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Islam, Science and Scientism Conference

The British Muslim Heritage Centre organised an international conference on Islam, Science and Scientism. The conference was held from 27th – 28th April 2013, and was the first major scholarly event organised by the BMHC; we intend it to be the first of many.

The major aim of this conference, and of those to follow, is to offer a better and greater understanding of Islamic culture and civilisation, as wll as the Muslim contribution to modern science and civilisation. The extent of which is little appreciated or largely misunderstood in society today. This event was also intended to bring a better understanding of the interactions and exchanges which have taken place between various faiths and cultures in enriching our common heritage.

The event involved the participation of scholars and an audience of mixed faiths and backgrounds. The aim is for the British Muslim Heritage Centre to become an annual meeting place for all those working on, and those wishing to learn more about the legacy of Islam and its constituent cultures.

Besides the talks, there was also a series of other events and cultural expressions, including exhibitions and workshops. One of the activities at the conference was the astrolabe workshop, which was initially developed and performed by Hüseyin Sen, historian of Arabic science, and architect Mesut Balik, both of whom are from Holland.

The workshop consisted of two parts:

  • The first part was a short presentation on the history of the astrolabe with a detailed description of the original instrument. A cardboard workshop model was used which is based on a surviving original, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and which was personally made by a Rasulid Sultan from Yemen, Malik al-Ashraf in 1291 AD. While the original designed was kept, the star positions were recalculated in order to reflect the 8 centuries difference between the original being made and our time.
  • The second part started with a presentation on theanatomy and use of the astrolabe ending with a hands-on activity, during which cardboard models of an astrolabe were distributed to participants. The participants were then asked to solve some problems with the models, which were specially prepared for the latitude of Manchester.

This post is also available in: Arabic