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Reactions of Muslim Scholars to Modern Science

Published: 03/09/2011 04:44:00 PM GMT
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There is no question that the Islamic world was the cradle for modern Science. During its Golden Age, the Muslim community was at the forefront of scientific advances and the pursuit of scientific knowledge. However, after this golden age there came a time of stagnation. A time, after the fall of the Caliphates and Western colonization, in which advances in science were stunted or completely stopped in much of the Muslim world. One aspect of the 20th century that greatly affected Muslim society was coming into contact with modern scientific advances and technology. As usual, these resulted in a number of differing viewpoints within Islamic society; especially when talking about scientific advances that seemed to contradict the Qur'an directly.

Many Muslim scholars decided to reject modern science completely. These scholars unilaterally decided that modern science was the result of a foreign, non-Muslim view of the world. Their solution was a return to fundamentalism and a rejection of those aspects of modern science that seemed to contradict the accepted Muslim view of the world. On the other extreme of the spectrum, some Muslim scholars advocated replacing religion with a purely scientific system of thought. However, between these two extremes there thrived a large number of Muslim scientists. These scientists decided to adapt Islam as it was practiced then to accommodate modern scientific breakthroughs.

Some Muslims scientists attempted to find religious passages and justifications for adopting modern scientific advances. Others attempted to discover metaphorical references or predictions in Islam that justified the existence of many scientific breakthroughs. One other school of thought supported reevaluating many aspects of Islam. These progressive Muslims proposed building a new Islamic system of thought that made sense of modern scientific discoveries. After all, throughout its history Islam has been a religion that strongly disapproved of superstition and the supernatural. Falling to religious fundamentalism and the denial of the world around us is contrary to what Islam teaches at its very core. The Qur'an is clear about the fact that the study of the natural world is a path that makes Muslims better appreciate and stand in awe of the wonders of creation and of God.

It is this last school of thought that has prevailed in modern times. Most Muslim scholars accept scientific knowledge and modern science. However, they warn against considering Science a false God, or an idol, containing all the sum total of available knowledge. Most modern Muslim scholars consider that the pursuit of scientific knowledge is a noble, virtuous goal. However, they agree that this knowledge must be understood within the moral and ethical framework of Islam. Otherwise, there is a real risk of straying from the straight path to God.

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