Islam and Science Was Never a Contradiction – Let’s Not Pretend it is Now

The Islamic question concerns both the reconciliation of Islam and the West, as well as the added value it provides for our post-modern society.

The question deserves at least an article in which we look at the added value of the Islamic heritage from different angles. In order to disprove any common cliché, we will study it through the eye of Science, which is the only valid frame reference.

Islam ‘versus’ Science?

Linking science with Islam is nowadays (in many people’s opinions at least) a paradox. People assume that science and religion are contradictory to one another. This of course has to do with the way science used to be prohibited.

Both, however, can be easily reconciled. Even better, in my opinion, science requires some sort of ethical frame reference (as Islam could do). The actual goal is not so much the scientific progress but it is a way of being able to complete our task as to why we were created.

The Quran and Sunnah are the Islamic commandments that help Muslims understand their purpose on Earth. Allah invites Man to look at Creation, reflect and investigate in order to discover God’s Omnipotence.

Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding. Who remember Allah while standing or sitting or [lying] on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth… (Quran 3:190-191)

Ethical motivation for scientists

If you check the history books, you will soon find that the Islamic civilisation came to its height around the time that Muslims understood this all-embracing world image. Generations grew up where it was not unusual for Muslims to study science in a mosque. To clarify: the use of a mosque went further than just a place to pray. A mosque was therefore the place to be to completely understand the purpose of Creation.

The Islamic scientists took into account God’s advice to think about Creation. They soon discovered that science is the way to do research. After a couple of years there was a load of professionals in mathematics, chemistry, physics, astronomy, social sciences, zoology, biology, microbiology, mineralogy, geometry, geology, geography and many other sub sciences. Science has been able to achieve its current level thanks to years of scientific effort that was passed on, updated and modernised over the next generations.

Which contribution?

Now let us return to the Islamic heritage that has helped us to fulfil our purpose here on Earth. Many leading Islamic scientists have built up an expertise from which various societies have benefitted. However, these contributions have lost public interest ever since. This has to do with the fact that those Golden Ages have suffered from decay caused by various circumstances. Apart from that, they can help us understand a large part of the Islamic Question.

Written by Khalid El Jafoufi

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Khalid El Jafoufi is a 21-year-old law student with an interest in politics, sociology, ethics and education.