Islamic Voice
Zul Hijja / Muharram 1422 H
March 2002
Volume 15-03 No:183

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Quran and Science


Islam Opened Doors for Liberal Research
Look Within Self


Islam Opened Doors for Liberal Research

It becomes essential on the part of the Muslim intellectuals to detach themselves from the ancient Greek ideologies and develop a rapport with the modern experimental sciences, if at all they wish to share the responsibility of the vicegerency of the earth.

By Moulana Mohammed Shihabuddin Nadvi

The seventh century AD could well be regarded as a great and revolutionary era in the realm of human thought, for it was Islam that extended the queer invitation to the mankind to reflect upon the universe and urged them to arrive at factual and concrete results through experimentation and observation. Although this invitation was basically to assert the existence and unity of God and to prove the efficiency of the system of sustenance of the world, its logical consequence was the development of natural sciences as well as the progress of civilisation and culture.

Consequently, within a span of a couple of centuries, the Muslims, according to the Quranic design, assimilated the intellectual wealth of the world and brought it into agreement with their own civilisation and culture, giving rise to an altogether new culture. The outstanding feature of the patronage to the intellectual and scientific research by the Muslims was the fact that even the purely religious circles never took these researches as antagonistic to religion. This situation prevailed in the Islamic world for centuries. The philosophers and the scientists worked in the field of researches, discoveries and inventions, while a section of the religious scholars was engaged in solving the intellectual and ideological problems that arose in the wake of the new sciences. If the former category included such researchers and pioneer scientists like Jabir Bin Hayyan, Abu Nasr Farabi, Al-Kindi, Thabit Bin Qurrah, Abu Hanifa Deenuri, Muhammed Bin Zakariya Razi (Rhazes), Ibne Sina (Avicenna), Ibrahim Bin Sinaan, Hunain Bin Ishaq (Joannitius), Abu Raihan Al-Biruni, and Abdullah Bin Ahmed Bin Al-Baitar, the latter included such broad-minded Ulama and ideologues as Imam Abul Hasan Ash’ari, Imam Abu Mansur Maturidi, Imam Ghazzali (Al-Ghazali), Imam Razi, Imam Ibne-Taimiah and Imam Ibne Qayyim. Accordingly, these Imams resolved the issues affecting the eternity of Islam and determined the limits of human intellect and divine injunctions. They defended Islam on the philosophical plane and eradicated doctrinal distortions and deviations in their times with their revivalist endeavour.

Thus with the advent of Islam, the world witnessed, for the first time, an unprecedented and liberal research and a new intellectual revolution. Unfortunately, the same trends could not sustain after the decline of the Muslim empires. Instead, by the 14th and 15th centuries AD, as the European nations were getting inspired through the Islamic world, another situation arose. The Church overlooked the fundamental difference between religion and science wantonly or unwantonly and equated them. They included certain concepts about the universe- inferred from Aristotelian philosophy in the religion as the principles and tenets of the religion. This process led to disastrous consequences and paved the way for the continual conflict between the Church and science and finally concluded in the alienation of these two entities completely. This improvidence on the part of the Church led to a long struggle extending over centuries and created the present atheistic, materialistic and God-abhorring culture and civilisation.

What Islam had achieved after the seventh century AD in correlating the religion and nature was shattered during the Renaissance in Europe through the selfish attitude of the Church. The Church started crushing the scientific researches and massacred hundreds of thousands of intellectuals and scientists. Any ideological conflict with the Bible was not tolerated. Consequently, the reactionary attitude culminated in an universal anti-religious movement. The natural phenomena and laws of nature were intentionally interpreted leaving no room for any divine role. New atheistic philosophies were formulated concerning man and the universe. And religion was discarded in its entirety.

This was the attitude of Christianity and the Church. No different is the attitude of the Muslims towards the modern advances in science today. They have adopted the Greek philosophy and Aristotelian thought as the last word, and equating it with the religion, they have erected a parallel religion. Thereby they have drawn a line between the modern science and the Islamic thought. This, contrary to the factual position, has given rise to the belief that Islam is also a retrograde religion and has no open doors to scientific development. It has been taken that Islam and the Muslims have nothing to do with science and knowledge. In fact, Islam is a living and eternal religion and it can solve all problems of life in each and every era. The shortcomings are on our part and never on the part of Islam. From this point of view, there is an imperative need for revising thoroughly the curriculum of our religious institutions and restricting the use of Greek logic and philosophy. The modern sciences have to be introduced here. The times are not for philosophies, but science. Even the modern philosophy is based upon scientific findings. It becomes logical and essential on the part of the Muslim intellectuals to detach themselves from the ancient Greek ideologies and build up a rapport with the modern experimental sciences if at all they wish to share the responsibility of the vicegerency of the earth.


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Look Within Self

If one could look into his physical self (nafs), there will be enough indications of a well organised system
that necessitate a creator.

Dr. A. M. Junaid Basha

‘One who realises his self thus realises his God’.

This Hadith from Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) makes a significant point. A human body is a combination of self (nafs) and spirit (rooh). The spirit is divine and beyond our knowledge. But one could gain the knowledge of physical self. The spirit provides the energy source for operating the physical system. The above quoted Hadith invites mankind to ponder over the wonders that abound within the human body nafs.

Take for instance our brain which functions as a data base, neural network and operating system. The brain is the Central Processing Unit (CPU) and stores the data sent through skin, nose, ear, eye and tongue. It processes the information and stores them in a classified form. Commands for action are passed on to the body parts through close-loop servo systems operating through the nerve and cell connections. It even transmits the error signals during execution of the commands and instantly correcting commands are passed on till the perfection is achieved. We can understand this through an example:

You feel like drinking water. A glass of water is kept on the table. The hand approaches the glass. Since the glass is farther away, the error in execution takes a feedback signal through eye to the brain. The brain issues a new command to move your body further within the reach. The next command is meant for the fingers to hold the glass. Next command that follows asks the hand to unfold and bring the glass to the mouth, the drinking process and the quantity to satisfy all these are inbuilt mechanisms that generate signals continuously to the brain and finally the action required is completed until a satisfactory signal is given by the brain. A few instances of the various fields of engineering applicable to our body systems are listed below :

Eye: Fibre optics communication, image processing and visual inspection mechanism.

Ear: Audio signal device maintains body equilibrium.

Skin: Protective device for internal system, touch signal communication, thermal insulation jacket maintaining body temperature and normal condition against climatic changes.

Tongue: Communication device, inspection inputs going into the body through mouth by taste buds signals.

Nose: Pneumatic control device, inspection device through smell signals.

Heart: Hydraulic engineering with servo control systems. Heart is a pump with self operating mechanism without a prime mover.

Kidney: Filtration system for blood and is servo controlled to maintain the required quantity of water and other constituents in the blood as per requirements.

Liver: maintains the correct albumins and other constituents in the blood involving chemical engineering.

Skeletal system: Structural and architectural engineering with optimum interior and costumes design to achieve perfect utility of space of the body This universe is inhabited by not only humans, but by other creatures, each a marvel of nature. As any engineer would testify, nothing can move without force or power. The natural question then to ask is how such wonderful creatures have come into existence without any external power or source of energy. This takes us to the conclusion that there must be some power to design, develop and make these systems function in this world. This is precisely where the Hadith leads us to. If we analyse the systems available within ourselves, we will realise the existence of God. It is also evident that there can only be one source of power or energy to generate the creations and control the functions of various systems in this universe. Existence of more than one power source will create confusion and result in chaos in the universe. So there is only a single God.

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