Norita Md Norwawi
Faculty of Science and Technology, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia
Dürriye Nur Yavuz
Hayrat Foundation, Isparta
Islamic Science Institute, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia
This paper aims to put in the limelight concept of tafakkur on the signs of Allah from the scientific and technological endeavour in the light of the epistles of Imam Nursi. The paper presents the mental framework of scientist and technologist defined under the window of Tawhid, Syariat, Adab and Akhlaq. Content analysis on selected Risale i-Nur was used in this study including other relevant references.
Keywords: Tafakkur, Lisanul Hal, Science and Technology, Science and Islam
التفكر في آيات الله من المسعى العلمي والتكنولوجي في ضوء رسائل الإمام النورسي
تهدف هذه الورقة إلى تسليط الضوء على مفهوم “التفكر” في آيات الله من المسعى العلمي والتكنولوجي في ضوء رسائل الإمام النورسي. تعرض الورقة الإطار العقلي للعالم والتقني المحدد تحت نافذة التوحيد والسيارية والأدب والأخلاق. تم استخدام تحليل المحتوى على رسائل النور المختار في هذه الدراسة بما في ذلك المراجع الأخرى ذات الصلة.
الكلمات المفتاحية: التفكّر ، لسان حال ، العلم والتكنولوجيا ، العلم والإسلام
Badiuzzaman Said Nursi (2011) in the epistle of Munazarat said,
“The light of the heart is the religious knowledge. The light of intellect is modern knowledge. With a harmonious unity between these two knowledges, the fact will emerge, such that the ambition of a student becomes noble and fly high with both knowledge wings. If both these knowledges are taught separately, the teaching of religious knowledge only will result in bigotry whilst teaching science alone will cause wile and suspicion.”
This indicates that science and religious knowledge should be incorporated into an integrated education system or else the learning experiences will have fundamental problems. Thus, Said Nursi emphasized that science taught in isolation from religious knowledge will produce suspicion and unbelief and religious knowledge separated from science will result in bigotry. The notion of reviving education by integrating science knowledge with religion science and spiritual is being portrayed in his writings of the Risale-i Nur.
The 21 st century was marked with a very unexpected event that has an impact globally. Disruptive is a common term used and discussed in this century referring to the sophistication of advance technology due to Internet, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Robotics commonly termed as the Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0. It was least expected that the disruption could be caused by the technology of the supreme Power, the Creator through the nanosize Corona Virus. It disrupts major economic activities where industries such as tourism, education, health are among the most affected. Per day thousands of death and millions infected around the world thus contribute to the historical statistics of the pandemic in this millennial 2020. Many things change drastically including lifestyle such as hygiene practices, the standard operating procedures in business premises, education, public services and so on. The online platform becomes the new norms almost everywhere in most human activities.
Ironically, IT experts continuously discussed in various forums on educating the society with teaching and learning using the digital platform such as e-learning, m-learning, massive open online course, open educational resources, online distance learning and so on. Training workshops were conducted all over the world to instil the 21st Century digital skill. Subhanallah, within such a short period, the whole world is now into the digital platform without much choice where the Internet is the busiest with high voluminous traffic due to continuous, daily online learning, meetings, webinars, online businesses with delivery at every corner of the globe. Yet, how much does this Disruption from the Divine, Supreme technology has open our eyes, our heart, our senses, contemplating the wisdom of the Creator, Al-Hakim, Al-Khabir, Al-Latif, Al-Quddus?
Do they not travel through the land, so that their hearts (and minds) may thus learn wisdom and their ears may thus learn to hear? Truly it is not their eyes that are blind, but their hearts which are in their breasts. (Surah Al-Hajj: 46 )
Tafakkur on Science and Technology
The purpose of this article is to give a spotlight to tafakkur on Science and Technology being part of the ayatul kauniyah or ayatul mandzurah.
Do ye not see that Allah has subjected to your (use) all things in the heavens and on earth, and has made his bounties flow to you in exceeding measure, (both) seen and unseen? Yet there are among men those who dispute about Allah, without the knowledge and guidance, and without a Book to enlighten them! (Surah Luqman: 20)
Science and technology is part of the bounties that Allah compel earth and heavens to be of service to the humankind as blessings and Rahmat from Allah since prophet Adam a.s. For example, it is Allah who taught the Prophet Dawood, to make armour by softening the iron.
