Islam and Science
To improve scientific research in Muslim countries requires profound is not caused by an idiosyncratic relationship between science and Islam, media programs, elaborate public celebrations of religious holidays, and the. From an Islamic standpoint, science, the study of nature, is considered to be linked to the concept of Tawhid (the Oneness of God), as are. If the scientific faith is not Islamic, can be denied in Islam i.e. which way should we go? Or we have a choice that whenever we want we can.
It deals with issues that are also studied by the natural sciences: The Qur'an presents natural phenomena as both the foundations of the physical order in which we live and the marvelous work of God as the great Artisan. By giving nature a religious meaning and a metaphysical function within the great chain of being, it offers a religious view of the universe which, in turn, lays the foundation for an Islamic philosophy of science.
But this is not simply a religious philosophy superimposed upon a material entity. Rather, it is an integrated and holistic notion of the universe in which man and nature are placed as complements to each other. Islamic Worldview and Modern Science The notion of worldview is where Islam's holistic view of the universe runs into conflict with the secular, materialistic, and reductionist notions of the natural world.
The latter is not science in any proper sense of the term but what some have called "scientism," an ideological construction of science as an alternative worldview. Scientism seeks to supplant the religious view of the universe and reduce religion to ethics without a claim over the nature of reality. This explains in part why modern atheism makes frequent use of scientism to substantiate its claims against religious faith.
The debate as to whether Islam and science can be reconciled is not so much about science as it is about the unsubstantiated claims of scientism and its dubious philosophical arguments. The secularization of the world-picture has been one of the most important outcomes of the scientific revolution.
The scientistic worldview that has emerged out of this process has reduced nature to dead matter and divested the natural world of any intrinsic qualities. It has rejected the creationist account of traditional religions and purged all teleology from scientific nomenclature. The Darwinian theory of evolutionfor instance, has come to symbolize the epic battle between religion and science in the West and has caused considerable consternation in the Muslim world, since the majority of Muslims maintain the creation story as the explanation of life on earth.
It is therefore not easy to reconcile the philosophical assumptions of modern scientism with the religious view of the universe espoused by the Qur'an and the Islamic intellectual tradition.
These two perspectives represent not just two separate domains, i. The world-picture that emerges out of these approaches has far-reaching consequences for the theory and practice of science in any civilization. While the advocates of modern science and technology in the Muslim world emphasize the practical applications of science and consider them essential for the advancement of Muslim societies in the twenty-first century, their critics point to the philosophical and ideological underpinnings of scientism and offer an alternative philosophy of science.
Scientism on the Attack Scientism's frontal attack on Islam came from Ernest Renan at a lecture at the Sorbonne in A famous historian of religion and devoted positivist of his time, Renan argued that Islam was inherently irrational, militantly intolerant, and essentially incapable of producing science and philosophy.
Lacking the "scientific outlook" that made the scientific revolution possible, Islam prevented the development of science and the kind of "free thinking" that is independent of all metaphysical and religious notions.
When there was progress, it was despite Islam's religious dogmas, not because of them. Renan's quasi-racist attack was not an invitation for a conversation on religion and science or on Islam and Europe, but a verdict that was to generate a flurry of responses from several generations of Muslim scholars, scientists, and activists.
Published in book form as L'Islam et la science, Renan's lecture was a triumphalist announcement of the final victory of Eurocentrism and its new scientistic worldview over the Muslim world and, in fact, the rest of the globe.
Spearheaded by Jamal al-Din Afghani in Persia and Namik Kemal in the Ottoman EmpireMuslim men of letters took it upon themselves to respond to what they considered to be the distortion of modern science at the hands of some anti-religious philosophers, producing a sizable discourse on modern science and how it can be reconciled with Islamic faith.
Afghani epitomized the zeitgeist of his generation when he based his historical apology against Renan on the premise that there could be no clash between religion and science, be it traditional or modern, and that modern Western science was nothing other than the original true Islamic science shipped back, via the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, to the Islamic world.
By the same token, there is nothing essentially wrong with modern science, and it is the reductionist and exclusivist representation of science that pits scientific facts against religious faith.
Afghani also believed that the Muslim lands that were once the trailblazer of scientific advancements in the world would one day recover from their current eclipse and catch up with Europe see also Lecture on Teaching and Learning and Answer to Renan. The prominent Ottoman intellectual Namik Kemal joined Afghani with a rebuttal of his own in his Renan Mudafanamesi A rebuttal of Renanfocusing this time on the scientific achievements of the Arabs part of Renan's racism was directed at Muslim Arabs.
