“Science” from the Islamic perspective

Dr. Sekou Toure

  • Monday 09, September 2019 11:04 AM
  • “Science” from the Islamic perspective
Preface Seeking knowledge and educating oneself is a crucial issue in Islam, be it the knowledge that is classified under sciences, humanities and social studies or so-called religious studies and spiritualties. They are all value the same weight in Islam, no one is preferred among the other nor it is superior above the other, this is because verses that reveal importance of knowledge in Islam are general, some of these verses are going to be mentioned and clarified herein in this article, same is right about the prophetic tradition in term of generalization importance of knowledge to all fields of studies.
Purifying “re-examining” the concept of science:

Speaking of science, perhaps the majority of people will evoke empirical and experimental fields of studies, such as engineering, medicine, health sciences, chemistry, physics, math, and name others.

The reason of that could be simply that it is meant by “science” nowadays “the pursuit and application of knowledge and understanding of the natural and social world following a systematic methodology based on evidence”. By this definition of science and other famous similar definitions, metaphysics and religious sciences are barely to be included, whereas in the early days of Islam and the golden age of Islamic civilization all the aforementioned were considered an integral part of science along with the Islamic education and spirituality.

In fact, Islamic studies were not only an integral part of “science” but it was also the core, energy and the backbone towards the scientific journey and discovery generally.

Reasoning and intellectuality “تعقّل” as an avenue to the “science”

Observation, deep analysis and synthesizing are the typical means and avenue for an object, thing or a phenomenon to be realized, discovered, and examined. In order to know the reality of the oxygen components and its functions, for example; a researcher should observe and examine the hypothesis that helps to figure out findings, and that process will never happen without proper using of reasoning and the human intellect. Likewise faith in Islam.

Islam is against the notions of “blind following” “close your eyes and follow me” “faith can neither be explained nor can it be justified” “religion is built upon ignorance” “follow me without asking” “just believing on it”.

On the contrary, Qur’an encourages people towards knowing before believing. Moreover, how can a person believe in what he/she has no knowledge of?! Allah say: “And do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge. Indeed, the hearing, the sight and the heart - about all those [one] will be questioned” and He also say: “So know, [O Muhammad], that there is no deity except Allah”.

Thus, as theories are not scientific facts unless they are proven; likewise, neither doubt nor conjecture makes faith in Islam without facts that lead to faith. Qur’an “Sais, [O Muhammad], "O people, if you are in doubt as to my religion - then I do not worship those which you worship besides Allah”.

Reading “اقرأ” is another avenue towards “Science”

Another important tool of achieving knowledge and science being it religious sciences or so-called worldly sciences is to read. And reading in Islam is of two means; to read the universe and to read books including the Holy Qur’an. Furthermore, the findings of the two reading should lead to the same answers if the reading occurs accordingly and systematically. It is meant by reading the universe pondering about it, observing it, thinking of its laws and correlations and using the mind to discover it and relate it to the other phenomenon of the exist.

Qur’an mentions such reading in verses such as, “Then do they not look at the camels how they are created? And at the sky how it is raised? And at the mountains - how they are erected? And at the earth how it is spread out? So remind, [O Muhammad]; you are only a reminder” this verse encourages the following sciences:
The bottom line is that true knowledge being it worldly knowledge or religious is what supposed to be called science, regardless of the source; from human being via mind, or from Allah through revelation. Moreover, they both can lead to the truth and fact then to faith.

No wonder what the first word revealed to the prophet Mouhammed is “read” no “have faith” or “believe”.

Virtue of knowledge in Islam is inclusive

Islam urges people to work hard for discovering the realities of the universe and things around them. The Holy Qur’an and the prophetic tradition contain many verses and reports in this regards. Yet, these reports that indicate virtue of knowledge in Islam are not exclusive; rather they are inclusive and comprehensive, they are to be applied for all different kinds of science. In other words, they are not confined to Islamic or religious studies only and prevent the other fields of studies form enjoying such nobility and dignity, neither they are merely about physical and applied sciences.

These two verses prove so; “Do you not see that Allah sends down rain from the sky, and We produce thereby fruits of varying colors? And in the mountains are tracts, white and red of varying shades and [some] extremely black. And among people and moving creatures and grazing livestock are various colors similarly. Only those fear Allah, from among His servants, who have knowledge. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Forgiving”.

It is clear that meteorology, botany, orography, geology sociology and anthropology all have been mentioned above in the two verses before relating knowledge to fearing Allah. Moreover, this explains the meaning of “read” as the first verse revealed in Islam and it is also related to several verses ordering Muslims to think and ponder upon the universe and its different elements.

Hence, the importance of reading and knowledge are inclusive; the position of an expert is highly granted, the virtue of a knowledge seeker is undeniable, regardless of the field of specialization and irrespective to whether the student/expert specializes in Islamic studies or other fields. All general verses and Hadith in this respects are therefore comprehensive; especially when this is associated to building up the universe “’Imaratul Kawn” and to bring civilization, not to mention that it is a communal obligation in Islam to have Muslims scantiest in all different fields including Sharia and religious studies.

Last, but not the least, whatever discoveries human being manage to achieve scientifically and by using the proper method is called science in Islam including Islamic studies. Nevertheless, it is important not thinking of imposing a particular field research approach and methodology upon another or judging a field against another based on one’s characteristics. Rather, a holistic picture is to be maintained. Therefore, Islam is with multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research. This is what has been named “integration of knowledge”.