Physics Today has a very interesting, and refreshing, online article (hat tip Sargasso) on Islam and science that ties in neatly with AFOE’s review of Olivier Roy’s latest book Secularism confronts Islam. The article is written by Pervez Hoodbhoy, nuclear physics professor at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, Pakistan. As usual, I shall give our readers one quote, but please do and go read the whole thing.
In the quest for modernity and science, internal struggles continue within the Islamic world. Progressive Muslim forces have recently been weakened, but not extinguished, as a consequence of the confrontation between Muslims and the West. On an ever-shrinking globe, there can be no winners in that conflict: It is time to calm the waters. We must learn to drop the pursuit of narrow nationalist and religious agendas, both in the West and among Muslims. In the long run, political boundaries should and can be treated as artificial and temporary, as shown by the successful creation of the European Union. Just as important, the practice of religion must be a matter of choice for the individual, not enforced by the state. This leaves secular humanism, based on common sense and the principles of logic and reason, as our only reasonable choice for governance and progress. Being scientists, we understand this easily. The task is to persuade those who do not.