Muslims and the Scientific Education

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan I Islam and Muslims

In this paper I shall go into the reason for Muslims - in India as well as in other countries - lagging behind in scientific education. Some say that the Muslims are backward in scientific education because their religion discourages them from acquiring it, or, at least, does nothing to encourage them to do so. But this is far from the truth.

Innumerable verses from the Qur’an and many saying of the Prophet can be quoted which explicitly urge their readers to delve deeper into the mysteries of the earth and the heavens. How then is it possible that with such exhortation enshrined in their most sacred literature, Muslims, for whom Islam was and is a living thing, should not have engaged themselves in the observation of nature? Which is what science is. It almost goes without saying that making a study of nature is to discover the Creator in His creation. That is the most wonderful benefit to be derived from such a study. Looked at in another way, in terms of worldly activity, the carrying out of, and body of knowledge to be gained from it is what we commonly regard as science.

Moreover, Muslim history itself contradicts the supposition that Islam is an obstacle to scientific investigation. On the contrary, history testifies to the fact that, in the early Muslim period, great advances were made in various branches of science. In a period when Europe had not taken even one step forward in the sciences, Muslims had achieved phenomenal progress in these fields. Bertrand Russell has acknowledged this fact in these words:

“Our use of the phrase ‘the Dark Ages’ to cover the period from 600 to 1000 marks our undue concentration on Western Europe. In China this period includes the time of the Tang dynasty, the greatest age of Chinese poetry, and in many other ways a most remarkable epoch. From India to Spain, the brilliant civilization of Islam flourished. What was lost to Christendom at this time was not lost to civilization, but quite the contrary.’ (A History of Western Philosophy, p. 395)