Science and the Islamic World

I just stumbled upon a fascinating article on Science in the Islamic World, by a Pakistani scholar named Pervez Amirala Hoodbhoy at PhysicsToday.org. The article is mostly an exploration of the rise and fall of scientific inquiry in the Islamic states and the attendant root causes. There are clearly lessons here even for Western states that face rising tides of fundamentalism and calls for conformity, religious or otherwise.

The author doesn’t skip a beat as he calls out the similar US trends surrounding religious conservatives and their push for Creationism, Intelligent Design, curbs on genetic research, and so on.

But there are also some interesting tidbits on the technologies for daily living in the Islamic world, and how they have penetrated largely in support of the religions which otherwise strive to limit their spread.

“…while driving in Islamabad, it would occasion no surprise if you were to receive an urgent SMS (short message service) requesting immediate prayers for helping Pakistan’s cricket team win a match. Popular new Islamic cell-phone models now provide the exact GPS-based direction for Muslims to face while praying, certified translations of the Qur’an, and step-by-step instructions for performing the pilgrimages of Haj and Umrah. Digital Qur’ans are already popular, and prayer rugs with microchips (for counting bend-downs during prayers) have made their debut.”

A great read start-to-finish.

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