the Qur’an’s divinity (however, the term “Bucailleism” is usually employed to indicate the pseudoscience often associated with this kind of exegesis). al-Faruqi
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Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective , 2014 Vol. 3, No. 6, 56 -68. -1u6 56 On Harmonizing Islam and Science: A Response to Edis and a Self -Criticism Stefano Bigliardi , TecnolŠgico de Monterrey , CSF, Mexico City ; Center for Middle Eastern Studies , CMES , Lund University, Sweden We must at all costs avoid over -simplification, which one might be tempted to call the occupational disease of philosophers if it were not the occupation. Ñ John Langshaw Austin, How to Do Things with Words, 1962 Defining a ÒNew GenerationÓ in Islam and Science In a paper for Social Epistemology (Bigliardi 2013), previously discussed at the American University of Sharjah during the conference Belief in Dialogue (21-23 June 2011), I advanced a definition of a Ònew generationÓ of a uthors who discuss the interaction of Islam and science. This paper offered the results attained in an earlier stage of my research. Three main points should be recalled here concerning the discussion offered in those pages. First Point First, my discussion drew upon the results found in Leif StenbergÕs monograph The Islamization of Science (Stenberg 1996). Stenberg focused on the discussion of Islam and science developed by four rather different authors: the French surgeon Maurice Bucaille (1920Ð 1998); the Palestinian -American scholar Ismail Raji al -Faruqi (1921 Ð1986); the Persian -American scholar Seyyed Hossein Nasr (b. 1933); and the British -Pakistani scholar Ziauddin Sardar (b. 1951). It is necessary to recall here their respective positions in nuce. Bucaille was a famous representative (even if not the inventor) of the Òscientific interpretationÓ of the QurÕan, an exegetical trend according to which scientific notions can be detected in GodÕs revelation to the Prophet Muhammad Ñ notions accur ately described long before their discovery by humans thus proving , like Òscientific miraclesÓ , the Qur’an’s divinity (however, the term ÒBucailleismÓ is usually employed to indicate the pseudoscience often associated with this kind of exegesis). al-Faru qi proposed numerous plans for the ÒIslamizationÓ of knowledge and science as a way to rejuvenate the Muslim ummah or community that , he belived, is poisoned by Western principles . This process was basically a radical reformation of epistemology through Qu rÕanic concepts and was considered by al -Faruqi as the first step towards a more general Islamization of life. Nasr is a Traditionalist, or Perennialist ; that is, he shares the idea that various religions essentially contain the same metaphysical teachin g, or perennial philosophy , that reminds human beings of their connection with the Absolute (albeit Islam holds, in his view, a privileged position as the revelation that completes and seals the previous ones) . U tterly critical, like other Perennialists, of contemporary (Western) science, Nasr suggested a Òscientia sacraÓ reconciled with the divine through Qur’anic concepts.

