Muslims and their contribution to science

If you ask a Muslim about how his brethren have contributed to the scientific progress of man, he’d blithely mention scientists like Jabir Bin Hayan, Ibn-e-Sina and Omar Al-Khayyam. Such Muslims have, without doubt, contributed generously to science.

But that was centuries ago, all the way back in the middle ages. When it comes to modern science, Muslims have little to be proud of. A few names are worth mentioning – Dr.Abdus Salam being one of them – but beyond that, there isn’t much.

For a religious group that constantly talks about how “scientific” Islam is, and persistently attempts to prove the authenticity of Quran as divine writ by pointing out the “scientific miracles” mentioned in it, the reality doesn’t quite concur with their beliefs.

Here’s are a few fact about Muslims and their contributions to science in today’s world:

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Average percentage of GDP spent globally on scientific research: 2.36%

Average percentage of GDP spent by members of OIC on scientific research: 0.34%

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Average number of scientists per population of thousand globally: 40

Average number of scientists per population of thousand in Islamic countries: 10

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Total number of scientific publications by the 17 richest members of OIC: 13,444

Total number of scientific publications by Harvard University alone: 15,455

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Percentage population of Muslims in the world: 18.1%

Percentage of research papers published by Muslims among total: 1.1%

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The Arab oil states possess the kind of wealth that much of the developed world yearns for. Yet, these monarchs of these countries, quite brazenly, keep wasting their nations’ assets on expensive indulgences – palaces, fleets of luxurious cars, and even entire legions of wives and their their children. Meanwhile, many other Islamic countries are spending extravagantly on military. Pakistan has the fifth largest army in the world, but unless it intends to feed its people gunpowder and replace the faculties of its universities with batmen, it needs to seriously consider diverting a large chunk of the budget towards education and healthcare.

Saudi Arabia earns 27 billion riyals from Hajj alone each year, and the profits are on the rise with the increase in the number of pilgrims. A mere quarter of these earning, if spent wisely on scientific development, should be enough to turn the tide for the country and give rise to a whole lot of new-age Ibn-e-Sina’s.

The Muslim world, currently, is to science what the Backstreet Boys group is to music: a has-been. And it shows no sign of returning to its former glory. In fact, there’s every reason to expect the downward trend to continue for a long time.

“Of all civilizations on this planet, science is weakest in the lands of Islam. The dangers of this weakness cannot be over-emphasized since the honourable survival of a society depends directly on its science and technology in the condition of the present age.” – Dr. Abdus Salam

It’s time for urgent and ambitious reforms.


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    • Ahmed
    • October 30th, 2010

    oh oh oh….why should arabs study when they have audis:P

  1. Next time a theist boasts about Scientific supremacy of Quran, ask him/her to take an unsolved problem in Physics and solve it based on their holy book. Its pretty common for muslims to believe whenever someone says that Quran is scientific without reading the points because it makes them feel right, it boosts their ego. I have seen many who tend to show how quran explains Big Bang theory(yea 1200 yrs after Big Bang Theory was formulated), Ask them to explain Dark matter/energy and see them going nuts.

      • Sonya
      • August 25th, 2011

      Nice argument, also shows your lacks of knowledge about Qura’an.

      The Qura’an explains a ‘lots of’ scientific facts, most of which human kind just came to discover recently. It does not claim to be a book of all rules and formulas of physics or chemistry or biology (no muslim either claims that). Your question about dark matter is useless because if Qura’an had to say something about it, then you could have argued.

    • loneliberalpk
    • August 31st, 2011

    These aren’t facts, Sonya. That’s the Forer Effect.

    If all these scientific facts had been mentioned so explicitly in the Quran, why didn’t Muslims present them earlier? For instance, Muslims claim that Big Bang has been mentioned clearly in the Quran. If that’s true, why were the readers of the Quran sitting silently for over a thousand years till 1927, when a Belgian priest proposed the universe’s origin through a violent explosion?

    Why wait for all the Jews and the Christians to make these important scientific discoveries and then jump up saying, “Haha! We knew about it all along!”

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