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How the Muslim world is being left behind

Why each new terror attack only further marginalizes the Muslim world


 
July 2013: Damaged buildings in front of the Khaled bin Walid mosque in the central Syrian city of Homs. (Sam Skaine, Getty)

July 2013: Damaged buildings in front of the Khaled bin Walid mosque in the central Syrian city of Homs. (Sam Skaine, Getty)

On the morning of the shooting at Charlie Hebdo in Paris, Maclean’s contributor Scott Gilmore filed this column. In the Jan. 29 issue of the magazine, he expands on his argument: 

On Jan. 7, Islamist gunmen ran through the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo screaming “The Prophet is avenged!” By coincidence, at the very moment they were killing the journalists, the International Space Station passed silently over Paris.

Consider that for a moment.

As terrorists committed a primitive act of tribal savagery in the name of a prophet who lived 1,400 years ago, right above them, orbiting through space, was the most sophisticated expression of mankind’s ability to transcend ignorance and fear with hope and reason.

Twenty-five nations from around the world have come together to build the space station. They include old enemies who fought each other for centuries over God and gold, Cold War rivals, small countries and large. But none are Islamic nations.

It has become a cliché to point out that science and reason once flourished in the Islamic world. Nonetheless, it is true. While Europe stumbled through the Dark Ages, Islamic scholars made dramatic advances in every field of science including mathematics, optics and experimental physics. Our modern world was built on the scientific breakthroughs of Islam. From the eighth century, mathematicians such as Muhammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī, who helped develop algebra, there is a direct line of progress that ends with the space station itself. But we no longer associate Islam with progress. In fact, a Muslim astronaut would surprise us as much as a non-Muslim terrorist (although there are many examples of each).

When the Parisian police siege ended on the blood-smeared floor of a kosher supermarket, the Prophet had not been avenged. He was diminished. This terrorist attack, and the others before it, merely isolated the Islamic world further from the global mainstream. In its aftermath, we and our leaders repeat, again and again, “Not all Muslims”—and yet we collectively treat Muslim nations as a threat that must be contained. Equal members of the global community? No. Partners in the space program? Impossible.

Related reading: 10 essential reads on the Paris shooting

The Islamic world is in relative decline. Or, more precisely, a large number of countries with a Muslim majority are not developing as rapidly as the rest of the world, and in some cases, like Syria, they are even regressing.

This is a golden age for most. In the last 100 years life expectancy has more than doubled. In the last 50 years the poverty rate has fallen by 80 per cent. During that same time, the number of wars fell by a similar figure and the number of nations governed democratically tripled.

But, while the global community leapt forward, Islamic nations (as defined as members of the Organization of Islamic Co-operation) have progressed at a much slower pace. This is the case across a wide variety of metrics.

MAC03-chartsThe Social Progress Index, a comprehensive measurement of a nation’s well-being, which includes everything from access to water to freedom of movement, ranks Islamic countries behind every other region in the world, including non-Muslim African countries. The Muslim world does even worse on Transparency International’s Perceptions of Corruption Index. Life expectancy numbers are among the world’s lowest, more than 15 years fewer than North America. And, not surprisingly, on a per capita basis, Muslim nations publish scientific papers at less than one-tenth the frequency of Europeans.

If we are surprised by these numbers, Najmuddin Shaikh is not. The former foreign secretary of Pakistan recently lamented, “The Islamic world is in disarray and decline and that Muslim communities find themselves under siege-like conditions in the West and elsewhere is perhaps an understatement.”

Why has the Muslim world been unable to keep pace? Why is it besieged? The easiest response is to say they did this to themselves. The evidence of this is so pervasive it is hard to refute. For example, just last week alone, while the world was focused on France, there were dozens of other terrorist attacks where Muslims killed Muslims.

In Yemen, a large group of young men were applying for entry into the police academy. They were queued up along a stone wall, which intensified the blast of a car bomb—33 died.

