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Modern Science and Islamic Essentialism Author(s): S.

Irfan Habib Reviewed work(s): Source: Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 43, No. 36 (Sep. 6 - 12, 2008), pp. 55-61 Published by: Economic and Political Weekly Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40277927 . Accessed: 23/04/2012 04:39
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Modern Science and Islamic Essentialism


maysoundbanal to say thatsciencein Islamwas partofa It a which was marked pluralist project. soaredduring period, free and all from bythestate-sponsored thinking borrowing 1983: 202-03]. possiblesourcesavailable at the time [Lindberg this fundamentalists rejected have the contrast Islamic Nobodycan disputethe factthatthe earlyMuslimcivilisation was heirto a richand diverseintellectual stock Greek, Indian a and eclecticism havefavoured closed and inward - accomplishing unique synthesis ideas in all a and Persian of to a literalist itself worldviewthatrestricts looking Von in of is branches knowledge. Grunebaum certainly right sayof and understanding theQuran.A trendhas reading rise between and 750 ingthatthe"stupendous ofthiscivilisation whichsees modern takenshapeto "Islamicise" science, collaboration the of 950 ad was the resultof the spontaneous nationalities" bestmindsof all the empire's into to scienceantithetical Islamand has deteriorated [Grunebaum 1953]. and peoples'contribof The intermingling cultures, disciplines in This obscurantism. has onlyresulted thevandalisation of utedto the internationality Islamicscience [Lindberg 1978]. to its whichexhort believers of ofthecoreedifices Islam, also had an "ecumenical AbdusSalam,theNobellaureate picture seek constantly knowledge. in ofscience" mindwhenhe wrotein 1988,"Myownviewhas aland scienceis thesharedcreation jointheritage of waysbeenthat and all mankind thatas alongas a society it, encourages science in will continue flourish thatsociety"[Hasan and Lai 1984]. to Thiscan also be an effective from antidote, usingtheexpression narrowness intellectual of historioJJClarke, theEurocentric "to the centuries. is It a during pastfew graphy",dominant paradigm thatwillhelpto displacethe thiscross-civilisational perspective of dismyth "Greekmiracle"and not the essentialist reigning of modern science.The scientific from efflorescence the tancing was possiblebecause reason and critical 8th to 13thcentury to himself behind left werecentral Islam.The prophet thinking of severalofhis sayings('hadises') wheresearchand promotion overreligious rituals.I mayagain tookprecedence knowledge to wherehe take recourse an oft-quoted sayingof the prophet to evenuntoChina".1 the Let exhorted believers "seekknowledge thatthesixth/seventh me remind present Islamists the cenday Muslims anyreligious nor Chinahad neither madrasa;howtury centreof scientific The everChinawas the foremost learning.2 thebelievers borrow ofIslamconsciously to encouraged prophet ideas and expand the horizonof knowledge from possible all sources.He even said once that "he who travelsin searchof to He knowledge, him god showsthe way to paradise".3 never thatone has to travelonlywithin Darul Islamand not qualified There is no instancewherethe prophet that elsewhere. insists at in versions theUniversity Thispaperwas presented itsdifferent has to be the onlysource of scientific The Quran knowledge. and ofHyderabad, REHSEIS,Paris,MIT at Cambridge theUniversity nth cameinfrom century onwards, the finality beingespousedtoday United at ofWisconsin Madison, States, during pasttwoyears.I I and whenfreethinkers Mutazilites to the Asharites by like lost for comments suggestions.am thank theparticipants their all led Pervez Everett to Mendelssohn, Chemla, grateful Karine particularly noneother thanAl-Ghazali. Thisled to a decisive break between Atluri Dhruv Raina and Michel RonaldNumbers, Murali, Hoodbhoy, thetwophasesofIslam- one, an earlyphasewhereeclecticism to referees this of I journalfor Paty. am also grateful twoanonymous was the spiritwhile the latterphase was markedby closure, their comments. Islamwas projected thetrue whereinward as faceofthe looking is Habib(irfan53@yahoo.co.uk)at NISTADS,NewDelhi. S Irfan Itis unfortunate thislatter that is beingglorified, religion. phase
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was Muslim civilisation open to critical thinking, Early eclecticism reasonand consequently accepted In observation theory. and scientific thatincluded


its and Islamiccivilisation, including science,is beingproudly on as a monolith, projected solely dependent Quranicrevelation. stance: take fundamentalists a deliberately antiquated Today's the mustbe made to fit and either scientific observation theory or unalterable textof scriptures, it mustbe shownthatthose Giventhatthe modern scientific findings. scriptures anticipated dismodern didnotanticipate cannotlegitimate or Quran many and thosediscoveries, it to disaffirm coveries, becomes necessary an to divide science itself lines;thatis,to fabricate alongcultural to with the Quran in opposition a Islamicscience consistent "western" scienceunsuitableforIslamic societiesbecause its is epistemology basically in conflictwith the Islamic view and profrom loss ofpluralism the [Kaiw.ar 1992].Suffocating traitsof the Muslim whichwere distinctive gressive thought, ('ummah') past, how long will the global Muslimcommunity of the continue suffer to after foreclosure the gatesofreasoned ago? [Anees2001]. We have argument ('ijtihad')a millennium wheresomeofus are readyto disownourpast; reacheda point of out the contributions believersare beingthrown as works of taken over a sectionof Literalism so profoundly has heretics. of their are to thatthey ready rewrite Muslim scholars history sciill-conceived Islam. of enceinthelight this

local religious scienceto undermine wereusingmodern officiais beliefs bothMuslimas well as Hindu.Bythe end ofthe 19th of withthefutility theenterprise reckoned [Raina they century of the and Habib2004; Gosling 1976].In fact, first generation Inof and dian scientists intellectuals a relatively perprogressive science neutralising of the suasionlegitimated pursuit modern by arFor sciencewas western. doingso they theidea thatmodern and worthwhile economigued thatwhilesciencewas morally to this governed callybeneficial, sciencerevealed us thelawsthat that eastern the science was another But world. there theexternal of world man. to thatrevealed us theinner had religions grasped to of This dual separation thetwo realmsenabledthem protect the from and to shieldtheirown culture sciencefrom religion ofthecolonisers cultural [Raina2003]. imperialism

