Ekrem Buğra Ekinci, 1987’de Ankara Hukuk Fakültesi’ni bitirdi. Avukatlık stajı yaptı.

Ankara’da başladığı kariyerini İstanbul’da sürdürdü.
Doktorasını 1996’da İstanbul Hukuk Fakültesi’nde tamamladı.

Türkiye ve Daily Sabah gazetelerinde yazmaktadır.
Devam
 
WHY THE ISLAMIC WORLD FELL BEHIND IN SCIENCE

29 Ocak 2016 Cuma

The Islamic world made significant contributions in different scientific fields up until the 15th century. These contributions are inevitably seen not only in science, but also in other fields such as art, trade and politics. So what happened to make the Islamic world fall behind in science while it rose in Europe? What are the reasons behind this downward trend?

                                          Frisian crusaders confront the Tower of Damietta, Egypt

The European assertion of why Muslims fell behind in science was the negative attitude Islamic scholars. "If there were no scholars like al-Ghazali, then there would also be discoveries and innovations in the Islamic world." While the West overcame scholastic philosophy, the Middle East failed. What the Western world actually means is the stance of these scholars against philosophers. Indeed, there was always an upward trend in scientific discipline after al-Ghazali and similar scholars. The discussions between religious scholars and philosophers were on the truth of religion, not on rational sciences.

It is true to say that the difference in science field between the Islamic world and the West increased after the 16th century. However, it would be an unsupported statement to say Muslim scholars led this. It was an issue of supply and demand. If science and technology was needed in the Islamic world with less political and financial power, developments in the rational sciences would have increasingly continued as they did in the Islamic golden age. Many mathematicians, astronomers, physicists, engineers and other scientists used to fulfill society and the state's requirements. On the other hand, there was a bright scientific life in Ottoman Empire, besides religious one, in which scholars wrote books and made innovations in every field of science.

The second issue that the Western world criticized was that madrasas mostly focused on education in theology and law. However, education in the rational sciences used to be offered as separate training in the Islamic world. To illustrate, astronomy and mathematics used to be offered at observatories with libraries filled with books in these fields and where observation tools were continuously in use. Students were trained by astronomers and mathematicians. For medicine, students were trained at hospitals, as it should be. This is why law and theology were taught at madrasas due to necessity during the period when political and financial power experienced a downward trend while education in the rational sciences did not improve. When integration with the West became inevitable, modern schools, where the teaching of such scientific fields was available, were established.

Historian Ibn Khaldun associated this downward trend to political and financial reasons. He once wrote: "Science flourishes in wealthy societies." If a region weakens, loses its power and population, then certain professions increasingly sink into oblivion until they disappear because they are not financially supported. The crowded and prosperous cities such as Baghdad, Cordoba, Kairouan, Basra and Kufa in the first century of Islam were the centers of civilization and science. When these cities' populations dropped, prosperous thinking, civilization and science shifted to other Islamic regions like Persia and Central Asia. It was at this time that science boomed and financial activities and technical advances flourished. The road of science was the same as that of trade and industry, which started from Egypt and Mesopotamia and extended to Greece and Andalusia to Renaissance-era Italy and the Netherlands and Industrial Revolution-era Britain. When a society falls, scientific advances halt and even disappear. Science requires prosperity and safety.

Toward the end of the 15th century, wisdom and science reached such a point that was hard to improve, impossible even. Until that period there were hardly any scientific advances either in the Islamic world or medieval Europe. To shake itself, it was necessary to eliminate the previous order. Europe achieved this by discoveries that made it rich and increased its population. So what happened to make Muslims fall behind in science?

Land structure: Many Islamic regions are in barren or semi-barren, steppe or desert with few habitable areas. The Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates prioritized irrigation systems and introduced agricultural reform, but irrigation systems were neglected when the centralized authority weakened. Following the Mongolian invasion, farms fell fallow or turned into marsh.

Mongolian nomads: When the central authority weakened, nomads overcame Muslims and caused chaos and anarchy. As the irrigations systems did not work and wetlands turned into grassland and swamps, the lands that these nomads claimed enlarged, leading to a population decrease in Iraq and Syria from the 13th century to the modern age.