In Iraq, a wholesale market is held every Saturday morning in Baghdad’s western district of Baiyaa. There a bomb killed five. Later that morning another blast killed three more people in the nearby town of Madian.

In Lebanon, on the same day, a suicide bomber walked up to the crowded Omran Café in Tripoli and triggered his vest. Bloodied survivors were pulling themselves out of the rubble when a second bomber stepped in amongst them. There were nine dead and 37 injured.

In Pakistan, as people gathered to celebrate the Prophet’s birthday by distributing alms at a mosque in Rawalpindi, a bomber pushed his way in. The blast shattered all the nearby windows and killed seven.

In Nigeria, militants wrapped explosives around the midriff of a small 10-year old girl, and told her to walk into the market. When she reached the stalls where the chickens are sold, it went off, killing 19.

This is an incomplete list, from just last week, but it illustrates the broader story well. Internecine conflict in the Islamic world is endemic. The unrelenting Shia and Sunni schism dominates it, but it also includes tribal and ethnic divides. In 2013, there were 12 Western victims of terror attacks compared to 22,000 non-Western fatalities. These do not include those killed by the barrel bombs that Syrian President Assad dropped on his own people, or civilians killed by warfare in Afghanistan or Iraq. From the jungles of Sulawesi to the deserts of Libya, Muslims are killing Muslims at a rate that dwarfs the more highly publicized conflict with the West. In that light, it is hard to subscribe to the theory this is a clash of civilizations. Rather, it is one culture turning on itself.

The self-inflicted wounds are not always violent. The Taliban banned girls from being educated. In Syria, Islamic State closed all schools. In 2013, militants in Mali burned the fabled and ancient libraries of Timbuktu. In a speech just days before the Paris attacks, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi pleaded for an end to this self-destruction: “The Islamic world is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost. And it is being lost by our own hands.”

Focusing just on the violence does not take into account the broader context, the economic and geographic circumstances in which these countries find themselves. The Maghreb (northwest Africa), the Arabian Peninsula, the Central Asia steppes, the Gulf of Guinea, the Indus valley, the Indonesian archipelago: each of these presents different but equally daunting barriers to building modern economies and functioning states. Whether it is drought or monsoons, a lack of harbours or impassible mountain ranges, the Islamic world was not dealt the best geographic hand.

It has faced economic hurdles, too. The international demand for heroin has created a lucrative but destructive poppy trade that the United States and all its allies could not even slow. Similarly, but perhaps less dramatically, the oil reserves of the Middle East and West Africa have been both a blessing and a curse, fuelling building booms, corruption and instability.

There are also the historical circumstances that must be acknowledged. The legacy of disastrous foreign intervention is everywhere. For hundreds of years the Dutch treated Indonesia as a warehouse, merely to be raided for its wealth, forestalling the evolution of local institutions. When independence came, dictators Sukarno and Suharto merely perfected what the Dutch had begun.

Bangladesh faced a similar colonial legacy, but one that was followed by partition and a brutal civil war. The elites who emerged redefined corruption, and it is difficult to judge which has done more damage: the typhoons or the politicians.

Related reading by Scott Gilmore: Heightened security only increases our fears

Further west, the arbitrarily drawn Durand Line was established in the 19th century to separate Pakistan and Afghanistan by cutting right through the Pashtun homeland. This colonial relic has remained a festering wound that makes both countries virtually ungovernable.

A similar exercise produced a comparable result in the Middle East. The secretly negotiated Sykes-Picot Agreement, creating spheres of influence for the Great Powers during the First World War, produced fractious borders and lit a bonfire of ethnic and sectarian violence that this week burned the Baiyaa market and the Omran Café.

Even recent history has been unkind to the Islamic world. The U.S.-led invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan exploded into regional instability. repeated conflicts with Israel have drained meagre budgets from militaries who spend most of their time blaming Zionist conspiracies for the repressive chaos they themselves create at home.

When one considers the heavy weight of these extenuating circumstances, it is easier to see that the terrorism of the last 20 years is not the reason the Islamic world has been left behind. But it is perhaps the reason it is staying there.

