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Enlarged Edition


EXPERIMENTAL SCIENCE Origin and Development of Experimental Science
Encounter with the Modern West

Encounter with the Modern West By Prof. Muin Ud-Din Ahmad Khan Ph.D
Copyright © Prof. Muin Ud-Din Ahmad Khan
Enlarged Edition 2020 CE.
First Published in 1997, C.E

Second Revised Enlarged Publication by Bangladesh Institute

of Islamic Thought (BIIT)

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PROF. MUIN UD-DIN AHMAD KHAN Ph.D in any form, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy,
recording or any information storage or retrieval system,
without permission in writing from the author.
The views expressed in this book are entirely of the author and
do not necessarily reflect the views of Bangladesh Institute of
Islamic Thought (BIIT).
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Publisher’s Note vii

Preface viii
Summary ix


Dedicated to the enlightening memory of my reverend Etymological Analysis of Science 13
teachers Shamsul Ulama Maulana Velayet Husain, Discernment of Science 15
Professor Wilfred Cantwell Smith, Professor May we then ask: what is science? 15
Dr. Fazlur Rahman, Professor Dr. Ahmad Hasan Scrutiny of the Latin Root Words 19
Dani and Nobel Laureate Professor Abdus Salam, Historical Evidence 20
but for whose inspirational guidance my
The Stock-phrase: Experimental Sciences 21
intellectual faculty could not
have blossomed. The Bengali Term Bigyan 24
Summary and Conclusion 25

Chapter Two
Philological Consideration of Science 27
Summary and Conclusion 31

Chapter Three
The Morphology of Al-Ulum at-Tajribiyah 33
Impact of the Prophetic Vision on the Early Muslims 37
Summary and Conclusion 44
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Chapter Four Science of Definition 103

Epochal History of Science 49 Hadd or Measurment 105
Other Side of the Medal 57 The Four Dimensional Measurement of Tahdid or
Hadd 106
Three Great Luminaries of Middle Ages 59
The Last Flicker 61 Summary and Conclusion 108
Summary and Conclusion 62
Chapter Eight
Chapter Five
Typology of Knowledge in the East and the West 111
Transmission of Science From East to West 65
Raymond’s Initiative 66
Chapter Nine
A Counter View of Islamic Learning 69
A Critical Analysis of Modern Experimental
Summary and Conclusion 74 Science in Relatio to Islamic Ulum At-Tajribiyah 123
The Doctrine of Pair-creation 124
Chapter Six The Doctrine of the Durability of the Realities of
Science of Definition and Definition of Science 77 Material Objects 125
Science of Definition 77 The Flawless Dynamic System of the Universe and
Knowledge by Measurement 79 the Uniformity of Nature 128
Definition of Science 80
The Arena of Conceptual Knowledge 86 Chapter Ten
What of What Category of Knowledge 88 Conclusion 139
A Critical Discourse on Experimental Science in
Summary and Conclusion 91
the West 140
Progenitor of Scientiae Experimentalis 142
Chapter Seven The Turning Point 146
The Real Nature of Experimental Science 95
The Spirit of Diraiyah in the Qur’an 97
Surah al-Qadr or Power (97) 97
Surah at-Tariq (86) 98
Surah al-Infitar (82) 98
Surah al-Haqqah (69) 98
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This revised and enlarged edition of my A Challenging
Encounter with the West: Origin and Development of
Publisher’s Note Experimental Science is the fruit of a life long humble research
over fifty years of my academic career keeping out constantly in
The Muslim scientists developed the scientific logic from the view the contemplative mood of my great teachers: Shamsul
Quranic mode of evidential argument which is called tahdid or Ulama Maulana Velayet Husain, Professor Fazlur Rahman,
Professor Wilfred Cantwell Smith and Professor Ahmad Hasan
limits and burhan or evidence.
Dani. Besides, Professor Muhsin Mahdi’s research on Ibn
The Arabic Terminology al-ulum at-tajribiyah was Khaldun was a guiding inspiration all through.
translated by Roger Bacon as scientiae experimentalis, which I am confident that in course of my short, precise and
later on, not before the middle of the 19th century, assumed the evidential treatment of the subject matter, I have fully
form of ‘experimental science.’ demonstrated the minimal fact that, the experimental science
undoubtedly emanated from the holy Qur’an, and that, the
The modern Western science has, therefore, been a freely experimental methodology as well as the basic form of
contributed gift of the devoted Muslim scholarship that deserves experimental sciences were devised by the Muslim scientists
grateful recognition in the history of the Western civilization. themselves. For a full-dressed survey of the contribution of
In this book, Bangladeshi scholar, historian & philosopher Muslim scholars to experimental sciences one may turn to Malik
Akbar Ali’s researches on the subject, who produced more than
Prof. Dr. Muin-ud-Din Ahmad Khan has successfully
ten thousand pages on the matter in Bengali language in print. I do
demonstrated the minimal fact that the experimental science hope, that my humble work will make it fully evident that the holy
undoubtedly emanated from the holy Qur’an and that the Qur’an is a veritable mine of all kinds of scientific perceptions and
exprimental methodology as well as the basic form of the most potent guide to the scientific discoveries.
experimental science were devised by the Muslim scientists In course of my researches, I was astonished to see how
themselves. meticulously the Western scholars borrowed from the writings of
the Oriental sages without giving any reference whatsoever. On
He has also mentioned how the Western scholars and
the other side of the medal, I was pained to see how completely
scientists have borrowed and stolen Science from the writings of the Oriental scholars have deviated from their own scientific and
the Oriental Islamic sages. They were such cynics that even they philosophical traditions and got enamoured into the out-dated
did not admit the fact of borrowing. Aristotalian logical quagmire of syllogistic squabbles in lieu of
We hope that the book will be an interesting and useful the quest for real knowledge.
study to those who are eager to enter into the realm of research I do hope that this humble work would turn the scientific
gaze of the people, to the Qur’an instead of looking to the sheer
in science. May Allah grant our efforts in His cause.
inventiveness of the East or West.
May 2020 Dr. M Abdul Aziz Prof. Dr. Muin-ud-Din Ahmad Khan
Dhaka Executive Director March 2020, Chittagong
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Summary something. Then any art or science was known as fikr, which
means philosophy or thought. The Qur’an, for the first time,
On close scrutiny, despite popular belief otherwise, the word instilled into it the wider meaning of learning (7th century C.E.).
‘science’ (English) has been-found to be a substitute of scientiis The holy Prophet gave this newer meaning a permanent shape
and scientiae (Latin) in plural form, which were devised in 12th and the term ilm gradually acquired the meaning of ‘science’ in
and 13th centuries C.E. to translate the Arabic terminology al- the hands of the early Muslims.
ulum (in plural). As such, the Arabic Terminology al-ulum at- To develop ilm into a full-fledged concept was the task of
tajribiyah was translated by Roger Bacon as scientiae Jabir ibn Hayyan, the progenitor of experimental science of
experimentalis, which later on, not before the middle of the 19th Chemistry or, Alchemy. He set tajribah or experiment as the
century, assumed the form of ‘experimental science.’ main plank of scientific methodology (8th century C.E.)
Likewise, the Bengali terminology of Byabaharik Bigñan The second plank of science was the joint operation of
(e¨envwiK weÁvb) was a translation of English ‘experimental algebra cum arithmetic which was devised by Al-Khwarizmi (9th
science’, which was done in the later-half of the 19th century C.E.). Al-Kindi further developed and extended it to the
century C.E. fields of medicine, astronomy and physics (9th century C.E.)
‘Science’ is an English word, which was originally coined Finally, Al-Farabi, Ibn Miskawaih, Ibn Sina, Ibn Haytham
by the Christian Priests to mean the sign of God (ayatullah). It and Al-Biruni raised al-ulum at-tajribiyah to the golden height
was used as such from 1340 onwards by the priests and poets as (even before the Western scholars began translating their works
“science of God”. Shakespeare used it to mean the mystery of into Latin (mid-12th century C.E.).
Nature, i.e. the mystery of creation. However, what is now called Science was, thus, neither inspired by the Greeks nor by the
‘experimental science’ used to be called ‘natural philosophy’ till Romans nor even by the Hellenic cultural tradition, but was a
1830. Scientiis or Scientiae experimentalis, though exactly meant gift of the holy Qur’an, the Prophet of Islam and the early
experimental science, were avoided by the Europian scholars in Muslim scholars. In the epochal scale of Sarton from 750 to
view of the hostility of the Catlolic Christian priests towards 1100 C.E. the Muslim scientists held the sway over science in an
those terminologies. Nevertheless, by the middle of the 19th unbroken chain, thereafter their grips began to decline.
century C.E. the Greek oriented ‘natural philosophy’ was According to M. Akbar Ali, the declining trend of the scientific
replaced by ‘experimental science’. Hence, experimental researches of the Muslims continued from the 13th century C.E.
science, by implication means al-ulum at-tajribiyah and due to the apathy of the Muslims towards science. Professor
scientiae experimentalis. Abdus Salam counted the preparation of Zijj Muhammad Shahi,
In Arabic, the original word ulum means scientiae, i.e. at the Mughal Court of Delhi in 1720 C.E. as the last flicker of
sciences. Its singular is ilm. Before the revelation of the Qur’an, science in the Muslim world. Apathy led to isolation and
in pre-Islamic Arabic language, the word ilm did not mean isolation to ossification and death of science in the Muslim
‘science’; it was rather a verbal expression meaning to know world.
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Professor Abdus Salam sees a cyclic trend in it. The early grateful recognition in the history of the Western civilization.
Muslims started (8th Century C.E.) by learning from the Greek History awards it, conscience demands it and justice establishes
and Indian traditions and rose to great height in the 11th, 12th and its right beyond any shadow of doubt.
13th centuries (C.E.). Likewise Western students, such as,
With the help of natural faculties human beings are able to
Michael Scott and Henrik the Dane started learning from the
grasp the quantity, quality and differentia of all things. Men are
Muslim Universities in the 13th century C.E. and the science in
endowed with the science of nomenclature, which was
the West has come round a full circle at present. The Muslims
developed by Aristotle into a logical science of definition.
can well start again anew by rectifying their grand mistake of
wooing high technology without basic science since both go Indeed, without defining the terms human knowledge cannot
hand in hand inseparably together. proceed even one single step. Yet the modern scientists fight shy
of definition in the arena of science. The cause thereof is not far
The Western scholars made strenuous attempt from 1130 to
to seek. While borrowing science from the Muslims
1533 C.E. to break through the stark darkness of scholasticism
surreptitiously, the Western scholars could not realise that the
by translating philosophical and scientific works of the classical
Muslim scientists had developed a different quantitative logic for
Greek philosophers and Muslim scholars from Arabic to Latin.
dealing with scientific subjects apart from the qualitative logic of
In this process, they became acquainted with the writings of the
the Greek philosophy. They took the methodology of science
great Muslim scientists, such as, Al-Khwarizmi, Al-Kindi, Al-
without the scientific logic. So that, they are now finding the
Farabi, Ibn Sina, Al- Biruni, Al-Haytham, Al-Razi, Ibn Rushd
Aristotalian logic completely unfit for defining scientific
and gradually acquired the knowledge of the newly invented
experimental sciences of the Muslims.
The Muslim scientists developed the scientific logic from the
In this respect Evak Raymond, Johannes Hispalensis,
Quranic mode of evidential argument which is called tahdid or
Gundisalvi, Gerard, John Avendeath of the 12th century, Robert
limits and burhan or evidence. In their fruitless hasty attempt to
Grosseteste, Roger Bacon, Jacob Anatoli, Michael Scott of the
run away from the theoretical definition, the western scholars
13th century and Albert the Great, Thomas Aquinas, Alexander
fell into the quagmire of a logical fallacy of denying the What(?)
Hales, Ramon Martin, Blaise Pascal and many others played a
and owning the How(?), even thouth both of them belong to
crucial role as translators, promoters and adopters of the Muslim
the same group of the questions of what, why, how and
scientific tradition from the East and transmitting it to the West.
what for(?).
For centuries together it was a one-way traffic, since the
As a matter of fact, experimental science as a special
Muslims had to offer their own learning having practically
category of knowledge arose neither from the question of
nothing to receive back from the West in return.
How(?) nor from the functioning of the causal bond, but from
The modern Western science has, therefore, been a freely the question of what of what(?) posed by the Holy Qur’an.
contributed gift of the devoted Muslim scholarship that deserves
14 Experimental Science

From the position of keepsake or memento in the days of

yore, science has now assumed a threatening posture towards
morality and religion, which were indisputable ruling
authority of the old world. In the old world, religion and
morality mutually aided each other in enthroning Divine
Providence as the crowning principle of human life. In its
stead a sort of a scientological prognosis of self-reliance in
many a peoples today, is fain loosening the historico-
Chapter One theological bond of Providential principle. As a result, a strain
of Grecian secularism2 is now-a-days hissing everywhere in
Etymological Analysis of Science the air reckoning science and secularism as the twin
exellences of the Greek genius.
Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim. In the name of Allah, the most
Compassionate, the most Merciful. Let us begin with the Science and technology are being counted as the principal
pivotal Islamic slogan: Haqaiqul Ashya Thabitatun: All barometer of economic progress, whereupon all nations are
things subsist in existential Realities. vying with one another in building up academic facilities of
basic sciences and institutional facilities of high and low
In our day-to-day conversation ‘science’ is a household
word. Nay, science is the magic wand of modern life. All technology.3 Moreover, in the current ultra-modern nuclear
amenities of life today flow from science and technology. But age, technology has grown to an amazing proportion. High
technology is a handmaid of science. Scientific inventions are technology is guiding the steps of fast-growing ultra modern
at the root of technology. Technology produces goods and human civilization, whereunto advanced nations like United
facilities for the comfort and enjoyment of life. Life revolves States, China, Russia, Japan and Germany are struggling
around science and technology. relentlessly to surpass one another. Novel scientific inventions
and newer technological devices are holding the front-lines of
In the view of one of the greatest thinkers of the Orient,
the prosperity of nations.
Abu Nasr al-Farabi, the twin foremost requirement of human
race is the survival and development of human life. 1 In the Development of technology is however dependent on the
face-to-face competitive world of today, science and development of basic sciences.4 In a world engulfed by
technology have become the mainstay of human life. At no boundless nationalistic jealousies, the virtues and vices of
sphere of individual, familial, social, political, economic, nationalism are holding out nations at one another’s elbow’s
religious or diplomatic life, can a person or a nation dispense length. In the midst of neck-to-neck competition, for good or
with science and technology. Hence, everyone today looks for bad, no nation is ready to show its palm of hands, in
towards science as the be-all and end-all of life. matters of basic sciences, to another. Hence, more developed
Etymological Analysis of Science 15 16 Experimental Science

a nation is in basic sciences and high technology more word ‘science’ does not sound like Latin. Its structural trait
advanced it is in the scale of prosperity and civilization and rather point to the easy flowing English tongue.
such nations are presently playing the crucial role in the field
In the Latin Dictionary, ‘scio’ is said to mean ‘to know in
of economic upliftment and in the affairs of the United
the widest sense or significance of the word’; that is to
Nations. In this pragmatic sense, science has become
understand, to perceive, to have knowledge of or skill in
synonymous with advancement, modernism, progress and
anything whatsoever; for instance, in the case of a woman
prosperity. Hopefully thus, we call science bigyan (weÁvb) in
‘scio’ is to know a man carnally: cognoseo.7
Bengali language and al-ulum at-tajribiyah in Arabic
language in the self-same yearning posture. It, therefore, It is also said that ‘scio’ means to ordain, decree, appoint
devolves upon us, to explore precisely and elaborately what anything after requisite knowledge obtained regarding it.
‘science’ exactly means. Hence sciens entis is knowing.8
The other root of ‘sciens’ is given as ‘scire’, which means
Discernment of Science to understand and to know.9 The World University
In the discernment of ‘science’ we are prone to believe that Encyclopedia derives the word science from the same Latin
‘science’ is an original word, whence Bengali bigyan and root of scire, meaning to know, and hence, ‘any form of
Arabic al-ulum at-tajribiyah are translations. On close organized knowledge’.10
scrutiny, however, this notion appears untenable and calls for The Oxford English Dictionary offers further details of
a thorough investigation. variant spellings of science in different Western languages,
viz. Sp. ciencia, It. scienza, Fr. Scient-em, being pt. pple. of
May we then ask: what is science? scire, all meaning to know; L. scientia, knowledge.11
Science is advanced in the West, as a Latin-based word. The Portuguese English Dictionary gives Port. spelling
According to the Latin Dictionary, it was spelt originally as ‘sciencia’ and ‘scientifico’ for science and scientific.12
‘scientia’ etymologically coined from ‘sciens’ + ‘entis’ from
As regards instances of linguistic use of ‘science’ in
the roots of ‘scire’ and ‘scio’ usually used in the plural form
history, the Oxford Dictionary states that it implies: “The state
only with the Latin plural mark of ‘ae’ as ‘scientiae’.5
or facts of knowing, knowledge or cognisance of something
It says: ‘sciens’ means knowing or skilled in anything, specified or implied; now only in theology, in the sense of
knowledge, expertness; that is to say: cognitio, eruditio, aut knowledge as opposed to belief or opinion.13 It cites the
scire istarum rerum nihil, tantae scientiae.6 historical use of ‘science’ as follows:
It is thus said that ‘science’ is derived from ‘scientia > In 1340 Christian Era (C.E.): “For God of science is
sciens + entis > scio’. Compared to scientia, however, the Lord”.
Etymological Analysis of Science 17 18 Experimental Science

In 1426 C.E.: “Scyence O the heyght and deepenes of the offers us an objective knowledge derived through observation,
ryches of the wysdome and scyence of God.” verification and experiment whereas the knowledge spoken of
herein is thoroughly subjective, imaginative, speculative and
In 1601 Shakespeare says: “Had not in natures mysterie
begotten of thinking.
more science, Than 1 have in this Ring”?
To make the confusion more confounded, the Oxford
In 1728 C.E.: “Divines suppose three kinds of science in
Dictionary draws a distinction between science and art in the
God; the first, science of mere knowledge; second, a science
Greek usage. It says: “Contradistinguished from art, a science
of vision; third, an intermediate science.14 (Greek) is concerned with theoretical truth and art (Greek)
In plain language, the above instances show that in the with method for effecting certain results. Sometimes,
th however, the term science is extended to denote a department
17 century the poets, Christian priests, as well as the greatest
English sage-poet Shakespeare used the word ‘science’ to of practical work which depends on the knowledge and
mean the knowledge of the mystery of Nature or sign of God. conscious application of principles; an art, on the other hand,
Moreover, the threefold classification of science by Divines being understood to require merely knowledge of traditional
or priests depicts the Biblic and Quranic outlook rendering rules and skill acquired by habit”.15
knowledge into (a) perceptual (b) inspirational and Nevertheless, it is finally admitted that “in the 17th and
(c) revelational categories. The word science was, therefore, 18th centuries the notion now usually expressed by ‘science’
used from 1340 to 1728 C.E. not in a scientific sense to mean was commonly expressed by ‘philosophy’.16 That is to say,
‘experimantal objective knowlege’, but in a mystical sense to ‘Natural Philosophy’ instead of natural science or
mean symbolic or mysterious knowledge pertaining either to experimental science. Even the simple word of ‘science’ was
the mystery of Nature or sign of God. The above examples not used, obviously because it carried a religious mooring.
equate the English word ‘science’ with the Latin word Notwithstanding the fact that ‘science’ is a simple English
‘sciens’ (minus ‘entis’ that goes to make up ‘scientia’) and in word, meaning sign of the mystery of the creation or of
points of meaning and significance, science stands exactly in nature, insignia of God and that, it was never used in Greek or
the place of Arabic-Hebrew word ‘ayah’ or ‘ayat’ which Latin either as such or as the equivalent of the Latin ‘scientia’,
means the sign of the process of creation or the mystery of it claimed that a distinction is made in Greek language
between science and art. The word ‘science’ was indeed
creation as well as insignia of Allah as a proof of his
nowhere used in Greek; nowhere the word ‘science’ is found
in the whole range of Greek literature of ancient, classical or
Thus, the use of the word ‘science’ whether stemming medieval age.
from scio or scire in the Latin vocabulary or from any other
Likewise, in the Latin language, the word science did not
root word of any other Western languages is a far cry from the
exist in the classical age. Even in the medieval time, it was
meaning and implication of modern science. Modern science
not in currency in the Latin vocabulary excepting in the
Etymological Analysis of Science 19 20 Experimental Science

priestly tradition of the theologians. Even so, it was never Even if it is admitted that etymologically scire and scio,
used to mean either philosophical or scientific knowledge can be stretched to constitute sciens, the question of entis still
before the 19th century C.E.17 would remain unsolved. Because scire, scio and sciens by
To make the matter more touchy, the Encyclopedia of themselves were not deemed good enough to carry the
Philosophy informs us that John F. Herschell was the meaning of science for the reason why entis was added to
originator of the scientific analytical methodology, who, sciens for coining the word scientia in Latin, which
however called his book: Preliminary Discourse on the Study corresponded closely to the same terminology in other
of Natural Philosophy, instead of natural science, which was national European languages except that of English
published from London in 1830 C.E. Obviously, the word ‘science’.20 The English science or scyence was, however, a
‘science’ did not come into currency in Greek, Latin or any naturally developed monolithic vocabulary, though it was
other European languages till the publication of the above neither developed to carry the modern meaning of science nor
book of natural philosophy. was it ever meant to stand in the stead of modern science till
the year 1830.21 Rather it was adopted and devised as the
Scrutiny of the Latin Root Words substitute of Latin scientia sometimes after 1830 C.E. as we
find in the book of Herschell cited above.
We have, however, come across three assumed root-words of
science in Latin viz. scire, scio and sciens whence the word Still the question remains as to why and when the term
‘science’ is supposed to have stemmed. It may be worth while scientia was coined? Was it originally meant for a
to examine their stamina in order to ascertain their nomenclature of an indigenous phenomenon or a native
equivalence with modern science. concept or else devised for the translation of a foreign
The word scire, as we have noticed above,18 is applied to
mean ‘knowing’ in an ordinary sense. Its etymological Historical Evidence
construction as well as simplicity of its meaning and
implication make it extremely difficult to place it on the good The evidence of a very old traditional Latin Dictionary,
stead of the Greek practical or natural philosophy whose published from New York in 1879, which was in turn
equivalence is modern science. Besides, to stretch scire into “founded on Andrew’s edition of Fround’s Latin Dictionary,”
science is linguistically absurd and untenable. cited by us above, to the effect that scientia, was “used in
plural only” with the plural ‘ae’ mark, that is, as scientiae,22
The word scio, on the other hand, carries with it a deeper
points to the historically significant fact that (a) the word
implication as noticed above,19 but the element of feeling is
scientia was not only a combined word of sciens + entis, but
more dominant in it than the conceptual objectivity of modern
also that, as a technical term, it was always used in plural as
an adjunct of another word ‘experimentalis’. These special
Etymological Analysis of Science 21 22 Experimental Science

traits take us back to the thirteenth century C.E. wherein the yet in terms of meaning corroborated by Gundisalvi’s and
great Christian theological reformer-scientist Roger Bacon Gerard’s translation of ulum into scientiis. The Arabic word
(1214-1292 C.E.) wrote his master-piece: Opus Majus. In this ulum is the plural of ilm, which, in its turn, is derived from
monumental book he used the term ‘scientiae experimentalis’ alam. Alam means a sign or symbol by means of which a
for the first time, obviously as the translation of the popularly thing is identified. ‘Ilm’ stands for an academic discipline or a
current Arabic terminology of al-ulum at-tajribiyah.23 Thus, science. Thus, sign in English stands for alam in Arabic and
scientiae stood for ulum and experimentalis stood for science for ilm. But in the Arabic usage science is often dealt
tajribiyah. Because, not merely science, but the experimental with in plural since a single scientific discipline does not give
science is the modern science. Without experimentalis, adequate knowledge of anything. Hence science is always
science or scientiae would have no place in the arena of thought of in groups, such as, al-ulum as-siyasiyah—political
modern science. sciences, al – ulum at-tab’iyat - natural sciences, al – ulum at-
As regards sciens + entis, another interesting evidence tajribiyah – experimental sciences, al-ulum at-diniyah -
takes us one century earlier. During the 10th century C.E., religious sciences.
while the Abbasid Khilafah was brilliantly flourishing, Abu Gundisalvi’s scientiis was meant for the translation of the
Nasr al-Farabi, the greatest Muslim philosopher, who was plural word ulum; hence the suffix ‘is’ may have stood for the
regarded as the Second Teacher after Aristotle and who lived plural of ‘sciens’. But if we accept the version of the Latin
from 870 to 950 C.E., wrote a book entitled al-Ihsa al-ulum, Dictionary that the word ‘scientiis’ and ‘scientia’ are made up
meaning ‘Enumeration of Sciences’. It was translated into of sciens+entis and if we take scientiae as equivalent of
Latin partly by the famous Orientalist, Dominican Gundisalvi, scientiis, then there arises a serious flaw. Because Roger
in the mid-twelfth century C.E. and partly by another great Bacon used the word ‘scientia’ as a singular number and
Orientalist, Gerard of Cremona, who completed it in 1175 ‘scientiae’ with the plural mark of ‘ae’ as the equivalent of
C.E., both under the title: ‘De Scientiis’.24 Both of them were ulum. Threrefore, the explanation offered by Latin Dictionary
theologians and both of them must have coined the word does not satisfy the demands of objectivity.
‘scientiis’ to translate ulum, meaning ‘sciences’ obviously
from the Latin root words ‘scien + entis’. Hence, the mist A searching scrutiniser would be inclined to think that
behind the word ‘scientiae’ is cleared by this significant instead of beating about the bush and camouflaging the
historical evidence. process of borrowing, it had better directly be described as the
purposeful coining of the words scientiis by Gundisalvi and
The Stock-phrase: Experimental Sciences Gerard and scientiae by Roger Bacon, and could gratefully
The version of the Latin Dictionary that ‘science’ has been admit their debt of science to the Orient.
derived from ‘sciens + entis’ is roughly and if not literally,
Etymological Analysis of Science 23 24 Experimental Science

