Talk:Science in the medieval Islamic world

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Misuse of sources[edit]

This article has been edited by a user who is known to have misused sources to unduly promote certain views (see WP:Jagged 85 cleanup). Examination of the sources used by this editor often reveals that the sources have been selectively interpreted or blatantly misrepresented, going beyond any reasonable interpretation of the authors' intent.

Here are examples of edits that introduced undue material:

  • Diff introduced: 'al-Jazari, who is considered the "father of robotics" and "father of modern day engineering"' (text now removed).
  • Diff introduced: 'Another contemporary, al-Kindi, described an early concept of relativity, which some see as a precursor to the later theory of relativity developed by Albert Einstein in the 20th century. Like Einstein, al-Kindi held that the physical world and physical phenomena are relative...' (text now removed).

I have archived this talk page; many comments on undue material can be found in Archive 1.

Please see the Cleanup subpage for more information. It is hard to see how best to move forward: there were many significant scientific developments in medieval Islamic civilization, yet the article contains many cherry-picked and undue claims, and dubious sources. I favor heavy pruning: remove all material that is poorly sourced or with only generic references without page numbers; remove many of the quotes (classic cherry picking). I regard as an unreliable source, and all material based on that source should be removed. Text including "first to", "pioneer of", or "a forerunner" should be assessed for UNDUE. Any thoughts? Johnuniq (talk) 02:13, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

I support your actions 100%. This article is a real headache. It makes the average reader think meideval muslims were modern thinkers, something they clearly were not. They were people from their time and their culture. Regarding Al Jazari as the father of robotics is ridiculous, becuse there were people making more complex machines some 1000 years before, like Hero of Alexandria or Ctesibius (to name a few). Regarding al Kindi as a forerunner to Einstein is simply ludicrous (easily the biggest lie Jagged85 has written so far). Similar thoughts can be found in greek philosophers and even St. Augustine.
I begin to wonder if this article should be deleted and started from scratch... --Knight1993 (talk) 21:29, 2 October 2010 (UTC)
I suggest replacing it with a stub, consisting of
  • the present Lede section,
  • the present Overview section, revised to include only
    • the present Historiography section, followed by
    • the Views of Historians and Scholars.
Such an abbreviated outline would provide a framework for further development by showing the main issues and diversity of opinions in the study of Science in medieval Islam. --SteveMcCluskey (talk) 01:44, 3 October 2010 (UTC)
I've begun a draft following that outline in a user page. Feel free to edit or comment. --SteveMcCluskey (talk) 02:45, 3 October 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for undertaking this task. I have looked through your draft (and done a file diff comparing it with the current article), and it looks like a good solution. You are unlikely to benefit from my assistance so I can't do any more than provide mechanical wikitext checking, and confirming that unsuitable text from the old article has been removed.
Anyone interested in this topic should see a new section at WT:Requests for comment/Jagged 85#Wholescale deletion where an editor has expressed discontent with some significant deletions that have occurred in related articles (and has reverted those deletions). Johnuniq (talk) 09:54, 3 October 2010 (UTC)

Be Bold I cut and pasted Steve's draft this is a good start.J8079s (talk) 01:23, 4 October 2010 (UTC)

OK, it wasn't quite ready for publication, but it's an improvement (IMHO). I'd like to add an outline of future development, one that would be structured chronologically and geographically, rather than by scientific discipline. This structure would direct the article to a discussion of how science developed in the Islamic world and away from a mere catalog of scientific achievements -- "of one damn fact after another." --SteveMcCluskey (talk) 23:05, 4 October 2010 (UTC)
Certainly listing "damn fact[s] [one] after another" is not the way to approach articles. But articles do contain such facts, and often these facts give the article structure (again not the best way to approach writing). However, I see nothing in wiki policies that justify deletion of facts, given they are well-sourced.Bless sins (talk) 20:03, 5 October 2010 (UTC)
  • On the face of it, your edit appears unacceptable. While there were many problems with the previous article, the current article has removed all mentions of contributions made to various fields. For example, taking a look at this reliable source shows medieval Muslims were engaged in many disciplines of science. Yet you have deleted all of that without providing an adequate replacement. If Jagged85 was guilty of exagerrating the contributions, you are guilty of obliterating them. Bias is bias, whichever direction it goes.
  • More importantly, the question remains: did you verify that every sentence you deleted violated wiki policies like described above? If not, then it appears you're simply blanking, or deleting edits without justification. Bless sins (talk) 20:01, 5 October 2010 (UTC)
Although all content in an article must, by policy, be verifiable, there is no policy whatever requiring an article to contain all possible verifiable information about its subject. What to include is an editorial decision. In a case where an article has extensive problems, both factual and in point of view, it may be best to make cuts or to rebuild the article from scratch. Spacepotato (talk) 21:34, 5 October 2010 (UTC)
That maybe a route (an) editor(s) may take in the user space. However, while its bieng built, it shouldn't suddenly replace the problematic article. Else, you have what exists right now - an article completely devoid specific Muslim scientists, treatise, achievement or contribution. (Compare with History of science and technology in China).
My other fear is, of course, once the article is deleted it will not be rebuilt. Deleting information is far, far, far easier than contributing. It takes months, if not years to write an article. It takes a second to delete it. The user in question (User:J8079s) seems to be going around deleting articles, and has made little effort of building articles. As examples: Islamic ethics, Islamic metaphysics, Physics in medieval Islam and Islamic economics in the world were deleted, and no effort was made to rebuild them (some of the deletions have since been reverted). I see that there is a pattern of deleting and leaving - not deleting and rebuilding.
Thus, an article can very well be built from scratch in user space. But it shouldn't replace an entire article prematurely.Bless sins (talk) 23:14, 5 October 2010 (UTC)
I believe that on other talk pages you have acknowledged that at least some of Jagged 85's edits were excessive, but I have not seen you acknowledge the extent of the problem. The two examples above (father of robotics and precursor to relativity) are possibly the most egregious cases, but there are plenty of other known false claims (see WP:Jagged 85 cleanup). Sites like demonstrate that Jagged is not the only person seeking to cherry pick and embellish claims regarding Islamic achievements, and it is clear that Wikipedia has been used as part of a promotional POV campaign for some years. There are sure to be cases where the editors seeking to cleanup the mess are themselves excessive, but it would not be appropriate for Jagged's clearly undue edits to stand until each of the hundreds of claims is investigated and individually tweaked to correct original research, synthesis, and misrepresentation of sources. Apart from accepting SteveMcCluskey's rewrite, is there some other plausible procedure for cleaning up an article like this? It is expected that editors will add material, after verifying that it is well sourced and not synthesis, which places the burden appropriately. Johnuniq (talk) 03:25, 6 October 2010 (UTC)
Certainly Jagged85's edits were POV. But obliterating all contributions (even mention) of Muslim scholars, scientists and philosphers, as if Muslims made 0 contribution to science is not POV?
WP:UNDUE says,

Neutrality requires that each article or other page in the mainspace fairly represents all significant viewpoints that have been published by reliable sources, in proportion to the prominence of each viewpoint, giving them "due weight".

Once again, blanking Muslim contributions to science is a gross violation of presenting "all significant viewpoints" (unless you argue that indeed Muslims made no contriution).
I never rejected the addition of SteveMcCluskey's contribution, only the removal of all of Jagged85's without actually checking for violations of policy.
"It is expected that editors will add material". Except they haven't!!
Four articles were similarly deleted, and the deleting editors have done little to add anything. I have asked a question at Wikipedia_talk:Verifiability#Reasonability_in_WP:burden that you should look at.Bless sins (talk) 14:26, 6 October 2010 (UTC)
An article is POV if it unduly advocates one viewpoint or group of viewpoints over others. The article does not currently advocate the viewpoint that medieval Islam made no contribution to science. Your objection to the article, that it does not discuss the disciplines of science present or the accomplishments of specific scientists, has nothing to do with point of view. It is rather a matter of the scope of coverage of the article. So, I think the tag {{Missing information}} will better represent the concerns expressed with the article. Spacepotato (talk) 20:34, 6 October 2010 (UTC)

Bless Sins has requested that I give some input on this issue, though I wasn't sure if there would be any point, since no matter what I say, it will always be interpreted in the most negative "assume bad faith" manner possible by a handful of editors. Nevertheless, it would have been a disservice to Bless Sins if I didn't give any input considering his efforts in preserving this article and other Islamic articles I was heavily involved in (though it personally makes no difference to me). As confirmed by Bless Sins and several other editors, many of my edits are actually well in-line with Wikipedia's policies. To date, I have in fact only seen a tiny percentage of my contributions (probably no more than 1% even) being proven misleading, and yet some editors see this as enough evidence to conclude that ALL of my contributions are misleading and therefore all traces of any contributions I've made should be purged from Wikipedia, like some kind of inquisition, and that the best thing to do is revert Wikipedia back to being more Eurocentric like it was before I came along. Not only is such an approach logically fallacious in itself to use such a relatively small sample to assume all 100% is unreliable (like the user above who cherry-picked two seemingly "ridiculous" examples to arrive at the fallacious conclusion that the whole article must therefore be unreliable), but shows a kind of bias that, in my view, exceeds any bias I've shown in all my years of apparently "biased" editing, with some of my critics not only showing some of the same biases they accused me of (in the opposite direction), but even making wholesale deletions of anything they deem pro-Islamic/anti-Western in any articles I was involved in (even deleting material added by other editors) without even attempting to verify the material using my apparent "misuse of sources" as a pretense.

It makes me wonder, if I had been more biased towards Western contributions rather than Islamic contributions, I have no doubt that some of these same editors would not have reacted in the same way. Since this is an English-language encyclopedia, it's only natural that Eurocentrism is far more acceptable than Islamo-centrism, and since I was probably the most prolific contributor to Islamic articles at the time (with over 60,000 edits in total), that only made me stand out like a sore thumb, so an RfC filed against me was only bound to happen. My lack of experience in dealing with an RfC (since it was the first RfC I was ever involved with, whether as a defendant, prosecutor or participant) led to an unwillingness to mount a defense on my part (since I lacked the dedication to go through such a long process) or even ask for help from fellow editors (I could have asked some editors, like from the Islam Wikiproject for example, to back me up) because I was clueless about RfCs in general. My failure to mount a defense or request help from fellow editors (like what those on the prosecution were doing) only ended up making my overall body of contributions look worse than they actually were, and has since made it much easier for some of those previously involved in the RfC to carry out some kind of purge/inquisition against all of my previous contributions. The side effect of this is, of course, that many other contributions that have been mixed in with my own are also being purged as a result.

Bless Sins, here's an interesting discussion you might want to have a look at: Wikipedia talk:Verifiability/Archive 37#A massive loophole in WP:Verifiability. It's obvious the "user" that is apparently "exploiting a loophole" in the discussion is none other than myself. In order to "cleanup" my apparent "misuse of sources", a clause was added in WP:V that gave editors the power to make wholesale deletions to material that fail verification. Such a clause never existed back in the days when I was active on Wikipedia, though such a clause was no doubt later used to take action against me for edits I had made previous to its existence. For a comparison to how WP:V was previously like prior to this new clause, see [1]. This meant that even if most of my edits were not in-line with the sources cited (though most of my edits were in fact in-line with the sources), the grounds used to take action against me would still have been faulty. While it's a good policy, the problem with this new clause was that it could easily be abused by editors who can remove any material on mere suspicion alone, as we are now seeing in this article and the other articles you've mentioned. In other words, the new clause may have prevented one loophole, but it certainly opened the path to another more extreme loophole as a result.

