Good Example Of Essay On Knowledge, Islamic Law And Science
Type of paper: Essay
Topic: Religion, Science, Muslim, Islam, World, Middle East, Church, European Union
The topics of knowledge and science are crucial to the understanding of the difference between the Fundamentalist and the Modernist Islam. Each of these two approaches defines science in its own way. The idea of knowledge perception is also different for supporters of these approaches. The issue is arguable in its relation to the Islamic Law and how it can be implemented by means of science and knowledge. Fundamentalists support the idea of Divine knowledge, whereas the Modernists seek for new knowledge developed by humans.
On the flip side, Modernists support the idea that science is hindered by the religious issues. Sayyid Jamal al-Din al Afghani states that “the Muslim religion is an obstacle to the development of sciences” (Keddie 24). However, all the religions retard the progress. Besides, it was the religious education that helped nations to find their way from barbarism to the current civilization. On the one hand, the author recognizes the importance of the religion in the development of the nation. On the other hand, he supposes that religious beliefs are out-of-dated and should be changed, because no progress could be achieved without changes. Furthermore, the author states there can be no reconciliation between religion and philosophy because the first one relies on the faith and second one frees a person totally or partially. The further reading by Abduh proves the necessity for the reform. It should be implemented because the science did not achieve its final stage, it is not perfect yet. Besides, science and knowledge should serve for benefit of a person and his or her happiness.
Despite all the difference in perception of science and knowledge both fundamentalists and modernists agree that the European science developed due to universities settled by Arabs in Spain. Persian also benefited a lot because of Arabic language and scholars. This proves a great impact of Muslim approaches on the modern state of science in the Western world. Moreover, supporters of both views agree that philosophy and religion cannot exist together. They used different arguments to support this statement. For fundamentalists, metaphysics is not permissible because it is related to faith and can question the existence of Allah. Therefore, fundamentalist approach provides a perspective for applied sciences and empirical investigations. Modernists suppose that philosophy provides completely different insight into the world view of a person. Therefore, the pressure of the religion should be eased to free the Muslim’s mind. All in all, modernists favor liberal arts and leave more freedom for philosophy and other humanities.
Islam and the West
Eastern and Western civilization are usually opposed to each other. They are different in religion, perception of science and overall world view. Yet, not only East and West are opposed to each other. The approach towards the West differs even inside the Islamic countries depending on their point of view. Even the modernist writers had their own identical opinion about the Western civilization and the ways it should be perceived by Muslims.
For instance, prominent Egyptian author Muhammad Farid Wajdi pointed out at the difference between the perception of science and religion on the West and on the East. Western civilization accepts the scientific approach as the absolute freedom of human mind and the religion as the usurpation of it. Freedom of mind and other liberties are important for development and achievement in the scientific area. The necessary level of freedom cannot be achieved by the pressure of the religion. According to Western standards, science is contradictory to the religion. In turn, the author shows that both faith and progress can be harmonically combined in Islam. Besides, European scientists are usually irritated when a religious topic is raised .They are used to oppose what they do to the religion. However, it is impossible to separate the religion and science completely because “the instinct religiosity” (Wajdi 138) will remain in human soul. It is a great problem of the European science, because it means that the progress is doubtful as long as the religion exists. This problem is cause only by the misbalance between the faith and knowledge indeed. In turn, the religious texts of the Western civilization also prove that the science is something contrary to the faith because the basic principles of the concepts are not compatible. Hence the Western civilization is paradoxical because it cannot survive without the religion but it sees the science as the way for development. On the contrary, the science is favored in Islam because a dedicated Muslim should have a broad knowledge on many subjects and have a good education to understand the Quran and its interpretations. The concept of Islam constantly requires the development of science to find the empirical proofs of the religion. For Muslims this means that the Islam can be stopped only when the civilization is also stopped. The Islam totally eliminates the paradox of the Western civilization. The science and religion are found in a state of balance and harmony.
Famous Iranian author Ali Shariate expresses non-identical and far more critical ideas regarding the Western civilization. According to him, the West is based on completely different principles. They are economism, historicism, biologism and sociologism. According to the first principle people should be transformed in some kind of animals for more convenient consumption. Historicism refers to materialistic determinism and biologism states that the natural laws are primary for an individual and a human is only a link in the evolutionary chain. The principle of sociologism considers a person as a “vegetable in the garden of his social environment” (Shariati 317). This demonstrates that Ali Shariati finds the Western civilization totally unacceptable. He considers the religion as well. Despite the Christianity was founded to oppose the tyranny and ignorance, it implemented the cruelty and almost complete illiteracy during the Middle Ages. The peaceful religion spilled rivers of blood instead of possible salvation. In turn, Islam promised to save people from the heights of heavens and demureness of earth. This means that Islam was not aimed for peace but for equity which actually causes the peace naturally. The Islam was changed and turned into a powerful force only because of the conquerors. The author describes the regression of Middle Ages to demonstrate how religion hindered the development. Then he shows that the slogans of the Renaissance were not implemented actually, because the religion was just substituted by the materialism. Ali Shariati strongly criticizes the position of European science and church. Ironically, later European scientists try to turn to the religion. The author believes that the Islam play a crucial role in this new way of life. Thus the Islam never opposed the science and actually offers “spiritual interpretation of the universe” (Shariati 322), it can serve the process of discarding of Marxist theories and capitalistic world.
Both scientists opposed to the Western civilization. Wajdi demonstrates the crucial differences between the perception of religion and science by Muslims and Christians. Ali Shariati goes further. He does not only discredit the Western society, he sees the Islam as the only way to solve the world problems.
Abduh, Muhammad. The True Reform and Its Necessity for al-Azhar. Trans. Kamran Talattof. Vol. 10, no.28. 1906.
Keddie, Nikki R. An Islamic response to imperialism: political and religious writings of Sayyid Jamāl ad-Dīn al-Afghānī. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1968.
Shariati, Ali. Marxism and Other Western Fallacies: An Islamic Critique. Trans. Robert Campbell. Berkeley: Mizan Press, 1980.
Qutb, Sayyid. Milestones. 2nd ed. Trans. Badrul S. Hasan., M.A. Karachi. Pakistan: International Islamic Publishers, Ltd. 1988. Print
Wajdi, Muhammad Farid. Al-Madaniyah wa al-Islam. Egypt: Matba’at Hindiyah, 1901.