Islam & Scientific Investigation

In a seminar held recently  in Dhaka on ‘DNA & RNA in the Holy Quran’ some Islamic scholars argued that it is not proper to try to relate the verses of the Quran with science and try to determine its meaning in that perspective. They argued that science is an ever changing phenomenon and the assumption and prediction of the scientist may be wrong whereas the teachings of Islam are eternal and not subject to human error. The purpose of such research, they argued, is to validate Quran or establish the truth of the Quran by such scientific investigation which is wrong. But if we look at the Quran we find that in Islam such research is not forbidden rather the Quran has asked Muslims again and again to refer to the nature to investigate [2 (Surat Al Baqarah):164, 3 (Surat Al Imran):190-191, 6 (Surat Al Anam): 97, 6 (Surat Al Anam): 99, 7 (Surat Al Araf): 54, 10 (Surat Yunus): 5-6, 12 (Surat Yusuf):105, 13 (Surat Al Rad): 2-4, 16 (Surat An Nahl): 8, 16 (Surat An Nahl):12,  21(Surat Al Anbiyaa):16, 21(Surat Al Anbiyaa):30, 22(Surat Al Hajj): 47, 24(Surat An Nur): 35, 29(Surat An Ankabut): 20, 29(Surat An Ankabut): 44, 30 (Surat Ar Rum):8, 30(Surat Ar Rum): 22, 31(Surat Luqman): 10, 31(Surat Luqman):20, 31(Surat Luqman): 29, 35 (Surat Fatir): 13,  36 (Surat Yasin): 36-38, 36 (Surat Yasin): 40-42, 38 (Surat Sad):27, 39 (Surat Az Zumar): 5, 41(Surat Ha Mim): 9, 41(Surat Ha Mim): 11, 41(Surat Ha Mim): 54, 43 (Surat Zukhruf): 12, 44(Surat Ad Dukhan): 38, 45(Surat Al Jathiya): 4-5, 45 (Surat Al Jathiya): 13, 46(Surat Al Ahqaf):3, 51(Surat Az Zariyat): 7, 51(Surat Az Zariyat): 49, 55 (Surat Ar Rahman): 3-5,  55 (Surat Ar Rahman): 33, 56 (Surat Al Waqia): 68-69, 65 (Surat At Talaq):12,  67 (Surat Al Mulk): 3, 70 (Surat Al Maarij): 4, 71(Surat Nuh): 14-17, 81(Surat At Takwir): 16, 96 (Surat Al Alaq):1-2]. 

Another participant in the seminar pointed out that we must have absolute faith in the truth of the Quran and our finite mind is not competent to undertake such studies. But having absolute faith in the teachings of Islam does not in anyway prohibit us from undertaking such research. In this connection we can refer to the verses of the Quran in which Prophet Ibrahim, peace be upon him, said to Allah: “My Lord! Show me how You give life to the dead”. In response Allah asked Prophet Ibrahim: “Do you not then believe”. Prophet Ibrahim replied: “Yes! But for the satisfaction of my own heart”. This dialogue between Allah swt and Prophet Ibrahim is mentioned in verse 2 (Surat Al Baqarah): 260 of the Holy Quran. Muslims should therefore continue such research for the satisfaction of the heart.

Moreover Quran is the Last Book of Allah and valid for all times to come and its meanings will unfold as the time passes. What we can now interpret, our previous generation could not- for knowledge including science and technology at that period has not developed to the current stage. Further there is no reason to think that we cannot contribute over what our earlier generations have done.

In Islam Taqlid or blind imitation whether of the past or the present day research, is not permitted [2 (Surat Al Baqarah):170. 5 (Surat Al Maida):104, 7(Surat Al Araf): 28, 21(Surat Al Anbiyya):53-54, 31(Surat Luqman): 21] and the door of Ijtihad- research and investigation is not closed either. The history of the Ijtihad goes back to the time of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, when he authorized Muadh b. Jabal as Governor of Yemen to exercise his individual judgment if a clear instruction is not available in the Quran or in the Sunnah. Prophet even authorized Amar b. al-As to adjudicate in some disputes when Prophet was present [Mohammad Hashim Kamali. Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence p 383. Islamic Texts Society, Cambridge. 1991]. From this scholars and analysts concluded that Ijtihad is allowed in Islam and Ijtihad is the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad.

If the Mufassirs or the commentators of the Quran of the non-Arab world, having no absolute command over Arabic and lexicography compared to first-second-third generation Imams or Islamic scholars, could make Tafsir or the commentary of the Quran and even the non-Muslims have translated the Quran, how than we can object such scientific research vis a vis the Quran by people who do not know much Arabic and depend on the known and widely accepted translation of the Quran. We all know that if we have good intention we will be rewarded by Allah swt even if we are mistaken in our Ijtihad. Prophet Muhammad said: Whoever makes a reasoned decision (Ijtihad) and is correct will receive two rewards, while he who does so and is incorrect will receive one reward [Bukhari and Abu Dawud. Quoted in To be a European Muslim by Tariq Ramadan. p28. Islamic Foundation, Leicester, U.K].

