Islamic Science: Concept and History


Science has contributed various things in our life. It makes us know how the Earth is created, how life begins and ends, even how animals sustain their life. The good things. But Science is like a double-edged knife. It has its bad side., Depok– For example, an over-exploitation of nature, such as illegal logging, over-mining, etc. There are also examples of technology misuse. One of the prime example is dynamite. It was created by Alfred Nobel for the purpose of mining. Then, due to its destructive capability, some people started to use it as a weapon in war.

However, some people justified those action. Since science does not meddle in such matters. Science is only understood as either applicable science or natural science. And it can be called as science if it is justified by reason or senses. That is all. There is no guide on its purpose. Anyone can use it, develop it, for the better or worse, as long as science grows

Several Muslim scholars rejects such thought. Science should not be used as freely as people want to. Nor does it can. As Prof. Alparslan Acikgenc said, “Every human behaviors could be traced back to its worldview (paraphrased)”. And also Prof. Wan Mohd Nor Wan Daud, “Every human judgement and action, whether conscious or unconscious, are a reflection of their certain metaphysics beliefs or worldview (paraphrased)”. Therefore, science cannot be use or develop without concern.

But, what is Islamic Science? What is the definition of Islamic Science? According to Dr. Usep Muhammad Ishaq, which he took from Prof. SMN al-Attas, Islamic Science is ‘definition of reality’ It emphasizes on how we understand every reality that occurred in our life. This is aligned with the latin of science, which is Scientia, means knowing. Also with the Arabic علم. The foundation of Islamic Science is Islamic Science and Philosophy. Thus, its sources are not limited to just senses or reason, but also khabar shadiq (true report). Khabar shadiq are sources that is a report came from His revelation to His Messenger, or a thought of a scholar with rightful authority. Many people discredited sources from khabar shadiq, however. They deem it as unscientific. But not everything can be grasp by mind nor senses. That is why khabar shadiq is needed as a guidance.

After we understand the foundation of Islamic Science, now we discuss about how to operate those foundation. According to Dr. Adi Setia, there are three operational of Islamic Science:

  1. A study of empirical science and technology development in Islamic Civilization. The study of science development in the history of Islamic Civilization is for the purpose of not only knowing the development itself, but also analysis on the development of science that is beneficial for human life.
  2. A study which a part of Islamic Philosophy. The purpose of such study is to describe and explain contemporary terminology from methodology and philosophy that developed science in Islamic Civilization.
  3. A study with a purpose to formulate the concept of Islamic Science as a long-term creative research program intended to re-applicate Islamic cognitive and ethics value on science and technology in contemporary world.

All of these concepts, when operates properly, will develop Islamic Science in the best way. It has been proven in the past with numerous Muslim scholars and their inventions that is beneficial for human life. Such as Al-Biruni’s calculation on lunar eclipse occurrence. Al-Khawarizmi and his book, Algebra, which discussed linear and quadratic equation. Modern mathematicans owe a lot to Muslim scholars. Because Muslim scholars is the one who introduced Arabic numeral as we know it today. The Arabic numeral has the number zero (0), which is mandatory in programming today. And much more to be discovered.

And so we reached the conclusion. Science is not value-free as it may suggested by many. It can be used both ways, for the better or worse. As we have seen, when science is used for bad things it could create various damages to nature and human life. And if it is used for good, then the opposite will happen. It could help, nuture, and benefit human life.Not just people of their time, but also the people after them. As proven by the Muslim scholars of the past. The key to revive Islamic Science to its former glory, is to include Islamic worldview in our life.

M. Faris Ranadi

Mahasantri At-Taqwa College, Ponpes AtTaqwa Depok

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