Between Absolute and Relative Truth: Wahi and Science

Between Absolute and Relative Truth: Wahi and Science
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Junaid Khan

Science is the branch of knowledge which is acquired by observation and experimentation. We analyze certain phenomena and deduce the conclusion. Consider an example. When Rutherford performed the scattering experiment and observed alpha particles got deflected from their path after sticking to metal plate, he deduced the conclusion that the center of an atom contains the nucleus. It may be pointed out here that conclusions based on the inference may be truth or false. However, Wahy , that is, Divine Revelation in the form of the Quran is Absolute truth revealed by Allah to his best servant and last Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.S). It is an absolute truth meant for the guidance of the whole humanity. It is mentioned in the Quran, “Laqad Jina Bil Haqq.”(Indeed we have brought you with truth, 43:78)
Scientific knowledge is not certain and ultimate the truth; it changes with time and new discoveries. To make this point clear, I will cite some examples. Regarding the atomic structure Dalton had said that an atom is indivisible and it was accepted as the truth. Then, after a long time, Rutherford who challenged Dalton’s atomic theory enunciated that an atom is divisible. Now, it is recognized fact that an atom is divisible. Similarly, regarding our universe, Ptolemy gave the geo-centric theory of the universe ( that is , the moon stood at the center of the solar system while as the sun and other planets revolved around it). Then, after many years Copernicus gave a paradigm shift to this theory and presented the helio-centric theory of the universe (that is, the sun is the center and moon along with other planets revolves g around it).
Another axiomatic example which supports the argument that science is uncertain and changing is regarding number of galaxies. When Hubble invented the telescope, he concluded , on the basis of his experiment, and other observation that there are 18 galaxies and it was believed to be the scientific truth. But, today according to Stephen Hawkins, there are a hundred thousand million galaxies.
On the other hand, the Wahy is absolute, unchanging and the Ultimate truth. Whatever the Quran and Sahi Hadees proclaimed 1400 years ago is still intact without any interpolation, distortion and effacement. This Divine guidance in the form of the text is not dogma but constitute best ideas in commensuration with human reason. In the words of M. Asad, “But, surely and certainly no unbiased person would contend that there is anything in Islam contrary to reason. No doubt there are things in it beyond the limits of human reason but nothing which is contrary to it”. Usually , Wahy deals with following questions: Who am I?Where I have to go? How will Life be after death?(eschatology) What is the purpose of our life and universe in which we live? Who is the Creator and the one who keeps checks and Balances in our universe? In short , Wahy is a source of truth and guidance for the salvation of the entire humanity.
Science tells us ‘what’ happens and ‘how’ different phenomena take place .It cannot tell us ‘why’ different things take place. The domain of science deals with the questions ‘what’ and ‘how’. ‘Why’ domain is dealt in Wahy. It is Wahy which tells us why different events take place. Science can tell us how a baby is born? It can’t answer why a baby is born? Or why different embryological phenomena take place?or why certain hormones stimulate different enzymes ? But, it is Wahy which tells us why we are born. Allah says in the (Quran 67:2) “we created death and life so that we may test you, who among you will do best deed.” We are born to give test and throughout our life we are on probation .This world is a place of trial and if we pass this test by propitiating our creator Allah , we will be rewarded with eternal bliss and salvation.
Science has its own field of operation while as Wahy plays its part in every field of life. Science is beneficial till we operate and explore it to make advanced technology, life saving treatments and improvement in the livestock and the food stock and so on. How to use this technology? What is the will of our creator? What is vice and what is virtue? Wahy will provide answers to these questions. Discarding Wahy and using scientific methods to answer these questions will lead mankind astray and into a quagmire.
To know about the Creator and His will, Wahy is the lone source. Using scientific methods (observation and deduction) to know about the Creator (as done by Aristotle) opens up a new branch of knowledge known as the philosophy of science. Becoming oblivious of Wahy and being fond of philosophy of science is ignorance. Imam Ghazali(RA) criticized Greek philosophy in his book “Vanity of Philosophy”. Ibn Jawzi( RA) advises Muslim’s not to study philosophy in his book ‘Talbees iblees’. But, on the other hand, Islam urges man to learn science for benefit of humanity and to know how different phenomena occur. Islam is emphatic on pondering over different phenomena of life and the world. We should study physics, chemistry, biology, astrology and so on , to know how different mindboggling processes take place in the living organism and universe. We will notice miraculous harmony and precision in different processes run by Allah.
It creates a sense of gratitude in us and we start thanking the Powerful and Supreme controller , Allah. Mufti Taqi Usmani says, “If science is studied in the right perspective it will take a person close to Allah(in terms of understanding him and in the spiritual sense)”. Unlike Christianity, Islam appreciates the research in scientific fields. Our historic developments in the field of science are manifest and conspicuous. It is pertinent to quote the western historian Philip K Hitti, “Muslim Spain wrote one of the brightest chapters in the intellectual history of medieval Europe. Between the middle of the eighth century and the beginning of the thirteenth century, the Arab speaking peoples were the main bearers of the torch of culture and civilization throughout the world. They were the medium through which ancient science and philosophy were recovered, supplemented and transmitted in such a way as to make possible the renaissance of Western Europe.”
Science should be studied along with the guidance of Wahy. Studying science in compliance with Wahy will be a boon and blessing to humanity. Studying science alone and neglecting other fields of knowledge will lead mankind to Jadeed Jahiliyah (modern ignorance) and other uncertainties. In the words of the scientific philosopher, Karl popper, “Science limits the scope of Knowledge.”

—The author is an engineering student at IUST, Awantipora. He can be reached at: [email protected]

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