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Thread: Science and the Islamic world—The quest for rapprochement

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    Science and the Islamic world—The quest for rapprochement

    Science and the Islamic world—The quest for rapprochement

    Internal causes led to the decline of Islam's scientific greatness long before the era of mercantile imperialism. To contribute once again, Muslims must be introspective and ask what went wrong.
    Pervez Amirali Hoodbhoy
    August 2007, page 49

    This article grew out of the Max von Laue Lecture that I delivered earlier this year to celebrate that eminent physicist and man of strong social conscience. When Adolf Hitler was on the ascendancy, Laue was one of the very few German physicists of stature who dared to defend Albert Einstein and the theory of relativity. It therefore seems appropriate that a matter concerning science and civilization should be my concern here.

    The question I want to pose—perhaps as much to myself as to anyone else—is this: With well over a billion Muslims and extensive material resources, why is the Islamic world disengaged from science and the process of creating new knowledge? To be definite, I am here using the 57 countries of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) as a proxy for the Islamic world.

    It was not always this way. Islam's magnificent Golden Age in the 9th–13th centuries brought about major advances in mathematics, science, and medicine. The Arabic language held sway in an age that created algebra, elucidated principles of optics, established the body's circulation of blood, named stars, and created universities. But with the end of that period, science in the Islamic world essentially collapsed. No major invention or discovery has emerged from the Muslim world for well over seven centuries now. That arrested scientific development is one important element—although by no means the only one—that contributes to the present marginalization of Muslims and a growing sense of injustice and victimhood.

    Such negative feelings must be checked before the gulf widens further. A bloody clash of civilizations, should it actually transpire, will surely rank along with the two other most dangerous challenges to life on our planet—climate change and nuclear proliferation.
    First encounters

    Islam's encounter with science has had happy and unhappy periods. There was no science in Arab culture in the initial period of Islam, around 610 AD. But as Islam established itself politically and militarily, its territory expanded. In the mid-eighth century, Muslim conquerors came upon the ancient treasures of Greek learning. Translations from Greek into Arabic were ordered by liberal and enlightened caliphs, who filled their courts in Baghdad with visiting scholars from near and far. Politics was dominated by the rationalist Mutazilites, who sought to combine faith and reason in opposition to their rivals, the dogmatic Asharites. A generally tolerant and pluralistic Islamic culture allowed Muslims, Christians, and Jews to create new works of art and science together. But over time, the theological tensions between liberal and fundamentalist interpretations of Islam—such as on the issue of free will versus predestination—became intense and turned bloody. A resurgent religious orthodoxy eventually inflicted a crushing defeat on the Mutazilites. Thereafter, the open-minded pursuits of philosophy, mathematics, and science were increasingly relegated to the margins of Islam.1

    Ottoman Empire astronomers

    A long period of darkness followed, punctuated by occasional brilliant spots. In the 16th century, the Turkish Ottomans established an extensive empire with the help of military technology. But there was little enthusiasm for science and new knowledge (see figure 1). In the 19th century, the European Enlightenment inspired a wave of modernist Islamic reformers: Mohammed Abduh of Egypt, his follower Rashid Rida from Syria, and their counterparts on the Indian subcontinent, such as Sayyid Ahmad Khan and Jamaluddin Afghani, exhorted their fellow Muslims to accept ideas of the Enlightenment and the scientific revolution. Their theological position can be roughly paraphrased as, "The Qur'an tells us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go." That echoed Galileo earlier in Europe.

    The 20th century witnessed the end of European colonial rule and the emergence of several new independent Muslim states, all initially under secular national leaderships. A spurt toward modernization and the acquisition of technology followed. Many expected that a Muslim scientific renaissance would ensue. Clearly, it did not.
    What ails science in the Muslim world?


    Muslim leaders today, realizing that military power and economic growth flow from technology, frequently call for speedy scientific development and a knowledge-based society. Often that call is rhetorical, but in some Muslim countries—Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Pakistan, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Nigeria among others—official patronage and funding for science and education have grown sharply in recent years. Enlightened individual rulers, including Sultan ibn Muhammad Al-Qasimi of Sharjah, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani of Qatar, and others have put aside some of their vast personal wealth for such causes (see figure 2 and the news story on page 33). No Muslim leader has publicly called for separating science from religion.

    Is boosting resource allocations enough to energize science, or are more fundamental changes required? Scholars of the 19th century, such as the pioneering sociologist Max Weber, claimed that Islam lacks an "idea system" critical for sustaining a scientific culture based on innovation, new experiences, quantification, and empirical verification. Fatalism and an orientation toward the past, they said, makes progress difficult and even undesirable.

    In the current epoch of growing antagonism between the Islamic and the Western worlds, most Muslims reject such charges with angry indignation. They feel those accusations add yet another excuse for the West to justify its ongoing cultural and military assaults on Muslim populations. Muslims bristle at any hint that Islam and science may be at odds, or that some underlying conflict between Islam and science may account for the slowness of progress. The Qur'an, being the unaltered word of God, cannot be at fault: Muslims believe that if there is a problem, it must come from their inability to properly interpret and implement the Qur'an's divine instructions.

    In defending the compatibility of science and Islam, Muslims argue that Islam had sustained a vibrant intellectual culture throughout the European Dark Ages and thus, by extension, is also capable of a modern scientific culture. The Pakistani physics Nobel Prize winner, Abdus Salam, would stress to audiences that one-eighth of the Qur'an is a call for Muslims to seek Allah's signs in the universe and hence that science is a spiritual as well as a temporal duty for Muslims. Perhaps the most widely used argument one hears is that the Prophet Muhammad had exhorted his followers to "seek knowledge even if it is in China," which implies that a Muslim is duty-bound to search for secular knowledge.

    Such arguments have been and will continue to be much debated, but they will not be pursued further here. Instead, let us seek to understand the state of science in the contemporary Islamic world. First, to the degree that available data allows, I will quantitatively assess the current state of science in Muslim countries. Then I will look at prevalent Muslim attitudes toward science, technology, and modernity, with an eye toward identifying specific cultural and social practices that work against progress. Finally, we can turn to the fundamental question: What will it take to bring science back into the Islamic world?
    Measuring Muslim scientific progress

    The metrics of scientific progress are neither precise nor unique. Science permeates our lives in myriad ways, means different things to different people, and has changed its content and scope drastically over the course of history. In addition, the paucity of reliable and current data makes the task of assessing scientific progress in Muslim countries still harder.

    I will use the following reasonable set of four metrics:

    * The quantity of scientific output, weighted by some reasonable measure of relevance and importance;
    * The role played by science and technology in the national economies, funding for S&T, and the size of the national scientific enterprises;
    * The extent and quality of higher education; and
    * The degree to which science is present or absent in popular culture.

    Scientific output

    A useful, if imperfect, indicator of scientific output is the number of published scientific research papers, together with the citations to them. Table 1 shows the output of the seven most scientifically productive Muslim countries for physics papers, over the period from 1 January 1997 to 28 February 2007, together with the total number of publications in all scientific fields. A comparison with Brazil, India, China, and the US reveals significantly smaller numbers. A study by academics at the International Islamic University Malaysia2 showed that OIC countries have 8.5 scientists, engineers, and technicians per 1000 population, compared with a world average of 40.7, and 139.3 for countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (For more on the OECD, see Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.) Forty-six Muslim countries contributed 1.17% of the world's science literature, whereas 1.66% came from India alone and 1.48% from Spain. Twenty Arab countries contributed 0.55%, compared with 0.89% by Israel alone. The US NSF records that of the 28 lowest producers of scientific articles in 2003, half belong to the OIC.3

    The situation may be even grimmer than the publication numbers or perhaps even the citation counts suggest. Assessing the scientific worth of publications—never an easy task—is complicated further by the rapid appearance of new international scientific journals that publish low-quality work. Many have poor editorial policies and refereeing procedures. Scientists in many developing countries, who are under pressure to publish, or who are attracted by strong government incentives, choose to follow the path of least resistance paved for them by the increasingly commercialized policies of journals. Prospective authors know that editors need to produce a journal of a certain thickness every month. In addition to considerable anecdotal evidence for these practices, there have been a few systematic studies. For example,4 chemistry publications by Iranian scientists tripled in five years, from 1040 in 1998 to 3277 in 2003. Many scientific papers that were claimed as original by their Iranian chemist authors, and that had been published in internationally peer-reviewed journals, had actually been published twice and sometimes thrice with identical or nearly identical contents by the same authors. Others were plagiarized papers that could have been easily detected by any reasonably careful referee.

    The situation regarding patents is also discouraging: The OIC countries produce negligibly few. According to official statistics, Pakistan has produced only eight patents in the past 43 years.

    Islamic countries show a great diversity of cultures and levels of modernization and a correspondingly large spread in scientific productivity. Among the larger countries—in both population and political importance—Turkey, Iran, Egypt, and Pakistan are the most scientifically developed. Among the smaller countries, such as the central Asian republics, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan rank considerably above Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Malaysia—a rather atypical Muslim country with a 40% non-Muslim minority—is much smaller than neighboring Indonesia but is nevertheless more productive. Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, and other states that have many foreign scientists are scientifically far ahead of other Arab states.
    National scientific enterprises

    Conventional wisdom suggests that bigger science budgets indicate, or will induce, greater scientific activity. On average, the 57 OIC states spend an estimated 0.3% of their gross national product on research and development, which is far below the global average of 2.4%. But the trend toward higher spending is unambiguous. Rulers in the UAE and Qatar are building several new universities with manpower imported from the West for both construction and staffing. In June 2006, Nigeria's president Olusegun Obasanjo announced he will plow $5 billion of oil money into R&D. Iran increased its R&D spending dramatically, from a pittance in 1988 at the end of the Iraq–Iran war, to a current level of 0.4% of its gross domestic product. Saudi Arabia announced that it spent 26% of its development budget on science and education in 2006, and sent 5000 students to US universities on full scholarships. Pakistan set a world record by increasing funding for higher education and science by an immense 800% over the past five years.

    But bigger budgets by themselves are not a panacea. The capacity to put those funds to good use is crucial. One determining factor is the number of available scientists, engineers, and technicians. Those numbers are low for OIC countries, averaging around 400–500 per million people, while developed countries typically lie in the range of 3500–5000 per million. Even more important are the quality and level of professionalism, which are less easily quantifiable. But increasing funding without adequately addressing such crucial concerns can lead to a null correlation between scientific funding and performance.

    The role played by science in creating high technology is an important science indicator. Comparing table 1 with table 2 shows there is little correlation between academic research papers and the role of S&T in the national economies of the seven listed countries. The anomalous position of Malaysia in table 2 has its explanation in the large direct investment made by multinational companies and in having trading partners that are overwhelmingly non-OIC countries.



    Although not apparent in table 2, there are scientific areas in which research has paid off in the Islamic world. Agricultural research—which is relatively simple science—provides one case in point. Pakistan has good results, for example, with new varieties of cotton, wheat, rice, and tea. Defense technology is another area in which many developing countries have invested, as they aim to both lessen their dependence on international arms suppliers and promote domestic capabilities. Pakistan manufactures nuclear weapons and intermediate-range missiles. There is now also a burgeoning, increasingly export-oriented Pakistani arms industry (figure 3) that turns out a large range of weapons from grenades to tanks, night-vision devices to laser-guided weapons, and small submarines to training aircraft. Export earnings exceed $150 million yearly. Although much of the production is a triumph of reverse engineering rather than original research and development, there is clearly sufficient understanding of the requisite scientific principles and a capacity to exercise technical and managerial judgment as well. Iran has followed Pakistan's example.
    Higher education

    According to a recent survey, among the 57 member states of the OIC, there are approximately 1800 universities.5 Of those, only 312 publish journal articles. A ranking of the 50 most published among them yields these numbers: 26 are in Turkey, 9 in Iran, 3 each in Malaysia and Egypt, 2 in Pakistan, and 1 in each of Uganda, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Kuwait, Jordan, and Azerbaijan. For the top 20 universities, the average yearly production of journal articles was about 1500, a small but reasonable number. However, the average citation per article is less than 1.0 (the survey report does not state whether self-citations were excluded). There are fewer data available for comparing against universities worldwide. Two Malaysian undergraduate institutions were in the top-200 list of the Times Higher Education Supplement in 2006 (available at http://www.thes.co.uk). No OIC university made the top-500 "Academic Ranking of World Universities" compiled by Shanghai Jiao Tong University (see http://ed.sjtu.edu.cn/en). This state of affairs led the director general of the OIC to issue an appeal for at least 20 OIC universities to be sufficiently elevated in quality to make the top-500 list. No action plan was specified, nor was the term "quality" defined.

