By Ikram Ahmed, New Age Islam
01 June 2017
Zakir Naik is a controversial Islamic televangelist who is known for trying to show that the Holy Quran and modern science are compatible. In one of his talks on YouTube about ‘Qur'an and modern science compatible or incompatible ‘he recites plenty of verses from the Holy Quran, which could be scientific. The verses are then compared to myriad scientific theories from several disciplines for example: Medicine, Astronomy, Geology etc.
But in the first place, why does Zakir Naik require scientific evidence to prove that Quran is a book of God or that it was never fabricated or altered for centuries? Does faith require scientific validity?
Zakir Naik and his acolytes should read Karl Popper’s Science as Falsification. It is a bizarre idea to use scientific principle to justify religion.
When a scientist embarks on a scientific work- his primary concern is to look for ways that the theory can be proved false through experiments. This cardinal principle is what separates science from religion, because religion is not always open to the idea of falsification. The rules are rigid and calcified. Believers' sentiments are also involved because of the impending possibility of blasphemy or heresy; most important that the beliefs are divinely ordained.
This is not an attempt to cast aspersion on religion or to prove the superiority of science over religion; nevertheless, it was an attempt to establish a clear distinction. Let there be privacy to believers and their believe in any God. Why bring the laboratories into your justification for faith?
Zakir Naik unfortunately has broken this fragile barrier on plenty of occasions.
But the most egregious example was a recent talk where he gave a ridiculous answer to an innocent Muslim girl, who asked a simple question: "Why is the Muslim world backward in Science?”
Here is the YouTube link of the unusually long answer. youtube.com/watch?v=R-rfBAtEh2o
Naik randomly brings out names of medieval Arab scientists from eight to twelfth century and he takes the liberty of calling them Muslim scientists. But this is as meaningless as calling Einstein a Jewish scientist or Newton a Christian scientist. After all, gravity is not Christian, and relativity is not Jewish. Faith has nothing to do with the science!
All the scientific contributions during the medieval age was the result of individual brilliance under the patronage of the benevolent Khalifas. The Muslim world, in general, thrived because of the benevolence of the Sultans and Khalifas. It was under the patronage of Caliph Harun Al-Rashid and Mamun that Bayt al-Hikmah (House of Wisdom) was founded, where Muslim, Jews, Christian studied humanities, sciences, mathematics, astronomy, medicine, alchemy and chemistry, zoology, and geography and cartography. Individual brilliance should not remain in the shadows of culture and religious identity. Please, spare the Ibn Sina and Ibn Rushd who were rational human beings.
It is interesting that many Muslims take pride in the contribution of the medieval Muslims to science, and yet, if they really spend some quality time to find out the true beliefs of those intellectuals, they might unearth plenty of heresy. If those intellectuals were alive today, no Muslim country would have accepted them. They would be running around the world like refugees, their only hope would be some western country (Minus trump), and no respite in the Muslim land; also the impending danger of blasphemy charges, and getting killed.
Many Muslim scientist and philosophers were heretics. But before I begin with their beliefs, it is important to note the influence of rationalism in Islam through Muttazilism. It started as an independent movement but later it couldn’t resist the depth of Greek Philosophy. The Muslim world was enriched by the legacy left by its predecessors. The influence of Greek, Persia, and India enriched the Muslim world. Thankfully, there was Khalifa Mamun and no Baghdadi who to an extent tolerated deviant believes.
Here are few Freethinkers and deviants in the Islamic world:
Ibn Al Muqaffa: He was a freethinker and a critic of Islam during the 7th century. He was a Zandiq. He translated Persian and Sanskrit literature in Arabic.
Ibn Al Rawandi: He was a former Muttazilite and someone who believed in dualism and later questioned the existence of God.
Al- Farabi believed in some Spinoza kind of a God.
Ibn Sina doctrine was a Mixture of Aristotle and Neo-Platonism. The Orthodox theologians never accepted his works. He was a heretic then and nothing would have changed if he was born in this era. The Orthodox theologians possess a brilliant survival mechanism. Their memes survive and thrive. He also believed in the transmigration of soul.
Al-Razi a great physician of all time. His prestige and authority remained unchallenged until the 17th century. He was against all kind of organized religion. He considered prophets are harmful to the people and many times said several derogatory statements against them. Zakir Naik mentioned his name in the video without knowing his ideology.
