Why Does the Muslim World Lag in Science?

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    Why Does the Muslim World Lag in Science?



    by Aaron Segal
    Middle East Quarterly
    June 1996

    Aaron Segal, professor of political science at the University of Texas, El Paso, is the author of An Atlas of International Migration (Bowker, 1993) and Learning by Doing: Science, Technology and the Developing World (Westview, 1987).

    By any index, the Muslim world produces a disproportionately small amount of scientific output, and much of it relatively low in quality.1 In numerical terms, forty-one predominantly Muslim countries with about 20 percent of the world's total population generate less than 5 percent of its science. This, for example, is the proportion of citations of articles published in internationally circulating science journals.2 Other measures -- annual expenditures on research and development, numbers of research scientists and engineers -- confirm the disparity between populations and scientific research.

    This situation leads to some hard questions: Is Islam an obstacle to modern science? If not, how does one explain the huge gap in scientific output between the Muslim world and the West or East Asia? And what must change so that science can flourish in Muslim countries?

    While Islam has yet to reconcile faith and reason, other factors such as dictatorial regimes and unstable funding are more important obstacles to science and technology's again flourishing in the Muslim world. Significant progress, in other words, depends on changes in values and institutions -- no small order.

    THE HISTORICAL RECORD

    We start with a brief history of science and technology in the Muslim world, the first place to search for clues to these questions. In a nutshell, the Muslim experience consists of a golden age in the tenth through thirteenth centuries, a subsequent collapse, a modest rebirth in the nineteenth century, and a history of frustration in the twentieth century. The deficiency in Muslim science and technology is particularly intriguing given that Muslims were world leaders in science and technology a millennium ago -- something that distinguishes them from, say, the peoples of Latin America or sub-Saharan Africa.

    Golden Age. The period 900-1200 A.D. represents the approximate apogee of Muslim science, which flourished in Baghdad, Damascus, Cairo, and Cordoba, among other cities. Significant progress was made in such areas as medicine, agronomy, botany, mathematics, chemistry, and optics. As Muslims vied with Chinese for intellectual and scientific leadership, Christian Europe lagged far behind both.3

    This golden age was definitely Muslim in that it took place in predominantly Muslim societies, but was it Islamic, that is, connected to the religion of Islam? States were officially Islamic, and intellectual life took place within a self-consciously Islamic environment. Ahmad al-Hassan and Donald R. Hill, two historians of technology, see Islam as "the driving force behind the Muslim scientific revolution when the Muslim state reached its peak."4 But non-Muslims had a major role in this effort, and much of the era's scientific achievements took place in a tolerant and cosmopolitan intellectual atmosphere quite independent of the religious authorities.

    Decline. Things started to go awry in the early thirteenth century, when the Muslim world began to stagnate and Europeans surged ahead. Even revisionist historians who challenge this date as the time that decline set in do accept that decline eventually took place. Thus, Marshall Hodgson -- who argues that the eastern Muslim world flourished until the sixteenth century, when "the Muslim people, taken collectively, were at the peak of their power" -- acknowledges that by the end of the eighteenth century, Muslims "were prostrate."5

    Whatever its timing, this decline meant that Muslims failed to learn from Europe. In Bernard Lewis's phrasing, "The Renaissance, Reformation, even the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment, passed unnoticed in the Muslim World."6 Instead, Muslims relied on religious minorities -- Armenians, Greeks, Jews -- as intermediaries; they served as court physicians, translators, and in other key posts. With their aid, the Muslim world accomplished what is now known as a limited transfer of science and technology.

    Decline in science resulted from many factors, including the erosion of large-scale agriculture and irrigation systems, the Mongol and other Central Asian invasions, political instability, and the rise of religious intolerance. In particular, the great theologian Abu Hamid Muhammad al-Ghazali (1059-1111) used the tools of the philosophers to undermine philosophical and scientific inquiry.

    The revival of science. In combination, the Enlightenment and French Revolution made European science accessible to the Muslim world. The former detached science from Christianity, thereby making it palatable to Muslims. The latter, and especially Napoleon's invasion of Egypt in 1798, with its entourage of scholars and supplementary mission of knowledge, imposed European power on and brought European science to a Muslim people. Within years, some rulers -- led by Muhammad `Ali of Egypt -- recruited European technicians and sent students to Europe.

