Science and Islam

Science and Islam

2009, Science  -   213 Comments
Ratings: 7.18/10 from 79 users.

Science and IslamPhysicist Jim Al-Khalili travels through Syria, Iran, Tunisia and Spain to tell the story of the great leap in scientific knowledge that took place in the Islamic world between the 8th and 14th centuries.

Its legacy is tangible, with terms like algebra, algorithm and alkali all being Arabic in origin and at the very heart of modern science – there would be no modern mathematics or physics without algebra, no computers without algorithms and no chemistry without alkalis.

For Baghdad-born Al-Khalili this is also a personal journey and on his travels he uncovers a diverse and outward-looking culture, fascinated by learning and obsessed with science.

From the great mathematician Al-Khwarizmi, who did much to establish the mathematical tradition we now know as algebra, to Ibn Sina, a pioneer of early medicine whose Canon of Medicine was still in use as recently as the 19th century, he pieces together a remarkable story of the often-overlooked achievements of the early medieval Islamic scientists.

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4 years ago

Dear fried, both two scientists that you named Al-Khwarizmi,Ibn Sina amd many others were persians but they were under rule of arabs and they had to write their books in arabic.Arabs in the arab world steal eagerly what does not belong to them!

Iraklis (or maby an Arab called Al Irakledese?)
5 years ago

at 07:05...: Al Euklidese is'nt some arab scholar, as the creator of the documentary clames, but the known greek mathematisian Eucledes
laughable cheep propaganda! -how can you clame such a stupid thing, that it must be some unknown Arab, just because in font of the name you find the werb "Al"
plus, you clame to be a scientist... no you are just a counterfeiter of History!

5 years ago

Misleading tittle science & Islam . Documentary was about science in middle east nothing to do with religion ! It seem west forgets national identity of people with Islamic faith . Science In Middle East not Science & Islam .

6 years ago

Firstly, Muslim empires in the past believed in centralising knowledge rather than disseminating it en masse. Centres of learning, such as Baghdad and Cordoba, had their houses of knowledge in which scientists would work, preserving and developing on, primarily, Hellenistic knowledge. There was no printing press, and even when it did arrive it was rejected, thus such knowledge was largely reserved for an elite audience. When centres of learning were conquered and destroyed, as Baghdad was in 1256 by the Mongols, most of the knowledge was lost too.

Secondly, the religious authorities of the time were largely opposed to ideas being put forward by scientists and other rationalist thinkers such as Ibn Rushd, and before him, Ibn Sina. They felt threatened by non-theological attempts to ascertain truths and Muslim leaders often sided with the religious authorities for political reasons.

Thirdly, literalist and dogmatic strands of Islamic theology have been aggressively promoted all around the Muslim world over the past few decades or ever since huge oil deposits were discovered in the Arabian Gulf. The Saudi state, in an attempt at cultural imperialism, has done its best to mainstream Wahabi thinking in Muslim communities everywhere. The result: a retardation and stagnation of thinking in parts of the world that were already very stagnant.

Most conservative Muslims today feel threatened by the idea of evolution, especially since the evidence for it is over-whelming and an increasing number of believers are starting to accept it. History illustrates that this doesn't have to be the case. Evolution is not a modern western construct. Like most great ideas, it has been developed over hundreds of years by many great thinkers, from Aristotle all the way to Dawkins.

Most importantly of all, the theory of evolution today, especially with the advances in our understanding of DNA, is fact.

7 years ago

All those people who are talking against Islam . They must read Islamic books on Education for truth . Then decide them self no other religion give importance to education then islam. And also they know that Islam will be the largest Religion in the world accourding to your own media. I invite you to listen Dr . Zakir Naik speeches if you are looking for the truth .

7 years ago

In these reviews, the is much talk of science, proof and written evidence in books. Let me tell you all that science will never disprove religion. Nor will science ever prove religion. There is no dispute between Science and Religion. Religion is a Dogma, while Science is a Method. Two entirely different things. Neither has any relation to the other. Neither either disputes or condemns the other. Science is not something you believe in, it is something that you use. Religion (as told to you by someone) is something that you believe in. That is the reason that science will never disprove religion.

7 years ago

arabs are killing themselvs to steal scientific achivments by iranians during early centuries of islam in their own name, and the sad thing is that the westeners ignore and fuel it.

7 years ago

"Muslims in Arabia merely translated and copy-pasted scientific works of Greco-Roman, Persian and Indian texts in the fields of mathematical systems, astronomy, algebra, trigonometry and medicine....And then they are trying to credit Kuran for it by pointing to some vague blind sentences from it." ...Even before I have felt the need to hammer on this Fact of Religious Fanaticism, it's already been mentioned here in the forum. ...And that's the logical end of that particular discussion here.