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Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective , 2014 Vol. 3, No. 6, 56 -68. -1u6 57 Sardar , finally, proposed the correction of science, at least of its guiding principles, through Islam (Stenberg mainly analysed his role in the heterogeneous group of intellectuals known as Ijimali , according to whom it was necessary to render science relevant to Muslim culture while simultaneously reforming it according to Islamic principles and concepts). StenbergÕs work proved highly inspirational . His research was based on the analysis of an astonishing amount of empirical material (together with personal interviews with some of the authors at stake) and reconstructed the discourse on Islam and science from an Islamological perspective without being part of it. Second Point Second, my definition of a Ònew generationÓ was inspired by the observation of the works of six contemporary authors (not analysed by Stenberg) notable for their recent contributions about Islam and science: the Turkish religious leader and author Adnan Oktar (writing with the pseudonym Harun Yahya – b. 1956); the Egyptian geologist Zaghloul El -Naggar (b. 1933); the Iranian physicist Mehdi Golshani (b. 1939), the Iraqi physicist Mohammed Basil Altaie (b. 1956), the French astrophysicist Bruno Guiderdoni (b. 1958), and the Algerian astrophysicist Nidhal Guessoum (b. 1960). Similarly to Stenberg, I decided not only to examine their writings , but also to better understand their ideas through one -on-one interviews. Third Point Third, my definition of a Ònew generationÓ referred to four authors: Golshani, Altaie, Guiderdoni, and Guessoum. Oktar/Yahya and El -Naggar were seen as representative of, respectively, ÒIslamic creationismÓ and of the Òscientific exegesisÓ of the QurÕan. The definition was articulated in three points , each one of which regarded as a necessary , though not suf ! cient , condition to belong to the Ònew generationÓ and distinguishing its representatives from the authors studied by Stenberg: (a) outstanding competence in physics; (b) the idea that science is a ! eld of knowledge with its own methods and internal dynamics that need not be further reshaped; (c) a culturally pluralistic approach Ñ Islam can be reconciled with science qua religion and not because it enjoys a privileged harmony with it. In the final pages of my article , I asked whether a better definition of such authors would be ÒMuslim harmonizersÓ . I identified some challenges for them ; for example , being more specific about their reconciliation of religious concepts and biological evolution. Responding to Edis In his discussion of my 2013 article , Taner Edis (2014) advances three main points: 1) A comparison of the Ònew generationÓ with most recent trends in Islamic feminism;

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Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective , 2014 Vol. 3, No. 6, 56 -68. -1u6 58 2) A comparison with Christian theologians; and 3) A critical judgement of the Ònew generationÓ itself. As to the first point, Edis writes : The new generation of harmonizers are also similar to the Islamic feminists in their fundamental conservatism: the reinterpretations they propose are ways to update and preserve familiar conceptions of faith. Old -fashioned secular compatibilists typically assert that science and religion have separate spheres and that religious doctrines should not interfere with science (É) The new generation are not satisfied with such a cheap solution (Edis 2014, 41). As to the second point , Edis writes : The new gener ation, perhaps because of their scientific rather than theological backgrounds, are not Muslim equivalents of those Christian theologians who construct elaborate schemes for compatibility between the present state of science and alleged supernatural realit ies [É] the new generation is also not like the mostly Christian Intelligent Design (ID) movement that has unsuccessfully attempted to directly challenge the present state of natural science (Edis 2014, 41 -42). As to the third point, Edis writes: While the new generation is very sympathetic to ideas about divine design that might link up with biology or physical cosmology, they do not commit themselves to concrete claims that can be of use in a scientific context. Their notions of design remain vague, s o that they do not risk being clearly wrong. Again, from my perspective, this is not good. We can learn from mistakes, but the new generation is too invested in reinterpretation and hopes that alternatives to mainstream science might somehow be realized. W here explanations are concerned, they offer little of substance to criticize (Edis 2014, 42). To begin, I must specify that EdisÕ discussion of the debate on Islam and science and mine are not entirely placed on the same level. I try to reconstruct the debate from an empirical, non -confessional perspective, aiming at mapping it (or at least I did at the time of my article for Social Epistemology , but cf. the following section about Latour). I see myself as more engaged in mapping Ñ describing and comparing rather than criticizing , refuting or taking a stance. The comparisons with other trends or schools of thought also belong to the former kind of reconstruction. In this regard , I find EdisÕ comparisons with Islamic feminism and with Christian theologians ( at least in his own reconstruction) fitting and enlightening.

