Science and Belief

“Islam does not perceive the world as two seperate domains of mind and spirit, science and belief” (Aga Khan IV, McMaster University
Convocation, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, May 15th 1987)

“Discovery of knowledge was seen by those founders [Fatimids] as an embodiment of religious faith, and faith as reinforced by knowledge
of workings of the Creator’s physical world” (Aga Khan IV, 27th May 1994, Cambridge, Massachusets, U.S.A.)

“The Quran itself repeatedly recommends Muslims to become better educated in order better to understand God’s creation” (Aga Khan IV, Paris, France, Oct 17 2007)

Alas, Islam which is a natural religion in which God’s miracles are the very law and order of nature drifted away and is still drifting away, even in Pakistan, from science which is the study of those very laws and orders of nature (Aga Khan III, April 4th 1952, Karachi, Pakistan)

“……The Quran tells us that signs of Allah’s Sovereignty are found in the contemplation of His Creation – in the heavens and the earth, the night and the day, the clouds and the seas, the winds and the waters….” (Aga Khan IV, Kampala, Uganda, August 22 2007)

“…..This notion of the capacity of the human intellect to understand and to admire the creation of Allah will bring you happiness in your everyday lives. Of that I am certain” (Aga Khan IV, Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, August 17th 2007)

A thousand years ago, my forefathers, the Fatimid imam-caliphs of Egypt, founded al-Azhar University and the Academy of Knowledge in Cairo. In the Islamic tradition, they viewed the discovery of knowledge as a way to understand, so as to serve better God’s creation, to apply knowledge and reason to build society and shape human aspirations (Aga Khan IV, 25th June 2004, Matola, Mozambique)

In this context, would it not also be relevant to consider how, above all, it has been the Qur’anic notion of the universe as an expression of Allah’s will and creation that has inspired, in diverse Muslim communities, generations of artists, scientists and philosophers? Scientific pursuits, philosophic inquiry and artistic endeavour are all seen as the response of the faithful to the recurring call of the Qur’an to ponder the creation as a way to understand Allah’s benevolent majesty. As Sura al-Baqara proclaims: ‘Wherever you turn, there is the face of Allah’ (Aga Khan IV, 19th October 2003, London, U.K.)

“The Quran very often refers to nature as a reflection of Allah’s power of creation and says: Look at the mountains, look at the rivers, look at the trees, look at the flowers all as evidence of Allah’s love for the people whom He has created….” (Aga Khan IV, Tajikistan, May 27th 1995)

The man of faith, who fails to pursue intellectual search is likely to have only a limited comprehension of Allah’s creation. Indeed, it is man’s intellect that enables him to expand his vision of that creation (Aga Khan IV, 11th November 1985, AKU)

“Muslims believe in an all-encompassing unit of man and nature. To them there is no fundamental division between the spiritual and the material while the whole world, whether it be the earth, sea or air, or the living creatures that inhabit them, is an expression of God’s creation.” (Aga Khan IV, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA 13 April 1984)

In Islamic belief, knowledge is two-fold. There is that revealed through the Holy Prophet (s.a.s.) and that which man discovers by virtue of his own intellect. Nor do these two involve any contradiction, provided man remembers that his own mind is itself the creation of God. Without this humility, no balance is possible. With it, there are no barriers. Indeed, one strength of Islam has always lain in its belief that creation is not static but continuous, that through scientific and other endeavours, God has opened and continues to open new windows for us to see the marvels of His creation. (Aga Khan IV, 16 March 1983, AKU)

– courtesy/compilation: Easy Nash

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