Lockerbie. Embassies in Africa. Sept. 11. Subways in London. A memorial in Ottawa. A café in Sydney. A magazine in Paris. We have witnessed a steady series of attacks against the West. Some of these were large and well-organized conspiracies, others lone-wolf attacks by mentally unstable men with tenuous connections to Islam. But they had the same effect: to provoke a fear in the West that Islam is a threat, and the impression that the Muslim world is not a partner, but a challenge to be managed.

We, and our governments, don’t say this. In fact, we do all we can to make it appear otherwise. We talk about engagement and launch various initiatives to build “constructive dialogue.” These are just euphemisms.

President Barack Obama wanted to use the space program as a tool to engage the Islamic world. He instructed NASA to help Muslim nations “feel good about their historic contribution to science, math and engineering.” In Canada, we reached out by, among other things, naming a special envoy to the Organization of Islamic Co-operation (OIC) and by sending its member countries over $12 billion in aid since 2002. During that same period, the United States sent $137 billion.

These efforts were not about expanding mutually beneficial relations with peers to create new opportunities. They were about preventing problems and neutralizing a threat. Most of our energy has gone into isolating, not engaging, the Islamic world. Compare, for example, what has been spent on intelligence, homeland security and military operations. Since 9/11, Canada tripled its spy budget and spent $18 billion sending troops to Afghanistan. The United States spent between $4 trillion and $6 trillion on military campaigns (including Iraq)—over 25 times more than they spent on engaging through aid.

With every act of terror, we push the Muslim world farther way. We launch more drones. We deploy more troops. We fortify more embassies. We watch more mosques. We accept fewer refugees. We issue fewer visas.

A passport from an Islamic nation is less welcome than one from any other region of the world. Citizens of the OIC enjoy visa-free travel to fewer countries than anyone else. This small fact tells a much larger story about the lack of interpersonal contact between Islamic nations and the rest of the world. It illustrates the fear that some of us feel when we see that the man boarding the flight ahead of us is wearing a shalwar kameez. It highlights the difficulty any of us have had bringing Muslim colleagues to international conferences, or transferring money to business partners in the Middle East. It makes us realize we can’t remember the last time someone talked about going to Egypt to see the pyramids. And it explains why last year less than two per cent of the visitors to Canada were from the Islamic world, despite those countries comprising 25 per cent of the world’s population.

Photo by Haim Zach/REX

Photo by Haim Zach/REX

It is not just the West. Russia, China, India: all the global powers have developed similar postures toward the Islamic world. Occasionally, although less frequently than the West, they talk about engagement. But really, like us, their strategy is primarily focused on containment.

The isolation also exists at the multilateral level. Only 19 per cent of global economies are not members of the World Trade Organization, but that short list is dominated by Islamic nations. The centrally important Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has only one Islamic member: Turkey. Canada belongs to 207 international organizations. The average Islamic nation belongs to about half that, making them less connected and included than are European, Latin American, Caribbean and Asian countries.

Of course, it is not all containment. The international community does engage more constructively with some Islamic countries than with others. For example, while Malaysia is not a member of the International Space Station partnership, it did second an astronaut to Russia, who then sent him to the space station. Turkey is not only a member of the OECD, it is also part of NATO. (But is hard to imagine it being invited to join today, given that just this week the United States cancelled the transfer of two frigates to the Turkish navy, due to growing concerns about its Islamist tendencies.)

The United States and Canada are negotiating with Indonesia so that we can enter the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. And Western oil companies are deeply entrenched in Saudi Arabia and Nigeria. But these exceptions prove the rule. Unless you are among the most moderate members of the OIC, or drowning in oil, the international community is not interested.

Ironically, this isolation may be what the extremists actually want. Many of the terrorist attacks were meant to drive a wedge between the Muslim world and the West, to eliminate the degenerate influences of the outside. They want to be left behind, or at least left alone.

