MUHAMMADIYAH.OR.ID, YOGYAKARTA—Islamic civilization significantly developed in the seventh to fifteenth centuries. Research and advancement for eight centuries led Islamic civilization to become a pioneer in law, social science, science, and technology.
The Chairman of Muhammadiyah Syamsul Anwar mentioned five factors that propelled Islam to a leading civilization.
First, Islam teachings value knowledge as a cornerstone of human life. The reverence for knowledge motivated scholars to engage in research and the development of intellectual discourse.
Second, the keen interest of rulers, particularly caliphs, in science led to policy-making. They implemented policies that strongly supported knowledge acquisition, making it a top priority. These rulers encouraged scientists to excel in their areas of interest.
According to Syamsul, medieval Muslim rulers prioritized the development of science for several reasons: the religious teachings, which fueled a strong passion for learning and the acquisition of knowledge; a desire to attain prestige and honor; and the scientific development as a source of legitimacy and power.
Third, open-mindedness toward other civilizations and creativity flourished among the Muslims and scholars of that era. The way of thinking emerged from a worldview that embraced diversity and inclusivity.
Fourth, Muslims had an optimistic worldview that the world and life were gracious gifts from God and should be utilized and managed within the boundaries set by theological principles. Essentially, everything was deemed permissible (mubah) unless explicitly forbidden. Muslims did not regard the world as something inherently evil or distant from God’s pleasure, so it was not to be shunned. This perspective liberated the Muslims from closed-mindedness and conservatism, fostering dynamic progress.
“This open and optimistic worldview enabled Muslims to embrace any civilization and inspired them to be creative and proactive in assimilating cultural elements from other civilizations. It was this spirit that fueled the rapid development of science,” said Syamsul at the Seminar on the Science Integration in Hisab (Islamic Astronomy), Rukyat (Moon Sighting), and the Unifying Global Calendar conducted at Universitas Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta on Friday (2/6).
Fifth, the generous financial support, particularly from the endowments (wakaf), led to the development of Islamic civilization. During the middle ages, endowments played a vital role in advancing education and scientific research. Educational institutions provided free science access due to the financial support.
“With a strong encouragement and commitment to science, Islamic civilization achieved its peak in the development of science during the middle ages. However, subsequently, this civilization experienced a decline, and along with it, there was a regression in scholarly activities, leading to the significant lag of Muslims in science and technology as we see today,” said Syamsul.