Rashid Samnakay, New Age Islam
Abdus Salam, Nobel Laureate
seventeenth century a great astronomer Galileo Galilee was convicted of grave
crime of Heresy; that of following controversial heliocentric theory enunciated
by Copernicus, about two centuries before. Then the theory was considered
contrary to the true sense and authority of “Holy scripture, the Bible",
both by Catholic and later by Protestant churches. Galileo was punished by
being placed under house arrest for the rest of his life. But he courageously
“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same
God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to
forgo their use.”
credit the Christian churches centuries later accepted the truth and the
scholars' endeavours and inquiries in the workings of the universe by science
and mathematics. So the monopoly of the priestly religion's “knowledge” was
knowledge had once again became acceptable to acquire understanding of the
Creator's working of the universe.
because, previous to that In the eighth century a similar scripture Quran had
announced that intellectual inquiry and questioning of prevailing wisdom must
be adopted by mankind as its essential activity with open mind :
they who when reminded of the signs of their Lord do not fall down there at as
deaf and blind
25-73, giving mankind the freedom to indulge in pursuit of knowledge:
herein indeed are portents for folk who reflect 30-21
caveat is put on that, the acquired knowledge must not lead to arrogance. On
the contrary humility must be adopted in Creator's service;
in reverential humility (Khashu) are among God's servants, the
knowledgeable people (u'lamau/scholars),35-28.
reflecting, contemplating and questioning the working of the Universe is highly
recommended as the essential element to gain understanding of the workings of
the universe and thus get closeness to its Creator. It says, Knowledgeable
person are those who in their humbleness are the true servants of the Lord the
Creator, for they are in awe the more they gain knowledge and realise the
infinity that is the Creator's wisdom and power:
And if all
the trees in the earth were pens, and the seas, with seven more seas to help
it, (were ink), the words of God could not be exhausted. Lo! God is Mighty,
way perhaps to explain to lay persons what is 'infinity'.
It can be
argued though - how can ordinary persons, let alone priests who spend their
life confined to church precincts, fathom infinity from the above verse when
they never seen a dense forest locally, let alone imagine the vastness of say
the Amazon jungle, fifteen centuries ago when the Scripture Quran was compiled?
And then to appreciate the amount of wood that would have come out from all the
jungles to make writing pens?
22-46: Do they not travel through the land
so that their (hearts and minds) may thus acquire wisdom?
the working of the universe in many of its aspects is referred in the Book
numerous times. Examples abound, few are given here:
35-27: Do you not see that God sent down
water from the sky with which We brought forth fruits of diverse hues? In the
mountains there are white and red tracts, of diverse hues, and pitch black as
35-28: and human beings too, and beasts, and
cattle, diverse are their hues. From among His servants, it is only those who
have knowledge are in awe of God. Verily God is Most Mighty, Most Forgiving.
2-164: Indeed, in the creation of the
heavens and earth, and the alternation of the night and the day, and the
[great] ships which sail through the sea with cargo that benefits people, and
what God has sent down from the heavens as rain, giving life thereby to the
earth after its lifelessness and dispersing therein every [kind of] moving creature,
and [His] directing of the winds and the clouds controlled between the heaven
and the earth are signs for a people who use reason.
just about covers most branches of science studies – the “ologies”.
exultation in the scripture for acquiring knowledge and use reasoning for its
acquisition; what in today's language called scientific studies, was taken to
heart by early Muslim scholars, who quenched their thirst for true knowledge
even travelling far and wide to acquire it by studying where ever it was
available. Iqbal the poet defined that yearning for knowledge as:
I'lm Kee Intiha Hai Beytabi; Iss Marz Kee Magar
Dawa Hun' Main'.
The end result of knowledge is restlessness;
but I (knowledge) am also its cure.
Muslims obeyed in practice the scripture's advice to ask God:
Lord make increase in my knowledge’. Not by bruising their forehead on the
prayer rugs wishing that knowledge would drop in their lap from the heaven, but
'Riding on the shoulders of giants' past and present, of knowledge from many
nations. These earlier Muslim scholars had made advance contributions in many
disciplines of sciences.
despite the fact that Quran stipulate computation (10-5), there are State -
established Hilal Committees composed of Religious brigades, paid fat salaries
from State coffers, to “sight the new moon” albeit with the help of telescope
invented and manufactured by others, to establish religious dates, that often
turned out wrong! All this in the name of Sunnah – practice of the
Messenger Muhammad, who could never have had the benefit of telescope.
above is considered in present day context, one is astounded to note how
narrowly and comically the acquiring of knowledge (i'lm) and knowledgeable
people (u'lamau) is taken to mean by Muslims and how arrogantly these scholars
flout the scripture.
u'lama then don garbs, crowns and gowns as learned masters to advertise their
position in the hierarchy of the churches- though “Innamaa Yakhshallahu Min
Ibaadihil Ulamaau” 35-28 never passed their memorised vocabulary! Humility
is not a part of professional priesthood.
followers are then so dazed by the dazzle that some learned people amongst them
too are blinded so as not to be able to differentiate between religious
pronouncements and true knowledge.
Religions have the effect of shrouding the reasoning capacity of the followers.
impossible it is then to accept that the Book Muslims take as their article of
Faith should be so benightedly ignored in its most essential of commands, of
acquiring knowledge of all kinds and questioning priestly pronouncements, so as
to appreciate the infinite wisdom of the Creator of the universe.
such blindness was not the case with the early Muslim scholars.
expressing disappointment at the present situation and yet glorifying past
achievements of Muslims scholars, one is very conscious of the fact that this
dilemma has been lamented upon by many, and prominent amongst them is the poet
Iqbal. But he has chided all for glorifying the past and failing to take action
to correct the situation:
Toe Aabaa Woh Tumharey Hee, Magar Tum Kiya Ho?- for sure they were your forefathers, but what
are you really?
Haat Dharey Muntazir-E-Fardaa Hoe!- with clasped hands you are just waiting for the next day.
again Nobel Prizes for Sciences have been awarded for this year – although by
one of the biggest armament and killing industries of the world. May be in next
generation a Muslim might be awarded one, or at least share in one, as did Dr
Abdus Salam, about a generation ago. However here too the churches intervened,
just as did other churches previously; and a practicing Muslim scientist to the
core was declared a non-Muslim; usurping what the scripture itself says is the
Creator's sole right and prerogative:
Innamaa Yakhshallahu Min Ibaadihi U'lamau!
Muslims are fully occupied in demolishing each other’s beautiful cities and
countries, and annihilating their present and next generations in the process
purely for their political strategies; ironically with arms purchased by the
billions from the same killing industries in the name of their various religions;
all of them called Islam: in proud humility!
regular contributor to NewAgeIslam.com, Rashid Samnakay is a (Retd.) Engineer
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