6 Phases of the Islamic Scientific Tradition


Dr. Muzaffar Iqbal

“Assessed in the most general terms, the Islamic scientific tradition can be seen as having passed through the following major phases:

(i) a formative phase under the shade of Islamic religious sciences;

(ii) a quick maturation through the massive infusion of data, information and theories from the Greek, Indian and Persian traditions;

(iii) a phase of careful assessment, recasting and Islamization of the received material;

(iv) a gradual realization that there was something fundamentally wrong with some major concepts that had been received from other traditions;

(v) appearance of “doubt literature” which pinpointed major scientific and philosophical problems with received material and suggested fundamental changes; and

(vi) a slow process of withering.

These six phases do not lend themselves to clearly differentiated periods and they should not; after all we are dealing with a tradition that covered a vast geographical region and all branches of science. What may appear to have matured in one place and time may only have begun to take roots in another region and, in many cases the phases merged into each other, slowly and, often, imperceptibly. Their individual hues and colors only became distinct after enough time had passed from the previous phase.”

— Iqbal, Muzaffar, Islam and Science: Explorations in the fundamental questions of the Islam and Science discourse, (Lahore: Suhail Academy, 2004) 60

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Waqar Akbar Cheema

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