Science and Islam

BBC documentary

A teaser was featured a few months ago. Here's the full program:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6


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by aghaemi on

You are so filled with hatred that you cannot see the truth.  You are willing to distort history just to prove your point.  The end justifies the means to you.  No, I will not lie about history so I can be a "good Iranian" in your eyes.  The first step towards any healing process is to admit the truth about your self.  We have deep standing issues with Iran and we have to seek out ways to correct them.  By blaming Islam for all of our troubles you are not only lying to yourself, but you are preventing any real and effective action to be taken.  I think one of the disservices that the Pahlavi dynasty did to Iran was to create nationalist zealots like you (and 99% of Iranians that I know) that are blind to all things non-Iranian.   


To Q's comment:

by Vishtaspa on

This coming from someone with a picture of a Mullah as his avatar.


The Islamists are out in full force, I see, attempting to convince all of the jahiliyat of those Ajam Persians...Acknowledging Achaemenid and Sassanian achievements is simply "Chauvinism"!


Islam was born bathed in the cold blood of its victims, and it will be destroyed in it. Just because a few Arab leaders realized that science wasn't a half-bad thing, doesn't make them humane for doing things, like you know, cutting out your ancestor's tongues if they were caught speaking Persian in public..It's a violent religion, and it always has been since Arab tribesmen were cutting off each other's heads in the desert circa 1400 years ago.Your Islamist attempts at whitewashing that history are nearly laudable, though.



by Vishtaspa on

Your P.C. attitude is a laughable attempt at intentional self-marginalization (of Iran) in order to repair the image of Islam. You're ignoring what I said: The Arabs inherited Iranian (and Greek, Roman, Egyptian as I acknowledged) knowledge. You're so eager to bring up the fact that one Arab caliph decided to translate literature, yet I'm curious as to why you avoid entirely the fact that Sassanian kings had been doing the same for hundreds of years. Why is that, aghaemi? To even attribute it to Islam is absurd given that one or two caliphs decided to translate some works (and the rest persecuted scientists; "Gibberish") of a pre-exisiting society and then took credit for that science.


It's funny how when it comes to Iran, we have to "look at things in human terms", yet you mention the contributions of "Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Greeks, Indians and Chinese" not to mention that of "Islamic Empire".



Your attitude is a dangerous, self-loathing one which is evidenced by the further erosion of Iranian heritage from textbooks and other literature. Most history and anthroplogy textbooks scarcely have any information on Iran and Iranian contributions to world heritage (like uh, the invention of HUMAN RIGHTS; and yes it was the invention of it, just as the Athenians' imperfect and ultimately unlasting concept of democracy was transformed into what we now know it as)


We are being erased from history by Mullahs, Muslims who seek to claim the glories of Iranian legacy for themselves while referring to us as "Ajam", and anti-IRI westerners who choose to characterize us as 7-foot tall black homosexuals. We must give up our heritage to others, to "humanity", yet, it's perfectly fine to acknowledge the contributions of

"Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Greeks, Indians and Chinese"


You are everything that is wrong with self-loathing Iranians who wish to pretend that they are some sort of magnanimous self-effacing westernized sophisticates.


Your ancestors are rolling in their graves, and should an attitude like yours ever become widely accepted, they will be forgotten entirely.


(And then maybe the likes of you will happily tell all your American neighbors that you're "Pretty much like an Arab" since you're so proud of "Muslim" contributions after all.


Hubris II

by aghaemi on


You have to remove your Iranian pride/hubris and look at the world in human terms, a la Rumi, Khayaam and Hafez.  Unless you can do that you will have bias opinions about your home land.  I too love Iran but at the same time I am honest enough to not give credit where it is due.  In this case you have to give it to the Caliphs who bankrolled the science and engineering that combined to produce the best since the Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Greeks, Indians and Chinese.  If you look at the history of science almost all major breakthroughs came due to some philanthropic person sponsoring the scientist.  Look at Galileo and the Medicis.  Look at Omar Khayam and Nazam-al-Mulk.  What the Caliphs did was to organize it all.  They gathered all the available sources in Greek, Persian and Indian and translated them at Gundishapour, Baghdad, Cordoba and the other major cities in Islam.  I am not saying that Islam as a faith did this.  I'm claiming that Islam as an empire did this.  I refer you to Will Durant's age of faith for a wonderful write up in science in Islam.  You can also read George Sarton's history of science.  These are the two classics among many sources out there that show the genius of the early Islamic empire.  As I said before Islam in the beginning was not the same as it turned out to be later.  Up until the 1400s Islam was still a relatively progressive religion and way of life compared to the norms of the world.   The Islamic empire bankrolled science and engineering, provided for a common language for communication from India to Spain, it provided secure roads that enabled relatively easy trade and hence a thriving economy, it came up with the first systematic system of sewers, hospitals, banks, schools, universities and ...The scientists were largely Iranian but not majority Iranian.



