Hossein Khedmat, Ebrahim Adham-Maleki


Investment for Naught? On The Relevance of Motives in Promoting Research and Science in the Muslim World

During the recent decades, the volume of scientific publications from developing nations has been dramatically increased, and Iran was among those with rising rate [1]. Nonetheless, the policies which are employed to direct scientific endeavors should be highly regarded in order to facilitate the process; unless wrong or inconsistent policies have the potential to simply burn the achievements and divert the direction to a final collapse.

Recently in the media, you can overwhelmingly hear that they talk about making wealth from science as incentive to promote scientific productions as a business. Although there are some positive prospects in this approach, we believe that this won’t work perfect for long. The problem with this approach is that those who come into research through this motive are highly likely to end in either of this results: To try to find some safe markets to make easy money for a unique or a limited number of products which will be an end to innovations and dedication of the nation’s resources for luxuries; or to leave the country to fulfill their purpose more perfectly in another country after making some initial advancements. Scientific promotion is a process that necessitates constant and never ending efforts. A scientific product (e.g. a medical agent) which is now the best, will highly probable to loss its value just within less than a decade. The speed of promotion needed to stay in competition is such high which will not be served unless a high level of self-sacrifice is made. Scientific institutions should make large amounts of investments in a way that doesn’t warrant a success. And all this will not be prepared by those whose major motive in this regard was financial matters. 

Another serious issue comes out when one considers people with the highest level of enthusiasm in wealth can make it most perfectly in a country that is not only substantially more wealthy than their origin’s but also is developed in more dimensions which will promise higher quality of life, and more felling of safety for future. The importance of this issue will be more prominently illuminated when we see that even well developed countries like Britain and Germany are worry about the high rates of brain drain from their countries [2]. So, if a nation promotes personal wealth as a motive for scientific progression, they probably are advertising for the countries which can better fulfill this idea. On the other hand, we believe that it is also in contrast with national unity. How we may expect from the armed forces or fire-brigades to make self-sacrifice for the sake of the nation while those who use the highest levels of resources of the country could simply follow own advantages, as the only motive. 

Doing research for scientific promotion as a principle, serves as another motive in putting scientific policies for developing nations. However, due to the lack infra-structure and even more importantly, the lack of tolerance towards it, the practice would be in serious obstacles in this regard. In the developing world, it is highly likely that scientific issues are considered as suspicious endeavors with non-trustable motives. “What the guy wants from such a hard and self-sacrificing job here? To get famous and then what? To make his own gang?!” This might be in the background view of several of the authorities in these countries where rival groups were always more likely to try to physically eradicate each other, rather than compete on the principle of morality and fairness; the only things they need for advancement in any matter. In the history of this country, we can see this as a very effective barrier to scientific endeavors for a long time. In the Persian Empires before Islam, education was thoroughly banned for ordinary people in most of the times, and it was exclusively for the ruling families. Although at that times, the emperors were seemed to be very tolerant to the people’s wealth, but even literacy for the general population could not be tolerated. There is a story about Khosro, A Persian emperor who had defeated the Roman Army in a war and then ran out of financial resources; so he tried to make it through assistance from the rich, when he met a shoemaker with a colossal deal of financial resources which could bring the army out of its problem alone; while the shoemaker’s only wish for granting all his wealth was to let his son to get education. Nonetheless, Khosro refused to accept the compromise, and preferred to loss his political advances rather than to let an ordinary person to break the rules of the royalty (The story has also been stated in the Shahnameh, The Epic of Kings of Persia). So, we believe that this may best serve as an explanation for the fact that despite the long history of this nation in the pre-Islam era, as the greatest and wealthiest empire, there are extremely rare instances of scientific breakthrough in such a large and populated area, while the advancements in quite smaller countries like Egypt or just cities like Babylon or Athens were substantially higher. On the other hand, considering post-Islam royal dynasties like Samanid dynasty in Persia (and some other dynasties in the other parts of the Muslim world) that had high levels of tolerance in political and religious matters, the best conditions needed for scientific promotions constituted the bases needed for the development of the main part of what is now called the Islamic Civilization [3]. While the skepticism and hardship of quite more powerful and wealthier dynasties like the Ottomans as well as the Safavids, we believe played a key role in turning off the civilization progress [4].

In conclusion, we propose that for scientific promotion, the developing world especially Muslim Nations should promote the principles of tolerance in their countries as well as fair competition to make the science as an inevitable part of their nations’ lives, and also as an obligation of the scientific society in regard of national and international unity upon the principles of fair competition for moral purposes, rather than seeing it as a threat or a luxury matter.



1. Kharabaf S, Abdollahi M. Science growth in Iran over the past 35 years. J Res Med Sci. 2012 Mar;17(3):275-9. PubMed PMID: 23267381; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3527047.

2. Saint-Paul G. The brain drain: Some evidence from European expatriates in the United States. Institute for the Study of Labor. 2004. IZA Discussion Paper No. 1310.

3. URL < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samanid_Empire > Latest accessed on 2015-02-06.

4. URL < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mulla_Sadra > Latest accessed on 2015-02-06.

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