One example will make the point clear. All earlier Mufassirs or the commentators of the Quran translated verse 13 [Surat Ar Rad]:11 as Allah will not change the condition of a people unless they change their condition. But later the Arab and other scholars made the correct and more appropriate translation of this verse- that Allah will not change the condition of a people unless they change what is in themselves (unfusehum). When we do not find anything wrong or we do not object such translation by Islamic scholars having no absolute command over Arabic and lexicography, how we then can oppose when same category of people who have no absolute command over Arabic language and lexicography doing scientific research vis a vis the Quran. We therefore cannot deny our scholars and scientists the right to make scientific investigation vis a vis the Quran

It should however be understood that Quran is basically a book of guidance and not of say chemistry, physics, biology etc. etc. So the findings of such scientific research and investigation may prove wrong but the Quran is right. There is no question of validating Quran or establish the truth of the Quran by our scientific investigation as some scholars argue rather it is the opposite. The Muslim scientists and investigators become astonished to see the similarity between the statement of the Quran and those made by the Prophet some fourteen hundred years ago when science was not at the stage as it is now and therefore Muslim, even some non-Muslim scientists affirm that Quran is the Book of Allah- SubhanAllah, praise be to Allah.

Some scholars argue that such study should be conducted under supervision of those who are expert on methodological study of Islam and that such research, scientific study and investigation be conducted under the scholarly guidance of those who are expert of Arabic language and lexicography; I do not entirely reject the idea. But then again even the methodology has been developed by human beings like us and not Prophet Muhammad. Even those who are expert in Arabic and methodical study are not in a position to give their views on scientific matters as they don’t have the elementary knowledge of science. It is important that we all learn Arabic so that we can understand the meanings of the Quran direct and we do not have to depend on the translation. It is equally important that we study the rules of interpretation- Usul al Fiqh for that will strengthen us in undertaking our study and research, scientific or otherwise.

Those who want to continue such scientific studies vis a vis the Quran may consult available books in English viz:  [1] Scientific Indications in the Holy Quran published by Islamic Foundation Bangladesh [2] The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology by Keith L. Moore M.Sc. Ph.D, FIAC, FRSM. Professor and Chairman, Department of Anatomy, University of Toronto, Faculty of Medicine, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. An addition of this book has been published [with special permission from W.B. Saunders Company] by Dar Al Qiblah for Islamic Literature in 1983, P.O. Box 10932, Jeddah 21443, Saudi Arabia “With Islamic Additions: Correlation Studies with Quran and Hadith” by Abdul-Majeed A. Azzindani Director, Project of Scientific Miracle in the Quran and Hadith Sponsored by Several Educational Institutions, King AbdulAziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia [3] Man & Universe by Major Zakaria Kamal. Bangladesh Institute of Islamic Thought (BIIT), Dhaka [4] The Bible: The Quran & Science by Dr. Maurice Bucaille. North American Trust Publishers, USA. 1979 [5] The Origin of Man by Dr. Maurice Bucaille [6] Zero Hour: The Ending of the World, When All Things Will Cease to Exist by Sheikh Mahmood H Rashid, Islamic, 2040-F Lord Baltimore Dr. Baltimore, MD 21244-2501 [7] Lord: The Quran, Universe & Evolution by Mohammed Ilyas, Islamic, 2040-F Lord Baltimore Dr. Baltimore, MD 21244-2501 [8] Islam & Science by Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy. Zed Books Ltd, London and New Jersey [9] Dr. M. I. H. Farooqi, Scientist, Plant Chemistry Division, National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow, India- two books (a) Plants of the Quran (b) Medicinal Plants of Prophetic Traditions. Sidrah Publishers, C-3/2 Shahid Apartments, Golaganj, Lucknow- 226018, India. <Email:, >[10] Turkish scholar Harun Yahya’s books published by Ta-Ha Publishers Limited, I Wynne Road, London SW9 OBB, UK. <Email: Website:> (i) Quran Leads the Way to Science (ii) Allah is Known Through Reason (iii) Design in Nature (iv) Matter: The Other Name of Illusion (v) Miracle in the Atom (vi) Allah’s Artistry Colour (vii) Miracle in the Ant (viii) Miracle in the Spider (ix) Miracle of the Immune System (x) Disaster Darwanism Brought to Humanity (xi) Evolution Deceit (xii) For Men of Understanding (xiii) Perished Nations (xiv) The Truth of the Life of This World (xv) Never Plead Ignorance.        

Harun Yahya has other important works which include: (a) Miracles of the Quran, (b) Timelessness and the Reality of Fate, (c) Death Resurrection Hell, (d) Eternity Has Already Begun, (e) Ever Thought About the Truth, (f) Before You Regret, (g) Crude Understanding of Disbelief, (h) Deep Thinking. These books also discuss issues related to science.

12 March 2004