Book Review: M. I. H. Farooqi: Plants of the Qur’an, Medicinal Plants in the Traditions of the Prophet Muhammad: Scientific Study of the Prophetic Medicine, Food and Perfumes (Aromatics)
A popular and most pervasive trend in the contemporary Muslim world is to find scientific data in the Qur'an and the Prophetic tradition. Numerous books claim to discover a Qur'anic foundation for scientific data and theories. This trend is not new. It goes back to the nineteenth century when an attempt was made to incorporate Western science into the tradition of Qur'anic exegesis. At that time, almost the entire Muslim world was under colonial occupation and the political, economic, and social conditions were such that the colonizers considered Islam a spent force, while most Muslim scholars and leaders felt an acute sense of their own downfall and sought reasons for it. This probing led many of them to believe that the real cause of their decline was that they had lagged behind Europe in the fields of science and technology. To be sure, their lack of competence in science and technology was not the cause, but a consequence of another long, complex, and multi-faceted crisis from which the Islamic polity had been suffering for the three centuries prior to the seventeenth, but European advances in science and technology provided a readily available and directly observable "reason", allowing them to ascribe everything to this "reason". This created an awe for as well as an enormous sense of inferiority in the Muslim mind regarding Western science and technology, and over the course of the twentieth century it manifested itself in the psychological, intellectual, and emotional realms, producing books, articles, websites, conferences, and even institutions attempting to demonstrate that Islam was, in fact, a religion of science; that the European Scientific Revolution of the seventeenth century was actually rooted in and due to the Islamic scientific tradition; that everything discovered by modern science was already mentioned in the Qur'an; or some other variation of these and similar claims.