Do you dare assert that Science

by Vishtaspa on

...was unknown to Iran until the Arabs came? Or was it the other way around. The Abbasids translated ancient works yes, you are correct.


What you're ignoring is that they translated them from PERSIAN, GREEK & LATIN into ARABIC!


Ergo, this was nothing new to Iran, although science was a novel concept to the Arabs, try to whitewash and make it politically correct as you may.



Check out this scholarly article, from which I will post several excerpts:

// (section 8)


Sasanian kings were enlightened patrons of letters and philosophy. Khosrow I had
the works of Plato and Aristotle translated into Pahlavi taught at Gundishapur,
and even read them himself. During his reign many historical annals were
compiled, of which the sole survivor is the Karnamak-i Artaxshir-i Papakan"


"During the Sasanian period, these reached massive proportions, particularly at
Ctesiphon. There, the arch of the great vaulted hall, attributed to the reign of
Shapur I (241–272), has a span of more than 80 feet and reaches a height of
118 feet. This magnificent structure fascinated architects in the centuries that
followed and has been considered one of the most important examples of Persian
architecture. Many of the palaces contain an inner audience hall consisting, as
at Firuzabad, of a chamber surmounted by a dome. The Persians solved the problem
of constructing a circular dome on a square building by employing squinches, or
arches built across each corner of the square, thereby converting it into an
octagon on which it is simple to place the dome. The dome chamber in the palace
of Firuzabad is the earliest surviving example of the use of the squinches,
suggesting that this architectural technique was probably invented in Persia."







by Vishtaspa on

You're ignoring the VAST canon of Sassanid literature and scientific work inherited by the Islamic world. The blossoming of science in Iran DID NOT begin with the rise Islam, but rather the rise of SASSANIAN PERSIA.


Also, the argument that " Process 'A' coincided with the advent of 'B', therefore 'A' is a result of 'B' is fallacious, even if it were true in this casr, even if it were ture, which it is not.


It's not about chauvinism. It's about those with a vested interest in repairing the image of Islam post-9/11 trying to claim something that had absolutely NOTHING to do with them. As another poster pointed out, many of these scientists were PERSECUTED by the clergy. And now they spit on their graves and take credit for their advancements, how shameful.



by Khar on

In a nutshell: 

1-     Although there was no unified Christian empire but from fall of Rome in the mid 5th century AD to the discovery of the new world in the mid 15th century AD for period of 1000 years (Dark Ages) Europe was under absolute rule of Roman catholic church and every monorch was under their control and who do think bankrolled the crusades yes it was the church!, and only by appearance of people like Martin Luther on scene and spreading of anti theocracy ideas like separation of church and state which preceded the renaissance western world was able to set aside the church and achieve what is has achieved. Otherwise they would be where we are today!

2-Please lets not get in to Maghlateh (polemics), when the video is talking about Islam it attributes the achievements of the conquered people to the conquers, Islam, it talks about one Islam as a single entity, as a whole religion and culture. Not this meaningless Maghlateh of "dual Islamic role" you came up with.



thanks Aghaemi,

by Q on

Very good comment.

There is tremendous chauvinism among Iranians when it comes to this subject.

The same people who are crying about how Muslims hated science and burned all the Iranian books, now preach about "Iranians" being responsible for all the science they supposedly lost because of the Arab occupation.

We must learn to give credit where credit is due and leave off the bigotry.

Khar: We don't attribute today's inventions to Christianity because there was never an offical "Christian" political organization, like an empire. There did exist a singular Islamic empire for centuries. The word "Islam" is playing a dual role here.


Islam the Religion had nothing to do with these achievements!

by Khar on

Scientific achievement came from the people of territories which they controlled like Iran, Syria, Turky, Lebanon, Egypt, Spain, Central Asia and others... not the Eslam e Naab e Mohammdi of the Arabian Peninsula!

