Academic journal article Islam & Science

Teaching Science from an Islamic Perspective

Academic journal article Islam & Science

Teaching Science from an Islamic Perspective

Article excerpt

O humankind! Recall the blessings which Allah has bestowed upon you! Is there any creator, other than Allah, who can provide for your sustenance out of heaven and earth? There is no deity save Him; and yet, how turned away you are! (Q 35:3)

There is no place on earth where the enterprise of science is now rooted in the Islamic view of the physical world. The physical world--which science studies systematically and in an accumulative manner, through a continuous and sustained process building on the work of previous generations, resulting in testable explanations and reliable knowledge which can be duplicated anywhere--can be conceived in many different ways, but all such approaches fold into two primary categories: (i) a theistic conception, involving a single creator who brought the world into existence from non-existence; and (ii) a conception in which there is no room for a creator, or which conceives the created world to be caused by more than one creator. These two categories are independent of time and place as well as of the person who conceives them.

The way we understand the physical world has far-reaching implications for science, for not only the "how" but also the "why" of science is governed by this basic framework. Since this primary conception determines how and why we do science, it also, therefore, governs, in various ways, institutions of scientific research, relationships between members of the scientific community and organizations, science policies, funding for science, the manner and extent to which scientific knowledge is shared, and other aspects related to the enterprise of science. Since the enterprise of science, as it now exists, is also umbilically linked to technology, power, money, politics, defense, wars of aggression, and a multibillion dollar industrial complex, this initial understanding of the physical world also has a direct relationship with all of these aspects of the contemporary world.

If the physical world, that is, all that exists in and around us, is conceived theistically, then we immediately encounter two fundamental questions: the raison d'etre of its creation and our relationship with it. There is no logical necessity for these questions to arise in the case of a non-theistic conception: in the absence of a singular, unique and one Creator, the natural world simply exists by itself, needing neither a raison d'etre for its existence, nor an agency to manage and govern it: it simply is. human beings and all other creatures can come and go, but it remains; and all who come and go can only have transitory relations with it.

There is now no place on earth where the enterprise of science is rooted in the conception that takes the natural world as a creation of Allah, whose Most Beautiful Names (al-asma' al-husna) include al-Khaliq (the Creator), al-Bari (the Originator), and al-Musawwir (the Shaper and Fashioner of forms). What is being done in the name of science in Makkah is no different than what is being done in Washington D.C. or Moscow or Berlin. There is now only one, monochromatic, global science, which has gained a status that is independent of the race, religion, and culture of the scientist. Scientists may have any belief, but science itself is beyond beliefs; or so it is claimed. It just investigates the physical world without taking into consideration issues of religion and it has nothing to do with its Creator, if there is one. Such is the claim of modern science, and its severance from the Sacred has become commonplace; no one is shocked by the absurdity of an object existing without a subject. The "neutrality" of science with regard to this basic question is considered a sine qua non for good science. Yet, despite this "official position", both science and scientists dabble with the "God question" and a book written by a scientist on the "god hypothesis" remains on the bestseller list for months--not because of any intrinsic value of its text, but merely because it is marketed as the work of a scientist. …

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