Islam’s Achievement Gap

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But even using Islamic metrics, the achievements of the Muslim world seem dubious at best. The Islamic Development Bank (IDB), founded to foster economic development in its 57 member countries, released a major study in 2008 showing just how far behind Islamic countries lagged behind the developed world. The study stated that while “Education forms the basis for developing innovation, science and technology…according to the UN only six Islamic countries fall in the high human development index (HDI), 22 in the medium, as a many as 23 in low HDI category.” The lowest-ranking Islamic country ranks 173rd in a list if 178 countries.

The study went on to note:

The entire Muslim world constituting one-fifth of humanity, contributes barely 1,000 research articles out of 100,000 science books and 2,000,000 research articles published annually. While the West has an average of 3,000 science PhDs per million of its inhabitants, the number of IDB member countries is so dismally small that not even the statistics are available….The 57 predominately Muslim countries have about 23 percent of the world’s population, but less than 1 percent of its scientists who generate less than 5 percent of its science and make barely 1 percent of the world’s original research discoveries each year.

Although notable for its sober look at the Muslim world’s dearth of recent achievement, the IDB study did repeat the stock claim Islam once led the world in scientific endeavor.  “The deficiency in Muslim science and technology is particularly intriguing, given that Muslims were world leaders in science and technology a millennium ago,” the study lamented. The Obama administration seems to operate on a similar assumption. Not long ago, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden made headlines by suggesting that the president wanted to “engage more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science…and math and engineering.” But is that contribution really so historically significant?

The evidence suggests otherwise. Some scholars conclude that Islamic countries largely failed in developing modern science. According to a paper published by Global Politician, “Middle Eastern individuals primarily using the Arabic language included Arabs, Iranians, Christians, Jews, and others who were in the forefront of scientific advance…not necessarily Arab Muslims.”

Similarly, Toby E. Huff, chancellor professor of policy studies at University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, and author of studies in the rise of science, has written that “Islamic science was almost totally dependent upon translations, frequently made by non-Muslims of the achievements of pre-Islamic cultures, Greeks, Egyptians, Indians, etc. Moreover, a striking number of Muslim thinkers were Persians who owed more of their pre-Islamic heritage than they did to Islam.”

Professor Stanley L. Jaki, a Benedictine priest and author of many books on science, has observed that the improvements brought by Muslim scientists to the Greek scientific corpus were “never substantial.”

David Storobik, editor of Global Politician, the journal of international politics, said it is “an historical fact that the scientific revolution happened in Europe, not India, China, or the Middle East. There was also nothing quite like the medieval university in the Roman Empire. Whatever existed of real science in Roman times was almost entirely of Greek Origin. The medieval University then represented a real innovation.”

To be sure, some Muslim countries are taking steps toward progress. In the fall of 2009, Saudi Arabia launched a new graduate university for the sciences, the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. But lest President Obama and the usual enthusiasts claim that this move represents Islam’s return to a tradition of achievement, it’s worth nothing that the school’s $10 billion endowment — the sixth largest in the world. – came from the United States.

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  • DogWithoutSlippers

    They intend to rule by continued ignorance and fear of their made up moon god allah. The figment of the depositic cruel homosexual pedophile mohammed.

  • AlexKovnat

    >In the fall of 2009, Saudi Arabia launched a new graduate
    >university for the sciences, the King Abdullah University of
    >Science and Technology.

    I suppose some folks might consider the above, to be good news.

    But don't forget: The Soviet Union engaged in a lot of scientific, engineering and technological activity too. It was after all the Soviet Union that launched the first orbiting satellite AND the first human being into space.

    But these technological achievements didn't make them the kind of society we would want to live in.

    • fmobler

      I wouldn't worry about Saudi Arabia following the Soviet's success story. The Soviets, for all their tyranny, came from a culture that valued intellectual achievement. Their scientists were home grown and were fiercely proud of the Russian scientific tradition. This was particularly true in mathematics. Moreover, even the Stalinists were smart enough to let scientists do their thing with less than normal ideological meddling.

      KAUST is simply buying talent. The place pays extremely well, as in I-could-retire-way-early well. But you would need to be remarkably tolerant of antisemitism to work there. Actually being an antisemite yourself would probably make it even easier.

      The Saudis are not making any attempt to accommodate their migrant worker professors culturally. The campus is located in an isolated part of the kingdom about 80K from Jeddah. They tout that it is close to "King Abdullah Economic City", one of those Potemkin thingies that you don't hear much about since the recession started. Nothing attractive about it for a serious and self-respecting scientist except money.

      By the way, KUAST seems to have scrubbed its website of anything mentioning that MIT was instrumental in its original design and founding. Yep. MIT.

