II. ISLAM AND SCIENCE
Western thought today is in the midst of a raging battle between religion and
science. It is almost impossible for a western thinker today to accept the fact
that there may be a meeting ground between religion and science. The Bible, in
which the Christians believe, states that the tree from which the Prophet Adam
(‘alaihi salaam) was forbidden to eat was the tree of knowledge. Thus, after
he ate from it, he gained certain knowledge that he had not had before. For this
reason, Europe spent two centuries arguing whether or not to accept scientific
knowledge coming from Muslims.
The Church ruled that the pursuit of such scientific knowledge was the cause for the original sin. The bishops drew their evidence from the Old Testament, where it is mentioned that when Adam ate of the tree and gained some knowledge, Allah was displeased with him and denied him mercy. Scientific knowledge was therefore rejected entirely by the Church as a taboo.
Finally, when the free thinkers and scientists of the West were able to overcome the power of the Church, they took revenge by going in the opposite direction and suppressing any power of the religion. They went to all possible extremes in order to overcome the power of the Church and reduce its influence into a narrow and a confined corner.
Therefore, if you discuss the issue of religion and science with a westerner, he readily goes into sheer wonderment. They do not know Islam. They do not know that Islam accords a very high status to knowledge and men of knowledge, regarding them as witnesses, after the angels, to the fact that there is no Allah but Allah, as Allah himself has told us in the Qur’an:
There is no Allah but He: That is the witness of Allah, His angels and those endued with knowledge. (Qur’an 3:18)
And Allah, may He be exalted and Glorified has also told us:
Know, therefore, that there is no true deity but Allah. (Qur’an 47:19)
It is known from the Qur’an that Adam (‘alaihi salaam) was favored over the angels by virtue of the knowledge given to him by Allah. The Qur’anic story contradicts that of the Bible which Muslims hold to have been distorted. According to the Qur’an, the fact that Adam was given knowledge is a mark of honor, and not the cause of his expulsion from Paradise. Hence, if one discusses Islam and science with Western thinkers, they tend to expect an argument similar to what they have in their own religious and cultural context. That is why they react with surprise when they are presented with the crystal clear facts of the Qur’an and Sunnah.
Among those who were taken by surprise is Dr. Joe Leigh Simpson, Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Professor of Molecular and Human Genetics at the Baylor College of Medicine, Houston. When we first met him, Professor Simpson insisted on verifying the Qur’an and the Sunnah. We were able, however, to remove his suspicion. We presented to him the text outlining the development of the embryo. We proved to him that the Qur’an informs us that the hereditary and the chromosomal make-up of the new being take place only after a successful union between the sperm and the ovum. As we know, these chromosomes contain all the characteristics which the new human being will have such as the color of the eyes, skin, hair, etc.
Hence, many of the details in the human being’s make-up are determined in his chromosomes. These chromosomes begin to form during the early nutfah stage of embryonic development. In other words, the distinguishing features of the new human being are determined from the very beginning at the nutfah stage. Allah, the Most Exalted, the Most Glorified, has stated this fact in the Qur’an:
Woe to man! What has made him reject Allah ? From what stuff has He created him? From a sperm-drop: He has created him, and then molded him in due proportion. (Qur’an 80:17-19)
During the first 40 days of gestation, all the body parts and organs are completely, though consecutively formed. We can notice in Figure 2.1 that the organs begin to be formed, assembled, and the fetus appears twisted. The Prophet Muhammad, (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), has informed us in a hadeeth that: In every one of you, all components of your creation are gathered together in your mothers’ womb by 40 days. (Narrated in Saheeh Muslim and Al-Bukhaari).
In another Hadeeth, Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: When forty-two nights have passed over the drop (nutfah), Allah sends an angel to it, who shapes it and makes its ears, eyes, skin, flesh and bones. Then he says, 'O Lord, is it male or female?' and your Lord decides what he wishes. (Muslim).
Professor Simpson studied these two hadeeths extensively, noting that the first 40 days constitute a clearly distinguishable stage of embryogenesis. He was particularly impressed by the absolute precision and accuracy of those hadeeths. Then during one of the conferences which he attended he gave the following opinion: So that the two hadeeths that have been noted can provide us with a specific time table for the main embryological development before 40 days. Again, the point had been made repeatedly by other speakers this morning that these hadeeths could not have been obtained on the basis of the scientific knowledge that was available at the time of their recording.
Professor Simpson says that religion can successfully guide the pursuit of knowledge. The West, as we said, has rejected this. Here is an American scientist who says that religion, namely Islam, can achieve this with success. By analogy, if you go to a factory and have with you the operation manual of the factory, then you will be able to easily understand the kind of operation that goes on in that factory, thanks to that manual by the factory designer and builder. If you do not have this manual with you, chances are much less that you will have good understanding of the various processes there.
Professor Simpson said: It follows, I think, that not only is there no conflict between genetics and religion, but in fact religion can guide science by adding revelation to some traditional scientific approaches. That there exists statements in the Qur’an shown by science to be valid, which supports knowledge in the Qur’an having been derived from Allah.
This is true. Certainly, the Muslims can lead the way in the pursuit of knowledge and that they can accord knowledge in its proper status. Moreover, Muslims know how to use knowledge as a proof of the existence of Allah, May Allah be Exalted and Glorified, and to affirm the Messengership of Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam).
Allah said in the Qur’an:
Soon will we show them our signs in the (furthest) regions (of the earth), and in their own souls, until it becomes manifest to them that this is the truth. Is it not enough that thy Lord does witness all things? (Qur’an 41:53).
After having realized through examples of scientific miracles in the Qur'aan as well as knowing the related comments of the objective scientists on them, let us ask ourselves these questions:
The only possible answer to that is that the Qur'aan must be the literal word of God (Allah ) revealed by Him. The Qur'aan is the literal word of Allah which He revealed to His Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) through the Angel Jibreel (Gabriel). It was memorized by Muhammad (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) who then dictated it to his companions. They in turn memorized it, wrote it down, and reviewed it with the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam).
Moreover, the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) reviewed the Qur'aan with the Angel Jibreel once every Ramadhan (the month of fasting) and twice in the last year of his life in the same islamic calendar. Since the Qur'aan was revealed up until this day, there has always been a huge number of Muslims who have memorized all of the Qur'aan, letter by letter. Some of them have been able to memorize all of the Qur'aan by the age of ten. Thus, it is not surprising to note that not one letter of the Qur'aan has been changed for centuries up to now.
The Qur'aan which was revealed 14 centuries ago mentioned facts that are only recently discovered by proven scientists. This proves without doubt that the Qur'aan must be the literal word of Allah, revealed by Him to the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) and it also proves that Muhammad (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) is truly a Messenger and Prophet sent by Allah. It is beyond reason that anyone fourteen hundred years ago would have known these facts discovered or proven very recently with advanced equipment and sophisticated methods.