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Microsoft Word The Project, Islam And Science


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Islam and Science

Published in: Technology, Spiritual

Microsoft Word The Project, Islam And Science

  1. 1. Values, Technology and Society Islam and Science By: Khalid El-Darymli IIUM, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia February 2005
  2. 2. Contents CHAPTER ONE: 1- INTRODUCTION: ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2 CHAPTER TWO: 2- THE DESCRIPTION OF KNOWLEDGE IN THE HOLY QURAN AND BY THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD :------------------------------------------------------------------------ 4 2-1 THE DESCRIPTION OF KNOWLEDGE IN THE HOLY QURAN:-----------------------------------------------------------4 2-2 DESCRIPTIONS BY THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD :------------------------------------------------------------------6 CHAPTER THREE: 3- THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE ISLAMIC PERSPECTIVE AND THE WESTERN PERSPECTIVE TOWARDS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN RELIGION AND SCIENCE:------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 8 CHAPTER FOUR: 4- THE QURAN AND SCIENCE: ------------------------------------------------------------------- 11 CHAPTER FIVE: 5- SELECTED SCIENTIFIC MIRACLES IN THE QURAN: --------------------------------- 13 5-1 ON HUMAN EMBRYONIC DEVELOPMENT:-------------------------------------------------------------------------- 13 5-2 ON MOUNTAINS: --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 16 5-3 ON THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE:---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 18 5-4 ON THE CEREBRUM:---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 20 5-5 ON SEAS AND RIVERS: -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 22 5-6- ON DEEP SEAS AND INTERNAL WAVES: --------------------------------------------------------------------------- 24 5-7 ON CLOUDS: -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 26 CHAPTER SIX: 6- CONCLUSION: -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 31 REFERENCES: ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 32 1
  3. 3. Chapter One Introduction 1- Introduction: The critical, most fundamental, difference between Islamic and secular Western is that Islam and Muslim civilization both reached their apogee in the same centuries. At no other time in their history, and under no other circumstances, have Muslims achieved anything of similar proportion than in that so called golden era (800-1200). Then, once Islam’s power retreated in both its eastern part (the taking and sacking of Baghdad) by the Mongols in 1258), and its western part (the taking of Cordoba: 1236; Valencia: 1238; and Seville: 1248 by the Christian armies in Spain), its civilization retreated too. From the mid 13th century onwards, Islamic civilization only lived in faint outbursts. Its centers of learning ,its scholars, its books and libraries having become prey to destruction, it was now unable to mount the coherent, sustained scientific effort achieved in times when the Muslim land was somehow secure and powerful. Another element of difference was that if Western science developed outside a religious frame, Islam as expressed in numerous Quranic verses and Prophet’s saying, acted as the source of inspiration for such thrust.[1] In contrast to Islam, the religion and Western modern science seem to meet in the theatre of conflict only. This has origins that are centuries old, during the apogee of Christianity, when burning of descending individuals, scores of them scholars (Bruno, Huss, Servetus, …), was wide spread. The church banned science but not because of the religious text itself, as Bucaille explains, science instead being hampered by those who claimed to be the Church’s servants, and who acted on their own initiatives. [2] Until the so called ‘modern times,’ to avoid burning at the stake scientists in the Christian Europe had to forsake scientific truth or, recant their views, Galileo being the best example of that. Gradually, though, science and religion were dissociated. In historical terms, the so called European scientific revolution only took place once the authority of religion had loosened, from the seventeenth century onwards. And by the nineteenth century, scientists could venture with any idea, however antagonistic, including Darwin’s evolution theory, which completely denies any Divine rule in creation. Today, the separation is total; and to assert the one is a believer in God in learned Western circles is tantamount to heresy. The whole matter had gone full circle. 2
  4. 4. Islam and Science Khalid El-Darymli Through out this research I am going to stress on the relationship between the Islam and science. Firstly, the second chapter explains how the Islam asked and urged Muslims for acquiring the knowledge. Secondly, the third chapter shows the difference between the Islamic perspective and the Western perspective towards religion and science. Thirdly, the fourth chapter describes the relationship between the Quran and science. Then the fifth chapter contains selected scientific miracles in the holly Quran. And ultimately, an overall conclusion. 3
