Islam and Science: concordance or Conflict? By Prof. Abdus Salam 5/5

Concluding Remarks

Since in my audience today, there are a number of Muslims, who can influence decisions in their own countries, let me say in all humility that to know the limitations of science, one must be part of living science; otherwise one will continue fighting yesterday’s philosophical battles today. Believe me, there are high creators of science among us—and potentially among our youth. Trust them; their Islam is as deeply founded, their appreciation of the spiritual values of the Holy Book as profound as anyone else’s. Provide them with facilities to create science in its standard norms of inquiry. We owe it to Islam. Let them know science and its limitations from the inside. There truly is no disconsonance between Islam and modern science.

Let me conclude with two thoughts. One is regarding the urge to know. As I mentioned before, the Holy Qur’an and the teaching of the Holy Prophetsa emphasise the creating and acquiring of knowledge as bounden duties of a Muslim throughout his or her life. I spoke of Al Biruni who flourished at Ghazna in Southern Afghanistan one thousand years ago. The story is told of his death by a contemporary who says: “I heard, Al Biruni was dying. I hurried to his house for a last look; one could see that he would not survive long. When they told him of my coming, he opened his eyes and said: ‘Are you so and so?’ I said: ‘Yes.’ He said: ‘I am told you know the solution to a knotty problem in the laws of inheritance of Islam.’ And he alluded to a well-known puzzle which had baffled the Faqihs [jurists] in the past. I said: ‘Abu Raihan, at this time?’ And Al Biruni replied: ‘Don’t you think it is better that I should die knowing, rather than ignorant?’ With sorrow in my heart, I told him of my resolution, and then took my leave. I had not yet crossed the portals of his house when the cry arose from inside: ‘Al Biruni is dead.’”

As my last thought, I would like to quote from the Holy Book which, more than anything else I know, speaks of the eternal wonder I have personally discovered in my own science:

“Though all the trees on earth were Pens

And the Sea was Ink

Seven seas after it to replenish,

Yet would the Words of Thy Lord never be spent,

Thy Lord is Mighty and All Wise.”11

By Professor Abdus Salam.


11.  Holy Qur’an, Surah Luqman, Verse 28. The English translation by Maulawi Sher Ali for these verses reads as follows: “And if all the trees that are in the earth were pens, and the ocean were ink, with seven oceans swelling it thereafter, the words of Allah would not be exhausted. Surely, Allah is Mighty, Wise.”