  • Chezwick_Mac

    The 'Golden Age' of Islam was in fact ridden on the backs of subject peoples, dhimmis of Persian and Greek heritage whose advanced culture was robbed of its vitality by the depredations of dhimmitude. As more and more of these dhimmis converted to Islam to escape such oppression, the decline of the Islamic realm became marked. The fatalism and fanaticism of the new culture replaced the pluralism and industriousness of the old, and the Middle-East slid into a millennium of darkness.

    The same fate awaits Europe today unless things change in a hurry. Stop Muslim immigration.

    • Roy

      And Indian heritage.

      Speaking of as more convert to Islam the decline happens – see a modern example of that in the partition of the Indian subcontinent into an Islamic State of Pakistan (eventually split into two Islamic states Pakistan and Bangladesh) and democratic Hindu and other non-Muslim majority India. Pakistan's major export to the world is Islamic terrorism and is surviving off of US money in billions.

      • Roy

        VS Naipaul author Among the Believers, and Nobel Prize winner:
        Islam destroyed India. There is this ill-informed idea that it was the British, in the short time that they were there, that ruined and defaced all those temples you see. The bitter fact is that the people of India were ill-equipped to face the organized military power of Islam and were destroyed by it. The intellectual life of India, the Sanskrit culture, stops at 1000AD. Islam was the greatest calamity that befell it. Now people think only the Muslims built anything but what they brought was a slave culture that lasted in some parts of India until almost the other day. To be a Muslim you have to destroy your history, to stamp on your ancestral culture. The sands of Arabia is all that matters. This abolition of the self is worse than the colonial abolition, much worse.

    • Ed Dantes

      Spot on; it is a real shame we can't have a national much less an international debate on topics like scientific, economic, literary achievement, et. al. No more apologizing for our Anglo heritage and ignoring American exceptionalism.

    • Kevin Crusader

      Thank you, so true!!!! I think it is important to remember that much of the advancements the "islamic world" has made in the past and present has been at the expense of non-Muslims. Take Saudi Arabia, Dubai, UAE for example. These all have significant non muslim populations that have brought these countries to a developed status, whom are now being tossed aside and oppressed. We should also look as well at the jewish contributions to support our claim. If their is to be progress in the Muslim world or elsewhere , they will have to learn to leave Islam aside or simply personal that let it be the driving force of their accomplishments.

  • The_Inquisitor

    One of the achievements of Christianity was the metaphysical view that after God created the universe He kept his hands off. The rules were in place and would never change. It was up to man to discover those rules even in the realm of ethics.

    Muslims live in a fluid world where today's rules are not necessarily yesterday's rules. What possible motivation can there be for scientific inquiry in such a world?

    • fmobler

      Not quite so. Christian metaphysics does not support deistic view of G*d. Indeed, our understanding of the historicity of Jesus' death and resurrection refutes that view categorically. Rather Christianity takes the view that G*d is lovingly and rationally engaged with his creation. The rules don't change because G*d is both loving and rational. He remains engaged in the lives of his children.

      Consider this analogy. I (imperfectly) strive to behave consistently toward my daughters. To the extent that I succeed at this it is because I am rational (can work out the likely effect of inconsistency, for example) and love my daughters and do not wish to vex them with unpredictable exercises of power over them. If the combination of love for my daughters and rational functioning of my mind that compel me to strive of consistency, then how much more would a omniscient loving creator behave consistently toward his creation.

  • Rbob

    Chezwick is on target. Stop Muslim infiltration. When Muslims are a samll minority they will pretend to be friendly to ingratiate themselves with the majority population. When they become a sizeable percentage of the population they will reveal their true nature.

    Even the great achievments of the Muslims in early centuries as mentioned by Pres. Obabma were generally achievments prior to Muslim conquest, or by people under Muslim rule.

    • Tomko

      Actually they don't integrate, they generally create enclaves where they only mingle with their own kind. These areas effectively become a state within a state, or more appropriately called NO-GO Zones.

  • Babs

    And I understand that it was Muslims that destroyed the library in Alexandria because they felt that no book was important except the Koran. So much for their "contribution" Can u imagine what would happen to our Library of Congress if that mind set prevailed?

    • tagalog

      The library in Alexandria was damaged several times before the Muslims finally burned it.

  • Timmy

    Anyone hoping that Muslims have any sort of growth in scientific achievement should stop and consider the effect on the world of that. Any advances are very likely to be used in the Jihad effort. So while most scientific development can be used both for good or bad, in either case it can be really very good or really very bad. A truly advanced Muslim world would be something to be greatly feared as various advanced technologies would be turned against the infidels in some sort of star trek jihad.

  • Peter Ehrich

    …and why did the U.S. give the Saudis $10 billion??? Don't they have enough $ already from the oil they pump out of the ground that the WEST discovered and developed??

