Science & Religion


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“I used to think”, remarked Professor Wragge at this stage, “that between science and religion there was some mutual contradiction and opposition, and this is the view generally held by learned men in both camps. But your conception of religion quite reconciles the two.”

“Yes”, continued the Promised Messiah, “this is part of our mission: We prove that there is no opposition between science and religion. The two are in complete harmony. However far science might progress, it shall never be able to falsify the teachings and the principles of Islam.”

wragge with Huzur

A descendant of Wragge with the current Ahmadiyya Caliph


Mirza Ghulam Ahmad

PEACE BE UPON HIM

His Holiness Mirza Ghulam Ahmad,
The Promised Messiah & Mahdi,
Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam

(1835-1908)

 

An interview with the Promised Messiahpbuh

Prof. Wragge: I am a man of science and I see that the earth on which we live is very small. In comparison to thousands and millions of other kinds of God’s creation, the earth melts into insignificance. Why then has God’s blessing been limited to this earth or to any one religion or nation?

His Holiness Mirza Ghulam Ahmad: Actually this is not correct, neither is it our belief that God reveals himself through a particular nation or sect. God does not have a special relationship or love for any one particular nation. What is correct is this, that God is the God of the entire universe and he has created the means of physical nourishment and development for all creation without any distinction and according to our principle he is ‘Rabbul Alameen’ i.e. the nourisher and sustainer of all the worlds. He has created grains, air, water, light, etc. for all creation.

Likewise, in every age and in every nation he has, from time to time, sent reformers for the reformation of people in those nations. As it is stated in the Holy Quran (Surah Fatir, verse 251) Allah the Almighty is God of all the worlds. He has no special relationship with any nation. In fact the different heavenly books which have come from time to time do not contradict each other. This is because a reformer is needed when the world inclines more towards evil deeds and bad practices, such as lies, theft, quarrels and general immorality, so that people become distanced from purity and virtue, and are overwhelmed by selfish desires and emotions. So much so that they, in their belief, also abandon the worship of one God and incline towards idol worship. God is the nourisher of man’s physical as well as spiritual being. His pride demands that at such times of spiritual darkness he should appoint a person for reform, and the concept of such a reformer does not fall outside the bounds of laws of nature. Just as the actual wheat that grew in the times of Adam and other prophets cannot be a source of nourishment for us, and just as the water which existed in previous times cannot quench our thirst, so we need fresh spiritual food as well as water.

Clement_Wragge,_circa_1901

Clement Wragge ~1901

It is the tradition of Allah that just as He nourishes and provides for the development of the physical process, where previous nourishment is not sufficient for the present, so is the case with the system of spiritual development, and the two systems, the physical and the spiritual, go side by side. For the person who denies the existence of God, this discussion would take a different line. But a person who believes in the existence of God should keep the two systems in mind and benefit from their comparison. He who has created the physical system has also created the spiritual system. Just as he nourishes the physical system with fresh sustenance, so he nourishes the spiritual system with fresh sustenance. Just as the physical state is dependent upon fresh water, so the spiritual state is also dependent upon fresh, heavenly revelation. Just as the physical body dies if it does not receive nourishment, so the soul too dies without spiritual nourishment. If in spiritual matters only past and ancient references are available, then what would be the conclusion other than that the spiritual system is in a state of death. What else could it be?

God Almighty, as is his nature, always wishes to be recognised. For proof of His existence and identification He  always provides true, clear and fresh signs and these are not too difficult to understand. It is this system which has always been in existence and which continues. Thousands upon thousands of prophets came and provided such proofs through their own actions and deeds, thus completing the argument in favour of the existence of God.

Wragge_in_nz

Clement Wragge in his older years sporting a turban

Now, how can a person stating that he is a scientist or a philosopher break this proven continuum of witnessed signs? What is needed in such a case is that, just as the holy people provided a practical example with their lives and validated their claims, so should the negation of it be offered in the same way. Such people, however, would be justified in asking, why they are presented with old stories and fables, why not give a living proof or a living example? And for this I am available.

An astronomer cannot provide a definite proof of the existence of God merely by observing the solar system which may, at the very most, lead to a view that there should be a God. The fact that there is a God and that he most certainly exists has always been proven with the principles put forward by the prophets. If people like myself did not appear in this world there could never be in the world any real and complete proof of God. At the very most, if someone was of a just disposition and also possessed a virtuous character, then from the well ordered heavenly bodies and from the solar system, etc. he could conclude that there ought to be a God. Other than that, the fact that God exists and he is the Master, the Ruler and the moving force behind all creation, all this it is not possible for people to know without the guidance of those who are from God. It is such people who enable others to witness the existence of God and, by providing fresh evidence and signs, it is as if they are able to ‘show’ God to others.” Interview with Professor Wragge, part 1



Should Muslims study science?

