Did you know that the Islamic empire and its scientists were once at the forefront of scientific development? Or that many of the things we take for granted like glasses, which depend on an understanding of optics, have their roots in the Islamic empire? Some history books might mention the fact that many of the ancient Greek texts were translated into Arabic and then into European languages. But the Arabs were more than mere translators of texts; they reflected on the material, argued with it, and added their own contributions. So, the assumption that the scientists, philosophers, and translators of the Islamic empire were simply the vessels by which the Western world was brought out of the dark ages needs to be questioned. The contributions of Islam and its empire are often forgotten with the focus being solely on how Islam is so ‘different’ and ‘antithetical’ to the modern world. How can that be possible when at one time Islam and science enjoyed a relationship that Christianity rejected? The Islamic empire fostered a spirit of inquiry that advanced the world’s knowledge of astronomy, chemistry, engineering, mathematics, medicine, and philosophy.
In the Inside Islam Radio series, we would like to explore the history of Islam and Science. These are a few questions we would like to answer: What have we ignored about the contributions of the Islamic empire to science? Why were these contributions ignored? Why was there a decline in the Muslim world after such a glorious past? What is the role of science today in the Muslim world? Can science be a place for interfaith dialogues? If you have questions to add or suggestions for this show, please share them below.