It was We Who taught him the making of coats of mail for your benefit, to guard you from each other’s violence: will ye then be grateful? ( Surah Al-Anbiya: 80)
This implies that knowledge and skills in science and technology have been taught by Allah so too to the prophets such as Prophet Adam a.s in agriculture, Prophet Nuh a.s in shipbuilding, and Prophet Isa a.s in medicine under the Divine knowledge. (Nursi, 2011)
Today, advancements in science and technology lose its sight, missing the links and its connection being the signs of Allah’s mercy and blessings (Rahmat). Rasulullah also taught us in Hadith from Bukhari and Muslim to make things convenient for people.
Narrated Anas bin Malik: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Make things easy for the people, and do not make it difficult for them, and make them calm (with glad tidings) and do not repulse (them ). Sahih Bukhari 6125
Hence, our science and technology curriculum should focus on three important aspects: content that strengthen our faith to the Creator, inculcate good purpose for mankind according to the Maqasid Shariah (objective of Shariah), observe the boundary of the shariah. The intention, purpose and directions of the development in Science and Technology must be in accordance to the Quran and Sunnah of the Prophets, a tool or services that offer maslahah (benefits and conveniences) to people thus bringing Rahmat to the creations ( رحمة للعالمين ) instead of mafsadah (cause of ruin) in harmony with the objective of Shariah.
Purpose of Creation
Let us begin with the fundamentals by reflecting on our existence. Allah created us in this world with two primary reasons
(a) to worship Allah
I created the jinn and humankind only that they might worship Me (Surah Ad-Dzariyat: 56)
(b) as a vicegerent appointed by Allah
it is He that has made you inheritors in the earth: if, then, any do reject (Allah), their rejection (works) against themselves: their rejection but adds to the odium for the Unbelievers in the sight of their Lord: their rejection but adds to (their own) undoing. (Surah Fathir: 39)
Allah is the One who appointed the humankind as the khalifatul ardh, inheritors or vicegerent of the earth, utilize the bounties of life justly, to do justice to mankind, preserving the environment and living creatures as means of worshipping Allah, showing gratitude to Him and seeking His pleasure. We should be constantly reminded that we have testified that Allah is our Lord as in Surah Al-Araf verse 172 and abide to worship Him only and follow His command.
When thy Lord drew forth from the Children of Adam – from their loins – their descendants, and made them testify concerning themselves, (saying): “Am I not your Lord (who cherishes and sustains you)?”- They said: “Yea! We do testify!” (This), lest ye should say on the Day of Judgment: “Of this we were never mindful”. (Surah Al-A’raf : 172)
However, if we fail to understand this appointment of Khalifah from Allah and do not fulfil the command of this verse, the disobedience and ignorance will work against the humankind which can be seen from disasters, climate change, environmental damages. Recently we witnessed the COVID-19 pandemic being spread due to carelessness, mindlessness and negligence of human to protect others and cause no harm to society as shown in the Sunnah. We must acknowledge that we are responsible for protecting and saving the planet as a manifestation in worshipping Allah however small we can.
Position of Science and Technology in Islam
In the scientific tradition of Islam that reached its peak in the Golden era during the Umayyad and Abbasid gave birth to numerous polymath scholars such as Ibnu Sina, Al-Khawarizmi, Ibnu Haitham, Al-Biruni, Ibnu Firnas, Al-Jazari, Ibnu Hayyan and many more. They had charted the intellectual history of the world that contributed the original works of scientific discovery, technological invention and innovation in many disciplines of science. However, it is important to note that the mental framework of the Muslim scholars are unique and can be illustrated into 3 windows: the window of Tauhid, the window of Shariat and window of Adab and Akhlaq as shown in Fig. 1.
|Adab & Akhlaq|
|Science & Technology|
Fig. 1: Mental framework of scholars in Science and technology
Window of Tawhid
Technology is the application of science in a practical sense based on some scientific knowledge. As a Muslim, we must be conscious that any knowledge of what sort, the owner is not the mankind but the Owner of all knowledge, our Creator, Allah SWT. That is the purpose that we pray to Allah as commanded in the Quran, Surah Thoha verse 114, رَبِّى زِدْنِى عِلْمَا because He is the All-Knowing, العليم.
Since He is the Owner of knowledge, then we should honour the knowledge that He awarded to us as rizq for the benefit of the human being as Prophet Muhammad teaches us that “the best amongst mankind is one who benefits humanity” and to show gratitude to the Almighty Creator.
Furthermore, we should also understand the cause and effect that is frequently discussed in science must be connected to the Qadarallah. For example, we water our plants, place it in the sunlight, fertilize it are all Causes. However, with faith, we believe that the effects of the plant growth are not due to the Causes but due to Allah’s will, biiznillah. Another example, scientists professionally built the space shuttle with its sophistication, but Allah is the One who permits for it to reach the moon or the outer space. The fatal accident of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986 is an example of a mission failure that shows that we are powerless and our knowledge is limited and was not able to foresee the accidents beforehand. Namrud and Pharaoh with advance and powerful human civilization were destroyed by only tiny mosquitoes or drowned in the sea. Similarly, now all countries around the globe are paralysed by the nanosize COVID-19 pandemic such as the USA, Italy and China who are considered the superpowers, fell apart due to coronavirus under the command of Allah, The Magnificent Creator of all creations.
Amazingly, Allah does not need experts among scientist and IT professionals and scholars. He can create as He please situations where everybody must learn, unlearn and relearn the without much choice as what is happening now. It is a paradox that years of forums, conferences, seminars to promote online digital learning now is swiftly overtaken by serious mass adoption of technology and online communication due to physical distancing and quarantine procedures. Allah is the “Doer (without let) of all that He intends. (Surah Al-Buruj: 16)
The sunnah of Pharaoh who instructed Haman to built a tall tower due to arrogance to see God of Moses and later destroyed. Hence, we should be mindful that any development should not be accompanied with self-pride and signs of arrogance to the Creator indicating void of fear to Allah.
Pharaoh said: “O Chiefs! no god do I know for you but myself: therefore, O Haman! light me a (kiln to bake bricks) out of clay, and build me a lofty palace, that I may mount up to the god of Moses: but as far as I am concerned, I think (Moses) is a liar!” (Surah Al-Qasas: 38)
In science education today, contemplation on science phenomena being the lisanul hal of His creations is not in place. Appreciation of the wonders of His creation was undermined with the idea of things happen naturally on its own, at random and by chance. This situation was noted by Said Nursi when some youth complaint to him on their secular education where their teachers did not teach them about Allah in class.
“In Kastamonu, a number of secondary school students visited me, saying ‘acquaint us about our Creator. Our teachers never talk about Allāh.’ For my part, I said ‘every one of the sciences that you study continually talks, in its particular language, about Allāh, and introduces the Creator (Al-Khāliq). Listen to them, not to your teachers. (Nursi, 2008)
Thus, all the science lessons in class is an intellectual and spiritual exercise through contemplation (tafakkur) on the greatness and powerfulness of Allah through His creations. Science study the nature of true phenomena. Faith leads us to the reality of the existence of the Creator hence bring us closer to Allah through science and acknowledge than Only Allah is the Most Powerful.
Window of Syariat
In Islamic epistemology, knowledge (ílm) is related to truth and realities. Thus, the source of true knowledge in Islam is the Quran, being the primary source besides Hadith. The roots of any science and technology initiatives must be in line with Quranic teaching and sunnah of the Prophet SAW. The programs should not transgress the boundary of the Shariah and in harmony with the Maqasid Syariah pertaining to the preservation of the faith, reason, life, posterity and property thus serving the public interest and prevent harm with wisdom and justice.
However today, the motivation behind scientific endeavours are economical reasons, prestige and power. The race in the space program, nuclear weapons, the global economy is the primary attributes in today’s science and technological development putting aside the danger, damage and impact to the health and well-being of humankind, animals and environment. This destructive and materialistic motive is definitely against the fiqh and Islamic law. How serious are we looking at the Islamic perspectives of science and technology strategic directions or we are merely followers of materialism, capitalism and pragmatism leading to long term destructive efforts?
