Leading Muslim Scholars take on Big Questions at the intersection of Science, Faith, and Modernity
Istanbul, February 12, 2015 – By resolving the perceived conflict between Muslim faith and Science, the Muslim world can embark upon a new scientific awakening or renaissance, proposed a group of scholars – scientists, historians, and theologians – meeting to discuss Big Questions at the intersection of Islam and Science. The scholars put forth new ideas on navigating the religious and ethical questions posed by Science, such as, how Muslim scientists can produce scientific research and remain people of faith; and from the origins of the Universe to human evolution, how people of faith must reconcile their beliefs with cutting-edge scientific developments.
Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the former Secretary General of Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) and a noted thinker and scholar of Islam and Science kicked off the discussion as the Chair of the Muslim-Science.com Task Force Meeting on Islam’s Response to Science’s Big Questions.
“Muslims over the centuries have helped develop science and its underlying foundations but today the scientific enterprise in the Islamic World has almost come to standstill. On the one hand, this Task Force seeks to dispel the impression that Islam and Science are necessarily in conflict with each other. On the other hand, it also identifies some critical factors that we, Muslims, must pay attention to if we want to successfully navigate in these exciting scientific times and utilize science for the benefit of Islamic countries and the World at large. ” Prof. Ihsanoglu said.
Among the 12 scholars on the Task Force are Usama Hasan, a scientist and a traditionally trained religious scholar, who is the Convenor of the Task Force, Prof. Nidhal Guessoum the author of Islam’s Quantum Question, Sheikh Afifi Al-Akiti a noted Malaysian Theologan, and Prof. Mehdi Golshani an Iranian Philosopher of Science, among others. The Task Force is sponsored by Templeton Foundation and hosted by the Turkish Society of the History of Science.
The Task Force members noted that Islam has followed a very different historical trajectory vis-a-vis its support and tolerance for scientific ideas and developments in its early days as compared to other major world faiths such as Christianity or Judaism. When scientists were being burnt at the stake in the Christian World, Science in Muslim lands was thriving under the patronage of competing Caliphs. However, with the passage of time, this tolerance and support has waned with the resultant decline in the scientific fortunes of the Islamic World.
Addressing some of these questions is critical to the future of the Islamic Project and its ability to embrace modernity – in particular free thinking and critical inquiry that is so instrumental to robust scientific development – and hence address the myriad of challenges it faces to provide for the socio-economic salvation of more than 1.5 billion people worldwide.
“This is critical to creating a tolerant and moderate Islamic World at peace with itself and its place in the World,” noted Usama Hasan, the Convenor of the Task Force.
“In answering these questions, the task force also seeks to reclaim the narrative of science within the Islamic Community – a narrative that in the recent years has been imposed from outside rather than created from inside – and hence begin an inside-out process of scientific revival within the Islamic World,” said Dr. Athar Osama, the founder of Muslim-Science.Com and the Director of the Task Forces Initiative.
Muslim-Science.com will formally release the report of the Task Force in July 2015 and to seek to work with partners to advance this important discourse within the Islamic World.