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Last Updated: 2014/11/06
Summary of question
Why didn’t the prophets and imams leave any works behind as inventors and scientists did so that they could be prouder? Do Shiites have scholarly or scientific achievements to be proud of ?
question
A: Why didn’t the prophets and imams leave any works behind as inventors and scientists did so that they could be prouder? B: Why don’t Shiites have any scholarly achievements or any superiority over other religions which have made tremendous progress? Is it because of some misinformation?
Concise answer
Religion is not bound to create material means for man’s life. This is a duty of human beings themselves to use their mind and faculty of reason to create such things. Basically, it is wrong to expect the religion to create such means or tools to be used by people to live comfortable lives. Therefore, we cannot expect the prophets and imams to create and invent what has been created and made available by inventors and scientists.
However, when it comes to the accomplishments and achievements made by Muslims, it must be said that Muslims formed a civilization in which great scholars contributed to different branches of sciences such as philosophy theology, astrology, mathematics, poetry etc.  Shiites’ role therein has also been very profound and significant. In philosophy, we can name scholars like Bu Ali Sina (Avicenna) and Farabi who were Shiites. These two scholars had profound impacts on the philosophical thinking in the West so much so that Avicenna’s books used to be taught until the seventeenth century in Western universities.  In astrology also, Muslim scholars in general and Shiite scholars in particular, introduced many a number of theories. As well, Muslims laid the groundwork for many great and highly important methods for utilizing the human intellect in defense of the religion which is called ‘theology’.
Also, Islam, especially Shi’ism is among very few religions that stress profusely on using and benefiting from the intellect. It has encouraged its followers a lot to learn and acquire various sciences.  There are many instructions in Muslims’ religious texts in general and Shiite sources in particular encouraging Muslims to acquire knowledge of diverse sciences.
 
Detailed Answer
A) Religion is not bound to create material means for human life. This is a duty of the human beings themselves to use their minds and faculty of reason to create such things. Basically, it is out of place to expect the religion to create such means or tools to be used by people to live comfortable lives because the religion is not responsible to undertake manufacturing things such as electricity, cars, machines, etc. rather, religion has a major role to play in living a proper and correct spiritual life so that human beings may be able to achieve permanent salvation and success.
This discussion has something to do with “man’s expectations from religion” which is necessary to be explained with some details.[1] Man’s common expectation from the religion is to achieve eternal bliss through the ways designated and shown to us by Allah, the Exalted. Thus, the essentials to achieve this objective must be provided by the religion itself.  However, the material means which are very crucial to man’s life in this world and without which his life would be paralyzed, are meant for this material world and there is no need for them to achieve eternal bliss and felicity.
It is worth mentioning that fame and reputation does not give any credit to the thing or person who is famous. For example, if a sportsman is more famous among people than a scholar, you cannot claim that he is more valuable too because people, nowadays, give more importance to things which are less important and less worthy than those which are unknown. Now, if a globally known inventor, has served humanity through his invention and has achieved worldwide reputation, that is not a sign of him being more credible and more respectable than prophets and righteous people. In short, reputation is not something with which someone’s value and credibility may be measured.
B) Today, researches have been conducted about Shiites achievements and their impacts in various scientific arenas which we will touch on here briefly.
Most of Muslims’ achievements date back to the time when they built up a civilization which survived for several centuries.  Islam was the only religion which could lay the foundation of a great and profound civilization which greatly contributed to production of sciences and creation of skills and even served as a prelude to subsequent civilizations. Muslims formed a civilization in which great scholars contributed to different branches of sciences such as philosophy theology, astrology, mathematics, poetry etc.  Shiites’ role therein has also been very profound and significant. In philosophy, we can name scholars like Bu Ali Sina (Avicenna) and Farabi who were Shiites. These two scholars had profound impacts on the philosophical thinking in the West so much so that Avicenna’s books used to be taught until the seventeenth century in Western universities.  In astrology also, Muslim scholars in general and Shiite scholars in particular, introduced many a number of theories. As well, Muslims laid the foundation of many great and highly important methods for utilizing the human intellect in defense of the religion which is called ‘theology’.  Theological groups which included both Mu’atazilites and Shiites left a profound influence on the scholars of other religions.[2]
Finally, no mundane science depends entirely on a specific religion and such scientists and scholars emerged from various religions. No religion proves itself by way of the scholars subscribing to that religion or through their inventions. Nonetheless, Muslim scholars in general and Shiite scholars in particular had an undeniable role in the formation of modern sciences.[3] It goes without saying that this scientific competence and the influences of Muslim scholars of the then time on the followers of other faiths have been treated with unkindness and have very little been the subject of attention. There are some researchers who only in the last few years have embarked on conducting research into these subjects.
Finally, it should be said that Islam, especially Shi’ism is among very few religions that stresses profusely on using and benefiting from the intellect. It has encouraged its followers a lot to learn and acquire various sciences. In Shi’ism, the knowledgeable people enjoy a very high status and it shows that Islam and Shi’ism have what a religion needs to promote knowledge. Today, if very little is done, it is largely because of Muslims and Shiites, not Islam and Shi’ism.
 

[1]  For further information in this regard, vide: Ahmadi, Muhammad Amin, “Man’s Expectations from Religion”, Islamic Culture and Sciences Research Institute, Qom, 1384 (2005).
[2] For further information in this regard, vide: Rezapour, Muhammad Mahdi, Mu’atazilah’s Intellectual Influence on Jewish Theologians in the Tenth Century, MA Thesis, The University of Religions and Denominations, Qom, 1390.
[3] [3]  For further information in this regard, vide: Vilayati, Ali Akbar, The Role of Shia in Iran’s and Islam’s Culture and Civilization, Amir Kabir Publications, Tehran, 1389 (2010).
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