    An institution's quality is fundamental, but how is it to be defined? Providing more infrastructure and facilities is important but not key. Most universities in Islamic countries have a starkly inferior quality of teaching and learning, a tenuous connection to job skills, and research that is low in both quality and quantity. Poor teaching owes more to inappropriate attitudes than to material resources. Generally, obedience and rote learning are stressed, and the authority of the teacher is rarely challenged. Debate, analysis, and class discussions are infrequent.

    Academic and cultural freedoms on campuses are highly restricted in most Muslim countries. At Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, where I teach, the constraints are similar to those existing in most other Pakistani public-sector institutions. This university serves the typical middle-class Pakistani student and, according to the survey referred to earlier,5 ranks number two among OIC universities. Here, as in other Pakistani public universities, films, drama, and music are frowned on, and sometimes even physical attacks by student vigilantes who believe that such pursuits violate Islamic norms take place. The campus has three mosques with a fourth one planned, but no bookstore. No Pakistani university, including QAU, allowed Abdus Salam to set foot on its campus, although he had received the Nobel Prize in 1979 for his role in formulating the standard model of particle physics. The Ahmedi sect to which he belonged, and which had earlier been considered to be Muslim, was officially declared heretical in 1974 by the Pakistani government.


    As intolerance and militancy sweep across the Muslim world, personal and academic freedoms diminish with the rising pressure to conform. In Pakistani universities, the veil is now ubiquitous, and the last few unveiled women students are under intense pressure to cover up. The head of the government-funded mosque-***-seminary (figure 4) in the heart of Islamabad, the nation's capital, issued the following chilling warning to my university's female students and faculty on his FM radio channel on 12 April 2007:

    The government should abolish co-education. Quaid-i-Azam University has become a brothel. Its female professors and students roam in objectionable dresses. . . . Sportswomen are spreading nudity. I warn the sportswomen of Islamabad to stop participating in sports. . . . Our female students have not issued the threat of throwing acid on the uncovered faces of women. However, such a threat could be used for creating the fear of Islam among sinful women. There is no harm in it. There are far more horrible punishments in the hereafter for such women.6

    The imposition of the veil makes a difference. My colleagues and I share a common observation that over time most students—particularly veiled females—have largely lapsed into becoming silent note-takers, are increasingly timid, and are less inclined to ask questions or take part in discussions. This lack of self-expression and confidence leads to most Pakistani university students, including those in their mid- or late-twenties, referring to themselves as boys and girls rather than as men and women.
    Science and religion still at odds

    Science is under pressure globally, and from every religion. As science becomes an increasingly dominant part of human culture, its achievements inspire both awe and fear. Creationism and intelligent design, curbs on genetic research, pseudoscience, parapsychology, belief in UFOs, and so on are some of its manifestations in the West. Religious conservatives in the US have rallied against the teaching of Darwinian evolution. Extreme Hindu groups such as the Vishnu Hindu Parishad, which has called for ethnic cleansing of Christians and Muslims, have promoted various "temple miracles," including one in which an elephant-like God miraculously came alive and started drinking milk. Some extremist Jewish groups also derive additional political strength from antiscience movements. For example, certain American cattle tycoons have for years been working with Israeli counterparts to try to breed a pure red heifer in Israel, which, by their interpretation of chapter 19 of the Book of Numbers, will signal the coming of the building of the Third Temple,7 an event that would ignite the Middle East.

    In the Islamic world, opposition to science in the public arena takes additional forms. Antiscience materials have an immense presence on the internet, with thousands of elaborately designed Islamic websites, some with view counters running into the hundreds of thousands. A typical and frequently visited one has the following banner: "Recently discovered astounding scientific facts, accurately described in the Muslim Holy Book and by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) 14 centuries ago." Here one will find that everything from quantum mechanics to black holes and genes was anticipated 1400 years ago.

    Science, in the view of fundamentalists, is principally seen as valuable for establishing yet more proofs of God, proving the truth of Islam and the Qur'an, and showing that modern science would have been impossible but for Muslim discoveries. Antiquity alone seems to matter. One gets the impression that history's clock broke down somewhere during the 14th century and that plans for repair are, at best, vague. In that all-too-prevalent view, science is not about critical thought and awareness, creative uncertainties, or ceaseless explorations. Missing are websites or discussion groups dealing with the philosophical implications from the Islamic point of view of the theory of relativity, quantum mechanics, chaos theory, superstrings, stem cells, and other contemporary science issues.

    Similarly, in the mass media of Muslim countries, discussions on "Islam and science" are common and welcomed only to the extent that belief in the status quo is reaffirmed rather than challenged. When the 2005 earthquake struck Pakistan, killing more than 90 000 people, no major scientist in the country publicly challenged the belief, freely propagated through the mass media, that the quake was God's punishment for sinful behavior. Mullahs ridiculed the notion that science could provide an explanation; they incited their followers into smashing television sets, which had provoked Allah's anger and hence the earthquake. As several class discussions showed, an overwhelming majority of my university's science students accepted various divine-wrath explanations.
    Why the slow development?

    Although the relatively slow pace of scientific development in Muslim countries cannot be disputed, many explanations can and some common ones are plain wrong.

    For example, it is a myth that women in Muslim countries are largely excluded from higher education. In fact, the numbers are similar to those in many Western countries: The percentage of women in the university student body is 35% in Egypt, 67% in Kuwait, 27% in Saudi Arabia, and 41% in Pakistan, for just a few examples. In the physical sciences and engineering, the proportion of women enrolled is roughly similar to that in the US. However, restrictions on the freedom of women leave them with far fewer choices, both in their personal lives and for professional advancement after graduation, relative to their male counterparts.

    The near-absence of democracy in Muslim countries is also not an especially important reason for slow scientific development. It is certainly true that authoritarian regimes generally deny freedom of inquiry or dissent, cripple professional societies, intimidate universities, and limit contacts with the outside world. But no Muslim government today, even if dictatorial or imperfectly democratic, remotely approximates the terror of Hitler or Joseph Stalin—regimes in which science survived and could even advance.

    Another myth is that the Muslim world rejects new technology. It does not. In earlier times, the orthodoxy had resisted new inventions such as the printing press, loudspeaker, and penicillin, but such rejection has all but vanished. The ubiquitous cell phone, that ultimate space-age device, epitomizes the surprisingly quick absorption of black-box technology into Islamic culture. For example, 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.

    Some relatively more plausible reasons for the slow scientific development of Muslim countries have been offered. First, even though a handful of rich oil-producing Muslim countries have extravagant incomes, most are fairly poor and in the same boat as other developing countries. Indeed, the OIC average for per capita income is significantly less than the global average. Second, the inadequacy of traditional Islamic languages—Arabic, Persian, Urdu—is an important contributory reason. About 80% of the world's scientific literature appears first in English, and few traditional languages in the developing world have adequately adapted to new linguistic demands. With the exceptions of Iran and Turkey, translation rates are small. According to a 2002 United Nations report written by Arab intellectuals and released in Cairo, Egypt, "The entire Arab world translates about 330 books annually, one-fifth the number that Greece translates." The report adds that in the 1000 years since the reign of the caliph Maa'moun, the Arabs have translated as many books as Spain translates in just one year.8
    It's the thought that counts

    But the still deeper reasons are attitudinal, not material. At the base lies the yet unresolved tension between traditional and modern modes of thought and social behavior.

    That assertion needs explanation. No grand dispute, such as between Galileo and Pope Urban VIII, is holding back the clock. Bread-and-butter science and technology requires learning complicated but mundane rules and procedures that place no strain on any reasonable individual's belief system. A bridge engineer, robotics expert, or microbiologist can certainly be a perfectly successful professional without pondering profound mysteries of the universe. Truly fundamental and ideology-laden issues confront only that tiny minority of scientists who grapple with cosmology, indeterminacy in quantum mechanical and chaotic systems, neuroscience, human evolution, and other such deep topics. Therefore, one could conclude that developing science is only a matter of setting up enough schools, universities, libraries, and laboratories, and purchasing the latest scientific tools and equipment.

    But the above reasoning is superficial and misleading. Science is fundamentally an idea-system that has grown around a sort of skeleton wire frame—the scientific method. The deliberately cultivated scientific habit of mind is mandatory for successful work in all science and related fields where critical judgment is essential. Scientific progress constantly demands that facts and hypotheses be checked and rechecked, and is unmindful of authority. But there lies the problem: The scientific method is alien to traditional, unreformed religious thought. Only the exceptional individual is able to exercise such a mindset in a society in which absolute authority comes from above, questions are asked only with difficulty, the penalties for disbelief are severe, the intellect is denigrated, and a certainty exists that all answers are already known and must only be discovered.

    Science finds every soil barren in which miracles are taken literally and seriously and revelation is considered to provide authentic knowledge of the physical world. If the scientific method is trashed, no amount of resources or loud declarations of intent to develop science can compensate. In those circumstances, scientific research becomes, at best, a kind of cataloging or "butterfly-collecting" activity. It cannot be a creative process of genuine inquiry in which bold hypotheses are made and checked.

    Religious fundamentalism is always bad news for science. But what explains its meteoric rise in Islam over the past half century? In the mid-1950s all Muslim leaders were secular, and secularism in Islam was growing. What changed? Here the West must accept its share of responsibility for reversing the trend. Iran under Mohammed Mossadeq, Indonesia under Ahmed Sukarno, and Egypt under Gamal Abdel Nasser are examples of secular but nationalist governments that wanted to protect their national wealth. Western imperial greed, however, subverted and overthrew them. At the same time, conservative oil-rich Arab states—such as Saudi Arabia—that exported extreme versions of Islam were US clients. The fundamentalist Hamas organization was helped by Israel in its fight against the secular Palestine Liberation Organization as part of a deliberate Israeli strategy in the 1980s. Perhaps most important, following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the US Central Intelligence Agency armed the fiercest and most ideologically charged Islamic fighters and brought them from distant Muslim countries into Afghanistan, thus helping to create an extensive globalized jihad network. Today, as secularism continues to retreat, Islamic fundamentalism fills the vacuum.
    How science can return to the Islamic world

    In the 1980s an imagined "Islamic science" was posed as an alternative to "Western science." The notion was widely propagated and received support from governments in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and elsewhere. Muslim ideologues in the US, such as Ismail Faruqi and Syed Hossein Nasr, announced that a new science was about to be built on lofty moral principles such as tawheed (unity of God), ibadah (worship), khilafah (trusteeship), and rejection of zulm (tyranny), and that revelation rather than reason would be the ultimate guide to valid knowledge. Others took as literal statements of scientific fact verses from the Qur'an that related to descriptions of the physical world. Those attempts led to many elaborate and expensive Islamic science conferences around the world. Some scholars calculated the temperature of Hell, others the chemical composition of heavenly djinnis. None produced a new machine or instrument, conducted an experiment, or even formulated a single testable hypothesis.

