The Myths of Islam’s Scientific Discoveries

· Islam, Science
Authors

Islam’s Natural Cultural Inhibitions For Intellectual Inquiry

We have often been told of the great scientific discoveries of the Islamic world and yet in this modern age there is no evidence of such scientific acumen. So I have attempted to find out more about this claim. Muslims have claimed that because of their rich heritage of scientific discoveries has led to today’s modern advancement into science and medicine. But during this age of scientific discoveries coincides with the Islamic age of  their cruel conquest and expansion during the 7th and the 13th Centuries of other peoples and culture and their sciences, claiming that the advancement of science of their enemies was now theirs.

(1) Firstly, in the early days, the Greeks were more advanced in their discoveries than any other peoples, and it was the Jews and the Christians who translated much of the Greek literature into Arab, which was carefully preserved by the Muslims who then claimed it as their discoveries and works.

(2) Secondly, many of the discoveries claimed by Muslims were actually concepts that were borrowed from cultures conquered or occupied by the Muslims. For example, the mathematical concent of “zero” was borrowed from the more advanced Hindus but attributed to Muslims who may have introduced it to the West.

Conquered nations contributed much to the knowledge and science of the Muslims. These conquered nations were eventually assimilated by the Muslim conquerers and decimated by conversion into Islam. Once converted to Islam, the pressures of Islamic codes eventually inhibit those converted to curtail their inquiring minds for fear of offending Islam and accused of being apostates (traitors) of Islam. For soon converts will learn the following:

“Allah has hated you for asking too many questions about religion

Qur’an 5:101 “Believers, ask not questions about things which
if made plain to you may cause you trouble when the Qur’an is revealed.
Some people before you asked questions, and on that account lost their
faith.”

Maududi, in his commentary, The Meaning of
the Qur’an, explains: “The Prophet forbade people to ask questions or to
pry into such things.”

Volume 2, Book 24, Number 555:
Narrated Ash-sha’bi:
The
clerk of Al-Mughira bin Shu’ba narrated, “Muawiya wrote to Al-Mughira
bin Shu’ba: Write to me something which you have heard from the Prophet
(p.b.u.h) .

So Al-Mughira wrote: I heard the Prophet saying, “Allah has
hated for you three things:
1. Vain talks, (useless talk) that you talk too much or about others.
2. Wasting of wealth (by extravagance)
3. And asking too many questions (in disputed religious matters) or asking others for something (except in great need).”

Hence the following observation: The Muslim concentration within a population is proportional to the decline of scientific achievement[2]

The Closing of the Gates of Ijtihad is totally in keeping with Quran 5:101 and the Hadith.

“The Closed Gate of Ijtihad:

The first view to be discussed is of those who believe the gate of
Ijtihad was closed. It is suggested that in the later period of Islamic
History, the question of who is qualified to conduct Ijtihad was raised
such that by the middle of the fourth/tenth century the idea that only
the great scholars of the past held this authority began to gain
popularity within Islamic scholarly circles. This has been argued as the
point at which closure of the gate began, essentially suggesting that
by scholarly consensus, this position was adopted.

Further notions that
are argued to have contributed to this phenomenon include the idea that
the scholars at the beginning of the fourth century had attained such a
level of immutable consensus that further Ijtihad was unnecessary and
also that the required qualifications for Ijtihad ‘were set so high that
they were humanly impossible to fulfil.’

Several modern Western academics have opined that the gate of Ijtihad
had been closed, some suggesting it is both in theory and in practice
and irreversible. These scholars tend to accept this, although no
argument or debate surrounding the closure is mentioned.
Various causes are alleged as resulting in the so-called closure.
JND Anderson, among others, claimed that it was around the third/ninth
century that the closure occurred, replacing Ijtihad with Taqlid, or the following of the opinions of the previous Mujtahids,
supported by L E Brown’s statement that ‘it began to be believed that
the four great lawyers in Islam had said the last word…so the doors of
progress was closed and Islamic Law became fossilised.’

