Fjordman to President Obama: Regarding Islam and Science

Fjordman’s latest essay, “To President Obama: Regarding Islam and Science”, has been published at Jihad Watch. Some excerpts are below:

I wouldn’t say that absolutely no scholarly achievements were made in the medieval Islamic world, only that they are greatly exaggerated for political reasons today. Let us divide scholars into three categories: Category 1 consists of those who make minor contributions, category 2 medium-level ones. Category 3 consists of scholars who make major, fundamental contributions to an important branch of science or found an entirely new scholarly discipline. Examples of the latter would include Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Nicolaus Copernicus, Aristotle, René Descartes or Galileo Galilei. Not a single scholar of this stature has ever been produced in the Islamic world even at the best of times. Finding some medieval Muslim scholars who made minor contributions to mathematics or alchemy is not very difficult, and I can probably name half a dozen to a dozen individuals who might qualify under category 2.

The highest-ranking contribution of any Muslim scholar in my view came from Alhazen (Ibn al-Haytham) in optics. The mathematician Muhammad al-Khwarizmi did not “invent” algebra; the ancient Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Indians, Chinese and others had early forms of algebra; the most important pre-modern scholar was arguably Diophantus of Alexandria in the third century AD, and modern algebra was created in Europe. Nevertheless, just like you cannot write a history of optics without mentioning Alhazen, you cannot properly write a history of algebra without mentioning al-Khwarizmi. In historiography, Ibn Khaldun could be mentioned, although he shared the contempt for all non-Muslim cultures which hampered the growth of history, archaeology and comparative linguistics in the Islamic world. Muslim scholars did not seriously study other cultures with curiosity and describe them with fairness, al-Biruni’s writings about India being one of very major few exceptions to this rule.

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Geber (Jabir ibn Hayyan) did good work in alchemy for his time and may have been the first person to create some acids, but he falls far short of Antoine Lavoisier and those who developed modern chemistry in late eighteenth and early nineteenth century Europe. The Persian Omar Khayyam was a creative mathematician, and fellow Persians Avicenna (Ibn Sina) and well as Rhazes (al-Razi) were capable physicians for their time, but Khayyam was at best a highly unorthodox Muslim and al-Razi didn’t believe a single word of the Islamic religion. Whatever contributions they made were more in spite of than because of Islam. Moreover, while I do consider al-Razi to have been a competent physician, the greatest revolution in the world history of medicine was the germ theory of disease, championed by the Frenchman Louis Pasteur and the German Robert Koch in late nineteenth century Europe. They were aided in this by the microscope, which was an exclusively European invention.

It is true that some texts were reintroduced to Europe via Arabic translations, at least initially before they were supplemented by translations directly from Byzantine Greek originals, and that these have left traces in certain words. For instance, quite a few stars in modern European languages have Arabic names or Arabized versions of older Greek names. However, it is important to remember that astronomy in the Islamic world, with certain exceptions due to influences from India, was based on a Ptolemaic Greek theoretical framework, just as it was in Europe. After the translation movement, it is striking to notice how fast Europeans surpassed whatever scholarly achievements had been made in the Middle East.

Read the rest at Jihad Watch.

5 thoughts on “Fjordman to President Obama: Regarding Islam and Science

  1. Thank you for posting. As you may have noticed, there is an annoying Muslim troll spamming this thread with claims that the Arabs invented everything. Arabs invented interplanetary space travel, too. Crusaders and Zionists stole the blueprints, which were hidden away until Wernher von Braun rediscovered them. Three Yemenis sued NASA for trespassing on Mars. Their ancestors had been there before, which makes the planet Mars the 56th holiest place in Islam.

  2. Fjordman, I’m sure you know that it wasn’t Armstrong who was first on the moon. Actually it was you know guess who was there centuries before, splitting the moon in two halves and then glueing it together again. An impressing feat in it’s own right, don’t you think?

    As we all know here, everything the perfect man said or did is cut in stone until the end of time. Thus his claims of our planet being flat, must also be cut in stone. These two “scientifical facts” alone effectively defuses muzzammils credibility. He has no choice but to believe that mo flew to the moon on magic horsse, carpet or whatever or that the Earth is flat. Any doubts would make him an apostate which in turn would lead to – off with his head!! LOL
    muzzammil, I don’t know where you live. If in the west, may I suggest you go to the nearset videostore (if it is not haram for you of course) and rent the blockbuster movie Pirate of the Caribean 3 – At Worlds End. So if you are muslim, watch out. Be careful where you sail… 🙂

  3. Fjordman,

    An effective refutation of those ridiculous claims,which effectively demonstrates that Moslem “scholars” don’t understand science. It seems that Islamic “science” was parasitic on earlier non-Islamic sources and little new knowledge was contributed by Moslem scholars. Science is a modern Western invention,this is what distinguishes our civilisation from all others.Moslem claims are desperate,rather like like those of the Russians during the Cold War with their mythical Soviet inventor “Popov.”
    The Maya also used zero in their arithmetic,not a bad effort for an isolated Mesoamerican civilisation.

  4. Fjordman

    Kudos once again for clarifying the muddled camel butter of Islamic aggrandizement.

    Science requires at least some form of skepticism (even if it always managed to work its way back to a religious affirmation in the West… at least until Laplace), which Islam ~as an ideology~ abhors, “Doubt” being anathema to the Mohammedan mind.

    It’s always curious how the apologists for Allah always have to go back to 1000 AD to make their case for the “Greatness” of Islam.

    Tactically ignoring the Muslims’ one actual strength: the ability to militarily unify the Ummah in order to enslave and destroy infidels and lay waste to their lands, up to and including Constantinople, et al.

    Their one real, continuous accomplishment~ warfare~ they always softpedal or censor from their proselytizing.

    Because it might scare the infidels… more than claiming to have scooped Copernicus or TO HAVE come up with the germ theory would.

    Islam does produce militant, selfless fanatics of a high order.

    Adapting to Western technology as a way to slaughter “Crusaders” (e.g.- manufacturing IEDS, which are then set off by cellphones) with impressive cunning.


    Popov did invent the apple popover, however.

  5. Profitsbeard,

    OK,I should have mentioned that remarkable achievement of Soviet science,the apple popover.However, The real story is that it was actually invented by Stalin,who was too modest to take the credit.

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