Colonial Presence and We also need to keep in mindthatmostofthesereformers werenot whoespousedthecause ofmodern science, modernists, in and quite a fewwere noteventrained themselves scientists lack The need to acquirenewknowledge, of education. western becamea for whichwas held responsible colonialsubjugation, of a smallsection the all battle for 19th except century groups cry andethical of the ulamawhocalledfor revival theIslamic spiritual the norms.MunshiZakaullah avowed while attending Delhi Syed Ahmad Khan's ReformistMovement ruler a calledtheMuslim Durbarthathe feltdegradedby bowingbefore foreign ofonesuchgroup I wanttodiscuss attempts the as rulein SpainwhenCordoba to based in and turning Muslim of for emerged a Association the Advancement Science (maas) back He and learning. wouldsay: "Weare asking of carried centre light Aligarh.It is an ironythat such an exerciseis being for and reform modernisation from of a outfrom Europetodaysomepayment thedebtyouowe to us on Aligarh, centre Muslim from of turn- account whatwe didfor intheMiddleAges.Students He led bySyedAhmadKhanin the19th you century. aimedat from science us used andCambridge to go to Spaintolearn emotionally Oxford accomplished, intellectually ing "outfree-spirited, now and mathematics; we come to you instead"[Hasan 2005]. of maturegenerations young Muslimswhose self-definitions with did not merelyexpresshis discomfort and tradi- Here Zakaullah of the from control religious liberation wouldreflect abouthis statement but he also made a profound to commitment colonialism and an unchallenged tionalsourcesof loyalty day as of features modernism scienceand theideal notionofknowledge, suchunderlying quiteat odds withthepresent underand was succinctly byhis friend biographer which such standing, put of progress" [Hasan 2004]. Syed AhmadKhan countered words:"Therewas morethana in that"there C F Andrews the following hardto convey and his forces during movement tried of was therecognition the a phrase;there in humour such ma- kindly whichacquiredexcellence, in nation theworld is nota single nowheldbyone is a universal that possession, and terialprogress, spiritual by happinessentirely virtueof its truth, knowledge for 1911]. thatprejudice race,now held by another the good of all" [Andrews ownefforts" [Habib2000]. SyedAhmadKhanfelt scienceis beingdubbed withmodern MunshiZakaul- Nowthesameengagement could not go together. Ctaassub')and progress In work, discourse" somescholars. a recent by lah,a closeassociateofSyedAhmadKhanand a mathematician as the"colonised that ofIslamtoconclude theearly years was oftheviewthat"theearlyMuslims(Arabs)did nothesitate Muzaffar Iqbal goes into had developed nexusthat the naturally and others. to learnfrom Theyacceptednon-Muslims non-Arabs "unlike Islamand science laboured is . .thenew discourse strained, and researches in the eighth theirinvention century. as theirteachersand through the to Islaminthediscourse: lethe the and carries burden and of assigned the [sic];they expanded frontiers knowledge achieved Andthisis of communities." Ahmad's gitimisation themodernists' agenda"[Iqbal 2002]. to of Syed privilege beingteachers other mod- not trueof Islamistsalone, we have our own anti-modernists, a forth refreshingly from movement reformist Aligarh put of sciencedevilishand againsttheveryspirit modern someopposi- who find of erninterpretationQuranic which, verses, despite also endup dubbing Like Iqbal,they the tionfrom orthodox by ulama,was acceptedbyMuslims and Indiancivilisation. Muzaffar like ofthe Quran were muchmoreac- scientists J C Bose as colonisedminds[Nandy1995]-The The multiple readings large. the of The irony theirobsessionwith colonialism, "West"and the thanin the21stcentury in today. century ceptable the19th too is of grants much project like earlymodernists MaulviKaramatAli,who precededSyed "imperialism categories" thattheir wanttochallenge that ideasandinstitutions they to science power thevery Islamwithmodern reconcile couldcomfortably Ahmad, obsesto reference the"neurotic betweenthetwo [Habib2004]. [Baber2006]. AkeelBilgrami's and did notsee anyantagonism oftheir and the present leadersconfronted sionwith western colonialdetermination and intellectuals religious The 19thcentury for that"itwill provea final and victory and the where evangelicals theEastIndiaCompany condition" his remark thesituation
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thatafterall the humiliations has visited...,it Muslim it scholars Islamiseknowledge. number Saudibusito A of imperialism inourpsyches theform genuine in of nessmen came forward witha $ 25 million endowment estabto lingered self-understanding and to make self-criticism free,unreactive lishthe International Institute IslamicThought of (hit) in 1981 agencyimpossible" is not and the following made in a different his manifesto: 'Islami[Baber 2006], although context, yearFaruqipublished and others haveembarked sation Knowledge: of General and Workplan*. next irrelevant thekindofproject for The Iqbal Principles thatcolonialpresence con- stepwas thelaunching theAmerican of aboutthefact Journal Islamic Social upon.Thereis no doubt of m who mostof the responsesbut thatdoes not mean thatit Sciences 1984.M ZakiKirmani, was theall-India ditioned president Islamic Movement India(simi) 1981, of till cannotbe viewedon itsown termsand each timewe raise the oftheStudents founded for on issue ofscienceand Islamwe need to getback to the so-called theCentre Studies Science(csos) in 1982at Aligarh, along aboutscienceand related apartfrom withthosewho thought "Islamically" age golden ofsciencein Islam- almosta millennium that It of each other. is all partofhistory mostofthenon-European issues.This was followed the formation maas in 1983for by similarideas among working whenitcameto confronting scientists. cultures wereon thedefensive Kirmani's post- cultivating camein 1985whenhe started and colonisation further closeditsoptions. majorinitiative the publishing maas Europe Enlightenment Science