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Islam and Science: Religious Orthodoxy and the Battle for Rationality

Pervez Hoodbhoy

Top 10 Best Quotes

“It is imperative to realize that Muslim culture is inextricably wedded to the past”

“Science may have transformed the world into a global village, but it has yet to teach the villagers to learn to talk with and understand each other.”

“Reform is not instantaneous, but proceeds by degrees. In contrast, the dogmatist dreams of reforming all of society in one holistic sweep and believes that he has in his possession a unique, unalterable blueprint. This quest for a utopia leads to authoritarianism, intolerance and violence because, once the end goal has been defined, no one is allowed to criticize or change it.”

“It is absurd to think that the scientific views of a Muslim scientist are necessarily connected with his religious belief, or that he necessarily derives inspiration for his scientific work from faith. This was as true a thousand years ago as it is now. Alchemy provides an excellent example. Developed extensively by Jabir Ibn Hayyan and AI-Razi, and based on certain myths going back to Arius and Pythagoras, it was one of the most important Muslim contributions. Of course, today everyone knows that alchemy was scientific nonsense: there cannot be anything like the Philosopher's Stone, and the transformation of base metals like copper or tin into silver or gold by chemical means is an impossibility”

“The rote nature of education in contemporary Muslim societies can be traced to attitudes inherited from traditional education, wherein knowledge is something to be acquired rather than discovered. and in which the attitude of mind is passive and receptive rather than creative and inquisitive. The social conditioning of an authoritarian traditional environment has. as an inescapable consequence. That all knowledge comes to be viewed as unchangeable and all books tend to be memorized or venerated to some degree. The concept of secular knowledge as a problem-solving tool which evolves over time is alien to traditional thought.”

“The new Islamic science has been fathered by the global resurgence of orthodoxy in Muslim countries; it is not peculiar to Pakistan by any means. Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia are also particularly active centres. However, it is not confined by national boundaries and is particularly to be found amongst immigrants settled in the West. It evidently provides a form of psychological defence against the continuous battering by modern science in its many manifestations. For this reason, one must not expect the phenomenon to disappear in the decades to come.”

“The inability of the traditional system of education to respond adequately to a changing world may well have been the most critical factor which denied to Muslims the chance of spearheading the Scientific Revolution.”

“Science is the supreme expression of man's rationality.”

“Muslims – who comprise one-fifth of all humanity - will continue to suffer an undignified and degraded existence if science, and particularly a rational approach to human problems, is considered alien to Islamic culture.”

“It is somewhat paradoxical that AI-Ghazzali spearheaded the attack against free-thinkers and the proponents of logic, but in doing so had to use the weapon of his adversaries. Indeed, the stubborn ghost of Greek dialectics withstood exorcism by the greatest Asharite of all time.”

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Book Keywords:

science, muslim-orthodoxy, muslim-education, greek, islam, dogma, backwardness, global-village, traditional-education, scientific-revolution, muslims, reform, islamic-culture, ghazali, muslim, alchemy, retrogressive-thinking, utopia

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