Many great thinkers in the Muslim world were Heretics and it’s rather astonishing to see Muslims boasting the contributions of these heretic intellectuals from the medieval Arab world. The Muslim Ummah must be wearing double blinders for being ignorant about these heretics. The simple fact is if they were alive today, none of them would have preferred to live in the Middle East or Muslims world. They would have taken the first flight to any western country.
Zakir Naik’s public talks, which he conducts through an organization IRF (Islamic Research foundation) is a charade. The purpose is to gloss up the Wahabi interpretation of Islam.
Any reasonable person who attempts to ask any question is ridiculed and sidelined with rhetoric, which lacks reason. This madness needs to be curbed before it destroys the Muslim youths and radicalize them. The ideas that he espouses would destroy the scientific temperament among the Muslim youth. The girl inadvertently asked a brilliant question that exposed Zakir Naik’s false claims. The reality is that if the Muslim world wants to make progress in science, then it needs to unshackle science from faith and respect them as separate lines of thought.
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Why people get inspired by Zakir Naik?
Having started it, let us complete the discussion on
(50:38) We created the
heavens and the earth and all between them in Six Days, nor did any sense of
weariness touch Us.
The above verse negates the belief that God rested on the 7th
Day. God only commands “Be, and it is”. We have seen that in one context, a day
is like our thousand years and in another, it is like fifty thousand years. What
is a day like in this context? It is not specified. The largest unit of number
used in the Quran is thousand. Using thousand as the highest unit, it would be
very awkward to indicate a very large number. A million would be a thousand
thousands and a billion would be a thousand, thousand thousands! Quite awkward
and difficult to understand by simple folks. Moreover, what if 6 days means 6
phases (which it certainly does) and the phases are of unequal duration? I
repeat, the Quran not being a book of Science, says as much as it can, as
accurately as possible, in as few words as it is appropriate to communicate the
Majesty of Allah and His creation. Now let us look at the interesting part it
has communicated by saying 6 days by examining the following verses:
(41:9) Say: Is it that
ye deny Him Who created the earth in two Days? And do ye join equals with Him?
He is the Lord of (all) the Worlds.
(10) He set on the
(earth), mountains standing firm, high above it, and bestowed blessings on the
earth, and measure therein all things to give them nourishment in due
proportion, in four Days, in accordance with (the needs of) those who seek
What we understand from the above, is that mere creation of the
earth and the heavens took only 2 days, but to make the earth habitable, took
another 4 days. Gives an idea of how rich and unique the earth is vis-à-vis the
rest of the universe.
(11) Moreover He
comprehended in His design the sky, and it had been (as) smoke: He said to it
and to the earth: "Come ye together, willingly or unwillingly." They
said: "We do come (together), in willing obedience."
(12) So He completed
them as seven firmaments in two Days, and He assigned to each heaven its duty
and command. And We adorned the lower heaven with lights, and (provided it)
with guard. Such is the Decree of (Him) the Exalted in Might, Full of
The Quran also takes care to avoid unnecessary controversy
when man’s knowledge is defective. Take
for example the story of the people of The Cave in Suarh Al-Kahaf:
(18:22) (Some) say
they were three, the dog being the fourth among them; (others) say they were
five, the dog being the sixth,- doubtfully guessing at the unknown; (yet
others) say they were seven, the dog being the eighth. Say thou: "My Lord
knoweth best their number; It is but few that know their (real case)."
Enter not, therefore, into controversies concerning them, except on a matter
that is clear, nor consult any of them about (the affair of) the Sleepers.
When there is a controversy about the correct number, even if
the Quran gave the correct number, how can it be confirmed? Those who believe a
different number as correct, will continue to believe so, raising unnecessary
controversy. The correct number in the story is in any case of no consequence.
Similarly, what if the Quran had mentioned an exact number of
years (which is quite unnecessary to communicate God’s majesty), and Science
came up with a wrong number which does not get corrected with the correct
number for a thousand years? During these thousand years, people would have unnecessarily
argued over the issue of what the Quran says vs what Science says without being
sure of either number.
God in His infinite wisdom, chooses the exact words to
communicate. Man, in his arrogance, tries to teach God what to say, how to say
it, what not to say and define His limits (nauzobillah)!
To believe in Allah is to have faith in faith. There is no need of evidence to prove the
existence of Allah in order to believe.
Just like, do you see Allah in existence? You do not see Allah in existence and yet you
believe. That is so called, believe.