    Technology takes root. An extraordinarily rapid diffusion of Western technologies throughout most of the Middle East took place in the period 1850-1914. With the approval of local elites, European colonial authorities imposed public-health measures to contain cholera, malaria, and other contagious diseases.7 The Suez Canal, opened in 1869, reduced shipping time and distance and generated new trade. Railways, telegraphs, steamships and steam engines, automobiles, and telephones all appeared. Much of this technology transfer took the form of Middle Eastern governments' granting monopoly concessions to European firms. Muslim rulers had little concern about developing indigenous capabilities in technology adaptation, design, or maintenance.

    Science was an afterthought, at best embedded in scientific technologies but not transferred explicitly as knowledge or method. Instead, members of minority communities continued to intermediate by providing clerical and skilled labor. Minorities also helped to establish the first Western education institutions in the region, such as the Syrian Protestant College in Beirut (founded in 1866) and the Jesuits' St. Joseph's College (founded in 1875). These schools and others in Istanbul, Tunis, Tehran, Algiers, and elsewhere primarily served minority communities and Europeans, though some elite Muslims also attended. Middle Eastern medical schools quickly accepted and taught the medical discoveries of Pasteur, Koch, and others concerning microbes and bacteria. The schools contributed to the translation and publication in Arabic of major scientific works and to the organization of the first scientific societies in the region. Such societies were founded in Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, and Istanbul in the late nineteenth century, often sponsoring journals that featured translations. Thus, Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, published in 1859, was translated in Arabic journals by 1876, though not in book form until 1918. Throughout this period, Muslim intellectuals presented minimal resistance to the diffusion of Western scientific ideas. For example, the major opposition to Darwinian ideas of evolution came not from Muslim scholars but from Eastern-rite Christians.8

    Science stagnates. In the 1914-45 period, Muslims slowly, and often in frustration, attempted to strengthen indigenous science against the imported variety. New universities with an emphasis on engineering and medicine sprang up in Egypt, Turkey, Syria, and the Sudan. During the depression years, however, reduced employment for graduates and increased discontent over the dominant role of expatriates and minorities constrained science and technology.

    The nationalist politicians who arose after World War I mainly concentrated on gaining political independence; science and technology hardly concerned them. The one exception was Turkey, which under Kemal Mustafa Atatürk after 1922 launched an ambitious program of industrialization and an expansion of engineering education. Elsewhere -- in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and Iran -- politicians made only faltering attempts at industrialization to serve small local markets. Turnkey, off-the-shelf projects prevailed, especially in engineering; this meant that few scientific inputs existed, most technologies were imported, maintenance was a persistent problem, and limited shop-floor learning took place. Only in the petroleum industry, which after 1914 took on major proportions in Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, did the pattern differ, for multinational firms subcontracted locally such tasks as maintenance engineering and geological surveying.
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    THE CURRENT SITUATION

    In the aftermath of World War II, for the first time, a perceived need for indigenous science and technology spread in the Muslim world. Such events as the creation of Pakistan and the 1948 Arab-Israeli war made Muslims very acutely aware of their deficiencies in science and technology. The attainment of independence fostered a technological (but not a scientific) nationalism. States took responsibility for managing technology as an instrument of national power and made relatively ample resources available for technology (though, again, not science).

    More than sixty new universities and technical schools opened during this period in the Arabic-speaking countries alone9 but none of them has world-class standing. Science and engineering programs received the most resources and so attracted the finest students; further, they have grown to the point that hundreds of thousands of students now graduate annually in the Muslim world. In addition, several hundred thousand Muslim students have since the 1950s studied science and engineering in the West, the former Soviet Union, India, and elsewhere, and a majority have returned home. Trouble is, these results have been more impressive quantitatively than qualitatively.

