Islamic civilization came into being due to the scientific movement that started from the very first day of Islam. Less than two centuries had passed since the advent of Islam when the scientific Islamic movement started. It is important to consider this movement in its original setting. In order to see that movement in a modern light, you have to visualize the scientific poles of the modern world in contrast with a nation in a corner of the world which has not heard of any form of civilization. Such a backward country starts to build a civilization and overtakes all other civilizations in 100 to 150 years. That was a miraculous movement. It is extremely hard to imagine such a thing. That would have been impossible if it had not been for the fact that Islam was thirsty for knowledge, acquisition and teaching of knowledge, and a scholarly lifestyle.
Islamic civilization got its essence from within itself. Of course a thriving civilization has to borrow from other civilizations. They applied their knowledge, discovered the most impenetrable secrets of the material world, utilized ideas, carried out great scientific activities, founded universities on a global scale, and created tens of wealthy and powerful countries as well as a political power that was unique in the history of mankind. The question is: How did all of these become possible? There was no power in history, except the political power of Islam, which extended from the heart of Europe to the heart of the Indian subcontinent. No power could ever rule over such a vast stretch of land for a sustained period of time. The Middle Ages in Europe was a period of ignorance and adversity for Europeans, who refer to it as the "Dark Ages". The Dark Ages in Europe coincided with a period of scientific brilliance in Muslim countries, including Iran. That political and scientific power, material glory, statesmanship, and utilization of all constructive and thriving human powers were all due to Islamic teachings.
The fourth century of the Hijri calendar was the peak of blossoming for Islamic civilization. The fourth century of the Hijri calendar – that is, the eleventh century AD when ignorance was at its peak in Europe – was the peak of Islamic blossoming in Iran. All scientists, except for a very limited number of them, were almost exclusively from Iran. Westerners got their knowledge from the east and from Iran. Most of the fields that are currently studied throughout the world were originally established by Iranians. The Renaissance in Europe had its roots in the translations of the works that had been produced in Islamic countries. That was while religion was much more influential in Iran than in Europe. Therefore, we can conclude that religion is not an obstacle in the way of science. But there is something that can pose serious obstacles to science: Different kinds of public ignorance and the Christian superstitions of the time. Not even a single scholar was ever insulted for his knowledge in the Islamic era. That was while in Europe several people were killed, stoned, hanged, or burnt to death for the simple fact that they knew something. What had happened in Europe – due to superstitious religious beliefs mixed with extreme versions of distorted Christianity – was generalized to the entire world. Now what is Islam to be blamed for? What is the fault of Muslims and Muslim nations?
Although Islam was a moral and spiritual movement, scientific and economic progress is one of the goals of Islam. More than fifty percent of the world’s civilizations were then ruled by Islam – only fifty years after its advent. During the first two centuries, the great Islamic world turned into the peak of human civilization in terms of science, different types of knowledge, and social and economic progress. That would have been impossible if it had not been for the sake of Islamic teachings which paid attention to spirituality as well as material progress.
The materialistic western civilization directs all people to materialism. Money, gluttony, and lust have turned into the greatest concerns. In major parts of the modern world, sincerity, forgiveness, and selflessness have been replaced with dishonesty, greed, stinginess, jealousy, and other vices. Today the reason that the advanced knowledge and super modern civilization of the west is not capable of delivering mankind is that their civilization is not accompanied by human values. Wherever there is knowledge, but human conscience, spirituality, morality, and emotions are absent, mankind will not be able to benefit from that knowledge. Knowledge in the absence of spirituality and morality would turn into an atomic bomb and take the lives of innocent people. This type of knowledge was used to manufacture weapons and kill civilians in Lebanon, occupied Palestinian lands, and other parts of the world. This type of knowledge produced lethal chemical weapons which were used in Halabcheh and other parts of the world to kill women, children, and young men and to destroy human beings and animals alike.
In our Islamic civilization and our sacred government which aspires to that civilization, we have set ourselves the goal of acquiring knowledge along with spirituality. That is why the western world is sensitive to our adherence to spirituality. That is why they have labeled our religious faith as bias. That is why they are claiming that our tendency towards moral principles and human values is opposed to human rights. We must benefit from the practical and theoretical outcomes and successful experiences of other people, but at the same time we must sow the seeds of our material and spiritual progress in order to achieve indigenous solutions to our problems. And we must take care of these seeds until they germinate. We must not seek to emulate other people.