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Last on

Tue 2 Dec 2003 11:00 BBC Radio 4

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 02 December 2003

In the Western world, science and religion occupy different spheres. Religion might sometimes be called on to provide an ethical dimension to a scientific issue, but by and large, it is believed that science and religion are best kept apart.
In Islam, there is no such antipathy.

From its beginnings, the Prophet Muhammad emphasised that the material world could only be understood through scientific inquiry. Islamic culture, he said, should be a knowledge based culture. He valued science over extensive worship and declared: 'An hour's study of nature is better than a year's prayer'. But despite the Prophet's teaching, by the middle of the sixteenth century, Islamic science had gone into a steep decline. Why?

Ziauddin Sardar investigates the philosophical and practical links between science and Islam. He visits Al-Azhar University in Cairo, where technical subjects such as Medicine, Engineering and Agriculture are taught within a religious framework.

Given the revival of Islam and the emergence of a modern Islamic culture, how can the spirit of scientific enquiry be brought back to Islam?


Zia Sardar
John Watkins


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