Why do we refer to science and scientific fact 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.