H A R Gibb suggests that it was upon the establishment of doctrines in
theology and philosophy that were deemed unalterable that the gate was
narrowed down until closed ‘never again to be reopened’ as scholars ‘feared individual reinterpretation.’
Thus, it was allegedly from the desire to immortalise particular
principles that the scholarly community sought to stem the flow of
conjecture by closing the gate.” [1]

(3) There have been exceptions, of course. The Persian scientist and philosopher, al-Razi has often been held up today as proof of Muslim accomplishments, but Muslims have omitted to say that al-Razi had renounced Islam and was renounced as a blasphemer. Whether his visions and concepts were more thann likely the result of his following his own un-Islamic beliefs rather than that he was the son of Persia? More than likely he would not have produced his brillianced had he been confined by the ideologies of Islam. al-Razi was a non-Muslim Persian.

(4) I have often wondered why, if Allah is so unique, so omnipotent, so omniscient, that he needed to palgiarise the Bible for most of his fundamental ideas, garnishing it with some particular Mohammadan twist to put a personal stamp on it. But to me it is quite apparent that it is no coincidence that much of Genesis, and other verses in the Bible were used by Mohammad (or the scribes who wrote the Quran) to construct his Quran. It was the only available chronological and logical explaination available at that time. [3]

But in order to visualise the chronological order, some dates are required:

Adam (pbuh), the first man on earth, lived 5,800 years ago

As per the genealogy of jesus christ given in the bible, from jesus through abraham (pbuh) to the first man on earth i.e. Adam (pbuh), adam appeared on the earth approximately 5800 years ago:

  1. 1948 years between adam (pbuh) and abraham (pbuh)
  2. Approximately 1800 years between abraham (pbuh) and jesus (pbuh)
  3. Moses b.1393 BC – d. 1272 BC. He saw Burning Bush 1314 BC 3327 years ago
  4. 2000 years from jesus (pbuh) till today
  5. Muhammad b.570AD – d. 632 AD. About 1400 years ago

These figures are further confused by the fact that the jewish calendar is currently on or about 5800 years old.
There is sufficient evidence from archaeological and anthropological sources to suggest that the first human being on earth was present tens of thousands of years ago and not merely 5,800 years ago as is suggested by the bible.
The qur’an too speaks about adam (pbuh) as the first man on earth but it does not suggest any date or period of his life on earth, unlike the bible – what the bible says in this regard is totally incompatible with science. [4]

Christianity and Islam based their concepts of the creation of the world on the concepts of Genesis of the Old Testament. Today, these concepts of “creation” have been largely dismissed by the Scientific concepts of “evolution.” Genesis is now in the realms of mythythology. However this is not acceptable to the faithful for it dismisses the whole concept of “creation” hence the whole reason for faith.

But for the liberal thinker, it is difficult to compromise the many discrepancies contained in the Torah, the Bible, and the Quran with the knowledge that is now available to all such as that proven through archaelogy, anthropology, carbon dating,  history, modern physics, modern astronomy and cosmology and the discovery of new ancient documents that contradicts current beliefs.

For example:

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

But the Quran has added the following:

He Who has created all things in the best possible way. He commenced the creation of man from clay; then He made his progeny from an extract of discarded fluid. (Qur’an, 32:7-8)

He has created both sexes, male and female from a drop of semen which has been ejected. (Qur’an, 53:45-46)

Was he not a drop of ejaculated sperm, then a blood-clot which He created and shaped, making from it both sexes, male and female? (Qur’an, 75:37-39) [5]

So from the time of Moses when God made man from Dust and His Breadth of Life, to the perception that Allah created mad from Mud and “a drop of sperm or a clot of blood,” 1946 years had elapsed. That surely must have been some progress in man’s knowledge of conception of a human life and probably the first steps towards accepting evolution and genetics, the recognition of sperm and a clot of blood (not yet the ovum) creating life. This is certainly an advancement from the Torah and the Bible.

Yet, Islam continued to adopt the custom of “female genital mutilation” (fgm) from the time of Muhammad through to the present day. And what was this custom for?

Sociological. Identification with the cultural traditions, as a rite of passage of girls into womanhood, and for the maintenance of social cohesion;
Psychological. Reduction of sensitive tissue and thus to curb sexual pleasure in order to maintain chastity and virginity, to guarantee women’s fidelity, and even to increase male sexual pleasure;

Muhammad was obsessed with chastity, and fidelity, and was very possessive of his women. He said:

THE PRACTICE OF CIRCUMCISION IN ISLAM COMES FROM THE HADITH, SHARIAH LAW AND THE CONSENSUS OF ISLAMIC COMMUNITIES.

