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Science vs Islam in University, My Experience

by | Apr 4, 2021

More often than not, it is our experiences that forge and consolidate our ideas and our ideals. In my case, I have a scientific background, I studied in biochemistry; and the more I discovered about how our body functions, the more I believed as a Muslim. On the other hand, I never really was challenged on my faith at University. Sure I had discussions with other students, and practically all the time, even if they were not Muslim or did not become Muslim, they came out of that discussion thinking. Therefore, I would like to share a couple of anecdotes from my years in University.

First off, as I was about to enter University in Biochemistry, one of my sports buddies was intrigued by my field of studies. How could I enter the domain of science if I am a Muslim; isn’t there a contradiction? I told him jokingly, that’s where the chemistry part comes into play; I wasn’t interested in the bio part, just interested in bomb-making, the rest was irrelevant. I’m sure that Muslim student pilots get the same kick out of the reaction of people when they say they’re not interested in landings; just in takeoffs. After a couple of chuckles, I explained to him that there are no contradictions between science and Islam, more specifically creation and science. The only contradiction involving science and creation is evolution; for everything else, especially for Muslims, science and religion go hand in hand. As Muslims believe that there were laws given to man to follow, God has also instituted laws that maintain the Universe. So extrapolating and understanding these laws are encouraged in Islam. On the other hand, all that is not explicable by being a one-time phenomenon is characterized by being a miracle.

Secondly, in my microbiology class at University back in 2004, the subject of belief arose and our professor was asked about his point of view on the matter at hand. So our teacher made a simple parallel between God and radio waves:

“Like it or not, radio waves are passing through, pretty much wherever you are. Even at this instance, they are bouncing off you, penetrating you, and the best part of it; you are completely oblivious to them. Until!… you get a tool called a receptor (TV, radio, cell phone), then you get the picture loud and clear. God is something like the radio wave, and the receptor is your spirit (soul); some chose to use it, others turn it off.”

Being honest and stating that the divine and the soul are mysteries is reproached by atheists as being a simplistic way of getting out of the discussion. Just to play the devil’s advocate, doesn’t saying everything is a fluke sound simplistic to you?

Keeping with the same argument, this last anecdote happened the same year in my enzymology class. Each teacher has a distinct character, like every single person; some are jolly, some are brash, others are irritating. But this professor was pompous and pretentious, the type that loves to hear himself speak. I must say, he was interesting, competent, was and still is highly regarded in the field of molecular medicine as well as cancer prevention via neutratherapy.

The long and the short of it is that this professor started to speak about cellular functions, and for some reason, a lot of people have difficulty speaking about biology without involving evolution. But once you imply evolution, more often than not, you exclude creation; and that is exactly what happened. He then went on to say that using god as a way for people to explain the appearance of the Universe or life, in general, is a simplistic explanation. Unfortunately, I stayed mute; I didn’t stand up for my convictions. Maybe I was shy, intimidated; I felt like a heel. Suddenly a young lady, with more character than me, interjected and stopped his line of assertion by asking sarcastically if what he was talking about would be in the exam. Understanding that he did not have an audience for his words, he came back to the subject at hand. Thankfully, you always get a second chance to make things right, and this time I wouldn’t pass it up.

A little while later, during the same class, the teacher mentioned that enzymes are responsible for many interactions in the human body. However, these reactions must be regulated in order to keep a certain balance in any organism. Therefore, as there are enzymes, there are anti-enzymes that counter or repress the action of the enzymes that first produced the action. They are all enzymes, only one has a certain effect; the other one, an opposite effect. That is when I raised my hand and spoke.

-So if these anti-enzymes regulate enzymes, they must have appeared pretty much at the same instance in the evolutionary timeline as the enzymes themselves.

He agreed and pointed out that my comment was a very good observation. I then pursued by saying, in his opinion, didn’t he think that this explanation is pretty simplistic! He grinned slightly and continued on with the class. Next week, In Sha Allah, we shall visit how well science faired during the Islamic period and see if there was any contradiction between Islam and Science.

Probability, you won’t Get the Best of Me! – Scientific Proofs in the Quran

Probability, you won’t Get the Best of Me! – Scientific Proofs in the Quran

If anyone is a betting man, he knows that most of the time he will lose; it is a question of numbers. Winning every time is improbable and practically impossible. When flipping a coin, you have one chance out of two of getting it right. 50%, not bad; but repeat it four times straight; not too confident, are you?

Let’s transpose that example to the prophet Muhammad; he got every single verifiable (with our limited knowledge to date) phenomenon right. Not only he got them right, but most of them are also explained; not just enunciated or left for interpretation. Let’s say there are about 20 scientific/natural phenomenon (Actually, more have been mentioned and others left out since a multitude of authors have done a better job than me explaining them. Plus, 20 seems like a pretty round number, and we don’t want to sound boastful either) that were elucidated 1400 years ago, by an illiterate Arab that had no aspirations to science whatsoever… When you do the math: ½ at the power 20 is ½ x ½ x½ x ½ x ½ x ½ x ½ x ½ x ½ x ½ x ½ x ½ x½ x ½ x ½ x ½ x ½ x ½ x ½ x ½. That gives you the possibility of 1/1 048 576 of getting it right. That is less than one in a million probability; becoming less and less a betting man…Keep in mind, considering that the questioning is in a yes or no format; true or false to a given question (without formulating the solution and adding all the explanation that comes with it in the Quran and Hadith).

The thing is, it is not because the prophet Muhammad was an expert in astronomy, geology, chemistry, nuclear physics, biology, botany, entomology, oceanology, or even historical science that he got it right all the time. It is because the only thing he got right out of all of this is that he wholeheartedly believed in Allah. All these, verses, signs, scientific phenomenon were not explained or tackled by the prophet Muhammad; they were brought forth by Allah, the All-Knowing.

And with Him are the keys of the unseen; none knows them except Him. And He knows what is on the land and in the sea. Not a leaf falls but that He knows it. And no grain is there within the darknesses of the earth and no moist or dry [thing] but that it is [written] in a clear record.

Surah Al-Anam (6 – 59)

Faith

the process of belief