INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON MODERN SCIENCES AND THE MUSLIM WORLD, 1987

International Symposium on Modern Sciences and the Muslim World, Transfer of Modern Science and Technology from the West to the Muslim World from the Renaissance to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century organised by IRCICA, Istanbul, 2-4 September 1987


The first meeting in the series of international symposia on "Modern Science and the Muslim World" took place on 2-4 September 1987 at Çit Qasr at IRCICA's premises.

The theme of the meeting was "Science and Technology Transfer from the West to the Muslim World from the Renaissance to the Beginning of the XXth Century". IRCICA and the Department of History of Science of the Faculty of Letters, University of Istanbul jointly organised the symposium.

80 scholars, researchers and representatives of institutions from 17 countries came together to present research papers and discuss on the great variety of topics offered. It was satisfactory for IRCICA to observe that the participants were of various disciplines: there were historians, archaeologists, economists, medical doctors, chemists, architects, writers and editors of scientific journals, among others; they all made valuable contributions in their respective fields within the framework of the meeting's theme. Most of the papers dealt with subjects not explored before or not fully studied previously; they were based on direct references some of which had escaped notice. Space limits prevent us from including here the abstracts of the 35 papers presented; we content ourselves by providing the list of the papers and their contributors, believing that this would at least give an idea of the subjects covered at the meeting. A collection of abstracts was distributed during the symposium; IRCICA published the papers and proceedings of the symposium in the form of a book under the title Transfer of Modern Science and Technology to the Muslim World: Proceedings of the International Symposium on Modern Sciences and the Muslim World so that all those interested in this field or dealing with related issues could benefit from the results of this symposium which proved to be a fruitful gathering of high scientific standing.

The meeting was inaugurated at Çit Qasr on Wednesday, 2nd September. Present at the inauguration were H.E. Mr. Nevzat Ayaz, Governor of Istanbul, members of diplomatic missions in Turkey, participants at the meeting, guests and journalists. IRCICA Director General pronounced a welcome speech; he thanked the participants for the interest they had shown toward the meeting and said that this interest had surpassed the expectations, with respect to both the number of participants and the variety of the paper topics. He said this was relevant for IRCICA in determining the future guidelines and objectives of its history of science project. He was followed by Prof. Dr.Cem'i Demiroğlu, Rector of Istanbul University who gave the inaugural speech; he expressed his belief that the meeting would give fruitful results and throw light upon the problems that were encountered in the transfer of knowledge to the Muslim world.

Then, the message sent by H.E. Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada, Secretary General of the OIC was read; the Secretary General could not attend the symposium because of previous engagements. He underlined the importance of the subject matter of the symposium and wished success to the participants. The keynote inaugural speech was given by Prof.Dr. Halil İnalcık from the Department of History of the University of Chicago, who focused on the relationship between culture and science and touched upon the social and cultural factors which influence the attitudes toward new scientific knowledge. Prof. İnalcık pointed out that the Muslim world's transfers of science and technology from the West had been governed more by rational choices and motives than by value judgements.

The inaugural ceremony ended with the presentation of a plaque to Prof.Dr. Halil İnalcık, well-known historian and author of several books and articles, in recognition of his services and contributions to Muslim history and particularity Ottoman history. The plaque was presented to the scholar by H.E. Mr. Nevzat Ayaz, Governor of Istanbul.

The meeting took three days; there were three working sessions every day, with three or four paper presentations in each. Each presentation was followed by a question-answer debate. In some cases, the discussions could not be concluded within the limited time allowed for each session and they had to be continued during the breaks, what was an indication of the importance of the issues raised during the meeting and the fact that they require further discussion and research.


Below is the list of contributors and papers, in the order of presentation during the sessions

Halil İnalcık, (Dept. of History, University of Chicago, USA), Some Remarks on the Ottoman Cultural Borrowings from the West

Kemal Karpat (University of Wisconsin, USA), Rational Scientific Plans for Economic Development during the Reign of Abdulhamid II; 1876-1909

Yakov Rabkin (Dept. of History, University of Montreal, Canada), Conceptual Challenges to the History of Science in the Muslim World

Mehmet İpşirli (Fac. of Letters, Istanbul University), On the European Science and Techniques as Conceived in the Layihas Submitted to Selim III

Adnan Şişman (Fac. of Education, Uludağ University, Turkey), Establishment and First Teaching Years of the Galatasaray Lycee (1868-1871)

Esin Kâhya (Fac. of Language, History and Geography, Ankara University, Turkey), The First Railways in the Ottoman Empire

Georgy G. Hazai (Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary), Hungaro-Ottoman Contacts in the Field of Aviation before the First World War

Roshdi Rashed (Centre d'Histoire, des Sciences et de la Philosophie Arabes, Paris, France), Problems of the Integration of the European Science in Iran at the Beginning of the 19th Century

Joseph Szyliowicz (Graduate School of International Studies, University of Denver, USA), Functionalist Perspectives on Technology: The Case of the Printing Press in the Ottoman Empire

Orhan Koloğlu (Researcher and writer, Turkey), The Penetration and the Effects of the Printing Techniques in the Muslim Societies

Caesar E. Farah (Prof. of Middle Eastern and Islamic History, University of Minnesota, USA), Transfer of Scientific Learning from Europe via the Syrian Press 1875-1915

Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu (IRCICA Director General and Head, Dept. of History of Science, Fac. of Letters, Istanbul University), Introduction of Modern Astronomy to the Ottoman World (1660-1860)

S.M.R. Ansari (Aligarh Muslim University, India), Modern Astronomy in Indo-Persian Sources

