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Science & Islam: A History

Science & Islam: A History [Kindle Edition]

Ehsan Masood
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: £4.79 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
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Product Description


'Science and Islam' [is] a fascinating and clearly written book ... [with] lessons for us today. -- New Scientist

A delightful and approachable work, packed with surprises and treats ... offered by a writer whose passion ... does not daunt his objectivity -- Wharf

Masood's eminently readable survey of science in Islam ... provides the social and political context in which discoveries took place. -- The Times

The fruits of the golden age of Islamic science are summarised briskly and engagingly in Ehsan Masood's Science & Islam -- Sunday Times


The fruits of the golden age of Islamic science are summarised briskly and engagingly in Ehsan Masood's Science & Islam

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 569 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Icon Books Ltd (5 Nov 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003B02OK0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #210,410 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Ehsan Masood is a science journalist based in London and the Editor of the 'Research' family of publications, including Research Fortnight and Research Europe ( He also teaches international science policy at Imperial College London. He is a trustee of Leadership for Environment and Development and advises the British Council on science and cultural relations. He worked for many years at the science journal, Nature, and has also worked for New Scientist magazine. Ehsan is a member of the panel on BBC Radio 4's environmental affairs programme 'Home Planet'. He began his journalism in the late 1980s on the pioneering and much-missed satirical magazine 'MuslimWise'.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
55 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Page-turning BBC tie-in 6 Jan 2009
I got this book on the back of the accompanying TV series that began on BBC4 last night
(which is currently the most popular BBC4 programme on iPlayer). I have to say it's one of the most fascinating books
I've ever read - I had no idea how much of the scientific development we take for granted originated in the Middle East during
the Middle Ages. Algebra, engineering like pistons, camshafts and cranks, and the hugely influential textbook Canon of Medicine all had their origins
in the so-called 'golden age' of Muslim thought. I for one never knew that.

Ehsan Masood unearths these discoveries in an engaging manner that makes the book a real page-turner - and I'm no scientist. In a time where Islam
is often under attack, it's eye-opening to learn how much we owe to that ancient and often misunderstood culture. 'Science and Islam' does what it says on the cover, discussing
and conncecting the two with a depth and sensitivity hitherto unexamined.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Done BBC 15 Feb 2010
By Mem
A good easy to read book to follow the documentary, which I hope will be released on DVD. It is a good beginners book, which gives a great overview that teaches and reminds us how Islam encouraged and contributed greatly to the develpment and progress of Science and how that drive and legacy shaped the European Enlightment and the Modern world Algebra, Industry, Astronomy, Health care and even Evolution and how broad and open it is to integrate religion with science and progress. Sadly especially today Islam is at times misunderstood and abused for political reasons but this book and similiar ones makes a difference by teaching us historical facts and how now it's legacy is being acknowledged. It also gives us a good overview of the great Muslim dynasties and empires without overshadowing the books title and what we can learn from the past and apply it today. Put the newspaper down and read this enlightening book to rediscover history or your heritage. It reminds us especially today that education is the duty and requirement of every Muslim equal to the Mosque.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A broad but sketchy overview 27 Feb 2009
Even for those who have read about early Arab and Persian science before, 'Science & Islam' may contain some new insights, such as the fact that Copernicus copied some of his illustrations directely from Nasir al-Din al-Tusi, a Persian astronomer. On the other hand, Ehsan Masood remains vague about what it precisely was that Copernicus copied. This is a pattern.

Standing for the task to introduce muslim science to a lay audience mr. Masood has chosen not to delve too far into the actual science, but to sketch the historical circumstances under which science could flourish. After all, he could not assume his readers to have any knowledge of the caliphs and their 'houses of wisdom'.