“I consider Maulavis [clerics] who are opposed to the acquisition of modern knowledge to be in error. They, in fact, do so to cover up their own errors and weakness. They have convinced themselves that research into modern sciences leads to error and alienates a person from Islam. They seem to hold that reason and science are totally inconsistent with Islam. As they have not the capacity to expose the weaknesses of philosophy, they seek to cover up their own shortcomings by propounding that it is not permissible to acquire modern education. Their souls tremble before philosophy and prostrate themselves before new research. They have not been bestowed the true philosophy which is born of Divine revelation and of which the Holy Qur’an is full to the brim. This philosophy is bestowed only upon those who prostrate themselves at the threshold of God Almighty with extreme humility and self-negation, whose minds and hearts exclude all putridity of pride and who, confessing their weaknesses, implore and affirm humbly that they are the true servants of the Divine.

For the service of the faith and for upholding the Word of Allah, it is essential that you study the modern sciences, and study them diligently. I must, however, warn that it is within my experience that those who pursued this study one-sidedly and were so taken up by it that they had no opportunity of keeping company with anyone who loved God and remembered Him, and who did not themselves possess inner divine light, such people have generally stumbled and turned away from Islam. Instead of subordinating their learning to Islam, they embarked upon a vain effort to subordinate Islam to modern sciences and, in their own estimation, acquired the monopoly of religious and national service. Remember, however, that he alone is capable of performing religious service who is guided by heavenly light.” Essence of Islam, Vol. 4, page 308-309



Are spiritual truths and religious truths approached differently? 

“The Gracious and Merciful Lord, Who has invested human nature with the hunger and thirst of His own complete understanding has endowed human nature with two types of faculties for the purpose of arriving at that understanding. One type is the intellectual faculties, the source of which is the brain, and the other type is spiritual faculties the source of which is the heart. The purity of spiritual faculties depends upon the purity of the heart. That which cannot be discovered through the intellectual faculties is reached through the spiritual faculties. Spiritual faculties can develop such purity that the graces of the Source of Grace can be mirrored in them, but the condition is that they should be eager for the acquisition of grace and all intervening veils and obstructions should be removed so that they might become the recipients of the grace of perfect understanding. Their recognition of the Divine should not be limited to the affirmation that there should be a Creator of this universe. Rather, by being perfectly graced with the honour of Divine converse, they should be able to behold His countenance directly through having observed His great signs and should thus be able to see with complete certainty that that Creator truly exists.” – Essence of Islam, Vol. 2, page 41

 

The difference between scientific truths and revelation

“Though man has been trying strenuously for thousands of years to discover God’s powers through natural sciences and mathematics, yet his knowledge is so defective that he can only be described as hopeless and unsuccessful in his search. Hundreds of hidden mysteries are disclosed to those to whom visions and revelation are vouchsafed and they are borne witness to by thousands of the righteous; but the philosophers continue to deny them. The philosophers base all thinking and reflection on the brain, but those who have experience of visions have discovered through their spiritual experiences that the fountain-head of reason and understanding is the heart.

For thirty five years, I have observed that revelation which is the source of spiritual understanding and of the knowledge of the unseen descends upon the heart. Very often a voice strikes the heart with force, as a bucket is thrown with force into a well full of water, and that water of the heart surges up like a closed blossom and arriving near the brain blooms like a flower and gives birth to words which are words of the Divine. These spiritual experiences establish that the brain is not concerned with knowledge and true understanding. It is true that if the brain is healthy and suffers from no defect it is benefited by the secret knowledge possessed by the heart, and as the brain is the centre of the nervous system it is like a machine which can pump up water from the well. The heart is the well which is the fountainhead of hidden knowledge. This is a secret that has been discovered by men of truth through true visions and I myself have experience of it.”Essence of Islam, Vol. 2, page 63-64



 The requirements of spiritual knowledge

“There is a great distinction between the acquisition of worldly knowledge and knowledge of the Holy Qur’an. Righteousness is not needed for the study of grammar, physics, philosophy, astronomy, medicine, etc. It is not necessary that a student of these subjects should observe Salat and the fast and should be mindful of Divine commandments and prohibitions and should subordinate his every action and word to Divine directions. Indeed it often happens that the seekers of such knowledge become atheistic and are involved in every kind of vice. Today the world presents a remarkable spectacle. 

Though the people of Europe and America acquire high proficiency in worldly arts and sciences and daily make new inventions, their moral and spiritual condition is deplorable. We cannot even mention some of the scenes that are witnessed in the parks of London and the hotels of Paris and are published in the daily press.

On the other hand righteousness is an essential condition for heavenly learning and for acquiring knowledge of the mysteries of the Holy Qur’an. For this purpose sincere repentance is needed. For the door of Qur’anic knowledge is not opened until a seeker of it carries the burden of Divine commands with perfect humility and meekness and turns to Him humbly, trembling before His glory and His might. Without these he cannot obtain from the Holy Qur’an the means of fostering those qualities and faculties which generate delight and comfort for the soul. The Holy Qur’an is the Book of God and its knowledge is in the hand of God; thus righteousness is the ladder for the acquisition of such knowledge. Then how can it be possible that the faithless wicked who are evil-minded and are held prisoner by their earthly passions should achieve such knowledge? A Muslim who does not purify his soul is not bestowed knowledge of the Holy Qur’an, however high may be his proficiency in grammar and literary subjects, and however much he might enjoy the esteem of the worldly.

At this time the attention of the world is centred upon worldly knowledge and the light of Western learning continues to astonish mankind with new inventions and manufactures. Unfortunately, the Muslims also have chosen to follow the West for the purpose of fostering their own welfare and they take pride in copying Europe and America. That is the attitude of the Muslims who follow the new light. Those who are known as old fashioned Muslims and deem themselves the guardians of the faith are caught in the niceties of points of grammar and in determining the correct manner of the pronunciation of Daalleen [arabic word]. They pay no attention to the true meaning of the Holy Qur’an, nor are they capable of doing so as they do not address themselves to the purification of their souls.” Essence of Islam, Vol. 2, page 349-351


Mirza Bashir-ud-din Mahmood Ahmad

MAY ALLAH BE PLEASED WITH HIM

Khalifatul_Masih_II

(1835-1908)

 

Religion and science

“‘Religion’ means the way by which to know God, and find Him, and of which He Himself has informed man by revelation; and by ‘science’ is meant that organised body of knowledge which has been dependent on deductions from self-evident truths, or it means those branches of knowledge which deal with material phenomena and are based mainly on observation, experiment and induction. Could there be possibly any conflict between these two definitions of religion and science? If these are in fact the definitions, respectively, of religion and science, then there is no conflict between them. If the definition of religion is not that which is given, it is bound to come in conflict with science.

 

Difference between science and religion

In reality, religion is the name of those verities which concern man’s union with his Creator whose knowledge God has Bestowed upon him by means of revelation, and science is the name of the combination of those results and conclusions which man arrived at after a deep study of the creation of the universe and the laws that regulate it. Some religious truths, no doubt, are capable of being known by the exercise of man’s intellect and mental faculties, but science is wholly and entirely the outcome of an intelligent reflection over what is happening around man in the universe.

In view of these definition of science and religion there remains absolutely no ground for any dispute or conflict between the two. Religion is based on God’s own revealed word and science is His handiwork, and there can possibly be no disagreement between the word and work of an intelligent person. It could be possible with a lunatic or an impostor – but God is neither a lunatic nor an impostor. As He is neither weak of intellect nor deficient in morals, conflict between what He does and what He says is evidently impossible. Hence conflict between science and religion is also impossible.”

– Read the full article here.


Professor Abdus Salam

Nobel Prize Winning Physicist & Ahmadi Muslim

Abdus Salam

(1926-1996)

Islam & Science: Concordance or Conflict? 

“Let me say at the outset that I am both a believer as well as a practicing Muslim. I am a Muslim because I believe in the spiritual message of the Holy Quran. As a scientist, the Quran speaks to me in that it emphasizes reflection on the Laws of Nature, with examples drawn from cosmology, physics, biology and medicine, as signs for all men. Says the Quran:

“Can they not look up to the clouds, how they are created; and to the Heaven how it is upraised; and the mountains how they are rooted, and to the earth how it is outspread?”

(Holy Qur’an, 88:17)

And again:

“Verily in the creation of the Heavens and of the earth, and in the alternation of the night and of the day, are there signs for men of understanding.

They who, standing, sitting or reclining, bear Allah in mind and reflect on the creation of the Heavens and of the earth, saying: ‘Oh our Lord! Thou has not created this in vain.’”

(Holy Qur’an, 3:189-190)

The Qur’an emphasizes the superiority of the ‘alim’-the man possessed of knowledge and insight, asking: How can those, not possessing these attributes, ever be equals of those who do? Seven hundred and fifty verses of the Qur’an (almost one-eighth of the Book) exhort believers to study Nature, to reflect, to make the best use of reason in their search for the ultimate and to make the acquiring of knowledge and scientific comprehension part of the community’s life.”

-Read more of this scholarly treatise here


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