and remained editor 1998.1have its till Islamic societiesare facedwith Journal Islamic the post-colonial Even today, of and intellectual used somerepresentative western cultural somereal as well as perceived samplesofthejournalfor analysis my a of each decade,beginning from This by hegemonisation. is beingmisused someideologues Is- in thispaper,picking fewfrom of Kirmani's scienceas partoftheevil colonial themid-1980s the last century. lamicscienceto dub modern primemotivation, sci- in his own wordswas to visualise "a strong and at philosophical baggageto be accepted yourown peril.Forthemmodern an breakfrom ear- sociologicalbase forscience,which could be developedand as enceis an epistemological well as cultural on S of Islamicpast.4Forthe proponents Islamic articulated thebasisoftheQuranicthoughts". H Nasrspoke lierunadulterated for Students it verifiable itsself aboutitin 1987at themitMuslim science"is notuniversally modern Association, science, hailing foundedby 20 or 30 scientists.... who limitations it outsidethe pale of a uni- "as a unique institution put imposedempirical Islamic science,thento absorbwestern fiedsystem knowledge"[Anees and Davies 1988: 249-60]. want to absorb,first, of Nasreven declaredthatmaas has been founded thanobjective rather sinceitis coloured sciencewell".5 it find "subjective They of whichhe calls the values ofthe society and historical withthesocial,cultural by at the initiative the AligarhUniversity, whose Islamicity now verymuch is and whichit is manufactured distributed" (ibid). This is their "majorIslamic university The are neither maas has of of the Eurocentric history science,and Islamicsci- threatened". statements misleading; critique to nor to ence is proposedas an alternative modernscience,because anything do withtheuniversity is itan Islamicuniversity. and episte- amu is a secular institution, aimed at the education culture scienceis embeddedin a particular modern primarily cul- and progress theMuslim of withIslamicvalues. This particular notcompatible community, opento all. A perusal yet mology and unethicalscienceand ofsomeoftheissuesofjis makesitclearthattheobjective was turehas thrown an exploitative up science"or"western science" to but to Islamicscienceforthemis a valid alternative thismonster notreallyto absorb"Islamic an distinct thatmodern articulate epistemologically called "Islamic science.It is a tragicfactofhistory called modern category A whichexistsonlyintheimagination itsproof has technoscience been an activeagentin the globalEuropean science". Utopia, Now ZiauddinSardaralso seems to be disenchanted forna- tagonists. whichhas brought devastating consequences conquest, of criticism of with the "Muslimoptimism" the 1980s. He had imagined On colonisedcultures. thiscount, tureas wellas for from within thatthiscultural revival wouldworktowards it "that rather has grown scienceis nothing modern new; demanding, of was givenits due criticism the history sciencein Muslimcivilisation However thissectarian, scienceitself. religion inspired of and on ofmodern scienceridespiggyback somevalid critiques it. importance rightful place in the overallschemeofthehisthe for shift The projects likethe MuslimAssociation the Advancement toryof science".However, early1990s saw a definite Sardar'shopes and "towards moreobscurantist whichis inspired an antipa- away from and of Scienceis one suchcritique, by The directions. Islamicsciencediscourse science dangerous nowfollows seen by themas western modern towards science, thy thewayoftheTaliban"[Sardar ideals and values. 2004]. Theissuesofjis arereplete by inspired Christian witharticles "Islamicscience"as a viablealternative imagining of Effects the Iranian Revolution to modern science[Kirmani 1990]. as in The 1980ssaw a shift globalIslamicpolitics well as itsselfand perception the majorcause forthis changewas the 1979 islamic Science' Sardar"thebeginning of I would like to beginwith SeyyedHosseinNasr,who wrotea in revolution Iran.ForZiauddin Islamic withopec powerat its peak, the Iranianrevolution piece in one oftheearlyissues oftheJournal IslamicScience the 1980s, of in societies their of cultural titled 'IslamicScienceand Western Science:Common and a growing consciousness Muslim Heritage, in world" DiverseDestinies'. beginsby highlighting earlyinheritHe of was the optimism theMuslim identity, a period particular [Sardar2004]. It unleashed an aggressivesearch forIslamic ances of Islam fromdiversecultureslike Greeksciencesand of Sassanid astronomyand pharmacology, in Indian identity all spheresoflife,and also the founding Islamic philosophy, in and as institutions platforms sciences wellas social sciences, and mathematics, essentialist etc. medicine, especially astronomy at Theyalso obtainedknowledge certainaspectsofBabylonian an of of studies sciences. Ismail Faruqi, eminent R professor Islamic initiated movement a that in not to [Nasr 12]. among science were eventransmittedtheGreeks 1987: Temple University Philadelphia,
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'Mutazilites' who wereeither reachedthe scienceas heretics, Notall ofthesestrands thesciencesofantiquity thinkers) of (free further Kaleemur Rehman thatbothwereheirsto the oragnostics. Christian west.Butthefactremains says: of and of sciences thesameworld their order, knowledge thenatural did .Al-Razi notbelieve music... Manyofthemstudiedand practised drewfrom the and generalcosmology oflaw,causality for Farabidependedon purereason(and notshariyah) in revelations. concept denieddivineattribetweengood and bad. Al-Kindi same sources each developedtheseinherited discriminating concepts although of butes.Ibn-Sinadid notbelievein Maad Jismani (resurrection the was imbibedand (ibid). This diverseinheritance differently the There was gradual loss of Islamic values from society body)... new further underthegaze ofthevibrant developed scholars by [Rehman 1987:45-56]. foundfaith. fewyearsago, itwas a widelyacceptedbelief Till that "no two Muslimphilosophers that Islamic the scientific He findsit regrettable the civilisation translated Greek merely wereconas it intoArabicand transmitted to Europe,itsrightful agreedwitheach other faras sourceofknowledge knowledge was differNasrand others justified cerned.For each of themthe sourceof knowledge are at moment. inheritor, theopportune to is in questioning