The Islam of Science: What Lead to The Downfall of The Muslim World?

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It’s no surprise that scientists argue that science and religion are two separate entities incapable of integration. Western thought and agenda have taken the science world by storm throughout modern history, and in return, have become the vanguards of technological development and modernity.

Undoubtedly, Western colonialism and secular hegemony have highly influenced the way Arabs, particularly Muslims, substantiate identity formation. One way Western hegemony was able to do this was to simply create a sense of confusion – better yet, a contradiction – between religion and technological advancement, which psychologically, renders religious views as the culprit for being “third world” and underdeveloped (1).

However, as many are taught, it is not quite intelligent to set the full weight of the blame on the Western world for colonizing the region. In fact, colonial establishments in the Arab world are highly due to the Muslim Ummah itself, which wronged its community by separating science from religion.

It isn’t as simple as it sounds, though.

The Muslim world, throughout history, passed through its “Golden Age”, which was a significant period of time where tolerance, natural sciences, rationalism, medicine and other noble pursuits, economic and social development were at their peaks. Leading the intellectual world from A.D. 1100 till 1350, the Golden Age ended when the European world began its advancements and the Muslim world failed to keep up(2).

Why did they fail to keep up?

Theological schools in the region restricted their education to Quranic teachings and Sunnah, excluding natural and empirical sciences from their programs and thus failing in development. Generation after generation, an antagonism between religious teachings and natural science was borne; this rendered religion as “divine” and sciences, in a sense, “kafir” or more commonly, “undesired.”

The Muslim community, unquestionably, wronged its history, progress and future through such disparaging initiatives.

Many times, schools of religious thought and theology fail to understand that the word ‘ilm – or, science – is mentioned at least 780 times in the Holy Quran. As if this does not stress the significance of seeking knowledge enough, one prominent hadith for Prophet Muhammad clearly enstates the following:

“Acquisition of knowledge is incumbent on every Muslim.”

In “The Holy Quran and the Sciences of Nature,” a compilation of essays written by Iranian scholar and scientist Mehdi Golshani, science fails to be separated into “religious sciences” and “non-religious sciences” : such classification rather hinders the universality of Islam. Dr. Golshani argues that all science, whether natural or philosophical, is “religious.”(3)

The rationale behind this claim is that knowledge and science are very much intertwined with the Quran. Knowledge is vast and universal, which therefore illustrates the universality and omnipotence of God and creation itself.

 

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While ignorance leads to misinterpretation, tyranny and downfall, knowledge leads to justice, righteousness and sustainability. By substitution, for one to interpret Quranic teachings fairly and correctly, it is vital that one acquires background knowledge in natural sciences, such as biology and physics, and finally, philosophy.

What makes a nation easy to colonize and control is its ignorance. It is easy to charge Western supremacies for the crimes which lead to underdevelopment; however, it could be inferred that our late ancestry did not do such a great job at protecting us from our defeat.

Rendering scientific research and acquisition a fundamental part of practicing religion should be the Middle East’s next goal as part of education, an initiative for resistance against intellectual colony and dependency, and advocacy for progressive Islam.

Mona Issa

 


References:

  1. Maziak, W. (2017). Science, modernity, and the muslim world. EMBO Reports, 18(2), 194-197. doi:10.15252/embr.201643517
  2. Stearns, J. (2011). Writing the history of the natural sciences in the pre-modern muslim world: Historiography, religion, and the importance of the early modern period: Natural science in the pre-modern muslim world. History Compass, 9(12), 923-951. doi:10.1111/j.1478-0542.2011.00810.x
  3. Golshani, M. (1986). The Holy Quran and the Sciences of Nature. Islamic Propagation Organization. 

 

 

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Love: A Memoir of Diagnosis, Symptoms & Side Effects

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Love for me is very much like the embodiment of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Falling in love captures the very core of your brain. It holds you where you are, by your central control system, and wires it into a shock. The shock falls into two phases.

In the first phase, you fall into a deep sleep where you are narcotized. You swim in your ocean of feelings. These feelings, they’re your ideas of love you’ve collected throughout your lifetime. It’s infinite. Like infinity, your thoughts are irrational and unbreakable. You can never break infinity.

Love suffocated me. I’d call him love, but I blame my thoughts more than anything else. It was me who wanted to forget the world. My soul lit fire and danced when I thought of him. Memory receptors on my skin have lived and died, but they learnt their history by heart. It was constant war between me and them; between wanting to forget the past and wanting to repeat it.

