Islam is the complete and final religion closest to nature. It is often referred to as Deen-e-Fitrat (the religion of nature). It comprises spiritual teachings and provides a complete code of ethics for living a practical life based on Islamic traditions. We cannot separate Islam from contemporary science and technology in this context.

Science has been defined in different ways, such as “Science is the pursuit and application of knowledge and understanding of the natural and social world following a systematic methodology based on evidence” or “Science is the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observations, experimentations, and the testing of theories against the evidence obtained.” Simply, it can be defined as ‘Knowledge of any kind.’ And Islam teaches us to seek knowledge and study the nature. So, there’s no contradiction or conflict between science and Islam.

Importance of Seeking Knowledge in Islam

Islam emphasizes seeking knowledge of whatever is in this world. It urges us to study nature and natural phenomena. Many verses in the Quran, such as the 19th verse of Surah Al-e-Imran, are relevant to this context:

Translation – In the creation of the heavens and the earth, the alternation of night and day, are signs for the wise.

Similarly, the 20th verse of Surah Al-Ankabut urges mankind to study nature:

Translation – Say: “Travel on the earth and see how He originated creation. Then (you will know) how God will raise the last raising (of the dead). Surely God has power over everything,

More importantly, Islam is the only religion that uses scientific knowledge in various religious matters, such as setting prayer timings based on the movement of the earth and positioning of the Sun. Similarly, the Islamic date system, the Lunar Calendar, is based on the appearance and movement of the moon. Another good example is finding the direction of the Qibla based on the direction of the Sun. This shows how Islam used scientific knowledge and implemented it in practical life as well as for the performance of various religious obligations.

The first battle between the newly established Muslim state in Medina and the Meccans, known as Ghazwa-e-Badar, provides glaring evidence of how important it is to seek knowledge and education in Islam. Muslims returned triumphant in this battle and captured quite a few Meccans as Prisoners of War. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ announced the procedure to set these prisoners free as follows:

  • Those who embrace Islam will be set free
  • Those who do not embrace Islam can pay the ransom to get free from prison
  • Those who are literate should teach 10 Muslims to read and write to get free from prison

So, education and knowledge have remained the focus of Islam’s teachings from its very beginnings.

Quran and Science

According to different Quranic Scholars, the Quran contains around 750 verses related to nature and natural phenomena. Many modern researchers and scholars, even from non-Muslim communities, believe that the Quran contains many references to what scientists revealed centuries after its revelation.

The Quran emphasizes the importance of seeking proof and evidence (the basics of contemporary science) before believing in it. For example, the 111th verse of Surah Al-Baqara speaks about seeking evidence and proof as under:

Translation – And they say: “None will go to Paradise but the Jews and the Christians;” but this is only wishful thinking. Say: “Bring the proof if you are truthful.”

In the 36th verse of Surah Al-Isra, Muslims are advised not to follow for which they do not know:

Translation – Do not follow that of which you have no knowledge. Verily the ear, the eye, the heart, each will be questioned

Many other verses of the Quran narrate the importance of knowledge and research. Similarly, many verses of the Quran speak about the embryological development of the human in the mother’s womb, such as the 6th verse of Surah Az-Zumar:

Translation – He created you from a single cell, then from it created its mate; and provided eight varieties of cattle for you. He formed you in the mother’s womb, formation after formation in three (veils of) darkness. He is God your Lord. His is the kingdom. There is no god other than He. How then can you turn away?

The 9th verse of Surah As-Sajda narrates the sequence of organ development, such as ear, eyes, and heart:

Translation – Then proportioned and breathed into him of His spirit, and gave you the senses of hearing, sight, and feeling. And yet how little are the thanks you offer!

Hence, it is evident that there is no conflict between science and Islam; rather, Islamic teachings, based on the Quran, are, in fact, the basis of the modern sciences.

Golden Age of Islam – Medieval Muslim Civilization

Because knowledge and education are important in Islam, earlier Muslim Civilizations paid full attention to this important development aspect. The Medieval Muslim Civilization emerged in science and astronomy from the 8th to the 13th Century. It is often referred to as the Golden Era of Islam. During this golden age, Muslim societies produced many scientists and researchers in different fields, such as Physics, Chemistry, Astronomy, Mathematics, Economics, Medicine, Engineering, and Agriculture.

There is a long list of famous Muslim Scientists of the Golden Age of Islam whose research work has remained an essential part of the libraries for centuries. Some of these famous scientists of the Medieval Muslim Civilizations (8th to 13th Centuries) are Ibrahim Al-Fazari, Al-Khawrizmi, Ibn Rushd, Al-Farabi, Ibn Al-Haytham, Al-Biruni, Jabir Ibn Hayyan, Nasir Al-Din Tusi, Ibn Sina (Avecenna), Ibn Khaldun, Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi, Qutb al-Din al-Shirazi and many more.

Science in the Modern Islamic World

The legacy of the Muslim scientists of the golden age still continues, though the main research work has predominantly shifted to Europe and America after the 13th Century. We still come across quite a few Muslim Scientists of the modern age, such as the Noble Laureates Ahmad Hassan Zawail from Egypt and Aziz Sancar from Turkey. Ahmad Zawail won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1999. Aziz Sancar won the Nobel Prize in 2015 for his research work in Molecular Biology and DNA repair.

There are many other Muslim Scientists of the current era, such as Farouk Al-Baz, an Egyptian Geologist; HULUSI BEHÇET, a Turkish Dermatologist; Hayat Sindi, a Saudi Medical Scientist; and many more.

Conclusion

Islam encourages the people to seek knowledge and study the nature. Islam has used scientific study in different religious rituals, such as finding the Qibla direction and setting the prayer timings based on the positioning of the Sun.

As a subject, Muslim Scholars and Scientists initiated science during the Golden Era of Islam between the 8th and the 13th Centuries. It is often narrated that Islam conflicts with the modern sciences. It is a baseless narrative. Islam supports and promotes modern science and technologies and does not have any conflict with it. The importance of science and research is very much evident from various verses of the Quran. So, the sciences and religion cannot be separated; rather, all sciences are based on religion, especially Islam.