On Monday 31st August, 2015, Professor Salim Al-Hassani, President of FSTC (Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilisation), was invited to participate in a day dedicated to learning about and discussing Muslim heritage in the sciences and how they may inspire contemporary and future students from Muslim backgrounds to become more involved with the sciences.
During the course of the day, Professor Salim Al-Hassani delivered various lectures regarding famous figures who contributed towards the sciences.
In the first session, Professor Salim Al-Hassani discussed how through cross-cultural experiences, be it in regards to academia or trade, Muslims and non-Muslims in Europe had had a relatively beneficial mutual relationship. Coffee acted as a metaphor for the active interaction between Europe and the Middle-East during the Renaissance.
Although in current discourse, some question whether Islam or Muslims belong to Germany and wider Europe, historical facts are often neglected, denied and sometimes even misrepresented. However, if one takes a closer look, innovations and discoveries during Muslim civilisation are ever-present in contemporary Europe e.g. past times such as chess, drinking coffee and even the study or understanding of optics.
Session 1: “Coffee belongs to Germany: About the Muslim Heritage in Europe” by Prof. Salim AI-Hassani, President of FSTC
This linked in with the next session focused on Muslim innovations as pioneers of science as it was through this primacy of Holy Scriptures that scholars from Muslim civilisation were especially inspired to focus on the concept of diversity mentioned in the Qu’ran to influence a positive attitude and behaviour towards understanding the world.
Session 2: “From AI-Farabi to Ibn AI-Haytham: Muslim Innovations as Pioneers of Science” by Prof. Salim AI-Hassani, President of FSTC and Dr. Detlev Quintern, Bremen University, Director for training and development at the Prof. Dr. Fuat Sezgin Research Foundation for the History of Science in Islam and the moderated by Georges Khalil, Academic Coordinator, Europe in The Middle East- The Middle East in Europe (EUME)
The session aimed to shed light on striking scholars such as Abū al-Rayhān Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Bīrūnī who was a polymath who contributed to a wide range of sciences, from applied and theoretical mathematics to pharmacology, geology, mineralogy, and history. Although Al-Biruni had corresponded with Ibn Sina on issues of Greek philosophy, his chief emphasis was on science. There are a few lessons from his life that can be argued to have had a direct impact on the present; these include research funding and his attitude to lifelong learning.
Session 3: “A Life for Science: Ibn Sina, Al-Biruni and Ibn AI-Haytham” by Prof. Salim AI-Hassani, President of FSTC
Professor Salim Al-Hassani’s concluding remarks stressed the importance of women and men continuing this legacy which built upon knowledge from previous cultures to invent and innovate, thus benefitting their societies and mankind. Such a continuum will demonstrate and celebrate diversity so that uncovering the cultural roots of present day science will enhance inter-cultural respect and appreciation. Moreover, it will inspire the younger generation to use science to improve the quality of life similar to the scholars in Muslim civilisation.
“Avicenna Studienwerk”, translated as “Avicenna Study Work” was an idea realised in the Winter of 2010 by Beshir Hussain and Matthias Meyer. It is the youngest of the 13 scholarship programmes founded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) that is recognised by the German Begabtenförderungswerke. By awarding scholarships, Avicenna Study Work promotes talented and socially committed Muslim students and doctoral candidates of all disciplines. With the support of Dr Bülent Ucar, Siham Fet-Tahi, Mounir Azzaoui and others it came in to fruition in March 2012. Based upon the influence of Avicenna, Latin for Ibn Sina, it aims to promote and nurture a similar scientific excellence, philosophical questioning, and willingness to pursue the sciences for human advancement as Ibn Sina portrayed. What is more, coupled with his strong academic standing, many view him as a as a celebrated figure who brought “East” and “West” together with his contributions to the natural sciences and philosophy. Therefore, it is to no surprise that this programme has been named in his honour…
Learn More: www.avicenna-studienwerk.de
Ibn Sina was a polymath who made great contributions in the natural sciences, mathematics, astronomy, chemistry, alchemy, physics, geology, botany, zoology and music theory. He is reported to have written almost 450 works on this wide range of subjects, of which around 240 have survived. In particular, 150 of the surviving works concentrated on philosophy and 40 of them concentrated on medicine. His most famous works are The Book of Healing (Al-Shifa) and The Canon of Medicine, which was a standard medical text used at many universities in Muslim civilisation and Europe up until the 18th century…
Learn More: Ibn Sina’s The Canon of Medicine
FSTC is an international network of historians, scientists, engineers, educationalists and museum professionals working to popularise awareness of the historic roots of science. By highlighting role models from the past and how their achievements and inventions live on in the modern world, FSTC aims to inspire young people to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. FSTC is also the global partner of 1001 Inventions.