Moreover, if science is regarded as an equivalent of ilm science. Because, the experimental science indeed alone is the
through common indicatory meaning of sign or symbol, then modern science.
all symbolic knowledge are not the object of search and
research herein, but only a particular type of methodologically The Bengali Term Bigyan
obtained knowledge is objective here, which is designated in
The Bengali term for science is bigyan (weÁvb). It is borrowed
Arabic as tajribiyah and which Roger Bacon called, or exactly
from Sanskrit bigñanam. In Sanskrit, however, it does not
translated into Latin ‘experimentalis’, the suffix ‘is’ indicating
stand exactly for science; rather it means ‘expert knowledge’
plurality of the qualitative word ‘ulum’ meaning sciences.
of any kind; such as the knowledge of painting, grammar or
But looking at the simplicity of the language in the usage the exegesis of Veda.
of ‘science of God’ repeatedly used by the Christian priests
In Sanskrit, bigñanam does not bear even the remotest
and poets, the simple meaning of science as a sign, symbol of, resemblance to the modern concept of science. What is
or pointer to the mystery of the creation of God, suggests generally called science, was designated shastra in Sanskrit,
itself to any thinking mind. In that case, sciens, science, as in the current Bengali, shastra is loosely used to mean
scyence and sign stand as equivalent of Arabic alam, the science.25 For instance, arithmetic is called onka shastra,
signing object itself, rather than ilm, the conceptual chemistry is called rashayan shastra after Sanskrit usage.
knowledge of the object. If, therefore, we accept ‘scientiis’
and ‘scientiae’ as the translation of ilm and ulum, then the The term bigñan, to mean modern science was adopted in
term ‘science’ falls at par with alam or sign or symbol of Bengali only in the latter part of the 19th century C.E. The
thing, which is rendered as ayat in the religious vocabulary of famous Bengali writer of the time Bankim Chandra Chatterjee
Arabic. observes: “I see, you are using bigyan for science”, in one of
his work entitled Anushilan,26 at a time when ‘experimental
One may, therefore, reasonably surmise that while science’ was being adopted in English in the place of natural
translating the Hebrew Bible into Latin, the priest-transtators philosophy.
may have rendered ayat or alam into science, since the
As a matter of fact, the Hindu pundits of Calcutta, who
sentences of the Bible and the Qur’an are designated as ayat,
were adopting bigyan for experimental science were unaware
i.e. the sign, symbol or insignia of God.
of the Arabic terminology of tajribah for experiment; so that,
On the other hand, the medieval Christian scientists being they made a gross mistake in translating experimental as
repeatedly condemned by the Catholic Christians for byabaharik, which means functional, customary, applied,
introducing scientiae experimentalis or experimental sciences practical and by no means examined, scrutinized or
into Europe, they, at first, used “natural philosophy” for it and methodically tested. They had better adopted obhigyan or
latterly, by the middle of the 19th century, introduced the obhigyata27 biggyan for experimental science. Or else, it
priestly terminology of ‘science’ to mean experimental could be simply be tajribi bigyan or bigñan.
Etymological Analysis of Science 25 26 Experimental Science
Summary and Conclusion Ibid.
Ibid., p. 1644.
To sum up, despite the general belief that the term science has 8.
stemmed from Greek spirit of learning and Latin linguistic 9.
Ibid., p. 1642; and The World University Encyclopedia, Vol. 13,
usage, it was found on close scrutiny that it has evolved from pp. 4514-15.
scientiis and scientia, both were coined with the Latin root 10.
words sciens and entis = scientia (singular) and + ae sciantiae 11.
The Oxford English Dictionary, Vol. IX, Oxford, 1961, p. 221.
(plural) for translating the Arabic ulum into Latin. Yet, at the 12.
Dictionary of Portuguese and English Languages, Anthony
final stage during the 13th century C.E. Roger Bacon coined Vieyra, London, 1812, see “Science”.
the stock phrase of scientiae experimentalis for translating the The Oxford English Dictionary, 1961, Vol. ix. p. 221.
Arabic terminology of al-ulum at-tajribiyah, which was Ibid.
rendered into English as “experimental sciences” in 19th Ibid., p. 222.
century. Indeed, science in all Western languages, properly so Ibid.
called, stands for experimental science. Thus, as experimental Paul Edwards ed.: The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Collier and
science is a translation of the Arabic al-ulum at-tajribiyah, so Macmillan, U. K. 1967, Vol. 7-8, p. 339.
See above.
also, the Bengali terminology of byabaharik bigyan is a 19.
See above.
translation of experimental science. Therefore, science 20.
See above.
represents neither the Greek spirit nor Latin vocabulary, but 21.
As seen above under Ref. No. 17.
is, in fact, a direct adoption of the Arabic discipline of al- 22.
Charlton: Latin Dictionary, op., cit., pp. 1642-43.
ulum at-tajribiyah. 23.
Encyclopedia of Philosophy, op. cit. Vol. 3-4, pp. 391-92, and Vol.
1-2, pp. 240-42.
References 24.
Ralph Lerner & Muhsin Mahdi ed.: Medieval Political Thought: a
See journal of Islamic Administration, Prof. Abdun Nur ed., source book, Canada, 1963, p. 22.
Chittagong University, Vol. 1, No. l, 1995, pp. 37-48. 25.
Dr. Mohammad Enamul Haq: Bangla Academy Byabaharik
James Hastings ed.: Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, New Bangla Abhidhan, Dhaka, 1992, p. 992.
York, 1981, Vol. II, pp. 347-350: Secularism. 26.
Shree Charan Bandopadhay: Bangiya Shabdakosh, Calcutta, 1339
Zafar Hasan & C. H. Lai ed.: Ideals and Realities: Selected Essays B. S., pp. 2087-88.
of Abdus Salam, Singapore, 1984, v: Science in Islamic Countries, 27.
Ashutosh Dev: Students Favourite Dictionary: Bengali - English,
pp. 231-298, spl. 262 ff.
1972, pp. 83-84.
Abdus Salam: Notes on Science, Technology and Science
Education in the Development of the South, New Delhi, 1989, pp.
Charlton T. Lewis et al ed.: A Latin Dictionary (Founded on
Andrew’s edn. of Fround’s Latin Dictionary), Oxford, New York,
1879, pp. 1642-43.
28 Experimental Science

scientiae experientialis, an exact translation of al-ulum at-

The Encyclopedia of Philosophy states: “Bacon’s fame
until recently rested inter alia on his short section of writing
on experimental science.3 His movement for educational
reform, however, received a serious set back as the fanatical
Catholic Christian theologians of his time doubted him of
Islamic leanings and Catholic religious heresy. Consequently
Chapter Two his Opus Majus was bitterly opposed by the Catholic
Christian clergy and he was imprisoned for 14 years, so to
Philological Consideration of Science say, a life time imprisonment.4
Nevertheless, his latterly namesake Francis Bacon (1561-
The word ‘science’ is undoubtedly an English word. We have
1626) revived fresh interest in science, though in the name of
come across its currency in English literature in 1340, 1426,
‘philosophy’, and is believed to have drawn heavily from the
1601 and 1728 C.E. depicting a symbolic knowledge of
writings and wisdom of Roger Bacon. He became Lord
something as well as the threefold theological knowledge1.
Chancellor under King James I and wrote Novum Organum
But in the present usage, it has completely shed off its earlier
advocating greater role of reason, experiment and
connotation and acquired entirely the meaning and
mathematics in general education, which he defined as the
implication of Roger Bacon’s stock-phrase of scientiae
method of induction,5 pointing to Greek Aristotelian logic for
shielding it from the wroth of Catholic clergy.
It may be recalled that Roger Bacon (1214-1292 C.E.)
It was thus Francis Bacon, the grand wise man of Europe,
was an Englishman who coined the word scientiae
who broached the consideration of experimental science anew
experimentalis in Latin in his famous work Opus Majus.
in the educational arena of Europe under the veil of inductive
It was described by later authorities as “an astonishing, all methodology. As if he wanted to say that, the experimental
comprehensive encyclopedia of what was known in his time science was nothing other than the inductive science in order
concerning natural sciences”. The work was forwarded to to avoid the old controversy of the Christian chastisement of
Pope Clement in 1267 C.E. experimental science. By so doing he tended to separate
In Opus Majus, Roger Bacon “fought for a change in ‘induction’ from the ‘deduction’ in the sphere of Greek
theological education calling for more thorough grounding in syllogistic logic, which is absurd; but which has created a
scientific researches”. In this famous work, he wrote a chapter false impression amongst the modern scientists that
on experimental sciences in Arabic style and called it experimental science stemmed from inductive methodology,
Philological Consideration of Science 29 30 Experimental Science

which is equally absurd even though it seems to be still failed to understand the real import of Bacon’s contrapoise of
persisting. inferential vis-a-vis experimental knowledge. In fact, the
As a matter of fact, the debate about Roger Bacon’s dichotomy of inferential and philosophical versus
intention behind coining the terminology of scientiae observational, factual and experimental knowledge was the
experimentalis went on in the West. Encyclopedia of main plank of Francis Bacon’s wisdom. He intelligently
Philosophy states that: “The belief that experimental science countered the former and established the latter all through his
talented arguments.8 Thirdly, the idea of experiment was
was the keystone of Bacon’s reform was in part based on the
radically new to the general mood of the Western languages;
misleading evidence of Samuel Jebb’s 1733 edition of the Pus
so that, the distinction between experiment and experience
Majus.6 This curtly remark made by the contributor of the
was not probably readily understandable to the learned
article, Wolter, is based on a gross misunderstanding of the
meaning of experimentalis. He contends that by scientia
experimentalis, however, Bacon meant knowledge through The debate between theologico-philosophy and science
‘experience’ as opposed to inferential or reasoned knowledge. was long and protracted, especially in between London, Paris
“When he said that, nothing can be known with certainty and Vatican. Roger Bacon’s older contempary Robert
without experiment”, he meant experience, his use of the term Grosseteste (1168-1253 C.E.) had implanted Muslim sciences
‘experience’ was twofold. One aspect of experience is based amongst the Christians of Europe. He employed in his
on sense perception and is called human or philosophical, the arguments the methods of analysis, synthesis and
other aspect is interior and is derived from an illumination of experiments. “He developed many characteristic views that
the mind by God (Whom Bacon identified with Aristotle’s have had a profound influence on the later development of
Agent Intellect).7 both philosophy and science.9 In a recent publication,
curiously enough, A. C. Crombie regarded him as the
The above interpretation of Roger Bacon’s experimentalis originator of experimental science10. Roger Bacon (1214-
by Wolter and that of the general mood of Bacon’s learning 1292), Nicholas Copernicus (1453-1543), Johans Kepler
and wisdom, is extremely calous. Firstly, the word scientia, in (1571-1630), Francis Bacon (1561-1626) and Galelio Galeli
singular form, does not totally correspond to the plural form (1564-1642 C.E.) all came in his train with the banners of
of Roger Bacon’s terminology as scientiae. Secondly, the experimental science in Europe.
learned contributor confused the Latin word ‘experimentalis’
with the English commonplace word ‘experience’ and In those days of Crusading struggle of the European
unwittingly mixed up the subjective ideas of sense perception Christians against Islam and in view of the intimate relation of
and experience of English empirical philosophy with the ‘experimental science’ with Muslim scholarship, the Western
objective experiment or testing principle of science. Hence, he peoples were reluctant to accept it, fearing lest they should be
contaminated by Islamic infidelity! Hence in their protracted
Philological Consideration of Science 31 32 Experimental Science

and fierce struggle to plant the sappling of scientiae References

experimentalis, they may have substituted the English 1.
Derived from the concept of Tribhuvon, three stages of human life,
theologically popular terminology of ‘science’ pure and sim- that is before birth, alter birth and after death.
ple for the secular, scientifically oriented scientiae as well as 2.
Paul Edwards ed.: The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Collier &
its local rendering of ‘experimental science’, which was Macmillan, U.K. 1967, Vol. 1-2, pp. 240-242.
likewise again and again stigmatized by the Catholic clergy. 3.
So that, somewhere in the middle of the 19th century C.E., the 4.
The Oxford English Dictionary, Vol. ix, p. 221; and World
terminology of natural ‘philosophy’ that used to denote University Encyclopedia, Vol.11, pp. 528-529.
experimental science, was replaced by the terminology of 5.
Frank Thilly: A History of Philosophy, Allahabad, 1949, pp. 230-
‘science’ for untrammeled popular use. 238.
It may be noted that in Jebb’s edition Roger Bacon’s Opus Majus,
Summary and Conclusion was renamed Pus Majus or Pus Maius wherefrom Part VII was
omitted. The original work had come under scathing criticism of
Science is an English word, which was used in literary the Christain clergy, who condemned Roger Bacon, and who
parlance from 1340 to 1728 C.E. by different authors eventually succeeded in imprisoning him for 14 years. Samuel
Jebb obviously sought to exonerate him and in so doing placed
including Shakespeare. It bore a mystical connotation or a before them the meaning of experimentalis as the same as
theological implication of the knowledge of God. On the other experience. See also Joseph Laffan Morse ed. Standard. Reference
hand, Roger Bacon, an Englishman coined the term scientiae Encyclopedia, Funk and Wagnalls, New York, 1959, Vol. 3, pp.
896-897; Encyclopedia of Philosophy op.cit., Vol. 1-2, pp. 240-
experimentalis as a secular terminology for experimental 242 and Frank Thilly: A History of Philosophy, op. cit. pp. 230-
science. But on account of the hostility of the Catholic 238.
Christian clergy towards the adaptation of scienctiae 7.
Standard Reference Encyclopedia, op.cit. Vol. 3, pp. 896-897; and
experimentalis or experimental sciences, because of its being Ency. Of Philosophy op. cit., Vol. 1-2, pp. 240-242.
translation of the Arabic terminology of 8.
Frank Thilly: A History of Philosophy, op. cit. pp. 230-238.
al-ulum at-tajribiyah, its meaning continued to be expressed 9.
Ency. of Philosophy op. cit., Vol. 3-4, p. 391.
by the Greek oriented ‘natural philosophy’ down to the 10.
Ibid., See bibliography.
middle of the 19th century C.E. when it was substitued by the
theologically popular term ‘science’ to mean experimental
science. Hence experimental science alone may be regarded
as the proper implication of the word ‘science’ itself.
Thus, philologically science stands for experimental
science, which, in its turn stands for ‘scientiae
34 Experimental Science

may have impelled Roger Bacon to coin the word scientia for
ilm. The earlier English theologian’s use of science and
scyence carried exactly the meaning of ayah.
But the word ilm itself was not in currency, in pre-Islamic
Arabia, expressing the meaning of science. Before the 7th
century C.E. any discipline of learning such as art, literature,
philosophy, etc. was called fikr in Arabic, that stands for
thought. Like English ‘knowledge’ and Bengali ‘gñan’, ilm
Chapter Three was a verbal expression, meaning to know, the process of
knowing and the object of knowledge.1 It is the holy Prophet,
The Morphology of al-Ulum Muhammad (blessings and peace of Allah be on him), who
at-Tajribiyah infused the wider meaning of science into ilm. It flowed from
the spirit of the holy Qur’an.
We have seen above that science was originally scientiae
The Prophet (SAAS) pronounced: “Seeking of ilm
experimentalis being translation of al-ulum at-tajribiyah.
(knowledge) is obligatory on every faithful”.2 He asked them
Ulum is the plural of ilm and its equivalence is science. Hence
to seek knowledge (ilm) from the craddle to the grave.3 In
science stands for ilm. For instance, the science of physics is
George Sarton’s time scale of the history of science, 600 to
called al-ilm at-tab’iyah, science of astronomy is al-ilm al-
650 C.E. was the Chinese half century of Hsuan Tsang, and
falaqiyah, science of politics is al-ilm as-siyasiyah. But in
650 to 700 C.E. was the half century of I-Ching.4 The life
Arabic usage science is always pronounced in plural as ulum,
time of the holy Prophet (SAAS) as such, coincided with the
Chinese century of scientific development. No wonder, he is
Moreover, the Latin root-word sciens seems to resemble reported to have asked his followers: “Seek ilm even though
the root-word ilm, which is derived from alam. Alam means in China”.5
an indication of the nature of a thing by which it is identified
He said: “The seeker of knowledge (ilm) is on the road of
and named, a sign, a symbol, especially it implies an ayah (pl.
Allah; since his going out till his return, he is under the
ayat), that is, an insignia visible in a created or material
protection of Allah; if he dies on the way, he falls a martyr”.6
object, pointing to the creator, such as, a piece of painting art
It has been narrated from Anas (r.) that the holy Prophet
(tasvir) points to the painter (musavvir), and such as the vast
(SAAS) said: “To possess a room of learning (ilm) wherein
wilderness and the roaring waves of endless ocean, giving
people are educated is certainly better for a person than
sure and silent witness to the Supreme Creator. So, alam,
possessing a mountain of gold and spending it in the way of
ayah and sciens are apparently equivalent expressions, which
The Morphology of al-Ulum at-Tajribiyah 35 36 Experimental Science

Allah”.7 Amir al-Juhni narrated that the Prophet (SAAS) said: As a matter of fact, knowledge is ‘to know the
“The ink of the seeker of knowledge (ilm) and blood of the unknown’, which is dependent on calculation, and
martyr will be brough together on the Day of Judgment, one calculation is dependent on analysis, which is called
would not go above the other”.8 He rated learned discussion dirayah; intellectual calculation and in reality knowledge
as more valuable than the worship of Allah.9 means knowing the unknown, the observation of the natural
The concept of ilm was implanted in the holy Qur’an. The phenomena, their analysis and objective calculation and the
first bunch of the Quranic revelation of five verses, contains a discernment of their causes and consequences constitute
definite hint to the analytical methodology of knowledge on necessary steps in the process of acquiring it. Hence every
which the Word or the Message of Allah to the humanity was time one knows a thing, one’s knowledge must increase.
to be elaborated. It says: Knowledge is dynamic and continuous; increase or growth
is the sign of its process.
“Read in the name of thy Lord who Created,
Created human being from a clinging sperm, In the Qur’an, Allah taught the holy Prophet to pray: “My
Read and thy Lord is the most honored, Lord! Increase me in knowledge”.11 The holy Prophet is
Who taught writing by pen, reported to have said, that the most unhappy day to him was
Taught human being what he knew not”.10 the one in which his knowledge did not grow.

The Prophet, to whom it was revealed, was unlettered. A renowned Quranic science scholar, Malik Akbar Ali
The ‘first reading’ in the name of the Creator-Providence- points out that the term ilm has been supplemented in the
Lord (Rabb al-ladhi khalaq) was his ‘observation’ of the Qur’an with hikmah, that means, science as combined with
process of creation (and the ‘second reading’) consisted of the technology, that is, theoretical wisdom combined with
‘observation’ of the particular details in the process of practical wisdom.12 The holy Prophet compared hikmah with
creation, such as, developing a clinging sperm into a human a precious gem. He says: “Hikmah is the lost gem of the
being. It amounted to an intellectual analysis, which is the faithful, wherever it is found, it is his lost property”.13
special endowment of human being. The ‘third reading’ M. Akbar Ali analyses that ilm (science) has been referred
related to calculation by means of ‘writing’ by dint of which to in the holy Qur’an in as many as 92 verses and hikmah
the Most Honorable Creator made him (man) honored. (technology or practical wisdom) in 30 verses; of the 92
Fourthly, He taught human being the art of writing by pen and verses of ilm, 32 verses describe distinction between men
by means of writing and calculation, He taught him to know possessing ilm and men without ilm, as betwen seeing and
the unknown. In short, the Honorable Creator endowed blind.
human beings with the powers of (a) observation,
In 19 verses, it is described that all the Prophets or
(b) analysis, (c) calculation and (d) knowledge/wisdom.
Messengers of Allah were men of ilm; yet in the remaining 17
The Morphology of al-Ulum at-Tajribiyah 37 38 Experimental Science

verses, it is asserted that in reality all knowledge (ilm) belongs science and produced over 2000 scientific works or papers,
to Allah and the man has been given just a little of ilm and which were called by him kitab or book in the current Arabic
almost none about the knowledge of the soul (spirit) or time. usage. These were equivalent to our research papers or
It has been further emphasized that Allah has sent down chapters, which, depending on the simplicity or complexity of
the Qur’an laden with ilm; so that, Allah will exalt those who the experiment carried out, ranged between 4 to 100 pages,
seek and have ilm to high ranks as they can properly some even ranging to 200 pages.18
understand the examples set forth in the Qur’an.14a He advised: “The most important task of the alchemist is
A recent monomental publication on the scientific to do practical work and to carry on experiments. Without
indications in the Qur’an by a group of scientists states: practical application and experiment nothing can be achieved
“Almost one-eighth of the total number of verses in this Book in alchemy. O my son! In every field you must carry on
is devoted to science and technology”.14b experiment; so that, you may gain complete mastery.19
During the earlier part of the 9th century C.E. scientific
Impact of the Prophetic Vision on the Early Muslims studies took deeper root in Abu Ja’far Muhammad bin Musa
The above Quranic inspiration and Prophetic urge on the early al-Khwarizmi (c. 800-847 C.E.). He wrote the world famous
Muslims to seek knowledge, impelled them to dedicate their Al-Muktasar fi hisab al-jabar wa’l-mukabala, which means: a
time and opportunity in quest of learning. The fourth Caliph, brief discussion on algebra and arithmetic in the science of
Ali (may Allah exalt his face) is credited with giving the first calculation.20a It is popularly known as al-jabar wa’l-
formula of alchemy to his disciples that came to fruition mukabala and technically translated as ‘transposition and
through his great grandson Imam Ja’far Sadiq (699-765 C.E.). condensation of terms’, whence flowed the joint discipline of
His disciple Jabir ibn Hayyan (722-777 C.E.) turned the algebra and arithmetic, providing the mathematical
Magic Art of alchemy into a potent ulum or science.15 Jabir foundation of analytical sciences.
advised his students not to accept anything as true in the The word jabr is an Arabic word which means force,
sphere of scientific knowledge until and unless it is examined power, violence, fate, that is, forcing elaborate meaning on a
by one’s own hands.16 single word or letter or “reduction of fraction to integers
He was probably the first to introduce tajribah, that is, (mufrad) in arithmetic; it stands for forcing numbers into
experimental testing in the process of seeking knowledge. The letters or giving power to letter in terms of number.20b Its
Arabic word tajribah is derived from the root word jaraba – models are the abbreviated letters in the holy Qur’an.
yajribu, or jarraba which means imtihan, a practical Likewise, muqabala means confrontation, as Imam
examination, and ikhtibar, testing of information, probbing.17 Ghazzali says, “it is well-known that geometry makes the
Jabir developed it into the experimental methodology of measurement of a single object whereas arithmetic makes the
The Morphology of al-Ulum at-Tajribiyah 39 40 Experimental Science

measurement of more than one object”.21 Arithmetic is the renowned scientist. Besides Arabic, he knew well Greek,
tool of comparative measurement, which is exactly conveyed Persian and some branches of Indian languages.23 He
by the word muqabala. These two terminologies have not so produced a great many scientific works by original research.
far been traced to any earlier tradition and hence deserve to be He was regarded by Robert Grosseteste and Roger Bacon as
conceptually judged as original inventions. an authority on optics.24 Many of his works survived in Latin
translation. The total number of his books are said to be 250.25
Thus, it is quite plausible to hold that al-jabar wa’l-
muqabala was Khwarizmi’s own devise and was a splendid Al-Kindi’s great successor was Abu Nasr al-Farabi (870-
outcome of the application of the spirit of tajribah, which was 950 C.E.). He was a philosopher, scientist, mathematician,
introduced in the earlier century by Jabir ibn Hayyan. But for musician and linguist. He is credited with inventing the
the joint operation of algebra and muqabala in the field of logarithm, which is an Arabic word.26
(a) quantitative measurement of things and (b) abstract Professor Abdus Salam quotes Al-Kindi saying: “It is
formulation of concrete objects which is technically called befitting then for us not to be ashamed of acknowledging truth
hadd or tahdid, that is, the scientific measurement,22a without and to assimilate it from whatever source it comes to us. For
which the tajribi ulum or experimental sciences could not him who scales the truth, there is nothing of higher value than
have come into being. truth itself; it never cheapens nor abase him who seeks.27 “But
Once al-Jabar wa’l-muqabala was invented, the Al-Kindi’s tradition of acquiring knowledge from wherever it
‘ashariyah (decimal) for the calculation of ushar, one-tenth could be obtained, was forgotten by the 14th century C.E.”,
measure of the agricultural produce as zakat tax due to the regrets Professor Abdus Salam, “and the Muslim world of
State, khiyali nuqta (mathematical point), minus number etc. science sought no contacts with the West where sciences had
indispensable tools of science, were the natural outcome of now begun to be creative. The apathy led to isolation and
further extension of the tajribi spirit. isolation to the death of science amongst them - Muslims”.28
Al-Khwarizmi’s contemporary and co-worker, Abu Yusuf The Qur’an instils into the mental make-up of the
Ya’kub ibn Ishaq Al-Kindi (800-870 C.E.) applied Muslims an observational attitude, a reflective mood and a
mathematics on medicine and calculated a patterned relation deep contemplation. It says: “We shall show unto you Our
between stimulus and reaction in the human body and devised signs in the outer horizon and within your own selves till you
the system of prescribing mixtures and compounds in the recognize the truth”.29
science of medicine.22b He regarded mathematics as the vital Hence in between the sensual perception of material
power of science and philosophy. objects outside, and inner spiritual realization of realities
Al-Kindi was called the first philosopher of the Arabs, inside, it is the function of human intellect to exert itself and
was a translator of many Greek philosophical works and a endeavour to grasp whatever knowledge it is capable of.
The Morphology of al-Ulum at-Tajribiyah 41 42 Experimental Science

