Professor Salim Al-Hassani, President of the Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilisation (FSTC) and Chief Editor of “1001 Inventions: The Enduring Legacy of Muslim Civilization” and Peter Fell, Trustee of FSTC Ltd, delivered talks on the history and importance of projects such as 1001 Inventions and FSTC in Manchester and beyond. The event was part of the Manchester Histories Festival Celebration Day held on Saturday 11 June 2016 at the Manchester Town Hall.
The Chairman John Williams introduced Peter Fell. Staying true to the spirit of Manchester’s diverse past, Peter stressed the importance of how sharing a common history will help us share a common future. He also mentioned that though at first Professor Al-Hassani seemed like a lone voice in promoting the need for a balanced inclusive and sustainable education, he is now joined by academics such as Professor Jim Al-Khalili, Bettany Hughes and Professor Peter Frankopan.
Fig 1. Event Chairmain John Williams
opens the event up
Fig 2. Professsor Salim Al-Hassani,
President of FSTC
Fig 3. Peter Fell, FSTC Trustee
and Secretary of ERF
Professor Al-Hassani broached the subject of the current gap in people’s perception of diverse cultures and beliefs and the need to fill this gap. He shared his experience of the important conversations he had in 1975 with Lord Bowden about the Islamic fiscal system and how it stabilised the value of money, much like index linking. Lord Bowden recognised its power in reducing inflation and eventually published this revelation and presented it to the House of Lords. He even attempted establishing an Institute for the History of Muslim Science and Commerce jointly between UMIST and the Victoria University of Manchester. This initiative included Professors D S L Cardwell, C E Bosworth, J D Latham, P J Collard, W C Price, C H Imber, R P Lorch, S T S Al-Hassani and Dr H D Isaacs. The institute did not take off due to the demise of key members, however it ripened in to something else. After a few years and the inspiration of Professor Donald Cardwell, Professor Al-Hassani gathered a few learned scholars including Business leaders such as Peter Raymond (MD of UMIST Ventures) and launched FSTC in 1999 with the accompaniment of the Muslim Heritage website. Shortly after this website attracted as many as 50,000 page views per day.
Fig 8. Professor Salim Al-Hassani and Trevor MacFarlane, Cultural Affairs Manager at the European Parliament
In response to a huge demand for a book and educational resources, in 2006 the “1001 Inventions” project was launched comprising a touring interactive exhibition and a book. The exhibition was launched from the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI), formerly known as the Manchester Science and Industry Museum (MSIM) at the time, to major UK cities. It was sponsored by various departments of the UK Government, North West Development Agency, Wellcome Trust, University of Manchester and local and international philanthropists. This was followed by a major International version launched in the Science Museum in London with additional sponsorship from the Jameel Foundation; a UK Charity.
The accompanying film starred by Sir Ben Kinsley won numerous international awards. A world tour of the new exhibition inaugurated including major cities like New York, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Istanbul, Kuala Lumpur, Beijing, Rotterdam, Ljubljana and major Arab capitals. National Geographic published the 3rd edition of book with a foreword by HRH Prince Charles. This British project became a known international brand and an icon for inter-cultural appreciation and a means to inspire young people to seek knowledge and science.
Fig 9. (Left) Dr Anne-Marie Brennan, Chairperson of CE4tF
The session concluded with Peter Fell sharing key takeaway messages including the significance of sharing facts such as ideas, science and knowledge travelling across time and borders with the efforts of women, men and people from different ethnicities and faith backgrounds making the case for a balanced inclusive education evermore pressing. What is more, how the work of FSTC, 1001 Inventions and the Education Relief Foundation, though now global, all have Mancunian roots.
Manchester Histories is a charity that celebrates and reveals the unique histories and heritage of Greater Manchester. Manchester Histories delivers a 10-day festival, projects and events during the year that help people to learn about past histories and take part in creating tomorrow's histories.
Fig 10. (From left) Peter Fell, Afzal Khan MEP and Professor Salim Al-Hassani 2016 and below 2006 at MSIM