I can already guess what kind of responses I will receive, especially from those previously involved in the RfC, but I have no intention of posting any replies, as I no longer have the time or the passion to dedicate to Wikipedia (besides making a few minor Wikifying edits if I happen to be reading a Wikipedia article when I'm online), though I don't mind responding to comments posted on my talk page.

Regards, Jagged 85 (talk) 17:38, 8 October 2010 (UTC)

I am certain everyone would agree as to the gravity of the issues Jagged has raised. Any agreement he entered into under a related Rfc would be voided by such actions. I use the term "voided" in the ethical sense, as an Rfc has no force in itself. Aquib (talk) 23:16, 8 October 2010 (UTC)
It appears the editor has been gagged by an Rfc, then WP policy was changed to facilitate the blanking of a series of articles which included some considerable amount of well sourced material. Aquib (talk) 23:26, 8 October 2010 (UTC)
How would you describe the two examples at the top of this section (robotics and relativity)? It is obvious to everyone here that two bad examples do not prove that other edits are bad, but I would find responses to this thread more helpful if those opposing heavy pruning would explain their attitude to the above examples. For more evidence, see: 1, 2, 3. The comment above by Jagged 85 does not engage with any of the issues: the evidence shown cannot be dismissed as some form of bias. Johnuniq (talk) 23:59, 8 October 2010 (UTC)
I find the examples cited to be of a highly questionable nature. But this is the talk page for Science in Medieval Islam. Why are we rolling out the litany of Jag's past sins to justify the actions taken on this article? When you say the question is whether we oppose heavy pruning, do you mean pruning of this article or all Jags articles? I see both questions in the thread, if I am not mistaken.
Aquib (talk) 01:26, 9 October 2010 (UTC)
The evidence of misuse, as presented, is compelling to make a case for, let us say, lapses in Jag's judgement. It is not suitable for making determinations as to the fate of this, or (potentially) scores of articles.
For that larger undertaking, I would expect to see a more scientific approach taken to gauge the quality of his work as a whole. Statistical sampling over articles, over time, compared to a control sample of random editors on similar articles along the critical axes.
I'm looking at an older version of this article. I have to say I'm shocked at the amount of material that has been removed. Was it all incorrect? Is it more accurate to say there was no science in medieval Islam? I think not.
Aquib (talk) 02:18, 9 October 2010 (UTC)

We are all in favor of expanding this page. It is not necessary to inject Islamo-centrism (Jagged own words) to write a neutral article. The really great work of scientist/philosophers of this period do not need exaggeration I will comment further elsewhere. J8079s (talk) 03:44, 9 October 2010 (UTC)

I'm glad that you're reforming your attitude to a more expansionist approach. I hope to see you edit in such a manner in the future.
WP:NPOV states that we state all significant viewpoints, and that each viewpoint has its own bias.
Personally I consider it a waste of time to classify POVs as "Islamo-centrist" or "Euro-centrist". So long as the viewpoint is significant and coming from a reliable source, we give it space per WP:DUE.
Note, most material will not be views or debates, but simply facts (eg Scientist A studied B in XYZ AD and so on).Bless sins (talk) 01:24, 20 October 2010 (UTC)
You're right, it is important to provide specifics, but these specifics should also include the support of specific cultural institutions (e.g., courts, schools, hospitals, observatories) for the development of science and the assimilation and transformation of scientific concepts developed in other cultures (esp. Greek and Indian). Placing facts in that kind of narrative framework is crucial. --SteveMcCluskey (talk) 13:05, 20 October 2010 (UTC)
Generally, Hodgson describes Islamic science as an aspect of philosophy (faylasuf). He places philosophy in context among other branches of Islamic thought. He then describes its development in terms of the evolution of Islamic thought, as well as time, place and empirical advancement. That's a lot of ground to cover in an encyclopedia article. Could bear a mention though. Aquib (talk) 17:58, 20 October 2010 (UTC)


to begin I think we should add a brief summary of "science" coming into the "Islamic period" and an overview of science coming out.(its my opinion that the length should conform to the guide lines) Thanks to everyone who wants to help.J8079s (talk) 04:07, 9 October 2010 (UTC)

The change. --Mahmudmasri (talk) 18:50, 13 October 2010 (UTC)
Speaking as a historian, I think the best way to organize this article would be to have sections dealing with the way science developed in different areas of the medieval Islamic world. Starting sections would be the Abbasid dynasty (widely accepted as a leading center of the early development of science in Islam) and the area of the Maghreb and al-Andalus (an important area of the later development of science in Islam). This focus would allow us to discuss the specific institutional context that contributed to the development of science in those regions.
Other regions could also be included, but these two have been extensively studied by historians and would provide a useful starting point.
I'll add them as empty section headings to the article so we have something to move forward from. --SteveMcCluskey (talk) 21:28, 13 October 2010 (UTC)
Well, I'm no historian nor have expertise. But as a reader, I would say that we should pick an organizational style that is easy to navigate and read. From that perspective, I did like Jagged85's organization. No doubt I agree there should be a history section giving an insight not the general trends of how science developed over time and over regions.
Secondly, in my opinion, the fastest way to rebuild the article is to recycle the material Jagged wrote, after checking it for possible WP violations. As a historian, you'll likely have objections to simply copying and pasting someone else's poorly written work, but I'm only saying this in the interest of time. I think this would the fastest way of restoring the article.Bless sins (talk) 21:28, 14 October 2010 (UTC)
I agree the fastest way is to recycle Jags work. I'm not familiar with the article, but it is a reasonably popular article and I would expect it to be in some part due to students relying on it for references. There is no shortage of accomplishments to report. There are questions as to how the content is presented. Aquib (talk) 14:34, 16 October 2010 (UTC)
Steve, what is your opinion on Muslimheritage and the 1001 inventions book? Pardon me if you have already commented on these, I don't recall you having done so. Aquib (talk) 02:32, 15 October 2010 (UTC)
I have two points on both of them;
  • First, they are self-published sources with a strongly opinionated point of view so seem to fail Wikipedia's criteria as reliable sources. There have been discussions of at [2] and to a lesser extent here [3] and here [4].
  • Secondly, as chronicles of discovery they fail to meet generally accepted scholarly criteria of good history of science. As A. I. Sabra said in his important article, "Situating Arabic Science: Locality versus Essence":
"Historians of science... are especially concerned with science as a process that takes place in actual time or science as a series of phenomena that ... are not merely in space and time, but events associated with, and indeed produced by, individuals in what we broadly call 'cultural settings.'" (p. 215)
Sabra's approach is the one I'm proposing in the new outline. Hope this helps. --SteveMcCluskey (talk) 13:49, 15 October 2010 (UTC)
Steve, re 1001 Inventions, does the list of inventions contain factual errors? If a person took this list of inventions, could they reasonably hope to find reliable sources supporting the claims? Aquib (talk) 16:10, 15 October 2010 (UTC)
Again, that calls for a multiple answer:
  • The 1001 Inventions book is not serious scholarship, but is part of a broadly based PR program to advance a particular view of Islamic science. Given that it's web page provides associated with teaching materials, it appears to be intended as a school text. Related to that, the sources that it cites are a decidedly mixed bag, ranging from somewhat dated popular histories (e.g., Durant, W.(1950), ‘The Age of Faith’) through articles which have been disputed elsewhere in Wikipedia (e.g., George Makdisi. The rise of colleges: institutions of learning in Islam and the West) to reputable studies (e.g., Lindberg, D.C.(1983), ‘Studies in the History of medieval optics’). I can't address how accurately the book cites these sources so I won't deal with the the question of factual errors.
  • A whois check showed that both the and domains are registered though the same offshore domain firm "Domain Discreet" which is located in Madeira, Portugal. The connection of these two sites raises some questions about the reliability of the book, 1001 Inventions.
  • The problem I do have, however, is that as a list of achievements it shouldn't form the focus of a well-written encyclopedia article on "Science in medieval Islam". Suspending judgment on its accuracy, it may be a useful tool for something like the List of inventions in medieval Islam, the List of Muslim scientists, or similar lists.
--SteveMcCluskey (talk) 17:34, 15 October 2010 (UTC); edited 18:07, 15 October 2010 (UTC)
Thanks. I see your point re 1001, but I am also wondering if any students were planning on using this article for their papers in the near future.
The domain registration is not problematic in my view, as the book is indeed produced by the organization that runs the website, from what I have gathered on the website. Not a concealed relationship, that is to say.
Aquib (talk) 18:41, 15 October 2010 (UTC)
I'm interested in Sabra, but I'm unable to locate a free copy of the "Situating Arabic science" article. My local library has his "Enterprise of science in Islam" as an electronic resource.
Aquib (talk) 13:58, 16 October 2010 (UTC)
There's a copy here. --SteveMcCluskey (talk) 00:51, 21 October 2010 (UTC)
Thanks Steve, Aquib (talk) 04:54, 21 October 2010 (UTC)
Regarding the terms Arabic Science and Islamic Science, Sabra (2000, 216 | 1996, 655) adopts "an apparently neutral and innocent definition" that "the term Arabic (or Islamic) science denotes the scientific activities of individuals who lived in ... the region covered for the most of that period by what we call Islamic civilization, and in which the results of the activities were for the most part expressed in the Arabic language." --SteveMcCluskey (talk) 01:10, 21 October 2010 (UTC)
My comments below, thanks, Aquib (talk) 04:54, 21 October 2010 (UTC)

The prism through which this article is viewed[edit]

Without specific regard for any other discussions on this page;

The lack of an English word for the cultural complex developed under "Islamic" influence (Islamdom as opposed to the religion of Islam) is a problem for this and many other articles. See Christianity as opposed to Christendom. The word "Islam" as used in the title of this article refers to "the lands of Islam" or some other such characterization.

The northern Europeans, and other countries generally referred to as "The West", are no more the rightful heirs of the Graeco-Roman tradition than anyone else. They are subscribers to it, and propagators of it, as is everyone else nowadays.

The ancient Greeks and Romans were a Mediterranean civilization; the eastern, Greek portion of this civilization gradually became more Muslim. The west adopted Christianity. Science progressed throughout this so-called medieval era; seemingly at a quicker pace in the lands of Islam.

Why is this so?

The fluorescence of western culture at the Renaissance, and its subsequent expansion, can be described as a confluence of the following factors:

  • Population increases due to abundant rainfall in northern Europe
  • Concentrations of wealth due to the hierarchic nature of medieval European society
  • The advent of venture capitalization
  • Technology transfers from surrounding civilizations
  • Abatement of the Plague

A technological transformation such as this was nearly achieved by the Chinese before the invasions of the Mongols.

But what factors led to the preservation and advancement of science in the lands of Islam during the Middle Ages? Peace, religious tolerance, and an egalitarian social structure. This was a multicultural society, not without its faults and shortcomings, but operating on an egalitarian set of principles nonetheless. Islamic science was multicultural science.

