The destruction of environment by modern technology is seen as one of the most serious threats faced by humanity. Modern technologies have also replaced traditional methods of making objects of daily use. This replacement has serious consequences for the spiritual health of humanity. In discussing the impact of modern technology on the Muslim world, suggestions are made to preserve various aspects of Islamic civilization.

Keywords: Modern technology and its impact; Muslim world and modern technology; aspects of Islamic civilization; role of machine-made objects in the destruction of natural balances; traditional crafts and their spiritual significance; Islamic urban design; modern technology and Islamic civilization.

In this article, modern technology refers to technologies which have been developed during and after the Industrial Revolution mostly in the West and which have now spread all over the world. There are two very different dimensions to this discussion: one pertains to the actual situation that exists in the world, that is, what is going on now; the other pertains to the question of what we believe should go on as far as the Muslim world is concerned. Let me give an example. There is no government in the Muslim world today which does not support any form of technology that brings with it either power or wealth. No one resists any form of technology that is believed to bring certain conveniences, like the cell phone which has spread like wildfire all over the world, and which has many detrimental effects upon the brain, as many studies are showing, though most people usually do not care too much about such negative factors--at least for now.

So, at that level, discussing the relationship between Muslims and modern technology is not efficacious in the sense that whatever form of technology comes on the market--and it is usually from the West, and occasionally from the Japanese and a few other peoples who invent new things--if these new technologies are perceived to bring wealth, power, or conveniences, they spread very rapidly among Muslims as elsewhere and it is no use talking to them about the danger of their spread with the hope of having any positive influence.

But there are other questions which can be discussed, for instance, the destruction of the environment which modern technology is causing. Then there is the dimension of this issue concerning what should take place. What should be the Muslims' attitude toward modern technology whose negative effects are obvious? It is about this dimension that I wish to say something and this is where the deepest issues lie. Otherwise, if we go on debating whether this particular country, or that particular country, has or is going to have or should have knowledge of nuclear engineering or certain types of lasers or this or that, this I think is a wasteful effort at the present moment, because we, who are supposed to be the intellectual figures of the Islamic world, who are supposed to clarify these issues, cannot do much at the level of action by Muslim governments and companies in relation to technology. There is, however, something very important that we can do and that is to create an understanding for the future as far as these issues are concerned. We are responsible for creating an awareness of what is really involved for Muslims when it comes to the adoption of modern technology. And in this domain, in fact, a number of people in the West have a much greater awareness of the dangers of technology than do people in Asia or Africa, who are on the receiving end of modern technology, and this itself is one of the major issues that should be discussed.

In light of this, I think we should turn to the issue of what the problems are which modern technology poses for Muslims, not only as ordinary human beings, but more specifically as people who belong to the Islamic religion and are rooted in the Islamic worldview; then to try and analyze these problems, and in light of that, to discuss what can be done, if anything, and what Muslims should do.

First of all, it is important to define terms. The word technology comes, of course, from the Greek word techne which means "to make" and is related to the word for art, which comes from the Latin word ars, also meaning to make, and both are related to the word san'at in Persian, or the word sina'ah in Arabic which we still use in these languages for both technology and art. Quite interestingly, the division has not yet come about for us, as it has in the West, where art is one thing and technology another, despite the fact that there are some modern sculptors who go to junkyards and put various parts of cars together and call it art. That is a minor matter.

What we have in the modern world is a situation in which technology in the modern sense is the source of most of the objects that surround human life, whereas, before the Industrial Revolution, when things were made by hand, the products of arts and crafts surrounded man's life. This is very important to understand. There is a qualitative difference, although the root of the word "technology" goes back to a Greek word with a very different meaning.

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