    A more pragmatic approach, which seeks promotion of regular science rather than Islamic science, is pursued by institutional bodies such as COMSTECH (Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation), which was established by the OIC's Islamic Summit in 1981. It joined the IAS (Islamic Academy of Sciences) and ISESCO (Islamic Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) in serving the "ummah" (the global Muslim community). But a visit to the websites of those organizations reveals that over two decades, the combined sum of their activities amounts to sporadically held conferences on disparate subjects, a handful of research and travel grants, and small sums for repair of equipment and spare parts.

    One almost despairs. Will science never return to the Islamic world? Shall the world always be split between those who have science and those who do not, with all the attendant consequences?

    Figure 5
    Bleak as the present looks, that outcome does not have to prevail. History has no final word, and Muslims do have a chance. One need only remember how the Anglo–American elite perceived the Jews as they entered the US at the opening of the 20th century. Academics such as Henry Herbert Goddard, the well-known eugenicist, described Jews in 1913 as "a hopelessly backward people, largely incapable of adjusting to the new demands of advanced capitalist societies." His research found that 83% of Jews were "morons"—a term he popularized to describe the feeble-minded—and he went on to suggest that they should be used for tasks requiring an "immense amount of drudgery." That ludicrous bigotry warrants no further discussion, beyond noting that the powerful have always created false images of the weak.

    Progress will require behavioral changes. If Muslim societies are to develop technology instead of just using it, the ruthlessly competitive global marketplace will insist on not only high skill levels but also intense social work habits. The latter are not easily reconcilable with religious demands made on a fully observant Muslim's time, energy, and mental concentration: The faithful must participate in five daily congregational prayers, endure a month of fasting that taxes the body, recite daily from the Qur'an, and more. Although such duties orient believers admirably well toward success in the life hereafter, they make worldly success less likely. A more balanced approach will be needed.

    Science can prosper among Muslims once again, but only with a willingness to accept certain basic philosophical and attitudinal changes—a Weltanschauung that shrugs off the dead hand of tradition, rejects fatalism and absolute belief in authority, accepts the legitimacy of temporal laws, values intellectual rigor and scientific honesty, and respects cultural and personal freedoms. The struggle to usher in science will have to go side-by-side with a much wider campaign to elbow out rigid orthodoxy and bring in modern thought, arts, philosophy, democracy, and pluralism.

    Respected voices among believing Muslims see no incompatibility between the above requirements and true Islam as they understand it. For example, Abdolkarim Soroush, described as Islam's Martin Luther, was handpicked by Ayatollah Khomeini to lead the reform of Iran's universities in the early 1980s. His efforts led to the introduction of modern analytical philosophers such as Karl Popper and Bertrand Russell into the curricula of Iranian universities. Another influential modern reformer is Abdelwahab Meddeb, a Tunisian who grew up in France. Meddeb argues that as early as the middle of the eighth century, Islam had produced the premises of the Enlightenment, and that between 750 and 1050, Muslim authors made use of an astounding freedom of thought in their approach to religious belief. In their analyses, says Meddeb, they bowed to the primacy of reason, honoring one of the basic principles of the Enlightenment.

    In the quest for modernity and science, internal struggles continue within the Islamic world. Progressive Muslim forces have recently been weakened, but not extinguished, as a consequence of the confrontation between Muslims and the West. On an ever-shrinking globe, there can be no winners in that conflict: It is time to calm the waters. We must learn to drop the pursuit of narrow nationalist and religious agendas, both in the West and among Muslims. In the long run, political boundaries should and can be treated as artificial and temporary, as shown by the successful creation of the European Union. Just as important, the practice of religion must be a matter of choice for the individual, not enforced by the state. This leaves secular humanism, based on common sense and the principles of logic and reason, as our only reasonable choice for governance and progress. Being scientists, we understand this easily. The task is to persuade those who do not.



    Pervez Hoodbhoy is chair and professor in the department of physics at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, Pakistan, where he has taught for 34 years.
    References

    1. 1. P. Hoodbhoy, Islam and Science—Religious Orthodoxy and the Battle for Rationality, Zed Books, London (1991).
    2. 2. M. A. Anwar, A. B. Abu Bakar, Scientometrics 40, 23 (1997).
    3. 3. For additional statistics, see the special issue "Islam and Science," Nature 444, 19 (2006).
    4. 4. M. Yalpani, A. Heydari, Chem. Biodivers. 2, 730 (2005).
    5. 5. Statistical, Economic and Social Research and Training Centre for Islamic Countries, Academic Rankings of Universities in the OIC Countries (April 2007), available at [LINK].
    6. 6. The News, Islamabad, 24 April 2007, available at [LINK].
    7. 7. For more information on the red heifer venture, see [LINK].
    8. 8. N. Fergany et al., Arab Human Development Report 2002, United Nations Development Programme, Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, New York (2002), available at [LINK].
    In the realm of spirit, seek clarity; in the material world, seek utility

    Gottfried Leibniz

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    What a powerful and reasoned argument. What a pity so few moslems will get to read it.
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    Professor Pervz Hoodbhoy

    Parihaka and Glyn,

    This professor is a fairly prolific writer.
    Whilst I may not agree with everything he has to say, he certainly articulates his thoughts very well.

    I imagine that has also put himself at some personal risk in writting and publishing the articles that he has especially considering where he lives and teaches.

    A link to many of his articles is; Chowk writers: Pervez Hoodbhoy intro and articles

    These articles will keep you reading for quite a while.

    It would like to read the opinions of Ray and the other WABer's on this fellow's writtings.
    In the meantime here is another article that more on a similar subject to the article posted by Parihaka.


    Article Interact Pakistan – The Threat From Within
    Pervez Hoodbhoy May 31, 2007
    Tags: Radicalism , Extremism , Pakistan

    A version of this study was published on Chowk under the title What Next After Karachi’s Carnage?

    Twenty five years ago the Pakistani state pushed Islam on to its people as a matter of policy. Prayers in government departments were deemed compulsory, punishments were meted out to those who did not fast in Ramadan, selection for academic posts required that the candidate demonstrate knowledge of Islamic teachings, and jihad was propagated through schoolbooks. Today government intervention is no longer needed because of a spontaneous groundswell of Islamic zeal. The notion of an Islamic state – as yet in some amorphous and diffuse form – is more popular today across Pakistan than in previous decades. Across the country there has been a spectacular increase in the power and prestige of the clerics, attendance in mosques, home prayer meetings (dars and zikr), observance of special religious festivals, and fasting during Ramadan.

    But the state is now beginning to fear its own success as it comes under attack from religious militants and rival Islamic groups battle each other with heavy weapons. Even the Pakistan Army – whose men were recruited under the banner of jihad and which saw itself as the fighting arm of Islam – is now frequently targeted by suicide bombers. It has lost hundreds of men fighting Al-Qaida and the Taliban. Old recruiting slogans have been jettisoned, and bearded army officers are losing out in promotions.

    The current official position taken by the government of Pakistan under President General Pervez Musharraf is that it has rejected the orthodox, militant, violent Islam imposed by the previous chief of army staff, General Zia-ul-Haq (who ruled from 1977-1988), in favour of a more ‘modern’ and ‘moderate’ Islam. But Musharraf’s actions, and those of his government and its allies, are often at odds with this stated policy. In fact, after eight years of Musharraf’s “enlightened moderation”, it seems there is more continuity than change. And, with each passing day, it becomes harder to see how such a policy can hope to stem the tide of religious radicalism that is overwhelming Pakistani society.

    The pace of radicalization has quickened. In the first half of 2007 there were about two dozen suicide attacks, a phenomenon that was almost unknown in Pakistan before the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. These have occurred in major cities as well as tribal areas. The targets have been the Pakistan army, police, incumbent government leaders, and rival Islamic sects. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

    Pakistan’s tribal areas have undergone a radical transformation. The local Taliban have closed all girls schools and are enforcing Sharia laws in the areas under their control. Barbers have been handed 6-foot long death shrouds – shave and die. Taliban vigilante groups patrol the streets of Miramshah town checking, among other things, the length of beards, whether the “shalwars” are worn at an appropriate height above the ankles, and attendance of individuals in the mosques. A new breed of young militants, trained in madrassas, now call the shots. They have displaced the leadership of the traditional village elders, the maliks.

    The neo-Taliban have an agenda informed by a peculiar mixture of religion and tribal values. They demand that all TV sets be destroyed. Polio vaccination has been declared haram by the ulema, including the influential Maulana Fazalullah of Mingora, because it would allegedly render the new generation impotent. Consequently health workers are being targeted for assassination. After a doctor from the Frontier Medical College administering polio shots to children was shot dead in March 2007, pressure resulted in the resignation of 70 female workers of a health organization working in the FATA region. Over 4000 parents have refused to get their children inoculated and the government has essentially abandoned the polio elimination campaign.

    Sectarian killings are on the rise. An unidentified suicide bomber killed 57 people and eliminated the entire leadership of the “Sunni Movement” when he leapt on to the stage at a religious gathering in Karachi in April, 2006. Months earlier, barely a mile down from my university, at the shrine of Bari Imam, 25 Shias were killed in similar attack. In the tribal areas, sectarian tensions have frequently exploded into open warfare: in the villages of Hangu district, Sunnis and Shias exchanged light artillery and rocket fire leaving scores dead. Sectarian clashes erupted again in Parachinar and Dera Ismail Khan in April 2007, with mortars and rockets freely used by both sides. In May 2007, fierce armed battles broke out between the Ansar-ul-Islam and Lashkar-e-Islam groups in Bara, while Tank and Mingora saw bloody clashes with the Frontier Constabulary.

    The intensification of religious feelings has had many consequences, the most important of which is depoliticization and demobilization of Pakistan’s people. The single exception is the large public participation in protesting the dismissal of the chief justice of Pakistan by General Musharraf on March 8, 2007. But, on every other matter, the destruction of most non-religious organizations, such as student unions and trade unions, has killed public expression. This includes action on even specific Muslim causes like US actions against Iraq, Palestine, or Iran. In the absence of political organizations, only a few dozen protesters have ventured on to the streets. Nevertheless large numbers of Pakistanis are driven to fury and violence when they perceive their faith has been maligned. Mobs set on fire the Punjab Assembly, as well as shops and cars in Lahore, for an act of blasphemy committed in Denmark. Even as religious fanaticism grips the population there is a curious, almost fatalistic, disconnection with the real world which suggests that fellow Muslims don’t matter any more – only the Faith does.

    The Talibanization of Pakistan’s tribal areas has caused alarm, but it is the rapid developments in the heart of the nation’s capital, Islamabad, that have stunned many.

    Islamabad Under Mullah Terror

    Since Jan 21, 2007, vigilante groups from a government funded mosque in Islamabad, the Lal Masjid, have roamed the streets and bazaars as they impose Islamic morality and terrorize citizens in full view of the police. Openly sympathetic to the Taliban and tribal militants fighting the Pakistan army, the two cleric brothers who head Lal Masjid, Maulana Abdul Aziz and Maulana Abdur Rashid Ghazi, have attracted a core of banned militant organizations around them. These include the Jaish-e-Muhammad, considered to be the pioneer of suicide bombings in the region.

    The clerics openly defy the state. Baton wielding burqa-clad students of the Jamia Hafsa, the women’s Islamic university located next to Lal Masjid, have forcibly occupied a government building, the Children’s Library. In one of their many forays outside the seminary, this burqa brigade swooped upon a house, which they claimed was a brothel, and kidnapped 3 women and a baby.

    The male students of Islamabad’s many madrassas are even more active. They terrorize video shop owners, who they accuse of spreading pornography and vice. Newspapers have carried pictures of grand bonfires made with seized cassettes and CDs. Most video stores in Islamabad have now closed down. Their owners duly repented after a fresh campaign by militants on May 4 bombed a dozen music and video stores, barber shops and a girls school in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

    The Pakistani state has shown astonishing patience. It showed its displeasure in Karachi on May 12, 2007 with bullets while trying to prevent the chief justice of Pakistan from addressing a meeting. Others it disagrees with, as in Balochistan, have been hit with air and artillery power. But the Lal Masjid clerics operate with impunity. No attempt has been made to cut off their electricity, gas, phone, or website – or even to shut down their illegal FM radio station. The chief negotiator appointed by Musharraf, Chaudhry Shujaat Husain, described the burqa brigade kidnappers as “our daughters”, with whom negotiations would continue and against whom “no operation could be contemplated”.