Can we change this dynamic? Will we continue to pull back from the Muslim world? It is difficult to find signs that this pattern can be broken. Our economies now depend on trillion-dollar industries whose sole purpose is to protect us from the Islamist threat by building better body scanners and faster cruise missiles. Our own governments have restructured themselves as vigilant watchdogs, safeguarding us from terror. Even as the Paris attacks were still unfolding, the Canadian government was announcing even more anti-terror legislation. And our political institutions have been rewired, dramatically shifting the balance between our personal freedom and our collective security. All of this is intended to build blast-proof walls between us and them.

But perhaps, if we realize that with every terrorist attack our collective instincts to contain the Muslim world grows stronger, we can change this. It would take some patience and courage on our part, and a few leaps of faith, to increase the free flow of our peoples and in their wake, perhaps ideas and values. Of course, it would also require an effort on the part of Islamic nations to reach out, too. We can’t drag them into the OECD.

Terrorists like those who captured our attention in France are not responsible for the relative decline of the Islamic world, but they are prolonging its isolation. This attack and all the others before it have compelled the international community to instinctively respond by containing the threat. But this is merely palliative. As the Muslim world is further contained, it becomes further alienated from the global community, and it falls further behind. This trend must change. We must recognize that as mankind moves further into space, some of us are being left behind.


 

How the Muslim world is being left behind

  1. Thank you Mr Gilmore. For the first time people are being told that Muslims had a Golden Age of learning and were far more advanced than we were.

    Then we attacked them from one side….Ottomans from the other and they fell into chaos.

    The UK and the US finished them off….it remains to be seen if they will rise again. I hope so.

    • “For the first time”???

      Where did YOU go to school? Quite widely taught; just widely ignored by the students, who generally tune out history.

      • I do apologize in advance if I disrespect your individual opinion, however I would like to counterattack this comment of yours by asking if you have looked at the various and current curriculums of Social Studies (and History) in North America. It does take me by surprise that you believe this crucial piece of information is taught widely, when unfortunately it is not. The innovation and knowledge that has greatly advanced the world (at the time) and ignited the engine to globalization and developments in technology and studies in art, medicine, and mathematics was the Islamic civilization, and this has not been written enough about in textbooks and has not been greatly integrated in the education system. I believe it is inappropriate to blame the hatred and ignorance of the textbook publishers on the students. Textbook authors and publishers are compelled to build perspective on current events, and may unintentionally/intentionally form the textbook on negative and bias views on Islam, which would lead to the conclusion of why historic Islamic civilization is not honoured for their contribution of developing our world.

        • People are attempting to bring this awareness back…..Gilmore here, Obama, Dawkins and Neil deGrasse Tyson have also done so recently.

          As globalization continues people will have to get used to genuine history instead of recent self-aggrandizing fables.

    • Golden Age of Islam was when they took the gold from the nations they conquered. Consider history, they spread Islam by the sword and were driven out by the sword.

    • I actually remember my middle school geography classes in the year 2000 and the first half of 2001, we were taught a fair amount about Islam and it’s history, how it was supposed to be a peaceful religion that contributed a lot to world history, how it helped launch the Renaissance in Europe, and the powerful lesson that act left behind, that no matter the magnitude of your mistakes (the crusades) there is always something to be learned from them. After the terrorist attacks of 9/11 I along with everyone I know immediately cracked down against the ensuing backlash and discrimination against American Muslims, and as someone who still believes firmly that all human beings are created equal I understand why we need to continue to make that effort today. But Muslims make that more and more difficult every single year, and it’s really hard to see how things are getting better, and by hard I mean pretty much impossible.

  2. …as the article he links to points out.

    Joe may have meant to say something derogatory about Muslims, but as far as marrying close relatives such as first cousins, he’s not wrong that there can be negative genetic effects.

    And yes, before you say it, I’m well aware that there used to be a lot of it in my birth province of NL (and no, my parents weren’t among them). :-P

    • 80% of all marriages in history were between second cousins or closer.

      We can tell who you are.