War, disease, the hierarchic structure of European civilization, and its lack of tolerance for minorities led to a decline in scientific knowledge and a slowdown in advances in Europe during the middle ages.

I realize I am throwing around a lot of facts here but I am fairly confident I am aligned with Hodgson's panoramic history of Islamic civilization as well as Courbage/Fargues and Bernard Lewis' observations on the relatively tolerant attitudes toward minority cultures in the lands of Islam during its classic periods.

I could indeed take this explanation further to address the ensuing decline of science in the lands of Islam which goes on until this very day. Western hegemony.

Aquib (talk) 16:36, 16 October 2010 (UTC)

The lead to this article is balanced and thorough. Surely it is not far off the target. Aquib (talk) 18:44, 17 October 2010 (UTC)
And that is not a prism? I think you're wrong inasfar that the leading factor for the rise of science within the islamic sphere was relatively heavy trade and import of knowledge. As for war, rebellions, splitups and quarrels for power in the islamic sphere, the situation is not far different from that in Europe in the high and late medieval ages. I think trade promotes riches which enables sponsorship of science, which promotes trade and riches... Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 15:14, 13 April 2011 (UTC)

Why doesn't this talk page have a section list at the beginning?[edit]

I'm not particularly clever with page layouts, but a section list would be helpful if anyone knows how to conjure one up. Thanks Aquib (talk) 00:56, 21 October 2010 (UTC)

You are probably referring to the "Table of Contents". That's automatic. When there are three sections (or is it more than three?) on a page, a TOC is displayed; when not, no TOC. The WP:MAGIC words __TOC__ and __NOTOC__ can alter the defaults. Johnuniq (talk) 03:31, 21 October 2010 (UTC)
I see it now, thanks John. Aquib (talk) 04:48, 21 October 2010 (UTC)

Arabic science?[edit]

Is this correct? Islamic science is also referred to as Arabic science?

It's common usage among historians of science to use the terms as synonyms, as they consider Islamic as a cultural term and Arabic as a linguistic one. See Sabra's discussion above. --SteveMcCluskey (talk) 01:44, 21 October 2010 (UTC)
Fair enough. However, I would say Islamic science is a more descriptive term for an encyclopedia article.
As we know, the Hellenic works were transcribed into Syriac and Persian as well as Arabic, and the scientists included peoples from other cultures. The term "Arabic science" may lead to misunderstandings among the uninitiated.
The need for clarity supports "Islamic science" where the term "Islamic" refers to Islamic civilization in the greater sense. This is the best we can do, as an adjective describing things of or pertaining to Islamic culture or society - inclusive of other cultures and religions is not present in the English language. (Hodgson V 1 p 57-59)
Also, the need for internal consistency requires the use of "Islamic science" in this article, as it is more consistent with the article's title.
I suggest we go forward with the term "Islamic science" consistently throughout the body of the article.
Regards Aquib (talk) 04:46, 21 October 2010 (UTC)
Agree on using "Islamic science" as the norm in this article, with the presentation of the synonym "Arabic science" in the Lede. One exception I see in the present article is where a source uses the term "Arabic science," it seems appropriate to use that term when quoting or even paraphrasing that author's views.--SteveMcCluskey (talk) 14:00, 21 October 2010 (UTC)
Agree quotations and paraphrases should use the term preferred by the source, thanks, Aquib (talk) 14:30, 21 October 2010 (UTC)
Steve and others, I am sure you are aware that the Persian empire and its constituents played a tremendous role in the development of the Islamic world, right down to the fact that Baghdad (Farsi name) was set up near the capital of the then-Persian empire which occupied lower Mesopotamia for much of that period. Persians as I'm sure you're aware speak Farsi, are part of the Indo-Caucasian ethnolinguistic branch, and are in many ways distinct from Arab-Mesopotamian peoples, although they share a common classical language, it'd be like applying the term "Arab" to Muslims on the Indian subcontinent. So the whole "Arab science", "Arab this and Arab that" formula applied to all things Islam, is simply inaccurate across-wiki, unless we intend to describe European history as "Latin Science", "Latin culture", "Latin Christianity" etc. (owing to the classical language of scholarship.) That term likewise only applies to a large but discrete ethnolinguistic component of Christendom. Yclept:Berr (talk) 11:33, 6 March 2011 (UTC)
The problem though is defining islamic civilization, I don't think anyone would think of including Indonesia/Malaysia, the idian subcontenent, or west africa, with the subjuct we are refering to, though these areas are religiouly muslim,
the area we are refering to is mainly the middle east--J intela (talk) 21:32, 3 October 2011 (UTC)

Will wholesale removed info in these articles be restored?[edit]

An educated historian should be able to quickly distinguish sources and restore valuable deleted material[edit]

So, as I am to understand it, a decision was held on wikipedia at the request of one or more contributors to page-blank all acceptable content in the following articles owing to the interjection of some questionable content here and there, and start from scratch, which an overzealous editor proceeded with admin permission to do:

Has the accurate and valuable content (if any) that was blanked from one or more of these articles been restored?

If not, why not? If none, how so?

Pardon me if I state the obvious: that it would be considered extreme POV vandalism to do so to five or more articles about European or Christian history, regardless of the occasional poorly sourced info, and that people would be sanctioned for doing so, no such WP:V clause would be invoked due to the "nature of the article" and "its importance to the wiki". And a giant flame war would occur pitting both Western scientific historians (after all "science has no ethnic dimension"), religious Wikipedians, and historians of classical Western canon against "Islamo-centrist" revisionists under every bed.

I'm not suggesting revert to the previous edit of these five articles, there's a "copy paste" feature that is very useful for reclaiming all useful text from older versions of the article while improving it with additions and deletions.

This subject is sufficiently broad that any historian or amateur scholar who doesn't know enough about the subject to "go weeding through sources" of a "poorly-written start" and determine which ones are accurate (or assumes any source to be suspect unless it's avowedly independent of any present-day Muslim viewpoint, perhaps due to an anti-clerical assumption about Muslim religious traditions vis a vis modern science, or an assumption that present day Muslim scholars are inherently biased on the subject) has no business proposing major edits to the article. But we can certainly comment on others doing the same. (NPOV disclaimer: I myself have no inherent predisposition toward the subject matter. But I recognize chauvinism when I see it. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck.) Yclept:Berr (talk) 11:48, 6 March 2011 (UTC)

Put it more succinctly: I'm not very knowledgeable about the topic. But neither, I suspect, are some of the Western science-historians posting here. A person who knew anything about the subject, enough to comment on individual examples, would not have wholesale deleted what was there before. They would have known enough about Islamic science to make their own improvements and not assume that statements about the primacy of Western achievements that they do know about obviate the rest of the article. They wouldn't say "Oh, well, there's no expert on the subject here at present to provide a global viewpoint, so best to say only what we know as implicitly unbiased, English-speaking historians of science" Yclept:Berr (talk) 12:20, 6 March 2011 (UTC)
Although I don't believe all the people truncating these articles are doing so in bad faith. Many of them believe they are doing the right thing. This encyclopedia is not NPOV, it is a western-culture English encyclopedia. The Islamic articles are subject to blatant systemic bias here. People are taking down these articles because no one has the time or expertise to fix them, and this would not happen if it were a subject of interest to more than Muslim editors, a few lazy academics, and a whole lot of sneaky vandals.
Here's the GROUCHY YAWN I got for bringing up this particular situation.
Here's the TEMPEST I caused by suggesting people should be able to keep the titles and honorifics due to them in their own cultures.
This is not the "English Wikipedia". If it were, it would be a culturally neutral international English encyclopedia. Something has to be done to protect and restore these articles on Islamic culture, science, history, politics and civilization.
Aquib (talk) 17:45, 6 March 2011 (UTC)

@YB: please see WP:Jagged 85 cleanup. The problem is not chauvinism; the problem is a large number of articles that have been polluted with inaccurate information. Your initial statement a decision was held on wikipedia at the request of one or more contributors to page-blank all acceptable content in the following articles owing to the interjection of some questionable content here and there is wrong. The Jagged cleanup is far more than just "one or more contributors", nor is it to blank acceptable content, nor is the questionable content just "here and there" - it is pervasive. Trying to frame this in terms of some vast Western conspiracy against the Muslim world is simply wrong William M. Connolley (talk) 19:01, 6 March 2011 (UTC)