  5. 5. Chapter Two The Description of Knowledge in the Holy Quran and by the Prophet Muhammad 2- The Description of Knowledge in the Holy Quran and by the Prophet Muhammad : 2-1 The Description of Knowledge in the Holy Quran: There are plenty of references to knowledge and the pursuit of knowledge in the Quran. The general feeling they leave the reader with is that the possessor of knowledge or wisdom has been given a very powerful gift, and that the pursuit of knowledge is something which should be done actively by everyone. Here are a few verses on the subject: Proclaim! (or read!) in the name of thy Lord and Cherisher, Who created, Created man, out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood. Proclaim! And thy Lord is Most Bountiful, He Who taught (the use of) the pen, Taught man that which he knew not . (Quran 96:1-5) These five verses make up the first passage revealed from the Quran to mankind through the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). It is interesting that of all the things which Allah chose to begin His revelation with is related to the actions of reading and writing, especially the latter. The ability to write and store information is described by Professor Carl Sagan in his book ‘The Cosmic Blueprint. Simon & Schuster’: ‘Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time, proof that humans can work magic.’ [3] The Holly Quran continuously urging the people for acquiring knowledge, the following verses declare this kind of impression: 4
  6. 6. Islam and Science Khalid El-Darymli He granteth wisdom to whom He pleaseth; and he to whom wisdom is granted receiveth indeed a benefit overflowing; but none will grasp the Message but men of understanding. (Quran 2:269) High above all is Allah, the King, the Truth! Be not in haste with the Qur'an before its revelation to thee is completed, but say, quot;O my Lord! advance me in knowledge.quot; (Quran 20:114) Behold! in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day,- there are indeed Signs for men of understanding; Men who celebrate the praises of Allah, standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and contemplate the (wonders of) creation in the heavens and the earth, (With the thought): quot;Our Lord! not for naught Hast Thou created (all) this! Glory to Thee! Give us salvation from the penalty of the Fire. (Quran 3:190-191) These verses are a clear demonstration that 'science' and 'religion' were NOT meant to be fundamentally incompatible with each other by Allah. In fact, verses (Quran, 3:190-191) strongly imply that quot;contemplatingquot; the world around us is an integral part of faith. Say (O Muhammad): Travel in the land and see how He originated creation, then Allah bringeth forth the later growth. Lo! Allah is Able to do all things. (Quran 29:20) 5
  7. 7. Chapter Two The Description of Knowledge in the Holy Quran and by the Prophet Muhammad There are also references in the Quran describing the value (in the sight of Allah) of a knowledgeable person as opposed to an ignorant person. They are not equal: Say: quot;Are those equal, those who know and those who do not know? It is those who are endued with understanding that receive admonition. (Quran 39:9) Allah will rise up, to (suitable) ranks (and degrees), those of you who believe and who have been granted (mystic) Knowledge. And Allah is well-acquainted with all ye do. (Quran 58:11) 2-2 Descriptions by the Prophet Muhammad : The first source of Islam is the Quran; and we have seen some verses above on the subject of knowledge. The second source is the life of Prophet Muhammad There are scores of Hadiths (sayings of Prophet) in which the prophet Mohammed enjoins Muslims to seek knowledge. Here are few: “Seek knowledge as far as China.” Narrated from Anas by al-Bayhaqi in Shu`ab al-Iman and al-Madkhal, Ibn `Abd al-Barr in Jami` Bayan al-`Ilm, and al-Khatib through three chains at the opening of his al-Rihla fi Talab al-Hadith (p. 71-76 #1-3) “Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave.” “Seeking knowledge is a duty upon every Muslim (male and female).” 6
  8. 8. Islam and Science Khalid El-Darymli quot;Upon a person whom Allah desires good, He bestows the knowledge of faith.quot; - From the hadith collections of Bukhari and Muslim . quot;A person who follows a path for acquiring knowledge, Allah will make easy the passage to Paradise for him.quot; - From the collection of Muslim. quot;A Muslim is never satiated in his quest for good (knowledge) till it ends in Paradise.quot; - From the collection of Tirmidhi quot;Attainment of knowledge is a must for every Muslim.quot; 7
  9. 9. Chapter Three The difference between the Islamic perspective and the Western perspective towards the relationship between religion and science 3- The difference between the Islamic perspective and the Western perspective towards the relationship between religion and science: As it was mentioned earlier in the introduction, in the West there was always a separation between Christianity and science. Today the separation is not just between Christianity and science, but between religion in general and science. The reason is that the science, which nations and the people from the world over seek to acquire, is Western science. That science is the very science that had risen in conflict with religion, and not the Muslim science that had risen in concert and harmony with religion. This fact imposed by the dominant science, today’s reality, and the absence of historical knowledge, easily driving people into believing that as a rule, science and religion live into conflict. Yet, as in the words of Ali Kettani ‘claiming that all religious experiences are the same and projecting the Western experience to the Muslim world results from the series ignorance of historical realities.’ [4] The apparent conflict of science and religion and their separation in ‘watertight compartments.’ As put by Sadar,[5]is a uniquely Western creation, the result of hostilities between those who claimed to be custodian of Christianity and those who challenged their power. And he adds that ‘to take an inductive leap from what was a particularly European experience and generalize it to an all embracing conflict between science and religion is not just Eurocentric but also poor scholarship.’[6] Islam, unlike medieval Catholicism, it is observed, ‘did nothing to stifle the spirit of scientific enquiry.’ [7] and one outcome was that, from Basra to Cordoba, great universities arose centuries before the earliest stadium generale in Christendom; the library of Cordoba contained 600,000 books, and the craftsmanship of the Arab world was on a par with it’s a scholarship. [8] It seems, though, that such preceding statements have little relation with reality. First and foremost, the picture offered of Islam, even that given by Muslims, runs against the preceding points. Muslims are depicted very unfavorably on Television, magazines, films and daily Media. There is a constant bombardment of opinion of well chosen articles, concocted facts, off-putting photographs of Muslims. It is not surprising that in any mind, just the idea that these people and that religion having any link, however faint, with civilization and science is 8
  10. 10. Islam and Science Khalid El-Darymli an impossible fact. Historians and other opinion makers also stress the dark moments of Islamic history with such skills and high competence that it is as if the Muslims worse than the Mongols, left only death and destruction in their trail, besides enslaving every being falling under their grips. The Muslim nation itself lacking in order, power and organization, in partly responsible for that poor image too. [9] Adding to this whole dire state and playing the major part in dissociating Islam and science, is the endeavor of some hostile scholars, for Instance, Renan[10] and Huff[11], who, whilst recognizing the vast and even unique contributions pf Muslim science, hold that such greatness was hampered by Islam, its laws and harsh discipline that stifled progress. The likes of Pirenne, [12] Duhem, Lynn White Jr, and hordes of others only depict Islam and its civilization in the most object ways. Pirenne [12] for instance, and his followers, see in Islam a force of darkness and end to civilization. Such writers fail to acknowledge that Muslim science only reached its peak under the banner of Islam, and when Islam was at its heights, and never since. Often as put by Bucaille ‘The totally erroneous statements made about Islam in the West are some times the result of ignorance, and some times of systematic denigration.’ [13] Ignorance and denigration, indeed when one becomes aware of how, in fact, Islam is a major tool, if not the major force that has promoted scientific endeavour most effectively. That occurred under many forms. First and foremost, the Quran repeatedly calls on the believers to seek knowledge, whilst at the same time it makes a number of observations on phenomena that stimulate intellectual effort such as creation, and the planets. Some verses among many work in this sense: Soon will We show them our Signs in the (furthest) regions (of the earth), and in their own souls, until it becomes manifest to them that this is the Truth. Is it not enough that thy Lord doth witness all things? (Quran 41:53) 9
  11. 11. Chapter Three The difference between the Islamic perspective and the Western perspective towards the relationship between religion and science And He has subjected to you, as from Him, all that is in the heavens and on earth: Behold, in that are Signs indeed for those who reflect. (Quran 45:13) The Quran repeatedly uses the expressions: ‘Why do they not reflect? Why do they not ponder?’ It constantly encourages the use of intellect and invites people to think, investigate and analyze. Muhammad Iqbal argues that by repeatedly reminding mankind to reflect and ponder, the Quran aims to ‘awaken in man the consciousness of that of which nature is regarded as a symbol.’[14] And in the words of Al-Faruqi, ‘God created the world and implanted in it His immutable patterns that make it a cosmos. He designed it in a way calling for wonder: perfect, orderly, malleable, its parts causally and theologically bound to one another…He invited man to study and investigate nature, to make the necessary education, and thus recognize, worship and serve Him.’ The Quran calls upon ‘This widest possible scholarship, confident that men will find Islam’s claims for God and His providence, for nature, for man and history confirmed. It made a point of faith to discern the patterns of God in nature, an act of piety to articulate those patterns correctly and adequately; and an act of charity to teach them to others.’[15] 10