      • You forgot to notice massive white Christian pervertism that is prevalent all over Christian world. Incest, adultary, intercourse with animals, prostitution are all prevalent in Christian world. All weird stds including AIDS first discovered and spreaded in the Christian world. Look at your own problem first.

      • And you think I’m disputing this because…? As I said before, the article in the link from the now-deleted comment that started this exchange clearly points out that marriage to close relatives has been widespread throughout history in every culture.

        (Apparently they didn’t like your first response either, as that has also been removed – kind of leaving mine – and your now unlinked followup – as seeming non sequiturs.)

        We can tell who you are as well. Say hi to your Uncle Dad for me!

        • Inbreeding is not the cause of Muslim attacks. Nor are Christians any worse or better in the sex dept than anyone else. Thousands of years on, and people still don’t know how to handle a simple physical urge.

          Perhaps it’s time we admitted we’re all the same species and moved on.

          • Now that’s a more sensible response, Em – and one I can agree with.

          • Same thing as I said in the first place. Same thing as I’ve said for some years on here in fact.

            The problem is not inbreeding….it’s religion.

          • Another poignant and succinct comment. IMO more of this is needed.
            Please stop the squabbling and intellectual merry go round, we only end up where we began,
            back at the beginning.

  3. This argument depends on being totally blind to the death and destruction wreaked on the Islamic world since 2001, much of it illegal (e.g., invasion of Iraq) by anybody’s standard, and the support the “west” has shown for despotic petromonarchies since forever. Did I mention Palestine? Whatever your views on these events, pretending they don’t exist is part of the problem with “terrorism”. Another part is defining “terrorism” without somehow also explaining Justin Bourque, Sandy Hook, Columbine…

  4. Then it is high time for less politics in news reporting, and it starts with paying more attention to Mudar Zahran and Dr. Widad Akrawi.

    The narrative they communicate is what the corruption cited in this piece seeks to overpower, or undermine.

  5. When I no longer feel that as a non-Muslim I have the right to live in a Canada free from prayers, attitudes and actions which view me as an infidel who needs to be brought under Islamic law, ruled by a caliph in an Islamic theocracy, then I may, may feel that there can be dialogue and reingagment with Muslims.

    • Muslims have been here since Confederation….when did you get worried?

      Not that I blame you…I’ve always felt the same attitude from christians. We are awash in their religion.

  6. “Our modern world was built on the scientific breakthroughs of Islam”

    That, my friend, is total and complete baloney. The only significant thing you mention is Algebra, and that came along well before Islam. I believe the Babylonians had something to do with that. And Calculus is far more important than Algebra. Guess who developed that? Newton and/or Leibnetz. Let me refresh your sad memory, that practically all of the inventions that matter to modern man were made by white European males. Here are a few of them.:

    automobiles, internal combustion engines, jet engine, rockets, air craft, steam engines, trains, printing press, computers, electromagnet wave theory, solid state devices, quantum physics, calculus, TV’s, radios, penicillin, high rise buildings, atomic energy, dynamite, drilling rigs for oil, rockets, satellites, etc. etc

  7. Good piece, but you forgot what is probably the largest attack on European soil, the Madrid attacks of March 11th, 2004, with 192 fatalities. This considering that the Pan Am plane was only accidentally blown up over Lockerbie.

    • Very poignant and cutting to the crux of the matter. I agree.