Natural disasters: Natural disasters that occurred in Islamic cities in the Medieval Age caused social and economic depression. For example, the decrease in the Nile's water level in 968 resulted in serious drought and the deaths of 600,000 people. Famine and infectious diseases followed this. The biggest disaster of this time, the Black Death, destroyed the Islamic world more than it destroyed Europe. Egypt, Syria and Iraq lost two-thirds of their populations. Agricultural production and industry collapsed and military power weakened as well. 

Geographical location: The geographical position of Islamic cities made them the targets of external assaults and interference from the crusades until the modern era. Located in the middle of the East and West, Islamic cities with flat geography were defenseless in every aspect. Island countries such as Japan and Britain had strategic advantages regarding their geographical locations. 

Crusaders: To take Jerusalem and other holy cities from the Muslims, a total of seven crusades were organized between 1096 and 1291. Muslims in the captured towns were massacred. Soldiers and adventure seekers coming from Europe, and merchants and travelers settled in these towns. Economic reasons were behind the crusades for which religion was used as a psychological catalyzer. The population of Europe increased. While Europe's population was 38.5 million, the population of Islamic regions was no more than 12.5 million. The crusades were the first experience of imperialism. Both population and production in Western Europe increased and the increase in profits brought capital accumulation. The crusades provided enormous opportunity for the enlargement of northern Italian coastal cities such as Venice, Pisa and Genoa. On the other side, fighting the crusades for two centuries and exerting effort to get crusaders out of Muslim lands, crushed the regional economy and weakened Muslim cities.

The Mongols: While the Muslim world was in struggle with the crusaders, another terrifying occupation came from the east. Genghis Khan united nomadic Mongolian tribes and attacked Islamic power centers. Following 1220, Muslim cities fell and were destroyed. The Abbasid Caliphate fell to pieces after the Mongols occupied Baghdad, which marked the end of a golden age in Islamic civilization. The number of people killed in Baghdad alone was nearly 2 million. Only one-third of the population survived. Libraries, which housed hundreds of thousands of books, also had their share of this disaster. 

Trade routes: The trade routes such as the Silk Road lost their importance with the European Age of Discovery. The income distribution between Europe and Islamic regions drastically changed. The international commerce centers shifted to the Baltics and the Atlantic from the Mediterranean and India. The colonies, including Islamic cities, became raw material producers. Europe was able to fund the Industrial Revolution with its colonies. 

Capitulations: The Mamluk Sultanate and the Ottoman Empire believed that they could financially benefit from the commercial privileges that they granted to foreign countries. When their political powers weakened, these privileges backfired and brought financial sovereignty to foreign powers. Cheaper European products flooded Muslim markets and small industry in the Islamic world collapsed. 

Military interventions: The reforms that were carried out by Muslim rulers who realized their economic weakness failed due to the internal coups that Europeans supported, as well as external military interventions. 

Overexpansion: Muslims reached extended borders as they sought high ideals. However, they did not have the necessary population and economic power. The population of the Ottoman Empire was 17 million in the mid-19th century, when the population was directly proportional to political power as opposed to the population of Western Europe, which was 190 million. During that time, the population of Russia and Eastern Europe was 274 million, Britain was 30 million, France was 37 million, Spain and Portugal were 20 million, Italy was 24 million, Germany was 32 million and Austria was 32 million.


 Önceki Yazılar
24.03.2017 - MODERN INSURANCE SYSTEM HAS ITS ROOTS IN MEDIEVAL ANATOLIA

17.03.2017 - PRINTING PRESS AS A TURKISH INVENTION

10.03.2017 - THE PALESTINE ISSUE THAT COST SULTAN ABDULHAMID II THE OTTOMAN THRONE

03.03.2017 - THE RISE AND FALL OF THE ISLAMIC CALIPHATE IN HISTORY

24.02.2017 - THE MEMORIES OF ARMENIAN OLYMPIANS IN THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE

17.02.2017 - RUMELIAN TURKS: OTTOMAN MIGRANTS FROM BALKANS TO ANATOLIA

10.02.2017 - IN THE PURSUIT OF ROYAL OTTOMAN FAMILY'S TANGLED INHERITANCE

03.02.2017 - MUHAMMED ALI PASHA'S CAIRO AND EGYPT UNDER OTTOMAN RULE

27.01.2017 - JOURNEY OF TOBACCO FROM THE CARIBBEAN TO OTTOMAN EMPIRE

20.01.2017 - CYPRUS DISPUTE: AN ISLAND AT A CROSSROADS

18.01.2017 - Graves of Ottoman princes, sons of Sultan Abdulhamid II in ruins in France’s Bobigny cemetery