The second phase is when you realize the higher you go, the more painful the fall. You lose sleep for all the wrong reasons. You have abrupt shocks. You’d be in the middle of day-to-day ordinary tasks, then the memory hits you, and you feel the world quake down to your bone. You start to sweat, tremble, and if it’s bad, you might even shiver for a while. I’d be wrapped in seven blankets, and still feel the cold. The love, which you designed “infinite,” makes you want to die.IMG_5809

Love – true love – will hack into your system and take away rational thought. But, once it breaks you, you develop stoicism. I forgot what it was like to look at somebody, and wish they were as beautifully infinite as my thoughts. The good thing about it is that once it’s over, you realize that half the things you thought were painful aren’t as painful as you thought they were.

I’ve experienced the same ache twice. Leaving him was a lot like leaving Australia.

I lost myself along the way.

When I Crossed The Indian Ocean; Mona Issa.

A Polaroid: Jacarandas, Rain and Farewells

 

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Image by Reem Taha Photography

I could recall beauty in separate, slow polaroids, one after another. The world was moving fast around me, unswervingly coherent with the pace of my legs, as I run as if I were in a dream.

Laughter filled the air and into my lungs; Amana ran behind me and Golden-Hair-Honey-Eyes had me at my hands in front of me.

The clouds drizzled and there was no shelter anywhere around. Like everything that’s natural, so was the desire to live forever. I wanted to taste every flavor of adrenaline there was. I wanted to love like there was no time left for me in this world. I wanted to immerse in every last pleasure left abandoned.

And, it hurt me to think this would all be over soon. Was my life at the time the little “world” I spoke of? What if it was heaven, more than anything else?

We were in Luna Park – a heaven – and Amana and I just met Golden-Hair-Honey-Eyes when we got on the Ferris Wheel.

Golden-Hair-Honey-Eyes, where you from?” I asked him.
“Wollongong, you?” he replied. His eyes gleamed in the faint sun. He had freckles scattered like stars in a night sky across his face.
“I’m from Liverpool. Amana over here, though –”
“Bexley,” she said.
“Cool. Let’s go to the Magnetic Fields after this.”
“Let’s GO!”

Hastily, as if we’re running out of time, we jumped out and ran yards into some future I knew nothing of.

That night, we walked by jacaranda trees in some old suburb. Although the streets were almost empty, I could hear music of deep melancholy ease into my ears; it was as if the jacarandas were bidding some sort of farewell to me.

“Goodbye, Golden-Hair-Honey-Eyes, you’re never going to see me again,” I felt nervous and funny, how a stranger could matter to me. The streetlight flashed above us; not more than the mere silhouettes of our features were apparent under our pixel autocracy. He pulled me into an embrace – there was nothing weird or awkward about it. It was the first time.

We were young, and nothing in the world mattered because  we were.

 

Mona Issa

When You’re A Strong Girl In A Man’s World: A Personal Statement

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I come from a middle-class family that, to a far extent, does not exercise gender roles; a family that never justifies their criticisms with “because you’re a girl.” I am proud to say that I’ve grown, and am growing, into the woman I desire to be, the woman who does not believe her goals are limited to social assignments; the woman who thinks beyond social acceptance, obsession over appearance, and the looks of dismay on the faces of those who’ve deemed me “too loud,” “too self-assured” or “too much” of anything. 

These do not bother me anymore.

But, as I breathe in the atmosphere, and as my eyes become greedily aware of this little world I’m in, the more I realize that this “gift” I’ve been blessed with, the gift of independence and the strength to say “I do not need you,” is a double-edged sword.  I’m starting to notice people aren’t very much into that. Had I been less assertive, less confident, and less determined to achieve, I believe it would’ve been easier to mingle. I believe I would’ve been easier marriage-bait. I believe it would’ve been easier to approach me without telling me “Mona, there’s a shield around you!”

I could go on and on how I’ve always felt like I’m the bossy self-absorbed girl I’m frequently told I am, but that’s not what this is about. What it really is about, though, is that I had a personal dilemma with myself over my character.

At one point, I tried to beat myself down. I tried to dress better, be “cuter”, less assertive, less intimidating to my male-counterparts; afraid I would threaten their robust aura and self-worth. A lot less of myself, I turned out to be.  Although the “dress better” part got me attention – which, I admit, was enjoyable – it wasn’t the type of attention I sought for. My mind buzzed anxiety over my internal struggle in social situations, and everything just felt awkward. I felt like my mind could not take another word on my existence anymore. I refuse to feel bad for what I am anymore.

