Science and Technology

Science and Technology

Islamic Perspectives on Sustainable Development

Economic progress in the twentieth century has been spectacular by common Statistical standards. Along with this enviable record have come two important realizations: the immense material wealth has not made people happier than they were before, and it has resulted in a gradual depletion and, in some cases, an outright destruction of scarce ecological and other resources. This has forced many social scientists to rethink the necessity - even the desirability - of indiscriminate economic progress. No other single topic of discussion seems to manifest these concerns more than that of sustainable development.

Mapping the Direction to Makkah: A Cartographic Perspective

Knowledge of locations and directions using the stars was almost instinctual for Arabs during the pre-Islamic era. Being an illiterate nation, using the pen to record information was very limited and hence the art and science of map-making was almost non-existent. It was not until Islam, that the use of the pen became a necessity of everyday life. The importance of keeping written records became evident especially when the Muslim Empire expanded beyond the Arabian Peninsula. In a very short time the Muslims were able to conquer scientifically more advanced nations such as the Byzantine and Persian empires. Geographical records and maps, inherited from the ancients were translated into the Arabic language and modified to encompass the Islamic vision of the world of geography. Elements of nature such as the wind, the mountains and seas that were previously feared by nations are no longer gods to be worshiped, but rather signs of Allah's creations to be studied.

Traditional Muslim Classifications of the Sciences: Comparative Notes on Qutb al-Din al-Shirazi and Ibn Khaldun

Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406) was born two decades after the death of Qutb al-Din al-Shirazi (1236-1311). This means that we may treat them as contemporaries. Those who know the life history of these two notable and fascinating Muslim intellectuals  could find it quite interesting making comparisons and contrasts between them. Ibn Khaldun, an Arab by birth, was a philosopher-historian; Qutb al-Din, who hailed from Shiraz, a city of historic importance in the Persian-speaking world, was a philosopher-scientist. Both traveled extensively in the Muslim world, both as a scholar and as a diplomat, for the two had been patronized by the rulers of their day.

The Spiritual and Ethical Foundation of Science and Technology in Islamic Civilization

Muslim scientists and technologists have for centuries pursued their scientific and technological activities within a spiritual and ethical framework.  There was a profound reason for their insistence on such a framework. They believed in an epistemology in which unity of science and technology and spiritual knowledge is duly maintained. They defended this belief by appealing to both revelation (wahy) and reason (‘aql) or to both religious (naqliy) and intellectual (‘aqliy) arguments. By naqliy arguments we mean arguments that are drawn from the Qur’an, the Hadiths, and other transmitted sources. For ‘aqliy arguments on the other hand, we mean philosophical and scientific arguments that are assembled for the purpose at hand through the independent exercise of reason. In Islamic intellectual tradition, these two types of arguments are not considered as opposed to each other but rather complementary and corroborative.

Making Sense of Natural Disasters: An Islamic Hermeneutics of Malevolent Phenomena in Nature and Its Implication for Sustainable Development

Islam states that both natural phenomena and humanity are created in the best conceivable pattern. Yet the physical world experiences occasional disasters that threaten sustainable development. This study seeks to provide a framework for understanding this phenomenon within the Islamic ethico-religious perspective by focusing on such natural disasters as earthquakes, cyclones, subsidence, and floods. In an attempt to demonstrate this, I highlight the Qur’anic perspective of how natural resources have been overwhelmingly a source of boon and occasionally a source of bane.

Degrees of Truthfulness in Accepted Scientific Claims

Sciences adopt different methodologies in deriving claims and establishing theories. As a result, two accepted claims or theories belonging to two different sciences may not necessarily carry the same degree of truthfulness. Examining the different methodologies of deriving claims in the sciences of ʿaqīdah (Islamic Creed), fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence) and physics, the study shows that ʿaqīdah provides a holistic understanding of the universe. Physics falls short of interpreting physical phenomena unless these phenomena are looked at through the ʿaqīdah holistic view. Left to itself, error may creep into laws of physics due to the methodology of conducting the physical experiments, misinterpreting the experimental results, or accepting invalid assumptions. As for fiqh, it is found that apart from apparent errors, fiqh views cannot be falsified. It is, therefore, useful to consider ʿaqīdah as a master science which would permit all other sciences to live in harmony.

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