    The implementation of science and technology policy takes place at the national, not regional, level.10 Most governments have established councils to oversee science and technology, drafted some sort of national plan, and made an attempt at implementation. National science policies vary widely. Turkey has achieved the most research cooperation between the public and private sectors, especially in hydrology, textiles, and agriculture. Egypt has a cumbersome, centralized research bureaucracy and policy with little diffusion or practical results. Pakistan pursues a comprehensive, government-directed research effort with a priority for nuclear energy and other highly centralized projects, but implementation has been slow and expensive. Malaysia has a sophisticated applied-research policy focused on getting local private investors to work together to expand the export of electronic items. Indonesia has opted for a high-tech policy based on a national aerospace industry with high-cost risks.

    Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates have poured vast amounts of money into science and technology. But the research output has not matched the state-of-the-art facilities. The prevailing mentality continues to be that of buying science and technology rather than producing it. Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia each operates its own modest version of French-style centralized research policies but their lack of linkages to the private sector or ability to diffuse results limits their productivity. Iran and Iraq concentrate on petroleum and weapons research to the detriment of other sectors. Other countries, such as the Sudan, Yemen, or the newly independent Central Asian republics, lack a critical mass of researchers or have experienced extensive emigration, or both. Political repression has crippled science in Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria.

    Fundamentalist governments in Iran and the Sudan have shown no interest in developing a specifically Islamic science. They appear more concerned about pornography or women's attire than the teaching of quantum mechanics. Further, the emigration of so many scientists and engineers from Iran after 1979, coupled with the devastating effects of the war with Iraq, meant that the authorities were most concerned with nurturing the remaining research community. Indeed, the priority to reconstruct the war-damaged petroleum and petrochemical industries has dictated generous treatment of scientists and engineers. The science curriculum in the schools and universities has been largely retained along pre-1979 lines. Iranian scientists have preserved international contacts; even Abdus Salam, the Pakistan particle physicist and the only Muslim11 Nobel Prize winner in science, has visited Iran.

    The Sudan has experienced one of the most severe instances of brain-drain anywhere in the world. It appears that a half-million Sudanese technicians and professionals have emigrated, primarily to Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf, since 1960.12 Scientists, engineers, and physicians have left, primarily to the Persian Gulf countries. The military-fundamentalist junta that came to power in 1989 has been concerned to slow down this exodus of talent and to retrieve what remains of Sudanese scientific and technological capabilities. Hasan at-Turabi, philosopher-theologian of the regime, envisions a moral, democratic, Islamic state with ample room for research.13 The Sudanese government, with its enormous internal problems, appears to have no interest in attempting an

    Islamization of science.

    Nor do fundamentalist movements in opposition aspire to Islamize science. Movements in Algeria and Tunisia, for example, demand the replacement of French with Arabic at all educational levels, but their objectives are political and cultural rather than anti-scientific.

    Only in Pakistan, due to internal political pressures and the particularly influential role of the mullahs (clergy), have fundamentalists attempted to impose a version of Islamic science. The government of Zia-ul-Haq in 1987 introduced fundamentalist doctrines in the teaching of science at all levels, from primary schools to universities. The regime organized international conferences and provided funding for research on such topics as the temperature of hell and the chemical nature of jinns (demons).14 After considerable damage had been done to science education, secularists counterattacked and in 1988 won the right to teach and research modern science. In spite of extensive publications and academic exchanges, Islamic science has not taken hold outside of Pakistan, where its support appears to be on the decline.
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    THE INTELLECTUAL RESPONSE

    Pervez Hoodbhoy, a Pakistani physicist and science policy writer, identifies three broad Muslim responses to modern science.15 A small number of fundamentalist Muslims reject science for the Muslim world, seeing it as immoral and materialist; for example, a leader of the Muslim Brethren in Egypt declares epidemics to be a form of divine punishment ("God developed the microbe and kept it away from those He wished to spare") and argues against scientific efforts to eradicate the problem.16 A larger number seek, through suitable interpretations of the Qur'an, a reconciliation between revealed truth and physical reality. A third, and perhaps predominant, faction regards religion and faith and modern science as essentially unrelated. This last viewpoint sustains the vague belief that Islam and science are not in conflict, without ever closely examining the specifics.17

