Orkney International Science Festival
The Muslim world's immense contribution to our society will be highlighted in this year's Orkney International Science Festival. The theme of the Grimond Lecture will be "A Thousand Missing Years of History"the story of how the sources of so many familiar items and ideas have been obscured from our western histories.
The speaker, Professor Salim Al-Hassani, is a Professor of High Energy Rate Engineering at UMIST, and the author of over 180 specialist papers and books in his field. His work in the history of science and technology has earned him a worldwide reputation, and he is honorary Chairman of the Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilisation, established to widen awareness of the great Muslim contribution to so many fields of knowledge.
Muslim Spain was the channel for so much to reach Western Europe, carpets and silk, the lute and the guitar, irrigation and windmills, plus paper and porcelain from the east, and the very foundations of science and mathematics, including the Hindu numerals which we use today. In cities like Toledo, teams of translators, Christian and Muslim and Jew, worked side by side, taking the classic texts of Greek thought and new works by Muslim scholars, and making them available to the West.
The outcome was the great Renaissance of the 12th century, which included the building of cathedrals like St Magnus. The Gothic arch is one of the architectural developments that come from the 12th-century Muslim world. The culture of the troubadours - one of the attractions for Earl Rognvald in Narbonne - is another.
Professor Al-Hassani's lecture, to take place at 10 am on Monday 6th September, will open a day of talks on the theme "Airbrushed out of History". He believes that in today's society, it is vitally important for all groups, Christian and Muslim alike, to be aware of the heritage which they share. His vision is supported by Festival Director, Howie Firth, who says that the lecture will be of much value to church members as well as school pupils and teachers.
"It's not surprising that there is a lack of understanding between different religions," he says, "when a huge area of history has simply disappeared. Europe languished in a Dark Age for several centuries, and it was the Muslim world who preserved the knowledge of the Greeks and made it available again, and built up so much original work upon it. The quality of their thinking was outstanding it's so elegant and clear. In astronomy, medicine, navigation, mathematics, philosophy these are the masters who laid down the foundations on which so much is built today."
The Grimond Lecture is sponsored by British Airways and Loganair as part of a package which has assisted the Festival to get a strong international dimension to its programme.
"The support from the two airlines has been superb," said Mr Firth. "They've backed the Festival and its aims for Orkney from the start and we're delighted that they're helping us again this year with such excellent support."
by: FSTC Ltd, Mon 06 September, 2004