Eurocentrism behindthis erroneous the belief; ent...."Rehman notprepared concedethatitis thisdiversity so whichenableditto contribute Islamiccivilisation, oftheearly it that Islamic civilisation be however, should conceded improved, He science. also refers of to and developedthe receivedknowledgewithinthe richly thecumulative growth modern perfected of commentators has of No Cmufassereen') Quranwho parameters availablecompetence. one civilisation ever tosomeoftheearly in errors sayingthatthereis a river thesky in thepast. Islamplayeditscrucialrolein committed by grave perfected knowledge wherethe clouds collectwaterand bringit to the earth which was from ithas perfected, thescientific knowledge transmitting et thatMuslimscienceofal-Kindi al was a lead- (ibid).He concludes in received thewestand further developed, enthusiastically which of who tryto product suchchaotictimesand information to thebirth modern of science.Nasr and others pollution, ing There no is with Islamic be the makea qualitative distinction betweenthescienceduring Is- couldhardly calledscience inspiration. were civilisation of scientists Islamic lamicphaseandthelatermodern scienceshouldalso makea dis- disagreement theearly here, science Islamicin their for If tinction betweenIslamicand pre-Islamic exclusively looking anything knowledge. we con- neither of to a wentthrough qualitative northeyhad anything do withthe weirdcommentaries cedewithsomepridethatknowledge to then after Islamicintervention, we shouldbe psychologi- Quran referred above. Some of the early commentators change of to callyand historically prepared acceptthatthewestplayeda (mufassereen) Quran have done seriousdamagebyreading had bor- science in the Quran and this exercisecontinueseven now. the similar rolein advancing scientific they knowledge aboutthe information I scholars Nasrgetintotheological However, am moreconcerned like Islam.Instead, rowedfrom pollution" of not betweenthe earlyscience causedbysomeMuslim the niceties emphasise divergence to scientists, merely commentators by the to of the whowanttoharness firepower 'jinns' solve underChristianity. theQuran, underIslam and the latermodernscience who "those advises The crisis Nasralmostvalorisesthe factthatIslam or China did notpro- energy 1991]. paper [Hoodbhoy today the for led to the are responsible shaping sciencebased on Islamicvalues duce a Descartesor Galileo but Europe did, which and not careful tobase their be cosmosin thewestand should very of destruction "thevisionoftraditional epistemology methodoMuslim of the from works medieval derived on theexamples value ofwhat logy man to the comparative whichblindedwestern should structure science's . .the andphilosophers. Islamic was lost and what was gained in that process which trans- scientists on Quranand Sunnah"[Rehman the 1987]. civilisa- base from beginning Christian the formed Europefrom land of traditional to referred by Sardarhad threemaincomponents The shift timesbased in civilisation historic tionto thecitadelofthefirst in in are world view" (ibid: 13-14)- and they reflected thepaperspublished thejis.The first on the negationof the traditional all idea that knowledge, including true.We knowthat is basedonthefundamentalist is this However, characterisation notwholly in can got to of a large majority contributors science were professing scientific knowledge be found theQuran.Thisthesis a Miracles on Saudi project 'Scientific the to Christians. (Eventoday, approxi- boostfrom well-funded according a recentsurvey, as can in belief "a god in the Quran'.The second component bestbe described scientists 40 profess mately percentofAmerican of last is therhetoric Islamic And fundamentalism. the an of to whomone mayprayin expectation receiving answer" mystical withand 2003: 1-2].)I feelNasr shouldkeep in values.The jis harpsupontheIslamicethicsand morality [Lindberg Numbers terms. in concrete how on- out substantiating thatcan be realised within nth/i2th mindtheradicalshift Islam,from century cultivated whichwas no Islamicsciencecan be properly a onlybythoseinspired as boththeological well as political, shift wards, obvious becomes and This does not mean bythefaith valuesofIslam.Itsexclusivism to moreconducive independent thinking. and Daviessaying: cites the whenRaisAhmadapprovingly Anees thatscienceceased to existin the Islamicworld;however of towards defence theso-calledIslamic the shifted focus surely wayoflife, Islamicscienceis an integral partof Islamas a complete the vis-a-vis 'awail' sciences(foreign sciences sciences).Getting be whichitcan be denned;itcannot inculwithin theonlyframework and of will nothelpto disthe from mainstream theIslamicintellectual delusions and catedin isolation intophilosophical theological of morallandscape.Islamicsciencethatis sub-species Islam(and not exof sincetheheydays imperialist Eurocentrism, reigning place of a of science)generates worldview withinthe overallframework how We pansion. have to read the nextpaper in the jis to find values [Ahmad Islamic 1990]. and deplorable suicidalis thepathbeingtreadedbysomeofthe of I and of While scholars. Islamic talking morality faith,amreminded Jawaharlal and of the whoarticulated possibility morality ethics beyond to 'Preface IslamicScience'and beginsby Nehru is The article titled of source heldup as a unique is When faith. to of most thecontributors theIslamicgolden of religious religion being age proclaiming
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we founfaith, need to remindourselves that thereare otherfirm in dationsupon whichwe can build moral and ethicalprojects, both thereis perhaps privateand public life.. ..In our own recenthistory,

no better practical instance of the effort find a non-religious to bedrock formorality than that of Nehru himself[Khilnani2002]. Nehruwrote to Gandhi in 1933: Explaininghis positionon faith, I is for older, have ground me,and as I havegrown Religion notfamiliar drifted it. else definitely awayfrom I havesomething in itsplace,someolderthan and which and thing justintellect reason, givesme strength from indefinable indefinite this and which urge, mayhave hope.Apart of in different it,I have from just a tinge religion it and yetis wholly on of to entirely rely theworkings themind. they grown Perhaps areweak but as ones to supports rely upon, search, I will;I cansee nobetter (ibid).