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Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective , 2014 Vol. 3, No. 6, 56 -68. -1u6 59 Yet, apart from such comparative remarks, Edis does not voice a full -fledged judgment about my reconstruction of a Ònew generation.Ó On the one hand , he clearly accepts my definition or label Ònew generationÓ . On the other hand , he observes that I do not Òsay muchÓ about its significance Òprobably because it is too early to tellÓ (Edis 2014, 43). I agree with this last remark . I ndeed, I tend not to engage in future -telling in academic writing ( yet , as early as November 2011 , in a private conversation with Salman Hameed we hypothesized the rise of a Ònext generationÓ of theologians receptive of the teaching of the Ònew generationÓ of scientists). However, Edis is also a participant in the debate at least since the publication of his monograph An Illusion of Harmony (Edis 2007). He writes from the standpoint of a physicist, he embraces philosophical naturalism Ñ according to which referring to the results of modern physics and biolog y gives a better explanation of the world Ñ and on such basis he disposes of notions such as God or the immortality of the soul. In EdisÕ overall work, the harmony of Islam and science is only one specific critical target in a more general refutation of re ligion. This position is echoed throughout his entire Reply , and clearly stated in the conclusion: [The Ònew generationÓ] may like Islamic feminism, become a tendency that is of more than merely academic interest. For now, though, the ideas of the new generation appears to be only minor features in the landscape of attempts to maintain an illusion of harmony between science and Islam (Edis 2014, 43). I generally agree with Edis in the sense that at present , like at the time of my earlier article, many details of the supposed harmonization of Islam and science seem in need of further, clear er discussion . Y et, EdisÕ specific position is more properly part of the landscape I try to reconstruct (and , as such , it was treated in my 2013 article); thus , I am not willing to take a side here. At least Ñ as to the lack of more detailed theories that I also recognize d Ñ I am rather willing to leave to the Ònew generationÓ authors the right to reply and further clarify their views and I regard the debate as still open and on -going. I will later add some remarks about such desiderata . Over the years I was carrying out my r esearch , I constantly had a frank and friendly exchange of ideas with Edis and, if I can level a general counter -objection to his Reply, it is precisely that he has been too lenient towards my very map of a Ònew generation.Ó This position was perhaps by vi rtue of his gentle temperament or, perhaps , because embracing the general definition of a Ònew generationÓ better serves his own purpose of a wholesale attack on the harmony of Islam and science. However , in the course of time , I have come to regard the definition itself of a Ònew generationÓ as potentially mined by some overgeneralizations and oversimplifications . I n the following sections I am willing to offer my reader a thorough self -criticism. Revising the Definition My research has developed and the conversations with Oktar, Golshani, Altaie, El -Naggar, Guiderdoni and Guessoum have been edited, collected, and critically discussed

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Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective , 2014 Vol. 3, No. 6, 56 -68. -1u6 60 in the monograph Islam and the Quest for Modern Science (Bigliardi 2014a). While working on the monograph , I was happy to notice that the label Ònew generationÓ was approved of and adopted by at least one authoritative colleague, Salman Hameed (cf. Hameed 2012). Moreover, at least one new author has emerged who seems to fit the definition of a Ònew generationÓ Ñ the Jordan ian molecular biologist Rana Dajani (b. 1969 Ð cf. Dajani 2012). Finally, one of my interviewees, Nidhal Guessoum, seemed to agree with my definition (cf. Bigliardi 2014a, 159 -162). However, I felt that my initial definition had to be further refined , I have reformulated it as follows: (1) All the authors belonging to the Ònew generationÓ are natural scientists who are, or have been, engaged in scientific teaching and/or research at university level. (2) The authors at stake recognize that the scientific me thod cannot be changed and therefore do not advocate any kind of ÒIslamizationÓ of science. (3) The Ònew generationÓ is open towards the possibility of theistically interpreting biological evolution. (4) The Ònew generationÓ distances itself from the Òscientif ic exegesisÓ of the QurÕan, often deemed unscientific. (5) The Ònew generationÓ simply accepts that Islam can be in harmony with science qua religion or at least on a footing of equality with other monotheistic religions. The older generation considered Isla m to be in harmony with science by virtue of a privileged relationship (as the exclusive repository of concepts with which science should be reformed or as the only scientifically validated religion). Each trait can be defined as a necessary and non -sufficient condition for belong ing to the Ònew generationÓ or, conversely, that not one among Bucaille, al -Faruqi, Nasr and Sardar, entirely possessed. Further Caveats About the Revised Definition Such refinement notwithstanding , I see some substantial methodological shortcomings in the elaboration of my definition. First, it is based on the distinction given the stances of the four authors focused upon by Stenberg. StenbergÕs study is based, in turn, on a selection (for instance it does not take into account the authors belonging to the Aligarh school – cf. Bigliardi , forthcoming b). Hence, identifying a Ònew generationÓ in the terms I have described depends on successive, artificial restrictions of th e authors investigated.