Citing the example of the scholarly activities of the Muslims About this period, Professor Abdus Salam observes: “The
in the 9th century C.E., Abul Faraj says, “These scholars golden age of science in Islam was doubtless the age around
dedicated their lives in quest of their supreme ideal of the year 1,000 C.E., the age of Ibn Sina (Avicenna), the last of
discovering the secrets of nature by proceeding gradually the medievalists, and his contemporaries, the first of the
from the known to the unknown. None of them believed in or moderns, Ibn Haitham and Al-Biruni.37 Thus, the Arabic term
accepted anything except the knowledge gained from al-ulum at-tajribiyah, was translated by Roger Bacon as
experiment (tajribah).30 Al-Kindi falls into this period, who scientiae experimentalis in Latin in the 13th century C.E. and
pronounced that without the application of mathematics was rendered into English as experimental science in the
neither philosophy nor science could attain any success.31 He middle of the 19th century C.E. and thence translated into
wrote on the classification of ilm (science), Kitab fi ma’iyat Bengali as byaboharik bigñan. The coining of the Arabic term
al-ilm wa aqsamuha (on the whatness or definition of science itself was inspired by the holy Prophet in the 7th century C.E.
and its branches32) and Kitab aqsam al-ilm al-insi (on the after the proviso of the holy Qur’an.
branches of human science).33 It is to be noticed that at the grass-root of human
Next al-Farabi (870-950 C.E.) wrote al-Ihsa al-ulum activities, the Greek philosophical tradition attached central
(enumeration of sciences) mentioned above.34 He was importance to ideas, thought, and theory and regarded sense
followed by the great scientist Ibn Sina (980-1037 C.E.) who perception and observation as commonplace. The Indian
wrote Kitab fi aqsam al-ulum al-aqaliyah (on the Arayan tradition attached supreme importance to action
classification of intellectual sciences). He is regarded (karma) since virtuous deed alone promotes the status of
universally as the real founder of the science of medicine.35 human beings, through the fateful cycle of life and death, in
the eternal world of spiritual existence.
Indeed, experimental (tajribi) methodology became so
popular about this time that the great historian-philosopher- Islam, on the other hand, attached a processual importance
moralist Ibn Miskawaih (932-1032 C.E.) wrote a book to human action. It maintains that each and every human
entitled Tajaarib al-umam, that is, experiments or practical action is invariably motivated by an intention, a free choice,
wisdom of nations, depicting therein those matters and events, the goodness or badness of which makes the action virtuous
or vicious. An action is, therefore, judged in accordance with
the likeness of which are likely to recur under similar
the intention or free will of the human agent.
circumstances as similar causes are followed by similar
effects. He drew his inferences out of a huge mass of In the Islamic perspective, therefore, it is the free
information laboriously collected by him from the lives of intention cum action of the human being that moulds his
kings and statesmen, news and views gathered about various fortune in this mundane life and his fate in the next world
countries and diverse experiences of nations.36 through eternity. Hence action is regarded as the be-all and
The Morphology of al-Ulum at-Tajribiyah 43 44 Experimental Science

end-all of human activities, the processual nature of which is the universe. Its calling attention of human being to the
of topmost importance. necessity of study and research of the ayat, the signs of the
In this respect, the Muslim scholars delineated a three Creator in the diverse phenomena of nature is purported to
digital process of: intention -> action -> experience... acquiring knowledge of them by discovering their properties
and the laws governing them; to know in point of fact, so that,
The sum total of which constitutes one unit of tajribah, an they may take lessons from them and acquire adequate
experiment, which leads to another improved process, knowledge about them,39 this curiously brings us to the
resulting into a second unit of improved tajribah or Shakespearian meaning of science, as the mystery of nature.
experiment, that processually goes on and on. Because, Allah has also said that, He has made all things in
Such a processual tajribah required a hadd, a quantitative the skies and in the earth not only knowledgeable but also
measurement, which was fixed up with tahdid or limits, such serviceable and subservient to human beings. They must,
as, length, breadth, diameter and height. For instance, the therefore, reflect, ponder, observe, examine, analyze,
tahdid of a building is: land - material - blue print - beauty; of experiment, scrutinise and find out their proper utility and
the State: people - land - ideology cum interest and use, for their own benefit. Hence, seeking knowledge is not
sovereignty. As a result, in practical matters tahdid replaced mere competitive, but also a basic necessity for them,
the usual definition of Greek philosophy and Greek logic in requiring constant endeavour.40 He cited 42 verses of the holy
the field of science. Qur’an calling for reflection on various events of history and
phenomena of nature.41
For fixing up tahdid, recourse had to be taken to the
observation of natural phenomena, which was again and again
emphasized by the holy Qur’an. While belief or dogmatic Summary and Conclusion
faith has been demanded as the most primary requirment of an To sum up, science is a technical word representing the Latin
adherent by other religions, the Qur’an attaches primacy to scientiae experimentalis coined by the Western scholars to
observation and reflection. The Quranic revelation started translate the Arabic terminology of al-ulum at-tajribiyah.
with a demand to read, observe, reflect and ponder instead of
asking to believe. Not blind faith but voluntary submission to The word ulum is a plural of ilm, which originally was a
the will of Allah is the corner stone of Islam. verbal expression in Arabic language, meaning to know
something. The Qur’an, for the first time, instilled into it the
M. Akbar Ali says: “The Qur’an repeatedly urges wider meaning of learning, in the 7th century C.E. The holy
observation and reflection, the exercise of reason and Prophet of Islam gave this newer meaning a permanent shape
understanding.38 In this regard, for example, it draws attention and the term ilm and ulum gradually acquired the meaning of
to the ayah, or ayat which means sign, symbol, indication or a science in the hands of the early Muslim scholars.
locus of significance pointing to the Creator and Sustainer of
The Morphology of al-Ulum at-Tajribiyah 45 46 Experimental Science

Moreover, encouraged by the observational attitude,

reflective mood, and deeper contemplation repeatedly References
emphasized by the holy Qur’an for constantly enhancing the Edward William Lane: An Arabic – English Lexicon, Beirut,
qualities of human knowledge, on the one hand, and 1968, p. 2140.
practically inspired by the 4th Caliph Ali (r.) and his great Mishkat al-Masabih, Kitab al-ilm, Hadith No. 207.
grand son Ja’far Sadiq, on the other, the first Muslim scientist Ibid., Hadith Nos. 193,196, 202, 203 and 211.
and the progenitor of the science of alchemy (the modern 4.
Zafar Hasan & C. H. Lai ed.: Ideals and Realities: Selected
chemistry) Jabir ibn Hayyan initiated and developed typology Essays of Abdus Salam, Singapore, 1984, p. 139; George Sarton:
of experimentation, tajribah, as a potent scientific Introduction to the History of Science, Baltimore, U.S.A 1962,
Vol. I, pp. 460 ff. and 188 ff.
methodology. He established for the first time the ulum at- 5.
Its authenticity could not be traced to the wirtten compendia of
tajribiyah in the tradition of seeking knowledge during the 8th Hadith literature; yet it is most widely publicised tradition even
century C.E. Thus, came into existence, the experimental quoted by Al-Ghazzali, see Maurice Bucaille: The Bible, The
science, the science properly so called. Qur’an and Science, p. 106. Nevertheless it is confirmed by
The second plank of science was the joint operation of 6.
Mishkat, op cit, Hadith Nos. 202, 203, 209.
algebra and arithmetic, which was devised by Al-Khwarizmi 7.
Imam Fakhr al-Din Razi: Tafsir al-Kabir, Vol. 2, p. 170.
during the 9th century C.E., which was further developed and 8.
extended to the fields of medicine, astromony and physics by 9.
Mishkat, op. cit., Hadith No. 238: on the excellence of learning
his contemporary Al-Kindi. over worship.
Finally, Al-Farabi, Ibn Miskawaih, Ibn Sina, Ibn Haytham Qur’an, 96: 1-5.
and Al-Biruni raised the studies of experimental sciences, al- Qur’an, 20:114.
ulum at-tajrabiyah to the golden height even before the M. Akbar Ali: “The Qur’an as a Source of Science”, Lectur
delivered at Baitush Sharaf Islamic Research Institute, Chittagong
Western world became adequately aware of it. The Western on 26 Sept. 1985, pp. 11-12; and his Science in the Qur’an,
scholars began translating their works into Latin as late as by Dhaka, 1976, pp. 1-17.
the middle of the 12th century C.E. 13.
Mishkat, op. cit., Hadith No. 205.
Thus, science was neither inspired by the Greek spirit nor See ft. n. 12 above.
by Roman speculation nor even by any Hellenic cultural Scientific Indications in the Holy Qur’an, Islamic Foundation
Bangladesh, Dhaka, 1990, p. xi.
tradition whatsoever, but was a gift of the Qur’an, the Prophet 15.
M. Akbar Ali: Jabir Ibn Hayyan (in Bengali) Islamic Foundation
of Islam and the early Muslim scholars.
Bangladesh, Dhaka, 1980, p. 20.
Justice Abdul Maudud: Muslim Manisha, (Bengali), Dhaka, 1970,
p. 13; and M. Akbar Ali: Jabir Ibn Hayyan, op. cit., p. 81.
The Morphology of al-Ulum at-Tajribiyah 47 48 Experimental Science
17. 31.
al-Munjad (Arabic Dictionary) Beirut, 1949, p. 82. See also George N. Atiyeh: Al-Kindi, the Philosopher of the Arabs, Islamic
Edward William Lane: Arabic English Lexicon, Beirut, 1968, Research Institute, Islamabad, Pakistan, 1966, p. 1, No. 3, and p.
Book I. p. 403. 154, No. 5.
18. 32.
See ft. n. 15 above, p. 30 ff. and p. 45. In Arabic ‘ma’ means ‘what’ and ‘ma’iyah’ means whatness; it is
19. also called the knowledge of ‘mahiyah’ which indicates the
Ibid., p. 45.
20a. knowledge gained by means of the group of the questions of
Islami Bishwakosh, Islamic Foundation, Bangladesh, Vol. 9, pp.
what, why, how and what for? This pertains to the Greek
429-32; and M. Akbar Ali: Bigyane Musalmaner Dan (Muslim
philosophical type of knowledge vis-a-vis the Quranic knowledge
Contribution to Science, in Bengali); Vol. I, Calcutta, 1943, pp.
of ‘ma-diraiyah’ which implies the deeper knowledge of
significance whence the ulum at-tajribiyah or experimental
J. Richardson: Dictionary: Persian, Arabic and English, London, science is drawn.
1806, p. 101: Al-Jabr-Algebra; p. 335: jabr - power, force, violence. 33.
See ft. n. 31 above.
The reduction of fractions to integers in arithmetic, hence aljabr -
algebra. See chapter 1 above, p. 20.
21. 35.
Al-Ghazzali: Maqasid al-Falasifa, Preface. Ralph Lerner & Muhsin Mahdi ed.: Medieval Political Thought:
Lane’s Lexicon, op. cit. Book I, p. 525: hadd “is applied by the a source book, Canada, 1963, p. 22ff.
learned to the haqiqat of a thing or that by which a thing is what it Ibn Miskawayh: Tajarib al-umam, A. Enami ed., Tehran, 1987, 2
is.” Vols., See preface.
22b. 37.
Dr. Rashidul Alam: Muslim Darshaner Bhumika (Introduction to Ideals and Realities, op. cit., pp. 264-65.
Muslim Philosophy, in Bengali), Bogra, Bangladesh, 1984, p. 38.
M. Akbar Ali: Science in the Qur’an, Dhaka, 1976, Preface, xix;
315; and Islami Bishvakosh (see ft. n. 23), Vol. 8, p. 68. and Maurice Bucaille: The Bible, the Qur’an and Science, p. 136
Islami Bishvakosh (Islamic Encyclopedia in Bengali), Islamic ff.
foundation Bangladesh, Vol. 8, 1990, p. 66. 39.
M. Akbar Ali: Science in the Qur’an, op. cit., p. 53.
Ibid., p. 67. 40.
Ibid., p. 71.
Ibid., p. 66. 41.
Ibid., p. 57.
Logarithm is an Arabic word derived from the root of laghwun,
which means superfluous; put on the measure of if‘al it takes the
form of ilgha; it means putting aside the superfluous and
retaining the substantive; hence the minus+plus process of (log-
antilog) calculation was named logharithm in arithmetic: ‫ﻟﻐﺎرﯾﺜﻢ‬
Ideals and Realities op. cit., pp. 244-45; and Islami Bishvakosh,
op. cit., Vol. 8, p. 66.
Qur’an, 53: 28.
Justice Abdul Mawdud: Muslim Manisha, op. cit., p. 13.
50 Experimental Science

In George Sarton’s scale of history, the first interregnum of

scientific knowledge began with the death of the Greek
researcher Archimedes and extended nearly nine centuries of
stark darkness till the rise of the Chinese sage Hsuan Tsang in
600 C.E. He assigns 600-650 C.E. to Hsuan Tsang and 650-700
C.E. to I-Ching.2
As regard the second interregnum M. Akbar Ali alludes to
Muslim apathy and Christian anti-pathy towards scientific
Chapter Four
research that characterized the mood and mentality of the
Epochal History of Science people of the East and West during the latterly five dark
centuries; to illustrate the idea, he cites a Quranic message
In the scheme of nature, history goes through ups and downs. contained in surah Nahl, the 66th verse which reads:
The history of science makes no exception. The well known
“Verily in the cattle there is a lesson for you. We give you
historian of science Geroge Sarton divides the history of to drink what is inside their bodies, coming from a
science into epochs of highest achievements assigning 50 conjunction between contents of the intestines and the blood,
years to the greatest scientists of the age. Summing up his a milk pure and pleasant; for those who drink it.”
meticulous analysis, Prof. Abdus Salam says, “Sarton assigns
450-400 B.C. to the Age of Plato followed by the Ages of “To understand this verse, we have to know what
Aristotle 400-350 B.C., Euclid 350-300 B.C., Archimedes chemical reactions occur in the intestine and that, from there
300-250 B.C., and so on. From 750 to 1100 C.E., however, it how substances extracted from food pass into the blood and
how the blood transports them to all the organs of the body,
is an unbroken succession of the Ages of Jabir, Khwarizmi,
among which are the milk producing mammary glands. A
Razi, Masudi, Abu’1-Wafa, Al-Biruni and Omar Khayyam. In
very minor thing in these complexities is the circulation of
those 350 years, Arabs, Turks, Afghans and Persians -
blood. How blood circulates in the body?”
chemists, algebraists, clinicians, geographers,
mathematicians, physicists and astronomers of the “It was only in the 13th century C.E. that the Muslim
commonwealth of Islam held the world stage of sciences”.1 Physician Ibn Nafis discovered the matter of circulation of
blood. But his idea was not accepted nor followed by his
As against the epochs of high achievements, there were
fellow scientists.”
also interregnums. Since the beginning of the scientific age
from the Platonic times, there appeared two interregnums of “As the Muslim theologians of the time had little contact
Dark Ages, one from 3rd century B.C. to the middle of the 7th with the matter and man of science, they were not, like the
century C.E. and the other from the 13th to 17th century C.E. Christian theologians, enthusiastic enough to enquire if his
Epochal History of Science 51 52 Experimental Science

ideas were in accordance with the injunctions of the Qur’an or circles, and other geometric figures without which it is
heretic.” humanly impossible to understand a single word of it; without
“For re-introducing the idea about 300 years after Ibn these, one wanders about a dark labyrinth”.4
Nafis, the Christian scientist Michael Servetus was declared This he did especially for minimising the antipathy of the
heretic by the Christian theologians and was burnt alive at the Catholic Christian clergy in accepting mathematics which
stake.” then revolved around Arabic numerals. Algebra, Arithmetic,
“This was, however, again introduced in the medical Arabic numerals aroused fear in the minds of the Western
science discipline by William Harvey in the 17th century C.E. Christians lest those should stigmatise their faith with Islamic
The physicians accepted it as it was proved by microscope. heresy!
The intellectual world understood the actual position of the
Scanning whatever flickering of the light still persisted in
circulation of the blood.
the 18th century, Professor Abdus Salam says:
“We find the Qur’an describing the source of the
“Seven hundred and sixty years ago, a young Scotsman
constituents of milk and also hinting at the method of its
transportation to the mammary gland from which left his native glens to travel south to Toledo in Spain. His
automatically comes the question of circulation of blood; but name was Michael, his goal to live and work at the once Arab
the Muslims failed to understand that. It was proved by non- University Toledo and Cordova, where the greatest of
Muslim scientists 900 years after the revelation of the medieval Jew scholar, Moses ben Maimoun, had taught a
Qur’an”.3 generation before.” “Michael reached Toledo in 1217 C.E.
Once in Toledo Michacl formed the special project of
Likewise Copernicus (1473-1543 C.E.) Kepler (1571- introducing Aristotle to Latin Europe translating not from the
1630 C.E.) and Galileo (1564-1642 C.E.) had to undergo original Greek, which he did not know, from the Arabic
privation, punishment and torture for long times for pleading
tradition then taught in Spain. From Toledo Michael travelled
to accept scientific theories to the West, that somehow or
to Sicily, to the Court of Emperor Frederick II.
other, did not conform to the current religious beliefs. In a
poignant case Galileo beseeched his compatriots saying: “Visiting the medical school at Salerno, which had been
given a Royal Charter by Frederick of Sicily in 1231, Michael
“Philosophy (Science as it was called in those days) is
the Scott met the Danish Physician, Henrik Harpestraeng —
written in this grand book, the universe, which stands
later to become Court Physician of King Eric IV
continually open to our gaze, but the book cannot be
Waldemasson. Henrik’s sources were the medical canons of
understood unless one first learns to comprehend the language
the great clinicians of Islam, Al-Razi and Avicenna (Ibn Sina)
and read letters in which it is composed. It is written in the
which only Michael the Scott could translate for him.”
language of mathematics, and its characters are triangles,
Epochal History of Science 53 54 Experimental Science

“Toledo and Salerno’s schools, representing as they did to assimilate it from whatever source it comes to us. For him
the synthesis of Arabic, Greek, Latin and Hebrew scholarship, who scales the truth there is nothing of higher value than truth
were some of the most memorable of international assays in itself; it never cheapens nor abases him who seeks.”
scientific collaboration. To Toledo and Salerno came scholars
“al-Kindi was right—truth is truth wherever it is
not only from the rich countries of the East, like Syria, Egypt,
discovered”. “Yet, how can I convey to you,” says Abdus
Iran, Afghanistan, but also from developing lands of the West
Salam, “the very human urge Allah has given all of us to be
like Scotland and Scandinavia.”
among those priviledged, to discover, of His design, of the
“Then as now, there were obstacles to this international prayer he has taught us to recite.”
scientific concourse, with an economic and intellectual
“Let me recall just one human moment of scientific
disparity between different parts of the world. Men like
history; the story of Hans Bethe, the Nobel Laureate in
Michael the Scott or Henrik Harpestraeng the Dane, were
Physics for 1967,” recalls Abdus Salam. “The day he
singularities. They did not represent any flourishing schools
discovered the carbon cycle which explains the secret of the
of research in their own countries. With all the best will in the
colossal energy production of stars, and for which he was
world their teachers at Toledo and Salerno doubted the
awarded the Prize, Bethe and his wife were staying in a desert
wisdom and value of training them for advanced scientific
location in New Mexico. During the starry desert night, Rose
researches. At least, one of his masters counselled Michael
Bethe recalls remarking to her husband: ‘How bright the stars
the Scott to go back, to clipping sheep and to the weaving of
in the firmament are!’ Bethe replied: ‘Do you realize, just
woollen cloth”.5
now you are standing next to the only human who knows why
Then considering the whole cycle of the brilliant they shine at all.”
performances of the Muslim scientists from 750 to 1100 C.E.
Concerning the decline of science in Islam, Professor
and their decline and ossification till after 1720 C.E.,
Abdus Salam asks:
Professor Abdus Salam comes to the 20th century West and
says: “But why did we in Islamic lands lose out? No one knows
for certain. There were indeed external causes, like the
“And this brings us to this century when the cycle begun
devastation caused by the Mongols; but grievous though it
by Michael the Scott turns full circle, and it is we in the
was, it was perhaps more in the nature of a temporary
Islamic and Arab world who turn Westwards for stimuli in
interruption. Sixty years after Ghengiz, his grandson Halagu
scientific creation.”
was founding an Observatory at Maragha. In my humble
“Eleven hundred years ago Al-Kindi wrote: ‘It is befitting view, the demise of living science within the Islamic
then for us not to be ashamed of acknowledging the truth and Commonwealth, was more due to internal causes. I shall not
Epochal History of Science 55 56 Experimental Science

analyse these here today. But to illustrate the apathy that had establishment of Sagres set up in 1419 C.E. by Prince Henry
come over us, I shall quote from Ibn Khaldun, one of greatest the Navigator.”
social historians and the brightest intellects of all times who
“And even while envying and trying to acquire the
wrote one hundred and seventy years after the jouneys
technology involved, we failed to understand the basic
Michael the Scott and Henrik the Dane had undertaken to
interrelation between science and technology. As late as 1799,
acquire knowledge from the world of Islam”.
when Selim III did introduce modern studies of algebra,
Ibn Khaldun writes in Muqaddima: “We had heard of late, trigonometry, mechanics, ballistics and metallurgy into
that in the land of the Franks and on the northern shores of the Turkey, importing French and Swedish teachers, in order to
Mediterranean, there is a great cultivation of philosophical rival the European arts of gun-founding, he failed to place
sciences. They are said to be studied there again and to be emphasis on basic scientific research in these subjects; so
taught in numerous classes existing. Systematic exposition of that, Turkey never caught up with Europe. Thirty years later,
them are said to be comprehensive, people who know them, Muhammad Ali in Egypt had his men trained in the arts of
numerous and the students of them very many... Allah knows surveying and prospecting for coal and gold mines, but it did
better, what exists there, but it is clear that the problems of not strike him or his successors to train Egyptians long-term
physics are of no importance for us in our religious affairs. in the basic sciences of geology. And even today, when we
Therefore, we must leave them alone.” have come to recognize that technology is the sustenance and
“Ibn Khaldun displays no curiosity, no wistfulness, just the Power, we have not appreciated that there are no short
apathy bordering almost on hostility. This apathy led to cuts to it; that basic science and its creation must become part
isolation, tradition of Al-Kindi, of acquiring knowledge from of our civilization, as a precondition of a mastery of sciences
wherever could be obtained, was forgotten; the Muslim world in application.”
of science sought no contacts with West where sciences had
“If one was being Machiavellian, one might discern in the
now begun to be created. Five centuries before, Muslims had
slogan ‘Technology without Science’ sinister motives among
avidly sought knowledge, from the Hellenic and Nestorian
those who have sold us this idea. To underline this, let me
colonies of scholars at Jundishapur and Harran, where
give just one quotation from a recent issue of the prestigious
translations were made from Greek and Syriac. They had
London Economist of 27 September, 1980; writing on the
founded in Baghdad, Cairo and elsewhere, international
cherished mastery of solar energy: ‘If solar energy is to
institutes of advanced study— Bait-ul-Hikmas — and
provide the solution to the world’s fuel crisis, that solution
international Observatories — Shamsiyyas —congregating at
will not emerge from low-technology roof-top radiators —
these international concourses of scientists from all lands.
(which) rely on 19th century (science). A breakthrough (will)
Such concourses had begun to be assembled, scientifically
come from applying quantum physics, biochemistry or other
developed and sedulously cultivated starting with the research
Epochal History of Science 57 58 Experimental Science

sciences of the Twentieth Century. Today’s technology-based the authorities in question, on their own initiative and without
industries all depend on new science”.6 reference to authentic Scriptures.”
Thus, for good or for bad, science and technology, that is, “We already know the measures taken against those who
ilm wa hikmah, have been fighting shy with us and has at long sought to enlarge science, measures which often made
last been transferred substantively from our lands to the West. scientists go into exile to avoid being burnt at the stake, unless
Their saplings are vigorously thriving in Japan, China, India they recanted, changed their attitude and begged for pardon.7
and in many other non-Muslim environments. The case of Galileo is always cited in this context: he was
tried for having resumed the discoveries made by Copernicus
By Allah! What can we do to take it back from their
on the rotation of the earth. Galileo was condemned as the
bossom to our lap, we must ponder and do or die to reown
result of a mistaken interpretation of the Bible, since not a
them again and to make them thrivingly prosper in our midst.
single scripture could reasonably be brought against him.”
Other Side of the Medal “In the case of religious scripture of Islam, the attitude
towards science was, generally speaking, quite different.
Nevertheless, the analytical attitude, scientific methodology,
Nothing could be clearer than the famous Hadith which says
elaborate search for knowledge, devoted research for
that the search for knowledge is a strict duty for every Muslim
discovering the truth, dedicated spirit and constant endeavour
man and woman. As we shall see further on in this section,
generated in the Muslim minds by the Quranic message and
another crucial fact is that the Qur’an, while inviting us to
the Messenger of Allah, carried the Muslim society once a
cultivate science, itself contains many observations on natural
long way along the road of social progress and intellectual
phenomena and includes explanatory details which are seen to
be in total agreement with modern scientific data. There is no
A profound scholar of science and religion of our time, equal to this in the Judeo-Christian Revelation.”
Maurice Bucaille, pronounces his sober judgment on the
“It would nevertheless be wrong to imagine that, in the
progress of science in the East and the West under the impact history of Islam, certain believers had never harboured a
of two monotheistic religions: Christianity and Islam thus: different attitude towards science. It is a fact that, at certain
“The relationship between religions and science has not period, the obligation to educate oneself and others was rather
always been the same in any one place or time. It is a fact neglected. It is equally true that in the Muslim world as
that, there is no writing belonging to a monotheistic religion elsewhere, an attempt was sometimes made to stop scientific
that condemns science. In practice, however, it must be development.”
admitted that scientists have had great difficulties with the “All the same, it will be remembered that at the height of
religious authorities of certain creeds. For many centuries, in Islam, between the Eighth and Twelfth centuries C.E., i.e. at a
the Christian world, scientific development was opposed by time when restrictions on scientific development were in force
Epochal History of Science 59 60 Experimental Science

in the Christian world, a very large number of studies and It is said that when there was no science of medicine,
discoveries were being made at Islamic Universities. It was Hipocrates brought it into existence; when it died out, Galen
there that the remarkable cultural resources of the time were revived it; when it became chaotic and anomalous, Al-Razi
to be found. The Calif’s library at Cordova contained reorganized and re-integrated it and when it still lay
4,00,000 volumes.” incomplete and unwholesome, Ibn Sina completed and
“Averroes (Ibn Rushd) was teaching there, and Greek, perfected it. He revolutionized the study of medical science
Indian and Persian sciences were taught. This is why scholars and kept the East and West spell-bound for more than half a
from all over Europe went to study at Cordova, just as today millennium. To cite a single instance, his monumental work,
people go to the United States to perfect their studies.” al-Qanun (The Canon) replaced the works of Galen, Al-Razi
“A very great number of ancient manuscripts have come and Ali ibn Abbas and was pursued as the single basic text for
down to us thanks to cultivated Arabs who acted as the teaching medical science for the next six hundred years (13th-
vehicle for the culture of conquered countries.” 17th century C.E.) in Europe, Asia and Africa alike.10

“We are also greatly indebted to Arabic culture for In logic, philosophy, psychology and medicine, he was a
mathematics (Algebra was an Arabic invention), astronomy, millenial trend-setter for the entire mankind.
physics (optics), geology, botany, medicine (Avicenna) etc. Yet, his thoughts were more evolutionary, integrative and
For the very first time, science took on an international synthetic than revolutionary or radical. In him classical
character in the Islamic Universities of the Middle Ages. At creative thinking — Greek, Indian and Persian, all alike found
this time, men were more steeped in the religious spirit than
a wider fulfillment. In the field of sciences, he endeavoured to
are today; but in the Islamic world, this did not prevent them
unify Greek speculation with Chinese and Muslim
from being both believers and scientists. Science was the twin
experimental methodology. Thus, he brought into full fruition
of religion and it should never have caused to be so”.8
the entire creative genius of the classical and medieval ages.

