“A prominent cleric, Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawy, said modern science had at last provided evidence that Mecca was the true centre of the Earth; proof, he said, of the greatness of the Muslim “qibla” – the Arabic word for the direction Muslims turn to when they pray….The meeting in Qatar is part of a popular trend in some Muslim societies of seeking to find Koranic precedents for modern science.” — from this article
Mecca is the center of the universe because it is the most important city on earth, because that is where Muhammad got his revelatory start, and — there is no Muslim Galileo, just as there is no Muslim William Wilberforce or Muslim Mozart or Muslim Leonardo or Muslim Shakespeare — the earth is the center of the universe.
It’s the hometown of Muhammad, uswa hasana, al-insan al-kamil. It’s where the uncreated and immutable text of Islam first began to be revealed to Muhammad, Mecca’s most famous native son. It’s the cynosure of all Muslim eyes, the center of all Muslim hopes and dreams. Now that the more than ten trillion dollars Muslim members of OPEC have received since 1973 alone, or a hundred billion of it at least, has been deployed as the Money Weapon, and now that millions of Muslims have been permitted to settle deep behind what they have taught to regard as enemy lines, within the countries of Western Europe, Muslims are busy making demands, putting pressure, and even uttering such outlandish nonsense as this, for one reason: because they feel strong enough to do so — that is, because they can.
Muslims are touchingly aware, even as they outwardly express other, more triumphalist notions, that Muslim societies have been, from every point of view, failures — failures in their encouragement of despotisms, failures in the inshallah-fatalism that underlies economic stasis, failures in their societies, where both women and non-Muslims are subject to unequal and intolerable treatment.
And among those many failures, there is the dreamy belief that there was once a “Golden Age of Islamic Science,” its achievements greatly exaggerated, with no recognition of how much was simply taken, lock, stock, and algebra-gunpowder-and-printing barrel, from India and from China, and claimed for Islam and for Muslims.
When one looks at the non-orthodox beliefs of, say, ar-Razi (Rhazes), one realizes that many of those in lands under Islamic rule whose achievements are now celebrated were not Muslims but Arabic-using Christians and Jews, or new converts who were only one generation, or possibly two, away from a Christian or Jewish milieu. Much that has been described as “Islamic science” or “science under Islam” took place despite, not because of, Islam, which in spirit and letter is opposed to free and skeptical inquiry, and unlike Western Christendom, has remained so opposed, and will always do so. Muslims do not want to recognize the failures, the absence of achievement in science, after the first few hundred years of Muslim conquests. Nor do they wish to recognize that the end of the period of scientific achievement in Dar al-Islam can be linked to the mass conversions in lands conquered by Muslims that inexorably brought about a change from a largely non-Muslim to a largely Muslim population. Islam discourages the very attitudes that the enterprise of modern science most requires. And there is no solution for this, except either to forego participation in that worldwide enterprise, or to limit the power of Islam over the minds of its adherents, and its role in their lives.
The desperate attempt to read into the Qur’an all kinds of modern developments in science reflects this felt inferiority — behind all the Muslim bluster about “Islamic science” or, in George Saliba’s version, “Arabic science” (which means, or should mean, science as conducted by those who, whether Muslim or not, used Arabic as their main language). Since Islam encourages the habit of mental submission, the number of those who believe in conspiracy theories, and in crackbrain theories of every kind, are not merely present, as they are in all societies, but in fact far outnumber the handful of those whom we might recognize as fellow inhabitants of something like the same mental universe that all the rest of us inhabit. These crackbrain theorists locate in some vague Qur’anic phrase now all of vulcanology, and now, in another phrase, all of Mandelbrot’s fractals, and over here, in this phrase, we can find Muhammad setting out the double-helix in all of its Mill-Hill glory. No need for Watson, Crick, Maurice Wilkins, or Rosalind Franklin to come along. It was there, all of it, already, in some phrase in the Qur’an, if only poor naked forked Infidel man had known where to look. But he didn’t, the dope.