Innovation in the Islamic World: Learning from the Past to Design the Future
Professor Salim T S Al-Hassani*
This presentation will demonstrate, using 3D animations of past key S&T inventions reconstructed in virtual space from manuscripts, how knowledge revolution of early Islam was the result of a self propelling organically growing culture which combined economic and religious incentives. A vibrant knowledge-based society lasted for hundreds of years despite political and religious turbulence. The concept of faith (Iman) as input and beneficial knowledge and deeds (‘Amal saleh) as output became the engine driving individuals, male and female, to invent, innovate and achieve scientific and economic progress.
Figure 1: One side of the meeting on Intellectual Capital.
Examples of such achievements which still influence our modern homes, schools, hospitals, towns, markets and other aspects of our lives, were researched in the UK and some findings are demonstrated by the 1001 inventions project (see www.1001inventions.com).
Unfortunately, in contrast with this highly original creation of science, technology and culture in Islam for several centuries, there is a period of about 1000 years missing from Western educational systems. Almost in every subject taught in schools, there exists a jump from the Greeks to the Renaissance, usually referred to as the "Dark Ages" (see Fig. 3-4).
Figure 2: History of science and civilisation as taught in educational systems.
Figure 3: History of science and civilisation as it should be taught.
This amnesia affects the minds of present and future generations and distorts their attitudes and perceptions of the role of other cultures, particularly the Muslim one, in designing and building the present civilisation.
Figure 4: Professor Salim Al-Hassani speaking next to Jean-Eric Aubert, Chairman of World Bank Institute.
It is hoped that this presentation, will inspire communities, the young generation in particular, to emulate the great men and women inventors of the past to express their, personal and national aspirations by doing useful work to improve the quality of life on this earth.
For Muslim communities, the concept of "Beneficial Deeds" (‘Amal saleh) suggests itself as the gate through which a new "Islamically compliant" Knowledge-Based Paradigm may emerge. Some suggestions for the Muslim communities and countries to take in their drive towards a Knowledge-Based Society:
- The development of a strategy for a paradigm shift towards a Knowledge-Based Society requires resolution of a number of challenges. One major challenge would be to understand the "Socio-Genetics" of the society and then to suitably customise concepts like commercial value to knowledge, knowledge economy, science-based society, innovation, intellectual capital and property, entrepreneurship, value of intangible assets and life-long learning economy.
- Start a cultural movement amongst the youth to celebrate the great past inventors and knowledge scholars, in theological, social and physical sciences and to express their religiousness through useful deeds in society. The theological scholars (Ulema) need to expand the concept of ‘Amal saleh (Benficiail Deeds) to incorporate all acts which improve the quality of life.
- Enhance and expand the traditional charitable (Waqf) and social philanthropy institutions from confinement in religious and relief programs to embracing wide educational reform, life-long socio-economic entrepreneurship projects, science and technology activities and expanding mosque buildings to incorporate activities of learning, IT provisions, and recreational socially beneficial activities.
- Enrich all subjects in the schools curriculum with material from such sources as the 1001 Inventions book, posters and websites such as www.1001inventions.com and www.MuslimHeritage.com.
- Celebrate past Muslim inventions and inventors by establishing Knowledge Discovery Centres, Knowledge Corridors, Thematic Shopping Malls, Thematic Parks, Edu-tainment Centres, Thematic Towns, Villages and Accommodation Centres and Hotels, Healthy Internet Social Networks, Thematic Clubs, Knowledge Clubs, participation in knowledge international competitions, Prize awarding bodies to reward excellence in beneficial deeds and to promote social entrepreneurship.
- Ensure that Universities have an integrated function within the society in teaching, research, consulting and life-long learning. In particular, introduce university venture companies to take research findings into the market with appropriate and administrative legal structures.
*Professor Salim T. S. Al-Hassani is the Chairman of the Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilisation (FSCT), Manchester, UK.
by: FSTC Limited, Thu 05 June, 2008
Lecture: Great Men and Women of Science in Muslim Heritage by: FSTC Ltd
Evening lecture with Professor Salim Al-Hassani. Tuesday 21 November 2006, 6pm-8pm
Int. Conf. A Shared Legacy: Islamic Science East and West. Barcelona, 11-14 April by: FSTC Limited
The International Union of The History and Philosophy of Science - Commission on History of Science & Technology in Islamic Societies organizes an important conference.
Roy. Soc. Arts Lecture Manchester by: FSTC Limited
The RSA is delighted to announce a lecture in Manchester by Professor Salim Al-Hassani which will showcase some of the fascinating inventions of this period and explore their relevance to today's world and society.
