Alpha and Omega: Why Muslims must excel in Scientific Research

Copyright/write - Dr. M. Zaman Khan,
Tranlsated (& notes) by, Yours Truly.

Many Pakistani professors, with the exception of few noble souls, follow this line of pattern: They come, they teach Western science, glorify it, make pupils memorize it, and then criticize their students of their impotence, as concluding remarks. However, rarely they are self-critical of the fact that they do very little research at their own, locally. If they do so, only then they can have the moral authority of criticizing young students about their lack of interest in scientific research. This matter of doing research locally is first and the last thing Pakistani and Muslim teachers and students should be aware of.

Why it is so? According to a Prophetic tradition of Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him), a non-believing man once came to him and challenged him a match of wrestling. He said he could beat ten persons at a time. Prophet accepted the challenge and beat him three times in a row. Impressed by his physical strength, the non-believer could not resist believing his religious message. Therefore, he accepted Islam.

The example illustrates that if you are impressed by one aspect or part of a person or a thing, you are also prone to be impressed by its whole. One reason for studying science and doing independent research lies in this psychological aspect of human being to preserve one’s own identity, world-view and civilization. If we go back it time and explore Muslim history, there was a time when Greek philosophy and sciences were encountered by Muslims. When Muslim youth experienced the brilliance of Greek science (mathematics, physics, etc.) they could not avoid taking Greek metaphysics and religious knowledge as sound as its physical sciences. It was a grave mistake from Islamic point of view. They could not decide what to take, and what to reject.

The very same problem is being encountered by contemporary Muslim youth getting education based on Western models and content. Today, as then, they study Western science and research, which is of top quality, and they cannot remain unimpressed by its vitality. But, they mistakenly consider that Western social sciences and their views on religion would be as accurate and sound as their physical sciences. Truth is that the results of their social sciences and views on religion have been disastrous for humanity, completely opposite to their success in physical sciences*. Their religious world-views need to be studied at all as a source of guidance by Muslim youth blessed with the gift of Islam.

Our future needs in science are not being met due a lack of interest in research. Due to this gap and inferiority complex generated by this very reason vis-à-vis Western science, we also observe that contemporary Muslim universities teaching non-religious sciences don’t value much their religious educational institutions. Having seen the importance of ‘innovation’, ‘change’ and ‘evolution’ in scientific theories and experimentation, they come to fancy that religion (i.e., of Islam) would be something similar to a laboratory experiment or a science text-book which needs to be updated regularly. Nothing can be farther from truth than this, due to the ‘eclipse of intellect and soul’, in words of Seyyed Hossein Nasr**.

To avoid this clash and to bridge this gap, it is indispensable to meet the need of scientific research in Muslim world. If this cannot be done, then it is safe to fear that our future generations cannot overcome the inferiority complex vis-à-vis west; and they may end up depriving themselves, and humanity, of treasures of religious knowledge of Islam and also a sense of Sacred, to which we owe our existence, which is supreme science.

* Prof. Dr. Asad Zaman, International Islamic University, has written a research paper discussing this very fact. He compares the tragic consequences of Western social sciences for humanity. See, The Origins of Western Social Science, Dr Asad Zaman available on his personal website: Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Ph.D. Harvard in history and philosophy of science, has also shown the tragic consequence of Western humanism for environment, see his book, Religion and the Order of the Nature, Suhail Academy, Lahore.

** For a refutation of this and similar modern mental fashions and erratic views on religion, see The Reign of Quantity; The Crisis of Modern World; East and West, by Rene Guenon, Islam and the Plight of Modern Man; Knowledge and Sacred; Islamic Life and Thought; Science, Civilization and Islam, by Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr.

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