QUR'AN INSPIRES MODERN SCIENCE
Mankind has just entered the 21st century in terms of the Common Era. This age is rightly called the information age with computers, electronic mail and 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. The great universal Muslim scientists about thousand years ago 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 the Muslim scientists to seek and advance knowledge. Hence they achieved all these without any conflict with religion.
Today many western educated Muslims follow the western path of separation of religion from science. On the other hand those Muslims trained in Islamic theology have refrained from modern sciences.
By moving away from the reading and in depth study of the Qur'an Muslims have lost the golden opportunity of many a scientific discovery and advancement of knowledge. By moving away from their Scriptures the Western people made many scientific discoveries and inventions. This is 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 popular book " The Bible, Qur'an and Science."
A study of the Qur'an reveals that in the various verses or Ayath one finds that it invites the believers to study the whole universe including the earth and everything in between and to discover the various natural phenomena and their schemes.
The Qur'an calls upon Muslims to observe around them and study the physical world, so that they might appreciate the majesty of Allah's creation. "Behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth; in the alternation of the night and the day; in the sailing of the ships through the ocean for the benefit of mankind; in the rain which Allah Sends down from the skies, and the life which He gives therewith to an earth that is dead; in the beasts of all kinds that He scatters through the earth; in the change of the winds, and the clouds which they trail like their slaves between the sky and the earth -- (Here) indeed are Signs for a people that are wise." (Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:164)
This inspiring declaration of the Qur'an stimulated the Muslims in the medieval period to research and investigate nature and natural phenomena that resulted in laying the foundation of practical science. The Greek science before them was mostly theoretical. One of the most remarkable things about the Qur'an is that it contains many Ayath (verses), which correctly describe natural phenomena in various disciplines such as human embryology, meteorology, astronomy, geology, and oceanography. Many of the processes and functions mentioned in the Qur'an have been discovered only recently. Some examples are the Big-Bang Theory, Sex Chromosomes, Sex determination, solar orbit, human embryology, etc. However the Qur'an is not meant to be a "Textbook of Science".
Science is not a divine revelation but it provides a means for the welfare of man and to better understanding the creation of Allah (SWT), the natural phenomena and their function. In over 11,000 Ayath (verses), nearly 20 percent of the Qur'an there are references to natural phenomena. This article is a result of the inspiration the author derived by reading the Noble Qur'an. The Glorious Qur'an did inspire our ancestors, the universal Muslim Scientists who pushed the frontiers of knowledge and advanced the Islamic civilization that lasted nearly one thousand years. One can derive inspiration from a single Qur'anic Ayah (verse) or even a single word in the Qur'an. There are many such examples in this article. Many books are devoted to Qur'anic Inspirations on the understanding or advancement of Science and Technology. In simplest terms science means knowledge and Islam exhorts its followers to relentlessly pursue knowledge. In 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 (SWT) peace be upon him to have 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. Rational thinking is emphasized throughout the Qur'an. Repeatedly, the Qur'an calls the believer to do tadabbur (deliberate), to do tafakkur (tafkir or think), and ta'qqul (reason).
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 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.
Islam was never antagonistic to observation and experimentation and it has never strangled science and knowledge. Instead the Qur'an and the Prophet of Islam (pbuh) energetically encouraged the study of science and its methodology-observation and experimentation.
The European Renaissance owes its enlightenment and scientific advancement to the observations, experimentation and research carried out by the Muslim Scientists during the period from 800 to 1600 CE. The exhortations to the believers in the Glorious Qur'an not only paved the way for the birth and advancement of modern sciences, but also laid the foundation for practical sciences.
This article is written to prove there is no conflict between science and Islam, based on the Qur'anic inspirations the author derived 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.
In several places, the Glorious Qur'an uses inquiring phrases such as 'do they not think,' 'do they not ponder,' or 'reflect,' and asks the Qur'anic reader 'to enquire about certain statements to those who have knowledge and expertise.' The approach of the Qur'an is to invite to reason, logic, rationality and intelligence. The more one researches on different verses in the Noble Qur'an, more deeper meaning one gets. Many books and articles have been published as a result of heeding to the Qur'anic Ayath exhorting the Qur'anic readers to think, reflect and ponder over Natural Phenomena both in the heaveans and the earth, including the human beings.
The Qur’an inspires man to observe, experience, and investigate. It acknowledges sense perception and experiential as rewarding. In short, the spirit of the Qur’an, unlike other religions, is scientific.
