Saturday, 10 January 2015

Quran and Invitation to Scientific Study


The case with Islam differs. In the midst of ignorance and benightedness where scientific knowledge was scorned, the Qur’ān eloquently pointed out many new found facts with such remarkable accuracy that only the Creator of man could do. It has only been in the last three centuries with specific regard being given to the present century that scientific research has unfolded and clarified the workings of the universe. This has ranged from the development and function of our own bodies to the environment that we live in. Yet the Qur’ān has already described these natural phenomena to focus man’s attention on the wisdom, benevolence and authority of the Creator. Such liberal and advanced thinking led the way to an entire host of Islamic academics and scientists between the 8th and 12th centuries’ (A.D).

At a time when Christianity laid down heavy penalties on scientific development, Muslim scholars flocked to the University of Cordoba, the cultural center of Islam, making new discoveries. There is a long list of scientists and scholars who made remarkable contributions in different fields of science. Abul Qāsim az-Zahrawī was a renowned Muslim surgeon and physician. His fame rests in his book “al-Tasrīf”. This was an amazing work on medical science which laid the foundation of the development of surgery in Europe. Abu Ishāq was a great philosopher and translator. He translated and wrote commentaries on the philosophical works of Aristotle. He was also a famous mathematician, astronomer, optician, physicist and pharmacologist. Abū Raihān al-Bayrūni was the first to discover that light travels faster than sound. He was also a learned philosopher, geographer and a physicist. Abul Wafā al-Buzajānī was a notable mathematician. His contributions to the development of Trigonometry are remarkable. Ibn al-Haytham was a prominent Muslim physicist who made the first significant contributions to the optical theory. Ibn Sinā, a renowned Muslim scientist, produced a book “Kitab-ush-Shifā’”. It discusses the natural sciences including Metaphysics, Astronomy, Geometry and Psychology. Muhammad bin Mūsa al-Khawarzimī was a famous mathematician and astronomer. He accomplished the oldest works on Arithmetic and Algebra. He was the first person to use Zero. Al-Fārābī was a great Islamic thinker who transmitted the doctrines of Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle to the Arab world. And last but not the least Jābir bin Hayyān is recognised as the father of modern Chemistry. He introduced experimental research in chemical sciences.

In the eleventh and the succeeding centuries the Arabic knowledge gained popularity in the West. Since the twelfth century knowledge seekers from all over Europe traveled to the East and the Islamic West. The books of the Arab scientists were translated on a large scale in that era. The Christian rulers of Spain followed the footsteps of the Muslim sovereigns, opened the doors of their courts to scientists and scholars and patronized dissemination of intellectual and scientific learning. Al-Fanso VI occupied Teetlah (renowned cultural city of Islamic Spain) in 1085. This conquest opened the way for the promotion of Arabic culture in Europe. A centre named “Madrasa-tul-Mutarajjimīn” (centre of translators) was established in Teetlah to introduce Arabic science to Europe. Here, Jewish scholars were appointed to translate the Muslim authors’ books on Mathematics, Astronomy, Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Philosophy, Logic and Politics. Educational centres were also set up on Islamic style in the twelfth and the subsequent centuries.

In fact the more, the modern science unfolds the reality of these phenomena, the more the truth of the Qur’ān becomes evident to us. At a time when scientific research did not even exist, let alone different fields of science, such precise knowledge could not come from any source but from the knowledge and wisdom of Allāh the Highest. For many this is a paradox, as religion has always been seen the bane of science, its antithesis. The legacy of Galileo has prejudiced the scientific community against religion, including the ambit of Islam. The following pages, therefore, present these scientific facts scattered through the verses of the Qur’ān for the benefit of Muslims and non- Muslims alike. These verses of the Qur’ān not only proclaim the truth of the book itself but also beautifully demonstrate that attribute of Allāh, the Blessed, the source of sustenance for everything in the universe.

Here I would like to clearly state my position that I do not justify changing the meaning of the Qur’ānic verses to bring them in line with scientific discoveries, nor do I regard the scientific interpretation of the Qur’ān as final, because scientific knowledge itself constantly changes and evolves. Science has very little in it, which can be called final and absolute. On the other hand the word of the Creator of the universe is not subject to any change; it is final and absolute. With these words of caution, however, I feel there are two important reasons to study the Qur’ān in the light of modern sciences.

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