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Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective , 2014 Vol. 3, No. 6, 56 -68. -1u6 61 Second, the very identification of a Ònew generationÓ runs the risk of artificially overshadowing the extant importance of the theories of the scholars studied by Stenberg . These scholars still have a cultural impact albeit in diff erent ways and on different audiences (it would be particularly interesting to study the development in the views of, respectively, Sardar and Nasr, still very prolific public intellectuals, as well as the contemporary reception of the views of al -Faruqi, especially in the foundation of Islamic universities). Third, the expression Ònew generationÓ seems to be based on a misleading (or at best extrinsic) chronological criterion, and it is devoid of any specific indication as to the actual attitudes of the authors it intends to define. Fourth, the definition as I have sketched it relies on heterogeneous observations, the initial one being sociological . The remaining o bservation s pertain to theoretical stances. Fifth , the Ònew generationÓ , thus identifie d, still displays similarities with the overarching traits recognized by Stenberg in the authors he studied. In the case of my interlocutors , one can also remark that they are cosmopolitan intellectuals who did not receive a formal religious education and speak in the name of ÒIslam,Ó trying to redefine it and affirm its significance in a world dominated by science. In addition to these specific shortcomings, it should also be observed that the very identification of a general definition seems to run contrary to the spirit of which I embarked on my investigation of the contemporary debate of Islam and science aimed at representing its richness and complexity; for instance, it induces us to easily dispose of Yahya and El -Naggar. Therefore, after considering communicative and argumentative strategies, recurring themes, on -going discussions, and issues that require furthe r investigation and assessment on part of external observers, I have come to think of my own definition and identification of a Ònew generationÓ as rather simplistic. It is perhaps more enlightening to talk about local conceptual shifts that, considered as a whole, give the impression of a change that, in turn, cannot be reduced to a definition or a formula. In other words , I have come to consider my own discussion of a Ònew generationÓ as a didactic fiction. I regard it as useful to shed light on the fact that there is an on -going effort, individually carried out by different scholars, to reconsider the relationship of Islam and science on multiple and variously interrelated levels which are different from Traditionalism, from the systematic and exclusive identification of ÒscientificÓ notions in the QurÕan, and from the Islamization of knowledge/science ‹ la al-Faruqi. More Complex Than You Think: Islamic Creationism and Bucailleism At first, Oktar and El -Naggar seemed only to represent a counterpart t o the Ònew generation,Ó or respectively, ÒIslamic creationismÓ and the Òscientific exegesisÓ of the QurÕan (actually with substantial overlaps between their own positions). However, one of the most interesting discoveries I could make upon closer inspectio n of their works was that they cannot be entirely reduced to th ese two labels.

