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Professor Hoodbhoy Explains the Downside of Intolerance

June 13, 2011

Just when I feared that Professor Hoodbhoy had already risked his life enough by criticizing Islamic science, he hurls another thunderbolt, this time at his own university in Pakistan. “Where I teach,” Hoodbhoy said of Quaid-i-Azam university in Islamabad, where he is a professor of physics, “academic and cultural freedoms are highly restricted. The campus has three mosques, with a fourth one planned, but no bookstore.”[1] Worse, “No Pakistani university, including the one that I teach at, allowed Abdus Salam to set foot on its campus, although he had received the Nobel Prize in 1979 in physics.” Why was this? “The Ahmedi [Ahmadiyya] sect[2]to which Abdus Salam belonged, and which had earlier been considered to be Muslim, was officially declared heretical in 1974 by the Pakistani government.”[3]

Muslim Professor Pervez Hoodbhoy charges that threats made in the name of Islam create fear in the academic community. He states that the result of such practices is a landscape barren of scientific advancement.

According to Professor Hoodbhoy, there is a big difference between Islamic science and free-world science. “As intolerance and militancy sweep across the Muslim world,” Hoodbhoy writes, “personal and academic freedoms diminish. The head of the government-funded mosque in the heart of Islamabad issued the following chilling warning to my university’s female students and faculty on his FM radio channel on 12 April, 2007:

The government should abolish co-education. Quaid-i-Azam University has become a brothel. Its female professors and students roam in objectionable dresses . . . Sportswomen are spreading nudity. I warn the sportswomen to stop participating in sports . . . Our female students have not issued the threat of throwing acid on the uncovered faces of women. However, such a threat could be used for creating the fear of Islam among sinful women. There is no harm in it. There are far more horrible punishments in the hereafter for such women.[4]

That kind of sinister threat coerces women into wearing the veil. “Over time most students—particularly veiled females—have largely lapsed into becoming silent note-takers,” laments Professor Hoodbhoy. “They are increasingly timid and are less inclined to ask questions or take part in discussions. This lack of self-expression and confidence leads to most Pakistani university students, including those in their mid- or late-twenties, referring to themselves as boys and girls rather than as men and women.”[5]

Thus, students in Pakistani universities have an unfair disadvantage: their religious leaders use fear and threats to cast a spell over them. But there is second disadvantage in Islamic science: the boast that all science was predicted in the Qur’an. A typical Islamic science website reads, “Recently discovered astounding scientific facts, accurately described in the Muslim Holy Book, and by the Prophet Mohammad 14 centuries ago. “

“Here,” Hoodbhoy writes, “one will find that everything from quantum mechanics to black holes and genes was anticipated 1400 years ago.

“Islamic science,”  Hoodbhoy complains, “is principally seen as valuable for establishing yet more proofs of God, proving the truth of Islam and the Qur’an, and showing that modern science would have been impossible but for Muslim discoveries.”[6]

I will soon post on the topic “How Science Originated.” Professor Hoodbhoy’s courageous and provocative explanation of what is wrong with Islamic science has helped us to identify the problem. I believe that Jesus Christ will rescue every person from his superstitions and his intolerance and his threats against women, if a person will lower his head and say, “God be merciful to me, a sinner.”


[1] Pervez Amirali Hoodbhoy, “Science and the Islamic World–the Quest for Rapprochement,” Physics Today (August 2007). 52

[3] Hoodbhoy. 52

[4] Ibid. 52

[5] Ibid. 52

[6] Ibid. 53

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 10, 2012 4:26 pm

    Thank you Bob for pointing out this brave Muslim thinker’s truth-telling. I will read more from him.

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