    Indeed, in keeping with this imprecise approach, it is striking to note how the Muslim world has hardly debated the issue of the reconciliation of Islam with science and technology. Few theologians are versed in science or interested in dealing with this issue. Few scientists wish to incur the wrath of the religious community by publicly raising it. Few institutional forums exist for such a debate, and their dependence on the state further dampens incentive. In most Muslim countries, including Iran, a tacit agreement therefore exists between scientists and theologians not to debate issues that could harm both sides. That Islamic leaders seldom rail against the tenets of science means that scientific doctrines and concepts are mostly free from religious challenge. The teachings of Darwin on evolution, for example, are allowed everywhere but Saudi Arabia.18

    Seldom has the debate over reconciling Islam and science addressed the Qur'an itself and the claims made for its infallibility. A work of exalted and unadulterated monotheism, the Qur'an presents God as the Creator bringing into being all material objects and all life. God's will is responsible for earthquakes and other natural events; Nature is a oneness derived from Him. Some scholars find in the Qur'an the prototype of environmental sciences, such as ecology and biology. But finding "proto-science" in a holy book dating from the seventh century A.D. raises all sorts of problems. One verse (6:1)19 reads, "He created the heavens and the earth in six days, and then mounted his throne." Were this verse, borrowed from Genesis I, interpreted literally, it would devastate astrophysics, cosmology, geology, and other disciplines. But Muslims have neither interpreted the verse (as have most Christians and Jews) to understand that a "day" means some length of time to God other than twenty-four earth hours, nor have they given it a metaphorical meaning. For their part, Muslim geologists practice their profession without trying to reconcile the Qur'an with the assumptions of their profession.

    Science is curiously missing from the passionate and ongoing debate over Islam and the West. Religious extremists have attacked the social order, corruption, and immorality, but not the minor heresies, of science. No Islamic theological splits or fractures have occurred comparable to that between evolutionists and Christian creationists. Instead, Islamic intellectual history is characterized by loosely grouped individual thinkers attempting single-handedly in their writings to achieve a reconciliation. Technology benefits from often unqualified approval.

    Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (1817-98), for example, devoted much of his life to convincing Muslims in India "that western scientific thought was not antithetical to Islam." He reinterpreted the Qur'an to find passages consistent with reason and nature, and insisted that "Muslims have in the Koran the source of a rational religion attuned to modern man's scientific interests."20 In a bold approach, he stripped the Qur'an and the hadith (anecdotes concerning the Prophet Muhammad) to render them compatible with the science of his time. In perhaps the most influential modernist effort vis-à-vis science, the Egyptian Muhammad Abduh (1849-1905) developed a belief system based on reason. He argued that "religion must be accounted as a friend to science, pushing man to investigate the secrets of existence, summoning him to respect the established truths and to depend on them in his moral life and conduct."21

    Moving to the present, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, an Iranian Shi`i and professor of Islamic studies at George Washington University, defines contemporary Islamic science in terms of humanist values he finds in the Qur'an and the hadith.22 Inspired by mystical ideals, Nasr articulates less a practical program than a vague Islamic science free of nuclear energy and devoted to environmental harmony. Similarly, Ziauddin Sardar, a Pakistani science-policy specialist, envisions an "Islamic science" rooted in humanistic values. He wants no weapons research (though it is hard to find Islamic support for such a ban). He has written detailed proposals for networks of Muslim scientists, joint projects, and regional cooperation, all based on Muslim solidarity.23 Nasr and Sardar do not address the problems that Islamic doctrine poses to science; nor do they admit the totality of science (for instance, nuclear energy can be used for peaceful purposes). Also, they fail to comprehend the universal, international, and open-ended nature of science.

    Abdus Salam is the Muslim world's foremost scientific secularist. In an important collection of essays published in 1987, he insisted that science is universal and international rather than Islamic. Adapting to Islam the nineteenth-century Christian and Jewish reconciliation of faith and reason as separate, complementary paths to knowledge, Salam maintains that "there truly is no disconsonance between Islam and modern science."24 He also asserts that "there is not a single verse in the Qur'an where natural phenomena are described and which contradicts what we know for certain from our discoveries in science." In spite of identifying the roots of science in the Qur'an, Salam insists on separating faith and reason. He calls faith "the timeless, spiritual message of Islam, on matters which physics is silent, and will remain so."25 To flourish, science requires autonomy, freedom to inquire, and assured resources, not the stifling embrace of religion.