Three Great Luminaries of Middle Ages To quote Professor Abdus Salam: “Ibn al-Haytham (Al-
Hazen, 965-1039 C.E.) was one of the greatest physicists of
Professor Abdus Salam has mentioned three great
all times. He made experimental contributions of the highest
personalities in the history of scientific development during
order in optics”. “He enunciated that a ray of light, in passing
the Middle Ages.9 Amongst them Ibn Sina was undoubtedly
through a medium, takes the path which is the easier and
quicker. In this he was anticipating Fermat’s Principle of
Ibn Sina (980-1037 C.E.) was a unique luminary in the Least Time by many centuries.”
entire intellectual history of mankind. In the fields of
philosophy, science and medicine his contributions were “He enunciated the Law of Inertia, later to become
amazing, marvellous and wonderful. Newton’s First Law of Motion, and described the process of
Epochal History of Science 61 62 Experimental Science

Refraction in mechanical terms by considering the movement shared, for another two hundred and fifty years, with names of
of particle of light as they passed through the surface of Ibn Rushd, Nasir-ud-Din Tusi, and Ibn Nafis the man who
separation of two media, in accordance with the rectangle law anticipated Harvey’s theory of circulation of blood.”
of forces, an approach later rediscovered and elaborated by
“After 1350 C.E. however, the Islamic world loses out
except for the very occasional flash of scientific brilliance,
His influence on the Western experimental science was like that of the Court of Ulugh Beg, the grandson of Emir
pervading. Roger Bacon’s monumental work, Opus Majus’s Timur in Samarkand, in 1437 C.E.; with Emir Ulugh Beg
Part V, is practically a copy of Ibn al-Haytham’s Optics.12 He himself participating equally with his astronomers in
along with his contemporary Al-Biruni were the trend-setters scientific debate and sharing in the excitement of discovery”.
of modern experimentalism in sciences, specially in physics
“And finally, there is the compilation of Zijj Muhammad
and astronomy.
Shahi at the Court of the Mughal Emperor of Delhi in 1720,
Al-Biruni (973-1048 C.E.) worked in India and which corrected the European Tables of that day by as much
Afghanistan. He was an empirical scientist like Ibn al- as six minutes of arc. But these contributions notwithstanding,
Haytham, both “as modern and as unmedieval in outlook”, the main scientific tradition was no longer alive and vigorous;
says Professor Abdus Salam, “as Galileo, six centuries later, long long before, it had turned inwards and ossified”.14
with whom he shares the independent (prior) discovery of the
so-called Galilean Invariance of the Laws of Nature, the Summary and Conclusion
liberating statement that the same laws of physics apply here
In the epochal analysis of Sarton, from 750 to 1100 C.E. the
on earth and on the starry-orbs in the heaven.13
Muslim scientists held the world stage of sciences in an
Indeed, it was not merely the sychophantic imitativeness unbroken chain. In Akbar Ali’s view, the decline of science in
or brilliant studentship of the Greek learning, but superb the Muslim world from the 13th century C.E. onwards was due
mastery and splendid contribution to different fields of to Muslim apathy towards scientific discoveries as discernible
experimental sciences that made possible the shining in the case of Ibn Nafis’s discovery of the Circulation of
splendour that was Islam in the Middle Ages and the dazzling Blood. Professor Abdus Salam points out that after
scientific civilization of the modern times. preparation of Muhammad Shahi Zijj at the Mughal Court of
Delhi in 1720 C.E. scientific activities of the Muslims ceased
The Last Flicker pulsating: apathy led them to isolation which resulted in
“After 1100 C.E. in George Sarton’s story of science” says ossification or death.
Professor Abdus Salam, “appear the first Western names: Professor Abdus Salam deciphers from the epochal
Gerard of Cremona, Roger Bacon; but the honours are still history of the development of scientific studies, a cyclic or
Epochal History of Science 63 64 Experimental Science

circular activism of the rising nations. The early Muslims Maurris Bucaille: The Bible, the Qur’an and Science, pp. 106, 107.
started at the 8th century C.E. by learning from the Greek and Ideals and Realities, op. cit. pp. 264 - 65.
Indian traditions and rose to great heights in the 11th, 12th and 10.
Islami Bishvakosh, (Islamic Encyclopedia, in Bengali), Islamic
13th centuries. Likewise the Western students, such as, Foundation Bangladesh, Vol. 4, pp. 195 - 205.
Michael Scott and Henrik the Dane started learning from the Ideals and Realities, op. cit., pp. 264 - 65.
Muslim Universities in the 13th century C.E. and the Western 12.
scientific development has come round a full circle at the Ibid.
present time. The Muslims can well start anew once again by Ibid., pp. 243-44.
rectifying their grand mistake of wooing high technology
without basic science, since both go hand in hand inseparably

Zafar Hasan & C.H.Lai ed.: Ideals and Realities: Selected Essays
of Abdus Salam, Singapore, 1984, p. 263 and 243.
Cf. George Sarton: Introduction to the History of Science,
Baltimore, U. S. A, 1962, Vol. I, p. 38 et seq.
M. Akbar Ali: “The Qur’an as a Source of Science”, Lecture
delivered at Baitush Sharaf, Chittagong, on 26 Sept. 1985, p. 12,
and Bigñane Musalmaner Daan (in Bengali) Vol. 7, Dhaka, 1974,
pp. 258-59.
Richard H. Popkin: The Philosophy of 16th and 17th Centuries,
1966, p. 65.
Ideals and Realities, op. cit., pp. 138 - 39.
Ibid., pp. 244 - 46.
‘Burning on the Stake’ was a medieval Catholic Christian clerical
device of punishing allegedly dangerous heretics under the
sentence of the Church wherein person so condemned was hung on
a pole and then burnt alive by putting fire and wood and all his
belongings beneath. Hundreds and thousands of dissidents were
said to be killed during the Middle Ages by this cruel means.
66 Experimental Science

13th century C.E.2 In fact, some Western scholars made

strenuous attempts during the Middle Ages to break through
the darkness of Western scholasticism by means of cultivating
experimental sciences. One early inspired soul of this
category was Evak Raymond, who played a key role in
transmitting Muslim sciences to the Christians of Europe.

Raymond’s Initiative
In between 1130 to 1150 C.E., Evak Raymond of Spain set up
Chapter Five a Translation Society for translating the works of Ibn Sina
from Arabic into Castilian branch of Spanish tongue. Once
Transmission of Science from East started, translation of diverse works continued therein till the
to West middle of the thirteenth century C.E. To begin with,
translations were made from Arabic to Castilian; but later on
Since long the Western scholars have persistently these were retranslated into Latin, in which Johannes
endeavoured to build up a false notion that science originated Hispalensis played an important role.3
from Greece, the spirit of which was revived in the About the same time we meet Dominican Gundisalvi and
Renaissance of the Western Europe. In their books of the Gerard of Cremona translating Al-Farabi’s al-Ihsa al-ulum
history of science, they usually take a broad leap from the into Latin as De Scientiis.4
ancient Greeks to the post Renaissance modern Europe. They A renowned historian of Western philosophy, Frank
jump over the 350 years period of the origin and development Thilly says that about this period a new world began to open
of al-ulum at-tajribiyah, scientiae experimentalis, that is, the up to Western Christendom as the Greek works on
age of experimental sciences from 750 to 1100 C.E. in which mathematics, astronomy and medicine, Aristotle’s writings
the great Muslim scientists held the world sway. This is in and their commentaries written by Alexander of Aphrodisias,
spite of the fact that, in his monumental and voluminous Themistius as well as by the most celebrated Arbian and
history of science, Geroge Sarton divided this period into 7 Jewish philosophers and commentators of Aristotle, were
fifty-yearly Ages, and assigned each Age to one Muslim becoming known in Latin translations from Arabian texts.5
Thilly Further adds: “Around the year 1150 John
Moreover, the Western scholars nowhere explained the Avendeath and Dominican Gundisalvi translated the chief
fact that, the Greek scholars were philosophers and dealt with works of Aristotle and Jewish and Arabic books from the
inferential knowledge and have had no notion of the Arabian into Latin. Nearly all the works of Aristotle, in such
experimental sciences as pointed out by Roger Bacon in the translations, became known during the years 1210 to 1225”.6
Transmission of Science from East to West 67 68 Experimental Science

“These books were eagerly studied and at first interpreted, indeed a very important personality, the progenitor of English
after the Arabic fashion in the spirit of Neoplatonism”.7 scientific tradition, was one of the early Chancellors of the
“Translations from the original Greek version of the chief Oxford University, the first lecturer of the Oxford Franciscan
works of the great Peripatetic (Aristotle) were made later in and was the Bishop of the largest diocene of England.”
the (13th) century and the genuine Aristotle came in time to be “As teacher, commentator and translator, he took an
distinguished from the Neoplatonic counterfeit of the active part in this movement.”
“Basically Augustinian in outlook and relying heavily on
In the scale of Sarton, in the Western stages of science, the standard authors, he was nevertheless deeply influenced by
there appeared since the 12th century Gerard of Cremona, Muslim learning, especially Avicenna (Ibn Sina) and the
Roger Bacon and Jacob of Anatoli.9 Yet, Gerard was under astronomers; by the Jew Avicebron; and by the newly found
the influence of Al-Farabi, whereas during Roger’s time Ibn Aristotelian works”.11
Sina (980-1037 C.E.) held the sway over Europe. In this “Strongly influenced by Avicenna, he held that man may
respect, Michael Scott had translated a number of books of acquire knowledge by virtue of the intellect alone without
Ibn Sina. “Since the last part of the 12th century C.E. the recourse to sense”.12
thoughts of Ibn Sina were being openly accepted in the West
and during the 13th century C.E. his influence reached the “He held that Aristotle and others who firmly knew by
acme,” comments Encyclopedia of Islam. “At this period, a discursive reasoning that eternity was simple, but saw it under
greater part of the books of philosophy were based on the the phantasm of temporal existence, have affirmed many
improper things such as the perpetuity of time and motion,
philosophy of Ibn Sina”.10
and consequently, the eternity of the world”.13
Even Roger Bacon’s writings were mostly under the
It is interesting to note that this last abnegatory view is
model of Ibn Sina and those who criticized him, also took
obviously derived from the First Philosophy of Al-Kindi, who
some of his opinions. All were full of admiration of his
held that any ‘thing’ cannot be the cause of itself, nor can it
comperhensive knowledge and thought. Roger was, however,
be infinite, nor can it be unique. He argued that if these three
preceded by Robert Grosseteste (1168-1253 C.E.), about
propositions are accepted, then it stands proved that Allah is
whom the Encyclopedia of Philosophy says: “Grosseteste
the sole Creator of the universe and He alone is eternal. Thus,
lived at a crucial period in intellectual history: the scientific
he endeavoured to refute the Greek concept of the eternity of
and philosophical writings of the Muslims were just becoming
the world.14
known in Latin Europe and the works of the Hellenistic
writers and the recently rediscovered works of Aristotle were Nevertheless, the chief agent of introducing experimental
being translated, disseminated and lectured upon. He was sciences to the West, as we have noticed above, was Roger
Transmission of Science from East to West 69 70 Experimental Science

Bacon (1214 -1292 C.E.). He has been described by Frank C.E.) studied philosophy, methematics, medicine, and
Thilly as “a curious mixture of the medieval and modern theology at the Universities of Padua and Bologna (which
scholar” and as the most original and independent figure were set up after Arabic model) and entered the Order of the
amongst those who cultivated mathematical and physical Dominicans in 1222 C.E. He became renowned as a teacher
sciences in England during the 13th century C.E.15 Thilly of philosophy at Paris and Cologne and became known as
says: “Roger, who was a Franciscan monk and received his Albert the Great. Besides his work on Aristotle, he wrote two
training at Oxford and Paris, devoted himself especially to the books on theology and philosophy of Al-Ghazzali and Ibn
study of mathematics, which he regarded as the foundation of Rushd entitled: Summa theologica and De unitate intellectus
all scientific study and in which he included arithmetic, contra Averroen, in which he contrasted the philosophy of
geometry, astronomy and music, and the physical sciences Ghazzali and Ibn Rushd.19 Thilly comments: “Albert was the
among which he enumerates perspective, judiciary and first Doctor of the Church to offer a scholastic system based
operative astronomy, alchemy, agriculture (plants and on Aristotle’s philosophy. Arabian influences, however, are
animals), medicine, astrology, and magic. He also regarded clearly discernible in his work.”
the study of languages: Greek, Hebrew, Arabic and Chaldean,
“In discussing problems having theological bearing, he
as indispensable to theology and philosophy. Metaphysics is
also followed the Guide for the Errant of Moses Maimonides
the science of first principles. Roger recorded his thoughts in
(1135-1204 C.E.),20 the greatest Jewish philosopher of the
an encyclopedic work, the Opus Majus”.16
Middle Ages who taught at the University of Toledo in Spain.
Other sources mention that at one time he became
“He showed a keen interest in natural scientific studies and
renowned as Doctor Mirabilis and was made Regent Master
has often been called the precursor of Roger Bacon in this
about 1237 C.E. But in 1257 C.E. when the Italian scholastic
philosopher Bonaventura became General of the Franciscan
Order, Bacon was removed from Oxford and for 10 years he “Albert is noted for the breadth rather than for the depth
was confined in a religious establishment at Paris without the of his learning, being inferior to his great pupil, Thomas of
use of writing materials, books and instruments. Later on he Aquin, in critical acumen and speculative grasp.21
was released by Pope Foulques,17 though, as we have noticed His older contemporary Alexander of Hales (d. 1245
above, he remained imprisoned for 14 years.18 C.E.) also displays considerable acquaintance with the Arabic
philosophy and sciences. He included in his Summa universoe
A Counter View of Islamic Learning theologiae, along with Plato and Aristotle, Alfarabi, Avicenna
In course of Westerners’ search after higher learning, the and Algazee22 (Al-Ghazzali). Thomas Aquinas was deeply
thirteen century C.E. opened up a flood-gate of Muslim influenced by Al-Ghazzali, especially in the fields of religion
influence. For instance, one Albert of Bollstadt (1193-1280 and ethics.
Transmission of Science from East to West 71 72 Experimental Science

Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225-1274 C.E.) was the greatest of therefore, has its basis in sense perception, in experience and
the Christian religious thinkers of the medieval times. He was we can know only what we experience”.27
born near Naples, joined at an early age the Order of the
It indicates that neither the word ‘science’ came into use
Dominicans. He studied at Paris and Cologne, where he
in his time nor the word scientia came to be combined with
became the pupil of Albert the Great. He is credited with
experimentalis, which was done by his contemporary Roger
building up the greatest Catholic system of thought that has
ever been offered. He was called by his contemporaries
Doctor Angelicus (the angelic doctor) and was cononized as a Later on Al-Gazzali’s influence almost overwhelmed
Saint by Pope John XXII in 1323 C.E.23 Blaise Pascal (1623-1662 C.E.), a gifted mathematician and
physicist. He says: “Reason, therefore, ends in doubt and
His teacher Albert maintained that philosophical subjects
leaves us in the lurch when it comes to our deepest interest.
should be treated philosophically and theological subjects
But in religious feeling we directly experience God and find
theologically.24 This dichotomic concept of his teacher seems
to have imprinted deep into his mind. Thomas ingeniusly peace: the heart has its reasons, which reason does not
synthesized the philosophy of Aristotle, the theology of Saint know”.28
Augustine and the religious attitude of Al-Ghazzali, keeping Ibn Rushd (1126-1198 C.E.) was one of the greatest
the two disciples in question completely separate.25 commentators of Aristotle. He was as great as a natural
The author of Pugio fidei, Ramon Martin is considered the scientist as he was as a rational philosopher. His numerous
first to import the ideas of Al-Ghazzali into Europe. It exerted works are distributed almost equally to both fields. Basically,
deep influence on Thomas Aquinas. he was a physicist, zoologist, physican and astronomer though
he became popularly more well-known as jurist, theologian
Following Albert, in his distinction between reason and and philosopher”.29
faith, Thomas held that philosophy passes from facts to God,
theology from God to facts.26 In the Western world he became renowned as Averroes
and gained so much popularity as the commentator of
In his monumental work, Summa theologicae, he followed
Aristotle that the Aristotelians split into two parties, some
Al-Gazzali’s Yahya Ulum al-Din (Revivification of the
following Averroes, others Alexander of Aphrodisias in the
sciences of religion) so closely that, some Orientalist
interpreatation of the Peripatetic system.
remarked: had Yahya been translated at the time of the
publication of the Summa, people would have cried “A school of Averroists existed in Northern Italy (Padua)
plagiarism. largely composed of physicians and natural scientists, who
interpreted Aristotle in the Averroistic sense”.30
It is interesting to notice that he referred to science as
scientia saying that, “Genuine knowledge or scientia,
Transmission of Science from East to West 73 74 Experimental Science

Renan and Sarton listed his 67 works: 28 on philosophy, acquired useful lessons from Muslim sciences especially
20 on medicine, 8 on law, 5 on religion, 4 on astronomy, 2 on during the 13th century and afterwards. The transmission of
grammar 2 on physics. Besides, he also wrote on zoology. Muslim sciences to the West by means of Latin translation of
Thus, his works on sciences were no less in numbers than Arabic texts as well as their writings about Greek
those on philosophy. Yet, since his time was the age of philosophers and various other writings of Muslim
philosophy, he became renowned as a philosopher. philosopher-scientists, was, thus, most usually, normally and
Nonetheless, many of his works on sciences were smoothly accomphisbed by most competent scholars of the
translated into Latin and Hebrew languages. His commentary time and eagerly accepted as well as assimilated into the
on Aristotle was translated into Latin, first time in 1210 C.E.; metric of the Western culture and civilization.
thereafter newer translations were brought out in 1220 and
1240 and Hebrew translations were published in 1232, 1240,
Summary and Conclusion
1260 and 1314. In 1277, the Bishop of Paris stigmatised it for To sum up, the Western scholars are found since 1130 to 1533
allegedly 291 serious blunders. C.E. to make strenuous attempt to break through the stark
intellectual darkness of European scholasticism by translating
His comprehensive and encyclopedic work on medicine,
philosophical and scientific works of the classical Greek
Kulliyat was translated into Latin by Bonacosa of Padua in
philosophers and Muslim scholars from Arabic to Latin. In
1255. Another Latin translation of it was published in 1482 and
this process, the Western scholars became acquainted with the
its further translations were published along with the translation
writings of the great Muslim scientists, such as Al-
of his other works in 1490, 1496, 1497, 1514, 1530, 1531 and
Khwarizmi, Al-Kindi, Al-Farabi, Ibn Sina, Al-Razi and Ibn
1533 C.E.
Rushd and gradually acquired the knowledge of the newly
Ibn Rushd had produced an abridged version of Ibn Sina’s invented experimental sciences of the Muslims.
Urjuza (poetic description of deseases and medicines) which In this respect Evak Raymond, Johannes Hispalensis,
was translated by Herman of Germany into Latin in 1250 C.E. Gundisalvi, Gerard, John Avendeath of the 12th century, Robert
Another Latin translation of it was published from Begiers(?) Grosseteste, Roger Bacon, Jacob Anatoli, Michael Scott of the
in 1262 and a further translation in Latin in 1280 C.E. 13th century and Albert the Great, Thomas Aquinas, Alexander
His other works on medicine were translated into Latin by Hales, Ramon Martin, Blaise Pascal and many others played a
Michael Scott, William de Lunisi(?), Andreas Alpagus and crucial role as translators, promoters and adopters of the
Alfonso of Toledo.31 Muslim scientific tradition from the East and transmitting the
same to the West.
Thus, the Western world experienced the full flow of the
scientific and philosophical development of the Muslims from For centuries together it was indeed a one-way traffic, since
the time of Al-Kindi to that of Ibn Rushd and eagerly the Muslims had to offer their own learning having practically
Transmission of Science from East to West 75 76 Experimental Science

nothing to receive back from the West in return. The modern See Chapter 2 above.
Western science has, therefore, been a freely contributed gift Thilly: A History of Philosophy, op. cit., p. 171.
of the devoted Muslim scholarship that deserves grateful Ibid.
recognition in the history of the Western civilization. History Ibid., pp. 171-72.
awards it, conscience demands it and justice establishes its Ibid., p. 172.
right beyond any shadow of doubt. 23.
Islami Bishvakosh, op-cit., Vol. 10, p. 361.
References Thilly: A History of Philosophy, op. cit. p. 173.
George Sarton: Introduction to the History of Science, Baltimore, Thilly: A History of Philosophy, op. cit., p. 174.
1962, Vol.1, p. 38 et seq. Ibid., p. 263 and Islami Bishvakosh, op. cit., Vol. 10, p. 361.
2. 29.
See Chapter 2 above. Ibid., Vol. 4, pp. 146-163.
3. 30.
Islami Bishvakosh (Islamic Encyclopedia, in Bengali) Islamic Thilly: A History, op. cit. p. 209.
Foundation Bangladesh, Dhaka, Vol. 4, p. 203. 31.
Islami Bishvakosh, op. cit. Vol. 4, pp. 149-50.
See Chapter 1 above.
Frank Thilly: A History of Philosophy, Allahabad, 1949, pp. 162-63.
Ibid., The observation: “after the Arabic fashion in the spirit of Neo-
Platonism” is cryptic, simpleton and ignoramus, which will be
analyzed at the concluding chapter.
Ideals and Realities, op. cit., p. 139, and Sarton, op. cit. Vol. II.
Islami Bishvakosh, op. cit., Vol. 4, p. 203.
This has been expounded by Ibn Sina in his Hayy ibn Yaqzan.
Ency. of Philosophy, Paul Edwards ed.: Vol. 3-4, p. 391.
George N. Atiyeh: Al-Kindi, The Philosopher of the Arabs,
Islamabad, p. 56.
Frank Thilly: A History of Philosophy, p. 185.
Encyclopedia of Philosophy, op. cit., Vol. 1-2, p. 240, para 1-2, and
Bibliography; and Joseph Laffan Morse ed.: Standard Reference
Encyclopedia, New York, 1959, Vol. 3, pp. 896-97.
78 Experimental Science

nomenclature. The first human couple, Adam and Eve, knew

all things by their names, which they were able to assign to
Adam was able to discern everything by the sign, insignia,
science (alam) of nomenclature taught him by Allah. But the
angels were not able to do the same. Consequently, in a face
to face competition in naming things, the angels failed and
Adam came out successful.3
Chapter Six
As a practical evidence (burhan) and experimental
Science of Definition and Definition (tajribi) proof of it, we find the progeny of Adam and Eve
invariably able to discern the quality, quantity and the
of Science distinguishing mark of every thing, sign, insignia, alam, big
or small, and thereby give it a proper name, ism, asma‘a. Our
Science of Definition language, by which we communicate our ideas to one another,
We ordinarily know a thing by its name and know it well by is basically made up of such nomenclature.
its definition. The human beings, however, did not achieve The ability of human beings to fix up names and
this state of knowledge all on a sudden. It took them communicate ideas by means of names through the language
thousands of years of travel through trial and error, thinking, of well-formed words and sentences, are their special traits.
rethinking and constant contemplation and repeated This ability to identify things by names and communicate it to
experience, to reach from simple call-names to the complex one another by means of words, is practically found to be a
process of definition. unique speciality of human beings. The Qur’an says that
The oldest positive evidence on the cultural traits of Allah taught man the excellence of expression (bayan).4
human beings are the religious Scriptures, such as, the Veda, Thus, undoubtedly, the science of naming things properly
the Upanisada, the Avesta, the Bible and the Qur’an, These (fasahat) and the science (ilm) of wholesome expression
sources generally agree that the first science the human beings (balaghat) are the ancestral heritage of human beings.
learnt since their creation was the science of names.1 Therefore, it is reasonable to hold that as the progeny of
The latest of them, the holy Qur’an is explicit on the Adam and Eve, human beings are naturally endowed with the
point. It says that the Supreme Creator of the universe and sciences of nomenclature and linguistic expression.
mankind, Allah, taught the first man, Adam, the science of the
names of all things (asma’a kullaha),2 that is, the science of
Science of Definition and Definition of Science 79 80 Experimental Science

Knowledge by Measurement all human knowledge with the one gained through concepts
and since the Aagam Shastra held the second category of
As we see from practical experience, human knowledge
knowledge, as that of definition and the third category of
begins with measurement and measurements are generally
made by us by means of a mental calculation of quantity, knowledge, that of truth, haqiqat, as meta-folk knowledge,
that is, beyond the reach of ordinary human beings, being the
quality and identity mark or differentia of things.
knowledge of the Truth.
In the oldest human cultural tradition of the Veda and
Vedanta philosophy-based Aagam Shastra, composed by On the basis of the Socratic dictum that knowledge is
Gaudapada-charjya around 600 C.E. this process of conceptual, his disciple Plato divided knowledge into
identifying things was called sangya (msÁv).5 Again in the universals and particulars.9b Thereafter Plato’s disciple
Aristotle devised inductive and deductive logic on the same
Arabic usage it is called ta‘rif 6 and in the Western tradition it
basis and invented the world renowned methodology of
is called definition.7
syllogism10, a veritable science of definition.
Aagam Shastra classifies the knowledge gñana (Ávb)
By means of syllogism, Aristotle (384-322 B. C.) brought
gained through the process of naming things into three
categories, all known sciences of the world within the purview of its
(a) folk knowledge (laukik gñana) in which both the thing and three arms viz.: major, minor and consequence of syllogism,
the definition are present before the knower; (b) purified or that produced universally acceptable definition of all things.11
percolated folk knowledge (shuddha laukik gñana), in which Since then definition became an indispensable means of
the definition alone is present; (c) metafolk knowledge scholarship all through the world. In medieval times, he was
(lokottar gñana) in which neither the thing nor the definition popularly called the First Teacher of the world.
is present, in which the thing, the knower and the known In the same trend of human thoughts, we are naturally
become merged into the truth.8 prone to ask: What is the definition of science(?) as a
In simple language, the first category of knowing and by prerequisite to our proper understanding of it.
implication ‘knowledge’ is the sense perception, the second is
the knowledge based on concepts and the third, stands for the Definition of Science
knowledge of the reality, haqiqat, haqaiq (pl.). It is obvious that to know a thing properly, logically, and
We may recall that around 400 B.C. the Greek sage comprehensively, a well formulated definition is required.
Socrates pronounced the dictum: “knowledge is Yet, fantastically enough, the modern scientists fight shy of a
conceptual”.9a It coincides with the second category of definition and say ‘good-bye’ to the definition of science.
knowledge i.e. percolated folk knowledge of Aagam Shastra. For one instance, in an article published in 1967, by an
In spirit, both are exactly the same; since Socrates identified American scientist, John Woodburn, entitled, “Science
Science of Definition and Definition of Science 81 82 Experimental Science

