Islam and the Awakening of Science in Europe (TEDx)


13 Nov 2011

History of Science

Abdool Vakil

This lecture by Abdool Vakil (Abdool Magid Abdool Karim Vakil), President of the Islamic Community of Lisbon, provides an overview of the relationship between Islam and science.  Vakil’s approach is to talk about premodern scholars and institutions that particularly were known in Cordoba.  He uses multiple quotes from the Qurʾān and ḥadīth to show that studying science was not just desirable, but “one hour of studying nature is better than one year of prayer”.  Science, he says, should be seen as a way to contemplate God, through rational, analytical scholarship.  He emphasizes the cooperation among Muslims, Christians and Jews in premodern Iberia.

Topics include:  search for knowledge, Qurʾān providing incentive and even priority for scientific research, Abbas ibn Firnas and flying machines, iron and technology, science as a search for truth and social justice, Nasr al-Din al-Tusi and Copernicus, space travel and surah 55:33.

Please excuse the visual/audio desynchronization that becomes obvious toward the end of the video.  As this appears to be the original source of the video, there is no better copy of the video to use.


The Islamic and scientific material here are acceptable.  Some historians might consider that Vakil is painting too rosy a picture of interethnic and religious cooperation in Cordoba, but otherwise the historical material is also accurate.