    Pervez Hoodbhoy joined the ranks of militant secularists with his 1991 book Islam and Science, in which he appealed for tolerance to permit reason and faith to coexist within each sphere. "While recognizing that religion and science are complementary and not contradictory to each other, a clear demarcation between the spheres of the spiritual and the worldly is necessary."26 He also insisted that science is universal, not Western.
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    WHY DOES THE MUSLIM WORLD LAG BEHIND?

    Islam contributes to the Muslim world's lagging behind in science insofar as its tenets have not satisfactorily been reconciled with those of science. Islam's most deleterious effect may be to remove most Muslims from direct contact with science. Except for a brief exposure in school, there is little science in Islamic popular culture. Scientists rarely turn up in the media. Pleas by scientists like Abdus Salam to the religious authorities for sermons about elements of science in the Qur'an and hadith go unheard. A modus vivendi has been arrived at in several countries (for example, Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan, Kuwait, Iran, Indonesia, and Malaysia) after informal, low-profile discussions between clergy, academics, and scientists. This works on a practical level without providing the intellectual context, sustained financial commitment, or human resources needed for science again to flourish in the Muslim world.

    Islam is not, however, the key problem facing scientific achievement in the Muslim world. Rather, the low level of achievement results from the cumulative effect of multiple factors, and not from a single dominant cause. Here are some ten of those factors:

    Demographics. The number of research scientists and engineers remains well below that of rich countries as well as Latin America and South and East Asia. Science and engineering students are drawn primarily from urban middle-income backgrounds; few of the much larger number of poor students can pursue research careers. Participation by women in science remains low, as the disincentives, formal and informal, for women to study science or engineering are formidable. Only a handful of mostly urban, middle-class male students have sufficient exposure to science to even consider making it a career.

    Language. With an estimated 80 percent of the world's scientific literature appearing first in English, the literature in Arabic, Persian, Urdu, and other languages is inadequate for teaching students as well as researchers. Scientific work, therefore, requires a competence in reading, writing, and comprehending English, an area in which Muslims overall lag behind other peoples, such as Chinese, Thais, and Brazilians. Even though the Arab League has systematically promoted scientific translations and an updated Arab vocabulary, Where English or French are the language of instruction (the former in the Arabic-speaking countries of the Persian Gulf, the latter in North Africa), hostility often develops between students in science, who study in a foreign language, and those in other disciplines, who work in Arabic.27

    Education. Effective science education at primary and secondary levels is available in many countries only at a handful of urban private schools. There is too much rote learning, a legacy in part of Qur'anic schools, and far too little support for science education at all levels. Universities and technical schools emphasize teaching rather than research. Few strong doctoral programs or research centers of academic excellence exist. Overcrowded, underfunded, and turbulent universities have been unable to protect space and resources for research.

    Research. The Muslim world suffers no shortage of scientists and engineers, but it does have an acute scarcity of career researchers. While several countries boast outstanding individual researchers and projects, there is little mentorship or in-house ability to train young researchers. And many of the few science and engineering graduates being trained in research are then employed in bureaucratic posts. Inadequate equipment and access to data also reduces scientific output per researcher, as do the few incentives to publish and the absence of quality doctoral programs within the region. Attempts to develop research capabilities -- whether in universities, research institutes, government ministries, nonprofit foundations, multinational corporations, or local corporations -- have rarely succeeded.

    State-owned corporations. Given the increasing links between science and technology, state-owned corporations have a potentially important role, especially in Algeria and Syria, but they have woefully neglected science. Research by parastatals such as Sonatrach, the state petroleum firm in Algeria, has been plagued by poor management, erratic funding, political instability, and personnel problems. Lack of accountability and inability to diffuse research -- even within the firm -- are persistent problems. Unwilling to build linkages to university researchers or to collaborate with admittedly weak government ministries, the parastatals have wasted resources.