  12. 12. Islam and Science Khalid El-Darymli 4- The Quran and Science: The Quran, itself, as seen by some eminent scholars, is so rich depository of science, promoting Bucaille to state that knowledge of science of an ‘encyclopedic’ range is needed to asses such vast scientific wealth. [16] Bucaille also states that whilst the Quran contains so much of the scientific, it is also impossible for the scientists to find inconsistencies in it, in contradiction of science. And whilst scientific truths are very regularly questioned, and abandoned, the truths in the Quran are permanent and unchangeable. Thus, it is said under the heading Verses Containing General Statements are verses that are intended to lead ‘man to mediate on the Beneficence of God towards His creatures,’ and include also statements that are relevant to modern science. Thus in: (Quran, Sura 2: verse 22): Who has made the earth your couch, and the heavens your canopy; and sent down rain from the heavens; and brought forth therewith Fruits for your sustenance; then set not up rivals unto Allah when ye know (the truth). (Quran, Sura 2:verse 164) Behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, In the disparity o night and day, In the ship which runs upon the sea for the profit of mankind, In the water which God sent down from the sky thereby reviving the earth after its death, In the beasts of all kinds He scatters therein, In the change of the winds and the subjects clouds between the sky and earth, Here are Signs for people who are wise. 11
  13. 13. Chapter Four The Quran and Science (Quran, Sura 13, verse 3) And it is He who spread out the earth, and set thereon mountains standing firm and (flowing) rivers: and fruit of every kind He made in pairs, two and two: He draweth the night as a veil o'er the Day. Behold, verily in these things there are signs for those who consider! (Quran, Sura 20, verses 53 and 54) He Who has, made for you the earth like a carpet spread out; has enabled you to go about therein by roads (and channels); and has sent down water from the sky. With it have We produced diverse pairs of plants each separate from the others. Eat (for yourselves) and pasture your cattle: verily, in this are Signs for men endued with understanding. (Quran, Sura 79, verses 30-33) And the earth, moreover, hath He extended (to a wide expanse); He draweth out therefrom its moisture and its pasture; And the mountains hath He firmly fixed; for use and convenience to you and your cattle Besides the influence of Quran, Hadith and Muslim scholars, the relationship between Islam and scientific change is also observable at another level, so little grasped by many. 12
  14. 14. Islam and Science Khalid El-Darymli 5- Selected Scientific Miracles in the Quran: 5-1 On Human Embryonic Development: In the Holy Quran, God speaks about the stages of man’s embryonic development: We created man from an extract of clay. Then We made him as a drop in a place of settlement, firmly fixed. Then We made the drop into an alaqah (leech, suspended thing, and blood clot), then We made the alaqah into a (Quran, 23:12-14) mudghah (chewed substance)... Literally, the Arabic word alaqah has three meanings: (1) leech, (2) suspended thing, and (3) blood clot. In comparing a leech to an embryo in the alaqah stage, we find similarity between the two as we can see in figure 1. Also, the embryo at this stage obtains nourishment from the blood of the mother, similar to the leech, which feeds on the blood of others. Figure 1: Drawings illustrating the similarities in appearance between a leech and a human embryo at the alaqah stage. [18] The second meaning of the word alaqah is “suspended thing.” This is what we can see in figures 2 and 3, the suspension of the embryo, during the alaqah stage, in the womb of the mother. 13
  15. 15. Chapter Five Selected Scientific Miracles in the Quran Figure 2: We can see in this diagram the suspension of an embryo during the alaqah stage in the womb (uterus) of the mother. [18] Figure 3: In this photomicrograph, we can see the suspension of an embryo (marked B) during the alaqah stage (about 15 days old) in the womb of the mother. The actual size of the embryo is about 0.6 mm. [18] The third meaning of the word alaqah is “blood clot.” We find that the external appearance of the embryo and its sacs during the alaqah stage is similar to that of a blood clot. This is due to the presence of relatively large amounts of blood present in the embryo during this stage (see figure 4). Also during this stage, the blood in the embryo does not circulate until the end of the third week. Thus, the embryo at this stage is like a clot of blood. [18] 14
  16. 16. Islam and Science Khalid El-Darymli Figure 4: Diagram of the primitive cardiovascular system in an embryo during the alaqah stage. The external appearance of the embryo and its sacs is similar to that of a blood clot, due to the presence of relatively large amounts of blood present in the embryo. [18] So the three meanings of the word alaqah correspond accurately to the descriptions of the embryo at the alaqah stage. The next stage mentioned in the verse is the mudghah stage. The Arabic word mudghah means “chewed substance.” If one were to take a piece of gum and chew it in his or her mouth and then compare it with an embryo at the mudghah stage, we would conclude that the embryo at the mudghah stage acquires the appearance of a chewed substance. This is because of the somites at the back of the embryo that “somewhat resemble teethmarks in a chewed substance.” (see figures 5 and 6). Figure 5: Photograph of an embryo at the mudghah stage (28 days old). The embryo at this stage acquires the appearance of a chewed substance, because the somites at the back of the embryo somewhat resemble teeth marks in a chewed substance. The actual size of the embryo is 4 mm. [18] 15
