By Ali Haider Noorani
Even though we acknowledge the achievements that the Muslim society contributed to the scientific community, we cannot forget that it is losing its battle to the west. The reason for this can be, because it never achieved that same type of scientific curiosity, that the west did during the renaissance period. It never sought to question the world around it. This can mainly be, because Islam never had so much conflict with science as Christianity did, therefore not much curiosity was needed. And due to the rapid progress of the western world, they still try to suppress the Muslims around the world based on terrorism. Therefore a very important question comes into mind, that can the Muslim society of today, process so much, that it can regain the status in the scientific world that it once had?
One of the most important things in the progress of Muslim society towards science, is the lack of education. Education is a basic necessity, that every child should possess, irrespective of gender. Knowledge is power, as the aphorism goes. But the situation in parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan is deplorable, whereby mostly children, especially girls are not allowed to attend schools. In contrast to this, other Muslim countries such as Iran, have a 70% ratio of girls studying science. This can contribute very much to the progress of education.
Even if the problem of education deficiency is solved, there is also the problem of the lack of good technical universities in the Muslim world. The total of universities in the USA and India are 5,758 and 8,407 respectively . This number is many times the total number of universities in the Muslim world, that stand at 1,800, of which 312 universities have scholars who have published journal articles, and the majority of them live in Turkey. These numbers are very shocking and so many more institutions should be built with qualified teachers, so that that we can compete with the rest of the world.
There is also the factor of poverty. Many of the families are not able to afford the expensive tuition fees of colleges and universities, and so many of them drop out. The solution of this may be by population control. If we really think about, even if rich people have more children it would not matter as they would still be able to give their children a good education. But if a poor family has more children, with the thought that with many sons more money would come, their children will not be able to get the proper education that they need. Therefore the governments of the Muslim countries should implement a system like that in China, where each parent can have no more than two children. This will cause more children to get more proper education. Another way by which poverty may not affect the children of being deprived of education is by introducing free education in primary and secondary level and develop more accessible student financing schemes as in western countries for university level education
We can also promote science by promoting the scientific heroes in the Muslim world. We have had many great scientists that we can all be proud of, like Abdul Qadeer Khan, a metallurgist and nuclear scientist responsible for making Pakistan the first nuclear Muslim country, and Averroes, the pioneer of Parkinson’s disease. In schools too, teaching about these Muslim heroes in science should be a compulsory part of the school curriculum. In this way, many students would become more enthusiastic about going into science, and so there would be more chance of attaining many great future Muslim scientists.
Another way by which the Muslim society can progress in science, is by developing a unified scientific union. All the great scientists in the Muslim world can combine together and work on major projects. By this they can progress and showcase their combined talent on a much larger platform, and promote diversification and critical thinking while encouraging competition.
To conclude, if we really want the Muslim societies to progress in science, we need to follow the principles of unity, faith and discipline, with education and a platform being available to each individual and child irrespective of gender, race or financial status. If all the Muslim countries work together they can move towards a more bright future where the Muslims are in a more powerful position in the world.