Sunday, 17 August 2014 00:23

“Articles about Concept of Science in the Islamic Civilization”


Articles about the History of Science” by Dr. Rasoul Jafarian examines the processes different fields of science gone through in medieval Islamic time. This book contains an introduction and 17 papers as follows:

The Concept of Science in the Islamic  Civilization (in the case of Ajayeb al-Makhluqat)

 Amr ibn Bahr Jahiz and the Scientific System in the 10th Century

All Sciences and the One Science, Ibn Hazm’s  View Points in the Classification of Sciences,

The Concept of Science in Traditional Medicine, Abul Hassan Ameri and Classification of Science), Nafa’es Al-Fonun wa the Concept of Science and its Classification,

Rationalism and Narration between Abu Hatim Razi va Zakariya-ye Razi

The Concept of Superstition in Medieval Islamic Resources

Seyed Morteza and the Review of Hadith about Animals and Birds

Astronomical Principles and Rational Confusion in the Islamic Civilization

The Viewpoints of the Safavid Scientists about Astronomical Principles

Religious and Non-Religious Sciences in Qazali Thought

Learning Science and its Progress

Learning Science a Private or General Responsibility

Ibn Sa’ed Andolosi  and the Concept of Science in the Islamic Civilization

Maqdasi Thought in about the Concept of Science

Ibn Hazm Andolosi and Historical Examination (Scientific Methods of Evaluation in History)


 In his introduction, Jafarian specifies his definition of science as “an epistemic wisdom constructing the thinking system of society in the framework of culture and civilization” (p. 8). So by science he means all aspects of human thinking which include literature, philosophy, history, religion, astronomy, and geography.

 However, the boundaries of science, quasi-science and epistemology were not clearly determined in medieval time.

The Islamic civilization of medieval time constitutes the epistemic wisdom of the Iranian, Muslim, Greek and Indian thinkers (p. 9).

To examine the concept of science, the author classifies resources into two groups: 1. the resources like Almoqani by Qazi Abd al-Jabbar which defines the concept of science and its branches. 2. The books in history, geography and culture which have dedicated some pages to defining science and its branches (p. 11).

Having a critical viewpoint Jafarian stresses that the history of science in medieval time is required to be studied without prejudice: “Despite the influence of Islamic findings on the European civilization we are required to highlight our scientific shortcomings particularly in astronomy and traditional medicine.” (p. 13). Moreover, considering the viewpoints of orientalists about Muslim’s findings, Jafarian suggests that the history of science must be studied on “on the basis of objective examples and historical conditions in the Islamic medieval time” (p. 14).

In “Superstition in the Medieval Islamic Resources” Jafarian examines the concept of superstition (Khurafat) in the medieval Islamic civilization. Kheraf  or “the absurdity of the mind” is something  false but melodious to people’s mind (Lesan al-Arab, v9, 66).

This article addresses the concepts of science in relationship to concepts of aql (ration) and superstition in medieval Islamic resources to determine the exact boundaries between superstition and science. Regarding the concept of superstition in 10th to 13th centuries, the paper reviews the process of rationalism developed in this era to determine the boundaries between science and superstition in astronomy, history, geography, medicine and alchemy.

Regarding the collective wisdoms of different societies, superstition has different meanings and references. For example, Abu Reihan indicates to some superstitious viewpoints in the Indian traditions which are considered rational in the Indian collective wisdom. This is true about rationalists (kheradgera) and narrative based scholars (naql-gera) who regards the viewpoints of each other as superstition. Referring to some examples Jafarian wonders whether there is a common belief about the concept and instances of superstition among different nations (p. 144).

To examine the concept of superstition, Jafarian examines the following resources: Historical Resources: Tarikhname by Bal’ami (v1, 370), Tajareb al-Omam by Ibn Miskawayh (v.1, p.75), Mojmel al-Tawarikh (p.38), Tarikh-e Masoudi by Beihaqi (v.1, p.341), Al-Kamel fel Tarikh by Ibn Asir (v.1 p. 66), Mo’jal al-Boldan by Yaqut Hamawi (v.1, pp. 459-460; v.2, p. 436-437),   

Astronomy in Resources: A’lam Alwara by Tabarsi (p.295), Dalat al-Ha’erin by Musa ibn Meimun (p. 614), Al-Mata’ va al-Mo’anesa (pp. 163-164).

Hadis Resources: Al-Masa’el Al-Jarudia (p.35), Al-Esaba (v.2, p. 438), Tabserat al-‘Avam (p. 85, 156, 160), 

Revelation of Sufism: Al- Bedaya va al-Nahaya by Ibn Kasir, (v. 13, p. 298).

The author concludes that superstitious viewpoints have their impacts on all fields of science including religion, geography, history and zoology.  Many viewpoints considered as principles of science in medieval time have changed into examples of superstition in modern time (p.146).

Maryam Kamali

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