So all those individuals trying to ridiculously wrap up Science with Islamic coating, it's a blind conspiracy by you all and so is this stupid documentary. You all really need to read "The Grand Design" by Hawkings.

...And please ....Try NOT to mention a fanatic religious zealot like Zakir Naik and Hindus in India in the same sentence. That's as stupid a statement as it can get and you loose your credibility by mentioning both in the same breath. Individuals like Naik are a Burden on Earth.

8 years ago

1) Algebra predates Islam by centuries.

2) "Arab" does not mean "Muslim"

3) Today Islam seems intent on going back to the bronze ago. Nice job destroying all those irreplaceable antiquities.

8 years ago

The dark ages happen to suppress Christianity also. Fact is the dark ages ignored earlier Greek and Roman culture which were rediscovered during the Renaissance. Maybe the author of this documentary must separate religion and politics from science or math since really, they are mutually exclusive subjects.

8 years ago

The Arabs in the 9th century translated Euclid's Elements to Greeks thus saving geometry. The Arabs then invented algebra. But this had nothing to do with Islam as a religion. It is a mischaracterization to attribute any of this to Islam. It was Arab scholars who did this work.

8 years ago

This is a good documentary and true. But the narrator says Islamic where he should say Arabic. The Arabs to Euclids Elements and translated them to Arabic. This has nothing to do with the religion of Islam.

8 years ago

I think algebra pre-dates Islam by centuries.

10 years ago

No - he never raised his voice, maybe - but he raised his dick to fu** a 9 year old girl. That's not appropriate manner dear Habib Sultan. Peace.

Habib Sultan
10 years ago

There is no man in history more merciful then the Prophet Muhammad. The is no man who was or is better to his then the Prophet Muhammad. There was never a better father then the Prophet Muhammad. He never raised his voice to a woman or child. I grew up Jewish and had to learn this on my own. Read his biography. Learn about his manners. PEACE

10 years ago

"... the story of the great leap in scientific knowledge that took place in the Islamic world between the 8th and 14th centuries" -- what happened to the muslim scientists (too bad women weren't welcome; consider such women as Marie Curie and Rosalind Franklin, e.g.)? they were so incredibly brilliant, i had tears in my eyes for what could have been, if only ...

10 years ago

definitely a well thought out, well presented, and well spoken documentary. Jim Al-Khalili has done a fine job.

10 years ago

The "western" world does need to acknowledge the contributions of all non-white contributers to no coincidenece that only white guys are praised...i remember learning about our use of the arabic numeric system and modern medicine in junior college, but my professor didn't spend much time on it...but I always thought it was interesting because it showed me how biased white europeans were and how biased the western world is today...very interesting film though

10 years ago

just think about the physicist of yours . you can be realize that there is some one great who make it some special power whose the one ALLAH ..... muslim is known by there way of passing duniya in every type of society...

10 years ago

When the Muslim divided knowledge between Deen and Duniya . They marched backward. Any knowledge which satisfies Almighty is deen. Knowledge is like a tree, in which roots,trunk,branches,leaves,flowers and fruits are there. Every part of the tree is important. Like that every branch of knowledge is important and it should be used to satisfy Almighty and for the well being of humanity.

10 years ago

It's true what you say about proof.For we can never give you that.However you can find it for it is always clear to those who have faith.First let me take you here.I have studied THE WILL TO BELIEVE HUMAN IMMORTALLITY BY WILLIAM JAMES AN EMINENT PSYCHIATRIST.He presents a number of ideas and one that got my attention was this that he says that truth is better lost than found.According to him if we know the truth than it will demolish everything on which we believe.That is the condition of people of faith according to him but when I came to analyze muslims and their faith i learned that their faith is truly different.According to it one must try to do anything to get true knowledge which is knowledge of any religion for according to our believe any religion will take us finally to Islam and if you do that then god will take you to the path to paradise.And that is why muslims don't fear anyone when they go to europe and preach their religion and do debates.
You see you will never get proof for what god you believe in but by finding errors and by creating will that one day you will go on the right path or find true faith you will reach the truth.You see everyone in world fears the truth but muslims don't they just want anyone to prove them wrong and no one could.You can have thousands of perspectives to look at things but one perspective is right.That perspective is made by looking at something as a whole.An atheist has a rather more illogical believe.Believing in his belief is like believing that you throw a thousand dices and every dice turns up to show nuber six.YOU simply stop to live for you could become neolithic.

Salman Al Belushi
10 years ago

why are you trying soo hard to disprove Islam as a religion? what is your need to do so?
and theses guys are asking you to disprove the writings in the holy Qur'an you haven't done so yet all you have done is take the texts and interpret it in your own views to suit your point that you want to make?
you have lack of faith and belief. and you have an obsession in trying to be Right which leaves you to be a very insecure person and especially about your own beliefs . you prob don't believe in God. If your so smart and a expert in not believing in god please show me your proof.