  • rbla

    Islamic societies were invariably parasitic, consuming the economic and intellectual resources of indigenous non-Muslim populations. Under the conditions of an early Pax Islamica following an initial conquest, these resources, now liberated from chronic warfare and disorder, could engender a brilliant flowering of civilization which historians somewhat deceptively refer to as an ‘Islamic golden age’. The most brilliant of such golden ages occurred, a century after the first Arab conquests, in Baghdad. However, as these resources were consumed, Islam became more widespread and entrenched, and the pre-Islamic civilization was submerged, these golden ages always ended in a period of irreversible decline. There were additional reasons for the decline of Islamic civilization. The increasingly repressive political despotism sapped the energy and destroyed the initiative of both Muslims and dhimmis. The slave mentality inherent in Muslim theology became more ingrained. The fatalism of Islam eventually undermined intellectual curiosity. The following is an extensive historical study of Islamic achievement.

    • Laura

      It is important to remember that until the nineteenth century and its massacres, Christians and Jews represented not only a very important element in Muslim societies (except for North Africa – and, not coincidentally, North Africa remained the most sluggish and backward area of the Muslim world, until the French came), the majority in several areas, but also by far its most progressive, business-like and prosperous. Ottoman trade was in the hands of the Phanariot Greeks until the Greek War of Independence; then it passed to the Armenians, until the slaughters of 1899 and 1915. One of the reasons why the Christian minority was hated and eventually butchered and driven out was that it was so evidently more successful than the supposed masters of the world. Once Phanariots and Armenians had been wiped from the Earth, of course, it was the turn of the Iraqi Jews. Most recently it was the Lebanese Christians and Druzes. It just goes on and on….

      • Roy

        Hindus of Pakistan and other non-Muslims have been persecuted and their numbers since 60 years of partition dwindled significantly.

    • Roy

      "these resources, now liberated from chronic warfare and disorder,"

      Sounds more like PC rubbish justifying Islamic imperialism. They killed millions in their wake. Muslims were the source of war and disorder.

      • rbla

        Of course, the war and disorder were precisely that caused by invading and raiding Muslims. Sorry, if that was not clear.

    • Tryon

      "Islamic societies were invariably parasitic…" Were? As the article notes, they just sucked another 10 billion from America, on top of the many billions Egypt cadges every year from the Great Satan. And who needs Jewish scientists when you can just let others do the brain work and then build your own nuclear systems without so much as a tip of the hat to the originators? What a horrible irony to watch Einstein's great advances being turned against his own people by clodhopper Muslims!

    • Tomko

      When you have an entire population that prays 5 times a day and believe that all the knowledge of the world resides in the qaran it only makes sense that the society would plateau. Then the only way to progress is to invade, rape and plounder a wealthier and more advanced neighboring society, then ultimately repeat the same down hill process. This is the perpetual cycle of Islam and is why the only thing their good at is war and killing.

  • Andre

    …and the tradition of marrying within families (I recently read that 60% of all marriages among British Muslims is among first cousins) is most likely not helping much either from an intellectual development standpoint. This is not an Islamophobic comment, it is a scientific proven fact. Indeed, while Muslims represent no more than a few percentage points in the overall British population, they represent over 60% of the developmentally challenged population. Unfortunately for Islam, genetics generally prevails, whether they like it or not.

  • USMCSniper

    Amil Imani says: Islam enjoys a large and influential ally among the non—Muslims: A new generation of 'Useful Idiots,' the sort of people Lenin identified living in liberal democracies who furthered the work of communism. This new generation of Useful Idiots also lives in liberal democracies, but serves the cause of Islamofascism—another virulent form of totalitarian ideology. Beware of the Useful Idiots who live in liberal democracies. Knowingly or unknowingly, they serve as the greatest volunteer and effective soldiers of Islam. They pave the way for the advancement of Islam and they will assuredly be among the very first victims of Islam as soon as it assumes power.

    • Tomko

      Ironically, most of these 'Useful Idiots' are University graduates because most of the professors are Left Wing Loonies that are more concerned with indoctrination than education. Then to top it off you have the Saudis contributing millions to every college in order to build mosques and a wing or building devoted to 'Islamic Studies'. If you've ever read the qaran or skimmed through the hadiths you'd have to wonder what on earth there is worth studying. I'm also curious as to why they can afford to spend billions on American campuses but require American donations to build their own.

  • Lawler Nicoteri

    My cat (not a Muslim) contributes more daily in his litter box than Islam has in it's history.

  • tagalog

    Islam and science, logic and reason parted ways some time ago. A movement in Islam to make religious leaders also the cultural and political leaders (ulama) led to one prominent Muslim stating something to the effect that if science is true it is not needed to live the proper Islamic life, and if it is untrue, it must be rejected.