Allah says in the Quran,
"And hath made of service unto you whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth; it is all from Him. Lo! herein verily are portents for a people who reflect." 45:13
"And of His sign is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the difference of your languages and colors. Lo! Herein indeed are portents for men of knowledge." 30:22
That is why the Qur’an speaks of those who study nature and try to discover the laws that govern it as “men of knowledge and insight”; furthermore, the Noble Qur’an says: “Lo! In the heavens and the earth are portents for believers” (45: 3). In seeking knowledge, the believers are spurred on by their faith (Iman). …. They know that: The alternation of night and day and the provision that Allah sendeth down from the sky and thereby quickeneth the earth after her death, and the ordering of the winds, are portents for a people who have sense (45: 5). Our faith in Allah (SWT) does not follow from purely logical arguments; but it springs from the direct experience of order, harmony, and beauty in nature.
There are those who ponder over God’s creation, for they know that
“In the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of night and day, are surely signs to men of understanding”(3: 189). They are the men “who keep in their mind (the law of) Allah (SWT) sitting and standing and reclining, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth” (3: 190). When they reflect on the grandeur of nature, they are deeply moved and exclaim: “Our Lord! (Rabb) Thou hast not created this in vain (7: 190)."
Anyone who approaches nature with the attitude of the believers (Mu’mins), that person feels it in his/her consciousness that it has a meaning and a purpose. A person with intellectual honesty cannot but admit that certain things in the Qur'an are incomprehensible to him/her at the present level of one's knowledge. With humility when one confesses one's ignorance, then that person will have a conviction that if he/she persists in seeking more knowledge, one day that person will perceive the meaning of incomprehensible things as well. Men or women who lack this conviction live “in a sort of hell” (7: 191)”, and the pity is that “no one can help them” (7: 191).
With regard to inspiration, Allah (SWT) says in the Qur'an: "Likewise Allah, the All-Mighty, the All-Wise inspires you (O Muhammad (SAW)) as (He inspired) those before you. 42: 3
The Noble Qur’an is a source of advice, healing, guidance and mercy for those who have faith. The Qur’an contains nothing that is uncertain or questionable. It is absolutely straight, and authoritative, and ‘Nur’ (enlightenment) for the Muslims or the believers. There are innumberable spiritual benefits from the Qur'an to the believers.
The Quran is a source of law to guide the practical life of man. The Qur'an is a source of knowledge, which inspires man's intellectual endeavors. It is a universe into whose shape both the natural and social environment of man are cast, a universe which determines the life of the soul of man, its becoming, fruition, death and final destiny beyond this world. Qur'an is the Divine manifestation of Islam. It would never have been revealed to mankind and never have been understood except for Rasoolullah- our Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), who was chosen as the messenger and commentator to men.
In his Book, "Way to the Qur'an", Khurram Murad says, " You must remember certain characteristics of the Quranic style. Firstly, that it appeals to reason and feeling, intellect and soul as one whole. Secondly, that it is short, precise, direct, personal, and evocative. Thirdly, that it confronts its listeners with choices and decisions and inspires them to heed and act. Fourthly, that its language is as powerful as the message, which penetrates deep inside you. Fifthly, that its argument is always what its listeners are able to understand, that it is always drawn from their everyday experience, that it always finds an echo inside them. Above all, that it is not abstract, logical, speculative."
The Qur'an is a book of guidance to mankind and it inspires justice, good manners, humility, honesty, sincerity, and all that is most righteous. Although the Qur'an is a book of guidance for all humanity, however not everyone who reads it will get guidance from it. Qur’an reserves its guidance for those who sincerely seek it and approach it in the appropriate way and with the right attitude. At the same time, the Qur'an urges and inspires the believers to an ethic of action. It is a moral accountability for Muslims to struggle for what is good and just. For Muslims, it is an obligation to enjoin good and forbid evil (3:104). The Noble Qur'an gives moral code for individuals as well as states. It gives the Law or Shariah for the States as well. The Glorious Qur'an addresses both the heart and the intellect. It educates; it inspires; it heals. It shows the Path and it gives us the energy and motivation to follow it. No one can go wrong who makes the Qur'an his or her guide. No one can succeed who ignores its guidance.
The Qur'an inspires us towards peace, purity and tranquillity and institutes closeness to God. Recitation of the Qur'an amazingly reduces the stresses and tensions or the hustle and bustle of life to disciplined magnitude. The recitation of the Qur'an both in the morning and evening tend to sustain a healing or beneficial level and practically leaves no room for mischievous thought or deed. It inspires human beings to be responsible and watchful against evils and immorality. Muslims are urged to recite the Qur'an regularly. No one should allow a day to pass in one's life in which one forgets to read the Qur’an. One must understand its message and contemplate over its teachings. We must cast our life based on its commands.
In his masterpiece work titled "Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam" (published by Iqbal Academy Pakistan, Lahore, 2000), Allama Sir Muhammad Iqbal the poet-thinker-philosopher of South Asia says, "The purpose of Qur'an is to awaken in man the higher consciousness of his manifold relations with God and the universe.” The character of the universe in the Qur’an, says Iqbal, is that of a dynamic, active, and ever-growing universe. It is not the result of mere creative sport.
Also one can read in the Qur’an, which says, “We have not created the Heavens and the Earth and whatever is between them in sport. We have not created them but for a serious end: but the greater part of them understands it not’ (44:38-39)
Thus this universe is not a finished creation. It is capable of rising, and, in fact, is growing every moment. It is not stationary and incapable of change; change and growth are the principal conditions of existence in the universe. The Qur’an says,
“Verily in the creation of the Heavens and of the Earth, are signs for men of understanding... God causeth the day and night to take their turn. Verily in this is teaching for men of insight.” 24:44
These Ayath (signs or portents) are forces of nature, which man should understand and master. Man has a focal point and critical position in this universe. The nature of man, according to the Qur’an, is also innovative and dynamic. Though created humble in the scale of life, and surrounded on all sides by the forces of impediments, he is capable of development and spiritual growth. He is gifted with the fidgety (restless) and energetic spirit, which always seeks new magnitude of self-expression. Iqbal says, “Thus in his inmost being, man, as conceived by the Qur’an, is a creative activity, an ascending spirit who, in his onward march, rises from one state of being to another.” “If man does not take the initiative, if he does not evolve the inner richness of his being, if he ceases to feel the inward push of advancing life, then the spirit within him hardens into stone and he is reduced to the level of dead matter. But his life and the onward march of his spirit depend on the establishment of connections with the reality that confronts him. It is knowledge that establishes these connections, and knowledge is sense-perception elaborated by understanding.”
This vibrant and innovative picture of the universe and man proved to be a channel in rousing the Muslims to action all over the world. Man is only dynamic, inventive and spirited. If he is not active, then, he is deceased. His survival and continued existence depend on his skills over the physical world through his accumulated information; and knowledge is information acquired through senses, observation, experimentation, and investigation, in short, knowledge is science. This is the concept of man in the Qur’an. Science and the free spirit of inquiry is not for the sake of query; it has to be guided by some splendid rationale in life.
According to Iqbal "Sense perception and observation give knowledge and power, and religion provides a purpose and balance in life. These are not two opposite experiences; they are two different, but organically related methods of reaching the Ultimate Reality. They complement each other; they need each other. Science reaches the Ultimate Reality piecemeal, step by step, through experience, observation, and investigation, while in religious or mystic experience; one gets the total view of Reality. They both endeavor to reach the same Reality." That is why, Iqbal says, a scientist is a mystic (saint) who is in search of God.(Syed, IB.: Sufism and Quantum Physics, The Fountain Magazine, July-September, 2002)
Another way to get knowledge is through ilham, which may be translated as 'Divine inspiration.’ Things are discretionary to the heart (mind) of a man whose soul is adequately developed in the qualities of justice, charity, impartiality, and compassion to others. Any person who devotes one's personality to God and tries to forget one's identity, there are instants of very short duration when the state of the presence of God bursts like lightning, wherein one realizes without endeavor that no other effort would have been successful in making him conscious. The human spirit is thus enlightened. Then there is a feeling of confidence, gratification and comprehension of reality. It is God Who directs him and reins him and his thinking as well as his dealings. The maximum amount of contact, the surest and the most perfect means of communiqué between man and his Creator, is called wahy by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). This is not a common motivation, but a absolute revelation made to man from God - a extraterrestrial message.
No amount of description, however, can fully attain the awe-inspiring magnitude of the Qur’an to Muslims. Dispassionately, it is the innermost truth of the Islamic faith, the Word of God, the last and complete revelation or the final testament, the groundwork and structure of Islamic law, and the foundation of Islamic thinking, verbal communication, and accomplishment. It is the quintessence of Islam. Yet it is, in the intensely individual terms of a Muslim, something more as well. In countless, almost beyond description behavior, it is also the crucial reality of Muslim life. To a level almost unintelligible in the West it figures and paints largely, exclusively, and completely the feelings, sentiments, and principles of the pious Muslim's life from birth to death.
