Tuesday, October 10, 2006

History of Islamic Science

In the eleventh century Muslim science and the numbers of scientists started to decline. After the thirteenth century they would still produce occasional scientists but they were the exception, not the rule (see list of Islamic scholars). One reason for the scientific decline can be traced back to the tenth century when the orthodox school of Ash'ari challenged the more rational school of Mu'tazili theology, or even earlier when caliph Al-Mutawakkil (847-861) started to suppress the Mu'tazili theology. The orthodox Muslims fought the shia Muslims and other Muslim branches, as well as several invaders(mongols, crusaders etc.) on the Islamic lands between 1000 – 1300. In the end the Sunni orthodox were victorious and the more strict Ash'ari school replaced Mu'tazili thought in the Islamic lands. That replacement and numerous wars and conflicts created a climate which made Islamic science less successful than before.

With the fall of Muslim Spain in 1492, scientific and technological initiative generally passed to Christian Europe and led to what we now call the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. The fiqh of Islamic Law froze more or less along classical/medieval lines, and no longer encouraged science.

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