Justin Stearns, Associate Professor in Arab Crossroads Studies, NYUAD

NYUAD Professor Champions Recognition of Islamic Science Legacy

After Justin Stearns, NYUAD assistant professor in Arab Crossroads Studies, attended the 1001 Inventions exhibition currently being held in Abu Dhabi, he put fingers to keyboard for The National's Opinion pages. In his commentary, titled "1001 Innovations and the living heritage of Islamic science," he discusses the focus of the exhibition, challenging its validity, and providing evidence that natural sciences were of great importance to the Muslim world after the 15th century.

While the exhibition highlights "the achievements of Muslim scientists between the 8th and 13th centuries," Stearns argues that its focus "suggests that visitors should be interested in Islamic scientific heritage only to the extent that it influenced modern science and technological innovation in Europe." In addition, he explained, "Not only does this focus lead to some untenable claims, more importantly it also leaves visitors, including many schoolchildren, with the distinct impression that there was no scientific achievement or interest in the Muslim world after the Middle Ages."

According to the evidence Stearns provides in his article, nothing could be further from the truth. Consequently, the exhibition, "created to draw Europe's attention to everything owed to Islamic science, is less successful in telling the story of how the natural sciences were important to many in the Muslim world long after the Renaissance and before the arrival of the colonial powers."

Read 1001 Innovations and the living heritage of Islamic science  (The National)