Lecture: Islam, Modernity and the Enlightenment: A New Perspective by: FSTC Limited
The Council for Arab-British Understanding, in collaboration with the Foundation for Science, Civilisation and Technology, hosts: ‘Islam, Modernity and the Enlightenment: A New Perspective' by Samer Akkach. Thursday 3rd May 2007, 6:30pm
Video Stream of George Saliba’s Lecture by: FSTC Limited
In May 2007, George Saliba, Professor of Arabic and Islamic Science at Columbia University, gave a lecture on "Arabic Islamic Science and the Making of the Renaissance" at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. The video streaming of this important lecture can be viewed here online.
New Lectures at Thinktank, Birmingham's Museum of Science by: FTSC Limited
1001 Inventions: Discover the Muslim Heritage in Our World launched at Thinktank, Birmingham's Museum of Science, at Millennium Point on 24th May as part of a UK-wide tour.
Rediscovering Arabic Science: Islamic Scientific Heritage in the last issue of Saudi Aramco World by: FSTC Limited
The magazine Saudi Aramco World published in its last issue (May-June 2007) an interesting folder on Arabic and Islamic science. We are glad to annouce it to our readers, by providing links and a short description
Credo of an Eminent Scholar: Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu's Lecture in Padua by: FSTC Limited
This article reproduces the lecture pronounced by Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, on the occasion of the presentation to him of the title of Doctorate honoris causa by the University of Padua in Italy on 11 December 2006.
Muslim Heritage in the Knowledge-Economy Conference in Jeddah by: FSTC Limited
During "The First Regional Conference on the Knowledge Economy" in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, January 12-13, 2008, attended by over 300 experts and professionals as well as several VIPs, Professor Salim Al-Hassani delivered a key note speech in which he presented the touring exhibition "1001 Inventions" and the work undertaken by the Foundation for Science Technology and Civilisation (FSTC) to promote Muslim Heritage.
Muslim Heritage in the World Conference on Intellectual Capital by: FSTC Limited
In the frame of the forthcoming of The World Conference on Intellectual Capital for Communities, Professor Salim Al-Hassani, FSTC Chairman of the Board, presents a keynote lecture on the theme: Innovation in the Islamic World: what can we learn from the past, to design the future.
Lecture at Liverpool Athenaeum by: FSTC Limited
Professor Al-Hassani gave a lecture to the Liverpool Athenaeum at their prestigious library on 28 February 2008. Here His Honour Judge John Roberts, current President of the club, is seen presenting Professor Al-Hassani with a copy of Liverpool 800, a new book on the history of Liverpool in celebration of the city's 800th anniversary and receiving a copy of the 1001i book for the Athenaeum library. The Liverpool Athenaeum has a distinguished membership of proprietors drawn from every walk of life across the city of Liverpool and the North West of England.
Presentation on The Muslims' Great Contributions during the Golden Age of the Islamic Civilization by: FSTC Limited
Prof. Salim Al Hassani, A Muslim Scholar and the chief editor of "1001 Inventions: Muslim Heritage in Our World" will be delivers his presentation for the second time on "The Muslims' Great Contributions during the Golden Age of the Islamic Civilization" Wednesday, 5th of March 2008 @ 12:00pm. Prince Bandar Ben Sultan Auditorium.
Learning from the Past to Design the Future by: FSTC Limited
The seat of the World Bank in Paris hosted on May 22-23, 2008 an important meeting: the fourth edition of The World Conference on Intellectual Capital for Communities. The conference was attended by eminent scholars and leaders, among whom Professor Salim Al-Hassani, FSTC Chairman of the Board, who presented a keynote lecture on Innovation in the Islamic World: Learning from the Past to Design the Future. We present hereafter the abstract of this lecture to share with our readers this illuminating concept of assessing the value of Muslim Heritage as intellectual capital in a historical perspective. The complete text of the lecture will be published in the proceedings of the meeting.
Muslim Heritage: A Scholarly Perspective by: FSTC Limited
FSTC Research Associate Kaleem Hussain delivered on 17th April 2008 a lecture on ‘Muslim Heritage: A Scholarly Perspective' at the Markfield Institute of Higher Education in Leicester. Aiming to explore the education of children in that area, focusing particularly on Muslim children, the conference presented the projects of FSTC and some milestones in contemporary scholarship in Muslim Heritage. We reproduce in this article a brief summary of the themes touched on during the lecture.
HRH Prince Charles by: FSTC Limited
Prince Charles, Heir to the British Monarchy in a recent public speech.
Muslim Heritage in our World: Social Cohesion (1001 Inventions in UK Parliament) by: FSTC Limited
Between 13 and 17 October 2008, the Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilisation (FSTC) organised two major events in London: a scaled down version of the "1001 Inventions Exhibition" at the House of Parliament (13-17 October) and a conference on "Muslim Heritage in our World: Social Cohesion" at Hoare Memorial Hall, Church House, Westminster (15 October 2008). Here follows a short report on the conference illustrated with photos from both events.