@William M C, as a courtesy, please follow the discussion guidelines for indentation of replies, thank you -Aquib (talk) 20:39, 6 March 2011 (UTC)
@YB, the RFC in question was an inappropriate venue, applied only to those participating, was invalidated by the withdrawal of one party, and has no factual statistical support. It is totally based on anecdotal information. It never contemplated the deletion of articles. It is a sham, and has been used on more than one occasion by sneaky vandals in order to facilitate attempts to damage the Islam portal - which is of course an act none of us present would contemplate, but nonetheless a particularly nasty side effect of this fiasco. -Aquib (talk) 20:54, 6 March 2011 (UTC)
Attention to this issue is of course welcome. However, unrealistic portrayals of the core situation are most unhelpful. There is plenty of evidence at WP:Jagged 85 cleanup that egregious misuse of Wikipedia has occurred in that an editor has systematically misrepresented what sources have asserted, and has reported only one side from a source, and has quoted out of context. Further, some claims in articles have simply been invented using a source related to the topic, but on inspection, the source is found to not verify the claim.
Simple vandalism and pure original research are easy to handle: we just revert. However, the situation in this case is much more difficult because an editor has misused sources by inserting claims and then adding a plausible reference—often, a reference that is not easily accessed.
The mention of anecdotal evidence above is widely off the mark. Have a look at the link and read the evidence. This topic is waiting for an expert with some time, and there is no deadline. Meanwhile, those commenting from both sides should acknowledge the complexity of the situation. I will start by repeating what I have said before, namely that it is very likely that correct information has been removed from some articles due to a zealous cleanout. However, an article that lacks information is much better than an article which includes false or undue assertions—particularly when Wikipedia is mirrored to a thousand places, making errors a permanent fixture and self-feeding cycle on the Internet. Johnuniq (talk) 21:29, 6 March 2011 (UTC)
Johnuniq, we had this discussion a few months ago. So far as I know, there is no systematic scientific sampling of Jag's work across the portal. The few samples we took were inconclusive. The methodology is flawed. How many editor's work have ever been scrutinized as closely as Jag's? The result is total deconstruction of the articles. These articles are literally being deconstructed into oblivion.
In the remarks made by Jagged in the link I provided Dielectric directly below, Jag refers to a change in WP:VFY he believes was made in order to facilitate this page blanking. Are you aware of such a policy change? -Aquib (talk) 02:30, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
Aquib, what are you referring to when you wrote that the RFC 'was invalidated by the withdrawal of one party'? I agree that deletion of the discussed articles was outside of the scope of the RFC. Page blanking was not put forth as a solution in the RFC. Dialectric (talk) 21:43, 6 March 2011 (UTC)
DE, on this talk page, in this statement, Jagged85 disavows the agreement reached under the RFC. His statement and his reasoning make for interesting reading. Having watched the process unfold, and seen some of the threats, intimidation bullying and insults he suffered during this process, I applaud him. This RFC/U (NOT RFC) has gone way off the rails. -Aquib (talk) 02:16, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
You are failing to engage with the situation. Of course the editor involved denies the case, and of course any examples showing egregious editing can be excused on the basis that the examples were cherry picked, or isolated mistakes, and AGF. Throw in a few claims of Western bias, and the water is nicely muddied. Engaging with this issue requires some serious reading and thought, but fifteen minutes inspecting the evidence in the links summarized at WP:Jagged 85 cleanup leaves no doubt that, whatever the intention, the effect is that sources have been egregiously misused. I repeat: missing information is a minor problem, but wrong information with what appears to be a source is a very major problem: it attacks the heart of Wikipedia—its credibility. Following are some extra examples that I happened to notice.
  • At this talk page (above),permalink I gave two stunning examples of undue material: al-Jazari was the "father of robotics" and al-Kindi "described an early concept of relativity, which some see as a precursor to the later theory of relativity developed by Albert Einstein". Both these people had many outstanding qualities, but it was simply not possible for people to reach the claimed heights a thousand years ago.
  • At Calculus, this edit introduced text "The method of integration can be traced back to the Egyptian Moscow papyrus circa 1800 BC, which gives the formula for finding the volume of a pyramidal frustrum" with this source. However, the source (in a student exercise) states merely that a formula was known (nothing to do with calculus). The claim that the method of integration can be traced back to the papyrus is a complete invention.
Any of these items can be excused—an oversight, an exaggeration, a misinterpretation. Further, it could be argued that "who cares" whether integration can be traced back to a papyrus—it's not a big deal. I refute that approach: Wikipedia should be a serious encyclopedia of reliable knowledge, and should not contain a thousand claims introduced by an editor who has been shown to misuse sources. Let's face that: perhaps the editor is sincerely unaware of the misuse—they read the source a certain way, and it seemed to be adequate for the words they used. Speculation about that is totally unhelpful: the motivation or beliefs of the editor are not relevant—it's the edits that are the problem (that, and the fact that the editor has ceased to edit in the area are the reasons the editor is not blocked).
If anyone doubts my claims, please offer some examples of mistakes in my reasoning. Or, start another RFC (about the issue, not the editor). Johnuniq (talk) 07:00, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
Perhaps I am failing to engage. It certainly feels like it. I am not doubting the seriousness of the situation, nor do I believe these actions were taken in bad faith. A lot of people are upset about this situation; that in itself can explain everything that has happened since the RFC/U was opened. But it has been going on for almost a year now, and I would like to know exactly what is being done. Perhaps if I knew what was going on, I cold engage more effectively. Perhaps. -Aquib (talk) 13:29, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
All: I do not doubt that Jagged or whomever added a lot of questionable material. The question is, were pages such as Islamic metaphysics wholesale deleted because of it? Was the page on Science in medieval Islam (that got replaced with Steve's draft) created by Jagged, and if so, was it "irredeemable" in framing the subject not as a history-of-science article but as a chest-beating article, or attempt to reduce science in Islamic world to a branch of Islam itself? If not, then I assume there are articles including this one that had a lot of valuable content in them. The "father of robotics" claim itself is ridiculous but not enough to delete a page; if that French chap who invented the animatronic duck were called the father of modern robotics, would it be rightly dismissed on similar grounds? If we are awaiting an expert in the subject, will that expert need permission to recreate an article that got deleted? A global view is needed; the Scientific revolution in Europe links to this page almost as an afterthought. Is this a problem of pervasive abuse of non-English sources that are not easily checkable? Yclept:Berr (talk) 22:11, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
You ask many questions, but you don't seem to be making any attempt to answer them yourself. To take your first one, Islamic metaphysics, go to that page (not the redirect, the page itself) and check the edit history. There you go: that was easy, wasn't it? Sorry if that sounds rather harsh, but I can't see what your many questions, above, have to do with improving the content of this page. What are you proposing? Do you have any intent to edit the page to make it better? William M. Connolley (talk) 22:26, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
Would "making it better" allow for the reintroduction of properly-sourced material that got wholesale deleted? I'd prefer someone more knowledgeable do so, but surely one of the people on this thread is knowledgeable enough to do so at present. Is the issue that all claims in the original article(s) are questionable simply because one guy exploited the general ignorance of non-Western history knowing we would have no way to dispute false claims? Yclept:Berr (talk) 00:44, 9 March 2011 (UTC)
My questions concern the ongoing discussion, which I am new to. I'm not too knowledgeable on the subject, so I'm concerned about the editing process. We should be concerned about what was lost, aside from the Jagged issue, which I understand. But you seem to be saying that a whole branch of Wikipedia can be blanked due to one guy's edits and to take it up on his RfC. Re: willingness to edit, I'd be reluctant to add anything as my only concern is that valuable information (aka baby in the bathwater) was removed from the article in hopes of putting it back pending someone weeding out the poorly sourced claims. Yclept:Berr (talk) 22:45, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
I suggest it would be helpful if you avoided inflammatory language. No-one has blanked a whole branch of Wikipedia - it just doesn't help rational discourse if you go over the top like this. Ifyou are new to the discussion, your correct course of action is to read back through the Jagged RFC, which would answer your questions. Jagged left a lot of articles in a state that an unknown amount of an unknown number are polluted with unreliable, biased, POV text. The worst of those articles have been stubbed back, because a stub is better than an article which is 10% wrong. If yuo have time (and you seem to have time to talk) and interest (you seem to have that) then you could usefully go through the cut-out text, and re-insert those bits which you can personally verify to be accurate William M. Connolley (talk) 09:50, 9 March 2011 (UTC)

This page was edited as per the discussion above. We all welcome further participation but it should take place at the appropriate place either WP:Jagged 85 cleanup or the talk page in question. I'm glad there is still some interest in clean up. J8079s (talk) 00:12, 7 March 2011 (UTC)

J8079S, the problem is very few people care what happens to these articles. Most of the people that have the interest and ability are intent on deleting the articles. Given a proper hearing, in a proper forum (which is not the RFC/U for Jagged85), I doubt this page blanking would be viewed favorably. The statement made by Jagged85 on this discussion page, the one I gave Dielectric directly above, says it all as far as I am concerned. I am not a fan of Jags edits, but the remedy is unacceptable. -Aquib (talk) 02:30, 7 March 2011 (UTC)

How many articles have been truncated in the Jag cleanup effort?[edit]

Who is involved in the effort? Are the efforts being coordinated? Do any of the truncations involve page moves and recreations of stubs under the old article names, so as to effectively delete the history along with the article? -Aquib (talk) 02:44, 7 March 2011 (UTC)

You should ask such questions in a central venue, probably WP:Jagged 85 cleanup William M. Connolley (talk) 08:58, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
Discussion at WT:Requests for comment/Jagged 85 please (WP:Jagged 85 cleanup is a summary). Johnuniq (talk) 09:12, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
I have glanced at the cleanup list and I don't see a note about deletion of the Science in medieval Islam article. I have posted my questions at Wikipedia_talk:Requests_for_comment/Jagged_85#How_many_articles_have_been_truncated_in_the_Jag_cleanup_effort.3F. -Aquib (talk) 13:39, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
William, Aquib asked me about the Islamic metaphysics page, so I looked it up. You suggested I go look at it to find out if and why that page was deleted entirely. While I see some content that looks like chest-thumping, it appears quite a large article with a lot of specific detail on the subject was there. I highly doubt that RfC:Jagged 85 called for the page to be merged, or there'd be a merged sticker attached to it. Just a heads-up. Yclept:Berr (talk) 23:11, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
Yes, that page seems a good example. The first thing in it is Avicenna's proof for the existence of God was the first ontological argument, which at first sight seems quite plausible and is supported by hard-to-find refs. Then you go to ontological argument and discover Some scholars have argued that the Islamic philosopher Avicenna (Ibn Sina) developed a special kind of ontological argument before Anselm;[7][8] however this is doubted by most scholars on the subject.[9][10][11][12]. So you see the problem: false information (in this case, false because of its certainty). Presumably one could continue through the rest of it to find the other problems. But the burden of proof is the other way round: you (if you care) need to go through and rescue good text, if there is any William M. Connolley (talk) 14:02, 9 March 2011 (UTC)
Johnuniq suggested starting a new RfC "about the issue, not the editor", and I think that is the best solution. Preferably an RfC with a short title... If I were more knowledgeable in the subject, I would start one. Thanks, Yclept:Berr (talk) 01:19, 9 March 2011 (UTC)
Yes Yclept, there needs to be a review of the effects of the cleanup. Most of the participants in the effort are not responding to my questions on the Jag cleanup talk page. They either don't have time right now, lost interest, stopped watching, don't have anything to say or don't wish to discuss the subject. I would expect at least the signatories and major participants in the RFC/U would feel obligated to disclose their knowledge of any truncated, moved or redirected articles. -Aquib (talk) 13:55, 9 March 2011 (UTC)

and where should it end in NPOV[edit]

This is too complicated to become directly involved, but important enough for me to add my two cents toward an amenable and neutral solution. This thread seems to involve a number of closely related subjects, which have tended to cause much debate both in various article's historical content and context, as well as on and upon Wikipedia itself. Collectively characterized, these articles exist here with an NPOV-tag; it should be added when considering a list.

I believe RSs can and should be used to set the balance and point the way toward that solution. Assuming that to be the case, I believe this very notable RS may be of considerable assistance. It is not just what that encyclopedia states, but the different context, describing the then-contemporary history of Middle Age Europe, in which it is stated. The [restricted level] of the site does not allow it to be accessed and V'd by all (and use the drop-down TOC to 'The Middle Ages - Reform and Renewal - Christianity, Judaism, and Islam), so it is block-quoted below, describing Crusader-era Christian Europe:

Contempt for Islam and fear of Muslim military power did not, however, prevent a lively and expansive commercial and technological transfer between the two civilizations or between them and the Byzantine Empire. Commercial and intellectual exchanges between Islamic lands and western Europe were considerable. Muslim maritime, agricultural, and technological innovations, as well as much East Asian technology via the Muslim world, made their way to western Europe in one of the largest technology transfers in world history. What Europeans did not invent they readily borrowed and adapted for their own use. Of the three great civilizations of western Eurasia and North Africa, that of Christian Europe began as the least developed in virtually all aspects of material and intellectual culture, well behind the Islamic states and Byzantium. By the end of the 13th century it had begun to pull even, and by the end of the 15th century it had surpassed both. The late 15th-century voyages of discovery were not something new but a more ambitious continuation of the European interest in distant parts of the world.

