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3.6 out of 5 stars21
3.6 out of 5 stars
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on 15 February 2010
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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on 6 January 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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on 27 February 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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on 7 January 2010
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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on 16 March 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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on 21 February 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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on 8 March 2009
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 is easily accessible to the intelligent lay reader. I had vague inklings of the role of the Arab world in 'preserving' knowledge through the so-called Dark Ages in the West, but had not thought that any act of translating and preserving such knowledge would necessarily involve wanting to interact with it and develop it... It is good, therefore, to see our rather arrogant Western society and its attitudes put in a clear historical perspective, and to see the Islamic contribution to the advancement of human knowledge beginning to be recognised. It is a pity that the book was not rather more carefully edited, though.
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on 23 February 2009
This is a book that should have been so much better. No rigour seems to have gone into putting it together and especially not into some of the simplistic conclusions drawn. It is a cursory look at a topic that deserves far better treatment. Had it not been for the televison series this book would not have sold, especially given the very poor quality of the materials used for the book. I felt cheated.
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on 18 September 2014
Islam brought science to the west, and preserved many greek works which are now only available in the Arabic version!
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on 8 June 2009
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, irrigation and numerous other inventions. More importantly it highlights the point that the west tried to cover up and erase through historical revisionism and war, Islam's many achievements in these and other fields. Not only did Islamic scholars seek to preserve classical historical texts but to interpret them and redistribute to europe so that the knowledge wasn't lost forever. Islam also nurtured learning in the middle east but also in the new settlements in spain where people of all faiths and cultures sought knowledge and wisdom. This has been hailed as the most multi-cultural period of civilization. The pursuit of knowledge not money lead to the enlightment of peoples until dynastic battles and the Mongols invaded Spain, and the following christian crusades lead to the inquisition which saw the death of millions of muslims and jews. The period the spanish don't want to speak about. Copernicus was well known as the human photo-copier, plagorising for all he was worth. For the Dutch reviewer go back and re-read the chapter on Copernicus's stealing the drawings from Islamic text. Better still, go to YOUTUBE and type in the title of the book. You will come across the series in all its entirety, and from here you can watch in pictorial form the parts copernicus stole. I hope this will make it clearer that Culture is very important to human beings but it is a double-edged sword. Whilst it can bring great rewards to some, it can also bring misery to others. Lessons for our times I think. Buy this book it is well worth a read.
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