Monday, June 8, 2009

Islam's influence

My blogging may be spotty for the next few weeks, as I'll be traveling to the States because of a family emergency. In the meantime, here's an essay by physicist Frank Tipler arguing that Islam's contributions to science, mathematics, etc. have been greatly exaggerated:

If one reads history of science textbooks prior to about 1980, one will find very little mention of Muslim “contributions” to physics and astronomy. This is reasonable, because there weren’t any. In the past generation, however, political correctness has dictated that Muslims be given credit for discoveries they did not make.
During the Cold War, it was commonplace for leftist academics to attribute many discoveries to scientists in Communist countries, discoveries that had actually been made in the West. So now leftist academics attribute to Muslims discoveries that had actually been made by others.

(cross-posted at Quodlibeta)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Islam and peace

A passage in the Qur'an that's upheld as an example of Islam teaching peace is Sura 5 (the Table) verse 32. It states "if any one slew a person -- unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land -- it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people."

The Corner recently raised two interesting points about this passage. First, this idea is not original to the Qur'an, but forms a part of the Babylonian Talmud, written in the 2nd century (and recording traditions that pre-date that).

The second interesting point about this passage is that the verse following it, 5:33, states, "The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter." I think (and I could be wrong) that those who strive against "Allah and His Messenger" refers to those who do not accept Islam. In other words, this passage seems to command Muslims to commit violence against non-Muslims simply for being non-Muslims. At the very least, it puts the previous verse in a different light.