Collected & Compiled by: Mufti Umar Anwar Badakhshani
A question often raised by people ,that in this age of science and technology the world has made advancement in these fields but the Quran and ahadith do not give us any formula on how to reach the moon,conquer the space or manufacture the atom and hydrogen bomb. The other nations discovered formulas and achieved miraculous advancements. and we have remained behind in spite of having teachings of Quran. Why did the Quran and the Sunnah not give us these formulas?Due to this reason some people feel an inferiority complex, while the world is reaching the moon and the Mars, the Divine Revelation and teachings are silent on this.
In answer to this question, we are quoting an entire article written by Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani from his Urdu book “Doubts and misconceptions about Islam and the present time” which will clearly explain it:
Misunderstanding of the basic concept of the Quran leads to the misinterpretation of its Tafseer
While it is respectful and honorable to pursue. the science of exegesis (Tafsir), it is also dangerous to step into it. The reason for that is that if anyone makes a wrong interpretation he would attribute towards Allah a thing which He has not said. and there can be no greater deviation than that. Those who expound the Quran without being properly qualified fall into the wrong path in spite of laboring much in the exercise. Hence, it is essential to have a view of the causes that mislead a man in the matter of exegesis of the Quran.
The wrong committed in the exegesis of the Qur’an is that the subject of the Quran is not correctly understood. People try to find such subjects in it as are outside its narrations. For instance, some people tax their brain to prove all scientific an” physical realities and laws from the Quran. They think that Quran will be defective if these scientific realities could not be proved from it. So they sit down sincerely to prove scientific facts from the Quran and to this end do not hesitate to attribute wrong meanings to the words of the Quran. The fact is that science is not the real subject of the Quran. Mention of realities of this universe, whenever found in the Quran, has come up as a secondary subject. Thus, if we find a scientific fact mentioned in the Quran, we must believe in it. But, to try to deduce a scientific fact or rule from it is akin to finding details of law in books of medicine.
The Quran is not vague or ambiguous on its purpose but it has clarified in many verses the purpose of its revelation. For instance, the following verses need attention in this context,
قَدْ جَاءَكُم مِّنَ اللَّهِ نُورٌ وَكِتَابٌ مُّبِينٌ يَهْدِي بِهِ اللَّهُ مَنِ اتَّبَعَ رِضْوَانَهُ سُبُلَ السَّلَامِ وَيُخْرِجُهُم مِّنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّورِ بِإِذْنِهِ وَيَهْدِيهِمْ إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ
Indeed there has come to you from Allah a Light and Book manifest, whereby Allah guides those who follow His good pleasure into the ways of peace, and brings them out from the depths of darkness into light by His decree, and guides them to the straightway. (Al-Maidah, 5: 15-16)
يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ قَدْ جَاءَكُمْ رَسُولُنَا يُبَيِّنُ لَكُمْ عَلَىٰ فَتْرَةٍ مِّنَ الرُّسُلِ أَن تَقُولُوا مَا جَاءَنَا مِن بَشِيرٍ وَلَا نَذِيرٍ فَقَدْ جَاءَكُم بَشِيرٌ وَنَذِيرٌ
O People of the Book! Now there has come to you Our Messenger. making things clear to you, after an interval (of cessation) of the Messengers lest you should say There has not come to us any bearer of glad tidings, nor any warner. Indeed there has come to you now a bearer of glad tidings and a warner. (Al-Maidah. 5 : 19)
وَكَذَٰلِكَ نُفَصِّلُ الْآيَاتِ وَلِتَسْتَبِينَ سَبِيلُ الْمُجْرِمِينَ
And thus do We explain the revelations in detail, that the way of the sinners may be shown up clearly. (Al-Anam, 6:55)
كِتَابٌ أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكَ فَلَا يَكُن فِي صَدْرِكَ حَرَجٌ مِّنْهُ لِتُنذِرَ بِهِ وَذِكْرَىٰ لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ
This is a Book revealed to you (O Prophet) let there be no impediment in your heart there from – that you may warn thereby (the disbelievers) . and this is an admonition to the Believers. (Al-A’raf. 7: I)
These are just a few examples, and if one ponders over them it will be clear that the real purpose of the Quran is to exhort man to prepare for the Hereafter, and to teach him to pass this life in accordance with the will of Allah. Then whatever it narrates of the historical facts or references of the Universe and galaxies are all meant to support and affirm the same basic theme . Hence, if we do not find a popular scientific fact in it, it should neither surprise us nor is anything wrong in it because that is not the theme of the Quran. Similarly, if there be no mention of a past or future event, there should be no objection because it is not a book of history. However the Quran describes here and there some incidents by way of lesson and admonition.
