A scientific renaissance

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Global jihadists and their sympathisers in religious parties all over the world believe that beheading innocent people will make Zionists quiver with fear. They are confident that their vociferous anti-Israel slogans will jolt the Jewish state. These holy warriors seem to have a dogged determination to conquer the world through a retrogressive ideology that advocates the return of Muslims to medieval times and accept the intellectual supremacy of semi-literate clerics who wreaked havoc in the Muslim world by polluting it with the doctrine of hate, fanaticism and sectarianism. But what the Zionist state fears is not their tall claims to establish a global caliphate, or conquer the world through a bunch of fanatics who could not even protect their last conclaves in Syria and Iraq. It is rather the attempts of some Muslim countries to make strides in the fields of science and technology.
A report in The Jerusalem Post revealed that Israeli military intelligence chief Maj-Gen Herzl Halevi, tracks the deeds, words and even thoughts of Israel’s foes, alerting political and military leaders to potential threats. Considered a philosopher, Halevi in his interview to The New York Times said, “Through the years, I used philosophy much in a practical manner… philosophers spoke about how to balance, how to prioritise...this is something I find very helpful.”
In an unusual closed lecture he delivered last year for the Tel Aviv’s College of Management, the general said a strange thing that reflects the concerns of the Jewish state. It is not the rising wave of extremism and increasing influence of religious leaders across the Muslim world, but the concentration of only one Islamic country to make progress in science and technology. Addressing the gathering, the general said, “If you ask me whether we’ll have a war with Iran over the next 10 years, I’ll give you a surprising answer. We are already at war with Iran. We’re having a technological war with Iran. Our engineers are fighting Iranian engineers today and it’s becoming increasingly significant.”
The general was not worried about the fact that the Afghan Taliban, the torch-bearers of modern jihad, hold sway over 50 percent of Afghanistan’s land, neither did capturing of large swaths of land by Islamists in parts of Africa and Middle East impress the Jewish sage. What makes him restless is the fact that Tehran is making strides in the fields of science and technology. The general told Israeli newspaper Haaretz, “Today, we have the advantage. Iran is closing in on it. Since the 1979 Iranian revolution, the number of universities and university students in Iran has increased 20-fold, compared to the three-and-a-half times of Israel. Enrolment in science, technology, engineering and math in Iran is skyrocketing.”
Some reports by Israeli institutes claim that in the past decade, science and technology university students per 1,000 people in the Jewish state remained constant at 14. In Iran, the figure was calculated to be 25, doubling in 10 years. The reports say that, “Between 2007 and 2014, the number of Israeli universities ranked (in the widely used “Shanghai” list) in the top 100 in the world in science fell from four to three, while Iran managed to place a university in the top 100 for the first time. Iran has a staggering number of science and engineering college students – over two million, an increase of 161 percent since 2004. For the same period, the comparable number for Israel rose only 20 percent, to 107,000.”
The Jewish state seems to have panicked over a little success of a Muslim country even though its performance is far more impressive than that of Iran. According to some reports the Zionist state is the world’s fifth most innovative nation, other reports put it at 10th. No Muslim country features in such reports. According to a report in Haaretz, in 1991 Israel ranked number one for publishing the highest per capita number of scientific studies, by 2011 it had dropped to number 13. This clearly shows that the Jewish state is not afraid of the several hundred thousands of seminaries spreading all over the Muslim world and other parts of the globe. What they fear is the advancement of Muslim countries in science and technology. Although Tehran’s education system is not as impressive as that of any advanced country, Tel Aviv still considers it a big danger.
Unfortunately though, many Muslim countries have been pumping money into various non-productive sectors, but when it comes to science and technology, their performance is very dismal. The richest country of the Islamic World – Saudi Arabia – has pumped over $100 billion into spreading Wahabi ideology. This amount could have been used to establish several world class universities. Although Tehran is performing a bit well, it too squandered huge amounts on its proxies and sectarian ideology. Other rich monarchs are so busy hunting Houbara Bustards that they do not want to waste their time wondering how to catch up with the advanced world.
Muslims residing in non-Islamic states seem to be no different either. For instance, in several parts of the UK, North America, Australia and Europe, a mushroom growth of mosques and religious seminaries was witnessed in the last four decades, but not a single scientific institute was set-up by them. Having already established thousands of mosques, Muslims in London managed to spare a large amount of money to establish Europe’s biggest mosque. This virtuous act is worth praising, but should they also not think about setting-up the continent’s largest university rivalling Oxford and Cambridge. Would it also not be virtuous of them to offer scholarships to thousands of brilliant students from poor Muslim countries and provide them with an opportunity to study at such a university, carry out research in medicine, genetics and other fields that would benefit Muslims and other nations alike? Some estimates suggest that the combined wealth of only Arab monarchs would be enough to fill every major Muslim metropolitan with world class learning centres.
It is a good thing that Pakistan already ranks among the Muslim countries that have the largest number of mosques and religious seminaries. It is indeed praiseworthy that some real-estate tycoons have built some of the largest mosques in major cities of the country. But would it not be good if such philanthropists also built world-class centres of research and technology and opened their gates for the marginalised sections of society?
What we need to understand is that our rivals, or what some people call enemies, do not fear our bellicose nature, nor are they afraid of our tall claims of establishing a global caliphate. What they are fearful of is the day when we decide to invest our energies in science and technology. So, if we really want to compete with them, this is where we need to divert our resources.

 

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