Islamization of the Science

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The light of the conscience is the true religious sciences. The light of the mind is the contemporary sciences. With the unity of the two, the reality reveals. With these two wings, the endeavor of a student flies high. When they are apart, fanaticism is born from the former; suspicion and deception are born from the latter.


A group of Muslim scientists led by Palestinian Professor Ismail Faruki who assassinated by Zionists in 1986 and Iranian Professor Seyed Hussein Nasr, have been in an intense study and research efforts for nearly 30-40 years on the thesis that “Islamization of the Science”.

A review book “Islam Bilimi Tartısmaları” was published by Mustafa Armağan in order to bring this issue to the view of Turkish Muslims. Mustafa Armağan stated in the foreword of his book: “My purpose while preparing this book for publication was to introduce briefly ideas of Muslim scholars dealing with various aspects (of Islamic science) yet these has never been an issue among Turkish scholars.” The arguments on “Islamic Science” started in the 60’s have reached a great deal of papers written in English and their number still grows. A periodical named “MAAS Journal of Islamic Science” has been published in every six months. Seyed Hussein Nasr, S. Nakib El-Attas, Ziyauddin Serdar, Perviz Manzur, Munevver Ahmed Enis, Ismail R. Faruki, Riyaz Kirmani, Osman Bakar, Glyn Ford and many other scientists and investigators have been studying on the thesis of the “Islamic Science” and its fundamental philosophy, its methodology, its historical perspectives and its future. (1)
Before going on talking about Islamization of Science, it is proper to discuss current concepts of modern science in Islamic perspective.
Modern science is currently founded on a materialist and positivist ideas. Natural and social sciences are isolated from metaphysical ideas and moral values, respectively. These sciences product of the West reflect historical and intellectual character of the West, and thus they are not objective as claimed. Particularly social sciences serve the West the colonization of other countries both politically and culturally.
Natural sciences (astronomy, physics, chemistry and biology) regarding the universe claim relentlessly that all the happenings on the universe are existed by themselves or they are all created by causes and natural laws: thinking a self contained universe. All the biological, physical and earthly events related to the universe such as creation of the men in the wombs of mothers, creation of the clouds, fall of rain, earthquakes, spinning of the earth both around itself and around the sun are all explained in this manner. These sciences cannot prove Allah’s nonexistence, but they postulate the non-intervention of Allah to the universe as Aristotle put forth. Thus the people who are studied these sciences so many years begin to absorb this idea of non-intervention of Allah, instead are programmed to believe in independent reality of the effects of the causes and the nature.
Nowadays many people have already adopted unconsciously such a comprehension that Islam refuses strongly. Eventually some scientists like Stephan Hawking deny Allah altogether stating: “Universe is just self-contained.” There are some taking milder positions like Paul Davies in his the Mind of God: “But even if one rules out supernatural events, it is still not clear that science could in principle explain everything in the physical universe…Sooner or later we all have to accept something as given, whether it is God, or logic, or a set of laws.”
As described in the Qur’an, Allah is such that He manifests Himself through His knowledge, through His will, through His power, through His names and attributes in every where (from a smallest particle to the entire universe) in every single moment. Indeed He is indeed the one who blows the winds, gives the rain, created the plants and animals and humankind namely created the entire universe and manages all of the events in it under the veils of the causes.
Yet Islamic teaching do not reject causes and laws of nature, rather behind them is the power of Allah so they are not regarded as independent masters and managers by their own account.
Humanities and social sciences are also in western characters. When we pursue to learn sociology, we would see that sociology is established by August Comte and leading sociologists are of western origin such as Max Weber, Emile Durkheim. When we pursue to learn psychology, we would meet Wilhelm Wundt, Freud, and Alfred Adler. We see that none of the sciences such as politics, arts, law and education are different from psychology and sociology in this respect. We observe that any of these branches are dominated by western origin and character with regard to historical progress, their founders and basic principles. In their biased view, Europe occupies a major place in the middle of the world and of the history; all other nations have almost no place in the history and the civilization.
Having studied such humanities and social sciences, one would end up with intense admiration for the western people, fascination on the western ideals, and view the world with these biased perspectives. Anyone not western but influenced by these sciences produced by the west probably would be alienated to his own culture and nation, finally break off from his native values.
Muslim nations obliged to adopt such sciences in western character out of necessity. But these sciences eventually yielded to enormous destructions in the Muslim tissue.
Palestinian Professor Ismail Faruki who passionately argued the thesis on Islamization of the science says: “Nowadays Muslim Ummah faces a very dangerous situation. We are all caught by the horns of a horrible dilemma: Either we should adopt ‘science’ as the basis of our life and confine our religion into a rather personal private field, or we should adopt our religion as the basis of our life but in return we would keep our weakness in science and deprived of the power generated by science. This, in my opinion, is an ill-posed dilemma.” (Discussions on the Islamic Science: s: 11)
