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Refuting the gross distortion and misrepresentation of the Quran, the Prophet Muhammad and Islam, made by the critics of Islam

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July 7th, 2017

The REAL contribution of early Islam to science, by Prof. Jim Al-Khalili

A TV documentary by Prof. Jim Al-Khalili, entitled Science and Islam, first shown in 2009, is being repeated on the BBC Four channel. At the end of the first of three episodes, he concludes as follows:

"… but I think the real story of what happened to science in the Islamic world in the 8th and 9th centuries tells us more than any single discovery. What it really tells us is about the universal truth of science itself.

I believe that the first great achievement of the medieval Islamic scientists was to prove that science isn't Islamic, or Hindu, or Helenistic or Jewish, Buddhist or Christian. It cannot be claimed by any one culture.

Before Islam science was spread across the world but the scholars of medieval Islam pieced together this giant scientific jigsaw by absorbing knowledge that had originated from far beyond their own empire's borders. 

This great synthesis produced not just new science but showed for the first time that science, as an enterprise, transcends political borders and religious affiliations. It's a body of knowledge that benefits all humans. Now that's an idea that is as relevant and inspiring as ever."

Please watch at this link, from 56:15 to 57:24.

(At the above link the video is available till the beginning of August. The three episodes are available as one video at this link, apparently without time restriction.)

What Jim Al-Khalili has noted is very perceptive and profound. It is a far cry from those many populist articles by Muslims saying that certain discoveries of modern science were already mentioned in the Quran. I don't doubt the underlying truth of those articles, but they achieve nothing except make Muslims feel good and sneer condescendingly at others that their religion is supreme. Those writers don't realize that it is no credit to Muslims that the Quran contained knowledge which man discovered later. Muslims of recent centuries made no effort or sacrifices to discover it.

It is quite obvious that the Muslim scientists of the early period did not take the attitude that all discoveries are written down in the Quran, and we don't need to do anything ourselves. Wherever they found knowledge developed by previous civilizations, they adopted it and translated it into Arabic.

— Zahid Aziz

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