Islam and Astronomy: Vestiges of a fine legacy; Quotes of Aga Khan IV and Ibn Sina

From Easy Nash:

I came across 2 pictures recently from the NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day web-site taken by Iranian astro-photographers from the area around the Alborz Mountains in Iran:

This picture shows a side view of the Milky Way Galaxy as well as 2 Arabic-named stars Deneb and Altair

Above picture shows the Arabic-named yellow-tinged star Betelgeuse as well as the belt of Orion, made up of the 3 Arabic-named stars Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka

The Alborz Mountains are where the Shia Ismaili Muslims built their mountain fortress state of Alamut after the fall of the Fatimid Empire. The above pictures show the kind of views that astronomer Nasir Al-Din Tusi must have commanded of the heavens from this lofty mountain fortress.

“……The Quran tells us that signs of Allah’s Sovereignty are found in the contemplation of His Creation – in the heavens and the earth, the night and the day, the clouds and the seas, the winds and the waters….”

Aga Khan IV, Kampala, Uganda, August 22 2007

“Astronomy, the so-called “Science of the Universe” was a field of particular distinction in Islamic civilization-–in sharp contrast to the weakness of Islamic countries in the field of Space research today. In this field, as in others, intellectual leadership is never a static condition, but something which is always shifting and always dynamic”

Aga Khan IV, Convocation, American University of Cairo, Cairo, Egypt, June 15th 2006

“Our religious leadership must be acutely aware of secular trends, including those generated by this age of science and technology. Equally, our academic or secular elite must be deeply aware of Muslim history, of the scale and depth of leadership exercised by the Islamic empire of the past in all fields”

Aga Khan IV, 6th February 1970, Hyderabad, Pakistan

“My profession is to be forever journeying, to travel about the Universe so that I may know all its conditions.”

Ibn Sina, aka Avicenna, 11th century Muslim Philosopher, Physician and Scientist, author of the Canon of Medicine, circa 1037CE

Complete at the source

Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, inter and intra faith endeavors, achievements and humanitarian works.

6 thoughts

  1. To look at the majesty of the cosmos, to look at nature, is to look into the Face of the Almighty.
    Thank you for finding and sharing these pictures ,and the quotation
    from 22 August 2007, Aga Khan IV


  2. Hi Chotibehen,

    You are absolutely correct:

    “In this context, would it not also be relevant to consider how, above all, it has been the Qur’anic notion of the universe as an expression of Allah’s will and creation that has inspired, in diverse Muslim communities, generations of artists, scientists and philosophers? Scientific pursuits, philosophic inquiry and artistic endeavour are all seen as the response of the faithful to the recurring call of the Qur’an to ponder the creation as a way to understand Allah’s benevolent majesty. As Sura al-Baqara proclaims: ‘Wherever you turn, there is the face of Allah’.The famous verse of ‘light’ in the Qur’an, the Ayat al-Nur, whose first line is rendered here in the mural behind me, inspires among Muslims a reflection on the sacred, the transcendent. It hints at a cosmos full of signs and symbols that evoke the perfection of Allah’s creation and mercy”(Aga Khan IV, IIS Quran Symposium, October 19th 2003, London, U.K.)


  3. Or how about this excerpt:

    “Islam is fundamentally in its very nature a natural religion. Throughout the Quran God’s signs (Ayats) are referred to as the natural phenomenon, the law and order of the universe, the exactitudes and consequences of the relations between natural phenomenon in cause and effect. Over and over, the stars, sun, moon, earthquakes, fruits of the earth and trees are mentioned as the signs of divine power, divine law and divine order. Even in the Ayeh of Noor, divine is referred to as the natural phenomenon of light and even references are made to the fruit of the earth. During the great period of Islam, Muslims did not forget these principles of their religion”(Aga Khan III, April 4th 1952, Karachi, Pakistan)


  4. Thank you, so very much, Easy Nash, for taking the trouble to
    find these excerpts. How poetically, H.H.Aga Khan IV & H.H.Aga Khan IV have expressed themselves.
    It is the spiritual heart that truly understands and “sees”.
    Looking at the pictures you shared with us, the line from the poem
    by Emily Bronte, came to mind:
    “I see Heaven’s glories shine,a and Faith shines equal, arming me
    from fear”.


  5. Hi Chotibehen,
    That fine quote by Emily Bronte shows the universality among all religious traditions of the link between the material universe and its Maker.

    I should mention that my quote of the day on my Facebook profile is:
    “To look at the majesty of the cosmos, to look at nature, is to look into the Face of the Almighty”(Chotibehen, May 7th 2008).

    The above 2 quotes I provided along with the 4 quotes in the actual article itself all come from a pool of excerpts by Aga Khan IV, Aga Khan III and others on the subjects of knowledge, intellect, creation, science and religion I put together here in case you’re interested:


  6. The existence of a supreme being or a creator, cannot be proved neither disproved.
    The people slogging and sweating to discover the unknow mystries of the universe, maybe billions of them, are the cosmologists, physicists, and other scientists. Credit goes to these genuises


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