  8. Thank you Scott Gilmore for this article.

    When I read this article I really could relate,
    because for the last 3 or 4 years I have been lamenting that all of these
    conflicts have sucked trillions of dollars from many nations, and what positive has
    come of all this money spent ? Not much. A lot of weapons sales maybe.
    I also lament that all this money could have been put forth to the space program
    and helping us all ( Humankind ) further our advancement into space.
    Why is advancement into space so important ? Well one only needs to look at the lesson learned from the dinosaurs. They lacked the ability of abstract thought and the use of tools in order to protect themselves from terrestrial impacts from space. That was there down fall.
    The force of life ( God ) ( Life Force ) what ever you would like to label it, has provided us the solution.
    Life version 2.0 , with the ability of abstract thought and the use of tools. ( In order to protect from terrestrial impacts from space.) If you can look at this life evolution with an open mind, you may see that we have been granted a gift, an opportunity. After all we are simply just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special. Recognize that the Earth acts as a magnet to the millions of celestial bodies in our vicinity. IMO life’s ( Life Force ) _ Star Wars – ( The Force )_ _ plan, is for us to be ready to protect LIFE
    on Earth, when the next terrestrial impact comes. It is not a matter of IF, it is a matter of WHEN.
    In the last 2 years the number of Fireball’s ( Large Meteor’s ) observed has increased 400 %.
    We need to be advancing Humankind in to space. But instead we are dragged down by this ball and chain of ideologies. If we will ever achieve Gene Roddenberry’s vision of Humankind as a space faring species, we need to quickly reconsider our priorities. I sometimes selfishly lament that the Islamic world would either hurry up and come of age or fade away and be done with it. It has mitigated Humankind’s push to advance in to space. To be fair I should not single out the Islamic world as being the only ball and chain. Global warming is also an increasingly ( exponentially ) dire matter that needs to be addressed and will slow our progress. It has and will continue ( exponentially ) to curtail the growth of economies and mitigating Global Warmings effects will cost trillions of
    dollars globally ( exponentially ). I enjoyed Mr. Scott Gilmore’s article and agreed with almost every point that he brought up. The only points I have an issue with is the very last sentences.

    “” As the Muslim world is further contained, it becomes further alienated from the global community, and it falls further behind. This trend must change. We must recognize that as mankind moves further into space, some of us are being left behind. “”

    You say ” This trend must change. ” . Should it ? Should we continue to muck around in this quagmire of ideologies ? Or, should we recognize and accept that as mankind moves further into space, some of us are and will be left behind. Lets move quickly into Space and whom ever wants to join, are welcome.
    Whom ever wants to continue to muck around in ideologies, then farewell.

    Live long and prosper . V

  9. Thank you Scott Gilmore for this article.

    When I read this article I really could relate,
    because for the last 3 or 4 years I have been lamenting that all of these
    conflicts have sucked trillions of dollars from many nations, and what positive has
    come of all this money spent ? Not much. A lot of weapons sales maybe.
    I also lament that all this money could have been put forth to the space program
    and helping us all ( Humankind ) further our advancement into space.
    Why is advancement into space so important ? Well one only needs to look at the lesson learned from the dinosaurs. They lacked the ability of abstract thought and the use of tools in order to protect themselves from terrestrial impacts from space. That was there down fall.
    The force of life ( God ) ( Life Force ) what ever you would like to label it, has provided us the solution.
    Life version 2.0 , with the ability of abstract thought and the use of tools. ( In order to protect from terrestrial impacts from space.) If you can look at this life evolution with an open mind, you may see that we have been granted a gift, an opportunity. After all we are simply just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special. Recognize that the Earth acts as a magnet to the millions of celestial bodies in our vicinity. IMO life’s ( Life Force ) _ Star Wars – ( The Force )_ _ plan, is for us to be ready to protect LIFE
    on Earth, when the next terrestrial impact comes. It is not a matter of IF, it is a matter of WHEN.
    In the last 2 years the number of Fireball’s ( Large Meteor’s ) observed has increased 400 %.
    We need to be advancing Humankind in to space. But instead we are dragged down by this ball and chain of ideologies. If we will ever achieve Gene Roddenberry’s vision of Humankind as a space faring species, we need to quickly reconsider our priorities. I sometimes selfishly lament that the Islamic world would either hurry up and come of age or fade away and be done with it. It has mitigated Humankind’s push to advance in to space. To be fair I should not single out the Islamic world as being the only ball and chain. Global warming is also an increasingly ( exponentially ) dire matter that needs to be addressed and will slow our progress. It has and will continue ( exponentially ) to curtail the growth of economies and mitigating Global Warmings effects will cost trillions of
    dollars globally ( exponentially ). I enjoyed Mr. Scott Gilmore’s article and agreed with almost every point that he brought up. The only points I have an issue with is the very last sentences.

