Did you know that the Muslim world paved the way to the eradication of smallpox? Were you aware that scientists such as Boyle and Halley were heavily influenced by the work of Islamic scholars from the golden age? Did you know that even the founding of the Royal Society itself, which has played host to scientists as influential as Newton, was inspired by the scientific method pioneered by Muslim scholars?
All this information and more can be found at the Royal Society’s ‘Arabick roots’ exhibition in London running until November this year. The exhibition which is by prior appointment only, comes with a free colour guide book featuring a preface from Dr Salim Al-Hassani from the award-winning 1001 Inventions exhibition previously held at the Science Museum.
‘Arabick roots’ is a wonderful acknowledgement of the long overdue debt of gratitude that Western Science owes the Islamic civilisation before it. In the words of Dr Peter Collins, Director of the Royal Society Centre for the History of Science ‘No scientist works alone, and no scientist works without understanding and appreciating the work of those who have gone before…as Isaac Newton famously wrote ‘If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants’’
Whilst much of the Media would have us believe that scientific development has always been hampered by Religion and that the only rational people on this planet are Atheists, this exhibition stands up and opposes this misconception. The exhibition explains that the scientific method was actually pioneered by Muslim scientists including Ibn Al Haytham (Al Hazen) and Chemist Jabir Ibn Hayyan (Geber) who were some of the first people in history to consistently test out their theories with experimentation. This concept was resurrected in 1660 with the founding of the Royal Society by British Scientists and preserved in its motto ‘Nullius in verba’ – meaning ‘take nobody’s word’.
Displaying remarkable critical thinking the exhibition quotes the words of Ibn Al-Haytham himself, an underacknowledged giant in scientific history ‘thus the duty of the man who investigates the writings of scientists, if learning the truth is his goal, is to make himself an enemy of all that he reads, and applying his mind to the core and margins of its content, attack it from every side. He should also suspect himself as he performs his critical examination of it, so that he may avoid falling into either prejudice or leniency’
May Allah allow us to tread in the footsteps of our ancestors in re-establishing such a lofty Muslim scientific legacy – Amen.
For more information on booking times and the exhibition in general visit http://royalsociety.org/events/Arabick-roots-exhibition/