Defined versus Indefinable: a Personal Attempt to Define Turning back to near about a century earlier, we find in
Science”, contends that science is an “accumulated and the Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics (1927 C.E.) a
systematized learning” characterized not only by an relatively serious attempt to define science. It says:
accumulation of facts, but also by the “emergence of scientific
“Science is a system of knowledge defined partly by its
method and of scientific attitude free from any trait of
subject-matter or more of objective facts, but mainly by the
dogmaticness, but dedicated to the constant striving for
objectivity to discover truth about nature.12 methods by which its data are reached and by the extent to
which its conclusions can be experimentally tested”.
For another instance, in a still recent publication of
UNESCO: “Handbook for Science Teachers 1980”, science “Science is gained by observation (including, according to
is described as, “what scientists do”. Then instead of defining some, introspection or self-examination) and by experiment,
what(?) science is, it dwells upon: “how(?) science evolves”. but also by reflecting (with every available teachnical aid) on
Amplifying the matter, it contends that the 20th century the data thus supplied”.
science brought about a revolution like an earthquake to the “Typically scientific knowledge is of such a kind that, it
17th century base. That, at the top of this big revolutionary era can be verified by competent inquirers who repeat the
science is displaying a trait of uncertainty in the runway of its observations and experiments and make them the subject of
dynamism; and that, its knowledge is being constantly independent explexion”.
changing. Hence it says: “If science is knowledge, it is
dynamic knowledge”. “Prove is a word that may be “Science is also essentially communicable knowledge.
appropriate to mathematics or logic, but it is now usually out But the average man does not find the science of Newton’s
of place in science”. Principia very communicable, because he does not know the
technical language and cannot follow the argument”.
With this thorough-going non-conformist attitude,
rebelliousness against dogmatism, scepticism against “The beginning of science involves a process of selection
mathematical formulation and logical proof, it pleads that, the from the data of the personal thought-stream”.
twentieth century scientist should be certain of only one thing
“Science is essentially descriptic formulation. Its aim is to
that, at the end everything he knows may turn out to be
describe the impersonal facts of experience in verifiable terms
as precisely and completely as possible”.
Although it is fairly well-known that science goes by a set
“It answers the question How(?) rather than the question
methodology based on (a) observation, (b) collection of data
(c) formulation of a general conception (d) adoption of a
thesis (e) formulation of a law (f) building up a theory and so “The primary aim of science is to see things clearly,
on, yet in matter of definition, it is not only sharply critical consistently, and connectedly, to formulate, to discover
but also thoroughly skeptic. laws”.14
Science of Definition and Definition of Science 83 84 Experimental Science

It then turns to the methods of science and says: “The first “A third step is bringing the data into the most useful
step in scientific study of a problem is to get at the facts, to form. These may be so numerous that some statistical or
collect data”. graphic device is required for dealing with them”.
Indeed, the speed of newer scientific discoveries has “Finally, there is a science, which, if not asymptomatic, is
assumed such a awe-some proportion that, Hannes Alfaven, bound to be approximate”.
the 1970 Nobel Laureate in physics, warns: if scientists are
“A scientific law formulated on observed routine in the
not continuously on their guard, they may believe in mythical
order of nature, and, if it has been established with due care,
theories just as firmly as did Ptolemy and Aristotle.15
there is no going back on it unless the properties of the
In view of these difficulties, a prominent Bangali Scientist materials observed, should change”.
M. Akbar Ali says: “it would not be very wrong to hold that
“It may be, however, that the law was an approximate fit
various disciplines which are taught and known as science,
and left residual phenomena, a recognition of which
are up-to-date knowledge of men about these matters as
subsequently led to a re-statement of the law”.17
explained by theories which for the time-being help to
understand phenomena or a series of phonomena, and are Thus, the modern scientists of the West seem generally to
generally supported by experiments in and/or outside agree with the Nobel Laureate Alfaven, that searching for a
laboratories, and often by practical technical applications; if well-formulated definition of science is more or less futile
and when they are found inadequate to explain other aspects like the chasing of wild goose. Leaving aside the Greek
of these phenomena or the connected phenomena or are not logical tradition of grappling theoretically with the nature of
proved by experiments, they are reformed or abandoned”. the subject under discussion, they would rather concentrate
their attention on the practical and experimental aspect of the
“The reformation or omission is done in favour of
scientific methodology.
explanation/ theories which would be more plausible and
would help understand more accurately these phenomena in Hence is their shifting of interest from Why(?). They all
all their aspects and are also supported by experiments”. agree, that science does no longer deal with the question of
Why(?); science deals out and out with the question of
“So what goes by the name ‘science’ is an ever-growing
knowledge of men augmented by omission of earlier ideas
proved wrong and addition of new ideas that stand the test of This brings us to the question of epistemology, the science
experiments”.16 of knowing. Here the modem West seems to be longing for a
new birth piercing through the classical Greek horizon.
“A second step is accurate registration of the data”.
It is a commonplace notion that knowledge proceeds from
“Science begins with measurement”.
curiosity. It is begotten of inquisitiveness. The Greek
Science of Definition and Definition of Science 85 86 Experimental Science

philosophers postulated that, curriosity to know leads human go to makeup the wholesome arena of conceptual knowledge.
beings to ask four primary questions, which are: What, Why, Can, therefore, the question How(?) ply on all alone, without
How and What for (?). itself remaining incomplete, or alternately, without inflicting
The imquisitiveness to know accurately the proper serious injury or imperfection on the total body of conceptual
answers to these four questions were explicated, systematized knowledge? It makes us climb down into the serious
and elaborated by Aristotle into four causes of all things, predicament of exploring as to whether our scientist friends
which he propounded as the material, formal, efficient and are trying to extend the frontiers of conceptual knowledge or
final causes. striving for breaking through its walls. We must, therefore,
look at the whole arena of conceptual knowledge with an
The four kinds of inquiries give birth to four categories of inquiring mind.
knowledge, all conceptual in character. Rather, the overall
knowledge that emerges from a systematic inquiry about the The Arena of Conceptual Knowledge
four questions and four causes constitute the sum total of
conceptual knowledge as conceived by Sacrates, Plato and We have noticed above that the Greek sage Socrates
Aristotle, and following them by the whole spectrum of the pronounced that, ‘knowledge is conceptual.’ Taking it as his
classical, medieval and modern secular learned circles of the ultimate judgment about knowledge, Aristotle built up the
whole edifice of his syllogistic logic and naturalistic
(materialistic) philosophy. Aristotle by-passed or sidetracked
In the Aristotelian purview the four questions and causes the other more mature, and latterly dictum of Socrates:
have a seriatim order, the first leading to the second and the “Know thyself”.
second to the third and the third to the fourth. The present
scientists’ proposition to deal with the How(?) sidetracking When Socrates said:”knowledge is virtue”, he must have
meant “self-knowledge”. It coincides exactly with the popular
the questions of What(?) and Why(?), cuts across the serial
and throws the theoretical frame-work of conceptual Indo-Aryan aphorism in Sanskrit saying: atmanong bidvi
knowledge into jeopardy! (wewØ) meaning: “Know thyself”, in singular number, exactly
corresponding to the Socratic dictum.
It raises a very pertinent question as to how far or in what
way How(?) is different from What(?) and Why(?) as well as This Vedic-Upanishadic pithy saying of self-knowledge,
from the final question of What for(?)? atmanong bidvi, know thyself, occupies a position of central
importance in the Sanskrit literature as the first step of
Considering the serialness or seriatim character of the four spiritual knowledge. In Vedic Upanishadic philosophy, the
Aristotelian questions, and their close and inseparable external knowledge of sense-perception is called bibhu, which
relations, one cannot but identify How(?) as belonging to the is appearance and phenomenal and not real. Real knowledge
same category of knowledge as the other three questions that
Science of Definition and Definition of Science 87 88 Experimental Science

begins with self-knowldge, the internal knowledge, which is meterial existence.24 Later on, at the early modern age, the
called toijasa. And when the self-knowledge becomes close to English philosophers found all Greek type of philosophy as
the highest degree with concentration of attention, knowledge very much in touch with the physical existence of human
proceeds from toijasa to pragna (cÖÁv), which is the real state beings and called all philosophy empirical or experiencial.
of human knowledge.18 These three stages of knowledge, The first well-known Muslim philosopher scientist Al-
viz.(a) learning (b) self-knowledge and (c) knowledge of Kindi (d. 950 C.E.) wrote a book entitled al-Ma-iyatul ilm,
reality, which are called real philosophic knowledge (tatva meaning the whatness of knowledge, to deal with the
gñana) (ZË¡ Ávb) in Sanskrit. At the first stage, one gains knowledge emanating from the above four questions and four
sense-perception; at the second stage, one feels the causes of Aristotle.25
conscience; and at the third stage, one enjoys happiness.
Then, on to the fourth stage of knowledge par excellence, The Aristotelian What(?) category of knowledge,
turja, one gets immersed into the reality.19 emanating from the group of questions: What, Why, How and
What for(?), was drastically revised and reshuffled by Al-
In this broader Indo-European, Aryan, perspective, Farabi and Ibn Sina. Al-Razi calssified knowledge primarily
Socrates seems to have introduced the second stage of moral into two kinds, viz: the theoretical and practical. The
or ethical knowledge in the Greek society,20 as the gnostics theoretical knowledge is the inferential or conceptual
tried latterly to introduce the third stage of the real knowledge emanating from the What-Group of questions and
philosophical (tatvik: gnostic) knowledge.21 Besides,
formulated on the hypothetical basis through Aristotelian
Anaxagoras had imported previously the Semitic (Jewish,
syllogistic methodology and, therefore, based on inferential
Biblic) terminology of namus, meaning the holy spirit or holy
definition, called tasawwur, meaning ‘mental-picturesque’.
ghost, and called it Nous, to mean world soul,22 which Plato
And the other type is the experimental knowledge based on
tried to normalise in the Greek vocabulary as the concept of
What-of What(?) group of questions.
human soul.23
Side-tracking all these noble attempts of his predecessors, What of What Category of Knowledge
Aristotle presented the veritable materialistic knowledge In order to grasp external and internal knowledge and to cover
emanating from the above mentioned four questions and four the theoretical and practical arena of human experience, the
causes as the grand total of all knowledge. He even failed to Muslims devised two kinds of knowledge, apparent and real,
realize that the term ‘philosophy’, which he was using to based on two types of definition. In order to grasp the
mean ‘meta-physics’ was not a naturally evolved vocabulary theoretical knowledge they adapted the Greek syllogistic
in the Greek language to mean so; but was coined out of the inferential definition with some corrective modification and
two simple words philoe+sophia (love of wisdom) as a
addition and called it tasawwur. On the other hand, for
technical term to imply the knowledge beyond physical or
grasping the practical knowledge, they’ devised a new type of
Science of Definition and Definition of Science 89 90 Experimental Science

experimental (tajribi) definition designated as tahdid or of it, namely Why, How and What for(?) invite an
simply hadd.26 Mention may be made that the root-word of explanatory answer; whereas the What of What(?) calls for an
tajribah is ‘jarib’ (survey of land) whence comes ‘tajribi’. analytical consideration of an event and its consequences.
Tasawwur or inferential definition (Greek type) is defined For Instance, when we ask: What is your name? Why
as “to know the whatness of everything with its profitability have you come here? How did you come? And what for are
and harmfulness.27 And hadd or tahdid is “to determine the you doing it? We expect our interlocutor to explain his
boundaries (hudud) of a thing so comprehensively as to position. Whereas when we ask a question of What of
include all its species so as to distinguish it completely vis-a- What(?) as the Qur’an does, it calls for an analysis of the
vis all other things”. design and the pros and cons of the matter. For example in
Tasawwur pertains to explanation whereas tahdid pertains Surah al-Quriyah (101: 1-11). The Qur’an says:
to description. The former goes by inference, the latter by 1. The Day of Noise and Clamour (Day of Judgment)!
analysis. The former is said to be: ta-‘rif al shayy bi’l-ardiyat 2. What is the Day of Clamour?
i.e. defining a thing by its qualities; and the latter is said to be 3. And what will make you understand (adraka) what the
“ta’rif al-shayy bi’l-dhatiyat, i.e. defining a thing by its Clamour is?
essences. The former is also called tasawwur bi’l-wajh i.e.
description by countenance, and the latter: tasawwur bi’l-kunh Then it analyses:
i.e. description by being. 4. A Day whereon human beings will be like moths
Ibn Sina regards logic (muntiq) as a speculative art (san’at scattered about;
al-nazariyah) which leads one towards the reality of 5. And the Mountains will be like carded wool;
definition of essences (haqiqat al-hadd) and towards the 6. Then, he whose Balance (of good deeds) will be found
reality and evidence (haqiqat al-burhan). Because, according heavy,
to him, knowledge is bound to revolve in between the two 7. Will be in a life of good pleasure and satisfaction.
poles of tasawwur (concept) and tasdiq (conviction).28 8. But he whose Balance (of good deeds) will be found
As a matter of fact, the Muslims arrived at the two-fold light,
division of knowledge after the pattern set forth by the 9. Will have his home in a bottomless pit.
Qur’an. The holy Qur’an frequently raises two types of 10. And what will make you understand (adraka) what this is?
Questions dwelling around “What(?)” and “What of What(?)” 11. It is a fire blazing fiercely!
and leaving aside the first question to the disposal of human
beings, it engages itself in answering the second. This is It is a significant fact that, before the revelation of the holy
obviously because, the question What(?) and the whole group Qur’an, human scholarship wont to dwell around an
Science of Definition and Definition of Science 91 92 Experimental Science

explanatory understanding, which is called byakhya (e¨vL¨v) in Secondly, human knowledge is found to begin with
Sanskrit and sharh in Arabic and exegesis in Latin. We are measurement by means of mental calculation of qualities,
acquainted with the explanatory science of the Veda and the quantities and differentia of things, which eventually led to
Bible, in the Veda Byakhya Shastra and Exegesis of Bible as the device of definition that was ultimately raised to the
well as Zend Avesta in Pehlavi language, meaning notes (or sophisticated science of definition by the Greek philosophers:
pa zend= foot notes) on Avesta, the holy Book of the Persis. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle during the classical age.
Nowhere in the ancient literature we come across the Thirdly, coming to the problem of the definition of
analytical methodology (adraka: diraiyah) of considering the science, we found the modern scientists fighting shy of it and
consequential situation, that was introduced, for the first time, pleading for a sort of a free knowledge liberated from
by the holy Qur’an in the name of diraiyah under the double- dogmatism, subjectivism, and all disciplines of the
fold question of What of What(?), (ma-diraiyah) vis-a-vis methodology of inference and syllogism. They go to the
what(?) group of questions, ma-mahiya or ma-ma’iyah; length of even throwing scientific knowledge besides the pale
because the knowledge of What Group was given, according of certainty.
to the Qur’an, to the first man, Adam, in the form of the
science of nomenclature and which, as we have noted above, Fourthly, assuming almost a rebellious attitude against the
was brought to near perfection by the fourfold what(?) classical and medieval philosophical knowledge derived from
category of questions and fourfold what(?) category of causes the answers to the questions of What(?) and Why(?), they go
devised by Plato and Aristotle.29 to the Altar of How(?) in search of an objective,
observational, experimental, verifiable, ever-changing,
As a matter of fact, the Muslims derived the experimental dynamic, practical knowledge of the secrets of man and
scientific spirit from the diraiyah maxim of the Qur’an. They nature.
devised the experimental science (al-ulum at-tajribiyah) also
on the basis of the analytical methodology of the Qur’an vis- Fifthly, we found in the Quranic diction of the What of
a-vis the inferential methodology of the Greeks. What(?) cagegory vis-a-vis What(?) category of knowledge,
the secret of the Muslim discovery of the ‘experimental
scientific attitude, completely outside of the pale of What(?)
Summary and Conclusion Why(?) How(?) and What for(?) category of knowledge
Summing up the above findings, it may be noted that, in the adumbrated by Aristotle.
first place, human beings were endowed with the power of The Modern scientists’ endeavour, therefore, to overthrow
speech and the power of expression and were taught the the yoke of definition from science as well as their quest for
science of nomenclature as it is evident in the behavior of the wooing How(?) apart from Why(?) are entirely out of place.
progeny of Adam and Eve.
Science of Definition and Definition of Science 93 94 Experimental Science
References Ibid pp. 252-58.
The concept of Om in the Veda, Asma’a in the Qur’an, and the It is interesting to notice that Kn in Knowledge is indicative of Gn in
Name in Zend Avesta may be seen. Gnostic of Greek, the former being a replica of the latter both
2. springing from the Indo-European Aryan, term of gña in Gñan (Ávb)
Qur’an, 2: 31: “Allah taught Adam the science of naming all
of Sanskrit, which means knowledge. ‘Knowledge’ or gñan is that
things”; allama means taught the ilm or science of.
which is sought after vis-a-vis ‘learning’ or bidya which is acquired,
Qur’an, 2: 31-33. the primary ladder of knowledge and not the knowledge itself. It is
Qur’an, 55: 4. obvious from the etymology and philology.
Vikshu Shilachar Shastri, translated: Gaudapadacharjya Krita See ft. n. 5 above, Chapter 1 above.
Aagam Shastra ba Buddhottar Vedanta, Nandankanan Buddha Socrates, see ft. n. 9a above, p. 149ff.
Bihar, Chittagong, Bangladesh, 1974, Chapter-4, p. 46. 21.
Frank Thilly: A History of Philosophy, Allahabad, 1949, p. 124 ff.
Louis Ma’luf: Al-Manjad, Beirut, 1949, p. 115. 22.
See ft. n. 9a above, p. 99 ff.
W. Stanley Jevons: Elementary Lessons in Logic, London, 1882, p. 23.
Ibid., p. 211 ff.; also Plato: Republic, may be seen for the central
109: A logical definition is by which we determine the common importance assigned to the function of the Nous or soul in the
qualities or marks of the objects belonging to any given class of attainment of justice.
objects as are sufficient to distinguish the class from other classes 24.
and determine its position in the general classification of Dr. Muin-ud-Din Ahmad Khan: Rastra Darshan Shastre Muslim
conceptions. Obadan: Mukaddima - Upakramanika, in Bengali, Dhaka, 1978.
8. p. 1.
See ft. n. 5 above. 25.
9a. George N. Atiyah: Al-Kindi, the Philosopher of the Arabs,
W. T. Stace: A Critical History of Greek Philosophy, London, 1950,
Islamabad, 1966, pp. 155-56.
p. 143. 26.
9b. See below.
C.E. M. Joad: Guide to Philosophy, London, 1948, p. 259ff.
10. In Persian language, it is defined as: danistan mahiyate har shyy bi’-
W. Stanley Jevons: Elementary Lessons in Logic, London, 1882,
nafei’ wa zarar-i-aan.
p. 126ff.
11. Islami Bishvakosh (Islamic Encyclopedia in Bengali) Islamic
Eduard Zeller: Outlines of the History of Greek Philosophy, New
Foundation Bangladesh, Dhaka, 4th Volume 1988, pp. 195-205.
York, 1955, p. 187 ff.
John Woodburn: “Science Defined Versus Indefinable, a personal The answer to What-Group of questions begins with the science of
nomenclature given to Adam and which came to perfection in the
attempt to define science”, The Science Teacher, Vol. 34, No. 8,
Nov. 1967, pp. 27-30. syllogism of Aristotle.
UNESCO: Handbook for Science Teachers, Paris, 1980, p. 1.
Ibid., and James Hastings ed: Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics,
pp. 252-58: “Science”.
M. Akbar Ali: Science in the Qur’an, Dhaka, 1976, p. 14.
96 Experimental Science

adopt ‘scientiae’ which was devised by the Western scientists

since the middle of the thirteenth century C.E.,4 they adopted
instead the word ‘science’, that was coined by the English
Christian theologians to mean the ‘sign of God’ and the
mystery of the creation of God. The theologians used the
word ‘science’ always in combination with ‘God’ as ‘science
of God’ (1340 C.E.). They also spelt it as ‘scyence of God’
(1426 C.E.)

Chapter Seven Shakespeare used it to mean ‘mystery’ in a secular sense

(1601 C.E.). Yet, the use of the word ‘science of God’
The Real Nature of Experimental remained popular with the priests till 1728 C.E.5 in the
theoretical sense rather than with practical implication.
Science The question arises, therefore, as to why the scientists
In our thread-bare investigation about the terminology of abandoned the experimental scientific word ‘scientiae’ and
science, we came across some astonishing facts. Firstly, adopted the theoretically oriented priestly word ‘science’ as
despite popular belief to the contrary, it was found that the the replacement of ‘natural philosophy’ and combined it with
word ‘science’ did not exist either in classical Greek or in ‘experimental?’ The question looks enigmatic and triffling,
classical Latin. Nor did it come into use in either of the two but historically significant. It points to a case of
languages during the early medieval times. camouflaging.
During the 12th century C.E. we step upon the Latin word We have no ready answer to this inquisitiveness, at our
‘scientiis’ as the translation of Arabic ulum, which means disposal. We may only surmise that the Western scientists
sciences (in plural).1 In the 13th century C.E. Roger Bacon were, some how or other, apprehensive of provoking the
fixed it up as ‘scientia’ (in singular) and ‘scientiae’ (in plura).2 wrath of the Catholic Christian priesthood and the prosecuting
Yet these terminologies were not used in the West and the jealousy of the Papacy; so that, they cleverly adopted the
researchers of experimental science since thirteenth century theological word ‘science’ to mean scientiae experimentalis
onwards chose to call it ‘natural philosophy’ in persuance of i.e. experimental sciences.
the time-old Greek and Latin scientific tradition till the We have contended above that the experimental sciences
middle of the 19th century C.E,3 even though thay meant by it were invented and developed by the Muslim scholars out of
scientiae experientalis. the analytical spirit and the ma-diraiyah (What of What?)
Curiously enough, however, when the Western scientists usage of the Qur’an. Because, on the negative side of our
exchanged the new terminology in lieu of natural philosophy wide investigation, the analytical spirit and the analytical
by the middle of the nineteenth century C.E., they did not methodology of learning were found absent in the artistic and
The Real Nature of Experimental Science 97 98 Experimental Science

scientific tradition of human civilization before the advent of 4. Therein come down the Angels and the Spirit by
the Qur’an.6 Likewise, on the positive side of our Allah’s permission, on every Errand:
investigation, we found the holy Qur’an being revealed 5. Peace! This until the rise of Morn!
squarely on the analytical methodology of learning giving
vent to the fourfold steps of knowledge, viz: (a) observation Surah at-Tariq (86)10
(b) analysis (c) calculation and (d) real knowledge; that is to 1. By the sky! And the Night-Visitant (therein);
say, the Qur’anic methodology of knowing the unknown.7 2. And what will explain to thee what the Night-Visitant
In the diction of modern science, this methodology of is?
knowing the unknown is expressed in a fourfold proposition; 3. It is the Star of piercing brightness;
the first step of selection from the data of the personal thought 4. There is no soul but has a Protector over it…
stream; the second step of accurate registration of the data or
Surah al-Infitar (82)11
measurement; the third step of bringing the data into useful
1. And what will explain to thee what the Day of
form; and the fourth step of stepping upon the science being
Judgment is?
approximate formulation of the natural law.8 2. Again what will explain to thee what the Day of
Judgment is?
The Spirit of Diraiyah in the Qur’an 3. (It will be) the Day when no Soul shall have Power (to
We have cited the Surah al-Qari’ah in the preceding chapter do) aught for another; For the command that Day will
to illustrate the spirit of diraiyah (what of what?), the be (wholly) with Allah.
objective querying dictum of the holy Qur’an. There are
Surah al-Haqqah (69)12
numerous surahs and passages in the Qur’an which raise such
1. The Sure Reality!
double-set questions of diraiyah and which analytically
2. What is the Sure Reality?
discuss various complicated questions of human life in order 3. And what will make thee Realise what the Sure
to pin-point the signs of the Creator-Sustainer-Povidence- Reality is?
Lord of the universe. A few of them are cited below. 4. The Thamud and the Aad people Disbelieved in the
Day of Noise and Clamor!
Surah al-Qadr or Power (97)9 5. But the Thamud;
1. We have indeed revealed this (Message) in the Night They were Destroyed by the terrible Storm of Thunder
of Power. and Lighting;
2. And what will explain to thee what the Night of
And the Aad,
Power is?
3. The Night of Power is better than a thousand months.
The Real Nature of Experimental Science 99 100 Experimental Science