    Soon after they went on the warpath, the clerics realized that the government wanted to play ball. Their initial demand – the rebuilding of 8 illegally constructed mosques that had been knocked down by Islamabad’s civic administration – transformed into a demand for enforcing the Shariah in Pakistan. At a meeting held in the mosque on April 6, over 100 guest religious leaders from across the country pledged to die for the cause of Islam and Shariah. On April 12, in an FM broadcast from the Lal Masjid’s illegal FM station, the clerics issued a threat: “There will be suicide blasts in the nook and cranny of the country. We have weapons, grenades and we are expert in manufacturing bombs. We are not afraid of death….”2


    Confronting the state – with the state’s connivance

    The Lal Masjid head cleric, a former student of my university in Islamabad, added the following chilling message for our women students in the same broadcast:

    The government should abolish co-education. Quaid-e-Azam University has become a brothel. Its female professors and students roam in objectionable dresses. I think I will have to send my daughters of Jamia Hafsa to these immoral women. They will have to hide themselves in hijab otherwise they will be punished according to Islam…. Our female students have not issued the threat of throwing acid on the uncovered faces of women. However, such a threat could be used for creating the fear of Islam among sinful women. There is no harm in it. There are far more horrible punishments in the hereafter for such women3.

    If the truth be told, QAU resembles a city of walking double-holed tents rather than the brothel of a sick mullah’s imagination. The last few bare-faced women are finding it more difficult by the day to resist. But then, that is precisely the aim of the Islamists. On May 7, a female teacher in the QAU history department was physically assaulted in her office by a bearded, Taliban-looking man who screamed that he had instructions from Allah. It is unknown, however, whether there was a direct link to the Lal Masjid threats. President Musharraf – who is the chancellor of QAU and often chooses to be involved in rather petty university administrative affairs – has made no comment on the recent developments.

    On May 18, the al Masjid Brigade – as they have come to be known now – kidnapped four policemen, two of whom were released in exchange for grant of bail to five Lal Masjid students. As police gathered outside the mosque, students of Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa also put up a show of strength and dug trenches. Talking to newsmen, Maulana Ghazi ‘flatly’ refused to continue talks and said that his people reserved the option of launching countrywide suicide attacks if any operation was launched against them.

    What next? As Islamabad heads the way of Pakistan’s tribal towns, the next targets will be girls schools, internet cafes, bookshops and western clothing stores, followed by shops selling toilet paper, tampons, underwear, mannequins, and other un-Islamic goods.

    In a sense, the inevitable is coming to pass. Until a few years ago, Islamabad was a quiet, orderly, modern city different from all others in Pakistan. Still earlier it was largely the abode of Pakistan’s hyper-elite and foreign diplomats. But the rapid transformation of its demography brought with it hundreds of mosques with multi-barrelled audio-cannons mounted on minarets, as well as scores of madrassas illegally constructed in what used to be public parks and green areas. Now, tens of thousands of their students with little prayer caps dutifully chant the Quran all day. In the evenings they roam in packs through the city’s streets and bazaars, gaping at store windows and lustfully ogling bare-faced women.

    The stage for transforming Islamabad into a Taliban stronghold is being set. If at all it is to be prevented, resolute opposition from its citizens will be needed to prevent more Lal Masjids from creating their own shariah squads.


    Pampering Fanatics – Why?

    The changes in Islamabad, while surprising, nevertheless betray an unmistakeable continuity. Military generals and fanatical clerics have been symbiotically linked in Pakistan’s politics for decades. They have often needed and helped the other attain their respective goals. And it is possible that they may soon need each other again – this time to set Islamabad ablaze.

    Why so? Beset by nation-wide protests against his dismissal of the chief justice of Pakistan, Musharraf is now a desperate man willing to use all available means, including extremists of all kinds, to help him survive the challenge to his rule. After he gave the green light to the Muttaheda Qaumi Mahaz (MQM), an ethno-fascist political party that supports him, it initiated a horrific carnage on May 12, 2007 that led to the death of dozens of protesters.

    Given this background, a plausible explanation emerges for allowing the rampage to continue through Islamabad for months: the Lal Masjid extremist monster, and others like it around the country, are certain to grow too big and will then need to be killed. No force except for the Pakistan Army can conceivably do this. An engineered bloodbath that leads to the army’s intervention, and the declaration of a national emergency, could serve as excellent reason for postponing the October 2007 elections. Although Musharraf denies that he wants a postponement, a lengthy martial law may now be his only chance for a continuation of his dictatorial rule into its eighth year – and perhaps beyond.

    This perverse strategy sounds almost unbelievable. A man who President George W. Bush describes as his “buddy” in the war against terror, and the celebrated author of an “enlightened moderate” version of Islam, Musharraf wears the two close assassination attempts on his life by religious extremists as a badge of honour. During his roaring three-week visit [to the US] in September 2006, he received standing ovations from audiences at, among others, the Council for Foreign Relations and Columbia University. He appeared before a comedy television show, and took an entourage of 70 loyal followers for a lavish tour around the US to promote his memoir, “In the Line of Fire”.

    An obviously secular general with aspirations to international stature for advocating a peaceful Islam would, it seems, have no truck with extremists. But Musharraf has long been accused of leading a double life. Indeed, his secret reliance upon the Taliban card – one that he has been accused of playing for years – increases as his authority and judgment weakens. But is he actually complicit in allowing religious terrorism to spread? Or merely weak and confused? In the following we shall inspect Musharraf’s much publicized “enlightened moderation” in order to judge the level of commitment behind his agenda of social reform.


    Enlightened Moderation – The Track Record

    No one doubts that there have been some changes for the good. There is a perceptible shift in institutional practices and inclinations. Heads of government organizations are no longer required to lead noon prayers as in the 1980’s; female announcers with undraped heads freely appear on Pakistan Television; to the relief of many passengers thickly bearded stewards are disappearing from PIA flights; the first women fighter pilots have been inducted into the Pakistan Air Force; although it exercises great self-censorship the media is allowed to discuss some controversial issues; and criticism of the government (but not the army) is permitted in small doses. A vastly overdue – but nevertheless welcome – action was taken by the government when it released in July 2006 hundreds of women prisoners arrested under the Hudood Ordinance for fornication, many of whom had spent years awaiting their trial.

    But the force of these pluses cannot outweigh the many more weighty minuses, nor suppress the rising tide of religious fanaticism across the length and breadth of Pakistan. Secretly encouraging radicalism, while routinely denying that it is doing so, has been a consistent feature of the Establishment’s practice.

    Jihadist groups have long operated with the state’s knowledge and support. Many such groups, trained and armed by the Pakistan Army for over two decades, had been formally banned under pressure from the US. But only hours after the killer October 2005 earthquake, members of extremist groups in Kashmir – which had officially ceased to exist after the General’s famous speech of 12 January, 2002 – were pulling people out from under the rubble and taking them to their own hospitals. They earned gratitude all around for their relief work, and this enabled the jihadists to fully reestablish and even expand the scale of their organizations. On the other hand, the Pakistan Army – for all its heavy presence in the area – was nowhere to be seen for days. Jihadist groups continued to openly flaunt their banners and weapons in all major towns of Azad Kashmir. Hafiz Saeed, the head of the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and its post-ban reincarnation, Jamat-ud-Dawa, demanded that the government hand over all relief responsibilities to his group since they were doing a much better job. Indeed, some extremist groups obtained relief materials from government stocks to pass off as their own, and used heavy vehicles that could only have been provided by the authorities. Many national and international relief organizations were left insecure by their overwhelming presence. It took over many months for the jihadists to move out of full public view into more sheltered places.

    Although he has been decorated as an SSG commando for combat bravery, General Musharraf’s courage consistently fails when it comes to confronting mullahs. On 21st April 2000, Musharraf had announced a new administrative procedure for registration of cases under the Blasphemy Law 295-C. This law, under which the minimum penalty is death, has frequently been used to harass personal and political opponents. To reduce such occurrences, Musharraf’s modified procedure would have required authorization from the local district magistrate for registration of a blasphemy case. It would have been an improvement, albeit a modest one. But 25 days later – on the 16th of May 2000 – under the watchful glare of the mullahs, Musharraf hastily climbed down: “As it was the unanimous demand of the ulema, mashaikh and the people, therefore, I have decided to do away with the procedural change in the registration of FIR under the Blasphemy Law”.4

    Musharraf’s courage again failed in October 2004, just as a new system for issuing machine readable passports was being installed. In keeping with international practices, the government had declared that henceforth it would not be necessary for passport holders to specify their religion. Expectedly this was denounced by the Islamic parties as a grand conspiracy aimed at secularizing Pakistan and destroying its Islamic character. But even before the mullahs actually took to the streets, the government lost nerve and the volte-face was announced on 24 March, 2005. Information Minister Sheikh Rashid said the decision to revive the religion column was made else, “Qadianis and other apostates would be able to pose as Muslims and perform pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia”.5


    Targeting Pakistani Women

    The freedom available to women in Pakistan has steadily shrunk over time, including the period of Musharraf’s rule. His attitudes on rape victims have outraged many women. On Musharraf’s orders, a gang-rape victim from Meerwalla village, Mukhtaran Mai, was disallowed from proceeding overseas lest she bring a bad name to Pakistan. Another rape victim, a woman doctor who described her assailant as an army officer, received harsh treatment from Musharraf who, in an interview to the Washington Post, dismissed her case by remarking: “A lot of people say if you want to go abroad and get a visa for Canada or citizenship and be a millionaire, get yourself raped.6”

    Such attitudes towards women are typical of soldiers in a macho culture. It took a long struggle by the feminist movements across the world to counter them, and success has only been partial. But the Islamist agenda is different: it seeks total separation of the sexes, and to diminish the space for women in public life. This central goal is being efficiently and successfully pursued.

    The consequences are sometimes catastrophic. For example, on April 9, 2006, 21 women and 8 children were crushed to death, and scores injured, in a stampede inside a three-storey madrassa in Karachi where a large number of women had gathered for a weekly congregation. Male rescuers, who arrived in ambulances, were prevented from moving injured women to hospitals.

    One cannot dismiss this as just one incident. Soon after the October 2005 earthquake, as I walked through the destroyed city of Balakot, a student of the Frontier Medical College described to me how he and his male colleagues were stopped by religious elders from digging out injured girl students from under the rubble of their school building. The action of these elders was similar to that of Saudi Arabia’s ubiquitous religious “mutaween” police who, in March 2002, had stopped schoolgirls from leaving a blazing building because they were not properly covered up. In rare criticism, Saudi newspapers had blamed the mutaween for letting 15 girls burn to death.

    Female nurses looking after male patients at hospitals in NWFP may soon be banned. Pakistani health minister, Mohammad Nasir Khan, has assured the upper house of parliament that the government could consider the request sympathetically. This move arose from a motion moved by female parliamentary members of the MMA, the Islamist party that commands majorities in the provincial assemblies of the Frontier and Baluchistan provinces and offered crucial support for Musharraf staying on as president. Women’s bodies are of particular concern to these holy men: “We think that men could derive sexual pleasure from women’s bodies while conducting ECG or ultrasound,7” proclaimed Maulana Gul Naseeb Khan, provincial secretary of the MMA. In his opinion women would be able to lure men under the pretext of these medical procedures. Therefore, he said, “to save the supreme values of Islam and the message of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), the MMA has decided to impose the ban.8”

    A once-vibrant Pakistani culture is turning dull and drab. The drive to segregate is now also being found among educated women. Vigorous proselytizers bringing this message, such as Mrs. Farhat Hashmi, have been catapulted to heights of fame and fortune. As the country trades its South Asian identity for an Arab one, the Saudi abaya, a drab cloak almost unknown and unheard off in Pakistan until a few years ago, is now ubiquitous. Billboards with women’s faces have disappeared from cities of the NWFP because the MMA deems the exhibition of unveiled women as un-Islamic.