Why the Quran has not explained about science and technology, through which the western world have made material advancement?
This answers the objection of those non-Muslims who ask why the Quran does not refer to the arts and sciences through which material advancement has been attained by the Western countries? It also removes the misunderstanding of those who try to somehow prove scientific theories or laws from the Quran to cope with these objections. Such an attempt is like looking into a Law Book for a formula to make an atom bomb and an attempt by some other people to extract the theory of atom by distorting the legal phraseology of the book. Obviously, these other people are foolish if they attempt to discover the theory in a Law book. Similarly, if someone objects to the absence of scientific and engineering theories. it is foolish to distort the words of the Quran to somehow extract those theories or laws from it.
The correct answer to the objection is that the Quran is neither a book of science or engineering nor material advancement is its theme, because a man can find that out through his intellect, wisdom, experiments and observations . That is why Allah has left it to man to only what cannot be conceived through intellect and reasoning alone, but Divine guidance in the form of Wahy (Revelation) is essential for them. Thus, man has attained heights in the field of Science and Technology through his intellect, thinking, experiments and observations. But he could not progress in Faith and Belief, purity of heart and soul, goodness of character and deeds, devotion in worship and preparedness for the Hereafter. These things are not possible without the Wahy from Allah and are therefore, subjects of the Quran. Man cannot attain them in spite of his excellences of intellect and thinking, nor can they he attained unless guidance from the Quran is sought with sincerity.
There are a few mistakes to be careful in this case:
We do not mean to say it is wrong to deduce a scientific fact from the Quran. We also admit that there is a mention of scientific realities in the Quran as a passing reference. hence, if we find any explicit scientific fact in the Quran, there is nothing wrong in narrating it. But one must avoid the following errors in this connection:
1 : Any scientific reality mentioned in the Quran is only in passing. Its real object is to reflect on the supreme authority of Allah and to strengthen the Faith. Hence, it is totally wrong to consider the Quran as a source of information on science.
2: Where no information of a scientific subject is found it would be wrong to distort the words of the Quran to accommodate scientific facts into it. This is well understood by means of the following example:
Rotation of the earth in the Quran
When the scientists said that the Earth was stationary and other planets were revolving round it, some people tried to prove this theory from the Quran, and cited the following verse:
امن جعل الارض قرارا
Who made this earth a fixed abode. (An-Naml, 27:61)
Those people pleaded that the word (fixed abode) denoted that the Earth was stationary. However, Quran only recalls the blessing of Allah that man lives on this earth restfully rather than be unstable on it, and has no trouble in sitting or lying down or moving about on it. Obviously, this blessing of Allah has nothing to do with the movement or not of the Earth. But, in fact, the blessing is bestowed on man irrespective of whether the earth is stationary or moving. Hence trying to prove from this verse that the Earth is stationary is uncalled for and an unnecessary introduction of new meaning into it.
Later on, when science advanced the theory of Rotation of Earth as opposed to its being stationary, some people again occupied themselves in finding proof for that in the Quran, and the following verse was presented as an argument:
وتری الجبال تحسبھا جامدۃ وھی تمر مرالسحاب
And you shall see the mountains – you think them firmly fixed – passing away as the passing away of the clouds…. (An-Naml, 27:88)
These people translated the word (تمر) as referring to earth (feminine noun in Arabic) while it refers to mountains (and is the female singular of the plural noun mountains).