    Industrial import substitution often continues to rely on turnkey projects and foreign maintenance. There are signs, especially in Pakistan, Turkey, and Lebanon, of local firms' developing adaptive research capabilities. Multinational firms active in the region prefer to conduct research at European or North American sites. Some adaptive research in the petroleum and petrochemical industries, mostly small-scale quality control, provides few incentives for joint ventures in research with state-owned companies. Except for Algeria, Iran, and Iraq, state oil companies are more managers of concessions than operators with strong technical capabilities.

    Professional societies. Professional societies of physicists, engineers, dentists, physicians, and other disciplines generally sponsor journals and meetings but have no structures or resources for research. Sometimes harassed politically (as in Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, and Iraq), the professional societies often opt for the most narrow and technical concept of their mission. Broad-based interdisciplinary professional societies for science and engineering have been slow to develop in the Muslim world. The one exception is the Royal Scientific Society of Jordan, which has monarchical patronage and interdisciplinary participation.

    Resources. A lack of financial resources and incentives has been a major barrier to research except in some oil-rich states. Whereas Japan, the United States, Germany, and other Western countries spend 2 percent or more of their gross domestic product (GDP) annually on research, no Muslim country spends more than .50 percent of its (much lower) GDP on research.28 Not only is money scarce but what little is available comes sporadically, further bedeviling long-term research (which requires equally long-term financial commitments). Even where funds are available, research-management capabilities are in short supply. The prospects for stable research funding and effective institution-building are both poor.

    Authoritarianism. Authoritarian regimes deny freedom of inquiry or dissent, cripple professional societies, intimidate universities, and limit contacts with the outside world. A horrific detailed account by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences documents the long-term destruction of the scientific community in Syria29 by a nationalist regime, not a fundamentalist one. Authoritarian regimes also reinforce the prevailing pattern of relying on technology transfer. Distrustful of their own elites and institutions, the rulers prefer to buy rather than generate technology. The oil-exporting countries especially see science and technology as commodities to be purchased, an outlook that has a pernicious effect on the development of indigenous research capabilities.

    Regional cooperation. Regional cooperation in science and technology has a checkered history in the Muslim world. It makes eminent sense in principle, for a handful of countries (like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia) are oil-rich and short of researchers, while other countries (Egypt and Pakistan) export them. Also, the similarity of applied-research needs and priorities, such as solar energy, desertification, and desalination, should produce shared interests. Meetings held over two decades to coordinate regional research have produced much rhetoric and little action.

    Government incompetence. Applied-research units in government ministries, such as agriculture or construction, have often become sinecures for political appointees with little or no interest or capabilities for research.

    What relative importance do these factors have in terms of impeding science in the Muslim world? The matter of reconciling faith and reason would seem to be among the less consequential. The prevalence of authoritarian regimes counts more. Also, while obscurantists reject science, popular ignorance and indifference to science are far more problematic than fundamentalist hostility. Lastly, science and technology research is not adequately institutionalized: continuity of funding and personnel, long-term goals, and management autonomy are all lacking.
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    After nearly fifty years of would-be institution-building, the Muslim world has failed to provide a satisfactory home for science. The failure to build viable research institutions at the national level has thwarted most attempts at regional cooperation. Talented researchers must still leave the region to obtain advanced postgraduate training.

    In spite of this pessimistic assessment, measures do exist to improve Muslim achievements in the sciences. Fiscal and other incentives can promote shop-floor learning and informal research, especially in locally owned enterprises. Professional societies can, given sufficient autonomy, play an important role in improving science education, scientific communications, and the place of science in popular culture. Small-scale projects can establish links between the public and private sectors and universities and technical schools. The basis exists for fostering regional and subregional cooperation, for there is a consensus on research priorities in much of the Muslim world. These include solar energy, desalination, arid lands agriculture, irrigation, animal sciences, and petrochemicals. While these are applied-research and demonstration-and-development priorities, they do involve a substantial amount of science. With agreement on priorities, long-term funding can be developed.

