Adam Hedengren
Last updated: 9 March, 2012

What Islamic innovations might we take for granted?

David Landes, author of the bestselling The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor, wrote that “no one can understand the economic performance of Muslim nations without attending to the experience of Islam as faith and culture”.

Landes argues that since the demise of the Ottoman Empire, Islamic societies have been constantly rejecting the wealth of knowledge and capital to gain from interaction with the Western hemisphere. This tendency to “mistrust or reject new techniques and ideas that come from the enemy West” has positioned the region at a disadvantage.

However, in this interview with Mehran Kamrava of Georgetown University, we learn of a different perspective on the development and success of Islamic societies. Professor Kamrava emphasises early innovation within the Islamic world that eventually was usurped by the dominant powers of the West. Islamic science gave birth to landmark breakthroughs such as the concept of ‘zero’. Watch the interview to hear about other Islamic innovations.