MUSLIMS were considered highly progressive in science and technology till the 14th and 15th centuries. They had gained enviable prominence in several branches of science, especially medicine, chemistry, optics, mathematics, astronomy, philosophy, etc. During their prime period, Muslim scientists made several breakthroughs which are still referred to by the most developed countries as a part of scientific history. This extraordinary progress made by Muslims of the past, as well as their decline, was based respectively on rational scientific policies followed by religious orthodoxy and irrational approach.

As we know, scientific research is a continuous process. Once broken, the gap has to be necessarily filled before we start it again! Unfortunately we cannot fill this big gap of scientific neglect unless science and technology is given its due priority at the highest level, with sound planning and a long-term science policy.

In the present set-up, unfortunately, this seems no more than a wishful dream. Since more than 300 years have passed that we have been sleeping on science, it is becoming harder and harder to catch up with the progress made by developed countries.

It would be worthwhile to mention that Europe had also passed through religious orthodoxy, intolerance and irrationalism under the influence of popes and cardinals of that time, but they corrected their policy through rationalism in favour of science.

Consequently, they started making speedy scientific and technological progress from the middle of the 18th century to benefit the world. It is time Muslim countries realised that they have also to change with time and make the most needed scientific and technological progress, at least for their own survival if not for anything else.

In case we are not considering it now, it would be too late and, perhaps, we would not be able to struggle in the future world of high-tech.

Finally, it is requested to all, especially the progressive young students and the government, to change the present priorities in favour of science and technology for a better future.

DR S. IFTIKHAR AHMED Karachi