    Yet, these incremental and pragmatic measures must still confront a hostile environment. For science again to flourish in Muslim countries requires a recognition that it requires long-term continuities, the lessening of authoritarianism, and a serious effort to reconcile faith and reason.
  6. Chrome9
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    Chrome9 FULL MEMBER

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    Pakistan should take it on themselves to be a pillar for science in Islamic countries if no other is willing to invest in such institutions. The Knowledge based economy that Musharraf is promoting has to be endoresed by everyone including religeous conservatives.
    If other muslim countries can't see that we are living in a world of fast moving technological change and innovations and those who don't follow will be left behind, fair enough, but Pakistan can't be a member of this kind of thought.
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    Tiki Tam Tam <b>MILITARY PROFESSIONALS</b>

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    The above is an article by Khushwant Singh, who is a great exponent for Indo Pak Friendship and a champion of Moslem causes.
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    roadrunner PDF THINK TANK: CONSULTANT

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    Muslim world lags behind in science for different reasons. Pakistan lags behind because of colonialism. It's already catching up.
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    Tiki Tam Tam <b>MILITARY PROFESSIONALS</b>

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    How is it catching up?

    Colonialism did not hit all of the Moslem world, did it?

    No idea of finding crutches. Introspection is essential. Likewise, it is same for India.

    The Jews were hated and trampled underfoot in Europe, but still the brains that gave the 'discoveries' to the West was to a great extent by the Jews. The Jews were not treated as even second class citizens. They were untermenschens - treat as sub humans! And yet they did what they did!

    It may not sound palatable to you about the Jews, but I would rather look at our faults and not blame others.

    We must be bold to face out faults and rid ourselves of the same to be leaders (not militarily, but in brains) in the world.
    • Thanks Thanks x 2
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    See thats exactly the problem when we will learn to pin point the problem then we can fix it in no time.as we stand so far we are not willing to recognize there is a problem.
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    Thanks for posting this. However I do not think that Khushwant Singh has really looked deep enough into the decline of the Muslim empire. He links Kamal Ataturk's abolishing of Caliphate (which has been the biggest catastrophy for the Muslim world in the past two centuries) and banning of hijab and burqa as the causes of Turkey's modernity. I do not think that these linkages hold any water.

    I have run into hundreds (perhaps even thousands) of Muslims in the west and even Pakistan who are hijab-wearing, beard-donning and yet extremely well educated and successful individuals. Getting yourself exposed to be modernized is an illogical and unnatural phenomena even for Turks. A vast majority of the Turks is practicing Muslims and that has not stopped them from educating themselves or modernizing. So at least in my own experience (I have studied in the west for better part of my life), this analysis (which is often seen and heard) is only skin-deep. Muslims wearing hijab, abayya, beards also led the world in scientific rennaisance many centuries ago...this also happened under successive Caliphates...so the need is not to forget who we are, rather the need is to focus on the job of educating the masses while staying within the realm and injunctions of Islam.

    The issue with the Muslim world is indeed that of slumber. There is a need to invest in education but thus far that has not happened at a large scale. There is realization in the Muslim countries but the issue is that each country is on a different scale of progress. Europe being geographically tied together made the progress together....for most in the world, when they think of Muslims, they are thinking the ME which is only 15% of the world's population. The rest of the Muslim world is becoming aware of this shortcoming but at their own pace. With 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, the task of educating the masses is a big one and it will take some time.
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    Like I said, I don't know about Arab countries or Far East Asian countries. I do know about Pakistan though and the effects of colonialism on it. Whilst some cities in Bharat like Delhi and some others (even some Bengali ones were developed), not one single city in Pakistan was developed, or produced any major industrial output. While literacy in the West at partition was 100%, Pakistan had 7% literacy. One cannot compare countries with 100% literacy to countries reduced to 7% literacy. you know my views on this, and i feel as though it was through no fault of any Pakistani that Pakistan was subjected to colonialism. You guys take all the credit for that through your butt licking maharajas. If you look centuries and even millenia before, you will find that in Ancient Pakistan, literacy was even higher than the colonialist era! If you go back to Mughal times, again you find the same. Invention, science all stopped after British Imperialism in subcontinent, because the subcontinent (in particular Pakistan) was used as a raw materials supplier. The industrial base of manufactured goods that brought a goods price were shifted to the West and the occasional industry could be spotted in Bharat. If the Mughals had carried on ruling, what do you think would have happened to the literacy of Pakistan..Would it have been more or less than 7%? Answers with some reasons. If you say it would be higher, it stands to reason, that Pakistan would have been able to have done more research, and today the standard would be higher. This is all down to bad economies, which result from colonialism.
  13. Tiki Tam Tam
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    Tiki Tam Tam <b>MILITARY PROFESSIONALS</b>