I hope it provides the proper balance for a neutral solution. Regards, CasualObserver'48 (talk) 04:25, 14 March 2011 (UTC)

Invitation to comment on RFC regarding the stubbing (deletion) of the Mathematics in medieval Islam article[edit]

You are invited to comment on the content dispute regarding the stubbing of the Mathematics in medieval Islam article Thank You -Aquib (talk) 2011-03-14T04:38:37

Who actually documented the problems in this article before it was stubbed?[edit]

Please provide 8 examples of clearly failed verifications, confirmed by an independent party (such as me) to prove due diligence and due process has been followed, in the version which was stubbed. This is not too much to ask, it is very reasonable, and it is common sense. -Aquib (talk) 12:42, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

Please stop spamming. [5] William M. Connolley (talk) 12:52, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

Article approach and structure[edit]

Science in medieval Islam is the key article in this series. Its primary purpose should be to elaborate the cultural and historical context, including

1. The assimilation of ancient scientific knowledge

2. The factors which contributed to the development (not just refinement) of ancient scientific knowledge

  • The Arabic language as a lingua franca for scientific knowledge
  • The Islamic religion (ie the duty of pilgrimage to Mecca, and its consequences for the dissemination of culture and knowledge)
  • Islamic(ate) civilization as a medium for the promotion of intercultural tolerance and dialog

3. The transmission of Islamic scientific knowledge to Europe

4. The various lands, cultures, and religions which contributed the scientists of medieval Islam.

5. Whether a comparison and contrast to medieval European civilization with its rigid hierarchy, and its strictly enforced Roman Catholicism, is useful in terms of explaining why science survived and prospered in medieval Islam, is still a question. I need to do more research.

Islamic science is the preferred term in most respects, but Arabic science does convey the essential role of a common language. The term Arabic, in this context, tends to confuse the casual reader with its other implications - a single people, a specific country, the only language. There is a place for both these terms in the series of articles, but not without clearly establishing the implications of the differences between these terms. By elaborating these differences, we elucidate the key concepts. The term Arabic science has its place, bolded in the lead with accompanying redirects.

The conversation about these terms and their underlying implications becomes the key to explaining Islamic science. It is the heart of the article Science in medieval Islam. It is an epistemological approach, and it is the correct approach.

The second purpose of the article is to introduce the various sciences and scientists, and link to their articles, which in turn link back to Science for context.

The preliminary work done on the stub of Science in medieval Islam needs to be reviewed. Whether the concept of science history as a history of time and place is the best approach, remains in doubt. Islamic science was in essence a cultural florescence rather than a series of events. An organization by topic area, rather than a chronology, seems most suitable. I believe the casual reader and the student would agree.

I find this paper by Berggren essential. I am still going over it. Berggren

Aquib (talk) 11:48, 21 April 2011 (UTC)

It seems that I need to state the obvious: silence does not signify consent William M. Connolley (talk) 11:02, 24 April 2011 (UTC)


I think there is too much historiography in here William M. Connolley (talk) 20:06, 21 April 2011 (UTC)

I agree. Some of it might be useful. -Aquib (talk) 01:46, 26 April 2011 (UTC)

Formal / islam sidebar[edit]

I reverted Aam [6]: this article doesn't need a huge intrusive sidebar in it. It already *has* an Islamic topics template, at the bottom. And this article is primarily about the science, not about the islam. Also, "formally" was wrong William M. Connolley (talk) 08:28, 22 April 2011 (UTC)

William, you seem to have a personal interest in disrupting my edits. This revert obviously has nothing to do with the Jagged 85 cleanup, or the use of "formally" in the article lead, or even that big green Islam (which is spelled with a capital I).
There are plenty of stubs around here to play with, why don't you be a good sport and pick another?
-Aquib (talk) 12:47, 22 April 2011 (UTC)
Does every article title with "Islamic" warrant the {{Islam}} sidebar? Is "Islamic" in the title of the article taken to mean the topic is science as practiced by a particular religious group (if yes, the sidebar might be justified)? The term "formally" is not standard and suggests some scholarly status which in a case like the title is not justified. Please address editors by their username or agreed abbreviation ("WMC" for OP, as you have seen).— Preceding unsigned comment added by Johnuniq (talkcontribs) 23:22, 22 April 2011
John. To address your issues.
  • Islam sidebar: If you examine the contents of the Islam sidebar, you will see it contains a science link. Does the Islam sidebar make you uncomfortable?
  • First sentence: Are you sure you read the first sentence of the article? I don't understand your criticism.
  • First name: Is there a policy which prohibits addressing editors by their first name, but allows addressing them by their initials or OP?
Like William's previous reversion, this is disruptive and pointless.
Aquib (talk) 01:56, 23 April 2011 (UTC)

Aam (and no, you aren't welcome to call me by my first name), it would be nice if maybe you could edit without flinging charges of disruption around. And, perhaps, you could take your own advice? Your addition of the word "formal" is somewhere between meaningless and wrong. Please make some attempt to justify why you are adding this word, which appears to help not at all, but is at best misleading. The Islam sidebar is intrusive and pointless. Please examine the article more carefully, and read what I wrote: the article already has an "Islam topics" navigation template, it doesn't need two William M. Connolley (talk) 22:08, 23 April 2011 (UTC)

William, you have simply reverted all my changes again. This time, my changes included cited material. I will take this up with ANI and see if I can stop these disruptions to my editing. -Aquib (talk) 23:28, 23 April 2011 (UTC)
It has been suggested I defer these two items for a later time. I will do so in the interest of trying to make some progress in the article.
As for the Islam sidebar: As I explained above, Islamic science is within scope of the Islam portal as evidenced by the science link in the banner. Also, the Science History banner needs to be collapsed. It currently takes up too much real estate, which is inconsiderate of other portals. More than one portal can have a legitimate interest in an article.
As for the use of the word formally. There needs to be a way to inform the reader of the fact there are two designations in common use among the science historians. Science in medieval Islam is a very good name for the article - the article requires a name which is neutral and readily accessible to the casual reader. Science in medieval Islam is not, however, commonly used in the formal sense; ie in papers, books, conferences etc. In this regard, saying Science in medieval Islam is also called Islamic science or Arabic science is misleading. I am open to comments and suggestions.
I am restoring the article minus these two points of contention. For now.
Aquib (talk) 01:29, 24 April 2011 (UTC)
As I said, you aren't welcome to call me by my first name. Please don't, unless you are trying to be deliberately offensive William M. Connolley (talk) 11:07, 24 April 2011 (UTC)
OK. Now. I have stated my my position (see directly above) regarding the Islam sidebar and the word formally, would you mind responding to those points? -Aquib (talk) 12:15, 24 April 2011 (UTC)
As I've already said: the sidebar is (a) intrusive and (b) pointless. There is already and islamic topics template in there. We don't need two. I've already said this. Please find some kind of answer. If you want to collapse the Science sidebar, I think that would be fine, you could join the talk on the Science sidebar talkpage William M. Connolley (talk) 21:22, 24 April 2011 (UTC)
Fine I will remove the Islamic topics template and add the sidebar. Then it won't be pointless, right? -Aquib (talk) 00:07, 25 April 2011 (UTC)
I had assumed everyone was aware of the following information about Islam. This is an excerpt from the discussion at ANI. It explains why the Islam sidebar is appropriate.
  • This single word Islam describes a religion, a geographic area and a civilization. The appropriate comparison in this instance is not between Christianity and Islam, it is between East and West. In matters of Islamic science and history, the Islam sidebar is appropriate due to the cultural, rather than religious, significance. For non-Islamic topics, no Western sidebar is needed. Western is engraved between the lines of every article in the English Wikipedia, and enforced through the WP Manual of style.
Aquib (talk) 02:21, 25 April 2011 (UTC)
Note the Islam sidebar contains links for both science and history. -Aquib (talk) 02:23, 25 April 2011 (UTC)
The existing template is both unintrusive and useful. There is no obvious reason to wish to replace it with a more intrusive template, so please don't William M. Connolley (talk) 20:03, 25 April 2011 (UTC)
No intrusive sidebars allowed. No room for them with the History of Science sidebar there. We can deal with this later. -Aquib (talk) 21:25, 25 April 2011 (UTC)
Just so we all understand. "We can deal with this later" does not mean these issues are resolved. I will deal with these issues later. In the meantime, I wish to have this section visible to people who visit this talk page so they will understand these issues when they come up again. And they will. -Aquib (talk) 12:58, 26 April 2011 (UTC)

New para rm: why[edit]

I took out Aam's new para:

The civilization of ancient Greece was centered on the eastern Mediterranean and northern Africa, and did not interact with most of Europe.[rmpara 1] When Greek learning was later discovered and claimed by European science during the Renaissance, it was not the ancient Greek knowledge, but rather the result of centuries of refinements and advances based upon that knowledge by scientists from Islamic civilization."[rmpara 1][rmpara 2]

The idea that it is advancing is controversial, and supported by only one ref, Is Science Multicultural?: Postcolonialisms, Feminisms, and Epistemologies, which doesn't look terribly reliable. It would be best for controversial changes like this to be discussed before being added William M. Connolley (talk) 11:07, 24 April 2011 (UTC)

