Islam and Science: The Intellectual Career of Nizam al-Din al-Nisaburi, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Islam and Science

The Intellectual Career of Nizam al-Din al-Nisaburi, 1st Edition

By Robert Morrison


312 pages | 16 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9780415663991
pub: 2011-12-02
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In examining the work of eminent fourteenth century Iranian Shiite scholar Nizam al-Din al-Nisaburi, this book is the first rigorous attempt to explain the cross-fertilization of scientific and religious thought in Islamic civilization. Nisaburi did not consider himself a scientist alone, being commissioned by his patrons to work in a variety of fields. Islam and Science examines in detail the relationship between the metaphysics of Nisaburi's science, and statements he made in his Qur'an commentary and in other non-scientific writings.

Sources suggest that Nisaburi was inspired to begin his scientific career by the inclusion of basic science in a religious (madrasa) education. By mid-career, he had found methodological similarities between theoretical astronomy and Islamic jurisprudence. Morrison concludes that while Nisaburi believed science could give one a taste of God's knowledge, he realised that the study of science and natural philosophy alone could not lead him to a spiritual union with God. Only Sufi practice and Sufi theory could accomplish that.

Morrison's work is remarkable in synthesizing the history of Islamic science with other areas of Islamic studies. It will be of interest to students and scholars of religion and the history of science, as well as readers with a more general interest in Middle Eastern studies.

Winner of the Iranian World Prize for Book of the Year in Islamics Studies 2009


'Islam and Science, is the first important study of the works of Nizam al-Din al-A'raj al-Nisaburi (1270-1330), an Iranian polymath born in Nishapur to a Shi'i family.]…[Morrisson's book is most interesting and should attract the attention of all scholars interested in Islamic thought. To the best of my knowledge, it is the first serious appraoch to the historical interactions between science and Islam.]…[The book can be read without too much knowledge of the technical astronomy. The volume is well presented with a complete chronology of al-Nisaburi's works. ' - Julio Samso, International Journal of Middle East Studies. 42 (2010)

Table of Contents



Chapter One (Reconstructing Nisaburi’s Early Education)

Chapter Two (Nisaburi’s Early Scientific Thought),

Chapter Three (Nisaburi’s Early Religious Thought),

Chapter Four (Astrology Motivating Inductions About God’s Power),

Chapter Five (Nisaburi’s Later Scientific Thought),

Chapter Six (The Impact of Science on Nisaburi’s Religious Thought),

Chapter Seven (The Limits of Science’s Influence on Nisaburi’s Religious Thought),


Appendix A (Dating Nisaburi’s Texts),

Appendix B (Nisaburi’s Observational Astronomy),

Appendix C (Nisaburi’s Theoretical Astronomy),

About the Author

Robert Morrison is Assistant Professor of Religion at Whitman College, USA

About the Series

Culture and Civilization in the Middle East

This series studies the Middle East through the twin foci of its diverse cultures and civilizations. Comprising original monographs as well as scholarly surveys, it covers topics in the fields of Middle Eastern literature, archaeology, law, history, philosophy, science, folklore, art, architecture and language. While there is a plurality of views, the series presents serious scholarship in a lucid and stimulating fashion.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Middle East / General
RELIGION / Islam / General
SCIENCE / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies