Saturday, December 31, 2022

The Quran Does Not Differentiate Knowledge as Worldly and Religious

By S. Arshad, New Age Islam 31 December 2022 Knowledge Leads Man To Salvation Main Points: 1. The Quran asks man to ponder on scientific facts. 2. God gave prophet Noah a.s. the knowledge of building a huge ship. 3. The Quran asks man to ponder over the phases of foetus in the womb. 4. The Quran asks man on history of mankind. 5. The Quran also gives knowledge on religious issues. ----- Islam has always stressed on the importance of education and knowledge. The very first verse revealed to the prophet pbuh stressed on reading as a means of acquiring knowledge. Knowledge leads one towards realisation of truth and ignorance keeps one wandering in darkness. The Quran time and again asks man to acquire knowledge and should travel for that purpose if it is necessary. While stressing the need to acquire knowledge, it does not categorised knowledge as religious and worldly. Knowledge cannot be religious or non-religious. God has created the universe and everything between the earth and sky. So exploring the truth of the creation is appreciating the wisdom and artistry of the Creator. That is why the Quran does not divide knowledge between worldly and religious. This was the understanding of the scholars of the early periods of Islam that led them to seek knowledge of sciences. They studied biology, astronomy, medicine, surgery, physics, chemistry etc. along with the Quran, hadith, Islamic jurisprudence, mathematics, algebra etc. However, due to the narrow interpretations and explanations of the Quran in later periods by the Islamic scholars, the Quran was presented as a religious scripture that only spoke of moral and religious issues. They ignored the verses on scientific facts. Later age madrasas excluded sciences and taught only religious subjects. This was also in reaction to the rise of Christians who promoted science and technology. Since Islam and Christianity were two major religions of the world in the medieval era, Muslims considered science and technology as a tool of Christianity and abandoned it as an antithesis to Islam. In the later periods, when the British expanded their empire in the East and opened schools that included sciences, the schools were seen as the centres of worldly knowledge leading people to the hell. Therefore, madrasas were opened in Muslim countries to spread the 'true knowledge' of Islam. In addition, to prevent Muslims from the ill effects of science. One major flaw of the religious education system of Muslims was that the Quran, the basic source of knowledge, was excluded from the curriculum of madrasas. The Quran was only memorised. It was not taught in detail with meanings and interpretations. All the other subjects like Islamic jurisprudence; Arabic, Hadith, Islamic history etc. were taught. In later periods, sectarian ideology was also included in the curriculum. Therefore, madrasas became affiliated to one or the other sect. Since Muslims were not aware of the contents of the Quran, they were not aware of the scientific approach of the Quran. The students of Islam did not know that the Quran also discusses scientific facts in many verses and encourages Muslims to do scientific topics. Here are some of the verses that discuss scientific facts. "And We certainly gave David from Us bounty. (We said) O mountains, repeat (Our) praises for him, and the birds (as Astik well). And We made pliable for Him iron, (commanding him), "Make full coats mail and calculate (precisely)the links and work righteousness."(Saba:10) God gave prophet David a.s. the knowledge of making weapons from iron. And this fact was mentioned in the Quran. If the scientific knowledge was of no value to God, He would not have mentioned it in the Quran." God gave prophet Noah the knowledge of building a huge ship. The Quran says: "And We inspired him, "Construct the ship under Our observation and Our inspiration."(Al Muminun:27) Prophet Noah a.s. was given the knowledge of making a gigantic ship that was a marvel of technology. God could have given the knowledge of making the ship to any engineer of that time and prophet Noah could have used it. But that the prophet was given the knowledge of science and technology of making a ship reiterates the fact that a Muslim should also acquire the knowledge of science and technology apart from fulfilling his religious obligations. There are other prophets whom God gave wisdom and knowledge. For example, God gave prophet Khizir a particular knowledge. "And they found a servant from Our servants to whom We had given mercy from Us and had taught him from Us a (certain) knowledge." ( Al Kahf:65) The Quran narrates the incident of the visit of the Queen of Saba to the palace of King Sulaiman a.s. who was also a prophet. The queen entered the palace and perceived water on the floor. She pulled up her clothes and exposed her legs. The courtiers were bemused and told that there was no water on the floor but the glass floor created the illusion of water. Such a phenomenon could be found in the modern age but King Suleman a.s. employed scientists and engineers of his kingdom to build the palace. He must have promoted science and technology in his kingdom. God also mentions the phases in the evolution of foetus in the womb till its birth. It also mentions other scientific facts in the Quran and asks Muslims to reflect and ponder over them. In the Quran two words, Ilm (knowledge) and Hikmah (wisdom) are used frequently meaning religious sciences, occult sciences, science and technology, knowledge of archaeology, astronomy etc. God is called Omniscient, the seat of all knowledge and wisdom, arts and sciences. The two words --- Aleem and Hakeem --- denote God 's monopoly over all knowledge. God bestows a part of knowledge to a man according to his spiritual or intellectual capabilities and passion for knowledge. God says in the Quran that He gives knowledge to any one who does research or ponders deeply over His creations irrespective of religion. God blesses with knowledge and wisdom who does research on His creations. That is why there are many non-Muslim scientists who have made important discoveries and inventions. Muslims have ignored research and observation and have concentrated only on religious issues. Therefore, scientific knowledge has not been bestowed on them by God. Therefore, it can be concluded that knowledge is knowledge. It is not religious or scientific. Muslims have categorised knowledge as religious and scientific. They have declared scientific knowledge as un-Islamic and therefore have barred sciences frim their madrasa curriculum. This is the reason behind their educational, scientific and industrial backwardness. ----- S. Arshad is a columnist with URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

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