Summary

The Science and Islam Video Portal is the result of research done June 2014-June 2015 into all videos on the internet that present information on both Islam (in any form) and the natural sciences.  The research team selected a subset of the videos to evaluate further and have presented the results of these evaluations on this portal.

The research project was crafted by Salman Hameed, the director of the Center for the Study of Science in Muslim Societies at Hampshire College.  Dr. Hameed, who writes regularly on Irtiqa, has written about the understandings of evolution in Muslim societies.  Joining him for this project was Vika Gardner, a post-doc research fellow, and fourteen undergraduate cataloguers from across the Five Colleges.  In addition, the project had five advisors, two from within the Five Colleges faculty: Charles Ross, associate professor of evolutionary biology, Hampshire College, and Suleiman Mourad, professor of religion, Smith College.  The other three bring a diverse array of knowledge about Islam, science, and history to the project.  They are Ehab Abouheif, professor of biology, McGill University, Asad Q. Ahmed, associate professor of Arabic and Islamic studies, University of California, Berkeley, and George Saliba, professor of Arabic and Islamic studies, Columbia University.

The project has been funded by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

Project Details

Videos may be found on a variety of platforms (web sites) across the internet.  Sites that allow anyone to upload videos have become increasingly common with the success of YouTube (started in 2005 and purchased by Google in 2006), which has focused attention on “user-created content”, here especially video content, like few others.  By 2009, YouTube was one of the top sites for videos; with the rise of sites like it, such as DailyMotion, Vimeo and Tune.pk, traditional web sites that curated videos, often by topic, have been fading, losing both visitors and in some cases are no longer found on the Web at all.

The project’s first task was to identify all the videos on Islam and science.  We elected to use Google’s Advanced Video search, using a variety of key terms, which were expanded when we found a previously unidentified video that came up on a YouTube sidebar or in a curated site.  Although the number of videos produced in these searches often appear overwhelming, after screening out duplicates (when the results show the same URL more than once) or multiples (the same video but found at multiple URLs) and segments (one longer video sliced into sections in order to be uploaded), we also excluded videos that were only representations of conversions (of scientists, usually) or videos that were merely slide shows.  After cataloguing and eliminating the superfluous material, the total number of videos that included some representation of Islam and some representation of the natural sciences was less than two thousand.  There are presently 150 evaluated videos in the portal.

Evaluations were done in order to help those who might not have a strong background in all aspects of science, Islam and history.  Each video in the portal includes three icons, which may be positive, negative, mixed, or in the case of history, null, for each of the three aspects (science, Islam, history).  For Islam to receive a positive rating, we examine whether the video includes or addresses Islam appropriately — that is, as a majority of Muslims around the world, both today and historically, would recognize as acceptable ideas or practice.  A negative rating arises when Islam is misrepresented, when a video contains odd interpretations of the Qurʾān or misrepresentations of basic Islamic concepts.  For the sciences to receive a positive rating, we examine whether the video presents scientific ideas or theories that are accepted by a majority of contemporary scholars.  For the sciences to receive a negative rating, we evaluate whether the video includes common errors about science or applies science in ways that have nothing to do with scientific method, for instance, efforts to “prove” the Qurʾān by finding within it scientific “facts” (often called iʿjaz).  History is similarly evaluated, although there are many videos in the portal that do not include historical material, and are therefore marked as null for history.  (To see the key for all the various symbols used on the site, click on “Symbol Key” in the menu on the top of the screen.)

The material in the Portal is organized by general scientific field; you may search for specific key terms using the search box in the upper right corner of the menu as well.

An article has been published about the methodology used for the research from which the site was developed:  Vika Gardner and Salman Hameed, “Science and Islam Videos: Creating a Methodology to Find “All” Unique Internet Videos“, CyberOrient, vol. 11, issue 1, 2017.

Authors and creators

Site design:  Salman Hameed, Vika Gardner, and Berkshire Direct

Site development:  Berkshire Direct

Page contents:  Vika Gardner, E. Carolina Mayes, Camille Reynolds

Evaluation:  Vika Gardner, Salman Hameed, Nashua Malko, Camille Reynolds

Cataloguing (alphabetical order):  Julyanna Alfonzo, S. Hana Asif, Hanna Atia, Tanner Baloh, Sean Dowers, Vika Gardner, Suzanne Hishmeh, Anqa Khan, James Lawrence, Nashua Malko, E. Carolina Mayes, Daniel McNulty, Simosenkosi Nkomboni, Camille Reynolds, Shelbie Spalding, Adam Whitcomb