Why Quran and Science?
Dr. Gasser Hathout, July 17, 2005
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): “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).
Scientific phenomenon is a kind of worship in Islam. There are two main approaches to Quran and Science.
Firstly, use the issue of science in the Quran for proof, to prove that Quran is the word of Allah. Some people look down on this and say that we should have the belief in the validity of the Quran. The answer is both “yes’ and ‘no’. When Abraham said: “Show me, Lord, how You will raise the dead, “ He replied: “Have you no faith?” He said “Yes, but just to reassure my heart.” (Quran 2:260)
The Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) who lived in the nomadic Arabia. The Prophet (Pbuh) himself did not know how to read and write. So believe in Allah and His Messenger, the Unlettered Prophet, who believeth in Allah and His words: follow him that (so) ye may be guided.” (Quran 7: 158).
How come the Prophet (Pbuh) who did not know how to read and write talk about embryology, astronomy, botany and Geo-Physics? Hence it is quite evident that Quran is the word of Allah.
Secondly we all know that Prophet Musa (Pbuh) is given miracles by Allah. And he tells Pharaoh that he will show some miracles and shows some miracles. Pharaoh says these are magic tricks that Musa knows. We know magic tricks. We have magicians; our magicians will do better than you do. So, a time is set for the challenge, people are gathered to demonstrate to them that Musa’s miracles are nothing, but magic.
At the appointed time, the contest between Musa and sorcerers takes place. And they produce their magic. Musa produces his true miracles and what happened at that point? The Quran describes in amazing details.
So the magicians were thrown down to prostration: they said, “We believe in the Lord of Aaron and Moses”. (Quran 20:70)
(Pharaoh) said: “Believe ye in Him before I give you permission? Surely this must be your leader, who has taught you magic! be sure I will cut off your hands and feet on opposite sides, and I will have you crucified on trunks of palm-trees: so shall ye know for certain, which of us can give the more severe and the more lasting punishment!” (Quran 20:71)
They said: “Never shall we regard thee as more than the Clear Signs that have come to us, or than Him Who created us! so decree whatever thou desirest to decree: for thou canst only decree (touching) the life of this world. (Quran 20:72)
This is truly an amazing story. And for many years when I read this story what fixated my attention was the transformation of these magicians from unbelief to belief. As I got little bit older, my focus got shifted to something sort of unexpected. Instead of looking at the magicians, I started looking at the Pharaoh and the rest of the crowd, Why didn’t everybody else fall prostrated and say we believe because already the magicians did at a great personal expense to themselves?“What about the rest of the people watching? In fact the response of Pharaoh was “he was your leader who taught you the magic.”
Do you know the reason, why?
It is the knowledge. The difference between the Pharaoh and the magicians is simply a matter of knowledge. They had enough knowledge to realise the miracle and be able to differentiate it from magic trick. Pharaoh, because of his ignorance, could not tell the difference. For him, it seemed like one magic trick is better than the other.
For me, that is really the magic of science in the Quran. The proof verses are very nice and very powerful, but the real magic is, the more we learn about science, the more I am able to shift from being Pharaoh or someone in the crowd to being like the magicians.
Excerpts from the "Quran & Science" sunday lecture addressed by Dr. Gasser Hathout at the Islamic Center of Southern California, Los Angeles on July 17, 2005.