New exhibit in Istanbul seeks to change views of Muslim science
Providing a look at the golden age of Islam's heritage, a new exhibit called 1,001 Inventions is hoping to inspire revisions of global school curriculums to include the contributions of Muslim inventors in math, geography and physics. "Every civilIzation reached higher by building on top of the scientific and technological advances of its predecessors," said Professor Dr. Salim al-Hassani, head of nonprofit educational group the Foundation for Science, Technology and CivilIzation (FSTC). Unfortunately, he said, Europeans didn't acknowledge the debt they owed great Muslim scholars in advancing science. "The exhibit has made a big contribution toward dispelling the prejudices of Western people against Islam. We organIzed it in an attempt to provide cultural balance," said al-Hassani, adding that over the next four years the show is set to travel to 30 cities on five continents. The interactive exhibit is currently at Istanbul's Sultanahmet Square, and it previously drew 500,000 people to the London Science Museum. "The idea to create the exhibit came when Donald Cardwell, head of the University of Manchester's Department of the History of Science and Technology, told me to research the lost thousand years of science in Europe known as the Dark Ages," al-Hassani said. He found that while there was little creative output in Europe during that time, there was a wealth of scientific endeavors in the Muslim world. "In order to explain this to people, instead of building a new museum, we thought we would find a new way to communicate," he said, stressing that the exhibit entertains and educates through interactive techniques and modern technology. "We demand the inclusion of Muslim inventors in school curriculums so that future generations can be inspired." Lagari Hasan Celebi's manned-rocket flight, al-Jazari's battery-operated water clock, Hezarfen Ahmed Celebi's glider flight, and Mimar Sinan's architectural genius are just some of the major figures on show in the free exhibit. The next destination of the exhibit, which can be seen until Oct. 5 in Istanbul, is New York.