ModernistReformers of Another protagonist Islamicscience,SWA Husaini,goes a the of by step further rejecting termIslamicsciencein favour and pleadsthat shariahrulesbe appliedwhere science Sharriyah it is applicablein the acquisitionof rationalknowledge.He of of philosophy science, proposesthe development Shariyyah of history science,Shariyyah sociologyof science Shariyyah andShariyyah of 1986].ForhimShariyyah policy science[Husaini like of science meant totalexclusion somedisciplines numerothe this and alchemy music[Husaini1985].Contrast approach logy, reformer maulvi and withthe 19thcentury Indian modernist MaulviKaramat based in Calcutta. AH,who was a teacherat a in and and madrasainthelate19th century also an expert music, in whowrote thusinhisbookMakhiz-i-Uloom 1867:
it shouldhave neglected Alas! Thatournobility, devotedto music, so and it whenitwouldmelt soften so far nottocarry tothat as perfection it thehumanheart.Had theytakenthistrouble, wouldhave become mathematics. is It to their attention towards to necessary them direct that of shouldhearas wellas learnmusic a matter painand regret they buffoons 78). from ignorant (p

devoteda chapter on EvenImamGhazaliin the 11th century is music hisIhyaUlwnal-Deen in wherehe saysthatthere someHe with manorwomanwhodoes notlikemusic. the thing wrong declared"One who is not movedby musicis unsoundof mind and and intemperate; farfrom is spirituality is denserthanbirds is and beastsbecause everyone affected melodioussounds" by [Joommal1985]. Among our modern day Islamic scholars, MaulanaAbulKalamAzad has thisto say aboutmusic, whichis instark of contrast theperversion Husainiand hisilk: to of I canalways remain without necessities life, I the but doing happy is support prop my live music. sweet A voice the and of cannot without a Sweet music thecurefor all for mental labours. is life, healing my the andailments my ills of body heart.6 and Azad was aware thatthe prophet onlydenouncedexcessive or music poetry corrupting, as musicas suchwas notprohibited. While the Medinah preparation battle, in for around digging trench the prophet and his companions were singing songs (Bukhari/ It Muslim).7 is clear that music is an anathema only forthe Islam and myopic, bigoted, spoilsport apostlesof self-righteous most theMuslims of havesuccumbed their to vicious regrettably, cultural thissignificant against campaign expression. M Riaz Kirmani, present the editorof thejournalcomesout withanother alternative for term Islamicscience, whichhe calls
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"ilmal-mashiyah" this to closer Islam [Kirmani 1987].He finds term buttakesitfurther from science bringing theroleofthe in away by and creator also acknowledging other of The sources knowledge. term will "ilm meansAllah's so through al mashiyyah" "mashiyyah" Kirmani to intends carry thestudy Allah's out of willoperative in theuniverse, itnature society. accepts theaffairs of be or He revelationas a source, which for and mayprovide paradigms generation of 1990: 26-27].Mostoftheessentialapplication science[Ahmad istprojects self-righteous; deride arrogance modern are the of they science dragtheQuranand Allahto humble onlyscience but not butalso other "Church the religions. fought battlewith'science' on falsegrounds lostthebattle". and "The Church thebattle lost in because they have notthe scripture theoriginal form". "They divine withfacts truth" [Khan1990]. It against polluted guidance that statement "wehavegotal-Furqan, criteendswitha final the rion(ofright wrong)whichis theessenceofall scriptures and in that and form", original meaning thereby all other knowledge faiths are merefalsehoods. Thisso-calledIslamic is position un-Islamic as it lacksthe Islamichumility, whichis thevery cornerstone of as own Quranic philosophy well as centralto the prophet's The term humility khushu. opposite conduct. Quranic for is The of is The (kibrin Quranicterminology). Quran humility arrogance one to speaksof Satan (iblis)as the arrogant who refused obey to command showhumility the In towards creatures. other god's one mayconsider absenceofhumility the tantamount to words, whichis notan angelic, a satanicattribute. but Arroarrogance, its new of gancedefines ownboundaries, foreclosing possibilities the Further, Quran statesthatarroganceleads to knowledge. all exclusivist exercises (zulm)[Anees 2001]. Besides, this tyranny in todefine science terms Quranic of revelation Allah's and will, go to undermine veryenterprise science.In Islamicscience the of is itis rationalitynotdeniedbutincase ofcontradiction revelation that prevail will overrationality case it [Rehman 1987:54]. In this is no morethepursuit theunknown merely rediscovery of but the ofknowledge, scientific in revealed including knowledge, already theQuranand thesayings theprophet. of Lack of Symbolic Interpretation None of the presentday Islamic aficionados care to read the and prophetic traditions intelliQuran symbolically, usingtheir forinterpretation, repeatedly as in the holybook. gence urged Muslims weretocultivate sacramental symbolic a or attitude:
