Visionary: Dream of reviving Islamic golden age of science

Published: September 10, 2011
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KARACHI: 

Athar Osama is a Pakistani who dreams of reviving the Islamic Golden Age of Science and difficult as that might seem given the current circumstances, he is actually one step closer to realising his dream.

Osama – known for his pioneering work on introducing and popularising the ideas of science and innovation policy through journalism — visions to promote Muslim science through his online journal Muslim-Science.Com.

His vision has now been recognised as the man has been chosen as one of the finalists for the Oscars of Science and Technology formally known as the World Technology Awards for Science and Innovation (WTN Awards).

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Osama has been writing extensively on important science and innovation policy themes since 1992, initially for leading English newspapers in Pakistan, and later in international general interest journals and online.

The prestigious winner for the WTN – presented in association with TIME, Fortune, CNN, Science/AAAS and Technology Review – will be announced at a black-tie reception at UN headquarters in New York in October.

“I hope this is an omen for good things to come for the Islamic world,” said Osama while talking to The Express Tribune.

Osama joins a roster of organisations and individuals from over 60 countries around the world deemed to be doing the most innovative and impactful work.

Osama is the first Pakistani to get into RAND – the defence think tank whose employee provided the seed for the military doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction in World War II.

“The idea of Muslim-Science is to create a platform where one can create a community with a shared vision and common language about science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship.” He explained that at the global level, the Islamic world is hardly mentioned in the scientific media but he is careful to say that this doesn’t necessarily mean that things that aren’t done in the Islamic world aren’t worth celebrating.

Athar believes the world needs a different lens to look at the issues of science and innovation in the Islamic world. Although he suspects the western media cannot provide that lens.

“We’re still at a stage where norms for constructive dialogue and engagement, independence and autonomy, are being set … and there is a need to look at these issues and find solutions that best suit out environment and level of development. So Muslim-Science.Com was created to do all that and hopefully a lot more,” he said.

The humble Athar while talking about his experience at the WTN Awards in 2002 said “the place was flooded with fascinating people, perhaps the most innovative and creative I’ve ever been with in a room”.

Osama wants to following in the footsteps of his childhood hero, Dr. Abdus Salam, who made his greatest contributions to the world as a science policy-maker and institution builder.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 10th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (16)

  • Mehwesh Ahsan
    Sep 10, 2011 - 7:48AM

    So very proud of you… May Allah give you a lot of success… Ameen

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  • Adnan
    Sep 10, 2011 - 9:20AM

    Muslim science is different from heathen sciences?

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  • nusrat osama
    Sep 10, 2011 - 11:00AM

    There is nothing like a dream to create the future… (victor Hugo) and if you can dream it you can do it …All the best for future.. May Allah be with you, ameen.

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  • malik
    Sep 10, 2011 - 11:19AM

    OMG you guys still believe in these Muslim Science claptrap?

    Right from our childhood we are told not to ask questions and to accept even blatantly illogical assertions. By the time we grow up, we are indoctrinated so well that we feel angry if someone asks questions.

    Remember, the whole fundamental of our philosophy is ‘We have done the thinking for you and so you don’t have to waste your time thinking and you just follow whatever I said without questioning it’. When our lives revolve around such discourse, how can someone think rationally without attracting punishment?

    Unless questioning is encouraged, science cannot flourish anywhere.

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  • AS
    Sep 10, 2011 - 12:47PM

    Since when did science become religion specific (Muslim-science.com)? And is it be governed by sharia? Maybe people who are non-muslims will be charged of blasphemy if they challange theories of “muslim science”?
    The point is science is universal and nothing to do with religion. People who divide science into Islamic/Christian/Jewish/Hindus do not have scientific temperament in first place.

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  • M.A.S
    Sep 10, 2011 - 2:01PM

    @AS: Since when did science become religion specific (Muslim-science.com)?

    Brother, it’s muslim science, not islamic science. Here, Muslim is defining a certain community, who layed a foundation of modern day science. Read it

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  • pardesi
    Sep 10, 2011 - 2:10PM

    What does MUSLIM SCIENCE means? Any different from regular science? Try and become normal decent people first with good education. Science will follow.Recommend

  • AS
    Sep 10, 2011 - 4:54PM

    @M.A.S:
    Science is, well, science. It is a proccess of understanding and applying the laws of nature into our everyday life. Let’s not divide it into religions and communities.. BTW what’s the difference between being muslim and being follower of Islam. I do not know the difference (sincerely). You can explain.