  17. 17. Chapter Five Selected Scientific Miracles in the Quran Figure 6: When comparing the appearance of an embryo at the mudghah stage with a piece of gum that has been chewed, we find similarity between the two. A) Drawing of an embryo at the mudghah stage. We can see here the somites at the back of the embryo that look like teeth marks. B) Photograph of a piece of gum that has been chewed.[18] How could Muhammad have possibly known all this 1400 years ago, when scientists have only recently discovered this using advanced equipment and powerful microscopes which did not exist at that time? Hamm and Leeuwenhoek were the first scientists to observe human sperm cells (spermatozoa) using an improved microscope in 1677 (more than 1000 years after Muhammad ). They mistakenly thought that the sperm cell contained a miniature preformed human being that grew when it was deposited in the female genital tract. 5-2 On Mountains: A book entitled Earth is a basic reference textbook in many universities around the world. One of its two authors is Professor Emeritus Frank Press. He was the Science Advisor to former US President Jimmy Carter, and for 12 years was the President of the National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC. His book says that mountains have underlying roots. These roots are deeply embedded in the ground, thus, mountains have a shape like a peg (see figures 7, 8, and 9). [18] 16
  18. 18. Islam and Science Khalid El-Darymli Figure 7: Mountains have deep roots under the surface of the ground. [18] Figure 8: Schematic section. The mountains, like pegs, have deep roots embedded in the ground. [18] Figure 9: Another illustration shows how the mountains are peg-like in shape, due to their deep roots. [18] This is how the Quran has described mountains. God has said in the Quran: 17
  19. 19. Chapter Five Selected Scientific Miracles in the Quran Have We not made the earth as a bed, and the mountains as pegs? (Quran, 78:6-7) Modern earth sciences have proven that mountains have deep roots under the surface of the ground (see figure 9) and that these roots can reach several times their elevations above the surface of the ground. So the most suitable word to describe mountains on the basis of this information is the word ‘peg,’ since most of a properly set peg is hidden under the surface of the ground. The history of science tells us that the theory of mountains having deep roots was introduced only in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Mountains also play an important role in stabilizing the crust of the earth. They hinder the shaking of the earth. God has said in the Quran: And He has set firm mountains in the earth so that it would not shake (Quran, 16:15) with you... Likewise, the modern theory of plate tectonics holds that mountains work as stabilizers for the earth. This knowledge about the role of mountains as stabilizers for the earth has just begun to be understood in the framework of plate tectonics since the late 1960’s. Could anyone during the time of the Prophet Muhammad have known of the true shape of mountains? Could anyone imagine that the solid massive mountain which he sees before him actually extends deep into the earth and has a root, as scientists assert? A large number of books of geology, when discussing mountains, only describe that part which is above the surface of the earth. This is because these books were not written by specialists in geology. However, modern geology has confirmed the truth of the Quranic verses. [18] 5-3 On the Origin of the Universe: The science of modern cosmology, observational and theoretical, clearly indicates that, at one point in time, the whole universe was nothing but a cloud of ‘smoke’ (i.e. an opaque 18
  20. 20. Islam and Science Khalid El-Darymli highly dense and hot gaseous composition). This is one of the undisputed principles of standard modern cosmology. Scientists now can observe new stars forming out of the remnants of that ‘smoke’ (see figures 10 and 11). Figure 10: A new star forming out of a cloud of gas and dust (nebula), which is one of the remnants of the ‘smoke’ that was the origin of the whole universe. [18] Figure 11: The Lagoon nebula is a cloud of gas and dust, about 60 light years in diameter. It is excited by the ultraviolet radiation of the hot stars that have recently formed within its bulk. [18] The illuminating stars we see at night were, just as was the whole universe, in that ‘smoke’ material. God has said in the Quran: 19
  21. 21. Chapter Five Selected Scientific Miracles in the Quran (Quran, 41:11) Then He turned to the heaven when it was smoke... Because the earth and the heavens above (the sun, the moon, stars, planets, galaxies, etc.) have been formed from this same ‘smoke,’ we conclude that the earth and the heavens were one connected entity. Then out of this homogeneous ‘smoke,’ they formed and separated from each other. God has said in the Quran: Have not those who disbelieved known that the heavens and the earth were one connected entity, then We separated them?... (Quran, 21:30) Dr. Alfred Kroner is one of the world’s renowned geologists. He is Professor of Geology and the Chairman of the Department of Geology at the Institute of Geosciences, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany. He said: “Thinking where Muhammad came from . . . I think it is almost impossible that he could have known about things like the common origin of the universe, because scientists have only found out within the last few years, with very complicated and advanced technological methods, that this is the case.” Also he said: “Somebody who did not know something about nuclear physics fourteen hundred years ago could not, I think, be in a position to find out from his own mind, for instance, that the earth and the heavens had the same origin.” [18] 5-4 On the Cerebrum: God has said in the Quran about one of the evil unbelievers who forbade the Prophet 20