George Saliba (Prof. of Arabic and Islamic Science, Columbia University, USA), Copernican Astronomy in the Muslim East-Theories of the Motion of the Earth

Ahmed Güner Sayar (Fac. of Political Sciences, Istanbul University), Introduction of the Modern Conception of Economics to Ottoman Turkey and its Areas of Expansion

Murat Çizakça (Dept. of Economics, Boğaziçi University, Istanbul), Techniques and Know-How of the Business Partnerships from one Civilisation to the other

Syed Zaher Haider (Dept. of Chemistry, Dhaka University, Bangladesh), The Socio-Economic Consequences of the Transfer of Technology From the West to a Colonial Muslim Country and its Impact on Development

Mehmet Saray (Fac. of Letters, Istanbul University), Scientific Life of the Turkish Communities living under the Russian Administration

Nil Sarı-Mükerrem Bedizel Zülfikar (Cerrahpaşa Fac. of Medicine, Istanbul University), Influences of Paracelsus on Turkish Medicine

Adel Ziadat (Dept. of Mass Communication, Yarmouk University, Jordan), The Church Missionary Society and the Introduction of Western Medicine in the East of Jordan, 1883-1945

Michael W. Dols (Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine, Oxford University, England), Medicine in 16th Century Egypt

Gül Russell (Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, England), Itaqi, Shanizade, and the Origins of Scientific Anatomy

Osamah al-Gohary (College of Architecture and Planning, King Saud University, Saudi Arabia), Transferance of Modern Architecture Technology to the Muslim World and its Problems

Uğur Tanyeli (Fac. of Architecture, Istanbul Technical University), Introduction of the Western Conception of City Planning to Turkey (18th-19th centuries)

Ramazan Şeşen (IRCICA), Osman b. Abdülmennan as the Translator of the Belgrade Divan and his Place in the Translation Activity

Halil Sahillioğlu (Fac. of Economics, Istanbul University), Application of the Modern Minting Techniques by the Ottomans

Feza Günergun (Dept. of History of Science, Fac. of Letters, Istanbul University), Introduction of the Metric System in the Ottoman State

Zafer Toprak (Dept. of History, Boğaziçi University, Istanbul), Agriculture and Technology Transfer in the Late Ottoman Society

William M. Blair (Dept. of Near Eastern Studies, Princeton University, USA), The Modernization of the Ottoman Navy in the Nineteenth Century

İhsan Süreyya Sırma (Fac. of Theology, Atatürk University, Erzurum, Turkey), Essay on a New Approach to the Science of History

Nadia Muhammad Abu Zahra (Dept. of Anthropology University of British Columbia, Canada), Al-Tahtawi as a Translator of French Culture

Mehmet Genç (Fac. of Science and Letters, Marmara University, Istanbul), Introduction of the Steam Engine to Turkey and its First Quarter Century

Mahmut Kaya (Fac. of Letters, Istanbul University), Thinking of 18th Century Scholars on Esat Efendi and Some Remarks about his Fizika Translation

Attallah Dhina (Head of Dept. of Muslim History, University of Algiers, Algeria), L'enseig-nement Superieur et de la Recherche Scientifique en Algerie: L'experience Algerienne

Maherzi Aicha (University of Algiers, Algeria), Introduction de la Technologie dans les Pays Musulmans et Changement Social.


There were ten sessions altogether over a period of three days. The sessions were chaired by the following personalities: first session, Prof.Dr. Khaled Maghout (Director, Institute for the History of Arabic Science, Vice-President of Aleppo University, Syria); second session, Prof.Dr. Kâzım Çeçen (Fac. of Civil Engineering, Istanbul Technical University); third session, Prof.Dr. Kemal Karpat (University of Wisconsin, USA); fourth session, Prof. Dr. Nüzhet Gökdoğan (Prof. of astronomy, Turkey); fifth session, Prof.Dr. Georgy Hazai (Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary); sixth session, Prof.Dr. E. Kadri Unat (Cerrahpaşa Fac. of Medicine, Istanbul University); seventh session, Prof. Dr. Gündüz Gökçe (Rector of Mimar Sinan University, Istanbul); eighth session, Prof.Dr. Caesar E. Farah (University of Minnesota, USA); ninth session, Prof.Dr. Halil Sahillioğlu (Fac. of Economics, Istanbul University) and tenth session, Prof.Dr. Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu.

Two exhibitions were organised on the occasion of the symposium: "Ottoman Sultans' Books of Western Origin" and "Ancient and New Astronomical Instruments". The first exhibition was organised by the Library of Topkapi Palace Museum, as a contribution to the Symposium; the participants visited this exhibition on the second day of the meeting. It consisted of the books that had been published in Europe and gifted to the Ottoman Sultans on various occasions throughout centuries. Especially the Treasury section of the Library contains many such books, which were relevant in the context of the meeting since they indicated what kind of scientific and other books were introduced to the Ottoman State.

As to the second exhibition, it was organised at the Kandilli Observatory of Boğaziçi University; it was opened on 5 September, after the meeting was closed. Participants at the meeting could see samples of classical astronomical equipment as well as those that were made under Western influence.

It was a pleasure for IRCICA to hear the participants expressing satisfaction and appreciation with respect both to the academic quality, usefulness and importance of the papers and discussions and the organisational aspects of the Symposium. Some said it had been beneficial in providing new insights into issues of common interest others pointed out that it had in created awareness among scholars, scientists and researchers working on various aspects of the history of science, about each other's work. The event was closely followed and reported by the Turkish radio and television and various press organs.