in of Verily, thecreation theheavensand oftheearthand thesuccessionofnight dayand in theshipsthatspeed through sea with and the whatis usefulto man: and in thewaters whichgod sendsdownfrom thesky, life to it and giving thereby theearthafter had been lifeless, of creatures multiply to thereon: in the and causingall manner living courses changeofthewinds,and thecloudsthatruntheir appointed betweenskyand earth:(in all this)thereare messages(ayat)indeed for peoplewhouse their a reason.8

The Qurannowhere insists theliteral for of interpretationthe stressesthe need forintelligence in text,ratherit constantly the are deciphering "signs"or "messages"of god. Muslims not to abdicatetheir reasonbutto look at theworldattentively and withcuriosity. was thisattitude It thatlaterenabledMuslims to build a finetradition naturalscience,whichhas neverbeen of seen as such a dangerto religionas in Christianity.9 Munshi


of assimilation modern imitative-innovative also developedthrough Indianscholarand educationist, Zakaullah,a 19th century Nasrand his Hossein nextis Seyyed sciencebased on thesharia; wrotethat and Islamic sacredandmystical science, thelastimportant and sufistic, to Godhasgiven human the called reason discover beings ability the schoolofIslamic of therealworld, theapplication this and tobyS B M Zainis theIjmalist's sciencereferred ability by comprehend human to creation knowledge.10 of leads the beings viewon Islamicscienceled byZiauddinSardar[Zain 1990].All enthusiasts list as can As these Forhimreasonis thefountainhead sourceofknowledge. or positions beviewed a wish oftheIslamic Muslim "most scientists in laments theendsaying the and while author a matter fact, whatsun is to light of reasonis to knowledge in this positivisticstill unfortunately subscribeto or believe eyetovision.11 viewon scienceand technology" -valuefree on (ibid).The one Hossein Nasrbegins ofhisarticles Islam and the universal Seyyed warofrhetoric an "When looks wholedebatelookslikean endless one Environmental with observation Crisis' amongMuslims saying totalitarian and the at theIslamic worldtoday, sees blatant one puritanism signsoftheenviron- and against westwhereorthodoxy of mental in from crisis nearly every country theairpollution Cairo seemstohavewonoverreasonandscepticism. into science withitssearch an Islamic for to of andTeheran theerosion thehills Yemen thedeforestation Thejournalcontinues to of called and ofmany areasofMalaysia Bangladesh" [Nasr1990]. Butwhy the 21st centuryand published a detailed piece 2001:121-36]. in Science' 2001 [Islam Islamic shouldone look at the Muslimworldalone to locate environ- Towards Developing civilisathat mental crisis? thecrisis Is part anyless in Brazilor Mexico,countries It beginsbyreiterating "an intrinsic ofwestern is which quitedifor science' 'modern with at with Muslim no science', population all orinIndia,a country a sub- tionis the'western the the from sciencepractised in stantial Muslim Does religion during goldenera ofIslam" reallymatter such ferent population? from scienceis different thatmodern can science (ibid). Nobody dispute of "secular" I thisessentialisation thevarious crises? find for Indian anyother or medieval and andtechnology related crises science-Islamic, Chinese, extremely problematic question- an early of role had Eachcivilisation itsseminal intheprogress matter. able. Nasreven goes to the extentof claimingthatthe Islamic that of the deniedthrough centuries whichEurocentrism to world refused surrender has "to completely thedictaofthema- knowledge, we world.However, intothe non-western to world introduce imperialist of chine the expansion despite attempt theleadersofthat of kind "the does inthis as western as conclude, theauthor paperthat technology muchas and as soon as possible"[Nasr cannot in and that beendeveloped practised thewest, has world Nasr in science has the to appears 1990:33].Itis difficultcomprehend Islamic to and can nations which use petro-dollars as quiteantithetical inimical Islam,and hencewe needto mind. meall thoseIslamic For of thefruits "western areunabashedly technology". They call the sciencedevelopedby the Muslimsin the goldenera of enjoying in sciencepervasive the and thepresent scienceand itsprogressive havecertainly awayfrom politics Islamas Islamicscience, kept of IsIt thattheregimes to introduce. is onlytheimpoverished west as 'westernscience'...."