    Leaders Pandering To Extremism

    Hoping that it will add to their respectability and popularity, Pakistani political leaders other than General Musharraf, also with secular credentials, have jumped on the religion bandwagon. Shaukat Aziz, a former Citibanker and now prime minister of Pakistan, has made calls for nation-wide prayers for rain in years of drought. This effort to improve his Islamic standing became less laughable when, at an education conference in Islamabad, he proposed that religious education must start as soon as children enter school9. Aziz countered a suggestion by the moderate Islamic scholar, Javed Ghamdi, that only school children in their fifth year and above should be given formal Islamic education. Otherwise, said Ghamdi, they would stand in danger of becoming rigid and doctrinaire. The government’s new education policy now requires Islamic studies to begin in the third year of school, a year earlier than in the previous policy.

    Other ministers are no less determined to show their Islamic zeal. The federal minister for religious affairs, Ijaz ul Haq (Zia-ul-Haq’s son), speaking at the launch of a book authored by a leading Islamic extremist leader on “Christian Terrorism and The Muslim World,” argued that anyone who did not believe in jihad was neither a Muslim nor a Pakistani. He then declared that given the situation facing Muslims today, he was prepared to be a suicide bomber.

    The clearest political expression of the shift towards a more violent and intolerant Islam is the rise of the MMA as a national force which on key issues both supports and is supported by General Musharraf’s government. A measure of its power, and the threat it poses to society and the state, is the Pakistani Taliban movement that it has helped create, especially in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. Their success draws in large measure on the lessons they learned when working hand in the hand with the Pakistan army to create and sustain the Taliban in Afghanistan.


    Talibanization Of Tribal Areas

    Unable to combat the toxic mix of religion with tribalism, the Pakistani government has lost whatever administrative authority it once had. Under US pressure, the army had been mounting military offensives against Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters who fled Afghanistan. Its assaults have taken a heavy civilian toll and local resistance has grown in many areas, particularly in North Waziristan.

    A bit of history: In 2002, presumably on Washington’s instructions, the Pakistan Army established military bases in South Waziristan. This had become a refuge for Taliban and Al Qaeda fleeing Afghanistan. Combat soon followed, with the army making extensive use of artillery and US-supplied Cobra gunships. By 2005 heavy fighting had spread to North Waziristan. Even though soldiers rarely ventured out from guard posts and heavy fortifications, the Army was taking losses whose extent has never been revealed. The senior army leadership, safely removed from combat areas, officially ascribed the resistance to “a few hundred foreign militants and terrorists”. But morale continued to sink, with junior army men wondering why they were being asked to attack their ideological comrades – the Taliban. Reportedly, local clerics refused to conduct funeral prayers for soldiers killed in action.

    The half-hearted war, fought at the behest of a foreign power, failed. It led to the signing of a “peace treaty” on 1 September, 2006 in the town of Miramshah – which is now firmly in the grip of the Pakistani Taliban. Army officers, and the militants they had fought for 4 years, hugged each other while heavily armed, bearded, Taliban stood guard. Although the military governor of the province, Lt.Gen. Ali Mohammad Aurakzai, praised the peace agreement as “unprecedented in tribal history”, in fact it has a precedent in the 2004 Shakai agreement in South Waziristan, which had made the militants immensely stronger. The Miramshah treaty was blessed – and reportedly engineered – by Maulana Fazlur Rehman who (quite falsely) claims to be the father of the Taliban.

    The Miramshah treaty met all demands made by the militants: the release of all jailed militants; dismantling of army checkpoints; return of seized weapons and vehicles; the right of the Taliban to display weapons (except heavy ones); and residence rights for fellow fighters from other Islamic countries. As for “foreign militants” – who Musharraf had blamed exclusively for the resistance, the militants were nonchalant: we will let you know if we find any! The financial compensation demanded by the Taliban for loss of property and life has not been revealed, but some officials have remarked that it is “astronomical”. In turn they promised to cease their attacks on civil and military installations, and give the army a safe passage out.

    Washington and London cautiously welcomed Musharraf’s “peace treaty”, an indication of how well he had refined his persuasive powers for the West. It was also an admission of how matters had slipped out of control.

    As Musharraf has now been forced to admit, the fact is that the local Taliban, as well as Al-Qaida, are popular and the army is not. In the tribal areas, the local Taliban now run a parallel administration that dispenses primitive justice according to tribal and Islamic principles. A widely available Taliban-made video that I saw showed the bodies of common criminals and bandits dangling from electricity poles in the town of Miramshah while thousands of appreciative spectators look on. A Pathan barber, who migrated to Islamabad from Wana, a regional capital, told me that many others like him are making their way to the big cities or abandoning their traditional occupation. Traditional musicians have also abandoned their professions.

    The Pakistani Taliban (like their brothers in Afghanistan) view education as insidious. Pakistani newspapers frequently carry news of schools in the tribal regions being attacked destroyed by the Taliban. But rarely are these incidents followed by angry editorials or letters-to-the editor. Implicit sympathy for the Taliban remains strong among urban middle-class Pakistanis because they are perceived as standing up to the Americans, while the government has caved in.

    Some argue that the army had no choice but to surrender in Waziristan. After all, on the other side of the Pak-Afghan border even the combined might of Nato and US forces have proved insufficient against the resurgent Taliban. So how could the Pakistani army ever win? But this hides the fact that the army’s high command demonstrated appallingly bad judgment and strategy by venturing into terrain where guerrilla warfare is extremely effective. It was far better not to have engaged in combat, than to fight and lose. One feels that an intelligent use of force combined with traditional tribal diplomacy would not have led to such a humiliating capitulation.


    Evidences Of The Overall Islamic Shift

    Survey statistics make the Islamist shift underway in Pakistan yet more evident and quantitative. According to the Pew Global Survey (2006), the percentage of Pakistanis who expressed confidence in Osama bin Laden as a world leader grew from 45% in 2003 to 51% in 2005. This 6 point increase must be compared against responses to an identical questionnaire in Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon, where bin Laden’s popularity has sharply dropped by as much as 20 points10.

    Support for the Sharia is also rising. A survey by the World Public Opinion.Org (April 24, 2007) found that 54% of Pakistanis wanted strict application of Sharia while 25% wanted it in some more dilute form. Totaling 79%, this was the largest percentage in the four countries surveyed (Morocco, Egypt, Pakistan, Indonesia)11.

    It is worth asking what has changed Pakistan so and what makes it so different from other Muslim countries? What has set one section of its people upon the other, created notions of morality centred on separating the sexes, and sapped the country’s vitality? Some well meaning Pakistanis – particularly those in the diaspora – think that it is best to avoid such difficult questions. In seeking to “repackage Pakistan” for the media and change negative perceptions of Pakistan in the West, they hesitate to call for a change in the structure of the state and its outlook.

    But at the heart of Pakistan’s problems lies a truth – one etched in stone – that when a state proclaims a religious identity and mission, it is bound to privilege those who organize religious life and interpret religious text. Since there are many models and interpretations within every religion, there is bound to be conflict between religious forces over whose model shall prevail. There is also the larger confrontation between religious principles and practices and what we now consider to be ‘modern’ ideas of society, which have emerged over the past several hundred years. This truth, for all its simplicity, escaped the attention of several generations of soldiers, politicians, and citizens of Pakistan.

    It is true that there has been some learning – Musharraf’s call for “enlightened moderation” is a tacit (and welcome) admission that a theocratic Pakistan cannot work. But his call conflicts with his other, more important, responsibility as chief of the Pakistan Army which had consciously nurtured radicalism in previous decades.
    The relationship between the army and religious radicals is today no longer as simple as in the 1980’s. To maintain a positive image in the West, the Pakistani establishment must continue to decry Islamic radicalism, and display elements of liberalism that are deeply disliked by the orthodox. But hard actions will be taken only if the Islamists threaten the army’s corporate and political interests, or if senior army commanders are targeted for assassination. The Islamists for their part hope for, and seek to incite, action by zealous officers to bring back the glory days of the military-mullah alliance led by General Zia ul Haq.

    Musharraf and his corps commanders well know that they cannot afford to sleep too well. It is in the lower ranks that the Islamists are busily establishing bases. A mass of junior officers and low-ranking soldiers – whose world view is similar to that of the Taliban in most respects – feels resentful of being used as cannon fodder for fighting America’s “war on terror”. It is they who die, not their senior officers. So far, army discipline has successfully squelched dissent and forced it underground. But this sleeping giant can – if and when it wakes up – tear asunder the Pakistan Army, and shake the Pakistani state from its very foundations.


    Is Radical Islam Inevitable?

    With the large and growing popular sentiment against Musharraf and his army, one cannot rule out the possibility that in the years ahead nuclear armed Pakistan may fall under a neo-Taliban style Salafi-Wahabi-Deobandi leadership allied with conservative senior military leaders. If it does, then Pakistan could become the world’s most dangerous state. But, although possible, it is certainly not inevitable – countervailing forces work against this nightmare scenario.

    First, the Pakistani Establishment does not want extreme Islam – at least not yet. This oligarchy, which runs Pakistan by tacit consent, draws its membership from the military, the powerful feudal and landed class, and sections of the civil elite. It is a beneficiary of the status quo and presently has no desire to change it. Even if religion is a potent way of controlling the masses, the de-facto rulers who constitute the Establishment realize that too much of it can end up cramping their own personal liberties. Moreover, being linked to foreign aid and a globalizing world, they would suffer penalties imposed by the West if Pakistan were to Talibanize. Most, if not all, have their children studying in the West or international business interests.

    Within the Establishment, the Pakistan Army has gained the most – and would like to see that it stays this way. As an institution it has acquired enormous corporate interests that sprawl across real estate, manufacturing, and service sectors. It also receives large amounts of military aid, all of which would be threatened if it comes into direct conflict with the US. In the 1960s and 1980s, and again since 9/11, the army discovered its high rental value when serving the US. Although the long-term costs to the society and state have been terrible, the Army has steadily increased its power and assets.

    A second impediment to radical Islam is that religious leaders are not very successful at getting votes or getting a high national stature. This makes Pakistan very different from Iran. Historically, Pakistan’s religious-political parties have fared poorly in electoral politics because of the many sectarian divides, narrow agendas that are irrelevant to the larger concerns of the country, poor organizational infrastructure (Jamaat-e-Islami excluded), and the lack of a well-educated and charismatic leadership. The success enjoyed by the MMA in NWFP and Baluchistan owed largely to the special situation created by the invasion of Afghanistan, and then Iraq, as well as the support received from the military establishment. While they use the Islamic idiom, Pakistan’s urban middle class is fairly sophisticated and resents radical Islamism. Traditionally, the Pathan mullah has had low social status and been the target of ridicule. Therefore, at a national level, the mainstream political parties are likely to have a clear lead over any religious-political party or even a coalition of such parties.

    Thirdly, access to national and global television brings a level of sophistication in the popular culture. Images of the outside world, and open discussions on issues of contemporary importance, have created a public space that offers alternatives to the extreme radicalization offered by the mullahs. Of course, television cuts both ways because its power is also appreciated and used by radicals. On balance, however, the forces of globalization and open global communication do bring modern ideas and attitudes into society.

    To conclude: It is an open question as to exactly how much further Pakistan will move towards religious radicalism in the years to come. There are many imponderables that will determine the pace: the expected moderation in US foreign policy after George W. Bush in regard to the Muslim world; the direction taken by the war in Afghanistan as well as Iraq; the outcome of current negotiations with India over Kashmir; whether the Baluchistan conflict is allowed to simmer as presently or brought to some resolution; and the future state of the economy and social services. It is a rather safe prediction, however, that the end of 2007 will see a continuation of the civil-military alliance that has dominated Pakistani politics for decades, and that the interests of this alliance will determine how far it can go towards meeting the radical threat. It is also virtually certain that the social forces set into motion over the years through the education system will make most of Pakistani society – barring pockets of liberalism in the upper crust of society – more conservative and orthodox relative to the previous generation.