They were destroyed By a furious wind! Exceedingly Indians, Indonesians and the Chinese people of Canton15 on
Violent.... the other. The Muslim rated the conquest of the learning of
We have discussed further the Quranic usage of raising the world-centres as more precious than the conquest of the
frequently these two categories of questions, viz.: What(?), vast territories and the wealth of nations.
and What of What(?). Then leaving aside the simple question To quote an Arabic quartrain of the early Islamic times:
of what(?) to the natural disposition of human beings, it takes Pleased we are with the share assigned by Almighty,
to answering the complex question of the What of What(?) by For us the learning and for the enemy the wealth;
means of an analytical methodology.13 Its deeper Since the wealth gets destroyed soon enough,
consideration brings us to the revolutionary historical Whereas the learning remains intact forever.16
perspective of early Islam.
In terms of human values, Islam was a religion, based on
As soon as the first hundred years of tumult and knowledge-based Faith (iqra) in a Book through learning. In
turbulance (610-715 Christian Era) of the social revolution the Islamic process, learning (iqra) is more primary than faith
and political expansion of Islam settled down on an extended (iman).17 Allah has endowed human being with learning in
vast interior region of Central and Western Asia, North Africa order to test him whether by reading through the signs of
and South-Western Europe, the Muslim scholars: Arabs, creation in the external world and deciphering the uniformity
Persian and Turks, went rushing out in quest of learning, of nature in the heart of hearts18 — he freely and rationally
knowledge, wisdom and truth wherever it was found. They arrives at the faith or not? Islam is more a revolution of
peeped into the vast treasures of Indo-Aryan Sanskritic learning than a revolution of faith. In the Islamic world-view,
sciences through the conquest of Sind. They laid their hands the faith is as old and as true as it was on the day of the
on the Greek treasures of philosophy and sciences through the creation of Adam; whereas ever newer is learning. Ever-
conquest of Syria and Alexandria and by dint of treaty increasing factor was made the proof of the existence of
stipulation with the Byzantine Roman Emperors of learning itself by the Qur’an. The Prophet of Islam is taught to
Constantinople. By the conquest of Iran, they laid their hands pray: “Providence -Lord! Increase me in knowledge!19
on the eminent centre of higher learning at Jundeshapur, On the other hand, faith attains fixity and a state of
where the surviving Greek, Nestorian, Neoplatonic and saturation with the increase of knowledge and wisdom. Faith
Iranian learnings were brilliantly combined and universalized. implies reason and enlightenment since it is based on the
The last but not least, their conquest of Turkestan and reading and observation of the signs or mystery of creation
entrance into the Chinese controlled Transoxiana (ma- (science of God) in the external world and deciphering of the
waraun-nahar) brought into their hands the important Chinese signs of unity of the Supreme Lord and the uniformity of
technology of paper making and sugar manufacturing14 on the nature in one’s own self.20 Belief, and its Sanskrit equivalent,
one hand; and by dint of their shipping industry, trade and biswas, which implies ‘belief’ “blind faith” has no place in
commerce, they came into world-wide friendly contact with Islamic system of faith (aqaid). These are idolatrous words
The Real Nature of Experimental Science 101 102 Experimental Science

unwittingly, unwisely and popularly used by the ignoramus to sciences and patronized the translation of Sanskrit works into
mean Faith, not only in Islam, but also in Christianity and Arabic. He is said to have begun learning Sanskrit himself.
Judaism. Faith pertains to learning and reason, and learning
The Muslim scholars moved heaven and earth, collected
precedes faith. Faith involves conviction or protiti (cÖZxwZ),
diverse elements of wisdom and sciences from different
protyay (Sanskrit) that goes beyond mere belief and biswas, to sources and pieced them together into methodologically
mean Faith per se. systematized subjects of study. At the higher centres of
In the arena of human history, Islam was a revolution of learning and at the universities, they classfied learning into
learning, a revolution of human relations based on equality of fourfold divisions for facilitating systematic curricular
mankind and human brotherhood and a revolution of teaching, viz.: (a) ibtidaiyah (b) awwaliayat, (c) nazariyat
universal justice, which is frequently reminded as surely cum diniyat, and (d) tajribiyat.21
Allah commands you with al-adl wa’l-ihsan, which is These curricular divisions of learning correspond roughly
regularly recited in weekly Friday Sermon; and curiously to the modern Western system of education, which has, in
enough Shakespeare translated it as “justice tempered with fact, developed out of the Arabian education system of
mercy”! Likewise, Islam is a world-wide champion of the Baghdad and Spain. These can be translated into English as
rights of the weak, destitude, oppressed and down-trodden (a) elementary (b) secondary, (c) philosophical cum religious
humanity for whom it has devised poor-tex zakat as an and (d) experimental. At the elementary level, the elements of
obligatory religious duty for every prosperous Muslim. reading, writing and arithmetic were taught. At the secondary
Imbued by the Prophetic inspiration of the quest for level, correct reading, correct writing and correct thinking
knowledge, the Muslim scholars moved to and fro, from place were imparted.
to place, from country to country, all through the centers of At the third level, the speculative sciences were
education and learning, to acquire truth and wisdom wherever introduced which were classified as purely intellectual (aqali
it is found. They picked up Indian, Greek and Iranian sciences al-mahad) and purely religious (naqali al-mahad) sciences.
and Chinese wisdom through translation from Sanskrit, The intellectual sciences started with Greek logic and
Greek, Syriac, Aramaic, Pehlavi and Chinese into Arabic included elements of arithmetic, geometry, algebra,
language. In the court of the Abbasid Khalifah, Al-Mamun al- astronomy, natural sciences of botany, zoology and
Rashid, the translators of the scientific works received the metaphysical philosophies of the Greek, Indian and Iranian
highest wages in the contemporary world. Their papers were origin.22 The purely religious sciences, were the sciences of
wighed with gold that was paid as remuneration. Prophetic Tradition, Quranic Tafsir, Islamic Jurisprudence,
Al-Mamun’s grandfather Khalifah al-Mansur installed the Islamic philosophy of religion and principles of different
Translation Bureau. He was Graecophile. He patronized the religious sciences.23
translation of the Greek works into Arabic. Al-Mamun’s
father khalifah Harun al-Rashid inclined towards Indian
The Real Nature of Experimental Science 103 104 Experimental Science

At the fourth and final level, the courses of experimental Muslim scholars devised a further fourfold complex question
sciences were given, such as, mathematics, optics, physics, of the what of what(?) (ma diraiyah) category, which are: hal,
chemistry, astronomy, botany, zoology, politics, ethics, ma, lima and aiyu(?).
spiritual myticism and so on.
‘Hal’ is in the Arabic language, a word of complex
interogation, meaning somewhat like: ‘whether or not?’ It
Science of Definition
demands a double - set answer at a time; such as, hal allahu
The third level was classified by the Muslim scholars as khaliq ul-alami? Is Allah the Creator of the universe? Is the
speculative sciences and were adapted to the Aristotelian ‘A’ challenger of ‘B’? Are all the Presidents, holders of the
logic of inductive and deductive calculations. Here the Powers of the State?
Muslim scholars adopted the Aristotelian art of definition,
‘Ma’ is equally an interrogative word. It means which,
which they called the ta‘rif. These were geared up with the
what, that which, whatsoever, why, wherefore. In the ma
four simple questions of Aristotelian philosophy and the
diraiyah spirit, coming in the serial of hal, it stands for what
fourfold causes and effects.
of what(?). That is to say: What makes you understand what is
The Muslim scholars, however, classified the fourth level it? For instance, along with the first question posed at the
as experimental sciences (al-ulum at -tajribiyah); which were above passage regarding Allah, it may be asked further: What
geared up to the what of what(?) (ma diraiyah) group of makes you understand that Allah is the Creator of the
complex objective questions raised by the holy Qur’an. universe? What makes you understand that ‘A’ is the
Aristotle had raised the simple questions of What, Why, challenger of ‘B’.
How and For What(?) and devised four causes therefrom, ‘Lima’ means: For what? In the serial, it stands for
viz.: material cause, formal cause, efficient cause and final limadha, which means: for what reason? Why? For what it
cause. Then on the basis of these seriatim fourfold questions, is so?
he devised the ingenious syllogistic methodology of definition
‘Aiyu’ means: whoever, whatsoever, who, which, what?
of things on the one hand, and on the basis of four causes, he
In the serial, it stands for liaiyu shaiyin, i.e. for what it is
tried to explain, the entire functioning of the universe, on the
done? what is it that? It actually leads one to the question of
other. Such were the warp and woof of the simplistic world-
finality and conclusion, that is to say, then what comes out as
view built up by the Greek philosophers, which they called
your final conclusion or justified goal or thesis (ta’dil).
conceptual knowledge that moulded Greek philosophy and
metaphysic.24 This was advanced during the classical age as Now, to the first question, if it is answered that: Yes,
the sum total of the knowledge of the universe. Allah is the Creator of the universe; then the answer to the
second question can be: Because, the innumerable signs of
As against these fourfold simple questions, which did not
creation in the external world (afaq) and the realization of the
cover the complex objective problems of human life, the
The Real Nature of Experimental Science 105 106 Experimental Science

uniformity of nature within one’s self or heart, (fi anfusikum) experimental science was the continuation of philosophy
point to the existence of a Creator of the universe. rather than a separation, divorce or bifurcation from it. In
practice, ta’rif preceded tahdid, inferential definition preceded
The answer to the third question may be that: Had there
measuring or dimensional definition, and hence philosophy
been more than one Creator and Rearer, Providence, Lord of
preceded experimental science. The greatest Muslim scientists
the universe, their rivalry of Power would have destroyed the
were also the greatest philosophers; such were al-Kindi, Ibn
uniformity of nature and jeopardized the functioning or the
Sina and Ibn Rushd.
objectives of creation in the universe. Hence, the answer to
the fourth question is definitely that: the Creator, Rearer, Out of this four dimensional process of definition or
Providence, Lord, i.e. Rabb of the universe is Allah, alone, tahdid there grew up the scientific methodology of (a)
unique and one. collection of information or data (riwayat), (b) rational
verification and classification of data (dirayat) (c)
For an easy grasp of the matter, let us draw a physical
experimental testing (tajribah) and (d) the verified formula or
parallel of the fourfold questions demonstrated above. It is
thesis (ta’dil), at the arena of the scientific study of the
well-known in the physical world that everything big or small
Muslim scholars.
has four dimensions, viz.: length, breadth, diameter and
height. The above fourfold questions represent the four
dimension of an affair, viz.: Hal questions the length, ma
The Four Dimensional Measurement of Tahdid
questions the breadth, lima questions the diameter and aiyu or Hadd
questions the height. Khaliq is the length, Rabb is the breadth, In Arabic language, hadd means four limits of a thing, to
uniformity is the diameter and Allah is the height. Hence the determine four limits, limitations. In the Qur’an hadd and
signs of creation point to Allah. hudud (plural) denote limits in the sense of law, which must
not be violated.
Hadd or Measurment
In philosophical terminology hadd stands for definition. It
In contrast to the Greek inferential definition (ta’rif), the points to the distinctive quality of a thing. A definition
Muslim scholars invented the quantitative definition of hadd. (tahdid) is said to be complete definition (hadd tamam), when
This is called measurement or limits (hadd) or dimensional a thing is clearly distinguished from its nearest species and
definition. The inferential definition applies to philosophy, described, at the same time, by its own distinctive quality;
whereas the dimensional definition applies to experimental such as, a man is defined in hadd by describing him as “an
sciences.25 The Muslim scholars, however, did not bifurcate
animal possessing conscience.” Another type of hadd points
the field of knowledge between the two. Rather they applied
to the limits of a thing in between its end and the beginning of
inferential definition or ta’rif to delineate a thing by its
another thing. That is to say, the beginning point and end
qualities and then applied the dimensional definition (tahdid
point of a thing is called hadd. Moreover, the beginning point
or hadd) to judge its objective utility. Thus, to them
of various sciences are also called hadd. For instence, the
The Real Nature of Experimental Science 107 108 Experimental Science

axioms of Euclidian geometry are accepted as hadd in cum wisdom, the former is acquired and the latter is sought
general.26 after. Then he classifies the knowledge which is sought after
Imam Ghazzali classified hadd into three categories, viz.: into nazariyat and ma’rifah, that is to say, philosophical and
literary, conventional and essential. Then he explains that the scientific, intellectual and experimental, wherein one is
first question: hal, inquires about the basis of existence (asal required to proceed with hadd (measurment) and burhan,
al-wajud), the condition of the existent and its qualities. The (evidence).29 Somehow or other, it brings us to the proposition
second question: ma, demands analysis of the terminology, that science begins with measurement.30
distinction, the quiddity of the thing and essence of its self. Therefore, in terms of hadd we may postulate that science
The third question: lima, seeks the rationale and evidence in begins where philosophy ends; and in terms of burhan
reply. The fourth question: aiyu, seeks differentiation, (evidence), we may postolate that science distinguishes itself
analysis, wherefrom, whereto and whence of a thing. These he by dint of objective experimental evidence vis-a-vis
assigns to the process of knowing as the preconditions of speculative inferences of philosophy, arts and literature.
hadd (at-du’amat al-hadd) and describes the six rules of
hadd. He contends that these rules are the general principles Summary and Conclusion
for the study of the sciences of all kinds; so that, unless one
Thus, the experimental science arose neither by rejecting and
grasps them well, it is futile for him to proceed to grapple
relegating the What(?) and Why(?) to the sphere of
with problems of whatever sciences it may be, no question
philosophy, nor by adopting the How(?) of Greek simplistic
whether it is religious sciences or physical sciences.27
fourfold questions of philosophy; nor even by deeper
Imam Ghazzali contends that apart from the religious contemplation of the fourfold Aristotelian causal functioning
sciences, the natural sciences concern primarily with those of the physical world; but science arose from the experimental
things which exist. The existants fall into two categories — spirit of the Quranic perspective of the What of What(?) and
eternal and temporal. Then the temporals are classified into the related fourfold complex questions of ma diraiyah as
essence and quality. The qualities are classified into those meticulously described and thread-barely discussed above.
which subsists in life, such as, knowledge, willing, freedom, In a word, experimental science as a special category of
speech, hearing, seeing etc. and those which are not knowledge arose neither from the question of How(?) nor
dependent on life, such as, color, wind, taste etc. And the from the functioning of the causal bond, but from the question
essences are classified into animate, plants and inanimate of What of What(?) posed by the Qur’an.
objects, and so on.28 In order to arrive at a complete and comprehensive
experimental or tajribi scientific knowledge of a thing, the
He finally divides knowledge into two categories viz.: (a)
Muslim scientists took resort to two kinds of difinition, viz.:
the essential elements of learning and (b) the knowledge
the conceptual definition (ta’rif), to discern the qualities of a
which is sought for. That is to say: learning and knowledge thing; and the four-dimensional quantitative definition
The Real Nature of Experimental Science 109 110 Experimental Science

(tahdid) of it, to ascertain the nature and utility thereof. So

that, experimental science stands squarely as the further 14
Hsia Nai: A Historical Sketch of the Friendship Between China and
continuation of the conceptual knowledge of philosophy far Pakistan, Peking, 1965, p. 14.
from being apart from it. As such, philosophy was classified 15
as comprising intellectual sciences (al-ulum al-nazariyat) and 16
The Arabic Quatrain is:
experimental sciences were classified as al-ulum al- Radina qismatul jabbari fina,
tajribiyah, that is, the sciences of objective investigation and Lana’1-ilmu wa lil-aada-i-malu,
resultant experimental scientific knowledge. Fa inna’1-mala yafni ‘an qaribin’,
Nevertheless, the concluding point, in my personal view Wa amma ilmu baqin la yazalu.
point, seems to beg a question to the effect that, speculative See chapter 3 above.
philosophical knowledge being thoroughly abstract cannot Qur’an, 20: 114.
jump over the third digital concrete scientific experiment to See chapter 1 above.
the concrete existential arena of Experimental science. I leave Qur’an: 53: 28; see, Chapter 3 above.
this question to the notice of the learned readers. Imam Ghazzali: Al-Mustasfa min ilm al-usul; Bulaq, Egypt, 1322
Hijri, p. 3.
My recent paper on “Paschatyer Juktitatver samiksha” (An
References examination of Western rationalism) in Bengali (unpublished). See
also, chapter 6 above.
See chapter 1 above. Imam Ghazzali: Al-Mustasfa, p. 12.
Ibid. See chapter 2: for Roger Bacon’s assessment.
Ibid. The Shorter Encyclopedia of Islam, Bengali Translation and revised
4 edition: Sangkipta Islami Bisvakosh, Islamic Foundation
Bangladesh, Dhaka, Vol. 2, p. 528: Referred to the Muslim scientist
Ibid. Jurjani.
See chapter 6 above. 26
Imam Ghazzali: Al-Mustasfa, pp. 12-13.
7 27
Chapter 3 above. Ibid., pp. 5-6.
Ibid. 28
Ibid., pp. 16.
The Holy Qur’an: English Translation of Meaning and 29
Commentary, Revised and edited by the Presidency of Islamic 30
See chapter 6, above; for a most up-to-date scholarly exposition see
Researches, King Fahad Holy Qur’an Printing Complex, circa.
Scientific Indications in the Holy Qur’an, brought out by a brilliant
1992, p. 1985.
group of Bangladeshi Scientists, Islamic Foundation Bangladesh,
Ibid., p. 1934. Dhaka, 1990, p. 4 ff.
Ibid., pp. 1913-14.
Ibid., p. 1804.
Chapter 6.
112 Experimental Science

‘learning’ as such. In the English language, the terminology

of ‘knowledge’ generally comes to mean ‘bidya’; whereas the
Sanskrit term’ gñana’ is often referred to as ‘higher learning’.
Thus, the word ‘knowledge’, which stems from ‘kn’ like ‘gn’
(Greek) and ‘gña’ (Á) (Sanskrit), in reality gives the meaning
of the opposite poles. However, philologically considered, to
know is deeper than to learn; so also, knowledge could have
been placed higher than learning. But in the conventional
Chapter Eight English usage ‘higher learning’ seems to stand above
knowledge. In other words, in the substantive sense,
Typology of Knowledge in the East knowledge seems to conventionally mean learning (bidya)
and the West and learning (qualified with ‘higher’) means knowledge.
Nevertheless, in the East, knowledge is classified into four
To grasp the conceptual dichotomy of the Western “what” typological gradations. Such a classification is common
category and Islamic ‘what of what’ category of interjection, amongst the Aryan Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims. These
let us dwell for a while on the typological distingtion of may be roughly described as.
knowledge in the East and the West. In this regards, we had
better go through a short article latterly composed by me in English : Perceptual Conceptual Reality Divine
continuation of this subject-matter published in another book Bangla : Anubhuti Jukti/ Satya Dibya
entitled 21st Century Challenges for the Global Muslim Tatva
Community, published from Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2005 A.D. Hindu : Vayshanar Taijasa Pragna Turiya
which is reproduced and appended as the next chapter with Buddhist : Bibhu Tayjasa Pragna Turja
the kind permission of the publisher. Islamic : Mahsusat Maqulat Haqaiq Ma’rifat

In the East, particularly amongst the Hindus, Buddhist and Those four types are closely interlinked gradation of
Muslims, knowledge is sharply distinguished from learning. knowledge tending from lower to the higher, from the bottom
‘Knowledge’ to the Aryan Hindus and Buddhists is gñana to the top, such as ‘touch’ leading to ‘thought’, ‘thinking’ to
(Ávb) which stems from ‘gñ’ (Á). Similarly, the opposite ‘realization’ and meditation to divine inspiration and ultimate
terminology of gñana’ is ‘aggña’ (AÁ) such as Greek revelation. The four types of knowledge are demarcated into
‘gnostic’ is to ‘agnostic’. Both sets of terminologies carry· two categories, external or exoteric comprising perceptual
deeper meaning and significance verging on spirituality. knowledge and conceptual knowledge and internal or esoteric
which includes the knowledge of reality and the divine
Gñana and gnostic refer to creative learning, that emanate
knowledge of spiritual inspiration, which may be designated
from deeper realization as against ordinary learning which is
acquisitive and largely imitative and emulative. This latter as intuitive knowledge and the knowledge of divine
category of acquisitive learning is called ‘bidya’, meaning inspiration and revelation.
Typology of Knowledge in the East and the West 113 114 Experimental Science

The first categories of exoteric knowledge arise from education’ by ‘experimental scientific system’ and his
touch and thought, from sense perception and intellectual insisting on adopting Arabic numerals and mathematics as the
thinking which is ipso facto imaginative that elevates it basic academic principle. Frank Thilly says that, he was a
through logical ratiocination and methodological reasoning “curious mixture of the medieval and modern scholar”, and
into rational knowledge. Mark you! the perceptual knowledge regarded him as the most original and independent figure
is a tangible knowledge whereas the conceptual knowledge is amongst those who cultivated mathematical and physical
abstract knowledge, logical, universal and subjective. Which sciences in England during the 13th century A.D. (A History of
tops up at rationalism. Philosophy, p. 185).
We have seen in a previous discourse (Dispensation In the East, perceptual and conceptual knowledge are
of Justice in the East and the West, pp. 36-37) that Roger designated as anubhuti and jukti or tatva gñan and are
Bacon had classified these two types of knowledge as regarded as learning or bidya (we`¨v) and not the real
‘inferential’ over and against ‘experimental’ knowledge; he knowledge, gñan (Ávb). Gñan in the real sense comprises two
wanted to discard inferential principles and adopt higher categories of knowledge, namely satya gñan (mZ¨
experimental methodology in the curricula of theological Ávb), knowledge of reality and the dibya gñan (we`¨v Ávb),
education. To illustrate the point, we may reproduce relevant
knowledge of divinity.
passages from the Dispensation of Justice (Renaissance
Foundation, Dhaka, 2006), pp. 36-37: The significant point between the two lower and the
higher categories of exoteric and esoteric knowledge is that,
“The terminology of ‘scientia’ [the original term of
the first category begins with sense perception and the second
science] and its plural ‘scientiae’ brings us face to face to the
category starts with internal sense of meditation. The rational
greatest medieval European scientific mind, Roger Becon
knowledge being an abstraction of sensual knowledge is not
(1214-1292 A.D.), who wrote his Encyclopedic work: Opas
counted in the East as objective, real and concrete knowledge;
Majus pleading for drastic change in the mode and
rationalism is regarded as a methodology of knowledge, as a
methodology of theological education by providing more
means and not as end, designated as jukti vidya (hyw³ we`¨v),
thorough grounding in scientific researches. In this
voluminous work, he wrote a chapter on ‘experimental logical learning. In fact, the perceptual knowledge is partly
science in Arabic style and called it ‘scientiae experimentalis’ perceived and partly imaginative; whereas conceptual
in exact translation of al-ulum at-tajribiyah”. (The knowledge is abstract and completely imaginative. Hence
Encyclopedia of Philosophy by Paul Edwards, 1967, Vol. l- none of them are objectively factual knowledge.
2, pp. 240-242). To elucidate the point, let us consider the Western
paradigm of knowledge in the process of knowing; we ‘learn’
“Nevertheless, factually considered, Roger Becon was
by touch, ‘understand’ by thinking and ‘know’ by conception.
the real progenitor of the scientific spirit and modernism of
In the paleographical format ‘kn’ of knowledge stands for
the West by dint of his exact translation of ‘al-ulum at-
‘gñ’ of Greek gnostic/agnostic and similarly ‘gñ’ of Sanskrit
tajribiyah’ as ‘scientiae experimentalis’, which was latterly
stands for gñana (Ávb), and the ‘kn’ associates meaning
renderd into English as ‘experimental sciences’ and his
advocacy of exchanging the existing ‘inferential system of ‘higher learning’, and theoretical knowledge, fall far short of
Typology of Knowledge in the East and the West 115 116 Experimental Science

Eastern Pragña (cÖÁv) haqiqat, wisdom or the knowledge of dominant Protestant minority of the Western Graeko-phile
reality, the third higher grade of knowledge as shown in the secularist nations, holding fast to the ideology of
above chart. The dibya or oishi gñan (Hkx Ávb) is the fourth Protestantism.
highest degree of the knowledge of divinity, divine inspiration Whatever may that be, to come to our main point, it
and revelation. The last two higher degrees of knowledge, that may be plainly stated that enchanted by the miraculous
is, the knowledge of reality and the knowledge of divine revelation of the holy Qur’an and enthralled by the Prophetic
revelation are absent from the current usage of Western tradition (sayings of Prophet Muhammad) bidding the
modern languages. West is plying with mere learning, the Muslims to seek after knowledge from the cradle to the grave,
elementary stage of knowledge and not with knowledge (Ávb) the sagacious Muslims of the early times brought forth one
itself, knowledge per se, which leads to wisdom; is novel stream of knowledge at the ground of the third stage,
completely absent in the arena of modem Western knowledge. the knowledge of reality, satya gñan, haqiqat, or haqaiq, as
When as Protestant, they abandoned medieval Catholic we have mentioned in the chart.
Christian tradition of ‘wisdom’ for catching hold of Greek-
oriented Renaissance, they left it out and their Protestant On the one hand, they tried to explore the divine
Modernism became devoid of wisdom. technique of creation in the physical nature of the world and
on the other hand, they tried to sift the truth of the
In the yardstick of Eastern measurement, therefore, information narrated by the Companions and their followers
the modern West’s quest for knowledge is a half way house, emanating from the Prophet Muhammad (SAAS). The former
however brilliantly flooded with pervasive light outside, it is brought forth the physical sciences and the latter brought into
irretrievably plunged into a total darkness inside, arrogantly being the sciences of prophetic tradition, designated
casting ignoramus aspersion saying in the dictionaries: ‘the respectively as ulum-at-tajribiyah and ulum-al-hadith, the
moral majority’ that is Catholic Christianity of the experimental sciences and the sciences of Prophetic Tradition,
Westerners, as the largest groups of people in a society, may which was the earliest prototype of Information Technology
be considered as having very traditional ideas about moral in the arena of human-knowledge.
matters, religion, sexual behavior etc.’ (Oxford Dictionary).
What a foolish remark in condemning even presently existing To gauge the semantic of ‘knowledge’, let us turn
moral majority of the Christian society! once again to the West. As advocated by the Greek sage
Socrates, the Greeks and Romans would say: ‘knowledge is
To say the least, these are extremely nostalgic words, conceptual’ and the modern Westerners are likely to contend
which clearly indicate that the medieval Christian phases of that ‘knowledge is empirical’. Because the modernists are
Western culture were and still is virtually sandwiched by the seemingly prone to avoiding ‘rational philosophy’ which is
Catholic Christian classical Graeco-Roman culture on the one far from objective and its material womb is ‘conceptual
hand and secular Protestant modem Western culture on the knowledge’. There is no denying the fact that, the Westerners
other, and the former must have thrived in moral and spiritual are presently enamored in sciences. Science and West have
exuberance in between as a conservative ideological tradition now become synonymous. The West has now found a brand
that was morally well-behaved sacrosanct Christian religious newer life in ‘the potency of scientific technology wedded to
culture, which is now being disowned by the modernist, political power.’ It has enkindled in the Western mind an
Typology of Knowledge in the East and the West 117 118 Experimental Science

indomitable ambition for global domination. Subjugation, ‘experimental’ knowledge is objective; so that, he wanted to
imperialism, colonialism, new colonialism have become worn drop the subjective and adopt the objective methodology of
out conceptions like as conceptual knowledge and rationalism knowledge. Could anybody analyze the root word or basic
that stand clearly apart from the objectivity of scientific idea of ‘empiricism’ and prove that it yields objective
knowledge. So, in this new intellectual firmament, knowledge knowledge?
and science have become pretty identical; so that, presently all Mind you! Whatever is conjugated with ‘ism’ is
thriving knowledge in the West are some branches of bound to be subjective; because it inevitably gets tagged with
sciences. But, in the medieval times there was no science in ‘opinion’ of some mind. ‘Experiment’ produces ‘evidence’
the West. Westerners were either steeped in arts or ignorance. and neither experiment nor evidence can be conjugated with
But those days are now gone. Science has given the West ‘ism’; because both are objective expressions.
knowledge and power, so much so that, the Easterners have
no way open before them except following the West in quest As a matter of fact, for the transformation of
of knowledge, wealth and power, even if it amounts to ‘conceptual’, including rational knowledge, into the
running behind the horse. knowledge of ‘reality’, the Muslims devised a new type of
logic besides the Aristotelian inductive cum deductive logic
Nevertheless, on purely intellectual grounds, it may of syllogism, and called it ‘evidential logic’, in Arabic
be pinpointed that the Western mental frame being bounded paradigm: ‘burhan’ as designated by the holy Quran: saying:
by the two categories of sense perception and thinking stance ‘haate burhanakum in kuntum swadiqin’ bring your
of conceptual knowledge within the limitation of human evidence if you are truthful (Quran: al-Qasas 28: 42-45).
experience, the Westerners often fall into a fix in locating the
Mark that, ‘ism’ in ‘syllogism’ carries it over to the
real standing or objective stance of scientific knowledge.
sphere of subjective opinion and mark that, scientific ‘theory’
They habitually call it ‘empirical knowledge’ and explain it as
which is not ‘ism’, but Theo = God, ry = word, that is, the
based on ‘experiment or experience’ rather than on ideas or
word of God, is ipso facto objective and reflects closely 6236
theories. They further elucidate that empirical evidence,
ayat or sentences of the holy Quran which are designated as
knowledge, research need to be tested empirically (Oxford
‘the signs of Allah’ (= ayat) in the Islamic paradigm, which
represent the objective truth.
The question at once arises as to what makes up the
To the Muslims, therefore, there are two types of
exact meaning of ‘empirically testing’; by what process:
sciences, one is the divine science of Allah’s creation, which
experientially or experimentally? Because, experimental
is the ‘exact’ original divine science and the other is the
testing would be objective and the experiential testing would
human estimation of the divine creative technology
be subjective; and in that case, the empirical testing would be
underlying the material world that constitutes an
combining both subjective and objective, which is logically
‘approximation’ of divine science. The words of the Qur’an as
absurd. It draws us to the same old question of Roger Becon’s
expounded by Qur’an itself are regarded by the Muslims as
‘inferential’ versus ‘experimental’ knowledge, wherein he
words of Allah. In the Qur’an Allah is speaking through
wanted to discard the former and adopt the latter. Mark you!
Prophet Muhammad (SAAS), who is the medium of
In Roger’s scale ‘inferential’ knowledge is subjective and
transmission and propagation of the divine truth.
Typology of Knowledge in the East and the West 119 120 Experimental Science

