Mankind is at the threshold of the 21st century in terms of the common era. This age is rightly called the information age with computers, electronic mail, business and commerce, and the Internet with WEB pages. To many thinkers, religion is alien to science. Science simply means a specialized branch of knowledge. In Arabic, it is called ‘Ilm. A scientist in Arabic is called an ‘Alim. The west is wrong in separating Science from Religion. About a thousand years ago, the great universal Muslim scientists were at the forefront of knowledge, particularly in the sciences and technology, without ever giving up their religion. In fact, Islam in general and the Qur’an, in particular, inspired Muslim scientists to seek and advance knowledge. Hence they achieved all these without any conflict with religion. Today many western educated Muslims follow the path of the west of separation of religion from science. On the other hand, those Muslims trained in Islamic theology have refrained from modern sciences.
Muslims moving away from an in-depth study of the Qur’an have lost the golden opportunity of many a scientific discovery and advancement of knowledge. Western people moving away from their Scriptures made many scientific discoveries and inventions. Because of the suppression and obscurantism practiced by the Church against the scientists and intellectuals in the past. Even the scriptures themselves were a hurdle to the cause of seeking the truth through observation and experimentation, as lucidly pointed by Dr. Maurice Bucaille in his most famous book ” The Bible, Qur’an, and Science.”
Science is not a divine revelation. It provides a means for man’s welfare and a better understanding of the creation of Allah(SWT), the natural phenomena, and their purpose. In most straightforward terms, science means knowledge, and Islam encourages its followers to pursue knowledge relentlessly. The Noble Qur’an, Allah (swt) ordained His servants to pray to Him thus:
” O Lord! Increase me in knowledge.” (20: 114)
It is reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) has once said, “Learning comprises treasure houses whose keys are queries.” Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) encouraged the spirit of investigation and analysis of facts. One of the most inspiring Ayath (verses) in the Qur’an is the following:
” And He has subjected to you, as from Him, all that is in the heavens and on earth: behold, in that are signs indeed for those who reflect.” (45: 13)
To reflect is really the scientific spirit, which leads to understanding and discoveries about Allah’s (swt) creation and natural phenomena. Allah (swt) guides the efforts of the scientists to meaningful purposes.
The more one investigates, the more one knows about Allah (swt) and His design of the universe. The emphasis is on thinking which leads the way to the cherishing care of Allah to establish all things in nature to service for the benefit of mankind. Allah (swt) has given us the faculties and the intellectual genius for this purpose. The Muslim should never regard the study of natural sciences as a forbidden territory or “haram.” According to the Muslim traditions, he who seeks knowledge is blessed, but the seeker who also attains success is twice blessed. The Muslim intellectuals have proved this in the past, and they already set the trend.
There is no conflict between science and Islam. Many chapters in my book, The Quranic Inspirations, have been based on the author’s inspirations from reading different Ayath (Verses). Even at the dawn of the 21st century of the CE, the Muslims can derive inspiration from the in-depth study of the Qur’an and make new scientific discoveries and push forward the frontiers of knowledge. I humbly believe that the younger generation of Muslims will get inspiration from the revelations in the Qur’an and do investigate and contribute to the bank of knowledge.
(Immediate Past President,Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc., Louisville, KY 40242-6462, USAE-mail: [email protected])