  • Alexander Gofen

    The achievements in science and art of the Judeo-Christian civilization vs. the Islamic (and all others) are so amazingly advanced, that it boarders with a miracle. The Judeo-Christian civilization exemplifies the unique success – even if historically it passed through a long painful evolution.

    Yet rotten Westerners reject their own culture while bending back to cultures of aliens (multi-minus-own-culturalism): a staggering absurdity.

    The Judeo-Christian culture is absolutely superior to all others. It must be nourished and promoted rather than suppressed, if we wish to survive and further enjoy its achievements.

    • fmobler

      Why do you say "borders on a miracle"?

      • Alexander Gofen

        I meant the words of a genial Physicist Eugene Wigner:

        It is not at all natural that "laws of nature" exist, much less that man is able to discover them… The enormous usefulness of mathematics in the natural sciences is something bordering on the mysterious and that there is no rational explanation for it. … is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve.

        – from his article "The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences"

    • Samurai Hit Woman

      Yep, and that's another accomplishment of the Jews. Because the Jews were the first to espouse Judeo-Christian values.

  • Bill

    It's also important that despite Muslim's willingness to build hate-palaces in the heartland of the great satan, and invest mega-billions yearly to buy their way into Western society, we have heard nothing about Muslims offering aid to Pakistan. Not money, not manpower.

    They will readily purchase U.S. or Russian super-arms, cruse missiles, submarines, proxie armies; they will train and arm neigboring hungry Muslim peoples for Jihand, build nuclear war-machines on top of their oil fields, but won't lift a finger to help an Islamic ally in need.

    Their primary message to the world is "Allah is Great – Allah is Great! and our TV-addicted population responds with "La di da – la di da, and "Don't Worry, Be Happy."

    • Sneed

      Not only have Muslims (of any nation) not assisted Pakistan they created the entire phoney "Palestinian" problem, by keeping the self-made refugees of the first war with Israel hostage, in the UN camps.

  • IXLR8

    Even the "so-called" Arabic numerals were taken from the Hindus.

    Their blood-letting through bombs, beheadings, cliterectomies, honor killings, and general ethnic cleansing leads the world.

    Islam–truly the Religion of Pieces.

    • Roy

      Hindu holocaust. Millions were killed. Unlike Jews and Christians, Hindus were not an Abrahamic religion like all other religions, and therefore were not at first considered a "People of the Book." Dhimmitude was not an option. Conversion, death or enslavement were the options for all non-abrahamic religions. This is why so many Zoroastrians from Persia fled east into India as Muslims conquered Persia, and why millions of Hindus were killed and countless temples destroyed. Afghan Buddhists are all gone too.

  • fmobler

    Do you have references for this? I would love to have this info at my fingertips.

  • Tryon

    By their fruits ye shall know them… and we all know what the fruits of Islam are: decay, destruction, and desuetude. Open inquiry requires open minds, free minds, not submission. The stars of the Big Dipper all have Arab names but it's the galaxy's black holes that should commemorate this dark creed.

    • Gerald

      Ursa Major was one of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy(Check Wiki). I think the Arabs just changed the Greek names to Arab ones and claimed credit for themselves just as they stole from Jewish and Christian sciptures and came up with a new religion called Islam. Nothing original from the arse sniffers and foot smellers.

  • brimp

    What is the point of doing research? If the findings conflicts with the teaching in the Qu'ran then it is heretical. If it supports the Qu'ran, it is superfluous.

    What is the percent of research completed by Muslims that was performed in the West?

  • JeanetteC.

    It seems to me that any sort of creative genius — in the arts, sciences, or anything else — requires a degree of individual liberty and the ability to challenge and possibly overturn existing norms. Like cars replacing the horse and buggy. This is why a centrally-controlled economy never works very well — no room for creativity, innovation, and growth because such a society is driven primarily by the need to enforce the rules and to discourage change of any kind.

    The same is true in all spheres of human thought and activity. If you have an Imam or a dictator making all the rules, you stagnate. The cost of challenging the status quo in a tightly controlled culture is usually staggering — ostracization, death, imprisonment, etc. This is true for the human race generally — look what happened to Galileo under the weight of the Holy Roman Empire. However, the West has succeeded generally — but not easily — by exalting the concept of individuality and promoting independent thought.

  • hikerdude

    You forgot the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to two outstanding Muslims …..Yasser Arafat and Barak Obama.
    American Christian Infidel
    Michael Canzano

  • hardroad1999

    Not even that. It is as it was a couple thousand years ago.

  • allen

    Pamela Geller does a great job describing Islamic persecution of the Christians and their glaring lack of contribution to the actual formation of the United States in her new book THE POST AMERICAN PRESIDENCY.