So, this is not a book that fills the usual gap in history of science books when it comes to the non-western middle ages. Such books, however, take readers' knowledge of broad political and social circumstances for granted. Read this as a broad introduction and mr. Masood has done an excellent job. However, those seeking more thorough knowledge about the actual achievements of muslim scientists will likely be disappointed.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Inaccurate and highly flawed -- take caution 7 Jan 2010
By asha
This book, although intended for the lay reader is fraught with errors from start to finish. For one, for some reason the author acknowledges the ethnicity and cultural background of all the scientists he discusses except the Persians, which he simply refers to by their Arabic titles (e.g. al-Tusi, al-Biruni, etc.), giving readers the false impression that scientists such as Khwarizmi, Tusi, ibn-Sina and al-Razi were all Arabs, simply because they wrote in Arabic, which was necessary for them to gain recognition in the Islamic world. Secondly, he refers to Omar Khayyam as an Arab, and even when quoting from his Rubayyat, does not mention that it is Persian poetry. Third, when referring to places and locations, he gives no detail to the reader as to where they actually are geographically. How is the lay reader supposed to know where the Alamut fortress is? Fourth, numerous times he mistakes the Safarids (a Persian dynasty) for the Safavids, which is a huge error, as the Safavids were a completely different dynasty! As well, many major accomplishments of the scientists are omitted. For instance, how can one write about Zakariya Razi (Rhazes) without mentioning his discovery of alcohol, which he is most famous for? Lastly, why are there no footnotes? It seems as if the author is simply writing from memory and hearsay.

Overall, the topic of the book is very interesting and the writing style is clear and not at all boring, but it is a HIGHLY erroneous, flawed, and in many cases, biased view of the subject. Beware.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Islam & Science 16 Mar 2009
Companion book to the BBC series. The TV series was excellent with many science links, photos and examples. The book was more history of Islam with a few poor photos and little science. Disappointing!
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars too superficial 21 Feb 2009
A fascinating subject! But it would have deserved a more knowledgeable writer. What we get instead is a very superficial description of the subject. The author tries to place his description of Islamic science in the context of the history of the Islamic world, but there his knowledge is very sketchy and unreliable. On top of that, the book contains many contradictions and non sequiturs.
I regret that I have not seen the TV series and so I have to base my judgment entirely on the book. I will have to keep looking for something more profound and where everything is put into a better historical context.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars History of science before the Reformation
It was interesting to read that science did not begin with the reformation. It had been happening before during earlier periods and under many different invaders. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Ann Congleton
4.0 out of 5 stars An eye opener
Fascinating story of the ability of mankind's mind to follow curiosity, and how religiosity can slam it shut! A great read!
Published 15 months ago by Shuja Baig
5.0 out of 5 stars Indebtedness
The Arabs were so in advance of Western thought and science. We owe them so much. This book brought to light just how much they contributed to knowledge and explanation of the... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Mrs. M. A. Meredith
3.0 out of 5 stars Reading for fun
Very interesting read but it comes across as a bit disjointed. The chapters are bite sized chunks which is good to read if you don't have much time to give, but seems the lack a... Read more
Published on 4 Aug 2011 by Edward Oates
1.0 out of 5 stars Summary of Summary of Commentary of Commentary
One of the main reasons of "Closing the Great Door of Islam" was the Islamic scholars' concerns of what would happen with the great knowledge gained through scientific discoveries... Read more
Published on 15 Feb 2010 by Anna Abrahamyan
2.0 out of 5 stars Borrow not buy
This book although has some interesting and benifical information in there has some mistakes in it. I would avoid it as there are better books to read about Islam and science.
Published on 24 Aug 2009 by gnostic
5.0 out of 5 stars Seek knowledge not ignorance
This is a well written, easy to follow and great introduction to how Islam sought and improved upon knowledge in the fields of chemistry, astronomy, mathematics, weaponry,... Read more
Published on 8 Jun 2009 by Mr. Tariq Aslam
4.0 out of 5 stars Rediscovering the past
I really enjoyed this book, which took the recent TV series rather deeper; I hope that it will be widely read and not just by scientists, because the scientific information in it... Read more
Published on 8 Mar 2009 by S. K. Lewicki
3.0 out of 5 stars Science and Islam: A History
This could be a very good book if it had pictures in it. Should have pictures of every person talked about in the book and the pictures of the inventions.
Published on 4 Mar 2009 by Faisal Ihsan
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