Our intellect and our other faculties are all limited, while God is Unlimited
By Mohammad Aslam Parvaiz
I have been writing on science-related topics for several decades now. One issue that I often deal with is the relationship between Islam and Science. There are different approaches to this relationship. I do not seek to compare Science and Islam, nor do I seek to use the claims of one to prove the other.
According to the teachings of the Quran, every single thing in the universe is a sign or, in Arabic, ayat, of God. Since everything has been created by God, they are all His signs, pointing to Him, their Creator. In numerous verses in the Quran, God exhorts us to reflect on His signs that are scattered in Nature—on the clouds, on the rain, on plants, on animals and so on. To reflect on and acquire knowledge of these signs of God in Nature is precisely what Science is all about. Science is, simply put, the acquisition of knowledge of something. And that is exactly what the Quran exhorts us to engage in while reflecting on the ‘signs’ of God, His creations, that Nature is suffused with.
Now, you could ask: Why does God want to draw our attention to His creations? The point is that God’s Being is beyond our understanding. Our intellect and our other faculties are all limited, while God is Unlimited. And what is limited cannot grasp in its knowledge what is Unlimited. This being the case, how can we recognise God? How can I, from my heart, truly exclaim, “God is most great” (Allahu Akbar!). When I was a child, I was taught the phrase Allahu Akbar, but it was then little more than an emotional slogan which I didn’t really understand. How can I truly know what this phrase signifies? How can I truly comprehend it? The answer is: when I reflect on the amazing and diverse creations of God and am struck by the beauty and intricacy and balance of everything, from an invisible electron to the sun, I can grow in my understanding of God’s Greatness, His Glory, His artistry, His Power! And then I can truly exclaim from my heart, ‘Allahu Akbar!’.
This is what God wants us to do: to understand Him through understanding His creations. Seen in this way, then, Science, the acquisition of knowledge of things, is a means for understanding God or marifat-e Ilahi. This is the approach to the relationship between Islam and Science that I follow. In this way, Science can make one a good Muslim, a God conscious person someone who fully surrenders to His commands, as other creations do.
(The author can be reached at [email protected])