Islamization, Science, and Technology
By Dr. Abdul Hamid Abu Sulayman
At an earlier stage In the life of the Ummah, under pressure from the cultural and scientific pressure that was exerted upon It by the West, educated Muslims confused two things: firstly, the objective nature of truth and universal laws: secondly, the personalization Inherent In the way that Individuals and societies make use of these truths and universal laws. Thus, educated Muslims accepted everything Western civilization and science produced, supposing this to be objective and neutral.
The truth of the matter, however, is that Western civilization, like all other nations and civilizations, sprang from its own particular set of beliefs, psychological elements, and historical factors. Its development was also Influenced by its loss of confidence in revelation sources when It discovered that these had been tampered with and altered.
Thus, the material needs of humankind became so important that the individual and his/her desires attained a sort of sanctity. In this way, all ties to spiritual life were severed. It is for this reason that while Western society provides its people with an abundance of material goods and comforts, it is plagued by psychological problems and social strife that constantly destabilize society and threaten it with destruction.
It Is therefore extremely important for Muslims to realize that not all of Western knowledge and science is objective in nature. If it is not difficult to see how the social sciences are clearly subjective, it should not be difficult to see how the hard sciences are really any different in this respect. If there is a difference, it is one of degree only. Indeed, scientific studies are not undertaken in a haphazard manner.
On the contrary, these spring from decidedly human objectives and from subjective considerations undertaken by minds shaped in the Western mold and determined to achieve their objectives. All the sciences of foreign civilizations need to be seen in this perspective.
There is no way to speak truthfully about objectivity in science other than from an Islamic perspective. This is because Islamic thought, in its study of the particulars of nature, the laws of nature, and natural phenomena, does not proceed from limited rationalist vision only, but combines this with the comprehensive and universalist knowledge of revelation so that all science and knowledge emerge with their objectives properly designated, thus satisfying for humankind both temporal and spiritual needs.
The Islamization of knowledge in general and of the hard sciences in particular does not necessarily mean that the material or professional particulars of a science will be any different. Rather, its significance is in its providing guidance to scientific research and endeavors so that these are directed toward the achievement of what is truly in the best interests of humankind. Thus, Islamization means correct direction, correct objectives, and correct philosophy. In this way, Islamic knowledge is reformational in nature, constructive, ethical, rightly guided, and tawhidi.
The challenge confronting Islamization is that it present to humankind a vision In which science is put to the service of humankind in order to fulfill the responsibilities of reformation and constructive custody of the earth.
It is strange indeed that in the shadow of Western civilization there should be nothing greater for humankind than to compete in the arms race or to produce swifter and more deadly means of destruction. In this arrangement, truth always resides with those who possess the most arms, power, and wealth.
Certainly, the present situation is one that goes against the grain of humankind's fitrah. In fact, humankind has now reached a juncture where divine guidance has become all the more Important to its future, where the comprehensive vision of Islam is urgently needed, and where the establishment of constructive and reformational civilization Is essential.
Without a living example, however, it will be difficult for humankind to comprehend the vision of Islam or apply its solutions to their problems. Thus, only if Muslims discharge their responsibility to themselves by applying this vision and those solutions will humankind ever understand the efficacy of the Islamic solution.