The pedestal of Islam is the sacred text, the Qur'an ( sometimes spelled "Koran" by non-Muslims). Muslims, believe the Qur'an to be the Word of God as communicated in the Arabic language by the Angel Gabriel, to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
In a very good judgment the Qur'an is the guide to millions of Muslims, both Arabs and as well as non-Arabs alike; it contour their everyday life, fastens them to a distinctive system of law, and arouses them by its guiding doctrines. Written in a splendid language, this Glorious Text has done more than move masses to tears and thrilling excitement; it has also, for almost fourteen hundred years, enlightened the lives of Muslims with its persuasive message of stubborn monotheism, human dignity, honorable living, individual accountability, and social justice. For innumerable millions, consequently, it has been the single most important influence in guiding their religious, social, and cultural lives. Indeed, the Quran is the foundation on which the structure of Islamic civilization has been built. The Qur'an states that God created the universe and caused it to be populated by men and women and peoples and tribes so that they may know each other, there was a quest for discovery and knowledge. The Noble Qur'an became the foundation of Islamic civilization and has had a vast power on world history.
For many centuries, Islamic civilization promoted cultural and scientific advances on a scale unparalleled since ancient times. Islamic scholars assimilated the ancient teachings of Persia and India and the conventional heritage of Greece, preserving and translating manuscripts in centers of learning as widespread as Cairo (Egypt), Baghdad (Iraq) and Cordoba (Spain). Not only did they preserve the legacy of Western civilization through Europe’s “Dark Ages,” but they also made significant contributions of their own in virtually every field. Islamic scholars invented Spherical trigonometry and algorithms and devised the decimal system. They made original discoveries in geometry and trigonometry, and they invented algebra, which is an Arabic word.
In medicine, Muslims systematized the existing body of scientific knowledge, demonstrated circulation of the blood, developed the theory of optics, and published the first clinical account of smallpox. Two medieval Muslim physicians—Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and Ibn Rushd (Averroes)-were considered by East and West alike to be the decisive medical authorities until modern times. Professor Keith Moore, one of the world’s prominent scientists of anatomy and embryology at the University of Toronto, Canada says, "It has been a great pleasure for me to help clarify statements in the Qur’an about human development. It is clear to me that these statements must have come to Muhammad from God, or 'Allah', because almost all of this knowledge was not discovered until many centuries later. This proves to me that Muhammad must have been a messenger of Allah." Muslim interest in astronomy stemmed from the need to fix times of prayer and the direction of Makkah. Muslim astronomers developed the quadrant and astrolabe, made star charts, and were the first to use the magnetic needle in navigation. Muslim architects excelled in the technique of vaulting, and their monuments provided the inspiration for some of Europe’s Gothic cathedrals.
By the sixteenth century, Islamic civilization was among the most widespread and important civilizations on earth. Then, with the Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution, the West grew to confront the supremacy of the Islamic world. The last of the great Islamic empires-the Turkish Ottoman Empire-finally buckled at the end of World War I.
"According to Muslim teachings, Allah (SWT) first revealed His word in the Glorious Qur'an to the prophet, Muhammad (pbuh), during the month of Ramadan. That word has guided billions of believers across the centuries, and those believers built a culture of learning and literature and science. All the world continues to benefit from this faith and its achievements." Remarks by the President of USA, George W. Bush at Iftaar Dinner, The State Dining Room, Washington, D.C. November 19, 2001.
The motivation for writing this article is the status of the Muslim Ummah in the world. No one can deny that the Muslim Ummah occupies a position, which is at the lowest rung of the ladder in the world. The share of the Muslims in Nobel Prizes and the Olympic games is close to nothing. Muslims' contribution to literature both general and scientific is marginal at the best. It is very sad to see the status of Muslims in the present world at the bottom. Muslims have been economically exploited and politically subjugated. Economically, Muslims are poor; in education they are backwards; and in science and technology they are marginal. Even very small countries export arms, medicine and technology to Muslim countries. Developing Muslims countries cannot manufacture very simple things such as pencils and bicycle tires; they import them from China. There should be a deep examination of what has gone wrong. Why non‑Muslims, particularly in the West, have achieved supremacy in every field of human endeavor?
