It must be clarified however, that the faith of Muslims is not conditional based upon whether or not scientific fact coincides with what is found in the Qur’an or in authentic statements (hadeeth) of the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam1). If scientific discoveries coincide with what has already been uncovered or mentioned in the Qur’an, it is then viewed as a confirmation of what was already held as true and it may also be a clarification of those matters which may have been beyond the scope of human knowledge at any given time. The case may arise however, where the views held by scientific circles may conflict with assertions made in the Qur'an and the authentic hadeeth. In such a case, Muslims are duty bound to accept what is evident in the religious texts and should scrutinize what is held to be the scientific view. This is the general rule with regards to understanding religious texts from the Qur'an and the hadeeth.
If it is proven that a particular matter is absolutely scientifically true and incontrovertible then Islam does not revise itself, nor do Muslims revise authenticated source texts (as has occurred in other religious traditions), particularly the Qur'an and hadeeth. Rather it is the Muslim who may revise his understanding of the texts. It is a standing miracle that up to now, no contradictions to such irrefutable facts have been found in the Qur'an. Assertions to the contrary have all been refuted as inaccurate, and in many cases stemmed from prejudice or faulty scholarship. Indeed, what has proven true is that science has only recently discovered what was long ago revealed in the Qur'an!
The interpretation of the Qur'aan is not predicated on whether it is verified by scientific means. It is based upon what the Qur'aan itself relates on the verse in question, what is authentically reported that the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) stated about it, what the understanding of his companions was regarding it, Arabic language, and in the case where there is no direct statement from these sources may scholars then apply other means to deduce the correct meaning. This is the stage where physical science may be utilized to help clarify or explain the meaning.
Viewpoints are much different than fact or theory and one must not confuse the two. It has occurred in the past where scientists have presented a hypothesis, view, or theory, only to revise later what they had earlier asserted due to advancements in technology or new discoveries. The development of human embryology is a case in point. When European scientists had no absolute proof of exactly how human reproduction occurred, they nevertheless insisted on their theories of the time. Muslim scholars however, finding that the statements of the European scientists contradicted the authentic statement of the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam), rejected the 'scientific' assertions of the Europeans who were later forced to retract their previous assertions. It also became evident that the Islamic view had indeed been correct all along!
It should also be pointed out that the realm of the unseen, that is, the 'supra' or 'super' natural is something outside the scope of science and therefore cannot be measured or captured by any instrument. Islam, as do other major religions, insists upon belief in the Divine Creator, angels, revelation, the Hereafter and other matters which are decidedly beyond scientific reach. This work is therefore not directly related to these matters however the following questions are posed:
If the Qur'an is so accurate about matters of science that we can now measure, and this before man's ability to do so, does it not stand to reason that it must be from a source possessing knowledge far beyond that of our own?
Does it not stand to reason that such a source could then accurately relate matters of the unseen, the human soul, and an Afterlife that no human being could possibly scientifically confirm or deny?
We must then seriously consider the greater message brought forth in the Qur'an and by Muhammad (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) regarding the human condition and what awaits mankind. We pray that this effort at least offers 'food-for-thought' to those who take the time to read it.
The format of this edition
differs from the printed edition in order to afford greater textual flow
and increased readability. References to the actual speaker have been made
where necessary. Also, several references were made to figures, graphs
or photographs that we were forced to omit for the sake of space considerations
or the availablity of a quality electronic image at this time. Perhaps
this will be ammended in the future. Also, this Web Edition has been supplemented
with related comments and excerpts from the book "A Brief Guide To Understanding
Islam" by I.A. Ibrahim, also previously published by Al-Haramain Foundation.