The Structure of Scientific Productivity in Islamic Civilization: Orientalists’ Fables

Asalaamualaykum everyone. I’ve just published my first article for Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research titled “The Structure of Scientific Productivity in Islamic Civilization: Orientalists’ Fables”. Below is a short abstract. You may download the pdf here.

The popular analysis (promulgated by Orientalists) on the rise and decline of scientific productivity in Islamic civilization dichotomises the events of Islamic history as a conflict between religion and reason. This analysis has since come to be coined the ‘Classical Narrative’ by its critics, and suggests that the scientific successes of Muslims throughout history were based solely on foreign influences, whereas Islamic values and ideas were responsible for their decline. However, recent studies have shown this narrative to be invalid due to its inconsistent rendering of the historical data, and more valid alternatives have been offered which point to an overt instrumentalization as the principal motivating factor behind scientific productivity in the Muslim world. Despite these developments, the reasons behind the decline have yet to be fully ascertained. As such, this paper offers a summary and critique of the Classical Narrative, as well as revisionary constructs towards understanding the influences behind the rise and decline of scientific productivity in Islamic civilization.

How Feminism Undermines Islam and Gender Justice

Originally posted on ISMAweb.

On 6th April 2016, at the International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM), I and another brother by the name of Muhammad Kashmiri were invited to participate in an event called “Mars vs. Venus”, which goal was to “highlight the status of women in Islam and give a clear understanding of women’s rights and duties…also to point out the responsibilities of both men and women in making a better world and participating in achieving a bright future.”

Prior to the program, the organizers requested to have a meeting to discuss how we would contribute. I went with my wife to meet the organizers at the university library, who were made up entirely of women.  We sat for nearly two hours going over logistics and also what role I and Muhammad would be playing. Essentially, that night we all agreed that the program would begin at 8 pm, start with an opening speech by a woman, followed by academic lectures given by women, a spoken word performed by a woman, a play conducted by women (called “Her Confessions”), and then finally ending off at 9:45 pm with a debate between myself and Muhammad on the topic of “Do Muslim Women Need Feminism?” – followed by a short question and answer session with a shared panel between all the event participants. Despite Muhammad’s protest at being chosen to defend feminism, he accepted on the condition that he would be able to qualify himself during his opening speech. In other words, neither he nor I wanted to defend feminism – and the women organizers didn’t want us to either. Why? Because of the shared understanding between us that Islam was sufficient for granting women their rights.
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The Tale of Two Islands — Part 1

Once upon a time, there lived two societies, each on its own island separated by the ocean. Neither remembered exactly how they got there or when the separation occurred, but both agreed that it was due to a conflict long ago when they were all crew members on the same ship. Eventually that ship crashed along the reef. Afterwards, the desire for power and resources drove them to eventually split.

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The Rationality of Believing in God Without Evidence — Part 1

God’s existence, or lack thereof, has been debated throughout human history. Theists and atheists alike have offered their best arguments to justify their positions on the matter, with most philosophers concluding that the discussion thus far has only resulted in a stalemate. Although the majority of the world concurs with the proposition that God does indeed exists, overwhelming support should not be considered a determinant in any debate; even if the majority of the world were atheists, this would not settle the question as to who is right or wrong.

In fact, despite still being the minority view, atheism is on the rise globally, having become the fastest growing position on faith and religion in almost every society on the planet. This has especially been the case within Muslim-majority societies; with an overall 3% declaring themselves atheists, another 3% declaring that they are undecided, and 20% declaring that they are non-religious in general.[1] These facts have startled religious scholars and politicians alike from Saudi Arabia to Egypt, with the former reacting rashly by defining atheism as a form of “terrorism”,[2] and the latter being so completely unprepared to tackle the subject intellectually, that it has arrested and jailed many individuals for simply being atheists.[3]

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‘Whataboutery’: The Fail-Safe of Islamophobes

The first time I heard the term ‘whataboutery’ was on a recent BBC Big Question’s debate regarding whether Human Rights has achieved more than religion over the course of human history. Aside from the unsubstantiated self-congratulating apologetics of many of the Human Rights supporters in the panel, what I found most annoying was Maryam Namazie’s frequent interruptions, appeals to emotion, question begging, and her shouting over MDI representative Abdullah Al-Andalusi as he was comprehensively detailing the cruel oppression of state actors through the use of ‘human rights’, showcasing that neither the former nor religion are immune from misuse or misinterpretation.

Whatever your opinion on Abdullah’s stance — or my own for that matter — I think what can be agreed upon is that Maryam wasn’t exactly gracious with her use of the ‘megaphone technique’ for discussion. Despite her typically unappealing and uncivilized behavior, one thing did catch my attention: her frequent utterance of the word ‘whataboutery’.

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The Archetype of Beauty in Islam

Recently I published another academic article on my profile titled, “The Archetype of Beauty in Islam”. Below I have provided the abstract and a brief excerpt of the article. For the full article, please follow the link. Enjoy. _________________________________________

Abstract: Beauty as a word has become an inseparable part of everyday communication. When uttered it is grasped and perceived immediately by the conjuring mind. Beauty as a concept, however, is littered with different interpretations and understandings as diverse as the languages and cultures that attempt to convey its meaning. Multiple philosophical treatises have arisen over the ages attempting to define exactly what beauty is and all have been the subject of disagreement and heated debate. Is the word  and the concept of beauty limited purely to its linguistic and cultural constructs — a subjective term projected by the individual level of aesthetic experience —  or is there a universal understanding of beauty that transcends the relative and unveils itself objectively to the entire human race? Likewise, is the practice of art able to similarly be understood and what is its connection with the ontology of beauty? If such a connection exists, is there an archetype which we can reference that not only adequately conveys our perception of what is beautiful, but conforms to the chosen definition? In order to address these questions we are required to adopt a sufficient paradigm—an ideological construct of interpretation—by which to make such assessments. We have chosen to confine our discussion through an Islamic perspective in our analysis of what constitutes as an archetype of beauty.  As such, ancient and contemporary Islamic views on the subject are addressed alongside non-Islamic sources so as to form a valid and objective method for identification of said “archetype” within the religious tradition. We concluded that the identity of the archetype within Islam is the masjid: the Muslim place of worship.

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