Thus, the Qur’an provides a bird’s eye view, a (d) justifiable synthesized formulation or theorization of
descriptive glance of the divine science of creation, where the knowledge so gained, which was designated latterly by the
author of the creation is speaking ‘what and how and why and Western borrowers as ‘theory’, meaning not: me sayin; but
for what’ He created this material world, which is, therefore, theo (`eZv) saying, God saying.
an exact science. It reflects the divine technology of creation.
These are the four questions around which the Muslims have This tajribah or experimental methodology of science,
was developed in close collaboration with the parallel
built up the scientific logic of ‘hadd and burhan’, the
development of ‘information technology’ of sifting the
Evidential logic of experimental science.
genuine Hadith or information narrated by the Companions
In order to estimate the divine technology of Allah’s and their followers from Prophet Muhammad (SAAS) in the
creation with limited human capacity of knowing, the form of saying, teaching, instruction, prohibition, silent
Muslims divised the ‘Evidential Logic’ vis-a-vis the consent and description of his public and private behavior.
Aristotelian syllogistic logic. It may be noted that Aristotelian The Hadith-sifting methodology was also quadruple digital
syllogistic logic of major-minor-consequence begets process designated similarly by the Muhaddithun, the hadith
theoretical knowledge rooted in imagination or analogy after collectors, as riwayat-dirayat-jarah-ta’dil, meaning: narration-
the model of geometrical calculation. It fell much short of the intellection-testing examination and calculated judgment,
exactitude of the Qur’anic evidential knowledge. So, in order which is ipso facto Information Technology of sifting hadith
to cope with the Qur’anic burhan or evidential objective or Prophetic tradition.
knowledge, the Muslims devised a four-digital or quadruple The keyword in the information technology of the
process of definition called hadd to replace the syllogistic Muhaddithun for sifting the narration emanating from the
triadic, three digital process of definition. This is requisite for sayings of the holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) is
turning the imagination-based subjective perceptual as well as jarah, which literally means ‘wounding’ or surgery for testing
conceptual (as such also inferential, rational and empirical) objectivity of the truth. It is comparable to the modem medical
knowledge into erstwhile objective factual truth-based practice of blood-testing for diagnosing disease. By this means
evidential knowledge of burhan. As we have mentioned the Muhaddithun determined the correctness of the Hadith, the
above, this was elicited from the third category of ‘reality’ in piece of information narrated from the Prophet by a
the fourfold classification of knowledge. This is a unique continuous chain of narrators and thereto assigned ta’dil, the
invention of Muslims apart from peoples of other countries, just or rectified opinion or judgment of complete objectivity of
religions and civilizations of the East and the West. the sahih or correctness of the information. This is called ilm-
ul-hadith, the science of Prophetic tradition and different
The quadruple process of evidential logic of hadd branches of it together as ulum-al-hadith, the sciences of
devised by the early Muslim scientists were designated as: hadith.
riwayat-dirayat-tajribah-ta’dil which stand for (a) factual
Similarly, the keyword of the quadruple process of
description of the collected materials (b) correct intellectual
sifting the realistic traits of the material objects is tajribah,
assessment of the data so described (c) experimental testing
which literally means surveying, testing and technically
and examination of the data called tajribah or experiment and ‘experiment’. It is principally applied to material objects and
Typology of Knowledge in the East and the West 121 122 Experimental Science

may be applied to animals and human beings only experimentalis was sharply rejected by the Western clergy; so
analogically with approximation and not with precision. that, the word ‘science’ as a part of ‘science of God’ from the
Hence experimental sciences are precisely applied to material colloquial paradigm of English priesthood, which showed up
objects alone. Ibn Sina says that the real function of the logic for the first time in 1340 C.E. to mean merely the ‘sign of
lies on carrying a thinking person to hadd and burhan, that is, God’, was adopted by the scientists of the West as
to the evidential logic. ‘experimental science’ as late as the middle of the nineteenth
To briefly elucidate the matter , it may be said that the century C.E. though they began cultivating the Muslim
physical urge of human being can be satisfied with two sciences since some times earlier in the name of ‘natural
dimensional speculative logic; and the mental urge is satisfied philosophy’, in order to avoid the wrath of the clergy.
with three dimensional syllogistic rational logic and realistic We have, however, demonstrated that philosophy is a
practical urge in satisfied by the four-dimensional logic three dimensional syllogistic based knowledge whereas
comprising riwayat-dirayat-jarah/tajribah-ta’dil, that is to say, experimental science is four dimensional knowledge, showing
(a) collection and description of materials (b) intellectual thereby that, still the Westerners do not grasp the spirit of
analysis and computation of materials into data (c)
experimental sciences. In order to place it in proper
experimentation through testing and examination in quest of
perspective, we have to pass on to our next discourse on the
objective reality (d) a well balanced formulated objective
historical aspect of the transmission of experimental science
judgment through theorization.
from the East to the West. We may further observe that for
Although in the fourfold category of knowledge the the lack of Evidential logic in the cultivation of experimental
Muslims share equally with Aryan Hinduism and Buddhism, sciences in the West, the science learning of the Western
yet the far-reaching extension of the third category of realistic people are leading them to learned arrogance instead of
or intuitive knowledge into ulum at-tajribiyah or experimental wisdom and they are trying to combine power of the gun with
sciences , was a novel invention of the Muslims , which the knowledge of science instead of ameliorating human race
neither the East nor the West had ever contemplated or with the wisdom of knowledge and human welfare. We urge
thought of before. In this innovative venture the Muslims upon the West to acquire evidential logic and tag it with the
were prompted by the Qur’anic spirit of burhan or evidential cultivation of sciences to produce Western wisdom in order to
logic; so that, the measurement of hadd and burhan, the turn their legal humanism to natural humanitarian values.
evidential logic and upon its bases the ulum at-tajribiyah, the
experimental sciences were a special gift of the holy Qur’an. The above discoure brings us to another crucial point
In our latterly research we have completely explored of knowledge concerning the distinction between learning and
evidential knowledge in the preceding two Chapters. knowledge as well as between knowledge and wisdom. In
order to demonstrate the standpoint of East and the West in
The Westerners knew nothing about either experiment
this respect we are reproducing and amending another short
or sciences during the classical and medieval ages. We have
chapter of mine published in another book by Renaissance
seen in our previous discussion on the Islamic cosmology that
Foundation as the next chapter.
the effort of the Roger Becon (1214-1292) in the thirteenth
century C.E. to introduce ulum-at-tajribiyan as scientiae
124 Experimental Science

doctrine of pair- creation; (ii) the doctrine of the durability of

the realities of material objects; and (iii) the flawless dynamic
system of the universe, the uniformity of nature, and unity
and eternity of Allah -- the Creator, Sustainer and Providence
of the universe.

The Doctrine of Pair-creation

Islamic cosmology begins with the challenging doctrine of
pair-creation. The Holy Qur’an states that Allah has created
Chapter Nine
everything in the universe in pairs of opposite kins. Nothing
A Critical Analysis of Modern could therefore be found in the universe, which is apart from
pairs, or pair-less unitary and simple (bosit), or else
Experimental Science in Relation to indivisibly single unit disjointed from its pairing counterpart.
Islamic Ulum At-Tajribiyah That is to say, everything in the universe is complex of
contrarietic combination (murakkab), positive and negative,
(As a background for understanding Islamic male and female etc. As against the created universe, the
Cosmology and the Modem Theory of Creation) creator Allah alone is unique One (ahad), absolutely single,
At the advent of the third millennium, the old grounds of un-complexed simple. Thus the uniqueness, unity, Unitarian
cosmological thinking have radically changed. Hence Islamic entity or as the Unitarian Christian Church also believes in the
cosmology invites an up-dated doctrinal exposition. In view ‘Unitarianism of God’ (Oxford Dictionary), which in the
of the great advancement of experimental science during the Islamic parlance, is called Tawhid, meaning Unity of Allah, is
20th century and considerable retrogression of rational the primary characteristic of Allah. Hence, Tawhid or perfect
philosophy during the corresponding period, Islamic unity of Allah is the first article of faith in Islam. Tawhid or
cosmology needs be reformulated and redrawn from the Unitarian concept of Allah is not, however, a novel device of
original Qur’anic sources and its component propositions be Islam. Unitarianism is, in fact, an Abrahamic construction of
re-arranged to match with the present situation. Because religious faith, which is closely followed by the Jewish
Islamic cosmology as formulated in Ilm al-Aqaid, exposition religion as well as by early Christians as illustrated by the
of Faith, Islamic Theology, was based on rational philosophy faith of the Christian Unitarian Church, which still exists in
which has become out-dated, redundant. Canada and for the Muslim ipso facto it is the be-all and end-
Keeping the revisional objective in view, we may list the all of Islamic religion. Tawhid is pivotal to Islam. Islam is
following items for general consideration, namely, (i) the nothing more or less than upholdment of Tawhid.
A Critical Analysis of Modern Experimental Science... 125 126 Experimental Science

In the intellectual formulation, Tawhid or Unitarian faith It may be further illustrated by comparison with the
is the counter-part of pair-creation, the distinguishing trait concepts of ‘phenomena and noumena’ as propounded by the
between the creator and the created, between Allah and the renowned German philosopher Immanual Kant in his
creature, between God and the world. Let us posit the ‘Critique of Practical Reason’ wherein phenomena is tangible
question as to how far the doctrine of pair-creation is and noumena is intangible, underlying the phenomena. Herein
acceptable to the scrutiny of experimental science. again, the concepts of phenomena and noumena are ‘abstract
ideas’ whereas our concepts of things and realities are
The Doctrine of the Durability of the Realities of concrete existence.
Material Objects To elucidate further, it may be said that Kantian
‘noumena’ is a concept, and universal idea, not reality-in-
The material object, the physical entity, that which is called itself or reality per se, which is the case with haqaiq. As such
‘shayy’ in Arabic and Qur’anic parlance meaning ‘thing’ as this doctrine directly contradicts the modern scientific
we say: ‘some thing’ and ‘nothing’. All that exists is a ‘hypothesis of the conservation of matter and conservation of
‘shayy’, is a thing; the plural of ‘shayy’ is ‘ashya’ meaning energy’. Because from the Islamic point of view, matter and
things. In Arabic language reality is called ‘haqiqah’ and its energy are material objects, very much material entity, which
plural is ‘haqaiq’. is ever fleeting, ever changing and very much destructible
Our second doctrine propounds that ‘haqaiq-ul-ashya until and unless it is endured by the reality tagged to it.
thabitatun,’ the realities of things are enduring or firmly laid. We are not actually challenging herein the proven fact of
To say other way around, the things are fleeting and the science. We would rather endeavor to demonstrate that
realities are enduring; but realities being pair wise are tagged ‘experimental science’ was born out of the scientific spirit of
with things; it also implies that the realities endure things or the holy Qur’an and that, the ‘experimental’ proof amounts to
sustain material objects. In other words, the material objects a Qur’anic proof which the Muslims could never reject. Yet,
are tagged with their respective realities and the realities under the guise of experimental science, there may reside
sustain their respectively tagged objects. Reality and matter some superfluities and unproven portion wrapped together in
are two sides of a coin where matter reflects reality and an amalgam, which can be delineated and disentangled
reality sustains matter. Moreover, matters are being fleeting in without substantially disrupting the proven truth.
nature, do not exist by themselves; their existence are The Qur’an however introduced a numerical symbolic
dependent on their sustaining realities. system for counting its sentences as ayah, plural ayÉt
As a proposition, it is comparable with the philosophical meaning signs. The Qur’anic designation of its sentences as
concepts of ‘appearance and reality’, ‘quality and substance’ ayah and ayÉt meant sign, insignia, pointer to something,
with the difference that the philosophical concepts are evidence, proof etc.
abstract ideas whereas material objects and their respective The Qur’anic ‘ayah’ in fact, symbolizes the sign of the
realities have concrete existence. creation pointing to the creator. Curiously enough in early
A Critical Analysis of Modern Experimental Science... 127 128 Experimental Science

English literature we come across the selfsame expression in English ‘science’ yet it was never used in Arabic and Islamic
the usage of the Christian priests in the form of literature to mean science. Instead the term ilm bearing the
pronouncement as the ‘science of God’ in the year same symbolic meaning of pointer to and of much wider
1340,1420,1728 A.D., meaning the divine sign of the creator connotation, is used in Arabic, Persian, Turkish and Urdu to
God as cited in the Oxford English Dictionary [vol. ix, 1961, identify modern Western terminology of science; ayah and
p. 221]. It cited also Shakespeare using the word ‘science’ to (pl.) ayat are used for counting the sentences of the holy
mean ‘mysterical sign’. To quote further, we find “For God of
Quran which is divided into 114 chapters (surah) and 6236
science is Lord” [1340 A.D.]; “Scyence the height and
ayat, where it exactly means signs of Allah.
deepness of ryches of the wysdome and science of God”
[1426 A.D.]; “Divines suppose three kinds of sciences in The word ilm in Arabic has a peculiar construction. That,
God: the first science of mere knowledge, second, a science science was an English translation of ilm is proven above,
of vision, third, an intermediate science [1728 A.D.]. It quotes which covered the Latin terminology of ‘scientia’ and
Shakespeare saying, “Had not in natures mysterie more ‘scientiae’. But let us take a pause to consider the
science than I have in this ring” [1610 A.D.]. construction of ilm. Ilm originally stemmed from alam which
In the European languages up to 1728 A.D., rather up to means sign; ilm means knowledge or to know by dint of sign,
the middle of the 19th century A.D. the term science was aalim means one who is learned by dint of sign. Hark! since
never applied to mean ‘natural science’ which was still called ilm, that is, Islamic knowledge which signifies science vis-a-
‘natural philosophy’ (for detailed analysis, present writer’s vis the Greek conceptual ‘knowledge’, the potent philosophy
book: A Challenging Encounter with the West: Origin and which equips you with ‘abstract knowledge’, as such, both
Development of Experimental Science, Dhaka, BIIT, 1997, stand apart at an elbow’s length, splitting knowledge between
92 pages, the present book being an enlarged edition of the particulars and universal, that is, between concrete and
same book). abstract. Mark you! The word science or scyene as used in the
earlier English parlance as illustrated above, carried abstract
‘Science’ is neither a Latin word nor any Greek word nor and theoretical meaning, whence then modern terminology of
even rooted in either. It seems plainly an English colloquial science acquired the concrete meaning of experimental facts?
word used by the Biblical priests to mean ‘divine sign of How it came about? And how this English colloquial diction
God’. Let us put a big question mark(?) to the linguistic seems to have been generally accepted in all the European
researchers to explain as to how, why and when it came to be languages including Latin?
used for ‘experimental science’ in all the Western languages
in the 19th and the 20th centuries. Leaving it aside for a while, The Flawless Dynamic System of the Universe and
let us proceed on. the Uniformity of Nature
Coming back to our earlier discourse, let us carefully note The holy Quran calls attention of the human beings to the
that, though the term ayah stands in the same ground as of flawless creation of the universe and its perfect organizational
A Critical Analysis of Modern Experimental Science... 129 130 Experimental Science

system, its exquisite beauty, dynamic regularity of its The Quranic revelation came down with the knowledge
movement. It says: look at the world around you, to the (ilm) of the divine technology of creation, Allah Himself
ground, to the sky, to the trees, to the flowers, to the fruits, to bidding human beings through the Prophet to learn the art of
the rivers, to the mountains, to the hump of the camel, to the reading, writing and deciphering the divine technique of
ebb and flow at the rivers and the sea and to anything and creation and then says that Allah is most high and honored
everything; do you find any fault in the work of its creation(?), who taught human being the art of writing and through
in its arrangement, organization and functioning? Look at it deciphering, writing and calculation, He taught human beings
and look once again, your look shall reel back to you tired ‘to know what he did not know’ (Surah Alaq, 96: 1-5). ‘The
and utterly exhausted (67: 3-4). This is a reference to what process of knowing the unknown’ was called ilm or
our scientists, call ‘Uniformity of Nature’ which is, indeed a knowledge in the Islamic cultural tradition. Here the Quran is
proofless fundamental belief or hypothesis of the modern beckoning to the decipherment of the science of divine
science, which cannot be proved, but without which science creation.
cannot move a single step forward or backward! In the Quran,
this is a doctrine, and not a mere hypothesis; in the Quran, it In Arabic language ilm stands for both knowledge and
is God speaking! Allah speaking! science. The plural of ilm is ulum which is generally used to
mean ‘scientific knowledge’. The first Arabic scientific work
The first Quaranic revelation asked the Prophet to read, to which came to the notice of the medieval Latin translators was
decipher in the name of the creator Lord, the divine technique great Aristotelian philosopher and scientist, al-Farabi’s (870-950
(hikmah), of creating man out of a hanging embryo Zygote (alaq), A.D.) famous book Al-Ihsa-ul-ulum, meaning “Emumeration
to contemplate over the science of creation, to decipher how the of Sciences”. It was translated into Latin by Dominican
Providence Lord (rabb) created human beings from a zygote
Gundasalvi and Gerard of Cremona in 1175 A.D. under the
(alaq), ‘the conjugated pair of sperm and ovum stuck up hanging
title “De scientiis” [Ralph Lerner and Muhsin Mahdi ed.
in the wall of the uterus’ (Al-Quran: Surah Alaq, 96: 1-5). The
Medieval Political Thought: A Source Book, Canada, 1963, p.
Prophet must have been shown the 14 creative steps in the process
22). They laid down the term ‘scientiis’ to translate ‘ulum’
of child-birth, which were gradually revealed in the other surahs
which is the plural of ‘ilm’ and in plural it means ‘sciences’.
of the Quran later on (Ref. Maurice Bucaille: The Bible, the
But it is still a far cry from English ‘science’ which first
Quran and Science, n. d. and
showed up as late as 1340 A.D. The Latin dictionaries say
http://www.quranicstudies.comlprintout83.html; for detail:
nothing about ‘scientiis’; instead they put down ‘scientia’ as
Kaith L. Moore and V.N. Persoud: The Developing Human,
the equivalent of modem ‘science’ and put forth ‘scien+entis’
Clinically Oriented Embriology, 5th Edn. Philadelphia, W.B.
as its root (Charlton: Latin Dictionary, Oxford, New York,
Saunders Co., U.S.A, 1993; Kaith L. Moore and E. Marshall
1879, pp.1642-43). The words ‘science’ and ‘scientia’
Johnson: Human Development as Described in the Quran and
Sunnah, Makkah, Commission on Scientific Sign of the therefore did not stem from the same root; both emanated
Quran and Sunnah, Saudi Arabia, 1992). from separate stems.
A Critical Analysis of Modern Experimental Science... 131 132 Experimental Science

The terminology of ‘scientia’ and its plural ‘scientiae’ who rose to the highest academic position of Chancellor of
brings us face to face to the greatest medieval European the Oxford University. The Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Vol.
scientific mind, Roger Bacon (1214-1292 A.D.), who wrote 3-4, p. 391) accredits him the fame of being “the progenitor
his Encyclopedic work: Opus Majus pleading for a drastic or English scientific tradition.” It adds further that he was
change in the mode and methodology of theological education deeply influenced by Muslim learning, especially by Ibn Sina
by providing more thorough grounding in scientific (Avicenna). As a teacher, commentator and translator from
researches. In this voluminous work, he wrote a chapter on Arabic to Latin, he took an active part in the movement of
‘experimental sciences’ in Arabic style and called it ‘scientiae transmitting the scientific and philosophical writings of the
experimentalis’ in exact translation of al-ulum at-tajribiyah Muslims to Europe (ibid.).
(Ref: Paul Edwards ed.: The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Nevertheless, factually considered, Roger Bacon (1214-
1967, vol. 1-2, pp. 240-242). 1292 A.D.) was the real progenitor of the scientific spirit and
Roger Bacon was an English man. His Opus Majus was modernism of the West by dint of his exact translation of al-
ulum at-tajribiyah as ‘scientiae experimentalis’, which was
described by later authorities as “an astonishing, all
latterly rendered into English as ‘experimental sciences’ and
comprehensive encyclopedia of what was known in his time
his advocacy of exchanging the existing ‘inferential system of
concerning natural sciences.” The work was forwarded to
education’ by ‘experimental scientific system’ and his
Pope Clement in 1267 A.D. (ibid.). The latterly English wise
insisting on adopting Arabic numerals and mathematics as the
man Francis Bacon was a worthy successor of him who
basic academic principle. Frank Thilly says that he was a
gained considerable wisdom from Roger’s work. The “curious mixture of the medieval and modern scholar” and
Encyclopedia of Philosophy states: “Bacon’s fame until regarded him as the most original and independent figure
recently rested inter alia on his short section of writing on amongst those who cultivated mathematical and physical
experimental science” (ibid). Other sources, however, allege sciences in England during the 13th century A. D. (A History
that his movement for educational reform received a serious of Philosophy, p. 185).
set back as the fanatical Christian theologians of his time,
In the medieval arena of scientific knowledge Grosseteste
doubted him of Islamic leanings and religious heresy.
shone like a morning star; yet Roger Bacon out-shone him
Consequently his Opus Majus was bitterly opposed by
like a rising sun, whose comprehensive planning of scientific
Christian clergy and he was imprisoned for 14 years. (Ref.
education, sharp intellectual directives and clear grasp of
The Oxford English Dictionary, Vol. 9, p. 221; World
distinction between philosophy and science as ‘inferential vis-
University Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, pp. 528-529).
a-vis experimental’ knowledge, marked a clear advancement
Roger Bacon was, however, preceded by another giant over post-Avicenna academics of the Muslimdom. Its
intellectual and unparalleled genius Robert Grosseteste (1168- adoption (by the Muslims and Christians alike) as ‘the shared
1253 A.D.) who was the first Lecturer of the Oxford cultural heitage of mankind’, could have effected a clear
University, Franciscan Bishop of the Diocene of England and advancement throughout the East and the West.
A Critical Analysis of Modern Experimental Science... 133 134 Experimental Science

Roger’s coining the term ‘scientiae experimentalis’ that is the intimate connection of experimental science with
‘experimental sciences’ as the translation of ‘al-ulum Muslim scholarship, the Westerners were reluctant
at-tajribiyah’ and identifying real scientific knowledge with to accept it fearing lest they should be contaminated
‘experimental sciences’ which yielded objective and verified by Islamic infidelity [Paul Edwards ed.: The
knowledge as opposite to the empirical, conceptual, rational Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1976, Vol. 1-2, pp.
or inferential knowledge of philosophy, was a radical and 240-42; Frank Thilly: A History of Philosophy; pp.
revolutionary step which more than anything gave birth to the 230-38; Joseph Laffan Morse ed.: Standard
spirit of scientific modernism in the West. His splitting of Reference Encyclopedia, New York, 1959, Vol. 3,
substantive knowledge into inferential vis-a-vis experimental, pp. 896-97). Consequently his clerical opponents
was so important for modernism in medieval times as the succeeded in castigating him and imprisoning him
splitting of atom was important in the 20th century for the for long 14 years (ibid). Notwithstanding, Nicholas
emergence of nuclear science. Copernicus (1453-1543), Johans Kepler (1571-
No doubt, chased by the fundamentalist fanatical 1630), Francis Bacon (1511-1626) and Galileo Galili
Catholic Christian clergy’s charge of heresy, the (1564-1642) all came in his train with the banner of
devotees of scientific learing in the West hesitated, experimental sciences in Europe but cautiously
procrastinated, made dally-dilling and shally-shilling using the familiar philosophical terminology of
for long long centuries before they caught hold of ‘natural philosophy’ to mean ‘scientiae
the spirit of Roger’s ‘scientiae experimentalis’ even experimentalis’ till the middle of the nineteenth
in the fake name of ‘experimental sciences’ as late century. Even so, the scientists were looked at with
as the middle of the 19th century A.D. In the suspicion and their life and honor were hardly
meantime, exciting debate went on as to the secure. Copernicus was burnt alive on the stake and
intention of Roger’s coining the terminology of Galileo was kept under confinement for 36 years
‘scientiae experimentalis’. Some tried to exonerate since they could not hide their attachment to the
him by stating that he meant by ‘experimetalis’, Muslim authorities. At long last, they borrowed the
experiential; that is, when he said “nothing can be priestly English terminology of ‘science’ and
known with certainty without ‘experimentalis’, he exchanged it with ‘scientiae’ and used ‘experimental
meant without ‘experience’. One Samuel Jeb even science’ to serve their purpose. So, from the middle
brought out a new edition of his ‘Opus Majus’ under of the nineteenth century ‘scientiae experimentalis’
the title of ‘Pus Majus’ in 1733 A.D. ommitting the came to be popularly known as ‘experimental
chapter on “Scientiae Experimentalis” there from sciences’. Here lies the history of the promotion of
with a view to proving his good intention. English colloquial word ‘science’ to the status of
Nevertheless, in those days of crusading struggle of ‘scientia’, the experimental scientiae.
the European Christians against Islam and in view of
A Critical Analysis of Modern Experimental Science... 135 136 Experimental Science