    References:

    2 Editorial, The News, Islamabad, April 24, 2007.
    3 Ibid.
    4 General Pervez Musharraf, press conference, 16 May 2000, Islamabad.
    5Jang, Islamabad-Lahore-Karachi, 25 March 2005. Also Newsreport - March, 2005
    6 BBC News, BBC NEWS | South Asia | Outrage at Musharraf rape remarks
    7 MMA bans ultrasound, ECG scanning of women by male technicians, Sept 21, 2003, The Friday Times, Lahore, Mohammad Shehzad.
    8 Ibid
    9 The Daily Times editorial, Saturday, June 03, 2006. Daily Times - Leading News Resource of Pakistan %5Cstory_3-6-2006_pg3_1
    10 Pew Global Attitudes Project Islamic Extremism: Common Concern for Muslim and Western Publics. Pew Global Attitudes Project: Summary of Findings: Islamic Extremism: Common Concern for Muslim and Western Publics
    11 World Public Opinion.Org , “Muslims Believe US Seeks to Undermine Islam”,
    http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pi...les/brmiddleea stnafricara/346.php?nid=&id=&pnt=346

    Cheers.

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    Thank you captain. Another fascinating insight into that troubled land.
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    This is what Islam has to say on Science:

    Sciences

    The Arabs who had wielded the arms with such remarkable success, that they had become the masters of a third of the knows world in a short span of thirty years, met with even greater success in the realm of knowledge. But the west has persistently endeavoured to under-rate the achievements of Islam. Writing in his outspoken book The intellectual Development of Europe, John William Draper says, "I have to deplore the systematic manner in which the literature of Europe has contrived to put out of sight our scientific obligations to the Mohammadans. Surely they can not be much longer hidden. Injustice founded on religious rancour and national conceit cannot be perpetuated for ever. What should the modern astronomer say, when, remembering the contemporary barbarism of Europe, he finds the Arab Abul Hassan speaking of turbes, to the extremities of which ocular and object diopters, perhaps sights, were attached, as used at Meragha? What when he reads of the attempts of Abdur Rahman Sufi at improving the photometry of stars? Are the astronomical tables of Ibn Junis (A.D. 1008) called the Hakemite tables, or the Ilkanic tables of Nasir-ud-din Toosi, constructed at the great observatory just mentioned, Meragha near Tauris (1259 A.D.), or the measurement of time by pendulum oscillations, and the method of correcting astronomical tables by systematic observations are such things worthless indications of the mental State? The Arab has left his intellectual impress on Europe, as, before long, Christendom will have to confess; he has indelibly Written it on the heavens, as any one may see who reads the names of the stars on a common celestial globe."


    What is Science?
    Science, has been defined as, "the ordered knowledge of natural phenomena and the relations between them. Its end is the rational interpretation of the facts of existence as disclosed to us by our faculties and senses." The celebrated scientist Sir J. Arthur Thomson considers science to be "the well criticised body of empirical knowledge declaring in the simplest and tersest terms available at the time what can be observed and experimented with, and summing up uniformities of change in formulae which are called laws verifiable by all who can use the methods." According to another well known scientist Karl Pearson the hypotheses of science are based on "observed facts, which, when confirmed by criticism and experiment, are turned into laws of Nature."


    Experimental Method
    Observation and experiment are the two sources of scientific knowledge. Aristotle was the father of the Greek sciences, and has made a lasting contribution to physics, astronomy, biology, meteorology and other sciences. The Greek method of acquiring scientific knowledge was mainly speculative, hence science as such could make little headway during the time of the Greeks.

    The Arabs who were more realistic and practical in their approach adopted the experimental method to harness scientific knowledge. Observation and experiment formed the vehicle of their scientific pursuits, hence they gave a new outlook to science of which the world had been totally unaware. Their achievements in the field of experimental science added a golden chapter to the annals of scientific knowledge and opened a new vista for the growth of modern sciences. Al-Ghazali was the follower of Aristotle in logic, but among Muslims, Ishraqi and Ibn-iTaimiyya were first to undertake the systematic refutation of Greek logic. Abu Bakr Razi criticised Aristotle's first figure and followed the inductive spirit which was reformulated by John Stuart Mill. Ibn-i-Hazm in his well known work Scope of Logic lays stress on sense perception as a source of knowledge and Ibn-i-Taimiyya in his Refuttion of Logic proves beyond doubt that induction is the only sure form of argument, which ultimately gave birth to the method of observation and experiment. It is absolutely wrong to assume that experimental method was formulated in Europe. Roger Bacon, who, in the west is known as the originator of experimental method in Europe, had himself received his training from the pupils of Spanish Moors, and had learnt everything from Muslim sources. The influence of Ibn Haitham on Roger Bacon is clearly visible in his works. Europe was very slow to recognise the Islamic origin of her much advertised scientific (experimental) method. Writing in the Making of Humanity Briffault admits, "It was under their successors at the Oxford School that Roger Bacon learned Arabic and Arabic science. Neither Roger Bacon nor his later namesake has any title to be credited with having introduced the experimental method. Roger Bacon was no more than one of the apostles of Muslim science and method to Christian Europe; and he never wearied of declaring that the knowledge of Arabic and Arabic science was for his contemporaries the only way to true knowledge. Discussions as to who was the originator of the experimental method......are part of the colossal misrepresentation of the origins of European civilization. The experimental method of Arabs was by Bacon's time widespread and eagerly cultivated throughout Europe....Science is the most momentous contribution of Arab civilization to the modern world, but its fruits were slow in ripening. Not until long after Moorish culture had sunk back into darkness did the giant to which it had given birth, rise in his might. It was not science only which brought Europe back to life. Other and manifold influences from the civilisation of Islam communicated its first glow to European life. For although there is not a single aspect of European growth in which the decisive influence of Islamic culture is not traceable, nowhere is it so clear and momentous as in the genesis of that power which constitutes the permanent distinctive force of the modern world, and the supreme source of its victory-natural science and the scientific spirit.., The debt of our science to that of the Arabs does not consist in startling discoveries or revolutionary theories; science owes a great deal more to Arab culture, it owes its existence....The ancient world was, as we saw, pre-scientific. The astronomy and mathematics of Greeks were a foreign importation never thoroughly acclimatized in Greek culture. The Greeks systematised, generalised and theorised, but the patient ways of investigations, the accumulation of positive knowledge, the minute methods of science, detailed and prolonged observation and experimental enquiry were altogether alien to the Greek temperament. Only in Hellenistic Alexandria was any approach to scientific work conducted in the ancient classical world. That spirit and those methods were introduced into the European world by the Arabs."' In his outstanding work The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, Dr. M. Iqbal, the poet of Islam writes, "The first important point to note about the spirit of Muslim culture then is that for purposes of knowledge, it fixes its gaze on the concrete, the finite. It is further clear that the birth of the method of observation and experiment in Islam was due not to a compromise with Greek thought but to prolonged intellectual warfare with it. In fact the influence of Greeks who, as Briffault says, were interested chiefly in theory, not in fact, tended rather to obscure the Muslim's vision of the Quran, and for at least two centuries kept the practical Arab temperament from asserting itself and coming to its own." Thus the experimental method introduced by the Arabs was responsible for the rapid advancement of science during the mediaeval times.


    Chemistry
    Chemistry as a science is unquestionably the invention of the Muslims. It is one of the sciences in which Muslims have made the greatest contribution and developed it to such a high degree of perfection that they were considered authorities in this science until the end of the 17th century A. D. Jabir and Zakariya Razi have the distinction of being the greatest chemists the mediaeval times produced. Writing in his illuminating History of the -Arabs, Philip K. Hitti acknowledges the greatness of Arabs in this branch of science when he says, "After materia medica, astronomy and mathematics, the Arabs made their greatest scientific contribution in chemistry. In the study of chemistry and other physical sciences, the Arabs introduced the objective experiment, a decided improvement over the hazy speculation of Greeks. Accurate in the observation of phenomeha and diligent in the accumulation of facts, the Arabs nevertheless found it difficult to project proper hypotheses."

    Jabir Ibn Hayyan (Geber) who flourished in Kufa about 776 A.D. is known as the father of modern chemistry and along with Zakariya Razi, stands as the greatest name in the annals of chemical science during mediaeval times. He got his education from Omayyad Prince Khalid Ibn Yazid Ibn Muawiyah and the celebrated Imam Jafar al-Sadiq. He worked on the assumption that metals like lead, tin and iron could be transformed into gold by mixing certain chemical substances. It is said that he manufactured a large quantity of gold with the help of that mysierious substance and two centuries later, when a street was rebuilt in Kufa a large piece of gold was unearthed from his laboratory. He laid great emphasis on the importance of experimentation in his research and hence he made great headway in chemical science, Western writers credit him with the discovery of several chemical compounds, which are not mentioned in his twenty-two extant Arabic works. According to Max Meyerhof "His influence may be traced throughout the whole historic course of European alchemy and chemistry." He is credited, with the writing of 100 chemical works. "Nevertheless, the works to which his name was attached" says Hitti, "were after the 14th century, the most influential chemical treatises in both Europe and Asia."" He explained scientifically the two principal operations of chemistry, calcination and reduction, and registered a marked improvement in the methods of evaporation, sublimation filtration, distillation and crystallization. Jabir modified and corrected the Aristotelian theory of the constituents of metal, which remained unchanged until the beginning of modern chemistry in the 18th century. He has explained in his works the preparation of many chemical substances including "Cinnabar" (sulphide of mercury) and arsenic oxide. It has been established through historical research that he knew how to obtain nearly pure vitrilos, alums, alkalis and how to produce 'the so-called liver' and milk of sulphur by heating sulphur with alkali. He prepared mercury oxide and was fully conversant with the preparation of crude sulphuric and nitric acids. He knew the method of the solution of gold and silver with this acid. His chemical treatises on such subjects have been translated into several European languages including Latin and several technical scientific terms invented by Jabir have been adopted in modern chemistry. A real estimate of his achievements is only possible when his enormous chemical work including the Book of Seventy are published. Richard Russell (1678, A.D.) an English translator ascribes a book entitled Sun of Perfection to Jabir. A number of his chemical works have been published by Berthelot. His books translated into English are the Book of Kingdom, Book of Balances and Book of Eastern mercury. Jabir also advanced a theory on the geologic formation of metals and dealt with many useful practical applications of chemistry such as refinement of metals, preparation of steel and dyeing of cloth and leather, varnishing of waterproof cloth and use of manganese dioxide to colour glass.

    Jabir was recognised as the master by the later chemists including al-Tughrai and Abu al-Qasim al-Iraqi who flourished in the 12th and 13th centuries respectively. These Muslim chemists made little improvement on the methods of Jabir. They confined themselves to the quest of the legendary elixir which they could never find.
    ·
    Zakariya Razi known as Rhazas in Latin is the second great name in mediaeval chemical science. Born in 850 A.D. at Rayy, he is known as one of the greatest physicians of all times. He wrote Kitab al Asrar in chemistry dealing with the preparation of chemical substances and their application. His great work of the art of alchemy was recently found in the library of an Indian prince. Razi has proved himself to be a greater expert than all his predecessors, including Jabir, in the exact classification of substances. His discription of chemical experiments as well as their apparatus are distinguished for their clarity which were not visible in the writings of his predecessors. Jabir and other Arabian chemists divided mineral substances into bodies (gold, silver etc.), souls (sulphur, arsenic, etc.) and spirits (mercury and sal-ammoniac) while Razi classified his mineral substances as vegetable, animal and mineral.

