BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
SCHOOLS must incorporate the contributions of all scientists including Muslims in the syllabus to inspire people, a University of Manchester professor said.
Speaking as a panellist at the Knowledge Convention 2014 Forum yesterday, Professor Salim Al-Hassani said achievements and discoveries made by Muslims were often overlooked.
“The world is one village, we are all human beings. If we have to mention all the names of scientists and inventors, then mention all, or do not mention (at all),” he said.
Sharing his knowledge to the audience that included His Royal Highness Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, Professor Salim spoke about how scientists and mathematicians such as Plato and Archimedes were featured predominantly in textbooks around the world.
“It inspired people (especially in Europe) because they were seen as the architects of present science and civilisation. Now give the same books to non-European cultures, it does the exact opposite. It will uninspire the young person because he or she did not have a stake in this civilisation at all,” he added.
The problem here was not because there was no contribution from other civilisations, said Professor Salim, who specialises in Mechanical Engineering.“The contributions by the Chinese, Indian and Muslims actually exist and these contributions were enormous. Thousands of discoveries have been made in this part of the world. They were actually the foundation of modern civilisation and science,” he added.
He said people need to be inspired so that they can achieve greatness that was not about money or recognition.
“I believe Brunei is in an ideal position to lead in introducing a special breed of scientists. Scientists who are physically and morally guided to invent new solutions to societal and world problems,” Professor Salim said.
Another panellist Dr Hj Mohamad Hussain Pehin Penyurat Hj Ahmad, deputy rector of Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA), called on the government to look back at the history of Islam in providing a conducive learning environment.
The government must create infrastructure and environment that are conducive for learning as well as provide sufficient equipment and budget allocations, he said.
He spoke about the establishment of Baitul Hikmah (House of Wisdom), during the time of Harun Al-Rashid in the history of Islam that facilitated learning and research.
Baitul Hikmah was set up to encourage scientific research and produce Muslim scientists, he added.
In line with the Knowledge Convention’s theme of ‘Science and Technology: Catalyst of Development and Enhancing the Ummah’s Quality of Life’, Dr Hj Mohamad Hussain stressed the need for a balance in education.
He said, “The balance that is based on and not separated from tauhid (oneness of Allah SWT’s qualities and attributes). It comprised education in spiritual, physical and intellectual aspects”.
The contents of the curriculum must also be sourced from the Quran and Sunnah. “Al-Quran itself contains a vast amount of knowledge. It is without boundaries as it comes from Allah SWT,” he said.
The deputy rector said students are trained with critical thinking, addign that this is important for Muslims especially youths.
“Our predecessors from the time of Rasulullah SAW (pbuh) possessed critical thinking and were civic-minded, the curiosity to know more,” he added.
Director of Universiti Brunei Darussalam’s Sultan Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Centre for Islamic Studies Professor Datuk Dr Osman Bakar spoke on the importance of history.
He said to answer the question on what were the characteristics of exemplary scientists, one needs to look back at the history of Islam.
“We have thousands of Muslim scientists throughout history. Looking back at our history, the scientists were those who possessed iman (faith), in-depth knowledge and taqwa (obey the rules of Islam and submit to Allah SWT).
The Brunei Times
Tuesday, November 4, 2014