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    Roadrunner,

    Hardly any substance there. High on self pity though.

    Have you asked yourself why there was no literacy in what became Pakistan? Whose fault is it? If people want to find solace in sitting on their posteriors and are adamant about not stirring for self improvement, why blame others?

    The Pakistan part of India was the only ones under colonialism? And what is India today was a liberated free country? Christ! Logic!

    And it has nothing to do with Islam. The Mohajirs are also Moslems, but they were educated and wise and continue to be so.

    The problem is that what is Pakistan was feudal, is feudal and will continue to be so unless people wake up. Ask the Chaudhuris!

    Feudalism is real Jo Huzuri. I cannot get myself to use crude expressions as you. In other words, I am saying the same thing as you have said of the Maharajas and possibly you also meant Indian Nabobs, but with a wee bit of sophistication! ;)

    There is nothing called ancient Pakistan. It came into being in 1947.

    Deluding yourself in contrived grandeur?
  14. roadrunner
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    roadrunner PDF THINK TANK: CONSULTANT

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    Why do you equate stating historical fact with self-pity? If I wanted to be self-pitiful, I would have quoted the famines and many other things. I stuck to why Pakistan science is where it is today. It's an explanation that you, for some reason, are calling self pity. Do you deny some fo the facts mentioned, if so tell me how, and we can discuss them.

    The literacy was poor in Pakistan because the people resisted British rule, unlike the Bharatis - different people in each country reacted differently to colonialism. If you think it's an excuse, which fact of mine do you deny? Let's not move on from this, don't avoid the question, and hope it'll disappear. I'll keep asking it you in this thread till you answer, and if you cannot answer that also shows you have no substance in what you are saying. What was the literacy rate like before Pakistan was colonized, and what was it after? How many scientific achievements took place under Mughal rule in Pakistan when everyone was Muslim, and how many took place under colonial rule?

    Whilst it's true that scientific achievements and Islam don't go hand in hand, the Muhajirs are no wiser than any other ethnic group. I would say that their education is around the same as other Pakistanis now. They might have had an advantage (some of them) when they cam to pakistan, but I'd have thought some of the educated Muhajirs stayed behind in Bharat anyway.

    Pakistan was feudal, but this was as a result of colonialism. This explains it better.

    To ease the pains of occupation, the non-British colonial powers indulged in brutal killings, and ruled by instilling a fear in the occupied people. The British had a better approach, though. This approach generally gave them a fake look of humanity and civility. They killed, not as a first option, but second. Their first option was to encourage and exploit a system of feudalism based upon the existence of greedy and megalomaniac regional lords. The British allowed these hotbeds of suppression and cruelty to continue to exist, as long as their chiefs remained loyal to the British crown and had no qualms about butchering their own people if the situation so demanded. Where no such feudal setup existed, the British invented one. Those few tribal chiefs, who refused to toe the line, were ruthlessly eliminated.

    All the history within the borders of modern day Pakistan is what is meant by Ancient Pakistan.
  15. Tiki Tam Tam
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    Tiki Tam Tam <b>MILITARY PROFESSIONALS</b>

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    Roadrunner,

    Facts are not your strong point.

    The literacy was poor in Pakistan because the people resisted British rule, unlike the Bharatis (you mean people of all religious denomination of what is today's India)?

    Please check up the statistics, who constituted the largest part of the British Indian Army and who got jagirs for loyalty. Fantastical resistance to the British I must say!

    I will come back tomoprrow night since it is 0340 hours here.