Methodological Approaches to the History of Science in Islam


Intellectual works produced throughout Islamic history has been a “subject of research” over the last two centuries, during which a considerable number of researchers have made a remarkable effort to discover, understand and interpret sciences in Islam, and to reflect on what they mean in the modern world. In spite of their extraordinary effort, there is still a lot to uncover details regarding scientists and their works, scientific theories, networks of knowledge and scholars, contexts within which science was performed, and its influence on scientific experiences in other cultures. Likewise, one can also observe how insufficient the methodologies that are already used in the field are, especially when it comes to the question of how sciences should be studied both holistically and in their own contexts.. What kind of methodological tools should be used for a better understanding of the history of sciences in Islam, which is situated at the intersection of a complex network of relations between science, history, religion, philosophy, society, politics and language, and how and to what extent the methodological perspectives adopted in various disciplines can be used are two significant questions in the field.

Prof. Dr. Fuat Sezgin Research Foundation for the History of Science in Islam, Istanbul University and Fatih Sultan Mehmet Vakif University are collaboratively organizing the Second International Prof. Dr. Fuat Sezgin Symposium on the History of Science in Islam, which will be held in October 7-9, 2021 in Istanbul, in order to commemorate Prof. Dr. Fuat Sezgin and to stress the importance of his admirable and inspiring scholarship for future generations. The symposium aims to discuss methodological issues. The following (but not limited to) questions are expected to be addressed:

  • How connected are (and should be) studies on the history of sciences in Islam with the historiographical and methodological currents in the history of science field?
  • How can the history of sciences in Islam be periodized? Is it possible to propose periodizations that would address all of the sciences that flourished in Islamic history? Or, should each science have its own periodization?
  • Are there methods specific to the investigation of the period after the 13th century, which is commonly named as the “post-classical period”?
  • Does the declinist paradigm still matter to study the history of sciences in Islam?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of the “content-oriented” and “context-oriented” approaches to scientific texts?
  • How should one deal with exchanges of knowledge between Islamic and other cultures?
  • How should one establish a balance between “continuity” and “originality” when writing histories of scientific theories?
  • To what extent perspectives offered by the global historical studies can be adopted to understand the history of sciences in Islam?
  • Which methods and approaches should be used in teaching the general history of science and the history of sciences in Islam as part of it at different levels of education?

Important Dates

Deadline for abstracts: March 30, 2021

Announcement of accepted papers: April 15, 2021

Symposium dates: October 7-9, 2021

Language of Papers and Presentations

Papers and presentations might be prepared in Turkish, Arabic, and English. Simultaneous translation across these languages will be available during the symposium.


The course of the global pandemic will be observed, and if conditions at the time of the symposium are appropriate for a physical event, it will be held in Istanbul. Otherwise, it will take place virtually.

Transportation and Accommodation

Transportation and accommodation expenses of the accepted applicants will be covered.

To apply to the symposium click here.