Confirming the basic assumptions of the secular sciences (i.e., self contained universe) endanger us in religious matters. Abstaining from the positive sciences to avoid such danger, we would get material collapse. What should we do in this situation?
The alternative approach that was put by Faruki is the thesis of “Islamization of the Knowledge”. For this, a healthy educational activity is required for the liberation from the disasters shackled the Ummah. The way to achieve this can happen through the purification of modern sciences from their secular and western basics and then introducing/seeking new deeper (working) scientific understanding in accord with Tawheed of Islam. If this goal were to be achieved, we would be able to renew the pioneering role of this Ummah to humankind while we could solve our won problems.
Faruki mentioned about his idea in details in his book “Islamization of the Knowledge” which was published by the Institute of International Islamic Thought in 1982. Faruki treated the Islamization of the Sciences in 11 steps and stated briefly that we should get other sciences acquire an Islamic content through analysis and criticisms having an authority in both (Islamic and other) sciences. (Islamization of the Knowledge, Risale Publications, 1986).
That proposal of Faruki was discussed by many of the Muslim scholars. They welcomed the idea and they ardently supported it. However since the thesis of Faruki on “Islamization of the Knowledge” did not have a strong epistemological base, it is rather perceived as a kind of “westernization of the Islam” hence it is criticized.
Thesis on “Islamization of the Science” has been accepted by many Muslim scholars such as Seyed Hussein Nasr, S. Nakib El-Attas, Ziyauddin Serdar, Perviz Manzur, Munevver Ahmed Enis, İsmail R. Faruki, Riyaz Kirmani, Osman Bakar, Glyn Ford. But still today, there is no finalized and commonly agreed method yet.
Risale-i Nur and Modern Science”
Science and methodology are always grown up reciprocally throughout the Islamic history. It is a necessity today to do the same thing for modern sciences set forth by west. To establish an Islamic science peculiar to itself and not effected by the western basics, we must develop an epistemology i.e., a methodology in harmony with both mind and the religion (Islam). This epistemology of Islamic science must be based on a metaphysical underpinning contrary to the western concept of science assuming that metaphysical matters do not falsifiable in nature so it must be excluded. And this requires demonstration of existence of Allah by strong proofs and set forth a consistent philosophy of nature.
In the Risale-i Nur, these two concepts (nature and existence of Allah) are discussed with rich and powerful logical arguments. In this aspect, Risale-i Nur can be a valuable source in the way to establish a new Islamic Science.
Ustad Bediuzzaman in his Madrasat’uz Zehra University which he attempted to establish in his Early Said Era, planned to “integrate the theological sciences with the positive sciences”. And he answered the questions such as “what kind of benefits you find with this integration that you passionately favor it so much and always defend it?”
“The light of the conscience is the (true) religious sciences. The light of the mind is the contemporary sciences. With the unity of the two, the reality reveals. With these two wings, the endeavor of a student flies high. When they are apart, fanaticism is born from the former; suspicion and deception are born from the latter… A pure source of sciences which people of a madrasa or of a sufis would not hate has to be opened up to include contemporary knowledge (science) to the Madrasas. I said repeatedly that a bad understanding and an ill delusion have hindered this goal.” (From the Risale of Munazarat)
It is clear that Muslims should study modern science, and clearly the basic beliefs of science like “self contained universe” can be dealt with under the light of Qur’an.” But it seems that Master Bediuzzaman has made some revisions on his idea later:
“They say: The way that you defend Islam and struggle for it in the past is not the same as you do it today. Also you do not do the same way of scholars who defend Islam against Europe. Why did you change the way of Early Said (Bediuzzaman)? Why don’t you go as the way the spiritual leaders of Islam go?
The Answer: Early Said and intellectuals accepted partly the principles and concepts of the western philosophy and science, then we struggle against them with their weapons, we partially accepted them (at that time). We assume that some of their principles are infallible as positive sciences, so this way we could not show the real value of Islam. Almost they try to graft the Islam with the philosophy the roots of which they suppose are too deep, as if they reinforce Islam. I left this way since it reduces the real value of Islam and since the success by it is less.
Also I’ve demonstrated actually that principles of Islam are so deep that the deepest principles of philosophy can not reach to them. The Thirtieth Word, The Twenty Fourth Letter, The Twenty Ninth Word all proved this fact with all proofs therein. In the former way, we supposed that the principles of philosophy was so deep and Islamic principles are external so that tying them with the principles of philosophy thought to be a way to conserve Islamic principles. Yet the limited principles of philosophy would not dare to reach to the level of Islamic prnciples?” (2)
In short, Ustad Bediuzzaman wrote the Risales away from the influences of the western philosophy in another words, he strongly set forth thought peculiar to Islam. Consequently, Risale-i Nur Collection established by Master Bediuzzaman according to principles of Quran in accordance with the mind and reason devoid of external influences constitutes a reliable source to investigators guiding the way to establish an Islamic Science.