  22. 22. Islam and Science Khalid El-Darymli Muhammad from praying at the Kaaba: No! If he does not stop, We will take him by the naseyah (front of the head), a lying, sinful naseyah (front of the head)! (Quran, 96:15-16) Why did the Quran describe the front of the head as being lying and sinful? Why didn’t the Quran say that the person was lying and sinful? What is the relationship between the front of the head and lying and sinfulness? If we look into the skull at the front of the head, we will find the prefrontal area of the cerebrum (see figure 12). What does physiology tell us about the function of this area? A book entitled Essentials of Anatomy & Physiology says about this area, “The motivation and the foresight to plan and initiate movements occur in the anterior portion of the frontal lobes, the prefrontal area. This is a region of association cortex...” Also the book says, “In relation to its involvement in motivation, the prefrontal area is also thought to be the functional center for aggression....” Figure 12: Functional regions of the left hemisphere of the cerebral cortex. The prefrontal area is located at the front of the cerebral cortex. [18] 21
  23. 23. Chapter Five Selected Scientific Miracles in the Quran So, this area of the cerebrum is responsible for planning, motivating, and initiating good and sinful behavior and is responsible for the telling of lies and the speaking of truth. Thus, it is proper to describe the front of the head as lying and sinful when someone lies or commits a sin, as the Quran has said, “...A lying, sinful naseyah (front of the head)!” Scientists have only discovered these functions of the prefrontal area in the last sixty years. [18] 5-5 On Seas and Rivers: Modern Science has discovered that in the places where two different seas meet, there is a barrier between them. This barrier divides the two seas so that each sea has its own temperature, salinity, and density. For example, Mediterranean sea water is warm, saline, and less dense, compared to Atlantic ocean water. When Mediterranean sea water enters the Atlantic over the Gibraltar sill, it moves several hundred kilometers into the Atlantic at a depth of about 1000 meters with its own warm, saline, and less dense characteristics. The Mediterranean water stabilizes at this depth (see figure 13). Figure 13: The Mediterranean sea water as it enters the Atlantic over the Gibraltar sill with its own warm, saline, and less dense characteristics, because of the barrier that distinguishes between them. Temperatures are in degrees Celsius (C°). [18] Although there are large waves, strong currents, and tides in these seas, they do not mix or transgress this barrier. 22
  24. 24. Islam and Science Khalid El-Darymli The Holy Quran mentioned that there is a barrier between two seas that meet and that they do not transgress. God has said: He has set free the two seas meeting together. There is a barrier between them. They do not transgress. (Quran, 55:19-20) But when the Quran speaks about the divider between fresh and salt water, it mentions the existence of “a forbidding partition” with the barrier. God has said in the Quran: He is the one who has set free the two kinds of water, one sweet and palatable, and the other salty and bitter. And He has made between them a barrier and a forbidding partition. (Quran, 25:53) One may ask, why did the Quran mention the partition when speaking about the divider between fresh and salt water, but did not mention it when speaking about the divider between the two seas? Modern science has discovered that in estuaries, where fresh (sweet) and salt water meet, the situation is somewhat different from what is found in places where two seas meet. It has been discovered that what distinguishes fresh water from salt water in estuaries is a “pycnocline zone with a marked density discontinuity separating the two layers. This partition (zone of separation) has a different salinity from the fresh water and from the salt water (see figure 14). [18] 23
  25. 25. Chapter Five Selected Scientific Miracles in the Quran Figure 14: Longitudinal section showing salinity (parts per thousand ‰) in an estuary. We can see here the partition (zone of separation) between the fresh and the salt water. [18] This information has been discovered only recently, using advanced equipment to measure temperature, salinity, density, oxygen dissolubility, etc. The human eye cannot see the difference between the two seas that meet, rather the two seas appear to us as one homogeneous sea. Likewise, the human eye cannot see the division of water in estuaries into the three kinds: fresh water, salt water, and the partition (zone of separation). [18] 5-6- On Deep Seas and Internal Waves: God has said in the Quran: Or (the unbelievers’ state) is like the darkness in a deep sea. It is covered by waves, above which are waves, above which are clouds. Darknesses, one above another. If a man stretches out his hand, he cannot see it.... (Quran, 24:40) This verse mentions the darkness found in deep seas and oceans, where if a man stretches out his hand, he cannot see it. The darkness in deep seas and oceans is found around a depth 24
  26. 26. Islam and Science Khalid El-Darymli of 200 meters and below. At this depth, there is almost no light (see figure 15). Below a depth of 1000 meters there is no light at all. Human beings are not able to dive more than forty meters without the aid of submarines or special equipment. Human beings cannot survive unaided in the deep dark part of the oceans, such as at a depth of 200 meters. Figure 15: Between 3 and 30 percent of the sunlight is reflected at the sea surface. Then almost all of the seven colors of the light spectrum are absorbed one after another in the first 200 meters, except the blue light. [18] Scientists have recently discovered this darkness by means of special equipment and submarines that have enabled them to dive into the depths of the oceans. We can also understand from the following sentences in the previous verse, “ a deep sea. It is covered by waves, above which are waves, above which are clouds....”, that the deep waters of seas and oceans are covered by waves, and above these waves are other waves. It is clear that the second set of waves are the surface waves that we see, because the verse mentions that above the second waves there are clouds. But what about the first waves? Scientists have recently discovered that there are internal waves which “occur on density interfaces between layers of different densities. (see figure 16). [18] 25
  27. 27. Chapter Five Selected Scientific Miracles in the Quran Figure 16: Internal waves at interface between two layers of water of different densities. One is dense (the lower one), the other one is less dense (the upper one). [18] The internal waves cover the deep waters of seas and oceans because the deep waters have a higher density than the waters above them. Internal waves act like surface waves. They can also break, just like surface waves. Internal waves cannot be seen by the human eye, but they can be detected by studying temperature or salinity changes at a given location. 5-7 On Clouds: Scientists have studied cloud types and have realized that rain clouds are formed and shaped according to definite systems and certain steps connected with certain types of wind and clouds. One kind of rain cloud is the cumulonimbus cloud. Meteorologists have studied how cumulonimbus clouds are formed and how they produce rain, hail, and lightning. 26
  28. 28. Islam and Science Khalid El-Darymli They have found that cumulonimbus clouds go through the following steps to produce rain: 1) The clouds are pushed by the wind: Cumulonimbus clouds begin to form when wind pushes some small pieces of clouds (cumulus clouds) to an area where these clouds converge (see figures 17 and 18). Figure 17: Satellite photo showing the clouds moving towards the convergence areas B, C, and D. The arrows indicate the directions of the wind. Figure 18: Small pieces of clouds (cumulus clouds) moving towards a convergence zone near the horizon, where we can see a large cumulonimbus cloud. [18] 27
  29. 29. Chapter Five Selected Scientific Miracles in the Quran 2) Joining: Then the small clouds join together forming a larger cloud (see figures 18 and 19). Figure 19: (A) Isolated small pieces of clouds (cumulus clouds). (B) When the small clouds join together, updrafts within the larger cloud increase, so the cloud is stacked up. Water drops are indicated by ·. [18] 3) Stacking: When the small clouds join together, updrafts within the larger cloud increase. The updrafts near the center of the cloud are stronger than those near the edges. These updrafts cause the cloud body to grow vertically, so the cloud is stacked up (see figures 19 (B), 20, and 21). This vertical growth causes the cloud body to stretch into cooler regions of the atmosphere, where drops of water and hail formulate and begin to grow larger and larger. When these drops of water and hail become too heavy for the updrafts to support them, they begin to fall from the cloud as rain, hail, etc. Figure 20: A cumulonimbus cloud. After the cloud is stacked up, rain comes out of it. [18] 28
  30. 30. Islam and Science Khalid El-Darymli Figure 21: A cumulonimbus cloud. God has said in the Quran: Have you not seen how God makes the clouds move gently, then joins them together, then makes them into a stack, and then you see the rain come out of it.... (Quran, 24:43) Meteorologists have only recently come to know these details of cloud formation, structure, and function by using advanced equipment like planes, satellites, computers, balloons, and other equipment, to study wind and its direction, to measure humidity and its variations, and to determine the levels and variations of atmospheric pressure. The preceding verse, after mentioning clouds and rain, speaks about hail and lightning: ....And He sends down hail from mountains (clouds) in the sky, and He strikes with it whomever He wills, and turns it from whomever He wills. The (Quran, 24:43) vivid flash of its lightning nearly blinds the sight. 29