Kemal was more nuanced in his assessment of the relations between religion and science and hinted that the Islamic intellectual tradition had produced a healthy synthesis of religious faith, philosophical investigation, and scientific discovery.
Acutely aware of the daunting challenges of modern scientism but not intimidated by it, he produced an interpretation of Islam and science that has sought to strike a balance between tradition and modernity—a balance that has been attempted by numerous scholars and intellectuals since then.
Religion, Philosophy, and Science The search for a balanced synthesis of religion, philosophy, and science remains at the center of the Islam-science debate. Philosophy is a bridge, a mediator between religious truths and scientific facts, because it provides a conceptual framework in which the religious view of the universe is related to the scientific description of physical reality.
Science cannot produce a "worldview" because, as Huston Smith argues in his Beyond the Postmodern Mind, "'world' implies whole and science deals with part, an identifiable part of the whole that can be shown to be part only.
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The boundaries of science are drawn by itself: In this undertaking, natural sciences excel and show great prowess. Science becomes scientism and turns into poor philosophy when these boundaries are obliterated. The premodern Muslim scientists applied this principle to their hermeneutics of science and interpreted scientific data within the worldview and cosmological outlook of Islam. A case in point is the notion of God as the "clock-maker" and why it has not caused a religious outrage among Muslims.
The mechanization of the cosmos is a hallmark of the modern scientific worldview and underlies much of the new atheism today, because it dispenses with the idea of a creator and a divine agent in the universe.
The explanation of the order and balance of the universe through the metaphor of a well-functioning system, however, is not an exclusively modern phenomenon. The Qur'anic concept of mizanbalance, and the philosophical notion of nizamorder, has been utilized to prove God's absolute perfection and artisanship. In fact, one of the classical proofs for the existence of God is the perfection of God's creation: One can study the universe in its physical aspects and marvel at its mathematical precision without turning it into self-sustaining matter and a self-regulating entity separated from God.
This is where classical Muslim theology, or kalam, joined the work of Muslim cosmologists and physicists and produced a scientifically sound and philosophically integrated view of the natural world.
The controversies surrounding faith and reason in Islam were hardly between religion and science or religious faith and rational argumentation. Many scholars of religion were also scientists, philosophers, historians, and philologists, and vice versa.
When the question of the compatibility of faith and reason was raised, it was raised not by secular philosophers, as in post-medieval Europe, but by religious authorities who did not feel comfortable with particular theories and interpretations of Muslim philosophers. Most of their objections pertained to the philosophical and cosmological system developed by the Muslim Peripatetics on the basis of Aristotle's core ideas. Science per se was hardly a matter of controversy.
Al-Ghazali 's attack on the Muslim Aristotelians in his Tahafut al-falasifah is a case in point. Overcoming the Boundaries Ghazali's criticism of Peripatetic metaphysics and cosmology has been interpreted as the death knell of philosophy and science in Islam—a point still raised in the Islam-science debate today. This is a simplistic reading of the intellectual tradition of Islam and fails to do justice to the long and complex history of science in the Muslim world.
Philosophical and scientific studies continued after al-Ghazali and reached a climax in terms of accumulated scientific knowledge and advanced techniques in Andalusia, the Ottoman world, and the subcontinent of India.
More importantly, al-Ghazali makes it clear in his autobiography al-Munqidh min al-dalal that his primary objections were directed not at philosophy falsafah as such but at the philosophers falasifah and their metaphysics in particular.
Al-Ghazali held that the Aristotelian system, which the Muslim Peripatetics endorsed, was not adequate for an Islamic metaphysics of God and the creation of the universe because it reduced God to an Unmoved Mover, which hardly did justice to God's absolute power, infinity, mercy, and love.
Diverse Views of Science in the Muslim World With this background in mind, three main positions can be identified in the present religion-science discourse in the Muslim world. The first is that science is a cross-cultural enterprise and that it does not take an "Islamic" or "Western" form. In simple terms, science studies the world of nature and is a tool to make people's lives better. It is not a philosophical project and does not need religious justification. What the classical Islamic civilization had in the past was a scientific tradition carried out in Muslim lands, which was then transmitted to the West, preparing the ground for the rise of modern science.
Thus the Muslim world should import science and technology to solve its economic and social problems without fearing their religious or ethical implications. This view has been generally defended by such figures as Jamal al-Din Afghani and Sayyid Ahmad Khan in the nineteenth century and is held by scores of Muslim scientists and engineers today.
One of its most ardent defenders was Ataturkwho said in his usual crisp tone: For science and for knowledge, there are no restrictions and no conditions. For a nation that insists on preserving a host of traditions and beliefs that rest on no logical proof, progress is very difficult, perhaps even impossible. While many Muslim countries lag behind in scientific research and publication, they share the goal of transferring and owning science and technology to empower their military, economic, and societal development.
