Don't separate science, religion

  • Letters
  • Tuesday, 25 Feb 2003

By Nor Azaruddin Husni Hj Nuruddin

Senior Fellow/Director of Consultation and Training Centre, Ikim 

IN MANY ways, our life today is very much influenced by science and technology. 

People’s lifestyles have been changed in modern civilisation and man’s thoughts have been influenced by the explosion of science and technology  

But what determines terrorism in terms of science and technology?  

Fundamentally, science is knowledge to discover, by systematic studies, the rules that explain the relationship between an event and the wonderfully subtle design of the universe. 

Therefore, science and technology will be used either to support or to oppose terrorism. 

From the Islamic point of view, science and religion are synonymous.  

This can be explained in two principles. Firstly, the concept of God (Tawhid) in understanding the nature of things is related to the greatness of Allah. 

Secondly, technological applications must be based on three things: 

·QURAN and Sunnah; 

·IJMA' (the consensus of the learned); and 

·QIYAS (analogy).  

Muslim Nobel prize winner Dr Abdul Salam from Pakistan stated that the Islamic concept of science which refers to the Quran provided him the basis and direction of research.  

This led him to a discovery which qualified him for the Nobel Prize.  

In his book, Out of My Later Years, Western great scientist Albert Einstein pointed out in a similar way that “science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”  

Obviously, the public perception of current science and technology lacks trust. 

Before World War II, science had reached a monumental turning point. 

Our understanding of quantum physics, chemical reaction, nuclear phenomena and the application of technology to transform known phenomena into practical systems began to expand at an explosive rate. 

In the wake of Sept 11, we have realised how technology can be used and manipulated by scientists and engineers to wreak havoc in the world today.  

Similarly, a biological attack with anthrax, an infectious disease caused by the spore-forming bacterium Bacillus anthracis which produces a toxin, can be fatal. 

As a result, people die not because of weapons but because of the wrong use of weapons.  

Another concern of the scientific community is cloning.  

This includes embryo cloning (to produce artificial twinning), adult DNA cloning (to produce a copy of an existing person or other animal) and therapeutic cloning (to produce an organ of an existing person).  

The issue has made different peoples from different backgrounds react differently emotionally, based on the great deal of information they gather to derive an ethical system for biotechnology. 

This is what happens when science exists without religion. 

However, in confronting the issue of terrorism, a war, such as that against Iraq, can inflame people’s sentiments around the world. 

In this case, except for one or two major US allies, a clear majority such as China, Germany, Russia and France have disagreed with the US in going to war without United Nations support.  

One of the potential weapons being used during war are chemical weapons which probably contain the nerve gas VX. 

These gases are highly toxic chemical compounds that can penetrate the body through contact with the skin, eyes and inhalation. Just a few droplets will kill within minutes if inhaled.  

An Asian Muslim leader, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad, strongly believes that war solves nothing. 

At the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, he said suicide bombers and hijackers such as those who attacked the United States on Sept 11, 2001 were driven by poverty and despair. 

There are now seven declared nuclear powers and the number will rise with time. This problem is not only for the present day but for all humankind in future as well. Can science and religion exist in tandem? 

There is no doubt that scientific knowledge needs religion in order to become a blessing to humankind.  

In fact, all true believers in God among the scientific community, both Muslim and non-Muslim, enjoy science as a God-seeking and God-appreciating activity. 

Islamic understanding is the key factor for Muslims.  

This is because they cannot be diverted from the path of truth and justice. They know their destiny in the hereafter depends on their carrying out their responsibility by doing good deeds in this life.  

Science and technology have a critical role to play in the world crisis today. 

We need to improve the tools that prevent, detect, protect and treat victims of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and anthrax attacks. 

Eventually, science and technology cannot be separated from religion, otherwise a World War will commence. 

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