Do we attribute the advancement of western world today to Christianity? No, quite the opposite and why should we attribute the Near and Middle Eastern achievements in history to Islam, and this is the essence of my point!



by aghaemi on

The documented scientific/engineering endeavors in the "Islamic World" did coincide with the birth of Islam.  There is no doubt that the works of Islam's greatest started with the advent of Islam at the behest of the Islamic Caliphate.  The Abbassids were the foremost in promoting scientists and engineers.  The Caliphs went through great lengths to translate Greek, Persian and Indian sources into Arabic.  Arabic was the lingua Franca of the day.  Just like Latin was in the West and English is to the world today.  There is no bias in saying Islamic scholars since they came from many lands!  In particular he refers to Al-Battani (today's Turkey), Ibn-Shatir (today's Syria), Al-Haytham (today's Iraq), Al-Tusi (today's Iran).  We Iranians think we are better than anyone else and that is one of the obstacles to our success: hubris.  I really wish we learn as a nation to respect other people and not just call the Turk a "khar" and the Arab a "Malakh Khor".  Give credit where due and do not take more than you have earned.

There was no bias intended.  The narrator did a wonderful job at demonstrating to lay people that the theory as incorrectly attributed to Copernicus, which was the most important piece of the scientific revolution, was most likely largely plagarized from Ibn-Shatir and Al-Tusi's work.  This is something that George Saliba has also been writing about for many years.

It is very difficult to believe that Islam as we know it today would promote science.  But in the begining Islam was very different.  The dominant school of thought belonged to the Mutazalite faction that placed reason over faith.  The Wahabi Islam and Taliban Islam are the exact opposittes and are symbolic of the great shift in that religion.


Hold your horses....

by Khar on

Scientific achievement came from the people of territories which they controlled like Iran, Syria, Turky, Lebanon, Egypt, Spain, Central Asia and others... not the Eslam e Naab e Mohammdi of the Arabian Peninsula! Those territories would have the advancement in the sciences anyways with or without Islam! All of this so called “Islamic advancement” came from translations of ancient Greek/Roman/Persian/Egyptian texts by the people who were ransacked by Islamic sword! It should be called middle and near Eastern scientific contribution to humanity not Islamic. Let’s stop giving credit to Islam the religion for things which it had nothing to do with!!!!


All of this is a comic attempt to give a human face to a satanic religion!

Veiled Prophet of Khorasan

Obvious bias

by Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on


Obvious bias in the  narrative of this documentary    . Every time he refers to eastern scholars , he uses the word ( Islamic) .  Could he not just say Iranian scholar or Arabic scholar ? He is purposely attempting to portray islam as a doctorine that nurtures scientific or conceptual thinking . This is nothing  new for us . The deeply religious educated elite in iran like Bazargan are a testament to this

This is unfortunately the way BBC news operates. They deliberately act like idiots. They always refer to "Iranians" instead of "Iranian Government". They refer to "Chinese" instead of "Chinese Government" and so on. The BBC has a policy of dehumanizing people and portraying them as a single monolithic group. This has infiltrated their own culture and has proven to be very damaging. It makes them incapable of seeing differences. They think all people in Middle East are "Muslims".

Honestly I have stopped paying attention to BBC news. I still like some of their other shows like Dr Who :-) But the BBC news went out the door years ago.


Obvious bias

by jasonrobardas on

  Obvious bias in the  narrative of this documentary    . Every time he refers to eastern scholars , he uses the word ( Islamic) .  Could he not just say Iranian scholar or Arabic scholar ? He is purposely attempting to portray islam as a doctorine that nurtures scientific or conceptual thinking . This is nothing  new for us . The deeply religious educated elite in iran like Bazargan are a testament to this . 

   Religion and science, however ,  coccupy different magistra . Science , unlike religion , explains phenomena wiothout invoking the super natural .  Religion is based on faith while science looks at things conceptually , analyticaly and objectively . These two are often times on opposing sides .

     There often is a desperate attempt by the deeply religious to reconcile the two or to prove that Islam is the generator of scientific thought .  Jaber( Jaber-Ibne-Hayan) was an Arab chemist who was harrassed by the ecclesiastics . The moslem clergy considered his work as heresy . He was so scared of the religious establishment that he had created a system of codes ( a psudo language ). He wrote his data and writings of chemistry in that language (GIBBERISH). Interestingly , This is how the word " Gibberish" came into the English language .

    The islamic establishment percieved chemists as magicians . Apparently the clergy of the time could not distinguish ( chemistry )from ( alchemy ) . The same is true for (Astronomers) whose endeavors were not understood by the islamic clergy and were regarded as (Astrologers ).

    In reshteh sare deraz darad ...... 








Vishtaspa , you said it all.

by پیام on

Short and to the point. I second your comment.


Fire and the wheel

by ahvazi on


I like them to do a program on Science and Ideal Worshippers and how they discovered fire and created the wheel and how this has influenced science today!!!



More Like

by Vishtaspa on

Science & IRAN.


None of these scientific advancements have anything to do with the religion of the scientists. Why do these koon-nashoste mollas get the credit for everything?