Justin K. StearnsNov 5, 2021
The Natural Sciences in Islam in Seventeenth-Century Morocco
Cambridge University Press 2021
Islam's contributions to the natural sciences has long been recognized within the Euro-American academy, however, such studies tend to include one of a number of narrative tropes, either emphasizing the "Golden Age" model, focusing on scientific productions in Baghdad and other centers around the first millennium CE; emphasizing Islam's role in transmitting and preserving Greco-Roman learning, and enabling it to be re-translated into Latin around the time of the Renaissance; and the vast majority suggest that the majority of Islamic scientific output came to a halt around toward the end 16th century.
In Revealed Sciences: The Natural Sciences in Islam in Seventeenth-Century Morocco (Cambridge UP, 2021), Justin K. Stearns argues that there is ample evidence that scientific production continued apace, if, in fact, we know where to look for it. Demonstrating the vibrancy of seventeenth century Morocco, Revealed Sciences examines how science flourished during this period, albeit in a different manner than that of Europe. Offering an innovative analysis of the relationship between religious thought and the natural sciences, Stearns shows how nineteenth and twentieth century European and Middle Eastern scholars jointly developed a narrative of the decline of post-formative Islamic thought, including the fate of the natural sciences in the Muslim world.
Challenging these depictions, Stearns uses numerous close readings of legal, biographical, and classificatory texts - alongside medical, astronomical, and alchemical works - to establish a detailed overview of the place of the natural sciences in the scholarly and educational landscapes of the early modern Maghreb, and considers non-teleological possibilities for understanding a persistent engagement with the natural sciences in Morocco and elsewhere.
Justin K. Stearns is Associate Professor of Arab Crossroads Studies at New York University Abu Dhabi, where his research interests focus on the intersection of law, science, and theology in the pre-modern Middle East. He is the author of Infectious Ideas: Contagion in Premodern Islamic and Christian Thought in the Western Mediterranean (2011), and an edition and translation of al-Hasan al-Yusi's The Discourses, Vol. I (2020).
Christopher S. Rose is a social historian of medicine focusing on Egypt and the Eastern Mediterranean in the 19th and 20th century. He currently teaches History at St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas and Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas.