Wednesday, May 7, 2008

358)Islam and Astronomy: Vestiges of a fine legacy; Quotes of Aga Khan IV and Ibn Sina

"......The Quran tells us that signs of Allah’s Sovereignty are found in the contemplation of His Creation - in the heavens and the earth, the night and the day, the clouds and the seas, the winds and the waters...."(Aga Khan IV, Kampala, Uganda, August 22 2007)

"Astronomy, the so-called “Science of the Universe” was a field of particular distinction in Islamic civilization-–in sharp contrast to the weakness of Islamic countries in the field of Space research today. In this field, as in others, intellectual leadership is never a static condition, but something which is always shifting and always dynamic"(Aga Khan IV, Convocation, American University of Cairo, Cairo, Egypt, June 15th 2006)

"Our religious leadership must be acutely aware of secular trends, including those generated by this age of science and technology. Equally, our academic or secular elite must be deeply aware of Muslim history, of the scale and depth of leadership exercised by the Islamic empire of the past in all fields"(Aga Khan IV, 6th February 1970, Hyderabad, Pakistan)

"My profession is to be forever journeying, to travel about the Universe so that I may know all its conditions."(Ibn Sina, aka Avicenna, 11th century Muslim Philosopher, Physician and Scientist, author of the Canon of Medicine, circa 1037CE)

I came accross 2 pictures recently from the NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day website taken by Iranian astrophotographers from the area around the Alborz Mountains in Iran:

This picture shows a side view of the Milky Way Galaxy as well as 2 Arabic-named stars Deneb and Altair:

This picture shows the Arabic-named yellow-tinged star Betelgeuse as well as the belt of Orion, made up of the 3 Arabic-named stars Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka:

The Alborz Mountains are where the Shia Ismaili Muslims built their mountain fortress state of Alamut after the fall of the Fatimid Empire. The above pictures show the kind of views that astronomer Nasir Al-Din Tusi must have commanded of the heavens from this lofty mountain fortress.

I have also blogged before in detail about the 3 stars that make up the belt of Orion, Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka as well as other stars like Betelgeuse and Aldeberan:

In addition I have blogged earlier about the Arabic-named stars in the Big Dipper and little Dipper constellations, Dubhe, Merak, Phecda, Alioth, Mizar and Alkaid; Yildun, Gildun, Vildiur, Yilduz, Pherkard, Kochab, Alifa al Farkadain, Anwar al Farkadain:

Astronomy was a natural early science for muslims to pursue during the golden age of Islam because the times for the 5 daily prayers, as well as the sightings of the new moon for the beginning and end of the fasting month of Ramadan, and Chandraat for Satpanthi Ismailis, were and are all required to be determined astronomically.

Easy Nash

The Qur'an itself repeatedly recommends Muslims to become better educated in order better to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
The Quran tells us that signs of Allah's Sovereignty are found in the contemplation of His Creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
This notion of the capacity of the human intellect to understand and to admire the creation of Allah will bring you happiness in your everyday lives: Aga Khan IV(2007)
Islam, eminently logical, placing the greatest emphasis on knowledge, purports to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2006)