Islam, Philosophy and Science in Baghdad-Islamic Golden Age

Islam, Philosophy and Science in Baghdad-Islamic Golden Age
February 5, 2012 7:02 pm 1 comment

Science and Islam – 1-15 By Jim Al-Khalili (BBC)

Science and Islam – 1-15 By Jim Al-Khalili (BBC)

Physicist Jim Al-Khalili travels through Syria, Iran, Tunisia and Spain to tell the story of the great leap in scientific knowledge that took place in the Islamic world between the 8th and 14th centuries.
Its legacy is tangible, with terms like algebra, algorithm and alkali all being Arabic in origin and at the very heart of modern science – there would be no modern mathematics or physics without algebra, no computers without algorithms and no chemistry without alkalis.
For Baghdad-born Al-Khalili this is also a personal journey and on his travels he uncovers a diverse and outward-looking culture, fascinated by learning and obsessed with science. From the great mathematician Al-Khwarizmi, who did much to establish the mathematical tradition we now know as algebra, to Ibn Sina, a pioneer of early medicine whose Canon of Medicine was still in use as recently as the 19th century, he pieces together a remarkable story of the often-overlooked achievements of the early medieval Islamic scientists.



September 13, 2011 10:47 am 0 comments

Human memory and the Muslim Heritage!

Human memory and the Muslim Heritage!

Professor Richard Dawkins describes every human as a composite of four memories, nothing less and nothing more:

1.  Human DNA a memory and repository of ancestral survival techniques.

2.  Human immunity as a memory of all the challenges his or her white blood cells have responded to.

3.  The common place memory of our daily experiences.  He then goes onto describing a fourth memory:

Furthermore, the third memory, the one in the brain, has spawned a  fourth. The database in my brain contains more than just a record of the  happenings and sensations of my personal life — although that was the limit when  brains originally evolved. Your brain includes collective memories inherited  non-genetically from past generations, handed down by word of mouth, or in  books or, nowadays, on the internet. The world in which you and I live is  richer by far because of those, who went before us and inscribed their impacts on the database of human culture: Newton and Marconi, Shakespeare and Steinbeck,  Bach — and the Beatles, Stephenson and the Wright brothers, Jenner and Salk, Curie and Einstein, von Neumann and Berners-Lee. And, of course, Darwin.

All four memories are part of, or manifestations of, the vast super-structure of apparatus for survival which was  originally, and primarily built up by the Darwinian process of non-random DNA  survival.

This is a brilliant description of the human condition by Dawkins, but he missed one little detail, underpinning paramount consequences!  If he had completed the list by mentioning a few more names like Averroes, Avicenna, Al Biruni, Al Khwarizmi, Rhazes and Al Hazen, then not only it will highlight the Muslim Heritage, but, will fully define both the Westerners and Easterners and give them cause to shed their myopic views and have a more wholesome and fulfilling understanding of themselves and others.  In denying these names many a Westerners only end up throwing a part of themselves, like a man handicapped by blindness in one eye or paralysis in half of the body.  Carl Jung calls these cultural memories that define the human condition as archetypes and by denying names like Averroes and Avicenna, many in the West grow up with only limited, fragmented and disjointed understanding of themselves and others.

Reference: Prof. Richard Dawkins. The Greatest Show on Earth. Free Press, 2009. Page 408.

To review some of the achievements by the Muslim scientist, see this short movie — starring Sir Ben Kingsley as Al-Jazari:

The featured picture here is the Church of Seville built on a Mosque still retaining the Muslim minaret!




September 3, 2011 7:40 am 0 comments

BBC Documentary: Science and Islam

BBC Documentary: Science and Islam

By Prof. James Al-Khalili

Al-Khalili is professor of physics, and professor of the public engagement in science, at the University of Surrey, UK. He is author of several books on physics and producers of several movies. In this documentary he very precisely examines the heritage of Muslim scientists, including the calculation, of earth’s circumference, by Al Biruni within 1% of the correct value. Every now and then an idea takes form that changes everything, it revolutionizes the way we see and understand the world around us. Al-Khalili believes that just such an idea took form in the medieval Islamic world. It is the idea that everything from the stars above to the working of our own bodies is not arbitrary or whimsical, but subject to certain systematic rules, and we humans may be able to work out what those rules might be. This idea with additional refinements led to what we now call the scientific method. The documentary has three episodes.

The picture is courtesy of:

September 1, 2011 9:12 am 0 comments