From a manuscript of al-Rudani’s astronomical work, Maqāṣid al-‘awālī from the Hamziyya lodge.

Project (2020-2021)

The Natural Sciences in Early Modern Morocco

What was the social status of the natural sciences in the Arab Muslim world in the early modern period? The conventional historical narrative posits an intellectual stasis and decline in much of Islamdom in the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries. Using legal, biographical, historical, theological and mystical writings of the early modern period, this project investigates the degree to which the natural sciences represented an authoritative discourse within Muslim society. To frame my findings and to be able to provide them with a rich and detailed historical context, I focus on a geographical area well known to me through previous research, Muslim North Africa. By establishing a new narrative of the interaction between religious scholars and natural science, and by carefully describing the breadth and nature of the natural sciences studied and transmitted by Moroccan scholars, this project aims to provide insights to students of the history of Islam, the history of science, and the ways in which scientific practices are constructed socially in non-European communities.