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Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective , 2014 Vol. 3, No. 6, 56 -68. -1u6 63 simply taken for granted. It can even be hypothesized that Bucailleism migh t blossom in a scientifically well -developed society as a side effect of its very development and due to the coexistence of scientists and traditional religious authorities. One can imagine that a prominent scientist, who otherwise successfully practises s cience in her laboratory, engages in the production of booklets dedicated to the scientific exegesis of the QurÕan in her spare time in order to nourish her own religious identity, or to blandish local, traditional religious authorities (from whom she migh t obtain funding later employed for the practice of science proper!) with such production. Guessoum often uses the metaphor of ÒschizophreniaÓ to indicate the separation of religious and scientific culture but a metaphor is just a metaphor even if it is a good one. The devastating effects of schizophrenia clinically intended are known Ñ yet the compartmentalization of scientific practice might allow a scientist to hold pseudo -scientific notions in a field while being proficient in another. I am , of course , arguing in a paradoxical, provocative vein and I am far from advocating the inexistence of pseudo -science, a concept I myself employ in the analysis of YahyaÕs work. What I am trying to do is to avoid trivializing the interaction of pseudo -science and sc ience . Upon closer scrutiny, the competition of Bucailleism and anti -Bucailleism seems to be a complex match played on multiple levels (individual, social, political, pedagogical) still open to more fine -tuned analysis than the one offered on my own pages. A Latourian Proposal My goal while working on the debate on Islam and science was to gather new empirical findings to make extant works understandable to a wider readership, and to formulate a new definition of the authors at stake ; hence , the very idea of a Ònew generation.Ó However, on at least one occasion I ended up intervening in the debate itself Ñ or at least trying to do so. I was impressed by the discussion of religion and science developed by the French sociologist of science Bruno Latour in hi s essay ÒThou Shalt Not Freeze -FrameÓ (Latour 2010) and proposed to inject it into the debate. In nuce , drawing upon concepts advanced in his long scholarship, Latour advances a complex concept of science as concerned with verification. Contrary to what many might think verification, on Latour’s interpretation, has nothing to do with proximity or immediacy . Latour points out : Ò[I]t builds extraordinarily long, complicated, mediated, indirect, and sophisticated paths so as to reach the worlds that are invi sible because they are too small, too far, too powerful, too big, too odd, too surprising, too counterintuitive, through concatenations of layered instruments, calculations, and modelsÓ (Latour 2010, 111). Therefore, although science is subject to verifica tion (or, in LatourÕs parlance, Òdouble -clickÓ), such verification has nothing to do with the representation of the close and present and leads rather to the ÒdistantÓ and ÒabsentÓ (Latour 2010, 113). Hence, on Latour’s interpretation, science is usually a ssociated with a kind of objectivity, the objectivity of what is near and familiar that is in this case a misled and misleading notion. Latour compares religious talk with love talk. It is, in his interpretation, a kind of transformative talk that wants to redirect the listener’s attention to what is near. Not only is it not subject to double -click verification, it precisely wants Òto divert it, to break it, to

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Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective , 2014 Vol. 3, No. 6, 56 -68. -1u6 64 subvert it, to render it impossibleÓ (Latour 2010, 106). In Latour’s interpretation, religious tales cannot be analysed or reduced to verification . R eligious tales just can be repeated Òutter[ing] again a word that produces in the listener the same effect, namely the one that impregnates with the gift of the renewed presenceÓ (Latour’s example is Ga briel’s salutation to Mary), whereas the requests for the verification of those very tales Òwant you to abandon the present time and direct your attention away from the meaning of the venerable storyÓ (Latour 2010, 106 Ð107). Religion, and not science, in L atour’s paradoxical interpretation, Òshould be qualified as being local, objective, visible, mundane, un -miraculous, repetitive, obstinate, and sturdyÓ (Latour 2010, 111). Latour contrasts all these ideas with an objectivist and simplified concept of sci ence. Latour is also opposed to the attempts at ÒmappingÓ the relationship of religion and science. In his words, the advocates of such models Ò[É] speak like Camp David diplomats drawing lines on maps of the Israeli and Palestinian territories. They try t o settle disputes as if there was one single domain, or Ð following the terrifying similarity