Scientific Epistemology of Quran – An overview

Bismillah,

“These mullahs and molvis are always against technological advancements the world is going through. Why don’t they let us live our lives better?” asks a modern (pseudo) liberal. These liberals think that Islam is against the modern science and the technology that our scientists have worked hard. Just because someone doesn’t know what Islam really is, one shouldn’t pass such statements based on one person’s intellect.

Such liberals think, Islam wants us to leave our productive machinery from iphones and androids to the use of computer to new biological discoveries. They think, Islam wants us to stop thinking about the astro physics where every other minute a new universe is being discovered, a new star is observed and new galaxies are created and destroyed. They think, Islam wants us to leave this world of comfort and go back to stone age with respect to way of life as well as intellect. Well, that is the sort of arguments we listen every now and then in news papers, news channels and from all the pseudo liberals who doesn’t take the pain to study anything from the original sources. I feel, this is our mistake. We are unable to take the message out to them in the language and method they understand. But, this gives them no right to discuss (rather bash) anything about which they really don’t have any idea.

Today I write this article to quote some ayahs from the Quran, the book which Muslims believe that its the word of Allah the Creator of this Universe and the Creator of all what science studies, the book that is the not a book of science rather a book that studies the possibility to make this world a peaceful place to live. It is a book of morality, modernity, justice, peace, motivating its readers about scientific research and methodology. Read on if you don’t know how.

The very innate scientific method which is the base line of all the discoveries science has possiblly made is what has been appreciated in the Quran several times. Scientific method begins with the study of physical things through observation. Quran at various places appreciates this kind of thinking process which is preceded by observation and followed by critical thinking and hypothetical analysis. For example in Surah Al-Ghashiya of Quran,

88:17

أَفَلَا يَنظُرُونَ إِلَى الْإِبِلِ كَيْفَ خُلِقَتْ

Do they not look at the camels, how they are created?

88:18

وَإِلَى السَّمَاءِ كَيْفَ رُفِعَتْ

And at the heaven, how it is raised?

88:19

وَإِلَى الْجِبَالِ كَيْفَ نُصِبَتْ

And at the mountains, how they are rooted and fixed firm?

88:20

وَإِلَى الْأَرْضِ كَيْفَ سُطِحَتْ

And at the earth, how it is spread out?
This is an invitation to observe the creation of camel, how perfect it has been designed according to the climate of a desert, and an invitation towards the perfect starry sky, which withholds the beauty no one can deny. It directs our intellect towards the mountains how big, powerful and useful they are and towards the earth, how does it grows all that we eat and digest all that we bury. Its an invitation towards the study of Biology, Astrology, Orography and Geography.
Unlike science, Quran not only directs our intellect towards the creation of such things, but also towards the greater reason. Towards the purpose of their creation as well as towards their Designer, their Architect, Al-musawwir, Allah Subhana huwa taa’la.
Quran asks you? أَفَلَا تَعْقِلُونَ Then will you not reason? [2:44]
and أَفَلَا تَعْقِلُونَ Do not you then understand? [7:169]

Quran talks about the nature of light of sun and moon and directs our intellect towards the use of scientific method in this example as follows:

هُوَ الَّذِي جَعَلَ الشَّمْسَ ضِيَاءً وَالْقَمَرَ نُورًا وَقَدَّرَهُ مَنَازِلَ لِتَعْلَمُوا عَدَدَ السِّنِينَ وَالْحِسَابَ ۚ مَا خَلَقَ اللَّهُ ذَٰلِكَ إِلَّا بِالْحَقِّ ۚ يُفَصِّلُ الْآيَاتِ لِقَوْمٍ يَعْلَمُونَ

It is He Who made the sun a shining thing and the moon as a light and measured out its (their) stages, that you might know the number of years and the reckoning. Allah did not create this but in truth. He explains the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) in detail for people who have knowledge.
[10:5]
Ask yourself, what would be the end result of pondering over sun and moon?
Allah Himself tells us in the Quran that there are signs of discoveries, signs of knowledge, signs of a Perfect Creator all accross the universe as follows:

إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ وَالْفُلْكِ الَّتِي تَجْرِي فِي الْبَحْرِ بِمَا يَنفَعُ النَّاسَ وَمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّهُ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مِن مَّاءٍ فَأَحْيَا بِهِ الْأَرْضَ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا وَبَثَّ فِيهَا مِن كُلِّ دَابَّةٍ وَتَصْرِيفِ الرِّيَاحِ وَالسَّحَابِ الْمُسَخَّرِ بَيْنَ السَّمَاءِ وَالْأَرْضِ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَعْقِلُونَ

Verily! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, and the ships which sail through the sea with that which is of use to mankind, and the water (rain) which Allah sends down from the sky and makes the earth alive therewith after its death, and the moving (living) creatures of all kinds that He has scattered therein, and in the veering of winds and clouds which are held between the sky and the earth, are indeed Ayat (proofs, evidences, signs, etc.) for people of understanding. [2:164]
Allah himself tells us in another location that there are signs for the people who have understanding, the people who have intellect, the people who can reason the reasons, as follows:

إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ لَآيَاتٍ لِّأُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ

Verily! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, there are indeed signs for men of understanding. [3:190]
epistemology-1
Which signs is Quran talking about? Which signs Quran wants us to apply scientific method on?
Quran invites its readers to reason the creation by thinking about them and by studying them, to reason the existance of a Super Natural Being who not only created all of this perfect stuff that science is still discovering but He is constantly handling them without any power on His part as He doesn’t get tired.
A true reader of Quran truely understands the kind of pondering message Quran brings as well as understands its scienctific epistomology and approach towards knowing the Creator Himself. A basic emperical scientist would understand that the Creator ( or a Supreme Being, if you but want to call) cannot be reasoned through emperical science as it is evolved through the five senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell). Muslims never claim that Allah is visible or hearable or can be touched, or tasted or smelt. No, no one will claim that ever, because that is exactly how Allah is. God cannot be found with the emperical scientific data but He can surely be reasoned through His creation and little pondering over it (same basic scientific method).
A true reader of Quran, would REASON the Creator by looking at the enormous signs that are there in the whole universe, sometimes in the example of a new born baby and its knowledge of sucking, crying and watching, etc and sometimes in the reflections of his own creation and how perfect the system of body has been made. He would REASON that this cannot be created by rather chance. Chances never evolve perfections. Always remember that. Rather, an intellegent perfection, laws of physics, chemistry and biology, laws of astrology and all that which exist can not possibly a mere accident of chance some billions and trillions years ago.
Muslim scientists made major discoveries and inventions in the Era that is called the Golden Era of Muslims when Europe was in its Dark ages. I would recommend that you  Watch the video “1001 inventions and the library of secrets” to have the awesome idea I am talking about.
May Allah bless us with the knowledge of His Deen, and steadfastness on His path. Ameen
_________________________________________________________________
This article has been written by Zaki Imtiaz who is a software engineer by profession. He can be contacted at zakiimtiaz1@gmail.com
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