Science as Deciphering the Signs of God In a pious religious context, a different version of this view has been produced to show the compatibility of the Qur'an and science.
The proponents of this view, such as Farid Wajdi, Said Nursiand the latter's follower Fethullah Gulenboth of whom have popularized the study of science among their followers, assign to the natural sciences the task of deciphering the signs of God in the universe.
According to them, science reveals the divinely ordained codes built into the natural order and thus helps us marvel at God's creative act. The Qur'an describes the world of nature as a book to read under its guidance, and every sign in the cosmos points to God's power and generosity.
This view of science as the decoder of the sacred language of the cosmos has appealed to generations of pious believers in the Christian and Muslim worlds. It has been deployed to show the unity of the three orders of reality: This view of science has also been used as a bulwark against the anti-religious claims of aggressive scientism and atheism.
Those who hold a religious view of the universe reject scientism not only on philosophical but also on scientific grounds, and assert that scientism is not verified by the objective findings of natural sciences.
The world of nature, when properly studied, reveals a remarkable structure of order, balance, and proportion, all of which point to a higher principle in the universe. God's "invisible hand" is seen most clearly in the cosmos, which humans must not only use for their practical, worldly needs but also understand in order to appreciate God's grace.
Thus the sciences, which study nature, God's great work of art, can only enhance one's belief in God. The scientistic critics of religion misuse scientific theories and facts and create a pseudo-religion called scientism. Far from contradicting each other, Islam and science complement each other. Thus Farid Wajdi, one of the most prolific writers of modern Islam, states in his hefty work Islam in an Age of Science, published in Arabic in the middle of the last century, that "science in all ages supports and confirms Islam and Islam helps and backs its learning.
Through numerous publications, videos, and Internet resources, Yahya has launched a major attack against Darwinism and evolutionary theory and defended monotheistic creationism as a scientifically proven doctrine.
His work is also a typical example of what some have called "the scientific exegesis of the Qur'an. In turn, scientific discoveries have been interpreted to show their compatibility with religious belief. Some have gone even further and tried to prove not only that the Qur'an is compatible with scientific facts, but that it predicted new scientific discoveries fourteen centuries ago, and that this should be seen as a miracle of the Qur'an and demonstrate that it is the word of God.
From the creation of the universe and the formation of clouds to the genesis of the fetus, Qur'anic verses as well as the sayings of the Prophet of Islam have been analyzed with a view toward explaining their scientific precision and truth. Best exemplified by the French medical doctor Maurice Bucaille 's The Bible, the Qur'an and Science, published inthis approach has led to what is called "scientific exegesis" al-tafsir al-ilmi, al-tafsir al-fanni of the Qur'an.
Its primary focus is to prove the miraculous nature of the Qur'an by using recent scientific discoveries. Today, there are numerous publications in various languages advocating a pious interpretation of modern natural sciences. The pietistic interpretation of modern science in the name of Islamic compatibility fails to address the deep philosophical differences between the Islamic scientific tradition and the secular outlook of modern science.
The Pertinence of Islamic Cosmology in the Modern World, it is misleading to think that the goals of the traditional natural sciences are the same as those of modern science. It is also wrong to assume that premodern science is different from modern science only in the advancement of techniques, methods, and the accumulation of scientific data. The qualitative differences in the overall outlook of classical and modern science are too obvious to ignore.
As George Saliba discusses in his Islamic Science and the Making of the European Renaissance, the rise of the Islamic scientific tradition cannot be relegated to the Muslim encounter with the Greco-Hellenistic tradition and its appropriation by successive generations of Muslim scholars and scientists. A more complex set of circumstances were at work in the formation of the Islamic scientific heritage, and they were underlined by both philosophical considerations and practical necessities, which will be examined below.
Science as a Cultural Enterprise The second view of science in the Muslim world, which we may call the "epistemic view," takes its cue from contemporary philosophy of science and focuses on the social and historical bases of scientific theories.
Its proponents criticize modern Western science on epistemological grounds and make use of the postmodern critiques of natural sciences and their philosophical claims. The epistemic view of science considers the sciences of nature like any other human enterprise: Led by the work of T. Lakatos, and others, the philosophy of science has gradually become a sociology of knowledge, unearthing the social circumstances, historical prejudices, and tacit assumptions that shape the outlook and practice of science at any given time in history.
There is no such thing as '"pure science"' untouched by contexts of historical formation; sciences, no matter how objective or precise they may claim to be, cannot claim immunity. The natural sciences are both cultural products and intellectual constructs that seek to understand the natural world in certain specific ways. As a result, the exclusivist claims of modern science and scientism over other forms of knowledge, including religious, philosophical, and artistic knowledge, should be discarded and the validity of different types of knowledge should be recognized.
The epistemic and methodological critique of modern science and its exclusivist claims of epistemic dominance have been fully developed by a number of Muslim scholars and intellectuals, including Ismail FaruqiZiauddin SardarZaki Kirmani, and M.
They have also attempted to give an Islamic content to the epistemic-philosophical architecture of natural sciences. The "Islamization of knowledge" project, developed by Ismail Faruqi and his followers at the International Institute of Islamic Thought IIITaimed at creating a new epistemic foundation for social and natural sciences from an Islamic point of view, and adopted an interdisciplinary approach. But Faruqi, since he believed in the essential neutrality of natural sciences and thought they needed no special attention, turned to social sciences and initiated a program to '"Islamize"' the existing forms of knowledge and social disciplines as they have developed in the West in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Ziauddin Sardar and a number of closely associated scholars known as the "Ijmalis" and the "Aligarh School" have also addressed the issues of science and scientific knowledge from an Islamic point of view. They have adopted a largely historical-cultural approach to science and interpret it as "a basic problem-solving tool of any civilization.
Their tacit philosophical assumptions and scientific programs are shaped by the socio-historical settings in which they emerge and function. As the defenders of "postmodern science" hold, all scientific data are subject to such historical readings and cannot be considered absolute truths outside their socio-cultural contexts. This does not lessen the significance and reliability of scientific discoveries.
But it does limit the degree to which the natural sciences can claim universal objectivity and applicability. The epistemic view of science has led a number of Muslim scholars, scientists, and intellectuals to produce a sizable literature on the development of methods of natural sciences according to Islamic principles in such diverse fields as physics, astronomy, and biology. Several Islamic universities in Pakistan and Malaysia have implemented these principles in their curricula and have taught natural and social sciences from an Islamic and multidisciplinary point of view.
Although they have achieved some success, they have so far failed to produce an integrated and coherent body of knowledge in either social or natural sciences. The culturalist-historical approach to science has been further developed in relation to the practice of science in the Muslim world. In his Islam, Science, and the Challenge of History, Ahmad Dallal, for instance, traces the history of scientific activity in classical Islamic civilization by analyzing the cultural forces that propelled Muslims to take up natural sciences as a primary field of study.
Islam, China, and the West provides a comparative study of the history of science in Chinese, Islamic and Western traditions and focuses on legal and institutional foundations. Huff explores why the scientific revolution did not happen in China or the Islamic world when in fact they had more advanced science than Europe until the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. A Metaphysics of Science In addition to the neutral and epistemic-cultural views of science, a third view of science has emerged with a more substantial critique of the secular-materialist outlook of modern natural sciences and the philosophical claims of scientism.
They agree with the epistemic view that every scientific activity is carried out within a certain framework of principles, ideas, and assumptions about the universe. But these are not simply methodological principles; they pertain to the very nature of scientific activity. Our basic premises about existence precede the scientific descriptions of the physical reality.
For example, the idea enthusiastically expressed by the recent French winner of the Nobel prize for medicine, that living matter was self-created from simple chemical elements due to chance circumstances. Then from this point it is claimed that living organisms evolved, leading to the remarkably complex being called man.
To me, it would seem that the scientific advancements made in understandithe fantastic complexity of higher beings provides stronger arguments in favor of the opposite theory: I should like to stress, that I use the word science to mean knowledge which has been soundly established.
It does not include the theories which, for a time, help to explain a phenomenon or a series of phenomena, only to be abandoned later on in favor of other explanations. These newer explanations have become more plausible thanks to scientific progress. I shall refer to these by pointing out that all the evidence available today leads scientists to regard them as being highly probable.
Scientific statements such as these are only one specific aspect of the Islamic revelation which the Bible does not share. Throughout my research I have constantly tried to remain totally objective.
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In other words, only by carefully analyzing all the symptoms can one arrive at an accurate diagnosis. I must admit that it was certainly not faith in Islam that first guided my steps, but simply a desire to search for the truth. This is how I see it today. This process lasted for roughly twenty-three years during which many unofficial copies were made. Here we must note a highly important point. The memorized text was of paramount importance at a time when not everyone could read and write, but everybody could memorize.
In the name of your Lord who created. Who created man from a clinging entity. Your Lord is the most Noble, Who taught by the pen. Who taught man what he did not know. All unofficial copies existing at that time were destroyed and all future copies were made from the official seven copies. Professor Jacques Berque has told me of the great importance he attaches to it in comparison with the long gap separating the writing down of the Judeo-Christian revelation from the facts and events which it relates.