‘Experimental science’ is now-a-days regarded as a reason’, Dilthay’s concept of internalization and

Western brand of knowledge, originated, developed and externalization of the truth. Accordingly, let us say, whenever
flourished in the West. The Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Paul the existence of material things is internalized, it turns into
Edwards ed., Collier and Macm. UK, 1967, Vol. 7-8, p. 339) realities (haqaiq) and whenever the existence of realities is
states that John F. Herschell was the originator of the externalized, it turns into material things (ashya). However, in
scientific analytical methodology, which as we know, is ipso Dilthay’s philosophy, these are concepts and ideas and have
facto methodology of experimental science. Herschell, no positive existence; whereas in the Islamic perspective,
however, called his book. Preliminary Discourse on the Study realities or haqaiq have real existence which also sustain the
of Natural Philosophy, instead of ‘natural science’ and the material existence of things tagged with them. Thus, in the
book was published from London in 1830 A.D. when the term Islamic perspective reality is a third higher category of
‘science’ has not yet come into scientific use in Western existence and point to that knowledge which resides beyond
languages. So, this tendentious conception of origination of the (i) perceptual and (ii) conceptual knowledge and is not
experimental science is besides the point. bound by the categories of empirical knowledge.
Moreover the conjunctive use of ‘experimental’ with
‘science’ calls our attention to its functional implication. As
Haqaiqul Ashiya Thabitatun
distinct from subjective ‘experiential’ implication. This third category of haqaiq comprising both concrete
‘experimental’ carries an objective realistic meaning, which existence and knowledge of realities, brings us back to our
does not fit well with the Western tradition of ‘conceptual’ earlier dialogue on the Aristotelian concept of the eternity of
and ‘empirical’ knowledge both of which smack a subjective matter and the modern Western postulate of indestructibility
aroma. It had created an embarrassing confusion in the of matter and conservation of energy. In the Islamic
learned circle of the West. One Mr. Wolter broached a long- perspective the haqaiq or reality is enduring, it sustains ashya
drawn debate contending that by ‘scientiae experimentalis’, or things; and matter and energy being material objects, must
Roger Bacon meant knowledge through experience as be sustained and made enduring by its corresponding reality
opposed to inferential or rational knowledge (Joseph Lafan or realities. So that, conservation is with realities and not with
Morse ed.: Standard Reference Encyclopedia, Vol. 3; pp. the matter. Matter being constantly changing, always
896-97 and Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Paul Edwards ed., changing, which cannot stand erect without fleeting, even for
Vol. 1-2, pp. 240-42). a split second, how can it conserve itself(?), is a big question.
To justify the ‘conservation’ hypothesis, they call up another
The most significant part of the Experimentalis, or
tajribah however, lies in its affinity to the objective reality or hypothesis of the ‘Uniformity of Nature’, neither being above
haqiqah, which sustains materiality. It is comparable to the the serious question of an interlocutor as the figment of the
brain. None of these hypotheses can be scientifically proved.
famous American/German philosopher of ‘love, chance and
A Critical Analysis of Modern Experimental Science... 137 138 Experimental Science

Modern Science At the final stage of our discourse on science, we should

like to entreat our Western audience and readers to forget the
Indeed, hypothesis cannot be equated with the truth; it is
etymological meaning of ‘science’ or ‘scyence’ which is
approximation of the truth. The fundamental basis of modern
irrelevant, as we have seen above, in the modern scientific
science being hypothetical, the modern scientists fall short of arena and we would invite their reflective indulgence in
arriving at a firm ‘definition’ of science (Ref. John considering the objective meaning and experimental
Woodburn; “Science Defined versus Indefinable, a Personal significance of science and exchange it by scientiae and
Attempt to define Science”, The Science Teacher, Vol. 34, scientiaefic in order to make it conform to the real scientific,
No.8, Nov. 1967, pp. 27-30, UNESCO Journal). They adopt tajribi wisdom: (1). see, (2). think, (3). experiment, (4).
rather a working ‘description’ saying: Science is a dynamic conclude.
knowledge, constantly changing knowledge, an evolving
With a little reflection, it can be easily realized that
knowledge, is an accumulated and systematized learning, that
science as a rule yields ‘objective knowledge’. But all
20th century science is displaying a trait of uncertainty in the Western knowledge being perceptual, conceptual, rational and
runway of its dynamism, that, prove is a word that may be empirical, Western knowledge yields ipso facto subjective
appropriate to mathematics or logic, but it is now usually out knowledge. Western knowledge has always been and still is
of place in science; that, scientist should be certain of only of empirical characteristics. Whereas science, in order to be
one thing that at the end everything he knows may turn out to science, must yield objective knowledge, which is the result
be wrong, and so on (Ref. UNESCO: Handbook for Science of testing and examination that lies in the opposite pole of
Teachers, Paris, 1980, p.1 ff; James Hastings ed.: experience. It renders little consolation even to classify
Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, pp. 252-58: ‘Science’; experimental science as a theoretical or practical branch of
M. Akbar Ali: Science in the Qur’an, Dhaka, 1976, p. 14). inductive knowledge. Because, inductive knowledge must
reach out towards the deductive knowledge, the main plank of
In fact, science goes by a set methodology based on
Aristotelian logic, and both together constitute the inferential
(a) observation (b) collection of data (c) experimentation and
knowledge, which Roger wanted to abandon in favour of
formulation of a general conception (d) adoption of a thesis
experimental knowledge. Indeed, experimental science or ilm
(e) formulation of a law (f) build up a theory, and so on, yet in
at-tajribiyah constitutes the corner stone of Islamic wisdom.
matter of definition, it is sharply critical and thoroughly
skeptical. Science is gained by observation and by
experiment, but also by reflecting on the data thus supplied.
Typically scientific knowledge is of such a kind that it can be
verified by competent inquirers who repeat the observation
and experiment (Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, 1927).
140 Experimental Science

expressed our considered views in the present book boldly

entitled: “A Challenging Encounter with the Modern West:
Origin and Development of Experimental Science”, wherein
our zealous gleaning yielded no evidence of Western people’s
grasping the ‘Origin’ of Experimental Science; instead they
seemed to run fast grabbing, catching hold of its
‘Developmental aspect’, and kept on promoting its further and
further growth as ‘scientific technology’, of various kinds,
Chapter Ten which we shall try to clear up at the end as our last say. We
may therefore enter into a discourse of critical review of our
Conclusion current analysis.

To start with our succinct conclusion, let me observe in the A Critical Discourse on Experimental Science in
light of preceding chapters that before the advent of Islam, the the West
intellectual orientation world-wide was based of
‘Explanatory’ mental frame leading towards explanatory To broach with a startling surprise that swooped upon my
methodology for rendering obscure and indistinct ideas intellectual skill with an awful jerk when at the end of half-a-
distinct and clear in order to make it easily understandable; century of ardent research on the history of ‘Experimental
whereas Islamic religion came down from heavenly divine Science’, I discovered that the real meaning of ‘science’ is
source with the holy Qur’an as its mouthpiece on the more fictitious than the reality of fiction itself. As a lifelong
‘Analytical’ methodology, a brand new mode of placing researcher of the holy Qur’an, being factually convinced that
before human beings objective oriented transparent ideas, experimental science was begotten of the Quranic diction of
ideals and truth easily understandable that can be clearly seen ‘ilm’ and ‘ulum’, as I moved heaven and earth to find out the
in the light of practical experience. In one word, pre-Islamic etymological implication, philological analysis and
mode of knowledge was perceptual and rational that morphological structure of ‘science’, I got stunt to discover
constituted theoretical, conceptual, inferential oriented that the real meaning of the word ‘science’ was ‘sign’
knowledge whereas Islam introduced a brand new type of meaning ‘insignia’ and that it was being used by the English
analysis-based practical analytical methodology oriented priesthood for centuries in the medieval England, conjugated
knowledge that gave birth to the experimental scientific with ‘God’ as the ‘Science of God’ meaning plainly as ‘the
knowledge in course of time. sign’ or ‘insignia’ of God, in order to cope with the popular
Islamic-Quranic usage of ‘ayāt’ of Allah, meaning insignia
From this perspective, we have thoroughly studied the
and sign of Allah. I found ‘science’ as a monolithic word,
history of the origin and development of Western modern
having nothing to do with Roger Bacon’s ‘scientia’ (singular)
science, critically analysed its contentions and logically
and ‘scientiae’ (plural) being Latin word made up of
Conclusion 141 142 Experimental Science

‘sciens+entis’ which he coined to translate the Arabic word As a historical researcher, I should like to observe that
‘ilm’ and ‘ulum’ respectively singular and plural forms, with ‘scientiae experimentalis’ happened to be a wonderful
which he translated ‘ulum at-tajribiyah’ as ‘scientiae terminology coined by Roger Bacon in the 13th century C.E.
experimentalis’ in the 13th century C.E. The word ‘science’ which exerted grandest impact on the modern colonizer
and ‘syence’ was also used by Poet Shakespeare and others to groups of Europeans and the Western emerging nations in the
mean ‘mystery’. He says “Had not in natures mysterie more outer colonies from 16th to the 19th century C.E. elevating
science, than I have in this Ring?”1 white European people inhabiting therein socially,
economically, as well as in the European so-called mother
Roger Bacon’s main aim was to introduce in the European
countries and hegemoniously as well as intellectually to the
education system the Islamic Arabic ‘ulum at-tajribiyah’
greatest height in culture and civilizaition.
which is now-a-days popularly known as ‘experimental
science’. The Arabic terminology being in plural, he coined
Progenitor of Scientiae Experimentalis
the Latin terminology also in plural as ‘scientiae
exprimentalis’, by means of which he wanted to replace the From the medieval stagnant state of the Western culture and
Greek Logic oriented ‘inferential’ knowledge by more civilization to modern transformational process two great
advanced Islamic Arabic oriented ‘experimental knowledge’ personalities of England stand out in history as the
in the European education system as we have analyzed in the progenitors of ‘scientiae experimentalis’ in Europe, both of
preceding chapters.2 them lived and culturally flourished in the 13th century C.E.
In search of exact meaning of Roger Bacon’s ‘scientiae’ Both of them were outstanding scholars in the lore’s of the
and the popular terminology of ‘science’ I had to run to and East and the West and both of them felt deep apprehension at
fro from pillar to the post and from jigsaw puzzle of English the then degradation of cultural position of the West and
politico-religious vocabulary to classical Oxford Dictionary to realized the indispensable necessity of catching hold of higher
discover at long last that the English priestly jargon, ‘science’ Islamic culture and civilization. They were however
was conjugated to the Latin terminology of ‘experimental’ as especially impressed by the progressive utility of Arabic
recently as the middle of the 19th century C.E. to mean what numerals, Islamic mathematics and tajribi ulum/ experimental
before time was known as ‘natural philosophy’ from about scientiae’ which, they felt, must needs be acquired for the
14th century down to the middle of the 19th century C.E. survival of cultural tradition and prosperity of the West.
surreptitiously to mean Roger Bacon’s 13th century The senior of them was Robert Grosseteste (1168-1253
vocabulary of ‘scientiae experimentalis’ that was the exact C.E.), who became Chancellor of the Oxford University, the
translation of Arabic ‘ulum at-tajribiyah’, which is currently first Lecturer of the Oxford and Bishop of the largest diocene
known in English vocabulary as ‘experimental science’ which of England.3 The other was Roger Bacon (1214-1292 C.E.)
is however neither Greek type of philosophy nor like as the who was also a Franciscan Monk, a devoted student of
English priestly vocabulary ‘Science of God’. Nevertheless by mathematics and physical scences, who was trained at Oxford
this name lately ‘scientiae’ became popular in the West.
Conclusion 143 144 Experimental Science

as well as at Paris.4 The former, Robert Grosseteste is credited the lap of Islamic religion by means of adaptation to this
as the progenitor of English scientific tradition and the latter, Islamic oriented knowledge. So that, from 14th century C.E.
Roger Bacon is regarded as the chief agent of introducing onwards they cultivated it surreptitiously calling it ‘Natural
tajribi ulum/experimental sciences to the West. Philosophy’. As we have hinted above, the European
It may also be noted that Roger Bacon was the first Christians, particularly those who called themselves modern
European learned personality to realize that the Graeco- and Protestant, continued to pursue it under the name of
‘natural philosophy’ down to the middle of the 19th century
Roman ‘Inferential knowledge’ had got out-dated and was
C.E. even though it was a practical experimental knowledge
cleanly superseded by scientiae experimantalis/ulum at-
that was categorically different from the theoretical
tajribiyah. He ardently pleaded to his countrymen to replace
the Greek logic based ‘Inferential Methodology’ by the
‘Experimental Methodology’ of the Muslimdom in the By the middle of the 19th century C.E. the protagonists of
educational curricula of Europe in order to cope with the time the ‘natural philosophy’ seem to have felt imperially strong
and tide of the world progress. enough to go back to the original name of ‘scientiae
experimantalis’, yet even so being afraid of angry reaction of
With a view to convince his countrymen of the imminent
the Catholic Christian priesthood, they exchanged the original
necessity of such a radical reform, he wrote an Encyclopedic
terminology with the English priestly terminology of
book entitled Opus Majus5 depicting therein the shortcomings
‘science’ and called it ‘experimental science’.
of Inferential knowledge and the merits of the Experimental
knowledge. His efforts were at first lauded; but no sooner the It may, however, be noted that the word ‘science’ is a
attention of the conservative section of the Catholic Christians monolithic word plainly meaning ‘sign’ or ‘insignia’,
was drawn, his reform ideas were behemently opposed, his originally an English priestly jargon, always used during the
propositions were castigated as heretic and eventually he was medieval times around 15th and 16th century C.E. conjugated
imprisoned in a priestly establishment wherein he languished with ‘God’ as ‘Science of God,’6 probably as an equivalent
for about 14 years. expression of Arabic ‘Ayah’ or ‘Ayat’ as we say ‘Ayatul
Qur’an’ that plainly means ‘sign’ and ‘insignia’ that pertains
Nevertheless, it was Roger Bacon who coined the to the inferential vocabulary whereas scientia was coined
terminology of ‘Scientiae Experimantalis’ as the exact from ‘sciens + entis’ to stand for experimental nuance.
translation of ‘ulum at-tajribiyah’ whence flowed the latterly
‘Experimental Sciences’, which points to a deeper knowledge The use of ‘science’ instead of ‘scientia’ or ‘scientiae’
comparable to the Bangla-Sanskrit gñana (Ávb) leading to seems to have created some sort of fogginess in the Western
concept of ‘experimental science’ as conceived of being
progña (cÖÁv) or wisdom. Unfortunately however the
begotten of ‘induction’ or ‘inductive knowledge’ that tacitly
protagonists of ‘scientiae experimantalis’ dared not utter the
allows the expression “philosophy of science” which in
selfsame terminology in the face of deadly opposition of the
actuality belongs to two different category of knowledge,
Catholic Christian priesthood, who feared being dragged into
Conclusion 145 146 Experimental Science

philosophy being 3 digital knowledge and experimental 3rd Theoretical, philosophical, intellectual, by dint of
science being of 4 digital knowledge. This confusion also universalistic knowledge, conceptual calculation as
seems to permit the Western scientists to consider ‘empirical’ against 1st and 2nd particularistic concrete modalities.
knowledge at par with ‘scientific’ knowledge.
4th Experimental sciences, Oriental religious doctrine, which
Nonetheless, we have plainly demonstrated in the carries the knowledge to the mode of ‘Truth’ and
preceding chapters that the Latin terminology of ‘Scientiae ‘Reality’ that is ‘Wisdom’.
Experimentalis’, that is ‘experimental scientiae’ is an exact
At the 4th dimension, the state of Truth is obtained by
translation of ‘ulum at-tajribiyah’ that is, ‘tajribi ulum’. means of experimental methodology that leads to
‘Tajribi’ in Arabic is derived from ‘jarib’ meaning survey; experimental science, ‘ulum at-tajribiyah’ and further one
hence ‘tajribi’ means ‘practically surveyed’ like as ‘land step beyond the state of ‘Reality’ is attained spiritual
survey’. Moreover, we have clearly shown that Muslim ‘Communion’ with Allah, the Supreme Lord through spiritual
scholars have elicited the ‘ulum at-tajribiyah’ in pursuance of devotion that goes to the make up of ‘Oriental Religion’,
the ‘Four Digital’ evidential logic of the holy Quran’s double- ‘deen’, ‘dharma’.
set question of ‘What of what7(?)’.
Looked at this from Oriental religious as well as Quranic
We have further contended that before the advent of Islam perspective, modern Western knowledge remains content with
and holy Qur’an, human culture and civilization world-wide the 2nd and 3rd dimensional rational knowledge with the
subsisted in ‘Two and Three’ digital logic in pursuance of two framework of Greek logical ‘particulars’ and ‘universals’. It
digital ‘Inductive-Deductive’ rational logic (particularistic does not normally attempt to pierce through Aristotelian
concrete) and three-digital philosophical logic (universalistic ceiling of the ‘Universals’ to get enamoured unto the 3rd
theoretical); whereas the holy Qur’an was revealed on the dimensional perception of the ‘Truth’ and the 4th dimension of
‘Communion’, which may appear to the Modern West as
four dimensional (riwayat-dirayat-tajriba-ta’dil) evidential
wizardly, mysterious or mystic on account of its
objective logic, called burhan.8
metamorphosis beyond conceptual knowledge.
We are arguing herein from the Quranic point of view that
the human beings express their mind through ‘Four The Turning Point
Modalities’ such as: It is, however, at this point of ‘conceptual arena’ that the
st Islamic ‘Truth Perception’ pierced through its ceiling by
1 One dimensional news and views, which one can accept
or reject but cannot modify. means of tajribah/experimental methodology, a patent
objective mathematics-based surveying, testing, examining
2nd Two dimensional conversation, reasoning, logic, arts, system applied for gaining objective factual data, free from
literature that are mutual, concrete, factual, subject to subjective speculation, personal opinion, individual judgment,
verification. and far above experiential knowledge. It marked the
Conclusion 147 148 Experimental Science

beginning of acquiring objective ‘Truth Dimensional’ 3rd Indeed, what is the truth dimension of ‘theory’? Theo =
category of experimental scientiaefic/scientific knowledge Deva = dieu = †`e, which feign to say: Theo+ry =Theory
that sparked the grand scientific revolution, the fruit of which =Theo+ry, saying = god saying = †`eZË¡. That is to say: It is
we are profusely enjoying today. not me; means not man speaking, but immortal god speaking.
Banking on tajribah/experimentation, the Muslim sages Isn’t it idolatry oriented? Is idol’s speech equivalent to truth?
pronounced, in accordance with the Quranic spirit, the Moreover, ulum at-tajribiyah/scientiae experimentalis
doctrine of haqaiqul ashya thabitatun, all things exist by dint propound objective truth, objective fact, whereas ‘science’ as
of ‘truth dimension’; that is to say, things do not exist by dint a ‘word’ of English diction is just an adjectival noun, part of
of ‘thingness’ but on the basis of its ‘truthness’, that stands for speech, is out and out subjective, a subjective quality of a
‘certitude’ as against ‘hypothetical’ rational theory and ism. subjective noun! Then let us see, on earth, where ‘science’
In other words, it meant to say: all things in this world are stands in the arena of tajribi/scientific objective judgment of
fleeting, transient, temporary whereas the ‘truth dimension’ things and objects!
underlying things do subsist, and are substantive, permanent
In view of the Doctrine of Truth, the Muslim sages delineated
and exist in reality, which is third dimensional proposition
fourfold classification of knowledge, viz.:
reached by the tajribah/experiment. In the intellectual sphere,
this truth dimension separated reality based ‘Doctrine’ from
hypothetical speculation/opinion based theory and ‘ism’ and
also distinguishes experimental scientiae/science from
speculative, imaginative hypothetical philosophy. Thus and
so, it subsists by dint of expriment scientiae that stands one
Step above the third dimensional rational philosophy. Hush!
Out of the above first serial quadruple methodology, the
in point of fact, rational philosophy stands at perception1 →
Muslim scholars developed the science of Information
conception2 → plus abstraction; that is, 2 plus dimension, and
Technology of Prophetic Tradition (Hadith) and
not wholesome 3 dimension, indeed, that constitute
historiography (TaÔrikh) and out of the second serial
quadruple methodology they developed Ôulum at-tajribiyah’,
Moreover, Islam being a divine revelation-based religion, which Roger Becon translated into Latin as ‘Scientiae
a truth dimension based doctrine, a concrete teaching based Experimentalis’ and which latterly came to be known in
‘divine teaching’ and sure and certain moral instruction, it English as ‘Experimental Science’. We have meticulously
does not recognise any hypothetical, imaginary ‘abstract analyzed every aspect of it in chapter six to nine of the present
theory’, abstract philosophy, abstract knowledge and abstract book.
Conclusion 149 150 Experimental Science

It needs be especially noted that in the existential aspect mundane world. It yields definite knowledge and there lies
of science and philosophy, since the Graecian heritage of nothing hypothetical about it.
philosophy falls into the abstract category of knowledge, it
Before ending the present discourse, I am constrained to
remains basically hypothetical and went out of the pale of
say as a Quranic researcher that the holy Qur’an puts forth in
ulum at-tajribiyah/experimental sciences. It is classified by
the arena of human knowledge that, Allah taught father Adam
the Muslim scholars as a speculative subject and dealt with it
(allama) all names of things (asmaÔs kullaha);10 that is the
separately as an independent discipline. They promoted it
science of nomenclature, naming things, from which human
widely in the literary sphere and also developed an elaborate
knowledge flowed and generated (name-concept-based)
discipline of Islamic philosophy keeping it separate from
conceptual knowledge, aviYvg~jK we`¨v, and we learn from
experimental sciences on account of its abstract hypothetical
Socrates, the Greek sage, that ‘knowledge is conceptual’. If
aspect whereas experimental sciences are existentially
you cannot name/define science, than on earth or heaven, how
concrete, tangible riding on certitude.
can you build up a system of knowledge that leads to wisdom
As an humble researcher of the history of experimental (Ávb), a scientiae worth calling! It raises the pertinent
science, I am surprised to hear the modern Western scientists question as to ‘What is Science’? Is it just a perception, a
to say that experimental science bears no definition and that if percept (Abyf~wZ)? Or is it just learn-learning (we`¨v)? Or is it
it stands the test of experiment, it is yes, but if it does not wisdom (Ávb)?
stand experimentation, it is null;9 as if experimental science
was born of experiment! In the Islamic-Arabic-Quranic perspective there are a
series of words expressing different grades of learning, such
I am even astonished to hear great Western scientists like as: arafa- to know, aqala- to understand, alama- to grasp by
Stephen Hawking to say that experimental science, as a sign, insignia, whence comes ilm/scientia (sciens+entis),
whole, bears ‘hypothetical knowledge’ which equally sounds ulum= scientiae (plural), which ifso facto stands for,
like pointing to the origination of experimental science in the ‘wisdom’ from wise-wisely grasping and not simply know-
lap of ‘Experiment’ which is terribly misleading and as we knowledge (we`¨v).
have analysed above, experimental science/scientiae was the
translation of ‘ulum at-tajribiyah’ and in its turn ‘ulum at- In this regard I feel prone to suggest that the modern
tajribiyah’ originated or born of Four Dimensional Protestant world of the West by dint of abandoning the word
knowledge, from ‘jarib’ (survey), ‘tajribah’ (surveying ‘wisdom’ has stepped into the quagmire of bidya (we`¨v) =
calculation) being a Four Digital mathematical terminology of know-knowledge and that in quest of the scientiae,
the Muslim scientists of 8th and 9th century C.E. devised for surreptitiously, in the name of ‘science’, by its great scholars,
accurately defining and mathematically calculating quantity, so far fell short of arriving at scientiaefic ‘wisdom’ which is
quality and natural characteristics of physical objects of this the real meaning of ulum at-tajribiyah. I do really glean that
there exists a lot of wisdom in the modern Western culture
Conclusion 151 152 Experimental Science

and civilization in the arena of literature but none in the field Before I finish, I should, therefore, like to invite their
of modern science! Why, why, why! thoughtful indulgence to take to the path of scientiaefic
1. May be while taking science from the captivated Jews wisdom and draw their attention to the indispensable
instead of taking it directly from the Muslims, the Western necessity of turning whole-heartedly to the germinating
scientiaefic slogan: haqaiqul ashya thabitatun, things subsist
scientists lost sight of the muzzle of the gun.
in the lap of reality, in order to make the modern Western
2. May be while trying to develop an unnamed subject- scientific researches beneficial and fruitful to the mankind
matter, the Western scientists missed the vital point of instead of spreading horror.
starting with ‘certitude’ of premise that needed to be based
on haqiqah/haqiqat the 3rd dimensional ‘truth proposition’, References
and instead they started with ‘hypothetical’ truth 1. The Oxford English Dictionary; 1961, Vol. IX, p. 221.
dimension, I clearly remember to have read in the 2. See chapters 1, 2, 3 in the present book.
Newspaper in the recent past a news item wherein Stephen 3. See chapter 5.
Hawking admitted (to the effect) that “the experimental 4. See chapter 2, 5.
science was over all hypothetical”, along with the 5. See chapter 1 et seq.
6. See chapter 1.
measuring rod of experiment!
7. See chapter 7.
3. Falling short of certainty of haqaiq/truth dimension, the 8. Ibid.
Western scientists also fell far short of reaching the 9. See chapter 6.
certainty target in scientific research, they promoted 10. Al Qur’an, 2: 31.
scientific ‘technology’ in the place of scientific ‘wisdom’
(Ávb) calling it popularly scientific ‘knowledge’ (ˆeÁvwbK
we`¨v). This underhand innovation has produced in their
scientific field of ‘Researcher’ a terrible Frankenstein
posed to work widespread destruction in the world. A
popular media in Bangladesh namely Dainik Purbakone
published a statement of Stephen Hawking on March 10,
2017 C.E. entitled: “Technology can destroy humankind”,
saying: “For the future preservation of mankind,
technology must needs be brought under control”. He adds
further that “only hope of deliverance from this danger lay
in its global control.”