On this basis they advocated that this verse described the movement of the Earth because the movement of mountains in fact means the movement of Earth. The context of the verse shows clearly that it pertains to the happenings of the Last Day. The verse simply means that the seemingly unmoving mountains shall (on the Last Day) be floating in the atmosphere like the clouds.
The fact is that the Quran is silent on the subject of rotation of Earth and there is no mention of it in the entire Quran, because this is not part of its theme. We cannot prove or disprove movement of the earth from the Quran. Hence, whichever view is adopted in the light of scientific arguments, the Quran does not interfere; it poses no danger to Faith and Religion either way.
It should be noted here that often sincere attempts are made to show that the Quran narrates scientific facts and the intention generally is to convince the non-Muslims that the discoveries which they had made after hundreds of years have already been foretold in the Quran. But if this is done by violating the principle of exegesis, it is not being friendly to the Quran. When they were trying to prove through the Quran that Earth is stationary they considered it a great service to the Quran, but if it was universally accepted that the Quran speaks of a stationary Earth, what effect this would have had when science changed its views and said the earth rotates? Hence, only those things about science can be attributed to the Quran which are explicitly proved in it; but those not clearly mentioned in the Quran cannot be attributed to it. It was wrong to do so in the past, and it is wrong even today.
Why Quran and Hadith didn’t teach the formula for conquering moon and space or making an atomic or hydrogen bomb?
This also furnishes reply to another question which often arises among the educated classes. They say that this is the age of science and technology. The entire world has advanced in this field, but our Qur’an and the Ahadith do not give us any formula in this field, so that we might learn how to manufacture the Atom and Hydrogen Bombs. For this reason some people are suffering from an inferiority complex, while the world is reaching the moon and the planet Mars, the Divine Revelation and the Traditions are silent on this point.
Science and Technology are Experimental subjects
The question can be answered by saying that these subjects lie within the jurisdiction of the human intellect. These are experimental sciences, in which personal efforts and experiments are needed. Almighty Allah has left this branch of knowledge to the human research and experiment. The more a man devotes his energies, research and experiment to this technical work, the more will he go ahead in this field. The Qur’an has been, in fact, revealed for the guidance of humanity in matters which lie beyond the jurisdiction of the human intellect and which the faculty of intellect cannot grasp. Thus, it is the Divine Revelation (Qur’an) that has come to our help in understanding such spiritual and celestial issues. Thus, the entire philosophy of Islamization of Laws consists in the proposition that we should mould our lives on the Laws of Islam.
This provides answer to another question, which very frequently arises in man’s mind. They say that the Holy Qur’an did not teach man to climb to the Moon, nor did the Holy Prophet teach the way to conquer the space. The other nations worked to arrive at formulas for such miraculous strides and we have remained behind in spite of the Qur’an. Why did the Quran and the Sunnah not give us these formulas?
The answer to this question is not far to seek. Allah and His Prophet did not reveal to the world formulas to conquer the space or climb to the Moon, because these subjects lie within the jurisdiction of the human Intellect. The more man studies science, makes experiments and uses his Intellect to master these fields, the more he will go ahead with his scientific discoveries. As these subjects are purely within the scope of the Intellect, it was not at all necessary either to send a Prophet or reveal a book for this purpose. They are needed only where the human intellect becomes helpless. Likewise, the organisation of the “Amnesty International” is unable to decide which Human Rights or which form of expression of thought and opinion need or do not need, protection. As the human Intellect was quite helpless in this matter the Holy Prophet came with his enlightening formulas concerning this important issue.
“Doubts and misconceptions about Islam and the present time” Page 67 to 72
To read this article in Urdu, click on the link below: