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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Why Quran and Science?

By Dr. Gasser Hathout

The difference between the Pharaoh and the magician is simply a matter
of knowledge.

Behold! in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the
alternation of night and day, there are indeed Signs for men of understanding,-
Men who celebrate the praises of Allah, standing, sitting, and lying
down on their sides, and contemplate the (wonders of) creation in the
heavens and the earth, (With the thought): “Our Lord! not for naught Hast
Thou created (all) this! Glory to Thee! Give us salvation from the
penalty of the Fire. (Quran 3:190-191).

Scientific phenomenon is a kind of worship in Islam. There are two main
approaches to Quran and Science.

Firstly, use the issue of science in the Quran for proof, to prove that
Quran is the word of Allah. Some people look down on this and say that
we should have the belief in the validity of the Quran. The answer is
both “yes’ and ‘no’. When Abraham said: “Show me, Lord, how You will
raise the dead, “ He replied: “Have you no faith?” He said “Yes, but just
to reassure my heart.” (Quran 2:260)

The Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) who lived in the
nomadic Arabia. The Prophet (Pbuh) himself did not know how to read and
write. So believe in Allah and His Messenger, the Unlettered Prophet, who
believeth in Allah and His words: follow him that (so) ye may be
guided.” (Quran 7: 158).

How come the Prophet (Pbuh) who did not know how to read and write talk
about embryology, astronomy, botany and Geo-Physics? Hence it is quite
evident that Quran is the word of Allah.

Secondly we all know that Prophet Musa (Pbuh) is given miracles by
Allah. And he tells Pharaoh that he will show some miracles and shows some
miracles. Pharaoh says these are magic tricks that Musa knows. We know
magic tricks. We have magicians; our magicians will do better than you
do. So, a time is set for the challenge, people are gathered to
demonstrate to them that Musa’s miracles are nothing, but magic.

At the appointed time, the contest between Musa and sorcerers takes
place. And they produce their magic. Musa produces his true miracles and
what happened at that point? The Quran describes in amazing details.

So the magicians were thrown down to prostration: they said, “We
believe in the Lord of Aaron and Moses”. (Quran 20:70)

(Pharaoh) said: “Believe ye in Him before I give you permission? Surely
this must be your leader, who has taught you magic! be sure I will cut
off your hands and feet on opposite sides, and I will have you
crucified on trunks of palm-trees: so shall ye know for certain, which of us
can give the more severe and the more lasting punishment!” (Quran 20:71)

They said: “Never shall we regard thee as more than the Clear Signs
that have come to us, or than Him Who created us! so decree whatever thou
desirest to decree: for thou canst only decree (touching) the life of
this world. (Quran 20:72)

This is truly an amazing story. And for many years when I read this
story what fixated my attention was the transformation of these magicians
from unbelief to belief. As I got little bit older, my focus got
shifted to something sort of unexpected. Instead of looking at the magicians,
I started looking at the Pharaoh and the rest of the crowd, “Why didn’t
everybody else fall prostrated and say we believe because already the
magicians did at a great personal expense to themselves?” “What about
the rest of the people watching? In fact the response of Pharaoh was “he
was your leader who taught you the magic.”

Do you know the reason, why?

It is the knowledge. The difference between the Pharaoh and the
magician is simply a matter of knowledge. They had enough knowledge to realise
the miracle and be able to differentiate it from magic trick. Pharaoh,
because of his ignorance, could not tell the difference. For him, it
seemed like one magic trick is better than the other.

For me, that is really the magic of science in the Quran. The proof
verses are very nice and very powerful, but the real magic is, the more we
learn about science, the more I am able to shift from being Pharaoh or
someone in the crowd to being like the magicians.



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