Austin Dacey points out an interesting document.
In 2006, ISESCO [the Islamic Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization] published a Guide for the Incorporation of Reproductive Health and Gender Concepts into Islamic Education Curricula, obviously a critically important subject area where some scientific facts are in order. The Guide, which can be found on ISESCO’s Web site, is addressed to curriculum developers, textbook writers, and those responsible for training instructors in formal Islamic education for students aged six to nineteen. Its introduction stresses the need “to supply, at the proper time, adolescents with appropriate health information on the biological aspects within the framework of Islamic rulings and values” and emphasizes “the fact that Sharia, whether in its original or interpretative sources, is the only source for establishing, interpreting, clarifying, and incorporating reproductive health issues, including adolescent health, in the programs of formal education.”
There’s a lot that could be said about that, but one thing in particular is quite important. Defenders of Islamism and Islam and Sharia often like to rebuke critics of same by saying that Islam and Sharia cannot be essentialized because they are not just one thing – they are rather, in some versions of this rebuke, the practices and/or beliefs of all Muslims – which in effect means they are everything and nothing, because there is no way to know what that would be, or what it would not be either.
At any rate, the rebuke and the claim are wrong, as shown by documents like this. ISESCO is an official body of some sort, and ISESCO decidedly assumes there is such a thing as Sharia, ‘whether in its original or interpretative sources.’ It assumes there is such a thing as Sharia, and then having assumed that, it assumes that everything has to be in compliance with it, and then having assumed that, it goes ahead and lays down the law about how to do that. So it’s really somewhat futile for outsiders to claim that Sharia isn’t so bad really because it isn’t any one thing, let a hundred flowers bloom, so…well so there’s just no problem, that’s all. In the real world, official bodies maintain that Sharia is one thing, ‘whether in its original or interpretative sources,’ and that all other things have to do what it says. There is a problem.
In this Guide, as in numerous other documents, ISESCO is only doing its job. Rather than seeking Muslim integration with the global research and academic communities, its stated mission is to advance science “within the framework of the civilizational reference of the Islamic world and in the light of the human Islamic values and ideals.” In this case, ISESCO does not even do students the service of setting forth the relevant empirical evidence for the purpose of beating it senseless with religious precepts.
An organization for Islamic Science is an organization for a contradiction in terms.