Islamic countries are far removed from science and the process of creating knowledge, writes Pervez Hoodbhoy in Physics Today — but it is still possible to move forward.
Between the ninth and thirteenth centuries, Islam brought about major advances in science, says Hoodbhoy. But no major discovery has emerged from the Muslim world in over seven centuries since open-mindedness was marginalised by religious orthodoxy.
Although many Muslim leaders have now realised that science and technology are central to economic growth and some countries are investing in science and education, he says, problems remain.
One barrier is that the language of science is generally English, and few Muslim countries translate texts.
But ultimately, he argues, it comes down to attitude. For fundamentalist Muslims, science is seen as a method for establishing the proofs of God rather than about critical thought and awareness, creativity or exploration.
Nevertheless, few scientists grapple with the mysteries of the universe on a daily basis, stresses Hoodbhoy. And if Islam can accept the scientific method and shrug off tradition, fatalism and absolute belief in authority, science can prosper among Muslims once again.