11 years ago

Proof of Allah through the theory of Probability: In mathematics there is a theory known as ‘Theory of Probability’. If you have two options, out of which one is right, and one is wrong, the chances that you will chose the right one is half, i.e. one out of the two will be correct. You have 50% chances of being correct. Similarly if you toss a coin the chances that your guess will be correct is 50% (1 out of 2) i.e. 1/2. If you toss a coin the second time, the chances that you will be correct in the second toss is again 50% i.e. half. But the chances that you will be correct in both the tosses is half multiplied by half (1/2 x 1/2) which is equal to 1/4 i.e. 50% of 50% which is equal to 25%. If you toss a coin the third time, chances that you will be correct all three times is (1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2) that is 1/8 or 50% of 50% of 50% that is 12½%.

A dice has got six sides. If you throw a dice and guess any number between 1 to 6, the chances that your guess will be correct is 1/6. If you throw the dice the second time, the chances that your guess will be correct in both the throws is (1/6 x 1/6) which is equal to 1/36. If you throw the dice the third time, the chances that all your three guesses are correct is (1/6 x 1/6 x 1/6) is equal to 1/216 that is less than 0.5 %.

Let us apply this theory of probability to the Qur’an, and assume that a person has guessed all the information that is mentioned in the Qur’an which was unknown at that time. Let us discuss the probability of all the guesses being simultaneously correct.

At the time when the Qur’an was revealed, people thought the world was flat, there are several other options for the shape of the earth. It could be triangular, it could be quadrangular, pentagonal, hexagonal, heptagonal, octagonal, spherical, etc. Lets assume there are about 30 different options for the shape of the earth. The Qur’an rightly says it is spherical, if it was a guess the chances of the guess being correct is 1/30.

The light of the moon can be its own light or a reflected light. The Qur’an rightly says it is a reflected light. If it is a guess, the chances that it will be correct is 1/2 and the probability that both the guesses i.e the earth is spherical and the light of the moon is reflected light is 1/30 x 1/2 = 1/60.

Further, the Qur’an also mentions every living thing is made of water. Every living thing can be made up of either wood, stone, copper, aluminum, steel, silver, gold, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, oil, water, cement, concrete, etc. The options are say about 10,000. The Qur’an rightly says that everything is made up of water. If it is a guess, the chances that it will be correct is 1/10,000 and the probability of all the three guesses i.e. the earth is spherical, light of moon is reflected light and everything is created from water being correct is 1/30 x 1/2 x 1/10,000 = 1/60,000 which is equal to about .0017%.

The Qur’an speaks about hundreds of things that were not known to men at the time of its revelation. Only in three options the result is .0017%. I leave it upto you, to work out the probability if all the hundreds of the unknown facts were guesses, the chances of all of them being correct guesses simultaneously and there being not a single wrong guess. It is beyond human capacity to make all correct guesses without a single mistake, which itself is sufficient to prove to a logical person that the origin of the Qur’an is Divine.

11 years ago

Dare any of you speak bad about islam in public places where muslims are present, oh well you can't, you f--kin cowards!

11 years ago

algebra is not an islamic invention. we the hindus know it before islam. we call it beej ganit. we hindus know alkali too before islam. we call it khar. medicine is such a thing that every race on earth knows. we hindus also know it. we hindus know algebra, alkali and medicines long before islam because hinduism existed long before islam.

moreover, if you read sharia, you will find that in the very begining, islam forbed use of science, philosophy or anything that creats doubt. so no relation between islam and science.

thank you very much.

11 years ago

Really?! Science and islam? Thats like comparing apples and oranges. I might have to watch just for the lols.

Mustafa El-askary
11 years ago

Please ppl don't get confused, Not all Arabs are Muslims and not all Muslims are Arabs, So what's wrong if Bukhari or Sina were Persian Muslims ?? Though i'm not sure that they were Persian !!

11 years ago

the Hindu/Arabic numerals comes out mostly of archaic Hinduism in the Vedas valley though,, so I don't think the origin has much to do with Islamism.

Hernan Toro
11 years ago

Mmm... from XIV century on Islam has produced nothing at all. It looks like Greece, sleeping in a long dead past.

11 years ago

How does one reconcile this with modern Arab-Islamism??!?

11 years ago

Who cares whether they were Arab or Persian....I mean, could you imagine trying to do algabra with Roman Numerals?

We should also give credit to the Bizantines, who saved the ancient classics until they were conquered by the Muslims.

11 years ago

It seems some people always have their 'hatred of Islam shades' on all the time. So very sadly, there will never see the good things in Islam. And no matter what the truth is, there will always be against it.
Good thing is their hatred does not change history nor does it change how beautiful islam is(if it is followed the way it should be followed).

