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TitleIqbal Memorial Lecture 2012
Tags Scientific Method Epistemology Information Relationship Between Religion And Science
File Size118.5 KB
Total Pages24
Document Text Contents
Page 12

in creating a scholastic frame of reference to initiate a discourse on the
interfaces between science and Islam. His prolific writings on the subject
constitute the groundwork for a modern philosophical and historical
interpretation of science in Muslim society. This is a far cry from the
nostalgia and apologia that have characterized much of the discourse.

A few writers, including some neophytes, have attempted to present
Islamic science as a panacea for the ills of the Muslim community. Their
approach is either to take a cursory look at the history of science in
Islam and condemn the Western science for its alleged destruction of the
Muslim societies or to transplant a few isolated concepts from the
Shariah onto the working models of science. Both suffer from
intellectual thinness. While one reduces Islamic science to an insular,
passive, and xenophobic mode, the other makes a mockery of the
genuine Muslim scholarship in shoddy journalistic parlance.

While the religious establishment has not known educational innovation
for a long time, the intellectuals are engaged in an imaginary discourse
that has little bearing on Islamic theory of knowledge or socioeconomic
utility of knowledge. If the present status quo in Muslim philosophy is
any yardstick then there is an urgent need to initiate a valid and authentic
discourse on science and Islam is one of the major intellectual
challenges of our times.

The relevance of science and religion discourse for Islam can easily be
discerned through the rise and fall of knowledge across the Muslim
historical spectrum. Some comfort may be derived in realizing the
organic unity of all knowledge. But that is the point from where emerges
a real challenge to the Muslim intellect.

To invoke false pride in comparing the status of knowledge with other
societies, where modernity or secularism poses its peculiar problems, is
a failure of both perception and judgment.

Page 13

The Muslim fall from grace is a civilizational issue. The multiple causes
for the fall can neither be reduced to classical or neocolonialism nor to
someone’s political whims. It is self-deceptive to mock the West while
making arrogant claims about the absence of dichotomy of knowledge in
Islam. In any search for the reasons of the fall, therefore, the issue of
science and religion remains highly significant.

Beyond Nasr’s fundamental contribution in giving a face to “Islamic
Science” the subject continues to beg for a definition. A half-baked
attempt at “Islamization” of knowledge has shown that by merely
putting a prefix to the titles of disciplines – Islamic Astronomy, Islamic
Biology, Islamic Economics – no scholarly purpose is served.

According to Ameer Ali, “The Islamization enterprise criticized both the
ultra-secularization of knowledge in the West and the stifling of
individual critical thought in the traditional system of Muslim education.
The West was criticized for elevating “doubt and conjecture to the
‘scientific’ rank in methodology and (for) regard (ing) doubt as an
eminently valid epistemological tool in the pursuit of truth.

The visionary objective of this movement was to remove the artificial
dichotomy created by the orthodoxy between the mundane and the
spiritual, to treat knowledge as a holistic unity, and to bring back that
intellectual environment which made Islam the torchbearer of
civilization during the European Dark Ages.”

However, the effervescent epistemological revisionism in the garb of
"Islamization of knowledge" has fallen into the trap of an allegedly
value-free science. They thought it sufficient to add an adjective to some
disciplinary categories and that summed up the Islamization endeavor.

Taking a cue from the idea that knowledge is not value-free and is
generated within the framework of an ideology, the Islamization seeks to
infuse, nay rather reinvent modern knowledge with a top layer of Islamic

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