What is the importance of knowledge to Islam?


11 Apr 2014

History of Science

Tariq Ramadan

Jafar Hadi Hassan

In this complete episode of “Islam and Life” from Press TV, Tariq Ramadan discusses both the past and the present of the study of science in Muslim-majority countries with Dr. Jafar Hadi Hassan, specifically addressing the concept of knowledge,ʿilm.  After discussing some of the past intellectual luminaries, such as Ibn Sina, Ibn al-Haytham, al-Kindi, al-Biruni, Ramadan asks about the present, which Hassan has difficulty answering.  In the end, both agree that Muslims should feel free to study any science, even those that are perceived as “not really Islamic”, as a strong grounding in their faith will prevent any possible difficulties.

Topics discussed:  medicine, experimental sciences, philosophy, universities, rulers, peace and autonomy, seeking knowledge as a path to Paradise, tawḥīd.

Episode credits appear at the end of the video.


The material on Islam focuses on tawḥīd, the oneness of God, a central tenet of Islam.

The scientific material discussed is generally historical; Ramadan is clearly questioning why, with the abundance of scientists in the premodern Islamic world, are there not more Muslim scientists today.

The historical material presented is accurate, although highly focused on the 9th-11th centuries.

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.