WHY WE REFER TO SCIENCE ANDSCIENTIFIC FACTS WHEN EXPLAINING ISLAM
The Quran declares: "Those who truly fear God, among His servants, are those who have knowledge ."
The reason why we refer to science and scientific facts when explaining our religion is that some people are determined that they will never accept anything other than scientific facts. Materialists and anti-religious people have sought to exploit science as a means of defying religion and use its prestige to spread their thinking. By this means, they have distorted and corrupted the minds of a great number of people. Therefore, using the same materials we have to show that science and technology are not contradictory to our religion. In other words, as opposed to materialists who evaluated matter in their own way and thus went astray, we have to evaluate the same matter and lead people to the right path. I personally do not disapprove of this kind of argument. On the contrary, I hold that believers should be well versed in such facts in order to fight back against materialism and atheism. For, the verses of the Quran urge us to reflect and study, they direct us to observe the stars and galaxies. They impress upon us the Magnificence of the Creator. They exhort us also to wander among human beings and direct our attention to the miraculousness of our organs and physical creation. From the world of atoms to the largest beings, from man’s first being on the earth to his leaving it, the Quranic verses place the whole creation before our eyes. Touching upon a multitude of facts, the Quran tells us that those who truly fear God, among His servants, are those who have knowledge (al-Fatir, 35.28), and so encourages us to seek ‘ilm (knowledge), to reflect and to research. However, it should always be borne in mind as a first condition that all these reflections and research must comply with the spirit of the Quran. Otherwise, while claiming to be following the advice and command of the Quran, we shall in fact be departing from it.
Science and the facts it presents can and should be used to expound Islamic facts. But if we use them to show off our knowledge or to impress others with our authority, whatever we say does not influence its hearers in the right way, if at all. Words and arguments in themselves bright and persuasive lose their effectiveness on account of the intention in our hearts: they get as far as the listeners’ eardrums and no further. Similarly, if our argument aims at silencing people instead of persuading them, we shall ourselves have blocked the listeners’ way to understanding and so fail to achieve our goals. However, if we try to persuade with a full and proper sincerity, those who do need such arguments to believe will receive their portion and benefit from it even if we ourselves do not notice this happening. Sometimes an argument sincerely presented in this way, even if you felt at the time it was ineffective, may in reality be far more beneficial to the listeners than another when 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 them according to the level of the listeners.
It is not correct to regard science as superior in some way to religion, or to present substantial Islamic issues with this attitude as if to justify religion or reinforce its credibility by means of modern scientific facts. This attitude is incorrect because it implies that we ourselves have doubts about the truths of Islam and are, or to speak, in need of science. Equally incorrect is it to accept science or scientific facts as absolute, as the decisive criteria for the authenticity or supra-human origin of the Quran, and so place them in a position which confirms the Quran. This is not only absurd, it is abhorrent and by no means to be permitted or tolerated. Such arguments and allusions to science have at best a secondary, supportive use and may be of value in that they open a door onto a way which, otherwise, certain people simply would not know exists.
Science is to be used therefore as an instrument of awakening or stirring some minds that, otherwise, might remain asleep or unmoved. We may think of it as a dusting brush with which to brush the dust off the truth, and the desire for truth, which lie hidden in unstirred consciences. By contrast, if we set out from the position that science is the absolute, we shall end up seeking to fit the Qur’an and Hadith to it, and where the Qur’an and Hadith disagree with science we shall be the instigators of doubt and corruption.
Our position must be clear, and it is this: the Quran and Hadith are true and absolute. Science and scientific facts are true as long as they are in agreement with the Quran and Hadith, and are false inasmuch as they differ or lead away from the truth of Quran and Hadith. Even the definitely established scientific facts cannot be pillars to uphold the truths of iman (faith). They can and should only be accepted as an instrument to give us ideas or to trigger us to reflect. God it is Who establishes the truths of iman in our conscience. To expect that that takes place, or could take place, through science is a grave error: iman comes by Divine guidance, and only by Divine guidance. Anyone who fails to grasp this is in an error from which it is hard to recover. Because, while he is trying to look for and gather evidence from the universe, he will attempt to make it speak eloquently in the Name of God, and thus he himself will always remain as a servant to nature and as a nature worshipper, though unaware of being so. He will study and speak of flowers, of the verdancy and spring of nature, but not the least greenness or bud of iman will sprout in his conscience. In his lifetime, he may never feel the existence of God within his consciousness. In appearance, he will be free from worshipping nature, but in reality that is what he will be doing throughout his lifetime.
A man is mu’min (a believer) owing to the iman (belief – faith) he holds in his heart, not to the heaps of knowledge in his head. After a person has got as far as he can in understanding by means of evidence objective and subjective, he must rid himself of dependence on the outer circumstances and qualities and conditions of all such evidence if he is to proceed at all in making spiritual progress. When he abandons that dependence and walks in the way of his heart and conscience within the light and guidance of the Qur’an, then, as God wills, he may find the enlightenment he is looking for: as the German philosopher, Kant, said: "I felt the need to leave behind all the books I read in order to believe in God."
Undoubtedly, the grand book of the universe, the book of the true nature of man, and the books that comment on these, have their proper place and significance. But, after man makes use of them, he should be rid of them and live with his iman, as it were, face to face. What we are here saying may seem abstract to those who have not gone deep into the experience of faith and conscience. But those souls whose nights are bright with devotion and who acquire wings through their longing to aspire to their Lord will understand.
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