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British Science Association honours Muslim Heritage pioneer
24 Sep 2009
A leading British engineer has been granted a Fellowship of the British Science Association for his work to promote the scientific and technological achievements within Muslim cultures.
Salim Al-Hassani, who is emeritus professor of Mechanical Engineering and currently a professorial fellow in the School of Languages, Linguistics and Cultures, University of Manchester.
He has spent the last two decades debunking the myth of ‘The Dark Ages’ by raising awareness of the scientific achievements that took place in India, China, Muslim Spain and the Middle East between the 7th and 17th centuries.
Every year the BSA bestows Honorary Fellowship upon individuals who have ‘promoted openness about science in society’ and ‘engaged and inspired adults and young people with science and technology’.
Prof Al-Hassani is best known as Chief Editor of the book ‘1001 Inventions: Muslim Heritage in Our World’, which highlights the cultural origins of inventions we take for granted and use in our homes, schools, hospitals, towns and markets as well as our knowledge of the world.
Such roots uncover a thousand years of scientific and technical achievements that are currently under-recognised in schools’ textbooks. The Professor recently announced plans to distribute 3,000 copies of the book to UK schools free of charge.
Professor Al-Hassani: “It is a great honour to be recognised by the British Science Association as an Honorary Fellow. Science crosses all cultural and religious boundaries and researching the roots of modern science has highlighted to me the great debt we all owe to people of many creeds and colours.
“How true was Isaac Newton when he remarked that if he had seen more than others it was because he was standing on the shoulders of giants. I’m grateful for the opportunity to bring this message to the public, and humbled that the BSA has recognised my work in this way”.
“The period between the 7th and 17th centuries, that has been erroneously labeled ‘The Dark Ages’ was in fact a time of exceptional scientific and cultural advancement in China, India, the Arab world and Southern Europe. This is the period in history that gave us the first manned flight, huge advances in engineering, the development of robotics and the foundations of modern mathematics, chemistry and physics”.
Lord May, President of the Association, said: “Honorary Fellowship of the British Science Association is a distinguished honour, conferred to date on just 81 people.
“Professor Al-Hassani’s interest in the history of science and technology, and specifically within Muslim cultures, has earned him a worldwide reputation. He was instrumental in the development of the ‘1001 Inventions’ Exhibition and educational materials about the contributions of scientists and technologists working within Muslim cultures.”
The awarding ceremony also conferred the same honour to BBC TV presenter Adam Hart-Davis and writer Bill Bryson – both of whom have worked to bring science to life for a large public audience – and to other celebrated scientists such as Sir David King, the Chief Scientist to Her Majesty’s government.