Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and Science
We are enjoying the fruits of modern science and technology every second, every minute and everyday. Examples: Electricity, microphone, A.C., Automobiles, Airplanes, Space Travel, Missile Shield or Star Wars, computers, Cyber Space and Internet, robotics and Artificial Intelligence, GPS-Global Position System, Cellular Phones, Digital Media Entertainment-TV, DVD, MP3, Tele-Medicine and Tele-Surgery, Artificial Organs: Abiocor, Organ Transplants- Hand transplant surgery, stem cells in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, Alzeimers, Spinal Cord Injury, Diabetes, Heart tissue repairs, or any organ repair, etc. Simply put modern science and technology is improving the quality and longevity of life of a man or woman. One must be very cautious as Science and Technology is a double edged sword and without Islamic Ethics it can destroy every human being.
These fruit yielding trees were grown in Muslims lands such as Afghanistan, Bukhara, Baghdad, Cairo, Cordoba, Damascus, Delhi, Granada, Fez, Isfahan, Qairwan, Seville, Sicily, Zeituna and other great cities throughout the Muslim World. These trees were grown from a single seed. What is that seed and who planted the seed and where was it planted? Without the advent of our Nabi Karim Muhammad Mustafa (SAW) and the final establishment of MONOTHEISM or TAWHID on earth, none of what we take for granted in the modern world could possibly have developed. Our Nabi Karim Muhammad Mustafa (SAW) first planted the seed of TAWHID (La Ilaaha Il’Allah) in Hejaz in Arabia 1400 years ago. La Ilaaha, Il’Allah, literally means “NO GOD EXCEPT Allah. It means there is no Deity worthy of worship except Allah(SWT). Anyone can become a Muslim by reciting the Kalima or Shahadah “La Ilaaha Il’Allah, Muhammadun Rasoolallah”. The greatest achievement of our Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is that he made every Muslim a SCIENTIST by firmly instilling the concept TAWHID in body, soul and mind of every Muslim. For Sufis recitation of “La Ilaha, Il’Allah” is the Tariqah (path) to the Haqiqah(Haqiqath) or the Ultimate Reality.
Polytheism and superstition looked upon things and creatures as deities, and encouraged their worship. Before the advent of Islam polytheism dominated the entire world. Because of the Polytheistic view, natural sciences had become forbidden territory and natural phenomena were given sanctity. TAWHID destroyed Polytheism, Superstition, Nature Worship or Worship of Natural Phenomena. TAWHID created the intellectual frame of mind and opened the doors of research and investigation by displacing nature from its sacred pedestal and abolishing the practice of worshipping the natural phenomena. Holding the moon to be sacred was a major obstacle to even thinking of conquering it.
Sources as diverse as George Sarton, Bertrand Russell and Encyclopaedia Britannica, say “We reach the conclusion that without monotheism the concepts of experimentation and scientific enquiry, not to mention modern industrialization, would not exist.” Historians acknowledge that Islam changed the face of the globe. Polytheism and superstition blocked the progress and advancement of human development.Muslim Universities in the Middle Ages particularly in Spain laid the foundation for European Renaissance. Take for example the ancient Greeks. Their society was steeped in polytheism and superstition. Many natural phenomena were believed to be endowed with godly powers. It was impossible to scientifically investigate something so revered and sacred. Consequently, people worshipped nature rather than explore it and harness its powers.
We tend to think of ancient Greece as a free thinking democracy. In fact this is not entirely true; only the upper classes were allowed any latitude; free speech and free thought were actively discouraged to protect the hold of the man-made religions over the populace. The Greek rulers like many others throughout time have used the polytheistic beliefs of their subjects to shore up their own power, claiming divine ancestors and the “divine right of kings”.
Another example is modern day India where the attribution of divinity to the non-divine or the concept of shirk has had far reaching consequences. Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, former director of the Indian Agricultural Institute, New Delhi, and the Architect of India’s Green Revolution, blames “protein hunger” or lack of animal protein in the Hindu diet for the prospect of intellectual dwarfing of the nation’s youngsters. Because people worship the cow, a food source, their children suffer from malnutrition while not necessarily going hungry. The Hindus have 320 million gods and goddesses. If a Hindu lives for 100 years and spends the first 20 years in acquiring education and a profession and in the next 80 years he spends 8 hours each day in non-stop recitation of the name of a God or goddess in 2.6 seconds then his whole life is not enough. If he lives less than 100 years then he misses many, many gods. If he cannot pray and appease each and every god then he or she feels guilty and any difficulty or calamity that one faces in life is attributed to the anger of the other gods who were not prayed to. The mind is occupied with guilty feelings. The mind should be free to do research.
The might Roman Empire and Civilization that lasted for 700 years never produced even one single Scientist. Because they were pagans and polytheists.
Why research thrives in USA or a Western countries and not in the developing countries. The answer is the intellectual environment and the infrastructure. Just like a plant needs, fertilizer, water, sunshine, the mind needs a stimulating, nurturing environment to conduct research. The mind should be free to think and it should be free from mundane worries. How can a Hindu with a Ph.D. or M. D. do research when he considers the Sun as a God and performs prostration to the Sun God everyday in the morning.
Islam produced a Galaxy of Universal and Encyclopedic Scientists. Muslims contributed to every branch of science: in every field of inquiry and investigation. In every case, the Islamic concept of the oneness of God, coupled with the teaching of man’s role as God’s viceregent on earth have enabled the Muslims to investigate and harness the earth’s resources for the betterment of mankind as a whole. Far from worshipping things found in the heavens and on earth, Muslims have been able to look into the unexplained and take advantage of the things the Creator has given us to improve our lives.
Islam is a religion of logic and reason, dazzling in its perfection and simplicity. One comes away with the feeling that Islam might just be the best-kept secret in the western world.