“Is the present day research about the moon, the sun and the planets in accordance with the Qur’an? There
are some people who claim that there is no inconformity between science and the Qur’an and the Traditions, hence everything the science presents is correct, while others say that the views of science clash with the Qur’an. Kindly give your comprehensive view and opinion about it” (Question by Abdul Hai, Faridpur, East Pakistan now Bangladesh)
Answer: An elaborate answer of this question requires a comprehensive article. However, I am presenting certain things by way of principles hoping that they will be helpful to remove your doubt in this matter.
1. First of all it must be understood that the purpose of science is to explore the fundamental forces which Allah has created in this universe. If these forces are used for the welfare and well being of mankind it is not only permissible but desirable in Islam. Rather than raising obstacles in the way of such attempts Islam encourages them. In this connection Islam only demands that these forces should be used for purposes that are permissible and useful in the
eyes of Islam. In other words, science aims at discovering the hidden forces of universe but the correct use of these forces is told by religion which provides proper direction and a better atmosphere for such attempts. Science and technology can be useful to mankind only if they are used on the principles laid down by Islam. Nobody would deny the fact that whereas science can be a means of welfare and material progress to mankind, its wrong and misdirected use can be disastrous for us. The example is before us. In recent years science has provided mankind with the means of comfort and ease, but at the same time its wrong use has converted the whole world into the hell of turmoil and disturbance. It is science that invented the high speed means of travel like
the jet planes but at the same time the science is responsible of creating disastrous nuclear bombs, hence true benefits from it can be achieved only when it is used according to the principles laid down by Allah.
2. The second thing to understand is that scientific discoveries are of two kinds. Firstly those which pertain to human observation. Such discoveries are never in opposition to the Qur’an and the Traditions. In fact, they have helped to affirm the Qur’an and traditions in many things which were difficult for people to understand. For example, the tremendous speed of the “Buraq” (The heavenly horse) on which the Prophet travelled from Makkah to Jerusalem on the night of Ascension, was regarded as unimaginable by the so-called intellectuals of that time. But science has today proved that the speed is a relative entity that cannot be bound to any limits. Secondly, there are some views that are based on conjectures and presumptions due to lack of knowledge, rather than observation and certainty. The scientists have not reached any definite conclusions on these matters so far. Such findings sometimes are opposed to the explicit views of the Qur’an and the traditions. In such situations the most proper way is to maintain firm faith in them without making new interpretation to the Qur’an.
The scientific researches that clash with them should be regarded as yet inconclusive due to lack of knowledge about them. The more scientific knowledge keeps growing the more it will help to expound the realities described by the Qur’an and the traditions. For example, the scientists think that the “sky” has no physical existence. Obviously this hypothesis is not based on observation and definite proof but on the assumption that they have not been able to get any trace of the existence of the sky hence they do not accept its existence.In other words this hypothesis is based on “non existence of knowledge” rather than “knowledge of non-existence”. Hence we, the believers in the Qur’an and the Traditions, assert with full confidence that this hypothesis of the scientists is not correct. According to the Qur’an and Tradition the skies do exist but due to its lack of knowledge science has not been able to discover it. If scientific knowledge continue to increase it is quite possible that the scientists realize their mistake and they accept the existence of the skies, just as they have accepted many other things which they had been denying earlier. The problem is that the tendency of looking everything in its own perspective is gradually fading away from our minds. Whenever the importance of certain things dominates our mind we find it difficult to remain within bounds.
Undoubtedly, science and technology is very useful and is an essential branch of learning, and in the present times it is an inevitable requirement for the Muslim Ummah to survive. It is not possible to attain their due place in the world today without science. But this certainly does not mean that any hypothesis proclaimed by a scientist based on conjectures and individual ideas should be accepted as true and given the status of Divine Revelation (Wahy) and the door of interpolations and alterations in the Qur’an and the Sunnah be opened, or doubts and suspicions be given air on this basis, particularly when it is often observed that scientific views and theories are changing every day.
3. It must be remembered that the case of Islam is quite different from that of Christianity. The latter did not have the very force and spirit to stand against newly arising needs and scientific discoveries of man. Hence science threatened it as a great danger. Thus, in order to uphold the prestige of the church, it was essential for Christianity either to oppose scientific achievements or make amendments in the religion itself. In the beginning the Roman Catholic Church adopted the first course. Having full power and authority on the people, the scientists, like Galileo, had to face tremendous punishments.
But when the authority of church was made to lose its grip they had no alternatives than to make new interpretations and fabricate the religion itself. Hence the scholars of modernism adopted this way. It happened because the whole edifice of Christianity was erected on extremely unnatural and baseless grounds. Islam is a different religion. It is the natural religion and no sensible argument can challenge it. It is fully capable of fulfilling the needs of the time and to satisfy the demands of new circumstances without making any changes in the religion. Our belief is that the truth of Islam will flourish more and more with the advancement of science and scientific knowledge, provided that its point of view remains scientific in the real sense of the word and it does not give its conjectures the status of certainty and observation.
This is what the religious scholars of Islam think. It implies that everything must be looked in its true perspective. It will not be wise to cross the limits misled by sentimental slogans.
How strange it is that due to this moderate and absolutely reasonable attitude some people are constantly propagating that the scholars of Islam are opposed to science and technology and they do not like any progress in this field. We can only pray to Almighty Allah to bless them with common sense. Ameen.