Questionable Motives

December 4, 2009

Islam and Science – an immovable object meets an irresistible force

In 2006, ISESCO published a Guide for the Incorporation of Reproductive Health and Gender Concepts into Islamic Education Curricula, obviously a critically important subject area where some scientific facts are in order. The Guide, which can be found on ISESCO’s Web site, is addressed to curriculum developers, textbook writers, and those responsible for training instructors in formal Islamic education for students aged six to nineteen. Its introduction stresses the need “to supply, at the proper time, adolescents with appropriate health information on the biological aspects within the framework of Islamic rulings and values” and emphasizes “the fact that Sharia, whether in its original or interpretative sources, is the only source for establishing, interpreting, clarifying, and incorporating reproductive health issues, including adolescent health, in the programs of formal education.”5

What follows contains not a shred of science but instead a series of checklists and tips for imparting Sharia rulings on matters of health, hygiene, and sexual ethics. The ISESCO authors mention the Islamic basis for upholding “equality in human dignity” and “good treatment of the girl and kindness towards her” and opposing female circumcision and “indiscrimination between the sexes” (sic?). They also instruct teachers that Islam forbids, among other things, fornication, homosexuality, intercourse during menstruation, and khulwa (an unrelated man and woman being alone together). At the same time, they assert that Islamic law justifies polygamous marriage and, above all, abstinence.

The student should adhere to the lofty Islamic morals and ideals that call for modesty, lowering one’s gaze, avoiding mixing and being alone with a person with whom one can be intimate, abstinence, resisting shameful deeds, avoiding any provocative act or item of dress that may encourage sexual harassment and lapsing into harlotry . . . [and] observe abstinence before marriage.

And this from a publication that was “compiled in cooperation with United Nations Population Fund”!6

In this Guide, as in numerous other documents, ISESCO is only doing its job. Rather than seeking Muslim integration with the global research and academic communities, its stated mission is to advance science “within the framework of the civilizational reference of the Islamic world and in the light of the human Islamic values and ideals.” In this case, ISESCO does not even do students the service of setting forth the relevant empirical evidence for the purpose of beating it senseless with religious precepts.

Read the very sorry state of science oozing from the Islamic world here.

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