“Articles about the History of Science” by Dr. Rasoul Jafarian examines the processes different fields of science goes 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 and 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 times.
The Islamic civilization of medieval times 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 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 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 minds (Lesan al-Arab, v9, 66).
This article addresses the concepts of science in relation 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 the 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 wisdom of different societies, superstition has different meanings and references. For example, Abu Reihan indicates 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 regard 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 times have changed into examples of superstition in modern times (p.146).