Syed M. Agha
11 years ago

what a bigoted person Rachel Johnson is

11 years ago

I would watch this but it is self pleasuring on camera in the name of Islam. So I am not going to sit here and not try to laugh through the whole film. Someone wants to rewrite history, but the ink is dry. Islam created a lot of things, fear terror, pain, suffering, hate, criminalization of other religions, bigotry. But Math and science were not two of them.

11 years ago

History must be rewritten

11 years ago

A nice effort by Mr Jim... may he be rewarded for this,,,,,,, ameen

11 years ago

Zoroastrianity is a dualistic religion... not monotheistic

11 years ago

Hi guys. This is a beautiful piece. I think we should appreciate this well-researched work not call ourselves or culture(s) names. How can I get my hands on "The gene code" and "Unlocking the code", all BBC four science documentries by Dr Adam Rutherford? It was last aired in the UK in April 2011. Any link(s) will be much appreciated.

11 years ago

Islam's decline was its own fault. Under the influence of Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, Islam rejected Aristotle and science. At the same time, Europe, under the influence of St. Thomas Aquinas rediscovered and accepted Aristotle and science.

11 years ago

This Cyrus guy is mad at Iran and putting it all out on Islam. Take your persian pride and shove it where the sun doesn't shine you hypocritical sheeple.

You cry about how you're a victim of Islam while you use the same degradatory values you claim Islam has towards other people.

Iran has no Islam, Iran has nothing but a mislead Shia sect created by the Yazdegerd. You come from the great persian ancestry of sun worship, who use to sacrifice innocent people. This is exactly like how you prey against innocent people who have enjoyed watching this documentary.

You exposed your true self with these hate comments. Now let people enjoy the insightful documentary and keep your drama to yourself.

11 years ago

We're living in a global village, so it's great to learn more about how other cultures — in opposition to Europeans — have collaborated to the world as we know it. Great documentary, must watch for anyone interested in science!

11 years ago

This video reminds me of how all my friends boast about India and hinduism as the greatest country and religion because of the invention of zero and how mathematics is nothing without zero. How Indians have done surgical operations long before anyone and how without that knowledge modern medicine is almost impossible.

christian jean
11 years ago

so what, cavemen invented the wheel and discovered fire. that does not mean i want to live with them. that does not mean i owe them credit because i have a sports car. piss off....

12 years ago

Great work

12 years ago

Hi every body
This documentary is full of lie
"Abu Ali Sina" and "Alkharazmi" are persian NOT aRaB.
pls study more history and then say anymore.

12 years ago

Wow! MashAllaah! I enjoyed this Documentary, Hope to watch it again inshAllaah. I think Jim Al-Khalili did a good Job mashAllaah.

Thanks Vlatko for The Documentary.

Tc All.

12 years ago

"This is a very important idea and is the reason the Islamic civilization was so much more advanced than Western civilization for quite a long time"

Bwhahahahahaha no. Why is the ONLY regions that were relatively advanced after Islamic conquest were those that were relatively advanced PRIOR to Islamic conquest?

Islam is desperately in search of counterarguments to the squalid condition of its culture and distorting history is no obstacle.

12 years ago

Science flourished despite Islam, not because of it. In fact the first codified grammar of Arabic was written by a Persian. The Arabs were unlettered, Mohammed (may his name and memory be obliterated) himself was completely illiterate, in addition to being cruel, cunning and ruthless. So the much vaunted Islamic renaissance was in fact a renaissance of the Persian (Zoroastrian) converts to Islam during the Persianized Abbasiad Caliphate. During the first four caliphs Abba (Abu) Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali (the last three who were murdered by other Muslims in cold blood) and the Ummayad caliphate at Damascus, there was no such thing as the Islamic Renaissance, it was the Persian North African and Egyptian converts who had a pre-Islamic legacy of being civilized, which they carried forward after being converted to Islam. In fact Islam tried to smother their pre-Islamic legacy of culture and civilization, and so it was only after the initial flush of Islamic savagery had passed over, that the newly converted people could after a generation or so pick up the threads of a civilized life. The Islamic Renaissance happened not due to Islam, but in spite of Islam. The Islamic Renaissance was not a triumph of Islam, but a triumph of the human spirit over Islam.

12 years ago

The concept of ilm, or knowledge means that God wants us to be knowledgeable and intelligent, to discover his creation and figure out how it all works.

This is a very important idea and is the reason the Islamic civilization was so much more advanced than Western civilization for quite a long time. For those who say religion is incompatible with science, you're wrong.

Science tells us how, religion tells us why. Simple as that. They can go hand in hand if you let them.

12 years ago

I seriously cannot wait to watch this Documentary!!!!! (Pointless comment, I know)

Some interesting comments too!

Everyone! Be and keep it nice. :)