Fouazia Farida Charfi

Islam and Science Publication date : September 22, 2021

Faouzia Charfi is a physicist and professor at the University of Tunis. Named Minister of State for Education in the provisional government of January 2011, she resigned shortly afterwards to regain her freedom of speech and action. She is the author of La Science voilée [Veiled Science] and Sacrées questions! [Really Big Questions!] both published by Odile Jacob.

In this book, Faouzia Charfi continues her reflections, begun in La Science voilée, on the passionate and tumultuous relationships formed between Islam and science. Going one step further in her criticism of official orthodoxy, she takes a stand against a nostalgic and essentialist vision of a golden age of “Islamic science,” which hardly masks the current failure of research and teaching in Arab-Muslim countries.

Faouzia Charfi first sketches a mixed portrait of the golden age of science in Arab countries (Tenth and Eleventh Centuries), which, following a great period of creativity, underwent a gradual decline linked notably to: the disappearance of certain institutions such as the dar al-ilm (houses of knowledge) in favor of madrasas (which train professionals to proclaim Islamic law), the militarization of power and the resumption of conquests, the subordination of science (medicine, optics…) to practical ends. She then denounces the ambiguous compromise of the Muslim reformists of the Nineteenth Century, who believed they could forego the separation of religion and science.

The conclusion is clear: science is only possible for those who are able to escape this illusion… A message that is addressed quite specifically to the younger generations, too often seduced by a warped Islam thriving on social networks.