Many Muslim intellectuals of the era identified precisely Europe’s scientific and technological superiority as the main reason for its supremacy. This conviction helped to fuel that sense of inadequacy that some have called the “catching up syndrome” i.e. the desire to get onto an equal footing with the West by taking possession of its forms of knowledge and technology. Taking possession of foreign forms of knowledge and institutions nevertheless pre-supposed some advance reflection on the nature of the acquisitions to be assimilated and whether they were in accordance with Islam. Indeed, not everyone viewed their adoption positively: there were those who maintained the need for it, without reservation; those who viewed modern science with diffidence on account of its Western origins and still others who abhorred it, considering it a source of Islam’s corruption. In fact, it was a question of establishing whether the European sciences were imbued with the values of their society of origin and were therefore exclusively the heritage of their culture or whether, conversely, they had a universal validity and could be imported without threatening Islam’s integrity.
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