Till this day, I am still stubborn about not being a feminist. I don’t like collective labeling. But, what I can say, is that this so-called man I’m careworn to give excuses for being “stronger,” or more assertive than me, will not get me my dream job. He will not get me that extra grade I deserve from that professor. He will not be the one driving to the pharmacy in the middle of the night to get my mom meds when she’s sick. He will not be the one holding the weight of the world on his back when my father retires. He will never be me. He will never be me.

So, why are we so caught up in not being ourselves? I’ve simplified the math.

I’ve let go of the idea that authority is a binary factor. Human instinct is coherent with patterns in nature. So, gender-based authority is simply a social construct, whereas it should be a game of the “survival of the fittest.” The stronger entity survives and leads the change. Simple. We must change how we view things around here. Authority is simply a matter of capability, and not a matter of what’s born in between your thighs. If strength should be a matter of gender, then I believe everybody should have strength for their sake. Everybody should have the power of will. Everybody should know self-love, self-worth and be goal-oriented. Imagine the things we could prosper, if we cheered each other on, instead of pushing ourselves into little corners…instead of drowning potential.  

Whoever it may be, male or female:  your character will only be monopolized if you allow it to be. As for everyone else in this windmill, whether directly or indirectly,

stop shaming strong young ladies.

Mona Issa

My Eyebrows Aren’t Even And They Never Bothered Me

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My eyebrows aren’t even and they never bothered me. One brow tweaks up like a witch from the 18th century, and the other rests like Mathilda’s innocence. My nose curves down on a slight bump and ends on a fleshy curb which highlights nostrils bigger than the usual standard. It is closed, funny, and pinchy. But it doesn’t bother me. I have a beauty spot to the left of my grin, and it reminds me that there is nothing flat or tedious about my skin – I am splattered by a paintbrush; coloured and full of gusto. People would often joke that I have chocolate on my face, then I’d often remind them that imperfections are the sweetest of gifts. It doesn’t bother me. People would call them pimples, but I resort to calling them little corals of wildlife and unexplored territories; my arms which have never failed to hold me to myself, at times where all I wanted to do is collapse. The flesh on my hips gifted me charisma and the width on my shoulders gave me stamina. God gave me a voice but I will not put it to incompetence; I’ll make a sweet mixture of women whose voices drip in grace and wit, and men who hold high in honesty and charged acts of bravery – I will be both, the poet and the daredevil, the lover and the dragon slayer. And at this point, I refuse to bound myself in a box of negatives and positives, segregated. I think I’m an absolute zero – chargeless and polar, all at once. I’ll be a hero, but I must learn to be weak. I dwell in my own wilderness, but I want to be calm. I want to be honest without hurting people. I want to love bravely, and without fear. I want to fight heartily, but I don’t want to think about the pain of the wounds which will come from that. I want to be an intellectual, but I also want to forget. I am of innocence, but I am desperate to be tough. I’ll cry and learn to laugh the next minute. I want to take the hurt of the world without having it traumatize me. I want to be able to say that my face reflects my character; I am completely okay with all that I am. I want to be able to say that I am OKAY with everything people scorn about me, and I want to express it without them having to take advantage of my okay-ness. I want to be free and I want to allow myself to be loved by me. I want to live a life where nothing really bothers me.
Mona Issa

