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The deficiency in Muslim science and technology is particularly intriguing given that Muslims were world leaders in science and technology a millennium ago -- something that distinguishes them from, say, the peoples of Latin America or sub-Saharan Africa. As Muslims vied with Chinese for intellectual and scientific leadership, Christian Europe lagged far behind both.This golden age was definitely Muslim in that it took place in predominantly Muslim societies, but was it Islamic, that is, connected to the religion of Islam?Throughout this period, Muslim intellectuals presented minimal resistance to the diffusion of Western scientific ideas.For example, the major opposition to Darwinian ideas of evolution came not from Muslim scholars but from Eastern-rite Christians. In the 1914-45 period, Muslims slowly, and often in frustration, attempted to strengthen indigenous science against the imported variety.With the approval of local elites, European colonial authorities imposed public-health measures to contain cholera, malaria, and other contagious diseases.The Suez Canal, opened in 1869, reduced shipping time and distance and generated new trade.In particular, the great theologian Abu Hamid Muhammad al-Ghazali (1059-1111) used the tools of the philosophers to undermine philosophical and scientific inquiry. In combination, the Enlightenment and French Revolution made European science accessible to the Muslim world.The former detached science from Christianity, thereby making it palatable to Muslims.
And what must change so that science can flourish in Muslim countries?
Railways, telegraphs, steamships and steam engines, automobiles, and telephones all appeared.
Much of this technology transfer took the form of Middle Eastern governments' granting monopoly concessions to European firms.
In numerical terms, forty-one predominantly Muslim countries with about 20 percent of the world's total population generate less than 5 percent of its science.
This, for example, is the proportion of citations of articles published in internationally circulating science journals.
Thus, Marshall Hodgson -- who argues that the eastern Muslim world flourished until the sixteenth century, when "the Muslim people, taken collectively, were at the peak of their power" -- acknowledges that by the end of the eighteenth century, Muslims "were prostrate." Whatever its timing, this decline meant that Muslims failed to learn from Europe.