    “” As the Muslim world is further contained, it becomes further alienated from the global community, and it falls further behind. This trend must change. We must recognize that as mankind moves further into space, some of us are being left behind. “”

    You say ” This trend must change. ” . Should it ? Should we continue to muck around in this quagmire of ideologies ? Or, should we recognize and accept that as mankind moves further into space, some of us are and will be left behind. Lets move quickly into Space and whom ever wants to join, are welcome.
    Whom ever wants to continue to muck around in ideologies, then farewell.

    Live long and prosper . V

  10. In your short article, you reveal a lot about the present situation of Islam. I am sure former President of Egypt Anwar Sadat would have concurred with your article. He questioned a meeting of Islamic leaders as to why Muslim countries were the poorest, and the least educated.

    However, you undermine the credibility of your work when you make the claim that “Our modern world was built on the scientific breakthroughs of Islam.” Yes, the Arabs had a deep knowledge of the world.
    So did the Chinese and Greeks. The Chinese failed to develop general scientific theories that would be called a method. Medieval Europe accepted Aristotle as the final authority on all things “science.” For Islam, the trigonometry and algebra and astronomy, like the scientific knowledge of Europe of the time was more an area of philosophy. What is now termed as medieval science was based on authority rather than observation. Thus, it would be considered that all “science” at the time was developed by logic rather than experimentation.

    The real foundation for modern science was laid down at Oxford university (13th Century AD). Robert Grosseteste started the departure from Aristotelian science when it was discovered that there were mistakes in claims about natural phenomena. At the university of Padua these challenges to authoritarian science were further developed (15th and 16th centuries).

    Copernicus and Galileo, who are true scientists in the modern sense, were attacked by the Catholic church not because of their opposition to Biblical truths, but due to their challenge to Aristotle which the Catholic Church had adopted as truth.

    In Europe, three major influences led to the development of what we call modern science: the Renaissance, the Reformation and the Scientific Revolution. These three were happening simultaneously and affected each other like the waves of the sea. In the 1540’s, from a strictly science perspective three major scientific works were published, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres by Copernicus; On the Structure of the Human Body (De Fabrica) by Vesalius; and the collected works of Archimedes (containing mathematical methods essential to modern science.).

    Back to the Oxford Group, Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) fought against the old order authoritarian scholasticism. Foundational to what is modern science, He stressed the careful observation and a systematic of information “to unlock nature’s secrets.” Contemporary with Bacon, Galileo relied on the experimental method and evidence and conclusions. Even though he was forced to recant, in order to save his life, his works continued to testify not only that Copernicus was right but that Aristotle was wrong.

    Alfred North Whitehead (a respected mathematician and philosopher) and J. Robert Oppenheimer (an atomic physicist), director of Institute of Advanced Studies at Princeton University, neither of whom claimed to be Christians, yet both acknowledged that modern science was born out of a Christian world view. (On Science and Culture in Encounter, Oct. 1962) At lectures at Harvard, Whitehead said that Christianity was the mother of science because of “the medieval instance on the rationality of God” and the confidence “in the intelligible rationality of a personal being.” In describing the early scientists he said they had an “inexpugnable belief that every detailed occurrence can be correlated with its antecedents in a perfectly definite manner, exemplifying general principles. Without this belief the incredible labours of the scientists would be without hope.”

    Clearly, not all early scientist were individually consistent Christians. Yes, many were but all were living within the thought forms brought forth by Christianity. Whitehead is quoted to have said, “the Christian thought form of the early scientists gave them “the faith in the possibility of science.”

    So in short, Islam did not develop a codified science because of their world view. The world view determines the direction of creative stirrings will take and whether the stirrings will continue or dry up.
    As the world views of the Chinese and Greeks gave no birth to a codified method of science. So it was with Islam. Their world view is born out of the Koran. It has left them where they are.

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