The Hadith Narrated Umm Atiyyah al-Ansariyyah: A woman used to perform circumcision in Medina. The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said to her: Do not cut severely as that is better for a woman and more desirable for a husband. (Sunan Abu-Dawud: Book 41, Number 5251, Hasan)

Sciences in Medieval Islam

Science in the medieval Islamic world, also known as Islamic science or Arabic science, is the science developed and practised in the Islamic world during the Islamic Golden Age (c.750 CE – c.1258 CE). During this time, Indian, Asyriac, Iranian and especially Greek knowledge was translated into Arabic. These translations became a wellspring for scientific advances, by scientists from the Islamic civilization, during the Middle Ages.

Scientists within the Islamic civilization were of diverse ethnicities. Most were Persians, Arabs, Moors, Assyrians, and Egyptians. They were also from diverse religious backgrounds. (Some) Most were Muslims, but there were also some Christians, Jews,  and irreligious peoples. (It is clear that scientific knowledge translated into Arab were then considered as part of the Arab inheritance. Also any sceintific achievements attained by non-Muslim but living on Islamic lands is also considered as Islamic discoveries. The link at the end of this section will list some of the achievements of different scientists and their works.)

The views of historians and scholars

On the impact of medieval Islamic science

There are several different views on Islamic science among historians of science.

  • The traditionalist view, as exemplified by Bertrand Russell, holds that Islamic science, while admirable in many technical ways, lacked the intellectual energy required for innovation and was chiefly important as a preserver of ancient knowledge and transmitter to medieval Europe.
  • The revisionist view, as exemplified by Abdus Salam,George Saliba and John M. Hobson holds that a Muslim scientific revolution occurred during the Middle Ages,
  • Scholars such as Donald Routledge Hill and Ahmad Y Hassan express the view that Islam was the driving force behind the Muslim achievements,
  • According to Dallal, science in medieval Islam was “practiced on a scale unprecedented in earlier human history or even contemporary human history”.
  • Toby E. Huff takes the view that, although Islamic science did produce a number of innovations, it did not lead to the Scientific Revolution.
  • Will Durant,Fielding H. Garrison,Hossein Nasr and Bernard Lewis held that Muslim scientists helped in laying the foundations for an experimental science with their contributions to the scientific method and their empirical, experimental and quantitative approach to scientific inquiry. [6]

The Myths in Islam

Islam Means ‘Peace’

Islam respects Women as Equals

Jihad Means ‘Inner Struggle’

Islam is a Religion of Peace

Islam is Tolerant of Other Religions

Islam Facilitated a ‘Golden Age’ of Scientific Discovery

Islam is Opposed to Slavery

Islam is Incompatible with Terrorism

Islam is a Democracy

The Quran is the Muslim Counterpart to the Bible

Refer to Reference [7]

Comments

When I am told that the Islamic culture has produced some of the greatest culture and scientific innovations that laid the foundations to modern science, I always ask, “Tell me more about these scientific innovations that has influenced the modern world.” Strangely I always recieve silence in response.

Despite the rhetoric that Islamic science and culture has contributed to the Western civilisation, I find little evidence that Islamic science, astronomy, cosmology, engineering, medicine, or any other has made ANY impression on modern Western sceince and its development. So I must conclude that the propagation of these myths is simply to bolster the esteem of the followers of Islam and to misinform the gullible.

The reason is many fold, but Bertrand Russell probably has hit the nail on the head by saying, “Islamic science, while admirable in many technical ways, lacked the intellectual energy required for innovation and was chiefly important as a preserver of ancient knowledge and transmitter to medieval Europe.” Or Toby E. Huff’s observation, “although Islamic science did produce a number of innovations, it did not lead to the Scientific Revolution.” And the reasons are manyfold and can be discussed at length, but fundamentally it is that Islam as a culture, discourages “the inquiring mind” as mention and illustrated at the beginning of this article. There are many other reasons that can be speculated upon and discussed at some other time.