    The mineral substances were also classified by Al-Jabiz. Abu Mansur Muwaffaq has contributed to the method of the preparation and properties of mineral substances. Abul Qasim who was a renowned chemist prepared drugs by sublimation and distillation. High class sugar and glass were manufactured in Islamic countries. The Arabs were also expert in the manufacture of ink, lacquers, solders, cements and imitation pearls.


    Physics
    The Holy Quran had awakened a spirit of enquiry among the Arabs which was instrumental in their splendid achievements in the field of science, and according to a western critic led them to realise that "science could not be advanced by mere speculation; its only sure progress lay in the practical interrogation of nature. The essential characteristics of their method are experiment and observation. In their writings on Mechanics, hydrostatics, optics, etc., the solution of the problem is always obtained by performing an experiment, or by an instrumental observation. It was this that made them the originator of chemistry, that led them to the invention of all kinds of apparatus for distillation, sublimation, fusion and filteration; that in astronomy caused them to appeal to divided instrument, as quadrant and astrolabe; in chemistry to employ the balance the theory of which they were perfectly familiar with; to construct tables of specific gravities and astronomical tables, that produced their great improvements in geometry and trigonometry."l

    The Muslims developed physics to a high degree and produced such eminent physicist as Kindi, Jahiz, Banu Musa, Beruni, Razi and Abdur Rahman Ibn Nasr.

    Abu Yusuf Ibn Ishaq, known as al-Kindi was born at Kufa in themiddle of the 9th century and flourished in Baghdad. He is the most dominating and one of the greatest Muslim scholars of physics. Over and above this, he was an astrologer, philosopher, alchemist, optician and musical theorist. He wrote more than 265 books, the majority of which have been lost. Most of his works which survived are in Latin having been translated by Gerard of Cremona. Of these fifteen are on meteorology, several on specific weight, on tides, on optics and on reflection of light, and eight are on music. His optics influenced Roger Bacon. He wrote several books on iron and steel to be used for weapons. He applied mathematics not only to physics, but also to medicine. He was therefore regarded by Cardon, a philosopher of the Renaissance, "as one of the 12 subtlest minds." ·He thought that gold and silver could only be obtained from mines and not through any other process. He endeavoured to ascertain the laws that govern the fall of bodies. Razi investigated on the determination of specific gravity of means of hydrostatic balance, called by him Mizan-al-Tabii. Most of his works on physics, mathematics, astronomy and optics have perished. In physics his writings deal with matter, space, time and motion. In his opinion matter in the primitive state before the creation of the world was composed of scattered atoms, which possessed extent. Mixed in various proportions with the articles of void, these atoms produced these elements which are five ih number namely earth, air, water, fire and celestial element. Fire is created by striking iron on the stone.

    Abu Rehan Beruni, was a versatile genius, who adorned the durbar of Mahmud of Ghazni. His outstanding achievement in the realm of physics was the accurate determination of the weight of 18 stones. He also discovered that light travels faster than sound. He has also contributed immensely to geological knowledge by providing the correct explanation of the formation'of natural spring and artesian wells, He suggested that the Indus valley was formerly an ancient basin filled with alluvial soil. His Kitab al Jawahir deals with different types of gems and their specific gravity. A voluminous unedited lapidary by Betuni is kept in manuscript form in the Escorial Library. It deals.with a large number of stones and metals from the natural, commercial and medical point of view. Barlu Musa has left behind him a work on balance, while Al-Jahiz used hydrostatic balance to determine specific gravity. An excellent treatise had been written by Al-Naziri regarding atmosphere.

    Khazini, was a well known scientist ofIslam, who explained the greater density of water when nearer to the centre of the earth. Roger Bacon, who proved the same hypotheses afterwards based his proof on the theories advanced by Khazini. His brilliant work Mizanul Hikma deals with gravity and contains tables of densities of many solids and liquids. It also contains "observation on capillarity, uses of aerometer to measure densities and appreciate the temperature of liquids, theory of the lever and the application of balance to building." Chapters on weights and measures' were written by Ibn Jami and Al-Attar. Abdur Rahman Ibn Nasr wrote an excellent treatise on weights and measures for the use of Egyptian markets.


    Biology
    The Muslim scientists made considerable progress in biology especially in botany, and developed horticulture to a high degree of perfection. They paid greater attention to botany in comparison to zoology. Botany reached its zenith in Spain. In zoology the study of the horse was developed almost to the tank of a science. Abu Ubaidah (728--825 A. D.) who wrote more than 100 books, devoted more than fifty books to the study of the horse.

    Al-Jahiz, who flourished in Basra is reputed to be one of the greatest zoologists the Muslim world has produced. His influence in the subject may be traced to 'the Persian'Al-Qazwini' and the Egyptian 'Al-Damiri'. His book 'Ritab al Haywan' (book ori animals) contains germs of later theories of evolution, adaptation and animal psychology. He was the first to note changes in bird life through migrations, Re described the method of obtaining 'ammonia from animal offal by dry distilling.'

    Al-Damiri, who died in 1405 in Cairo and who was influenced by Al-Jahiz is the greatest Arab zoologist. His book Hayat Haywarz (Life of animal) is the most important Muslim work in zoology. It is an encyclopaedia on animal life containing a mine of information on the subject. It contains the history of animals and preceded Buffon by 700 years.

    Al-Masudi, has given the rudiments of the theory of evolution in his well known work Meadows of gold. Another of his works Kitab al-Tanbih wal Ishraq advances his views on evolution namely from mineral to plant, from plant to animal and from animal to man.

    In botany Spanish Muslims made the greatest contribution, and some of them are known as the greatest botanists of mediaeval times. They were keen observers and discovered sexual difference between such plants as palms and hemps. They roamed about on sea shores, on mountains and in distant lands in quest of rare botanical herbs. They classified plants into those that grow from seeds, those that grow from cuttings and those that grow of their own accord, i.e., wild growth. The Spanish Muslims advanced in botany far beyond the state in which "it had been left by Dioscorides and augmented the herbology of the Greeks by the addition of 2,000 plants" Regular botanical gardens existed in Cordova, Baghdad, Cairo and Fez for teaching and experimental purposes. Some of these were the finest in the world.

    The Cordovan physician, Al-Ghafiqi (D. 1165) was a renowned botanist, who collected plants in Spain and Africa, and described them most accurately. According to G. Sarton he was "the greatest expert of his time on simples. His description of plants was the most precise ever made in Islam; he gave the names of each in Arabic, Latin and Berber".l His outstanding work Al Adwiyah al Mufradah dealing with simples was later appropriated by Ibn Baytar."

    Abu Zakariya Yahya Ibn Muhammad Ibn AlAwwan, who flourished at the end of 12 century in Seville (Spain) was the author of the most important Islamic treatise on agriculture during the mediaeval times entitled Kitab al Filahah. The book treats more than 585 plants and deals with the cultivation of more than 50 fruit trees. It also discusses numerous diseases of plants and suggests their remedies. The book presents new observations on properties of soil and different types of manures.

    Abdullah Ibn Ahmad Ibn al-Baytar, was the greatest botanist and pharmacist of Spain--in fact the greatest of mediaeval times. He roamed about in search of plants and collected herbs on the Mediterranean littoral, from Spain to Syria, described more than 1,400 medical drugs and compared them with the records of more than 150 ancient and Arabian authors. The collection of simple drugs composed by him is the ilaost outstanding botanical work in Arabic. "This book, in fact is the most important for the whole period extending from Dioscorides down to the 16th cenfury." It is an encyclopaedic work on the subject. He later entered into the service of the Ayyubid king, al-Malik al-l(amil, as his chief herbalist in Cairo. From there he travelled through Syria and Asia Minor, and died in Damascus. One of his works AI-Mughani-fi al Adwiyah al Mufradah deals with medicine. The other Al Jami Ji al Adwiyah al Mufradah is a very valuable book containing simple remedies regarding animal, vegetable and mineral matters which has been described above. It deals also with 200 novel plants which were not known upto that time. Abul Abbas Al-Nabati also wandered along the African Coast from Spain to Arabia in search of herbs and plants. He discovered some rare plants on the shore of Red Sea.

    Another botanist Ibn Sauri, was accompanied by an artist during his travels in Syria, who made sketches of the plants which they found.

    Ibn Wahshiya, wrote his celebrated work al-Filahah al-Nabatiyah containing valuable information about :animals and plants.

    Many Cosmographical encyclopaedias have been written by Arabs and Persians, which contain sections on animals, plants and stones, of which the best known is that of Zakariya al-Kaiwini, who died in 1283 A. D. Al-Dinawari wrote an excellent 'book of plants' and al-Bakri has written a book describing in detail the 'Plants of Andalusia'

    Ibn Maskwaih, a contemporary of Al-Beruni, advanced a definite theory about evolution. According to him plant life at its lowest stage of evolution does not need any seed for its birth and growth. Nor does it perpetuate its species by means of the seed.

    The great advancement of botanical science in Spain led to the development of agriculture and horticulture on a grand scale. "Horticulture improvements" says G. Sarton, "constituted the finest legacies of Islam, and the gardens of Spain proclaim to this clay one of the noblest virtues of her Muslim conquerors- The development of agriculture was one of the glories of Muslim Spain."'


    Transmission to the West
    The Muslims were the pioneers of sciences and arts during mediaeval times and formed the necessary link between the ancients and the moderns. Their light of learning dispelled the gloom that had enveloped Europe. Moorish Spain was the main source from which the scientific knowledge of the Muslims and their great achievements were transmitted to France, Germany and England. The Spanish universities of Cordova, SeviIle and Granada were thronged with Christian and Jewish students who learnt science from the Muslim scientists and who then popularised them in their native lands. Another source for the transmission of Muslim scientific knowledge was Sicily, where during the reign of Muslim kings and even afterwards a large number of scientific works were translated from Arabic into Latin. The most prominent translators who translated Muslims works from Arabic into European languages were Gerard of Cremona, Adelard of Bath, Roger Bacon and Robert Chester. Writing in his celebrated work Moors in Spain Stanley Lane Poole says, "For nearly eight centuries under the Mohammadan rulers, Spain set out to all Europe a shining example of a civilized and enlightened State--Arts, literature and science prospered as they prospered nowhere in Europe. Students flocked from France, Germany and England to drink from the fountain of learning which flowed down in the cities of Moors. The surgeons and doctors of Andalusia were in the van of science; women were encouraged to serious study and the lady doctor was not always unknown among the people of Cordova. Mathematics, astronomy and botany, history, philosophy and jurisprudence, were to be mastered in Spain, and Spain alone. The practical work of the field, the scientific methods of irrigation, the arts of fortification and shipbuilding, of the highest and most elaborate products of the loom, the gravel and the hammer, the potter's wheel and mason's trowel, were brought to perfection by the Spanish Moors. Whatever makes a kingdom great and prosperous, whatever tends to refinement and civilization was found in Muslim Spain."l

    The students flocked to Spanish cities from all parts of Europe to be infused with the light of learning which lit up Moorish Spain. Another western historian writes, "The light of these universities shone far beyond the Muslim world, and drew students to them from east and west. At Cordova in particular there were a number of Christian students, and the influence of Arab philosophy coming by way of Spain upon universities of Paris, Oxford and North Italy and upon western Europe thought generally, was very considerable indeed. The book copying industry flourished at Alexandria, Damascus, Cairo and Baghdad and about the year 970, there were 27 free schools open in Cordova for the education of the poor.

    Such were the great achievements of Muslims in the field of science which paved the way for the growth of modern sciences.
    Sciences
    Last edited by Ray; 07 Oct 07, at 18:30.


    "Some have learnt many Tricks of sly Evasion, Instead of Truth they use Equivocation, And eke it out with mental Reservation, Which is to good Men an Abomination."

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    In this new world where everyone from all creeds and religions are given a chance to learn and expand their knowledge, this world is the best example to see what works best. Science may be able to develop in a different world, but we will see what works best.