  1. ^ a b Harding, Sandra (1998). Is Science Multicultural?: Postcolonialisms, Feminisms, and Epistemologies. Indiana University Press. p. 28-29. 
  2. ^ Harding, Sandra (1998). Is Science Multicultural?: Postcolonialisms, Feminisms, and Epistemologies. Indiana University Press. p. 35. 
Which aspects do you find controversial? Harding is an expert, and the book is published on a university press. -Aquib (talk) 11:52, 24 April 2011 (UTC)
I'll put this source up on RSN and look around for other sources. -Aquib (talk) 12:29, 24 April 2011 (UTC)
Harding's reliable, but my use is in question. Note, as per WP:RS university presses are as good as it gets. -Aquib (talk) 14:09, 24 April 2011 (UTC)
I think the whole thing is controversial. The bald assertion that Greece did not interact with Europe is far too strong. The assertion that greek knowledge was "claimed" by Europe is too strong / wrong. The assertion that it was not ancient greek that was passed on is wrong. The assertion that it was not ancient greek, but "the result of centuries of refinements and advances" is too strong.
The source, also, is clearly not mainstream: that is easily told from the title. You cannot use just this source to provide a balanced picture William M. Connolley (talk) 18:01, 24 April 2011 (UTC)
This is connected to your inclusion of the rejected and disproven Orientalist assumptions about Islamic science, that it was: "just Greek science in Arabic" with few commentaries. Al-Andalusi (talk) 19:23, 24 April 2011 (UTC)
I have recently seen coverage of the Arabic preservation and elucidation of Greek knowledge as transmitted to Europe, in sources such as Johann Huizinga and Barbara Tuchman. I'll find the references and be back shortly to help edit the article. Jonathanwallace (talk) 19:40, 24 April 2011 (UTC)
Thanks Jonathan, that would be great.-Aquib (talk) 02:26, 25 April 2011 (UTC)
Al-A: I'd be grateful if you wouldn't put words in my mouth. I've never said that, or anything interpretable as such William M. Connolley (talk) 21:14, 24 April 2011 (UTC)
I don't think the Harding passages were a very good source as they were oversimplified and somewhat polemical. Also, Harding's expertise is in feminist and postcolonial theory, etc. Surely, it would be better to read someone who's interested in medieval European science.
It's not true to say that ancient Greece didn't interact with Western Europe (they had colonies in Massalia and elsewhere in Western Europe, for example.) As far as the history of science in Europe is concerned, I think that the main point is that Hellenic culture spread throughout the Roman Empire and, to some extent, entered the Latin-language culture of the Roman empire, and then the Latin culture of the early medieval period. This was in some ways a limited influence, but it did exist. Also, obviously, Hellenic culture persisted in the Byzantine Empire, which interacted with the rest of Europe. Lindberg discusses this (The Beginnings of Western Science, ISBN 0226482316, pp. 133-162.)
As far as the second sentence goes, it's odd to say that Europe discovered "not the ancient Greek knowledge, but rather the result of centuries of refinements and advances" on it. Rather, in the translation movements, works by Greek authors were translated (often from Arabic, but also directly from Greek) as well as original works of Arabic/Islamic science (for example, see Lindberg, pp. 203 ff.) Spacepotato (talk) 06:49, 25 April 2011 (UTC)
Interesting. Thank you.
Using Lindberg, for example, one would presumably be able to identify a significant volume of later developments among the transmitted materials.
As for the propagation of myth. If one were able to establish a northern European Renaissance claim to the rediscovery of Europe's lost past, one might also point out northern Europe was no more a direct heir to Greek knowledge than Syria, Iraq, Persia and Egypt.
Your thoughts? -Aquib (talk) 11:35, 25 April 2011 (UTC)
  • Islamic science and the making of the European Renaissance / George Saliba. "The Islamic scientific tradition has been described many times in accounts of Islamic civilization and in general histories of science, with most authors tracing its beginnings to the appropriation of ideas from other ancient civilizations - the Greeks in particular. In this thought-provoking and original book, George Saliba argues that, contrary to the generally accepted view, the foundations of Islamic scientific thought were laid well before Greek sources were formally translated into Arabic in the ninth century. Drawing on an account by the tenth-century intellectual historian Ibn al-Nadim that is ignored by most modern scholars, Saliba suggests that early translations from mainly Persian and Greek sources outlining elementary scientific ideas for the use of government departments were the impetus for the development of the Islamic scientific tradition. He argues further that there was an organic relationship between the Islamic scientific thought that developed in later centuries and the science that came into being in Europe during the Renaissance." -Aquib (talk) 23:27, 25 April 2011 (UTC)
  • Lost history : the enduring legacy of Muslim scientists, thinkers, and artists / Michael Hamilton Morgan. "Author Morgan reveals how early Muslim advancements in science and culture lay the cornerstones of the European Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and modern Western society. As he chronicles the Golden Ages of Islam, beginning in 570 a.d. with the birth of Muhammad, and resonating today, he introduces scholars like Ibn Al-Haytham, Ibn Sina, Al-Tusi, Al-Khwarizmi, and Omar Khayyam--empirical thinkers who revolutionized the mathematics, astronomy, and medicine of their time and paved the way for Newton, Copernicus, and many others. And he reminds us that inspired leaders from Muhammad to Suleiman the Magnificent championed religious tolerance, encouraged intellectual inquiry, and sponsored brilliant artistic, architectural, and literary works. For anyone seeking to understand the major role played by the early Muslim world in influencing modern society, this book provides new insight not only into Islam's historic achievements but also the ancient resentments that fuel today's bitter conflicts."
I don't think I will have much trouble getting this in. Published by MIT and National Geographic. -Aquib (talk) 23:38, 25 April 2011 (UTC)
  • Dangerous knowledge : orientalism and its discontents / Robert Irwin. "What is Orientalism, who were the Orientalists, and how did Western scholars of Islamic culture come to be vilified as insidious agents of European imperialism? In Robert Irwin's groundbreaking new history, he answers this question with a detailed and colorful story of the motley crew of intellectuals and eccentrics who brought an understanding of the Islamic world to the West. In a narrative that ranges from an analysis of Ancient Greek perceptions of the Persians to a portrait of the first Western European translators of Arabic to the contemporary Muslim world's perceptions of the Western study of Islam, Irwin affirms the value of the Orientalists' legacy: not only for the contemporary scholars who have disowned it, but also for anyone committed to fostering the cross-cultural understanding which could bridge the real or imagined gulf between Islamic and Western civilization."
This last one should be interesting. Overlook press -Aquib (talk) 00:54, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
  • Orientalism / Edward W. Said. The noted critic and a Palestinian now teaching at Columbia University,examines the way in which the West observes the Arabs.
Now that one has a rousing summary,
  • The beginnings of Western science : the European scientific tradition in philosophical, religious, and institutional context, 600 B.C. to A.D. 1450 / David C. Lindberg. The author aims to be synthetic, rather than encyclopedic, in this discussion of major themes in the history of ancient and medieval science. Writing for a general audience (or for students), he summarizes the abundant research and offers his own interpretations and fresh judgments.
These should do for starts -Aquib (talk) 01:39, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
R.W. Southern, The Making of the Middle Ages (New Haven: Yale University Press 1953) ISBN 0300002300 p. 179 In the twelfth century, "knowledge of Aristotle began to pour into Western Europe from the Arab world". p. 202 Astrolabe developed by Arabs introduced to Europe; "Chartres remained a centre for the diffusion of Arabic science in the West until well into the twelfth century". Jonathanwallace (talk) 05:10, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
sorry, missed this one earlier. From knowledge of Aristotle began to pour into - am I right in thinking you are saying that the primary viewpoint of that book is that the Arabic contribution was to transmit Aristotle? That appears to be what your quote suggests William M. Connolley (talk) 21:05, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
Aquib, thank you. Your sources are splendid. Remember, wikipedia is here to present the mainstream point of view primarily, and fringe soures only according to their weight. So your contrary to the generally accepted view, the foundations of Islamic scientific thought were laid well before Greek sources were formally translated into Arabic in the ninth century may well be useful, to demonstrate what the minority and majority viewpoints are. Similarly, Said rather definitely has his own viewpoint to push, and if he is offering fresh judgments then that is an indication that the mainstream viewpoint is what he is opposing. Our articles should present the mainstream view first and primarily William M. Connolley (talk) 08:00, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
William, I agree with your observations re NPOV.
Saliba's views on the original acquisition of ancient knowledge by Islamic scientists are not pertinent to the discussion at hand. It is rather the subsequent transmission to Europe which is of interest at the moment.
For Said's views on Orientalism, we have Irwin as a counterbalance. And judging from the amount of literature and discussions around the concept of Orientalism as presented by Said, it is a mainstream topic.
11:50, 26 April 2011 (UTC)

Uninvolved editor comments[edit]

As an uninvolved editor drawn here through the recent posting on the WP:RSN noticeboard, I have some issues and concerns about the neutrality and balance of this article. The statement in the Historiography section, that fanaticism interfered with Islamic science (in the middle ages!) seems really problematic, as it would be equally (in)appropriate in Medieval science--where it is not made. It sounds like we are holding medieval cultures to modern Western standards somehow, which would indicate neutrality and weight problems. The article needs a lot more actual history of scientific developments in the Islamic world, their dissemination elsewhere, etc. The potentially weaselly material should be moved to a discussion section lower down. I will be back to put some work into this. By the way, I do not agree with the removal of the History of Islam sidebar either, which seems to be as appropriate as History of science. Jonathanwallace (talk) 17:48, 26 April 2011 (UTC)

I do not agree with the removal of the History of Islam sidebar - not sure what you mean by that. I don't think there is any such sidebar, and it was never in this article. Do you mean the "Islam" sidebar?
that fanaticism interfered with Islamic science - the direct statement isn't great (don't look at me, I didn't write it). But the general concept needs to be addressed: to what extent was "Science in medieval Islam" science that merely happened in the time and place of MI; and to what extent was that science helped or hindered by Islam? I think there is good evidence that the Christian church retarded (and in other ways helped) scientific inquiry, and I'd expect the appropriate article to mention that. Similarly for Islam I think (from rather vague reading) there is evidence of various traditions: some of which encouraged science (finding Mecca, maybe) and some of which definitely discouraged it (Koran is all you need to know, inquiry is impious). It needs sources, of course William M. Connolley (talk) 21:00, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
Welcome, Jonathan. I'm currently looking at what's available at my library. -Aquib (talk) 01:26, 27 April 2011 (UTC)
I personally prefer the newer works. The field seems to be undergoing a transformation. -Aquib (talk) 01:35, 27 April 2011 (UTC)

Science history texts[edit]

Science and Islam : a history / Ehsan Masood - Between the 8th and 15th centuries, scholars and researchers working from Samarkand in modern-day Uzbekistan to Cordoba in Spain advanced our knowledge of astronomy, chemistry, engineering, mathematics, medicine and philosophy to new heights. It was Musa al-Khwarizmi, for instance, who developed algebra in 9th century Baghdad, drawing on work by mathematicians in India; al-Jazari, a Turkish engineer of the 13th century whose achievements include the crank, the camshaft, and the reciprocating piston; ibn Sina, whose textbook Canon of Medicine was a standard work in Europe's universities until the 1600s. These scientists were part of a sophisticated culture and civilization that was based on belief in God - a picture which helps to scotch the myth of the 'Dark Ages' in which scientific advance faltered. Science writer Ehsan Masood weaves the story of these and other scientists into a compelling narrative, taking the reader on a journey through the Islamic empires of the middle ages, the cultural and religious circumstances that made this revolution possible, and its contribution to science in Western Europe. He unpacks the debates between scientists, philosophers and theologians on the nature of physical reality and limits to human reason, and explores the many reasons for the eventual decline of advanced science and learning in the Arabic-speaking world. This eye-opening, enjoyable book, which complements and builds on the BBC television series, should be essential reading for anyone keen to explore science's hidden history and its contribution to the making of the modern world. -Aquib (talk) 01:29, 27 April 2011 (UTC)

Science and Islam / Muzaffar Iqbal. Scientist, Islamic scholar, novelist, and poet Iqbal (Center for Islam and Science, Canada) first explains why the two-entity model of science and religion developed to analyze Western Christianity does not apply to Islam. Then he explores such questions as what was Islamic in Islamic science, whether there were tensions within the Islamic tradition that may have inhibited the full blossoming of scientific activity, how Islamic scientific knowledge was passed to Europe, and what new facets of the relationship between science and Islam have appeared in the post-Scientific Revolution era. Annotation

-Aquib (talk) 02:28, 27 April 2011 (UTC)


Wikipedia:Categories for discussion/Log/2011 May 19#Category:Scientists of Medieval Islam

Problems Attn AAM[edit]