 Reference

[1] Closing the Gates of Ijtihad: http://abdullahhasan.net/?p=647

[2] The Myths of Islamic Scientific achievements: http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/Pages/Myths-of-Islam.htm

[3] Muhammad’s Plagiarism: http://wikiislam.net/wiki/Muhammads_Plagiarism

[4] Quran Plagiarised: http://www.irf.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=375%3Aquran-plagiarized-from-the-bible&catid=75%3Acq-asked-by-chrisitan-missionaries-against-islam&Itemid=199

[5]  Miracles of the Quran: http://www.miraclesofthequran.com/scientific_57.html

[6] Islamic Science: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_in_the_medieval_Islamic_world

[7] The Myths in Islam:  http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/Pages/Myths-of-Islam.htm

8 Comments

Comments RSS
  1. Muslim

    What a biased article this is.

    Go and read and research more on the Islamic Golden Age, the Muslim Civilization was the first Universal Civilization spanning three continents all the way from Spain to India and the previous civilizations were ONLY regional (e.g. Greek, Chinese, Indian, etc)

    Many Great Scientists, Philosophers, Thinkers existed during this time including Al-Kindi, Banu Musa Brothers, Ibn Sina, Ibn al-Haytham, Musa al-Khwarizimi, Al-Farabi, Al-Biruni, Omar Khayyam, Nasir al-Din-Tusi, Ibn Zuhr, Al-Zahrawi, Ibn Rushd, Ibn Tufayl, Ibn Khaldun, etc. There are many others I can name from the top of my head and these people contributed a lot of things to the Modern World which you tend to ignore and say that they stole ideas from previous civilizations. They preserved the ideas of previous civilizations however they also innovated their ideas and corrected them.

    You look at one side of the argument with people saying that the Muslim Civilization lacked the intellectual energy for innovation which is obviously only an opinion and not a fact and yet ignore others.

    For example, in your own article, you ignored Dallal’s opinion that science in medieval Islam was “practiced on a scale unprecedented in earlier human history or even contemporary human history”. Dallal is basically saying that the Muslim Civilization practiced Science so much that they were on another level than the Greeks, Chinese, Indians. Obviously, this is just an opinion.

    Also, in the book called The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11, Dinesh D’Souza quotes Bernard Lewis and that he states, “Islam represented the greatest military power on earth. It was the foremost economic power in the world. It had achieved the highest level so far in human history in the arts and sciences of civilization.” Bernard Lewis is also stating that Muslim Civilization reached the highest level even eclipsing previous civilizations such as Ancient Greece, Ancient China, Ancient India, etc. Obviously, this is also an opinion.

    However the quotes about the lack of intellectual energy produced in Muslim Civilization on innovations can also be considered as an opinion and certainly not a fact.

    There is only one reason why you made this article and all the other Euro-centric thinkers who want to try to debunk the Islamic Golden Age and call it a myth and that one reason is long lasting jealousy of the Achievements of the Muslim World during the Middle Ages/Medieval Period while most of Europe during this period was living in the Dark Ages so the Euro-centric thinkers can’t take it when most of their continent was living in the Dark Ages while the Muslim World was flourishing in a wide variety of subjects such as Astronomy, Mathematics, Medicine, etc. As James Burke states in one of his books called “The Day The Universe Changed” that:

    “The intellectual community which the northern scholars found in Spain was so far superior to what they had at home that it left a lasting jealousy of Muslim culture, which was to color Western opinions for centuries” (Burke, 41)

    “The subjects covered by the texts included medicine, astrology, astronomy pharmacology, psychology, physiology, zoology, biology, botany, mineralogy, optics, chemistry, physics, mathematics, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, music, meteorology, geography, mechanics, hydrostatics, navigation and history.” (42)

    For me, I appreciate every civilization that has contributed to the Modern World including Western Civilizations such as Ancient Greece and Rome. I also appreciate what the Renaissance and Enlightenment has contributed to the Modern World. Greek and Roman Philosophers, Scientists, Thinkers such as Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Pythagoras, Hippocrates, Galen, Ptolemy, etc have had a enormous influence on the Modern World that their contributions are still known in this present day world. I’m not like those Euro-centric thinkers who want to call this civilization was a myth and contributed nothing to the Modern World since I would be promoting Ethnocentrism and my aim is to promote Cultural diffusion and Diffusion of Innovations between different cultures.