I shall also mention another fact of great importance. In some cases, these statements were totally incomprehensible.
The Quran and Modern Science
The slightest alteration to the text would have automatically destroyed the remarkable coherence which is characteristic to them. Change in any text would have prevented us from establishing their total conformity with modern knowledge.
It spanned two periods of almost equal length on either side of the Hijrah. In view of this, it was natural for reflections having a scientific aspect to be scattered throughout the Book. In a study, such as the one we have made, we had to regroup the verses according to subject matter, collecting them chapter by chapter. How should they be classified?
It would seem to me, that the first subject to deal with is Creation. Here it is possible to compare the verses referring to this topic with the general ideas prevalent today on the formation of the Universe. Next, I divided up verses under the following general headings: This has been done in the cases of Creation, the Flood and the Exodus. The reason that these topics were chosen is that knowledge acquired today can be used in the interpretation of the texts.
This idea contradicts the parallels which are often wrongly drawn by Western authors to emphasize the resemblance between the two texts. To stress only the similarities, while silently ignoring the obvious dissimilarities, is to distort reality. There is, perhaps, a reason for this.
It refers both to the heavens before the earth and the earth before the heavens, when it talks of creation in general, as in this verse of chapter Taa Haa: As well as descriptions of the elements which, although at first were fused together ratqthey subsequently became separated fatq. These ideas are expressed in chapters Fussilat and al-Anbiyaa: In contrast, the successive phases of creation mentioned in the Biblical text are totally unacceptable. For example, in Genesis 1: It is a well known fact that our planet came from its own star, the sun.
Such a claim would mean that, of his own accord, he corrected the Biblical text to arrive at the correct concept concerning the formation of the Universe. Yet the correct concept was reached by scientists many centuries after his death. But, this is a mistaken idea resulting from an ignorance of history. The material on this subject is so vast that I can only provide a brief outline of it here. The Sun and Moon.
It was much later discovered that stars are heavenly bodies producing their own light like the sun. Galaxies are balanced by the position of stars and planets in well-defined orbits, as well as the interplay of gravitational forces produced by their masses and the speed of their movements.
In chapter al-Ambiyaa we find: Each one is traveling in an orbit with its own motion. They are well known for the moon, but less widely known for the sun.
It is not until man landed on the moon and observed the earth spinning on its axis, that the dark half of the globe appeared to wind itself around the light and the light half appeared to wind itself around the dark.
Modern astronomy confirms that the solar system is indeed moving in space at a rate of 12 miles per second towards a point situated in the constellation of Hercules alpha lyrae whose exact location has been precisely calculated.
Astronomers have even give it a name, the solar apex. The regular movement of the galactic light towards the red section of the spectrum is explained by the distancing of one galaxy from another.
Thus, the size of the universe appears to be progressively increasing. You will not penetrate them except with authority. They deal, not only with the physical phenomena observed here on earth, but also with details concerning the living organisms that inhabit it. At this point, we must ask ourselves the following question: How could an uneducated man in the middle of the desert accurately tackle so many and such varied subjects at a time when mythology and superstition reigned supreme?
How could he so skillfully avoid every belief that was proven to be totally inaccurate many centuries later? Water Cycle The verses dealing with the earthly systems are a case in point. This is a topic which is well known today. But if we consider the ideas prevalent at that time, they appear to be based more on myth and philosophical speculation than on observed fact, even though useful practical knowledge on soil irrigation was current at that period.Science and Islam - Islamic Knowledge - Science Documentary - Reel Truth Science
Let us examine, for example, the following verse in chapter az-Zumar: It was not until the sixteenth century, with Bernard Palissy, that we gained the first coherent description of the water cycle.
Prior to this, people believed that the waters of the oceans, under the effect of winds, were thrust towards the interior of the continents. In the seventeenth century, great thinkers such as Descartes still believed in this myth. Today, we know that it is the infiltration of rain water into the ground that is responsible for this.
Mountains In geology, modern science has recently discovered the phenomenon of folding which formed the mountain ranges. It has also been discovered that the stability of mountains is linked to the phenomenon of folding. Here, as in the case of all the other topics presented, the objective observer cannot fail to notice the absence of any contradiction to modern knowledge.
We should really devote much more time to this subject, but, due to the limited scope of this presentation, I can only give a few examples. It is for this reason that scientists find some of their interpretations unacceptable. There are also other verses whose obvious meanings are easily understood, but which conceal scientific meanings which are startling, to say the least.