  1. We have the article Science and Islam does any of what you've added find a better home there?
  2. Transmission of al-Zahrawi (al-tasfi) is well documented by later fathers of surgery.
  3. Jabir I have searched for any scholar who still advocates for 8th century origin of the Latin corpus I found some who say the question is open but provide no sources. Does Masood provide any references?
J8079s (talk) 02:17, 25 May 2011 (UTC)
1. J, I am presently ticking off the heavy hitters, but in reality the heart of the article is epistemological. There is no need to hash, and rehash, the science. The article can give directions to surveys of the various Notable fields (xxxxx in medieval Islam), and highlight the major players (Notable scientists), but the main purpose is to put this science in context. That involves a little discussion of Islamic civilization, and discussing the various perspectives of modern historians, and their thoughts on the significance of this science. And, yes, that will involve some discussion of the connection between the religion and the science - not to overplay it, but to point out the practical uses early Muslims made of some areas of the science. I don't see it being drawn out, or overly dramatic, but it has been a long time since school kids could use Wikipedia to get ideas for their school papers on this subject. And we need not dump them straight into it cold, without context. I think the viewpoints are there, not sure about the balance, but looking close to the mark. Does this address your first point?
2. Yes I am seeing some amazing things on al-Zahrawi. Cat gut, procedures, instruments. I'm trying to keep it to 4-5 lines (full page) per entry. Should these be expanded? Your thoughts? Assuming it would be easy to click through for more details. Masood is a brief survey.
I am questioning this line many of which were thought until recently to have originated during later periods of history as his work was well known in his own time and circulated in manuscript versions until the advent of printing I'll check my sources but I don't think his wok was ever lost. J8079s (talk) 04:51, 25 May 2011 (UTC)
That needs a cleanup, let me know what you think after I make a third run across it.-Aquib (talk) 05:15, 25 May 2011 (UTC)
3. Masood has a careful treatment of the issues you raise, but avows the core works to be authentic to someone from that place and time. Those are the claims I reflect in my entry. He lists his sources in the back, but does not carry footnotes. Science and Islam, Iqbal (2007) pp14-15 mentions Kraus' (1991) concerns, but affirms, in general language, Masood's position on these points.
What do you think? -Aquib (talk) 02:57, 25 May 2011 (UTC)
Who do you have that contradicts on these? I can look them up and see about getting their POV included. -Aquib (talk) 03:10, 25 May 2011 (UTC)
Re-reading the passage, I can see there is a doubt in Masood's mind. I will update the article. Thanks. -Aquib (talk) 03:22, 25 May 2011 (UTC)

The Arbic corpus is Important in its own right. The historical relations between Jaʿfar al-Ṣādeq and Jāber b. Ḥayyān remain very controversial, as they are linked to still unresolved questions about dating, composition, and authorship of the texts attributed to Jāber. Scholars such as Julius Ruska, Paul Kraus, and Pierre Lory consider Jaʿfar al-Ṣādeq’s involvement in the transmission of alchemical knowledge as a literary fiction, whereas Fuat Sezgin, Toufic Fahd, and Nomanul Haq are rather inclined to accept the existence of alchemical activity in Medina in Jaʿfar al-Ṣādeq’s time, although they remain cautious regarding the authenticity of the attribution of the Jaberian corpus to Jāber b. Ḥayyān and of the alchemical works to Jaʿfar al-Ṣādeq (Ruska, 1924, pp. 40-52; idem, 1927, pp. 264-66; Kraus, I, pp. LV-LVII; Lory, pp. 14-21, 57-59, 101-7; Sezgin, I, p. 529, IV, pp. 128-31; Fahd, 1970, pp. 139-41; Nomanul Haq, pp. 3-47). From Iranica [7]Also see Corbin [8] other names are Holmyard and Newman and of course Bertholt and Koop I'm adding this just for reference as what you' got looks ok for the general science stuff I want to do more work at Jabir but I keep getting distracted.J8079s (talk) 04:26, 25 May 2011 (UTC)

OK thanks. I don't want to take on too much in this article, and I appreciate your feedback. -Aquib (talk) 04:42, 25 May 2011 (UTC)

Notable scientists[edit]

The entirety of the "Notable scientists" section is sourced from one book, Masood, Ehsad (2009). Science and Islam A History. Icon Books Ltd. Which doesn't look very scholarly William M. Connolley (talk) 10:22, 25 May 2011 (UTC)

I'm using Masood as a starting point. His work is clear and straightforward, and I happen to presently have it at hand. But I think I'm going to have some gaps. I will need to go to other authors to cross-check and make sure I have covered all the most important people - I can add other references during that process. -Aquib (talk) 12:59, 25 May 2011 (UTC)
From his background, Masood would appear to be a reasonably credible source, but since he isn't a professional historian of science I have strong misgivings about using his book as the sole source for information about the scientists mentioned in the article. The problem with books like this, whose author's chief occupations have been scientific editing, writing popular science books and university teaching on science policy, is that the quality of their historical scholarship tends to be highly variable. In Dava Sobel's Galileo's Daughter, for instance, it is superb, whereas in Simon Singh's Big Bang it leaves a lot to be desired (in my opinion). And unless one is already reasonably kowledgeable about some aspects of the subject matter treated in such books it can be difficult to detect whether the author has been meticulous or slipshod.
All of the scientists mentioned in the article should have an entry in the Dictionary of Scientific Biography, which will be both more comprehensive and more authoritative than Masood's book. If you have convenient access to a copy, it would be worth your while checking the information currently given in the article against the appropriate entry in that work, and adding it as another citation (after any amendments, if necessary, to the article).
David Wilson (talk · cont) 13:29, 27 May 2011 (UTC)
The Dictionary of Scientific Biography is also available online. For direct links to DSB articles, see the pages of individual scientists (e.g., Al-Farabi#External links). Another good source available online is the Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers, which can be found here, or in a {{Cite}}-friendly format on this page. Wiqi(55) 15:14, 27 May 2011 (UTC)
Thanks Wiqi -Aquib (talk) 15:23, 27 May 2011 (UTC)
David, I missed your comment above when I posted the RS section below. I will take your advice and get a backup source. -Aquib (talk) 15:23, 27 May 2011 (UTC)
I have browsed through Amazon's electronic copy of Masood's book. As far as I could tell (which is not all that far in the case of Islamic astronomy) his exposition is not too bad, but there do seem to be mistakes that I don't believe an expert on the subject would be likely to make. He says that al-Zarqali, for instance, "proved" that the Sun's "aphelion" shifts with respect to the fixed stars and that he "measured this minuscule movement". I don't believe an expert on the subject would have used either of the words (especially "aphelion") or the phrase I have placed in inverted commas in the preceding sentence. Since al-Zarqali was working with a geocentric system, I believe the proper term for the point of the Sun"s orbit where it is at a maximum distance from the Earth is "apogee", not "aphelion". That's certainly the term that Otto Neugebauer uses in his works, and that Christopher Linton uses in From Eudoxus to Einstein.
The way al-Zarqali discovered the precession of the line of apses of the Sun's orbit was by comparing his estimate of its location with Ptolemy's those of earlier astronomers.[see correction below] As it turns out both these estimates were sufficiently accurate for al-Zarqali to obtain a very good estimate for the rate of the precession. But to say that he "proved" that the Sun's apogee had shifted, or that he "measured this minuscule movement" seems to me to be inappropriate hyperbole.
There is one other problem with the article's text on al-Zarqali. "Variance" is a term of art in statistics and probability theory with a precise technical meaning, and it shouldn't be used to refer to any other kinds of variation such as the rate of precession discovered by al-Zarqali (this is not a mistake of Masood's, who doesn't use that term).
David Wilson (talk · cont) 17:39, 27 May 2011 (UTC)
Thanks. I noticed the lack of precision in the term aphelion, with regards to this point, when I linked the term; however, I could not judge the nature or cause of the discrepancy. And I see your point on variance. The background on al-Zarqali's calculations raise a concern. Your feedback is very helpful. I will try to cross-check against Dictionary of Scientific Biography this weekend, and shore up these mini-bios. -Aquib (talk) 21:03, 27 May 2011 (UTC)

Correction: In making a comment above on al-Zarqali's discovery of the precession of the Sun's apogee (now amended) I had been relying on a faulty recollection of J.L.E. Dreyer's account in his History of the Planetary Systems from Thales to Kepler (pp.250-251). I had completely forgotten that Dreyer attributed this discovery to al-Battani rather than al-Zarqali. Al-Battani 's estimate for the celestial longitude of the Sun's apogee was 16°47′ larger than Ptolemy's, or some 5°23′ greater than he could account for by his estimate of 11°24′ for the westward precession of the vernal equinox over the intervening period. Although he did not explicitly conclude from this that the Sun's apogee was moving, Dreyer considered that his recognition of the discrepancy entitled him to be regarded as the discoverer of that motion. Al-Zarqali lived some 150 years after al-Battani and would have been able to, and almost certainly did, make effective use of the works of his Islamic predecessors as well as of Ptolemy's. My apologies for the error.

The entry on al-Zarqali in the Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography merely says that his now lost work Suma referente al movimiento del sol "is based on twenty–five years of observations in which he discovered the proper motion of the solar apogee". Misunderstanding of such brief and incomplete summaries as this probably accounts for Masood's misleading statement that al-Zarqali had "measured" the "minuscule movement" of the Sun's apogee. In fact, it would have been impossible for al-Zarqali to recognise that the Sun's apogee was moving solely from his own observations taken over a period as short as 25 years. During that time the apogee moves only about 5 arc-minutes, which is less than the minimum observational error achievable even with the most advanced techniques available at that time.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 14:31, 28 May 2011 (UTC)

The importance of these vast numbers of detailed observations got me thinking. Masood points out the great observatories were not qualified to receive perpetual funding from trust under Islamic law. They didn't fall under one of the categories of waqf, and only survived so long as the astronomers were funded by wealthy patrons. With the decline of the Caliphate, and especially after the fall of Baghdad, many of the scientific institutions would depend on less powerful, or more transient, figures such as Hulegu. It would seem the decline of Islamic science bears a marked correlation to the loss of centralized political power in Baghdad and the Andalus. But then, I digress. -Aquib (talk) 15:43, 28 May 2011 (UTC)

Just a few notes[edit]

  • One of the problems is that Science and Philosophy mean the same thing one is Latin and the other Greek[citation needed] If you come across a source we could use it here and at several other places in the History of science articles.
  • The divisions of falsfa are: These sciences, in relation to the aim we have set before us, may be divided into six, sections: (1) Mathematics; (2) Logic; (3) Physics; (4) Metaphysics; (5) Politics; (6) Moral Philosophy.
(1) Mathematics. Mathematics comprises the knowledge of calculation, geometry, and cosmography: it has no connection with the religious sciences, and proves nothing for or against religion...
(2) Logic. This science, in the same manner, contains nothing for or against religion. Its object is the study of different kinds of proofs and syllogisms, the conditions which should hold between the premises of a proposition, the way to combine them, the rules of a good definition, and the art of formulating it....
(3) Physics. The object of this science is the study of the bodies which compose the universe: the sky and the stars, and, here below, simple elements such as air, earth, water, fire, and compound bodies animals, plants, and minerals; the reasons of their changes, developments, and intermixture. By the nature of its researches it is closely connected with the study of medicine, the object of which is the human body, its principal and secondary organs, and the law which governs their changes. Religion having no fault to find with medical science, can not justly do so with physical, except on some special matters which we have mentioned in the work entitled, " The Destruction of the Philosophers." Besides these primary questions, there are some subordinate ones depending on them, on which physical science is open to objection. But all physical science rests, as we believe, on the following principle: Nature is entirely subject to God; incapable of acting by itself, it is an instrument in the hand of the Creator; sun, moon, stars, and elements are subject to God and can produce nothing of themselves. In a word, nothing in nature can act spontaneously and apart from God.
4) Metaphysics. This is the fruitful breeding-ground of the errors of philosophers. Here they can no longer satisfy the laws of rigorous argumentation such as logic demands, and this is what explains the disputes which arise between them in the study of metaphysics. The system most closely akin to the system of the Mohammedan doctors is that of Aristotle as expounded to us by Farabi and Avicenna. The sum total of their errors can be reduced to twenty propositions: three of them are irreligious, and the other seventeen heretical. It was in order to combat their system that we wrote the work, " Destruction of the Philosophers." The three propositions in which they are opposed to all the doctrines of Islam are the following:...

