Islam and Science


28 Nov 2011

History of Science, Environment

Tariq Ramadan

Rim Turkmani

Host Tariq Ramadan discusses science and Islam with three guests:  Subhi al-Azzawi (architect from Baghdad and member of the Foundation for Science and Technology and Civilization), Rim Turkmani (astrophysicist from Imperial College, London), Said Ferjani (head of policy of the Muslim Association of Britain).

The group discusses whether Islam conflicts with science, and how Muslims should contribute to science.  Turkmani, the only woman in the group, also discusses her perspective as a Muslim scientists working in the West.  Questions of how values and ethics arise in science are also addressed.

Topics:  history of science and the Muslim world, Ibn Sina, Muslims as minorities in the West, 1001 Inventions exhibition, Qurʾān and ḥadīth that support scientific study, the House of Wisdom (Dar al-Hikma), definitions of science, science in the Qurʾān, the use of reason in Islam, science as an economic priority, the Lord of Bath, environmentalism and ecology, the consumption of science versus new scientific research.

The episode of “Islam and Life” was filmed in London for Press TV, Iran’s English-language media site.  The credits at the end are of too poor quality to read; the video is from sometime before November 2011, when this copy was uploaded to YouTube.  We regret that a better copy of the video has not been found on the Internet.


The material on Islam is within the bounds of what Muslims have historically understood as acceptable.

For the material on both science and history, most of what is discussed is quite general.  To that extent, it reflects the understanding of scholars today.  Some historians will object to the characterization by Dr. Turkmani that the Muslim world “declined”, although she discusses the economic causes of the European surge forward.  All the scholars are silent about any Muslim advances after the 12th century.

About Tariq Ramadan

Tariq Ramadan is a religious scholar born August 1962 in Geneva, Switzerland. Of Egyptian descent, Ramadan’s maternal grandfather was the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928. He excelled at school and earned an MA in French Literature and Philosophy at the University of Geneva and a Ph.D. in Arabic and Islamic Studies. Ramadan believes that Muslims around the world can merge with the Western world by participating and contributing to the community while still keeping their religious ideals; however, he is still seen by some as a controversial figure due to his familial background.

Ramadan is affiliated with several universities around the world, and has published works extensively. According to Ramadan’s website, as of 2015, he is the Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University and teaches at the Oxford Faculty of Theology. In addition, he is a visiting professor at the University of Malaysia Perlis, and on the Faculty of Islamic Studies in Doha, Qatar, where he is also the Director of the Research Centre of Islamic Legislation and Ethics. He also holds a position as a Senior Research Fellow at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan.

Ramadan periodically writes for The Guardian newspaper, with his most recent article dated January 2015. He also operates very popular Facebook and Twitter pages, with over a million followers. More information and a collection of his work can be found on his personal website or his faculty biography on Oxford University’s website.

Selected Bibliography:

Ramadan, Tariq. Facebook. Facebook, n.d.

Ramadan, Tariq. The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, n.d.

Ramadan, Tariq. Twitter. Twitter, n.d.

Tariq Ramadan Official Website. Tariq Ramadan, n.d. Accessed 16 June 2015.

“Tariq Ramadan.” Gale Biography in Context. Detroit: Gale, 2005. Biography in Context. Accessed 16 June 2015.

Tariq Ramadan.” University of Oxford Faculty of Oriental Studies. Oxford, n.d. Accessed 16 June 2015.