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  • Sep 10, 2011 - 5:41PM

    Encourage him . Give him an approriate civil award

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  • Cautious
    Sep 10, 2011 - 6:20PM

    The fact that you think there is an Islamic World is one of the reasons that you will never/ever be considered scientist.

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  • Sep 11, 2011 - 1:41AM

    Thanks every one for your comments. I understand and very well appreciate the criticism.

    So, let me put it straight. I don’t believe there is anything as Muslim Science or Islamic Science. Science is science, period.

    However, is science can be done by Muslims in the Islamic World (roughly defined as OIC member countries) and those living in the West.

    If you read through the Muslim-Science.Com website, and I’d encourage you to browse through atleast http://www.muslim-science.com/about/

    Part of what it says is this:

    “Muslim-Science.Com is dedicated to the revival of science and science-based innovation, and entrepreneurship in the Islamic World and hopes to do so by providing its readers and stakeholders in the Islamic World — and to those from the West — with a space for an informed, inspiring, and unbiased dialogue about Science, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship in the Muslim Lands and by Muslims elsewhere as well as important, but often overlooked, issues at the intersection of science, religion, politics, culture, and society in the Islamic World.”

    I am a scientist. Period. I don’t believe in mixing religion with science. But I can’t help but notice that all Muslim Countries are lagging behind in science and innovations. Muslim-Science.Com is dedicated to exploring these reasons.

    I invite you to join the dialogue!

    Regards,
    Athar

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  • Nadeem Jahagir
    Sep 11, 2011 - 2:37AM

    I really proud of him, he is my role model. God bless!

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  • M.A.S
    Sep 11, 2011 - 11:35AM

    @AS: If u dont know the difference, then u should better not comment on this.
    @Pardesi dhola: funny indeed. read the history of modern day science first. Try to find out that who were the people who set astronomy, chemistry, physics, mathematics etc on the track on which it is rolling today.

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  • Muhammad Ahsan Khan
    Sep 11, 2011 - 6:06PM

    @Adnan
    Dear Adnan
    Now you know that
    « Science is science, period. « 
    There is no Religious Science nor a Scientific Religion,
    The origin of any Religion is Belief. But these two words “religion” and “belief” are multi-message words. The religion can stretch from monotheism to atheism, passing through the polytheism. The same way the belief can be any thing from “blind faith” to a “doubtful reality”.
    The religion in its simplest form is a relation between “man and god”. Here the “man” stands for “any human” and the “god” is “any superior entity” in which an individual has a faith that IT has a supreme power in all domains (monotheism) or in some particular domains (polytheism).
    The Science, on the contrary, has nothing to do with Belief and Absolute Truth. It is based on Reason, Logic and Doubt. In science we study the natural phenomena due to natural cause. The creator  remains out of the scientific domain. The science is entirely the brain-child of the human mind. There is no revelation from God nor any Divine Enlightenment,

    In view of the above definition it is clear that Religion and Science can not be mixed together but they can exist separately in any human mind. Thus, a religious person can be a good scientist or a Scientist can be very religious (Prof. Abdus Salam)

    Any person talking, writing or promoting Science does not become a Scientist.

    Dr. Athar Osama, PhD (Science Policy) is a very qualified Policy Maker
    and Highly intelligent person. But is he a Scientist?
    Without being a Scientist he can suggest a very good policy for the revival and development of science in Muslim countries (as well as to any other country).
    To achieve his aim his remedy is :
    “Third, Science, Technology, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship are the engines that power today’s economies and the society.”
    The Technology, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship are the important factors for the development but these are not the part of the Science.
    They are simply the outcome of the Scientific Research. The Technology and Engineering are not the part of the Department of Science in Universities.
    The Western Technology and Innovation will certainly be useful for the the Muslim countries to raise their “standard of life”, but I fail to understand how it will revive and raise the level of Science.
    The market to sell Western Technology and Innovation to Muslim Countries is very rich and lucrative.
    Dr. Osama is an intelligent person to make the hay while the sun is rising. He certainly merits the WTN award.

    Khuda Hafiz
    Ahsan

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  • taha
    Sep 11, 2011 - 9:35PM

    @Nadeem Jahagir:
    God help you if he is your role model, you don’t know this person.

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  • Paracha
    Sep 12, 2011 - 3:36PM

    @Malik, Pardesi and Taha, how many times have u been nominated for such an award? if ever for ur nonsense? and discouragement… when the guy is explaining his point, u still have to follow ur one sided blind track!
    Congratulations Dr. Athar… Pakistanis and Muslims should be proud of you and should be wishing you all the best like i do….. rest dont pay heed to these good-for-nothing people who have done nothing for this country but breed disputes.

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