with the Holy Land Ñ as if two equally valid claims had to be established side by sideÓ (Latour 2010, 109). I formulated a hypothesis . A ll of the authors I studied, including the Bucailleists, seem to subscribe, predominantly and tacitly, to the kind of objectivism criticized by Latour. Religion (or revelation) and science, in their view, never clash. This point is defended according to di fferent strategies and with different divergences but still, while articulating such an idea, religion and science are more or less implicitly conceived as territories or geometrical planes that sometimes harmoniously overlap ; for instance , when talking about the same objective entities (natural phenomena), and sometimes when they just remain separated like good neighbours. In other words , the kind of objectivism and Ògeographical talkÓ criticized by Latour seem s to be pervasive in the whole debate over Isl am and science, and even common to sophisticated and unsophisticated discussions of the relationship of the QurÕan and science. Most authors tend to implicitly embrace the idea that some QurÕanic passages can be, to use LatourÕs words, double -clicked, an d also that science is concerned with phenomena denoted as what is ÒnearÓ and ÒsolidÓ Ñ in the senses rejected by Latour. In this way, the debate apparently rages over how the revelation should be double -clicked, or who should best do so, but not over the very appropriateness of double -clicking . This kind of implicit setting, in my view, is pervasive and predominant, but not exclusive. Indeed, we also see that the QurÕan and science are occasionally described as in harmony while emphasizing that the former invites the pursuit of the latter. This idea might be accentuated while completely abandoning the talk of boundaries and phenomena as tangible facts, in favour of a bold Latourian approach. Or, conversely, the seminal Latourian elements of the discussion s hould be brought to maturation. There might be a mismatch between an interpretation of religion in LatourÕs terms and the way in which religious people commonly understand their own religious beliefs and practices. It is still open to investigation and discussion whether and how an approach ‹ la Latour can be consistently and convincingly applied to a religious understanding of religion. Attempts at applying LatourÕs philosophy to Christian theology are nascent, if

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Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective , 2014 Vol. 3, No. 6, 56 -68. -1u6 65 promising (cf. Miller 2013). To my kno wledge, a systematic attempt at reading Islamic theological concepts according to such an outlook has yet not been attempted (even if LatourÕs earlier works admittedly inspired Sardar and the Ijimalis Ñ private communication with Sardar, June 2011). Howeve r, I complement my hypothesis with a proposal: a Latourian approach has all the potential to project the whole discussion of Islam and science on a completely different level, by -passing never -ending discussions about the degree of literalism to be adopted in interpreting the QurÕan, as well as infinite hair -splitting regarding the ÒboundariesÓ of science and religion, including that such an outlook has the advantage of being in harmony with the suggestion that the QurÕan is a book of guidance that encourag es us to embrace science as a practice . Thus, instead of trying to draw subtle lines between proper Òscientific exegesisÓ and pseudoscientific Òscientific miracles,Ó or distinguishing between degrees and areas of competence, one could redefine the very not ion of the Ònatural factsÓ studied by science and point out that the QurÕan invites the pursuit of science as the dynamic enterprise described by Latour. Latourian ideas undoubtedly represent a highly sophisticated position, and complexity is always dif ficult to communicate and to manage. It is reasonable to expect that, in their respective roles as teachers of science and public intellectuals, figures such as Golshani, Altaie, Guiderdoni and Guessoum, will continue contrasting pseudo -science with Òlocal ized interventionsÓ to refute specific pseudo -scientific notions, and to communicate the method and object of science in a relatively simple way to a general public. Perhaps, on a more sophisticated and philosophical level, the decisive leap from an ÒoldÓ to a ÒnewÓ generation in the debate over Islam and science will not be marked by a thinker who convincingly work s out an interpretation for each and every sensitive topic such as evolution, miracles and divine intervention in terms of rules regarding the respect of boundaries ; but, rather by a thinker who will have the courage to entirely and consistently subscribe to a non -objectivist, complex conception of religion and science, and reformulate the whole discussion in such terms. However, the aforementioned reconciliation of Latourian concepts and a religious understanding of religion are still to be investigated in depth and I have myself come to reconsider the very originality of LatourÕs