To Everyone Who Told Me To Take My Life Seriously: I Never Did

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[Written in the perspective of a 16-year-old self]
“Take your life seriously,” the teacher scolded.
I hated to think she was scolding, because I try to avoid beef as much as possible, but truth be told. She, in fact, was shouting.  But that’s not what drove the inner anger in me. There was something about this statement which ticked my time bomb. I hated it. I hated every bit of it. I am satisfied in the looms of my messiness, my highs, my passion and beauty and taste and creation and rebellion and emancipation – who is she to tell me how to live?
Take my life seriously?
She cocked her head back and swished her mane of hair off her shoulders. Although what she said was orthodox, it sounded completely alien to me. Word vomit has to happen at some point.
“What do you mean by that?” I asked.
“What part?” she raised a brow.
“The whole part. The whole package of “taking my life seriously.” What is serious about this life? Bukowski said it himself, it’s a death party. First, there’s only one way to get a high math grade, and that’s if I break my neck. Isn’t it damn-right clear I have ADHD? Damn, okay, so I don’t think there’s anything called “Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder,” but I can confirm to you that I can’t concentrate and that I like to run around screaming my head off – in happiness – that I got a C+ in chemistry. So, how do you take life seriously, miss? Walking in line? Fly the same wavelength? Conformity, is that it? Depressing my self to the point of self-hate over the useless things this curriculum has to teach me? Or is it  A 9-5 job? Is it rushing to get the latest iPhone in store? Voting between two evils? And if I reject everything, suddenly I’m a creepy hippie who does weed and lives on food stickers? Or is it ripping my poems, drawings and paintings into pieces because the world doesn’t acknowledge of the fact that man is born to be both the marble and the sculptor? Do you even know this? Do you even know that creative passion dies because of teachers like you tell us to take everything seriously?
I’m sorry, I’ll never do that to myself. I love and value my life too much to take it seriously. “
And after this train of thought, dear Mona never took her life seriously.
Mona Issa

You Are In This Dream

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You are in this dream
and I’m there too!
a very real unreal dream
we’re running in endless fields
of a thousand dancing sunflowers
dazzling, proud and grateful
there’s definitely something
something
smiling in this dream
oh, what a rare gesture, that is
the peculiarity of a loving embrace
on a day so cold
a time so cold
how love’s fingers linger
like petals
which brush against our skins
we lose our buds in this chaos
things of beauty and whispers in the night
the very essence I’m born in
the way nature painted me,
the adventure in creation
you, on the other hand
are a nova of magic, miracle and poetry
in a world of glitter, material and dread
you breathe in this dream
but some day something will lift you
and it’ll lift me
I don’t know what that something is,
but I’m pretty sure it exists
and when I’m up there
and when we’re done with this dream
the sky will not bear the weight of my soul
and that’s why we have billions of stars
scattered across in cosmic dust
art will fall in envy
and I will fall in insanity
there will be life
and I will live it so greedily.
Mona Issa

Disastress

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the world ended for me every night
and started all over again at dawn
when all the sulfur drained from my tongue
and all the lies smoked out of my lungs
I will rise with the light
and die with every death left in me
and I will stay in love with you
forever, deliberately, again and again
I will stay here –
Mona Issa

Mona Wants You To Get Angry

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I uttered those words like a holy mantra, and that’s all it took. I blocked him everywhere – beyond social media. I blocked him from my mind and heart. I blocked him from my life. I never spoke or thought of him again. I was once so sensitive, so fragile to the hurt the world hit me with. But something life taught me is that revolution is something which starts within.
That was the last straw.  I cried too much, and that was enough. Enough tears.
Girls, the first time it happens to you, it’s normal to cry. It will hurt; you will hurt. And it’s completely understandable, relatable and natural that you will be sad when someone you care about deliberately turns their back on you.
And you may cry the second time; the third time, too.
But my message from me to you is this:
I do not want you to live your life thinking that crying is an implicit given. Sadness is not something you should allow yourself to frequently feel. It is a negative feeling and it diminishes self-growth more than it motivates it.
I want you to know and acknowledge that just because it happened, it doesn’t mean that you are any less beautiful, any less smart, any less elegant, kind, deliberate or dynamic. The way he treats you barely ever reflects your colors. To be honest, no one will build you but you, and it is essential that you realize your beauty, or else someone else will depict it for you, and depictions will not always be accurate. They will not always be at your best interest.
My name is Mona, and to all the young ladies out there, I want you to:
Get angry.
I want you to be fed up.
Get mad.
I want you to say “Hey – I’ve made a mistake giving you a millisecond of my time. Time to drop you like you ain’t shit.”
I want you to strip everyone from the satisfaction of knowing that they inflicted pain of any sort on you. Do not think about trying to convince the world otherwise. Do not even think of thinking twice.
Be a mountain for once – in fact, become it. Be natural and unmovable. Challenge turbulence.
Strength is knowing your self-worth, that you are worth all the love in the world, and you are not to be taken for granted.
The “holy mantra” is as such. It is a lifestyle. Make it your religion:
“Ah. This again. Had enough? You ready? What are you gonna do now? You gonna cry like you do everytime? Or you gonna snatch this opportunity to change yourself?”
It was time.
“This will be the last time. This will be the last time.
I am tough.
No one can hurt me but me.
No one can hurt me but me.
Dare I cry –
And no one can hurt me but me.”
Mona Issa