    I seek to destroy both Ethnocentrism and Euro-centrism since both of them cause hate and tension and do NOT promote unity and diversity.

    The Qur’an states in Verse 49:13:

    “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).”

    We have made you (human race) into different nations and tribes so that you may KNOW each other and NOT DESPISE each other. This verse of the Qur’an alone promotes Cultural diffusion and Diffusion of Innovations.

    What you are promoting (the one who made this article) is Ethnocentrism and you do not give credit to a civilization (Muslim World) that has certainly influenced the Modern World significantly.

    As Salaam Alaykam (Peace be unto you).

    • mbplee

      mimrh6663, thank you for your rebuttal. Please note that I have ‘opted’ to approve your comments because it is for readers to read and decide for themselves BECAUSE I BELIEVE IN FREEDOM OF OPINION. But this is not a forum for discussions. I am glad you have read my blog thoroughly.

    • Historyshowsus

      I would say that his article is better researched than your rebuttal.
      I would also say that someone whose user name is Muslim calling an article biased is the pot calling the kettle black.
      Do you know what else restricts learning and education?? Not admitting the facts. The black community in America has yet to learn that as they fall deeper into poverty and ignorance hoping that accusations of racism will save them from being marginalized instead of actually achieving something other than being a good basketball player.
      There is nothing biased about this information. There have been many scholars that have said the same thing.
      The fact that the Koran admonishes against questioning defies scientific and philosophical principles hence no real science can happen nor even real philosophy especially philosophy as regards deeper concepts such as the trite, but valid description “the meaning of life” which is a very religious oriented concept that Islam would forbid discussion of because it might lead to contradiction of the prophet.
      The fact that scientific achievement declines with an increase in Islamic population is well documented. The fact that fundamental Islamic states restrict education for women is proof of that concept.
      I also appreciate any civilization that CONTRIBUTES to the modern world. What we DON’T appreciate is taking credit for something you didnt do.

  2. Muslim

    Thanks. An opinion is an opinion after all.

  3. khan

    Very Biased and has no credibility in this article. Did not read more than a paragraph when I noticed first blunder, using pbuh for jesus but not for Prophet Muhammad pbuh. U so called educated west living on fake credit money so Biased and racist and dark age mentality. First correct your knowledge about religion and correct your peanut size brain. Dark ages for Europe for centuries and 800 years of colonialism and stealing from all around the world then we can see this advancement which is the work of Europe not particular one country or race.

  4. khan

    This article is not who did what and when. It’s more to do with the religion. A person who himself belong to or represent a religion which itself is 560 years older than religion Islam. Which had been totally faked up and changed and translated and divided and misrepresented completely over times from region to region. Only a handful of ppl or few ethnic group were able to do things which are alwsys there in each societies even today’s time average white or brown or yellow man is doing what he is told to do, follow standardized educational system etc. It has nothing to do with the credit associating to the west or East. When Muslims were in power they were advanced like Roman and Persians . Today US or Germany or UK is rich and have more guns they r advancing. Not because they are any smarter than the other. Soon China will be smarter as well. Its changing era and time which never stays the same. History speaks of itself.

    • mbplee

      khan, replying to your post of 22/11/2016 at 4:09 am. You are rather confused about religion vs intellect vs wealth vs guns vs dominance vs culture. I have tried to look into historical facts to verify the claims of Muslims of their scientific contributions to humanity. If Islam was so intellectually advanced in the early centuries why are they so backwards in modern times? The brains of Muslims are no different to the brains of other races, the wealth of Arabs exceeds that of the rest of the world with all their black gold, so what has held them back? And so were their claims of scientific contributions factual?

      I have been convinced that Islamic claims of their scientific contribution has been based on mostly contributions of non-Muslim sciences and that the deterioration of Islamic scientific progress has been hampered by they culture influenced by their religious fervour. Hence the frustrations of the Islamic world.

  5. mbplee

    khan, in reply to your post, if you will notice the passages referring to “pbuh” has been indented and sourced at [4], meaning it was a quotation. So if you wish to query why it as used fro one and not another , you will have to go to the source material and question it there.
    Regarding your normal sized intelligent but totally indoctrinated brain, it is so indoctrinated that it is impossible for you to be introspective or logical. Hence the differences of our opinions.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: