How the Quran created Modern Science
Modern Science owes its origin directly to the Quran! Now this is a bold claim, and a claim like this requires evidence. In the first episode, we talked about how the scientific revolution of Europe was just a product of the Golden Age of Islam, or in the words of the french anthropologist Robert Briffault,” The Renaissance of Europe did not take place in the 15th Century, rather it began when Europe learnt from the culture of the Arabs. The cradle of European awakening is not Italy, it is Muslim Spain”. (The Making of Humanity)
Ok let’s review what we have learnt so far:
The Scientific revolution the fruits of with we enjoy till today grew out of Europe all of a sudden in the 16th Century. Wrong, ridiculously wrong.
Ok correction: The European enlightenment owes its origin and methodology to Greek knowledge. Wrong again. When you compare the methodology, they are diametrically opposed and when you say Greek knowledge then mostly what Europe got were Latin translations of Arabic commentaries on Greek texts. So they were reading Muslim works all along.
Ok last correction: The Scientific Revolution in Europe gives full credit for its origin and methodology to the Muslim Scientists of the Golden Age. Well you're close. But the question that begs for an answer is how does an unlettered desert civilization that of the arabs, they are bedouins, camel herders, superstitious fire worshipers of the fallen persian empire. How do people like that usher in the world’s first Global Scientific Revolution. What happened in a matter of a few 100 years that took them from shepherding camels to organizing Ancient knowledge of the Greeks, the Indians and the Chinese, correcting giants of philosophy, algebra like Ptolemy, Aristotle, Galen and formulating completely new disciplines like algebra, trigonometry and theoretical astronomy. Keep in mind that this is the first time in history, that astrology and astronomy are segregated. The answer to this is that it was the revelation of the Quran and nothing else. There is something very powerful in the text of the Quran, that has the capacity to revolutionize an entire civilization.
But to say that the Quran created Modern Science is a very powerful statement, much more powerful and true than saying muslim scientists of the Golden Age made significant contributions to Modern Science. Let me explain this by an example. If I invent something, then the credit of this ingenious invention of mine wholly and solely goes to me. But if it is found that my faith or this divine book is the main driving force behind my invention, then the credit is due to this Book. And that is exactly what we are interested in. As Dr Osman Bakar says “These sciences are Islamic not just because they have been produced by Muslims. As a matter of fact, many non muslims made important contributions to the growth and development of Islamic Science. Rather, these sciences deserve the name ‘Islamic Science’ because they are , organically related to the fundamental teachings of Islam, the most important of which is the principle of Tawhid (The Oneness of God). “ (The History and Philosophy of Islamic Science)
Compare this with Galileo quote : “The Bible tells us how to go to heaven, but not how the heavens go” (Olson 2004,2)
The Islamic Golden Age proved that the Quran in contrast not only tells us how to go to heaven but also how the heavens go. A pursuit of science according to the Quran eventually will lead a person to a greater knowledge of God and hence, His nearness.
How the Quran created the Scientific Method
The idea that science can lead you to God was best expressed in the work of the Founder of the Scientific Method-The man who created the idea that a scientific theory becomes a scientific fact only if it can be proved right experimentally- Ibn al Haytham. This is a man who will later on revolutionize Europe and greatly influence Scientists like Roger Bacon, Francis Bacon, Galileo, Descartes, Leonardo Da Vinci, Isaac Newton. But the question is how and why did Ibn al Haytham come up with the Scientific Method taking philosophy and transformed it into the science we know now and which has made our modern world. Look around you the world that u see is not built by theories or philosophy, which were the basic characteristic of Greek and Indian Science. Rather it is experimental science that has unleashed the power of technology, which was a product of Islamic Science. But how? What was the underlying inspiration or assumption in this radical idea of discerning fact from fiction.
The answer is that Ibn al-Haytham believed in the concept of Al-hatmiyyat al-‘ilmiyyat- scientific determinism, which is a concept whereby the natural phenomena that we see around us exhibit a harmonious regulation or laws- what we call laws of nature. Do you know what this is called in the Quran? It is referred to as sunnatullah. Nature in the Quran is called Sunnatullah or the habit of God, the nature of God, a place where God reveals His attributes. Ibn al Haytham for example says the blinking of the eye when a dust particle enters is Sunnatullah. And he recognizes that this particular Quranic concept would allow a person to conduct experiments repeatedly, hence revealing the truth that the scientist seeks. The realization of this quality of nature that it has truth embedded in it, which is another Quranic notion and that repeated observation and experimentation can reveal this underlying truth is truly the beginning of the Scientific Age- born out from the very text of the Quran.
We go to Ibn al Haytham’s work Maqalah fi Daw’ al-Qamar (Commentary on the Light of the Moon). He writes, “The moon by itself does not produce light as understood by early societies because the moon only reflects the sun’s rays. Where did he get that from? He starts his book with the verse from the Quran-
“It is He who made the sun a shining light and the moon a derived light”
I mean this is a man who is inspired by the Quran and he is using the Quran to increase his understanding of the physical world- to build Science and the Scientific Method and that science helps him to go closer to his Creator and to the Quran in turn.
Remember this is the man who later on influences the founders of the European Enlightenment- like Roger Bacon, Descartes, Galileo and Witelo who was called Alhazens Ape because his book Perspectiva was an almost duplicate copy of Ibn al Haythams book Kitab al Manazir. And writings of Isaac Newton and Johannes Keplar reveal that Ibn al Haytham was one of their greatest influences. (Nader el Bizri, Royal Scienty of London 2011). The Question is was it Ibn al Haytham or the Book that Ibn Al Haytham held in such high regard !
Our modern world is built by science and technology. And science is built on experimentation and observation-which is called the scientific method. The founder of this scientific method is Ibn al Haytham and Ibn al Haytham was directly inspired by the Quran to put forward the scientific method. So we can easily see that modern science emerged out of the Quranic world view. But if this can be said about the foundation of all sciences, do individual sciences like physics, chemistry, astronomy medicine also have this Quranic connection? The answer will surprise you but for that you'll have to watch the next episode of the Second Golden Age!
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