Tuesday, 20 December 2011

When Modern Science Agrees with the Qur'an*

By Fethullah Gulen**

We refer to many branches of science and scientific facts today and use them to analyze various things and events — even religious matters. We refer to them, either one at a time or in groups, to provide evidence of Allah's existence and oneness to those who need such evidence.
Similarly, when looking at science in the light of the Qur'an, we point out that it contains information about the nature of things that agrees with modern scientific findings. Consider medicine. I once read a book called Medicine Is the Niche of the Faith. It is really so, and we must acknowledge God when studying our bodily existence and development. For instance, the Qur'anic description of the embryo corresponds exactly to what we know today. Furthermore, the Qur'an does not contain a single statement on this matter that modern science can criticize.
How could an unlettered desert Arab living more than 1,400 years ago know such facts, which were discovered recently by x-ray machines and other sophisticated equipment only after many centuries of intensive scientific research? We use such Qur'anic statements to argue for the Qur'an's divine origin. This, in turn, corroborates the truth of Muhammad's prophethood.
We refer to science and scientific facts when explaining Islam because some people are determined to reject anything that is not "scientific." Materialists and those opposed (or indifferent) to religion have sought to exploit science to defy religion and use its prestige to spread their thinking. Many people have followed their lead, which means that we have to use the same tools of science and technology to show that they do not contradict Islam and to lead people to the right path.
I agree with such an argument. Muslims should be well-versed in scientific facts to refute the claims of materialists and atheists. Many Qur'anic verses urge us to reflect and study and to observe the stars and galaxies. They impress upon us the Creator's magnificence, and exhort us to travel and observe the miraculousness of our organs and of creation.
The Qur'an's verses place all of 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 (Fatir 35:28), and so encourages us to seek knowledge, to reflect and research. However, remember that the first condition for all such activities is that they comply with the spirit of the Qur'an, lest we begin departing from it.
Our knowledge of science and its facts can and should be used to expound Islamic facts, not to impress others or silence their arguments. Our primary aim must be to win the pleasure of God and make sure that our audience understands the points we are making.
It is wrong to regard science as superior to religion and to seek to justify substantial Islamic issues and Islam as a whole through modern scientific facts. Such attempts show that we have doubts about Islam and thus need science to reinforce our own belief. It is also wrong to accept science or scientific facts as absolute, for such things are subject to change. At best, they only support what the Qur'an says. In no way can the unchangeable and eternal Qur'an be confirmed by that which is changeable and temporary. Given this, Muslims should use science only as a tool to awaken sleeping or confused minds.
Science and scientific facts are true only as long as they agree with the Qur'an and the authentic Hadith. Even definitely established scientific facts cannot uphold the truths of faith; they can be only instruments to give us ideas or to trigger us to reflect. God, not science, establishes the truths of faith in our conscience, for faith comes only by Divine guidance. Those who seek to acquire faith from science may never feel the existence of God within their own consciousness. In reality, they will be nature worshipers, not worshipers of God.
We are believers because of the faith in our hearts, not the knowledge in our heads. Objective and subjective evidence can take us only so far. After that, we must drop all such things in order to make any spiritual progress at all. When we follow our heart and conscience within the Qur'an's light and guidance, God may guide us to the enlightenment for which we are looking. As the German philosopher Kant said, "I felt the need to leave behind all the books I read in order to believe in God."

* Taken, with slight modifications and with kind permission, from the author's website.
** Fethullah Gulen is an influential Turkish Muslim intellectual who inspired a series of social activities, including a transnational education and business.
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