    Pointing to the past doesn't really help as the past only shows the worlds that were able to develop and those that weren't. Now that the peoples all are able to develop in the different places, we should examine the model that works best.

    Also, I think the islamic view on science provided by Ray shows a world that seems to neglect quite a bit on the advances by the greeks and the contributions by the chinese and indians as well as other civilisations.
    Those who can't change become extinct.

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    It is a tough call to comment on what you have posted.

    Take my comments for what it is worth since I am no expert.

    Pakistan is a schizophrenic state.

    Jinnah insisted on it to liberate the Moslems from the Hindu majority dominance. He achieved it, but then it went haywire.

    Islam is a religion that knows no rest. It is a religion that is steeped in oneupmanship and it finds a new one every time the situation seems to be solved.

    Not satisfied in having found an Islamic homeland carved out of India, they found new shadows to battle against. Kashmir came its way on the grounds that 1/3 of Kashmir was Moslem! To be fair to Moslems, to them Islam is uber alles and nations are secondary! Hence, Kashmir is theirs!

    They failed in all their four attempts to capture Kashmir. Interestingly, it was the Moslems that alerted the Indian Army to Pakistan's devious plans every time! So much for the so called concept of ummah! Ummah is a pipedream of all Arabic thinking Moslems. Thinking Moslems think otherwise, Bangladesh proved the same! But the Arabic thinking Moslems will never understand. They still think that Bangladesh will one day join Pakistan! One has to see the Pak forums to see this pipedream! To imagine the rape and pillage being forgotten by Bengalis. But then, who know, Islam maybe more powerful than their folks being raped!

    Let us look at Pakistan.

    West Pakistan composed of army personnel and tribal and feudal lords. The majority were illiterate peasants. The Mohajirs who migrated from India were educated and savvy. They grabbed all the bureaucratic jobs, lawyers and other intellectual portfolios.

    The Punjabis and to some extent the Pathans were the backbone of the military and who ruled the roost. They were unhappy that these 'outsiders' were calling the shots since because of their education they were holding all government and judicial jobs!

    It created a rift. The Mohajirs (refuges from India)realised that they would be marginalised and swamped, use the age old charm - Islam. It played the card that Hindu India would swamp nascent Pakistan. It caught the imagination and Kashmir played the catalyst. It also served the purpose of the Punjabi Pakistan which was the majority in the Army. A strong army would mean the ascendancy of the army!

    That is why the Army has never allowed the bureaucracy and democratic institution in Pakistan to take over!
    Last edited by Ray; 07 Oct 07, at 19:20.


    "Some have learnt many Tricks of sly Evasion, Instead of Truth they use Equivocation, And eke it out with mental Reservation, Which is to good Men an Abomination."

    I don't have to attend every argument I'm invited to.

    HAKUNA MATATA

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    So does anyone think it's possible that Muslim religion will create some sort of real technological progress?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor View Post
    So does anyone think it's possible that Muslim religion will create some sort of real technological progress?
    The religion no, the society possibly. I personally think that religion sometimes holds back technological progress, however even if it holds it back, I'm of the opinion that progress will continue.

    In my opinion, culture will be more of a influence, if they have a culture that emphasizes education and science then I can imagine some progress regardless of religion.
    Those who can't change become extinct.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wkllaw View Post
    The religion no, the society possibly. I personally think that religion sometimes holds back technological progress, however even if it holds it back, I'm of the opinion that progress will continue.

    In my opinion, culture will be more of a influence, if they have a culture that emphasizes education and science then I can imagine some progress regardless of religion.
    Unfortunately for all concerned the education the young males get is likely to be in a madrassa.
    Semper in excretum. Solum profunda variat.

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    When Newton, Hooke, Wren, Liebnitz and that chappie with the clocks (Huygens?) were busy doing their thing, your average enlightened man in their societies believed that worms came from stray horse hairs left in the rain.
    General education, while a public good, isn't what is required. What is required is a ruling elite that either actively encourages or at least doesn't actively discourage such people.
    In the realm of spirit, seek clarity; in the material world, seek utility

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    Quote Originally Posted by Parihaka View Post
    When Newton, Hooke, Wren, Liebnitz and that chappie with the clocks (Huygens?) were busy doing their thing, your average enlightened man in their societies believed that worms came from stray horse hairs left in the rain.

    General education, while a public good, isn't what is required. What is required is a ruling elite that either actively encourages or at least doesn't actively discourage such people.
    Parihaka,

    Newton, Leibnitz and Gauss ended up having to do redundant work for mathematics precisely because of this line of thinking! Some of their most significant works in mathematics had already been done in India and China, but had been lost to humanity precisely because there people thought such knowledge needn't have been disseminated to the general public. Scholars and their patrons die, physical repositories of learning either decay or are destroyed - both of these have happened to all earlier civilizations. What then?

    Newton could see only so far because he stood on shoulders of giants fallen on their knees
    Last edited by Cactus; 08 Oct 07, at 18:18.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by wkllaw View Post
    Also, I think the islamic view on science provided by Ray shows a world that seems to neglect quite a bit on the advances by the greeks and the contributions by the chinese and indians as well as other civilisations.
    Quite true. Today intellectual dishonesty - through commission as well as ommission - has become so customary to Islamic narratives that science is a realm not often spared either. Their insecurities weigh so much on them that even as they turn inwards for introspection, they close an eye. Same problems plague the first article Parihaka posted - except it is even more venomous and grovelling in its content.

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    Dirty Kiwi Senior Contributor
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cactus View Post
    Parihaka,

    Newton, Leibnitz and Gauss ended up having to do redundant work for mathematics precisely because of this line of thinking! Some of their most significant works in mathematics had already been done in India and China, but had been lost to humanity precisely because there people thought such knowledge needn't have been disseminated to the general public. Scholars and their patrons die, physical repositories of learning either decay or are destroyed - both of these have happened to all earlier civilizations. What then?

    Newton could see only so far because he stood on shoulders of giants fallen on their knees
    Actually Newton's comments about standing on the shoulders of giants was intended as an insult to Leibnitz because Leibnitz was so short)

    The other factor that allowed their work to carry was of course the advent of the printing press in the west and most importantly the establishment of the Royal Society and it's patronage by the whigs.
    As I said, general education was a benefit, but it was the continuance of patronage that made their work stick.
    In the realm of spirit, seek clarity; in the material world, seek utility

    Gottfried Leibniz

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    Ray,
    Thanks for your reply,

    The politics and society of central and south east Asia certainly is interesting but for an Anglo who has lived all his life in an idylic and stable island nation, I think I, and most other Australians, will never adequately understand the hows or whys of the goings on.

    I think it is fairly obvious that education bringing real and positive outcomes to populations is the key that also helps to keep the more fanatical elements at bay.
    Musharraf has an unenviable role to play and it would seem he is the only real alternative that Pakistan presently has.
    His success or failure will have far reaching effects not only for Pakistan but, also most af Asia.

    The articles by Professor Hoodbhoy offer an interesting perspective although he seems a little exasperated.

    Another article by another academic appered in Pakistan's Daily Times on Oct 5th.
    This fellow is Kishore Mahbubani who is Dean of public policy at the National University of Singapore and he seems to be a little more upbeat about Pakistan's future.


    VIEW: A tale of two dictatorships —Kishore Mahbubani

    Myanmar broadcasts no information on the dissident Aung San Suu Kyi, and would never allow the reinstatement of a Chief Justice fired by its generals, as Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf did in March, let alone demonstrations in the streets in the Chief Justice’s favour

    Myanmar and Pakistan are both Asian countries whose military rulers are in trouble. But they are heading in opposite directions, because, whereas Pakistan understands why Asia is rising, Myanmar does not.

    Asia is rising because Asian countries are increasingly opening their doors to modernity. Starting with Japan, this modernising wave has swept through the four “Asian Tigers” (South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore), some ASEAN countries (Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam), and then to China and India. Now, it is moving into Pakistan and West Asia.

    I was in Pakistan during one of its more exciting weeks. Exiled former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif sought to return, but was promptly sent back into exile. The world expected a political eruption. Instead, the country carried on calmly.

    Pakistan did not erupt because Pakistan’s elite is focused on modernisation. Led by Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, who was formerly with Citibank, the country has carried out dramatic structural reforms, matching best practices in leading emerging-market economies. This explains high economic growth rates.

    Pakistan has welcomed foreign trade and investment. And, just as the success of overseas Indians in America inspired Indians in India, Pakistan stands to similarly benefit from its own successful diaspora.

    But this opening to modernity extends beyond economics and finance. Yes, thousands of madrassas remain open and Islamic fundamentalism is strong. But this has not completely changed the fundamental texture of Pakistan’s society.

    One sight at LUMS, a leading private university in Lahore, heartened me: how women were dressed. When I visited Malaysian campuses as a young man in the 1960’s, few Malay Muslim women wore the hijab. Today, on the same campuses, almost all do. By contrast, at LUMS (which has the look and feel of Harvard Business School), only about 5% of female students wore the hijab, a remarkable expression of social freedom.

    There has also been an explosion of free media in Pakistan. An astonishing number of Pakistani TV stations openly discuss the activities of Sharif and the other exiled former Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto. Indeed, many elements of an open society are in place, including — as the world learned in March — an independent judiciary.

    Myanmar, by contrast, broadcasts no information on the dissident Aung San Suu Kyi, and would never allow the reinstatement of a Chief Justice fired by its generals, as Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf did in March, let alone demonstrations in the streets in the Chief Justice’s favour.

    Of course, there is much silent resentment about the enormous political and economic space occupied by the Pakistan military, and a danger of a backlash if the military does not learn to share more space with civil society. I met many retired army generals occupying key posts. Fortunately, they seemed to have a temperament closer to Colin Powell’s than to either Shwe or Maung Aye, the two closed military minds who have cut off Myanmar from the world.

    America’s decision to engage, rather than isolate, Pakistan has also helped. I have no doubt that closer American re-engagement helped to nudge Pakistan in the right direction. Many members of Pakistan’s elite have been educated in American universities — another leading indicator of a country’s orientation. Just imagine how different international relations would be if American leaders could visit Myanmar (or even Iran) with equal ease and have friendly discussions about agreements and disagreements.

    Myanmar’s generals deserve to be condemned for their brutal crackdown on civilian protestors and Buddhist monks. The Western world will rush to demand more sanctions and more isolation. But to what avail? Myanmar has effectively isolated itself for more than 50 years. What can even more isolation achieve?

    A courageous Western leader might confront Myanmar’s leaders with a threat that would really frighten them: deeper engagement. Myanmar’s generals genuinely believe that they are protecting Burmese “purity” by shutting out the world. Imagine the impact if as many Myanmar generals visited America as Pakistani generals do. A brave young Myanmar intellectual, Thant Myint-U (the grandson of former United Nations Secretary General U Thant) asks, “What outside pressure can bring about democratic change? And why, after nearly two decades of boycotts, aid cutoffs, trade bans, and diplomatic condemnation, are Myanmar’s generals apparently more in charge than ever before?”

    I was in Pakistan as a state guest. But my real mission was to reconnect with my ethnic Sindhi roots, as I had never visited the country where my parents were born. Only those who understand the pain of the partition of British India in 1947 will appreciate the powerful symbolism of a child of Hindu parents being welcomed back warmly to Muslim Pakistan. Those cultural ties helped me understand the Urdu and Sindhi being spoken, and also to feel the deep urge to modernise in the Pakistani soul — an urge that exists alongside the urge to reconnect with Pakistan’s rich cultural past.

    I left Pakistan feeling hopeful, because I saw the strong desire to join today’s rising Asia. If a similar impulse could be implanted into Myanmar, both its people and the world would benefit. —DT-PS

    Kishore Mahbubani is Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore. His latest book The New Asian Hemisphere: The Irresistible Shift of Asian Power to the East will be published next year.

    Cheers

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