Following are excerpts from a Friday sermon delivered by Saudi Shiite scholar Sheik Hassan Al-Saffar, which aired on Al-Salam TV on January 14, 2008:
Sheik Hassan Al-Saffar: The progress of the Westerners has benefited from our Islamic culture. While we have regressed and abandoned those accomplishments, they have made progress and developed. It is very sad that the Muslims are backward in the field of [sciences]. The reality of the nation today is not what it should be. All the progress in natural sciences, in cosmology, and in life sciences takes place in their societies, while we are marginal and play no role in the production of knowledge.
Rather than being the leaders of the pack, we hesitate even to accept scientific accomplishments. Thus, whenever there is a new scientific development, we resist it. We fear it, and are hesitant and wary about accepting it. It is told that when phones first reached Egypt – back when it was not wireless, and there were phone lines – a zealous Islamist got angry and was very pessimistic about it. He said that phones were means of corruption and perversion. He composed a poem about it: "Lost is Islam and lost is the world, if phone lines are used to convey words." In other words, the religion of Islam is done for. The same thing happened when the railway was introduced, and people began to travel by train. Again he got up all worked up: "Oh people – why do you forsake the donkeys of Allah, and ride the donkeys of Satan?" Look how things have turned upside down. In the past, we were the pioneers of science, discovery, and knowledge. Now, others produce knowledge, and we are incapable of even understanding it.