all their time catering to Western businessman and in creating man-made islands in the Gulf for the super-rich!! Brothers and sisters, we need change on a truly revolutionary scale. The Blessings of Allah be upon you all.

  36. ONE DAY EQUAL TO 1000 YEARS AND THEN ONE DAY EQUAL TO 50000 YEARS !

    THEY CLAIM THIS AS A CONTRADICTION IN QURAN !

    ACTUALLY THIS IS THE ANSWER SCIENTISTS ARE WAITING FOR ALL THESE YEARS. 1500 YEARS AGO QURAN PROVIDE THIS ANSWER AS A GUIDE IN SPACE TRAVEL. TIME DILATION AS IN THEORY OF RELATIVITY. FOR ONE YEAR TO EQUAL TO ONE THOUSAND YEARS YOUR ROCKET MUST TRAVEL AT THE SPEED OF LIGHT. THE SAME IF YOU WANT ONE YEAR TO BE FIFTY THOUSABD YEARS. EQUATION TO USE IS TIME ON EARTH DIVIDE BY TIME FOR ASTRONAUT EQUAL TO 1 DIVIDE BY SQR ROOT OF 1 MINUS SQR OF ROCKET SPEED DIVIDE BY SQR OF SPEED OF LIGHT. THEY ALL ALREADY KNOW ABOUT THIS BUT THEY TAKE ADVANTAGE OF MUSLIM IGNORANCE TO DEFAME ISLAM. ONE OF THE WAY TO STRENGTHEN OUR IMAN IS TO STUDY SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY. INSYALLAH

  37. To Roderic Vassie: So what u r suggesting that, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) first checked an aborted foetuses and then put in a beautiful language and claimed that God revealed it? See how ignorant you are! Scholars do not twist the meaning of quranic verses, they try their best to extract best possible meaning. Human being is imperfect and therefore, their efforts may not be 100% accurate but its not their fault. However, prejudiced mind like yours can comple u to believe in FANCY stories found in some old scriptures but when it comes to rational belief your brain does not work.

    As far as the modern achievement of west, its all from Allah (SAW), for some reason He has decided to deprive muslims from that previledged state, possibly due to their becoming arrogant in the land and their quaraelling for power. Allah can return it to the muslim again, and west will go to darkness once again. But, west being in darkness would be more dangerous due to their belief and mentality. We have seen the effects of west being in the darkness. Its inquisition and killings, which they are still doing, but at least there are some who can speak out against all these, otherwise world would have been more dangerous. Muslims being is in the darkness, are not so dangerous.

  38. Salam! and apologies to Nizam of India for the late reply. You ask what I suggest. I suggest that you read the commentaries on the Qur’an, for example Ibn Kathir (d. 774/1373) on the verses relating to the development of the foetus (see excerpt below). There you will find that our predecessors were quite capable of explaining these verses in a scientifically correct and intellectually satisfying way without the need for the modern medical ‘miracles’ ultrasound technology, MRI scans, or endoscopes.

    As the article’s title suggests, “Seeking Knowledge [is] an Imperative”.

  39. Salaam! and apologies for the lateness of my reply to Nizam of India. I have been asked what I suggest. The title of the article summarises it neatly. As mentioned back in 2007, Ibn Kathir (d. 774/1373) gave a perfectly scientific and intellectually satisfying explanation in his commentary (see excerpt below) to the issue of the developmental stages of the foetus:

    { } – – . : { } :

    We do not need to reply on the modern medical ‘miracles’ of ultrasound, MRI scanning or endoscopes to understand the qur’anic text (though it may enhance our appreciation).

  40. Akhmad B.

    I disagree. We could only use the blame the west excuse for so long.

    Today, it is on us. Today, we muslims are in the state we are in

    because WE CHOOSE not to read and strive for education.

    Again, I repeat, it is not the west that tells us not to read. We

    choose not to do so. So we need to get off the excuses and take

    responsibility for our own lives rather than spending eternity blaming

    others.

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