proposal (cf. Bigliardi forthcoming a). Further Points to be Explored: GuiderdoniÕs Traditionalism, the Golden Age, and Theistic Evolution I invite my readers to take the discussion of a Ònew generationÓ cum grano salis , never losing sight of the individual differences between the authors at stake. I can here point at some further problems emerged regarding the distinctions between the ÒoldÓ and the Ònew generationÓ and those among the authors of the latter. The first is an interesting problem emerged recently and regarding the figure of Bruno Guiderdoni. When it comes to his affiliation, his biography, and his activities, Guiderdoni apparently is a Traditionalist like S. H. Nasr (cf. Sedgwick 2004, 155). However, when it comes to the ideas he states (not only in our conversation, but also in his works I read in order to prepare it Ñ cf. Bigliardi 2014a, 133 -150), one has a hard time to recognize stances Òagainst the modern world.Ó I was puzzled over the reasons of such apparent discrepancy. One answer could be that I asked my questions from the point of view of a

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Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective , 2014 Vol. 3, No. 6, 56 -68. -1u6 66 philosopher of science and I therefore did not entirely detect the Traditionalist vein in GuiderdoniÕs thoughts as an expert might have done (or perhaps Guiderd oni adapted his answers to my profile even if he had the opportunity to explicitly talk about his Traditionalism). Another answer could be that whereas experts of Traditionalism can well describe him as affiliated to it by virtue of his activities and of t he influence of Perennialist authors such as Ren” Gu”non on his conversion, de facto the stances and ideas Guiderdoni disseminates in his works and conferences are those of a representative of the Ònew generationÓ, i.e. he represents an accommodation of sc ience and Islam rather than a criticism of modernity and/or a plan for a reformation of science through the supposed infusion of Islamic principles. Guiderdoni would thus be what might be called a Òsoft TraditionalistÓ (this labelÕs paternity is Mark Sedgw ickÕs Ð private communication, March 2014) and his Òsoft TraditionalismÓ would in its turn coincide with the stances of the Ònew generationÓ (for another study of GuiderdoniÕs ideas more focussed on Sufism cf. Piraino 2015). At least two other points need to be further explored (or, conversely, there are at least two other points about which the representatives of the Ònew generationÓ are supposed and expected to better articulate their own views). One is the interpretation of the harmony of Islam and scie nce in historical perspective Ñ up to wh at extent (geographically and chronologically) and why, can one argue in favour of the existence of a ÒGolden AgeÓ of Islam in which science was flourishing throughout the Muslim world (and in contrast with the Weste rn/Christian Middle -Age)? This question has become especially relevant since the narrative regarding the ÒGolden AgeÓ has started to be popularized on a worldly scale with the 1001 Inventions touring exhibit, launched in 2006 and focussing on the scientifi c achievements of the Muslim world between the 8 th-13th centuries CE. Such an exhibition was part of a more comprehensive educational project established by the Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilisation based in Manchester. Inter alia , it was shown at the Science Museum in London, outside the Haghia Sophia Museum in Istanbul, at the Hall of Science in New York, the California Science Center in Los Angeles, the Aramco Cultural Park in Dhahran, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the National Ge ographic Museum in Washington DC, and it was paralleled by extensive publications on paper and the Internet. It also received public support by prestigious figures such as the British Crown Prince Charles and the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Yet a number of scholars in different disciplines, while recognizing the Ògood intentionsÓ of such an initiative, have expressed their concern for inaccuracies and mistakes promoted by the exhibitÕs narrative (cf. Edis and Brentjes 2012). My interlocutors oft en touched upon history and historical figures in order to strengthen the case for the harmony of Islam and science; it has to be asked whether and how the representatives of the Ònew generationÓ will take a critical stance towards popularizations such as 1001 Inventions , i.e., if their discourse will differentiate also by virtue of an alternative proposal regarding the ÒGolden AgeÓ narrative, or if it will conform to more popular ones. As it has already emerged while discussing EdisÕ criticism, the second point about which more clarity is to be expected are the details of the theistic reconciliation of QurÕanic concepts and biological evolution, towards which all my interlocutors (as well as the aforementioned R. Dajani) are favourably inclined (as I menti on in one of the points that

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