Most of what we call science today is of course Physics I didn't mean to dump so much text I think for the page just the names would be enough.J8079s (talk) 23:11, 26 May 2011 (UTC)

Yes, this subject is touched upon by Hodgson, but I am just beginning to appreciate the role of philosophy. I agree this material is important for the article and the series. I will begin looking for a good source. Thanks -Aquib (talk) 00:34, 27 May 2011 (UTC)
Yes, a bit of description laying out the scope of falsafa and its fields, with links to the major concepts and contributors. Putting the scientific fields in their context. Something like that maybe. Good. Thanks. -Aquib (talk) 00:42, 27 May 2011 (UTC)


These two sources, ca. 1957, cannot be used to support the thesis of this paragraph "The most prominent view in recent scholarship..." -Aquib (talk) 01:20, 27 May 2011 (UTC)

These sources are meant to support the claim that modern science emerged in early modern Europe, not the claim about the most prominent view in recent scholarship. Spacepotato (talk) 02:09, 27 May 2011 (UTC)
Yes I had thought they might be. Hard to justify their use even in that role, though, since the thesis is "most prominent in recent". I'm trying to parse the paragraph, and I don't see the citations supporting the central thesis. They should be next to the claim, where just I added a cn tag, or at the end of the paragraph. They would need to be recent work. Without direct support for the central claim, the paragraph would be a synthesis. -Aquib (talk) 02:40, 27 May 2011 (UTC)
Yes, the claim that this is the most prominent view in recent scholarship seems to be unsupported. I revised the paragraph. Spacepotato (talk) 04:25, 27 May 2011 (UTC)


This sentence on the Tusi-couple was removed and I don't understand why.

The Tusi-couple got rid of some of Ptolomey's equants (whatever those are). The sentence doesn't say Copernicus used it, only that it led to other advances. Tusi's students and others began using it.

At the same time the Tusi-couple sentence was removed, the citation for the entire paragraph was removed as well.

Reverting until I understand.

Aquib (talk) 11:51, 27 May 2011 (UTC)

I don't know what WMC's rationale was for removing (rather than amending) the sentence was, but as it currently stands it is certainly misleading. One could reasonably say that the Tusi couple enabled astronomers to amend certain features of Ptolemy's system which most medieval philosophers perceived as defects—namely, motions of its components that were not uniform along the circumference of a circle. While the device itself was ingenious, we now know (with hindsight) that the apparent advance that al-Tusi and his successors (including Copernicus) thought they were making by using the Tusi couple were, in practice, completely illusory. One of the biggest problems with Ptolemy's system was in fact the whole idea that the motions of the planets had to be expressed as a composition of uniform motions around circles. Once Kepler had shattered this notion by showing that the planets' orbits were ellipses (or at least very good approximations thereto) it became obvious that the "corrections" to Ptolemy's system with such devices as the Tusi couple had all really led to nothing but dead-ends.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 12:42, 27 May 2011 (UTC)
Yep, that's pretty well what I meant. AAM: if you haven't a clue what is going on (as you freely admit) you would be better off not reverting. Reverting until I understand is an appalling edit summary. You should apply "Don't revert until I understand" instead. It looks to me as though you're just copying text out of a fairly low-quality book. the entire section will probably need revision William M. Connolley (talk) 12:48, 27 May 2011 (UTC)
Thank you, David. Makes sense. -Aquib (talk) 13:50, 27 May 2011 (UTC)

RS Science and Islam A History by Ehsan Masood (2009)[edit]

Ehsan Masood is a well known science writer. The book is a companion to the BBC series Science and Islam. It is a popular work rather than a scholarly one. But it is certainly adequate to the task of adding a few 4 or 5 line mini-bios to this article. In fact, it is well suited to this task, as the material is quite clear and accessible. -Aquib (talk) 14:09, 27 May 2011 (UTC)

  • Note, I posted this before reading David Wilson's and Wiqi55's remarks above. I will look for a backup source to reinforce the entries. -Aquib (talk) 15:34, 27 May 2011 (UTC)

Masood citations[edit]

The article currently has several citations to Ehsan Masood's bookScience and Islam: A History in which his given name is misspelled "Ehsad". In each of these citations all the bibliographic details of Masood's book are repeated in full. I was on the point of removing all the spelling errors by simply replacing each of these citations with a much briefer one of Harvard style, with a link to the full bibliographic details that I had previously added to the references section. However, before proceeding, I thought it better to check whether anyone would object to this. If not, I will do the corrections in a couple of days.

On the other hand, I should add that if there turns out to be a consensus against this, I would be strongly inclined to leave it for someone else to correct all the spelling errors.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 14:31, 27 May 2011 (UTC)

Thanks for catching that, please feel free. Regards -Aquib (talk) 15:00, 27 May 2011 (UTC)

Science in medieval Islam is a series and needs a template[edit]

The series should also be linked to the Islam series. -Aquib (talk) 16:19, 3 June 2011 (UTC)

These things are overrun with templates and categories. Do we really really *need* another one? William M. Connolley (talk) 16:39, 3 June 2011 (UTC)


Midevel science in the middle east might be a more nutural, less loaded term, than islamic,--J intela (talk) 21:40, 3 October 2011 (UTC)

The parallel article Medicine in medieval Islam recently got moved to Medicine in the medieval Islamic world. Perhaps this article, Science in medieval Islam might also benefit by a similar move to Science in the medieval Islamic world.
While slightly longer such a title seems more accurate, as the main focus of our article certainly isn't science in the theology of medieval Islam; nor need the scientists to be considered necessarily all be Muslim. On the other hand, while someone like the famous Jewish theologian and doctor Maimonides certainly was in no way Muslim, some of his outlook was very much shaped by the very distinctive intellectual culture around him and of his times, which (in my view) it is entirely fair to call "the medieval Islamic world", as not only was it ruled by Islamic rulers operating distinctively Islamic states, but the whole intellectual climate was very much shaped by the theology of Islam of the time.
So it seems to me that a change to a title like Science in the medieval Islamic world could have a lot to commend about it. Jheald (talk) 23:10, 3 October 2011 (UTC)
Since there seems to be no objection, I've gone ahead and made the move. Jheald (talk) 18:14, 24 October 2011 (UTC)

Persians, Arabs, Zoroastrians, etc[edit]

hi. i am trying to make improvement to this article's introduction. most of the Musulman polymaths of the Islamic Golden Age were actually of Persian origin. There were also many Arabs, and some Christians adn Jews. But i don't know of any Zoroastrians or Sabaeans. if you would like to read some of the books listed below, you will see that what i am saying is correct. please don't delete. thankyou. Dohezarsersdah (talk) 07:32, 8 October 2011 (UTC)

if you look them all up, ibn Khaldun was a moor, Al-Kindi was a Arab, Ibn al-Nafis was a Arab, Al-Biruni was Persian, Ibn Sina (Avicenna) was Persian, Al-Farabi was Persian (and Shi'a), Jabir ibn Hayyan was Persian, Nasir al-Din al-Tusi was Persian, Ghazali, Jābir ibn Hayyān, Rumi and Omar Khayyám were Persians. Dohezarsersdah (talk) 07:42, 8 October 2011 (UTC)
Mashallah ibn Athari was a Persian Jew. Dohezarsersdah (talk) 07:46, 8 October 2011 (UTC)
"The greatest Muslim philosophers (Ibn Sina, Razi, Suhravardi, Qutb-al-Din Shirazi, Mulla Sadra Shirazi, and many more), the greatest ethicist-philosophers (Ibn Miskaway, Nasir Tusi, and Davani), the greatest Muslim Chemist (Razi), the greatest Muslim mathematician (Mussa Kharazmi, the author of the first treatise on algebra), and the greatest theologians (Ghazali and others) were Persian-speaking Iranians." (Shaikh M. Ghazanfar, Medieval Islamic economic thought: filling the "great gap" in European economics, Psychology Press, 2003 (p. 114-115)) Dohezarsersdah (talk) 08:12, 8 October 2011 (UTC)

disingenuous use of editorial source[edit]

Science in medieval Muslim societies was practiced on a scale unprecedented in earlier human history. Dallal, Ahmad (2010). Islam, science, and the challenge of history. Yale University Press. p. 12. ISBN 9780300159110.  The edit leaves out: or even contemporary human history While the source is contains both facts and opinions the editorial stuff needs to be presented as such. J8079s (talk) 21:52, 28 May 2012 (UTC)

"Editorial source" ? Dallal is an Associate Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies and I think you're trying too hard here, especially with the "disingenuous" accusation, to dismiss his work as nothing but an "editorial source" either because his conclusions offend your Eurocentric viewpoint (as evident from your contributions history) or perhaps because you think Dallal (as his name would imply) is not of European origin and thus "insincere". You claimed that this particular statement is an opinion, yet you have not presented any reference disputing this or similar statements. And even if you did establish that it is an opinion, then your removal is not justified, attribution will suffice. Al-Andalusi (talk) 04:16, 29 May 2012 (UTC)

"Islamic World"[edit]

Why not "Oriental World" or "Middle-Eastern world".

We don't call Europe "The Christian World" or China and Japan as "The Buddhist world"... — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:54, 4 August 2012 (UTC)

Good question. Islamic world identifies a coherent cultural region that extends from Spain, across North Africa, the Middle East and on to South Asia, which is identified by the spread of Islam and the use of Arabic as a scholarly language. I personally favor the Arabic world, but that raises issues with peoples whose native language is not Arabic. (There are many disputes over whether particular scholars are Persian or Arab). Islamic world seems the lesser of two (or more) evils. --SteveMcCluskey (talk) 13:23, 4 August 2012 (UTC)
I also have a problem with term "Islamic" in connection with science. There is no Catholic or Communistic convex lens. Algebra is the same whether practised by a Jew or a Muslim, so why classify anything by naming it Islamic? I just see the same as what happened in the past when Bucailleism dominated the editing of the relevant Wikipedia pages happening all over when it comes to artificially injecting scientific contents into the ideology and religion of Islam and the followers, jeopardising all objectivity. WilliamBillyB (talk) 17:47, 2 June 2013 (UTC)

Alhazen's ethnicity[edit]

Alhazen is an Arab not Persian. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:02, 22 September 2014 (UTC)

Ibn Khaldun and Ethnicity of Scientists[edit]

Too many people have cited the Ibn Khaldun passage about Persian contributions as proof of Persians being the predominant actors in Islamic science. This is actually a misreading of the passage. That passage only talks about a particular period in time - the Abbasid period and right after when the Arabs adopted Sassanian Persian customs and institutions in their administration and culture, most notably in the Bayt al-Hikma which was modeled off of Gundishapur and built on much of its scholarship. It is not meant to suggest that Arabs contributed nothing or had a minor role compared to Persians in general. Only for that period of time. Hurvashtahumvata888 (talk) 04:44, 18 January 2015 (UTC)