13.01.2017 - A FAREWELL TO LAST HEIR OF OTTOMAN EMPIRE PRINCE OSMAN BAYEZID

10.01.2017 - New heir to the former Ottoman throne witnesses horrors of Syrian civil war in Damascus

06.01.2017 - OTTOMAN-ERA CLOCK TOWERS TELLING TIME FROM BALKANS TO MIDDLE EAST

23.12.2016 - ALEPPO: AN ANCIENT CITY RUINED IN MODERN-ERA DESTRUCTION

16.12.2016 - THE HISTORY OF ROWING ALONG THE BOSPORUS IN OTTOMAN ISTANBUL

10.12.2016 - TEA: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT A TURKISH OBSESSION

02.12.2016 - THE EVOLUTION OF OTTOMAN-ERA SECRET SERVICES

25.11.2016 - HISTORIC FOUNTAINS AND WATER CULTURE IN OTTOMAN ISTANBUL

11.11.2016 - MUMMIES OF ANATOLIA STILL A MATTER OF INTEREST

04.11.2016 - AGE OF FIRE: THE DISASTER THAT MENACE OTTOMAN CITIES

28.10.2016 - HEJAZ RAILWAY: A HISTORIC LINE TO ISLAM'S HOLIEST CITIES

21.10.2016 - BIRDHOUSES: MINIATURE MANSIONS OF ISTANBUL

14.10.2016 - SPORTS CULTURE IN OTTOMAN SOCIETY

07.10.2016 - TURQUERIE: EVOLUTION OF TURKISH THEME IN EUROPEAN ART, STYLE

30.09.2016 - THE BALYAN FAMILY: ARMENIAN MASTERS BEHIND OTTOMAN ARCHITECTURE

23.09.2016 - WORLD'S FIRST HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS

16.09.2016 - THE KULELI INCIDENT: AN OTTOMAN COUP ATTEMPT

09.09.2016 - THE SOCIAL DIVIDE BEHIND THE SYRIAN WAR

02.09.2016 - SYRİA: FROM THE DAWN OF CİVİLİZATİON TO CHAOS OF WAR

26.08.2016 - FEB 28: A 'POST-MODERN' COUP OF RELIGIOUS, POLITICAL OPRESSION

19.08.2016 - 1971 MILITARY MEMORANDUM: A POLITICAL DOWNTURN

12.08.2016 - THE 1980 COUP: FEARFUL PERIOD AMID POLITICAL CRACKDOWN

08.08.2016 - THE 1960 COUP: FIRST ATTACK ON TURKISH DEMOCRACY

29.07.2016 - TREATY OF LAUSANNE: TRIUMPH OR LOSS?

22.07.2016 - A BRIEF HISTORY OF COUPS IN TURKEYTORY OF COUPS IN TURKEY

15.07.2016 - UNWRAPPING THE HISTORY OF PAPER AND ITS INFLUENCE IN THE ISLAMIC WORLD

08.07.2016 - A TRAVEL DIARY FROM MAGHRIB TO THE ATLAS MOUNTAINS

04.07.2016 - RAMADAN BAYRAM: SHARE, REJOICE, WORSHIP

24.06.2016 - PRINCESS EMINE NECIBE: A LOST TALE FROM CAIRO TO ISTANBUL

17.06.2016 - THE KARAMANLIDES: A TURKISH-SPEAKING GREEK ORTHODOX COMMUNITY IN ANATOLIA

10.06.2016 - DATES: THE SACRED FRUIT DURING RAMADAN

08.06.2016 - Καραμανλήδες

03.06.2016 - THE SOCIAL ROLE OF WAQFS DURING THE OTTOMAN ERA

27.05.2016 - SHAMANISM: A PRACTICE OF EARLY TURKIC BELIEFS

20.05.2016 - A MONETARY HISTORY OF ISLAMIC SOCIETIES

16.05.2016 - FEZ: A TIME-HONORED OTTOMAN HAT FROM THE MEDITERRANEAN

06.05.2016 - THE ABDULLAH BROTHERS: PIONEERS OF PHOTOGRAPHY IN THE LATE OTTOMAN PERIOD

29.04.2016 - THE SIEGE OF KUT: AN UNFORGOTTEN OTTOMAN VICTORY

23.04.2016 - HEALING IN ISLAMIC SCIENCE AND MEDICINE

18.04.2016 - BEDESTEN: THE OTTOMAN PRECURSOR TO THE SAFETY DEPOSIT BOX

08.04.2016 - THE ART of THE MEDDAH: TRADITIONAL TURKISH STORYTELLING

01.04.2016 - RETHINKING THE IMPERIAL HAREM: WHAT DID LIFE LOOK LIKE FOR OTTOMAN PALACE WOMEN?