(ibid). Like otherarticulators fear a he of lamicregimes Africa Asia,who have been deprived the Islamicscience, also failsto putforth viableand convincing and of will Islamic science mereclaimsthat of lackof definition Islamic and fruits modern of science, developments, itis sheer technological needs and culturaland spiritual I am sureNasr be able to "meetthe physical, them has resources notIslamwhich kept and away. no societies" of (ibid) serves purpose. whenhe saysthat nations istalking aboutthese Islamic requirements Muslim Let me end this discussionwith the Nobel laureateAbdus force and to Islam continues liveas a powerful religious spiritual and antinomy still environment hasa holdupon Salam and see howhe managedto broachthewestern and itsview nature thenatural of a areas ofscience in mind soulofitsadherents and Salam successfully the and religion. arguedfrom concepespecially lessmodernised toward nature attitudes andalsoinsome the of deeper (ibid). and religiousdomains distinct. tion that kept the scientific all in like Afghanistan mind? Though hisscientific Does Nasr have Islamiccountries beganinthenameofAllah presentations of in Islam is certainly visible there in its crudestpossible form yetitwas nevera constraint his pursuit science.Salam's Salam us informs thatfor I and of butwhataboutthebasicamenities security thebelievers. biographer Singh Jagjit have no doubtthatthewesthas to sharetheblameforthemess to to refer different ...scienceand religion worlds;religion theinner like intellectuals Nasr The butthat notthewholetruth. Muslim is worldof the humanmindand science to the outerworldof matter. and to To explorehis innerworldof 'soul' and Allah one needs faith worldview a have propounded self-righteous and several others reason[Singh world matter, of the 1992]. explore outer of to ofIslam,whichmeansa return thebasicsor fundamentals one would agree with On both science as well as religion, can in Islam.Thenature, itsvarious manifestations, be savedfrom but scientist also a practising a as Salam,whowas notonly successful therapacity modern of science, distancing onlyby categorical of both. of instead thosewhomisinterpret Salam'snotion on no amount protestation the partof the Muslimmodernist Muslim of about god but also the sacred knowledge thefoundations ilm was not merely "willprevent kindofsciencefrom this corroding exhortations in believed theprophet's He abouttheprofane. rather faith" ofthecitadel Islamic of [Al-Azm 1994: 116]. evenuntoChinaand notlikeouressentialist to seekknowledge Endless Warof Rhetoric for interlocutors Islamic science whose myopiadoes not take ofthejournal, them Thereis one detailedarticlein one ofthe issues Quranand Sunnah. beyond to exhortations reformist dubsall 19thcentury A recent of and contrasts the the whichtriesto highlight innertensions study becausethewordilmwas scienceas reductionist modern with Maurice Bucaille pursue It various schools Islamic of science. begins of used and his Quran and Hadis centredIslamicscience; goes ahead conveniently to producea new strand Islamand science - the Islamic science discourse to 2002: 244]. In thatcase, is itnotreductionism to Waqar Husaini and his Husainism [Iqbal
60 weekly & September 6, 2008 EEEQ EconomicPolitical


limit tomeanmerely ilm aboutgod?Ifthat so then was knowledge in "To didtheprophet makethis distinction hisfamous saying why theinstructions scienceand learning one houris for listen to of than standing in prayerfor a thousand more meritorious up The his to of followers nights".12 prophet Islamexhorted newfound both sacred wellas secular both exercises the as and the for pursue

himwereultimatelysearchfor truth god.The concept a the of of ilmor knowledge beingmisread is and misinterpreteda large by of and in number Islamic scholars activists today thesamemanner as thenotionofjihad is beinghijackedand trivialised some by Both Islamicextremists.13 are akin to thevandalisation the of coredifice Islamwhere andjihadoccupied central of ilm a place.

& Baber, Zaheer (2006): Secularism,Communalism Khilnani,Sunil (2002): 'Nehru'sFaith',Economic and the Intellectuals, Three Essays Collective, Political November 1-15. 30, Weekly, 1 Misbah cited Ali, ush-Shariat, inAmeer TheSpirit of New Delhi,39-40. M Foundation Kirmani, Riaz (1987): 'Epistemological in NewDelhi,1978, published 1922, first Islam, 361. David (1976): Scienceand Religion India, in ofIslam', Journal Islamic Vol Science, 3, No 1. of 2 Needham, and Civilisation Chi- Gosling, Science in Joseph, Madras. Journal Islamic Kirmani,Zaki (1990): 'Editorial', of na, Cambridge, 1954.This multi-volume ongoing Vol Science, 6, No 2. was initiated Needhamin the 1950s, Grunebaum,Gustave von (1953): Medieval Islam, by project 201. David C (ed) (1978): Sciencein theMiddle Chicago, Lindberg, which unfoldedthe rich scientific heritageof of Habib, S Irfan (2000): 'ReconcilingScience with 14. Ages,University ChicagoPress, Chicago, Chinesecivilisation. - (1983): 'The Transmission Greekand Arabic to Islam in 19thCenturyIndia', Contributions of cited 3 Jami ul-Akhbar, inAmeer op cit361,also Ali, IndianSociology, 1. 