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Why Religion?

Discover Islam

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WHY DO WE REFER TO SCIENCE AND SCIENTIFIC FACTS WHEN EXPLAINING ISLAM?

We refer to science and scientific facts when explaining Islam because some people only accept scientific facts. Materialists and both non- and anti-re­ligious people have sought to exploit science to defy religion and give their ideas more prestige than they deserve. By doing so, they have misled and cor­rupted the minds of very many people. Therefore, we must learn how “to talk their language” in order to prove that science and technology do not contra­dict Islam. We have to turn the arguments of such people against them by evaluating them and then using them to guide people to the right way.

Such an approach is entirely permissible, for how can we dispute what such people say if we are not well-versed in their facts and ideas? The Qur’an urge us to reflect and study, to observe the stars and galaxies. They impress upon us the Magnificence of the Creator, exhort us to wander among people, and direct our attention to the miraculous nature of our organs and physical creation.

From atoms to the larg­est beings, from the first human being’s appearance on Earth until our final departure, the Qur’an places all creation before our eyes. Touching upon a multitude of facts, it tells us that those who truly fear God, among His ser­vants, are those who have knowledge (35:28), and so encourages us to seek knowledge, to reflect and re­search. However, we must never forget that all such activities must comply with the spirit of the Qur’an. Otherwise, even though we claim to be following its advice and command, actually we will be moving away from it.

Science and its facts can and should be used to explain Islamic facts. But if we use them to show off our knowledge, whatever we say cannot influence our hearers in the right way, if at all. Bright and persuasive words and arguments lose their effectiveness if we have the wrong intention: they get as far as the lis­teners’ ear­drums and no further. Similarly, if our argu­ments seek to silence others instead of persuade them, it is we who will be responsible for blocking their way to a correct understanding. And so our effort will fail, and our goals remain unachieved.

How­ever, if we try to per­suade with a full and proper sin­cerity, even those who need such arguments to believe will receive their portion and benefit. Sometimes a sincere argu­ment may be far more beneficial than one in which you spoke rather more freely and eloquently. Our primary aim when introducing science and scientific facts must be to win the pleasure of God, and we must present such knowledge ac­cording to our audience’s level.

Science cannot be regarded as superior to religion, and substantial Islamic issues cannot use science or modern scientific facts to justify or reinforce religion’s credibility. If we adopt such techniques, we are proclaiming that we ourselves have doubts about the truths of Islam and therefore need science to support them. In addition, we cannot ac­cept science or scientific facts as absolute. Making science the decisive criteria for the Qur’an’s authenticity or Divine origin, thereby placing science over the Qur’an, is absurd, abhorrent, and completely impermissible. Such argu­ments and allusions to science have, at best, a secondary and supportive use. Their only possible value is that they might open a door onto a way that certain people simply would not know exists.

Science is to be used to awak­en or stir some minds that otherwise might re­main asleep or unmoved. It is like a feather duster used to brush the dust off the truth and the desire for truth, which lie hidden in un­stirred consciences. If we begin by saying that science is absolute, we shall end up seeking to fit the Qur’an and Hadith to it. The result of any such undertaking can only be doubt and confusion especially when we cannot reconcile the Qur’an and Hadith with some of the present assertions of science which may be falsified in future.

Our position must be clear: The Qur’an and Hadith are true and absolute. Science and scientific facts are true (or false) only to the degree that they agree (or disagree) with these sources. Even defi­nitely established scientific facts cannot be pillars to uphold the truths of iman (faith); rather, they can be accepted only as instruments giving us ideas or triggering our reflection on God, Who estab­lishes the truths of iman in our con­science. To expect that this does or even could take place through science is a grave error: iman comes only by Divine guidance.

Anyone who fails to grasp this has fallen into an error from which it is hard to recover. Such people look for and gather evidence from the universe and, trying to make it speak eloquently in the Name of God, remain unconscious servants to nature and nature worshippers. They study and speak of flowers, of the ver­dancy and spring of nature, but not the least greenness or bud of iman sprouts in their conscience. They may never even feel the existence of God within their con­scious­ness. In appearance they do not worship nature, but in reality that is what they are doing.

A man or a woman is a mu’min (one with iman) owing to the iman in his or her heart, not to the great amount of knowledge in his or her head. After we have understood as much as we can about the objective and subjective evi­dence we have gathered, we must break our de­pendence on the outer circumstances, qualities, and conditions of such evidence. Only by doing this will we be able to make any spiritual progress. When we abandon this dependence and follow our heart and con­science within the Qur’an’s light and guidance, then, if God wills, we will find the en­lightenment for which we are looking. As the German philoso­pher Immanuel Kant once said: “I felt the need to leave behind all the books I have read in order to believe in God.”

Undoubtedly, the grand Book of the Universe and the book of the true nature of humanity, as well as their commentaries, have their proper place and significance. But after we use them, we should put them aside and live with our iman, as it were, face to face. This might sound rather abstract to those who have not gone deep into the experience of faith and conscience. But for those whose nights are bright with devotion, and who acquire wings through their longing to aspire to their Lord, the meaning is clear.

 


Recommended Reading:
The western concept of science and Qura'nic approach to it

Last Updated on October 26, 2000

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