For example, food technology must reflect the underpinning characteristics of worshipping Allah in terms of Halal, cleanliness, responsible consumption, integrity and honesty. Does the purpose of the effort related to food technology is to serve at best to humankind with sincerity to please Allah? According to Said Nursi (2012: 1/290-291), every knowledge has its reality, and hence, the perfection of its reality will be achieved when it relates to Asmaul Husna. For example, an engineer should try his/her best to portray the name of Allah ‘Al-Musawwir’. His creation is perfect, every creation is well connected and balanced, need each other in one sustainable ecosystem. Nursi (2013), stated that for example, human needs the oxygen that is emitted by plants due to photosynthesis. Plants need carbon dioxide being exhaled by a human. This shows an interconnected symbiotic relationship between man and nature intermingled with showing respect to Allah creations that glorify and obedient to Allah’s command and mindful with our actions toward mankind, nature and environment.
According to Said Nursi (2011: 8/401-404) the integration of two important knowledge: Divine and modern knowledge are extremely important in improving the quality of education as follows:
- Save the mind from false allegory that is based on only materialism
- Protecting science students in modern schools from infidelity and students in religious schools from bigotry and blind faith.
- Save Islamic discourses from fiction, israiliyat and fanaticism.
- Act as a channel to bring together Islamic scholars and scientists in the unity of understanding on ideas and matters at hand.
Window of Adab and Akhlaq
The highest adab is to our Creator, acknowledging and showing fear and respect to Him as the Al-Khabir, al-Latif, Al-Musawwir. When Prophet Nuh is ready to go on the ship and also when the ship landed, he recited بِسْمِ اللَّهِ مَجْرَاهَا وَمُرْسَاهَا
So he said: “Embark ye on the Ark, In the name of Allah, whether it move or be at rest! For my Lord is, be sure, Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful!”. ( Surah Hud: 41)
We must be constantly in remembrance and praise Allah in any of our efforts to be considered successful as explained in Surah Jumuah verse 10.
And when the Prayer is finished, then may ye disperse through the land, and seek of the Bounty of Allah: and celebrate the Praises of Allah often (and without stint): that ye may prosper (Surah Jumuah: 10)
In our state of affairs, we need to be truthful as Allah says “Woe to those that deal in fraud” (Surah Al-Muthafifi:1). There is a distinction between the development of science and technology aimed for utilitarian and materialistic gain compared to initiatives grounded with the remembrance of Allah (zikr), thankful to Him (syukur) affiliated with tafakkur exemplified by Prophet Daud and Sulaiman a.s.
So he smiled, amused at her speech; and he said: “O my Lord! so order me that I may be grateful for Thy favours, which thou hast bestowed on me and my parents and that I may work the righteousness that will please Thee: And admit me, by Thy Grace, to the ranks of Thy righteous Servants.” Surah An-Naml: 19
In reality, science is part of Divine knowledge acquired by a human through the process of thinking, observing, experiencing, rationalizing provided it is observed under windows of Tawhid, Shariat, inculcate with Adab and Akhlaq or Islamic moral and ethics. When science and technology are observed within the tradition of knowledge in Islam as being taught by Rasulullah SAW with the Quranic and prophetic wisdom, it will lead us closer and subservient to Allah. We should always reflect that Allah has made all other creations to serve humankind in a perfect ecosystem of mankind, nature and environment in the universe in general. A scientific phenomenon becomes a platform for us to ponder, reflect on the wisdom of the Creator.
Bediuzzaman Said Nursi attempted to establish Madrasatul Zahra that teach the students the integration of both revealed and human acquired knowledge, which was not able to continue due to World War 1. The acquired knowledge must be attained under the supervision of the Islamic worldview and Islamic epistemology where Quran and Hadith are the primary sources of true knowledge. Science and technological advancement should bring mercy and blessings to all creation rather than destruction and damages. Hence, the purpose of the exploration of science and technology is to realise that we are powerless, always in need of Allah guidance, seeking His help and permission in making our effort an actuality being part of Said Nursi ma’na harfi ,a concept brought forward in Risale-I Nur. With Allah’s mercy, we can travel the globe faster, communicate in seconds to every corner of the world, improve our work such as by using the computer, washing machine, electricity, satellite as so on. Thus, science and technological progression integrated with faith, adab and akhlaq, will push mankind far ahead as shown by all the prophets, companions and scholars as narrated in Surah Al-Áraf verse 96.
If the people of the towns had but believed and feared Allah, We should indeed have opened out to them (All kinds of) blessings from heaven and earth; but they rejected (the truth), and We brought them to book for their misdeeds. (Surah Al-Áraf: 96)
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