The average literacy rate is around 35 per cent and in rural areas in Muslim countries, the illiteracy rate among Muslim women is 93 to 97 per cent. This is ironic because the first word revealed to our Prophet Muhammad (SAS) is "IQRA" ‑ read. Acquiring knowledge is a religious obligation for every Muslim and Muslimah. The Muslim educated in the western world knows about Western books and scholars but very little about Muslim books and the INTELLECTUAL.ACHIEVEMENTGS OF THE MUSLIMS.
With Qur'an as their guide and the teachings of our Prophet Muhammad (SAS) the early Muslims reached the zenith of civilization, which lasted over one thousand years. During this millennium Muslims contributed vastly to the enhancements of arts, science and cultural growth of mankind. The Islamic Empire for more than 1,000 years remained the most advanced and civilized nation in the world. This is because Islam stressed the importance and respect of learning, forbade destruction, developed in Muslims the respect for authority and discipline, and tolerance for other religions. The Muslims recognized excellence and were hungry intellectually. They were avid for the wisdom of the world. Baghdad, Cairo, Damascus and Cordoba became the learning centers of the world to which the Europeans flocked to learn in Islamic universities. Arabic became the international language of learning and diplomacy, like English today. Baghdad emerged as the capital of the scientific world. The Muslims became scientific innovators with originality and productivity.
This article attempts to revive the Muslims back to the glorious heights‑ a position of top of the civilization.
What were the reasons for the downfall of the Muslims. There were both external and internal causes. The internal causes appear to be the major reasons for the present status of Muslims in the world. One of the major reasons is obscurantism, which is the act of obscuring, or striving to prevent enlightenment or to hinder the progress of knowledge. This is exactly contrary to the teachings of the Qur'an‑the book of Wisdom and the teachings of our Rasoolallah (SAS). This article attempts to give some solutions as to how to revive FREETHINKING to re‑establish the brilliance and excellence of the ISLAMIC CIVILIZATION.
Once a person makes the declaration of faith (shahadah) and becomes a Muslim, he or she takes on these and other responsibilities in an effort to remain on the straight path of righteousness and success. Islam is a disciplined religion because it teaches personal responsibility and complete submission to God. A Muslim must work for the pleasure of his or her Creator and hope for His mercy and acceptance. It may be a struggle at times but the wise person only welcomes struggle because it is a means by which the human will can be purified and by which the human spirit can move closer to its Creator. Besides, hard work results in a stronger, more dignified individual who is grateful and deserving, not lazy and complacent. The struggle (jihad) that Muslims may endure in trying to submit themselves is also a test of their true faith. It's not a test for God to know because He knows all; it's a test for the individual to know whether he or she is a true servant of God. Islam is a disciplined way of life that inspires people to be productive citizens working in the higher cause of their Creator.
The Noble Qur'an is simply a abridgment, correction and improvement of all the scriptures that came prior to it since they were tainted with and changed by humans over time. What Muslims reject are the altered accounts that exist today because they contain only a portion of the original message. Human distortion of these original scriptures made it necessary for the Qur'an to come. And it has remained in its original structure to this very day:
"We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it from corruption" Qur'an 15:9
"This is a Glorious Qur'an, inscribed in a Tablet Preserved!" (The Noble Qur'an 85:21-22)
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) inspires us to learn and teach Allah's Book. He emphasises that if we hold on to the Qur’an we will never go astray: Hadrat Uthman Bin Affan (RA) narrated that the Prophet (pbuh) said, “The most superior among you (Muslims) are those who learn the Qur’an and teach it.” (Bukhari 6/546)
Hadrat Jabir Bin ‘Abdullah (RA) narrated that the Prophet (pbuh) said, “…I have left among you the Book of Allah, and if you hold fast to it, you would never go astray…” (Muslim 2803.1)
It is for our guidance that we must believe the whole of the Qur’an. We are not considered to be true believers if we doubt some parts of the Revelation. If we reject any part of it, we will suffer grievous scolding in the Hereafter. Allah (SWT) Says,
"Then is it only a part of the Book that you believe in. And do you reject the rest? But what is the reward for those among you who behave like this but disgrace in this life? And on the Day of Judgment they shall be consigned to the most grievous chastisement for Allah is not unmindful of what you do. These are the people who buy the life of this world at the price of the Hereafter: their chastisement shall not be lightened nor shall they be helped. (2:85-86)
In disseminating the knowledge of Islam to the non-Muslims, one should point out the virutes and inspirations of the Qur'an and that it is the only comprehensive book available to mankind for guidance. Allah says that nothing has been omitted from it (6:38). It is further explained in detail in other Ayath in the Qur'an (11:1 and 6:114).
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