25.03.2016 - THE ROMA: A LIFE OF CONSTANT TRAVEL

18.03.2016 - TWO SIDES OF THE GALLIPOLI WAR

11.03.2016 - EUROPE MUST KEEP THE TRADITION OF LIVING TOGETHER

04.03.2016 - THE HOLODOMOR: A MANUFACTURED HUMAN TRAGEDY

26.02.2016 - JAMRAH: THE HERALD of SPRİNG

19.02.2016 - HANDKERCHIEFS: THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF LOVE

12.02.2016 - KARAITE JEWS: THE READERS of HEBREW SCRIPTURES

05.02.2016 - 150 PERSONAE NON GRATAE: THE BLACK LIST OF THE NEWLY ESTABLISHED REPUBLIC

22.01.2016 - ADA KALEH: A TURKISH ISLAND IN THE DANUBE RIVER

15.01.2016 - THE MOSUL QUESTION: A CLASH FOR OIL

09.01.2016 - THE GOOD OLD DAYS, WHEN DUMPING SNOW IN THE BOSPORUS WAS AMUSEMENT

01.01.2016 - NEWSPAPERS: AN INTELLECTUAL LEGACY of the OTTOMAN EMPIRE

18.12.2015 - THE GALATA BANKERS: FINANCING OTTOMAN STATE

11.12.2015 - A BRIEF HISTORY OF TURKISH-RUSSIAN RELATIONS

04.12.2015 - FRAMING WOMEN'S STATUS THROUGH THE AGES

27.11.2015 - SICILY: AN ETERNAL MEETING POINT BETWEEN AFRICA AND EUROPE

20.11.2015 - TURKISH-ARAB RELATIONS FROM PAST TO TODAY

13.11.2015 - SLAVERY AND ISLAM: A TRANSFORMATIVE MEETING

30.10.2015 - THE BRIEF HISTORY of ELECTIONS in TURKEY

23.10.2015 - ASHURA: THE TRADITIONAL DESSERT EMBRACING PEOPLE FROM EVERY RELIGION

22.10.2015 - Ashura: una festa e un dolce che uniscono diverse comunità religiose

16.10.2015 - TURKISH CHEESES OFFER A VARIETY OF TASTES

09.10.2015 - TRANSFORMATION OF OTTOMAN COFFEEHOUSES TO THE PRESENT

02.10.2015 - THE STORY OF THE STAR AND CRESCENT ON THE ARMS OF TWO EUROPEAN CITIES

25.09.2015 - QURBAN BAYRAM: HOW DO MUSLIMS CELEBRATE A HOLY FEAST?

18.09.2015 - MAHPEYKER KOSEM SULTAN: THE WOMAN WHO OVERSAW 3 GENERATIONS of the OTTOMAN EMPIRE

11.09.2015 - LITERACY IN OTTOMAN SOCIETY WAS HIGHER THAN BELIEVED

04.09.2015 - HOSTILITY BETWEEN SELIM I AND ISMAIL I UNDERLIES SECTARIAN DIFFERENCES

28.08.2015 - IMAM SHAMIL: A PIONEER OF THE CAUCUSES'S STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM

22.08.2015 - THE DEVŞIRME SYSTEM: A LADDER TO THE TOP OF THE STATE FOR NON-MUSLIMS

14.08.2015 - THE SPANISH TREASURE LYING AT THE BOTTOM OF THE ATLANTIC

06.08.2015 - THE HISTORY of FRATRICIDE in the OTTOMAN EMPIRE

31.07.2015 - THE HISTORICAL CITY GATES OF ISTANBUL

24.07.2015 - THE STORY OF THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE'S CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY

17.07.2015 - CELEBRATING THE JOYOUS HOLIDAY OF EID AL-FITR

10.07.2015 - SYKES-PICOT: THE WESTERN AGREEMENT THAT SEALED THE MIDDLE EAST'S DOOM

04.07.2015 - A TRAITOR OR A HERO? THE EXECUTION OF SHEIKH SAID

26.06.2015 - HATS: A POLITICAL SYMBOL OF TURKISH HISTORY

19.06.2015 - RAMADAN FESTIVITIES BRING LIVELY ATMOSPHERE

12.06.2015 - LEGENDS ABOUT TAQI AL-DIN AND THE DEMOLISHED OTTOMAN OBSERVATORY

08.06.2015 - MYTHS AND REALITY ABOUT THE PRINTING PRESS IN THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE

29.05.2015 - THE CONQUEST OF CONSTANTINOPLE: THE HERALDING IN A NEW ERA

23.05.2015 - A CHURCH, A MOSQUE AND FINALLY A MUSEUM: THE NEARLY 1,500-YEAR-OLD STORY OF THE HAGIA SOPHIA

16.05.2015 - THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE: A SHELTER FOR ALL KINDS OF REFUGEES

09.05.2015 - THE MOSQUE THAT STANDS ON THE SEA: KILIÇ ALI PASHA MOSQUE

02.05.2015 - THE ROLES OF MAJOR POWERS DURING THE 1915 ARMENIAN INCIDENTS

24.04.2015 - HOW WERE THE 1915 INCIDENTS CONFRONTED BY THE OTTOMANS?

17.04.2015 - MYSTERIOUS SCHOLAR BETWEEN EAST AND WEST: LEGEND OF JAMAL AL-DIN AL-AFGHANI

10.04.2015 - A UNIQUE PERIOD IN TURKISH HISTORY: THE TULIP ERA

03.04.2015 - YEMEN: SEARCHING FOR A SIGN OF PEACE

27.03.2015 - FROM KAFFA TO ISTANBUL: COFFEE'S JOURNEY TO TURKEY

20.03.2015 - JIHAD: A MISUNDERSTOOD ISLAMIC TERM

13.03.2015 - THE BITTER STORY OF THE OTTOMAN DYNASTY’S EXILE

06.03.2015 - THE HISTORIC JOURNEY OF YOGURT: FROM TURKIC PEOPLES TO THE WORLD

27.02.2015 - THE HISTORICAL ADVENTURE OF THE TOMB OF SULEYMAN SHAH

20.02.2015 - SHOULD TURKEY SWITCH TO A PRESIDENTIAL SYSTEM?

13.02.2015 - WAHHABISM: PURE ISLAM OR EXTREMISM?

06.02.2015 - WORLD WAR I: THE HEAVY TOLL OF A DEADLY CONFLİCT

27.01.2015 - LOOKING BACK ON THE LIFE OF A KING

19.01.2015 - THE OTTOMANS’ EXEMPLARY TREATMENT OF STREET ANİMALS

09.01.2015 - HURREM SULTAN: A BELOVED WIFE OR MASTER MANIPULATOR?

03.01.2015 - AN ANCESTRAL LANGUAGE WITH A DIFFERENT ALPHABET

26.12.2014 - DISCOVER THE SEALS OF OTTOMAN SULTANS

02.12.2014 - MEMORIES OF ISTANBUL SHELTERED IN FIREPROOF LIBRARIES

10.09.2014 - SEA BATHING, THE GOOD OLD FASHION WAY

07.06.2014 - SMILE AND SAY 'CHEESE'

13.05.2014 - THE OTTOMAN AQUADUCT LEGACY

25.04.2014 - WHAT HAPPENED TO THE ARMENIANS (MILLET-I SADIKA)?

20.04.2014 - OTTOMAN MILITARY MARCHING BAND

12.04.2014 - MUSLIMS COME FIRST IN THE HISTORY OF CONSTITUTIONS

05.04.2014 - ISTANBUL COMES TO BLOOM WITH TULIPS

28.03.2014 - AN EXOTIC COMMUNITY IN THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE: THE LEVANTINES

21.03.2014 - CELEBRATE WITH SWEETS ALL YEAR ROUND

21.03.2014 - MURDERS FOR A FALSE PARADISE: THE HASHSHASHINS

10.03.2014 - NOTABLE LIFE OF MIHRIMAH SULTAN

10.03.2014 - SULTAN SULEIMAN'S INACCURATE PORTRAYAL ON TV SHOW

07.03.2014 - CRIMEA BETWEEN TWO FIRES