34, to in (ed), Learning theWest' DavidC Lindberg SciAbuDawud,"Babal-ilm", SunanAbuDawud,3634, - (2004): 'Viability Islamic Science: Some Inof enceintheMiddle of Press, UniversityChicago Ages, from AhmadHasan's translation, Lahore, 1984, from Economic Politi& 19th India\ sights Century Chicago,52-90, also ColinA Ronan (1983), The Ahmad Hanbal, ibn Musnad, 239,Istanbul, IV, 1992, cal Weekly, 5. June Illustrated Science, Cambridge History theWorld's of citedinAlparslan 'The Emergence of ACIKGENC, Press, to 202-03. Cambridge University Cambridge, Hasan, Mushirul(2004): FromPluralism SeparaTradition Islam*in S M Razaullah in Scientific David C and RonaldNumbers (eds) (2003): tism, OUP,Delhi,102. Lindberg, in Ansari(ed), Science and Technology theIslamic - (2005): A MoralReckoning, When of Science and Christianity MuslimIntellectuals Meet,University World, 2002, 13. Turnhout, Belgium, inNineteenth ChicagoPress,Chicago,1-2. Delhi,OUP,NewDelhi,61. Century and 4 Bakar, Lahore,1998. Osman,Tawhid Science, Sciences, Creativity Hasan,Z and C H Lai (eds) (1984):IdealsandRealities: Nandy,Ashis (1995): Alternative was Even thispast,perceived unadulterated, as and Authenticity TwoIndian Scientists, in OUP, Selected Salam, WorldScientific, EssaysofAbdus and pristine after notreally This mostsought so. NewDelhi. Singapore. Nestorian Islamic Christian, pasthad itsillustrious S ScienceandWestern Science: Nasr, H (1987):'Islamic and Chinese Buddhist contributors, Hoodbhoy,Pervez (1991): Science and Islam, Zed Jewish, Hindu, Journal CommonHeritage, DiverseDestinies', London. of Books, who were welcomedby the liberal Caliphs of Islamic Vol 12. Science, 3, No 1,January-June, and SWA (1985):TowardstheRebirth Deveto of corpus Husaini, Baghdad engageintheproduction this - (1990): 'Islam and the Environmental Crisis', whichlatercame to be of scientific lopmentof ShariyyaScience and Technology', knowledge, Journal Islamic Vol Journal Islamic Vol Science, 6, No 2, 33. of of Science, 1,No 2. called Islamicscience.Todayone triesto forget - (1986): 'Birth, Declineand Rebirth IslamicSci- Raina, Dhruv(2003): Imagesand Context, of OUP,New and or deliberately overlookits multicultural Delhi. Journal IslamicScience, ence and Technology', of multireligious origins. Vol2, No 1. and HabibS Irfan (2004): Domesticating Raina,Dhruv 5 S H Nasr,'Islam and Modern Science',http:// Modern A Science: SocialHistory Science Culand of (2002): Islam and Science,Ashgate, Iqbal, Muzaffar web.mit.edu/mitmsa/www/NewSite/libstuff/ in ture Colonial Tlilika New India, Publications, Delhi. Burlington. nasr/nasrspeechi.html Rehman, M Kaleemur (1987): 'Preface to Islamic 6 Ghubaar-i-Khatir in A S K Joommal, cited 'Music Islam,Mohd Saidul (2001): Towards DevelopingIslamic Science:A Reviewand Appraisal', Journal Journal Islamic Vol Science', Science, 3,No 1,45-56. and Islam',Al-Balaagh,Vol 28, No 3, Augustof Vol Nos 1-2, 121-36. Science, 17, Ziauddin(2004): Desperately ofIslamic pp Sardar, Paradise, Seeking 2003. September ASK (1985): Al-Balaagh,supplement to London. Joommal, Granta, Vol 28, 7 Citedin 'Is Music Haraam?'Al-Balaagh, August/September. No 1,February-March 5. Singh,Jagjit(1992): Abdus Salam, PenguinBooks, 2003, NewDelhi,157. Kaiwar, Vasant (1992): 'Science, Capitalism, and 8 Quranicverse as cited in Armstrong, Karen,A South AsiaBulletin, xii,No 2, 40. Vol Islam', Zain, Shaharir Bin Mohammad (1990): 'Modes of 1999,167-68. History God,London, of 'IslamicScience", Khan,H A (1990): 'How to Identify Operations in the Quest of Islamic Science', 9 Ibid,168. Journal Islamic Vol Journal Islamic Vol Science, 6, No 2, pp 14-15. Science, 6, No 2. of of 10 MunshiZakaullah,Sharqi UlumkiAbjad (BegintheEastern Delhi,1900,2. Sciences), of ning 11 Ibid. 12 Ameer op cit,362. Ali, of 13 The notion jihad in Islamis notso simpleand easyas itis beingmadeoutto be toservenarrow and deviouspoliticalobjectives. Jihadin Arabic means to strive, whichhas nothingto do with violence.Itis a multilayered and notjust concept one-dimensionalitisbeing as The projected. greater is one'sgreedand jihadorjihad-i-akbar tocontrol The Department SchoolEducation Literacy, of and of MinistryHRD, and lesser selfish desires is jihad orjihad-i-asghar warwith in of sword defence Islam. invites from candidatesfor to applications eligible appointment the REFERENCES Ahmad,Rais (1990): 'IslamicScience: Its Scope and Journal IslamicScience, 6, No 2, Vol of Purpose', pp26-27. ReSadikJ (1994): 'IslamicFundamentalism Al-Azm, considered: Critical A OutlineofProblems, Ideas and Approaches,Part I', South Asia Bulletin, VolXIV, 1,116. No Andrews,C F (1911): 'Munshi Zakaullah, A Great The Educationist', Modern Review, 356. April, A to Anees,Munawar (2001): 'FromKnowledge Nihilism: Redeeming Humility, http://www.muslimhtm. philosophy.com/journals/is-oi/anees. Munawar Ahmad Merryl Davies,(1988): and Anees, Wyn 'Islamic Science: Current Thinkingand Future Directions' ZiauddinSardar (ed), TheRevenge in Athena: and Science, World, of Exploitation theThird MansellPublishing Limited, London, 249-60. EconomicPolitical & weekly Q3S3 September 6, 2008


Sunderlal Pandit SharmaCentral Institute of Director, postofJoint Vocational Education inthe resource institution (PSSCIVE, a national area of vocational a constituent of the unit education),Bhopal, National CouncilofEducationalResearch and Training (NCERT) in the pay scale of Rs.16,400-22,400/- usual allowancesas plus admissible under RulesoftheCouncil. the Details regarding eligibility educationalqualifications, criteria, tenure, experience, age limit, etc. are given in the ministry's website : format, application www.education.nic.in NCERT's website: www.ncert.nic.in. and in as complete allrespects, statedintheabovewebsites, Application should reach Ministry by15 October2008. the latest