Science and The Muslim World: Why Do We Lack Scientific Curiosity?

Is there a culture of suppressing any curiosity about the cosmos in our country?

It was only recently that this author realized the extent to which natural curiosity is suppressed and even discouraged, in our country.

It isn’t only the way that we are taught that shapes us into taking every fact for granted, as some sort of burden that must be carried until you can dump it on to an answer sheet during your exams,

it isn’t only the examination system of our country that should be blamed for constantly programming us to rote learn information rather than appreciate it, there is clearly a larger force, a bigger influence that plays a role in diminishing scientific inquiry.

Science and The Muslim World: Why Do We Lack Scientific Curiosity?

Of course many will argue that various important scientific (even philosophic) achievements can be attributed to the Muslim world that produced some of the brightest minds of the time, involved in engineering, medicine, mathematics, astronomy, philosophy etc. Their innovative ideas prompted further advancements in science and had it not been for their theories and their achievements, modern science would be a shadow of what it is now.

While these people are certainly correct in their own right, it is also important to understand that the force and influence were not used to suit the agenda of a certain group but was used to advance the pursuit of knowledge. Ibn Rushd, one of the most important philosophers of his time, in his Decisive Treatise quite clearly emphasized on how the Quran and Hadith all but commanded Muslims to engage in the exchange of knowledge. But the question remains; what was it that happened to the Muslim world and Pakistan in particular, for the purpose of being precise, that has now made us settle for less.

Question

In a recent lecture that this author attended, the guest speaker made it clear that until we promote the culture of questioning things, especially those concepts put forward by authorities, we will never be able to escape this cycle of ignorance.

Scientific inquiry rests on one fundamental principle; question everything and take nothing as granted.

Until we separate our personal beliefs, our faith, and prejudices from logic and rationality, we will continue to exist in this world as a nation that has a number of students enrolled in STEM programs, none of whom are able to come up with an idea that changes how we look at the universe. Until we teach our students, the power of skepticism and rationality, how can we expect them to contribute to science? Until we stop forcing students to use all their energy in reconciling faith and science but rather focus on understanding this universe and the role our existence plays in the grand scheme of things, how can we ask them to be brilliant thinkers?

Books

It makes this author sad to see how extraordinary ideas go to waste, simply because they question a belief system as old as time, to see students being taught religion in a way that makes them adopt their faith as the center of identity.

It makes them utilize emotion and faith to explain everyday occurrences rather than resorting to logic and rationality! This miscommunication of religious ideas has to stop for science to flourish in Pakistan, there is simply no other way to bring about a wave similar of intellect and innovation similar to the one that occurred in the ancient Muslim world.

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