  31. 31. Chapter Five Selected Scientific Miracles in the Quran Meteorologists have found that these cumulonimbus clouds, that shower hail, reach a height of 25,000 to 30,000 ft (4.7 to 5.7 miles), like mountains, as the Quran said, “...And He sends down hail from mountains (clouds) in the sky...” (see figure 21 above). This verse may raise a question. Why does the verse say “its lightning” in a reference to the hail? Does this mean that hail is the major factor in producing lightning? Let us see what the book entitled Meteorology Today says about this. It says that a cloud becomes electrified as hail falls through a region in the cloud of supercooled droplets and ice crystals. As liquid droplets collide with a hailstone, they freeze on contact and release latent heat. This keeps the surface of the hailstone warmer than that of the surrounding ice crystals. When the hailstone comes in contact with an ice crystal, an important phenomenon occurs: electrons flow from the colder object toward the warmer object. Hence, the hailstone becomes negatively charged. The same effect occurs when supercooled droplets come in contact with a hailstone and tiny splinters of positively charged ice break off. These lighter positively charged particles are then carried to the upper part of the cloud by updrafts. The hail, left with a negative charge, falls towards the bottom of the cloud, thus the lower part of the cloud becomes negatively charged. These negative charges are then discharged as lightning. We conclude from this that hail is the major factor in producing lightning. This information on lightning was discovered recently. Until 1600 AD, Aristotle’s ideas on meteorology were dominant. For example, he said that the atmosphere contains two kinds of exhalation, moist and dry. He also said that thunder is the sound of the collision of the dry exhalation with the neighboring clouds, and lightning is the inflaming and burning of the dry exhalation with a thin and faint fire. These are some of the ideas on meteorology that were dominant at the time of the Quran’s revelation, fourteen centuries ago. [18] 30
  32. 32. Islam and Science Khalid El-Darymli 6- Conclusion: Now it should be said that the Islam is the religion of knowledge. The Muslim believes that all knowledge is the property of God. God has favoured man with the duty and ability to seek and obtain part of this knowledge, and utilize it to better his conditions during the time of his tenancy on earth. Scientific knowledge is part of this general body of knowledge. It awaits discovery by people willing to exert themselves in search of it. Thus, through out the Muslim land, the search for knowledge and science was undertaken in an effort to improve society as a form of worship. The same faith that propelled Muslims to spread Islam to the lands, also drove Muslims to spread learning and knowledge. And, of course, when most individuals, or the whole of society, are motivated for betterment, and are animated by such faith and fervour to create, search and invent, no surprise if science, scientists, schools, books and excellence burst in a huge, unequalled explosion as they did under Islam. Just a glimpse at George Sarton’s Introduction to the history of science, enlightens on the thousands of Muslim scientists and their science, which taught the world. [19] According to that belief is the Muslim's most precious possession, and cannot be dispensed with even at the zenith of scientific achievement. On the contrary, Western scientists have overstepped the limits in their application of the results of modern scientific research. Disbelief in God, low levels of morality and the subjection of man to machines and mechanical processes, are grave developments, and it is regrettable that they are associated with the otherwise dignified and indispensable activity of scientific research. Last but not least, it should be known that while the Quran offers Divine guidance, (as we have seen through out chapter five); it is not a textbook of science. Attempts to use it as such can only gratify those who have long itched to find it inadequate. Likewise, it is sacred and can not be tested for accuracy. 31
  33. 33. References: 1- 2- Maurice Bucailllle; the Bible, The Quran and Science, Translated from French by A.D.Pannell & the author. 7th edition (revised). Publisher Seghers; 24 Avenue Marceau 75008-Paris (1993). pp125-6. 3- Davies, Paul. The Cosmic Blueprint. Simon & Schuster, New York, 1988. 4- Ali Kettani: ‘Science and Technology in Islam, the underlaying value system’, in Z. Sardar edt: The Touch of Midas; Science, values and environment in Islam and the west, Manchester University Press, 1984; pp 66-90. p.66. 5- M. Husain Sadar ‘Science and Islam: is there a conflict? In: the touch of Midas, op cit, pp 15-25; at p.15. 6- Ibid. 7- T.K Derry and T.I Williams: A Short History of Technology; Oxford Clarendon Press, 1960. pp.28-9. 8- Ibid. 9- 10- E. Renan, who in Oeuvres Completes, Paris, Calmann-Levy, 1947, Vol.2, for instance, recognizes Islam as a backward force, the negation of Europe and progress at once; a heavy chain locking science. 11- Toby. E. Huff: The Rise of Early Modern Science. Cambridge University Press, 1993. 12- H. .Pirenne: Mohammed and Charlemagne; London, 1939. 13- M.Bucaille: The Bible, op cit, Introduction, p.1. 14- Muhammad Iqbal, Reconstruction of the Religious Thought in Islam, Ashraf, Lahore, 1971 reprint, p.14; quoted by M.H. Sadar: Science and Islam, op cit, p.22. 15- Ismail.R. al-Faruqi and Lois.L. al-Faruqi: The Cultural Atlas of Islam, Mc Millan Publishing Company, New York, 1986; p321. 16- M.Bucaille, The Bible, The Quran and Science; Trsltd from the French by A.D. Pannel and the author; p.129. 17- 18- 19- Sarton, George, Introduction to the history of science, 3 Vols, Baltimore: The Williams and Wilkins Co., 1927-1948. Published for the Carnegie Institute of Washington, D.C. 20- All the Quranic Verses’ Translations (Except those for section 5) were taken from: 32