Date: Wed, March 7, 2018, 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM GMT
Location Al-Furqan headquarters in London, 22A Old Court Place, London, W8 4PL
Orientalists and historians of science have been working on the Islamic scientific heritage for some 200 years, and this undertaking continues to this day. The sources – manuscripts and instruments – are in abundant supply and the secondary literature is extensive. In all of these studies the emphasis is invariably on what the Muslims achieved, and what they did not achieve – there is always a tendency to judge their activities and demonstrate how much or how little of their learning was transmitted to Europe. The speaker has been interested in Islamic science for its own sake, regardless of whether or not it was brilliant, and regardless of whether or not it was transmitted anywhere. In particular he has documented for the first time the ways in which the Muslim astronomers were involved with:
- the organization of the lunar calendar;
- the determination of the sacred direction toward the Kaaba in Mecca; and
- the regulation of astronomically-defined times of the five daily prayers.
It turns out that within the limits of medieval folk science (the fuqahâ’) and mathematical science (the astronomers), solutions were found to these problems that varied between the mundane and the totally brilliant, the approximate and the exact. These are now documented, and the speaker will present some examples.