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Science vs Islam in University, My Experience

by | Apr 4, 2021

More often than not, it is our experiences that forge and consolidate our ideas and our ideals. In my case, I have a scientific background, I studied in biochemistry; and the more I discovered about how our body functions, the more I believed as a Muslim. On the other hand, I never really was challenged on my faith at University. Sure I had discussions with other students, and practically all the time, even if they were not Muslim or did not become Muslim, they came out of that discussion thinking. Therefore, I would like to share a couple of anecdotes from my years in University.

First off, as I was about to enter University in Biochemistry, one of my sports buddies was intrigued by my field of studies. How could I enter the domain of science if I am a Muslim; isn’t there a contradiction? I told him jokingly, that’s where the chemistry part comes into play; I wasn’t interested in the bio part, just interested in bomb-making, the rest was irrelevant. I’m sure that Muslim student pilots get the same kick out of the reaction of people when they say they’re not interested in landings; just in takeoffs. After a couple of chuckles, I explained to him that there are no contradictions between science and Islam, more specifically creation and science. The only contradiction involving science and creation is evolution; for everything else, especially for Muslims, science and religion go hand in hand. As Muslims believe that there were laws given to man to follow, God has also instituted laws that maintain the Universe. So extrapolating and understanding these laws are encouraged in Islam. On the other hand, all that is not explicable by being a one-time phenomenon is characterized by being a miracle.

Secondly, in my microbiology class at University back in 2004, the subject of belief arose and our professor was asked about his point of view on the matter at hand. So our teacher made a simple parallel between God and radio waves:

“Like it or not, radio waves are passing through, pretty much wherever you are. Even at this instance, they are bouncing off you, penetrating you, and the best part of it; you are completely oblivious to them. Until!… you get a tool called a receptor (TV, radio, cell phone), then you get the picture loud and clear. God is something like the radio wave, and the receptor is your spirit (soul); some chose to use it, others turn it off.”

Being honest and stating that the divine and the soul are mysteries is reproached by atheists as being a simplistic way of getting out of the discussion. Just to play the devil’s advocate, doesn’t saying everything is a fluke sound simplistic to you?

Keeping with the same argument, this last anecdote happened the same year in my enzymology class. Each teacher has a distinct character, like every single person; some are jolly, some are brash, others are irritating. But this professor was pompous and pretentious, the type that loves to hear himself speak. I must say, he was interesting, competent, was and still is highly regarded in the field of molecular medicine as well as cancer prevention via neutratherapy.

The long and the short of it is that this professor started to speak about cellular functions, and for some reason, a lot of people have difficulty speaking about biology without involving evolution. But once you imply evolution, more often than not, you exclude creation; and that is exactly what happened. He then went on to say that using god as a way for people to explain the appearance of the Universe or life, in general, is a simplistic explanation. Unfortunately, I stayed mute; I didn’t stand up for my convictions. Maybe I was shy, intimidated; I felt like a heel. Suddenly a young lady, with more character than me, interjected and stopped his line of assertion by asking sarcastically if what he was talking about would be in the exam. Understanding that he did not have an audience for his words, he came back to the subject at hand. Thankfully, you always get a second chance to make things right, and this time I wouldn’t pass it up.

A little while later, during the same class, the teacher mentioned that enzymes are responsible for many interactions in the human body. However, these reactions must be regulated in order to keep a certain balance in any organism. Therefore, as there are enzymes, there are anti-enzymes that counter or repress the action of the enzymes that first produced the action. They are all enzymes, only one has a certain effect; the other one, an opposite effect. That is when I raised my hand and spoke.

-So if these anti-enzymes regulate enzymes, they must have appeared pretty much at the same instance in the evolutionary timeline as the enzymes themselves.

He agreed and pointed out that my comment was a very good observation. I then pursued by saying, in his opinion, didn’t he think that this explanation is pretty simplistic! He grinned slightly and continued on with the class. Next week, In Sha Allah, we shall visit how well science faired during the Islamic period and see if there was any contradiction between Islam and Science.

Is there Anything Bad in the Quran? – Existential Questions

Is there Anything Bad in the Quran? – Existential Questions

When I mean bad, I mean something that everyone will agree to as fundamentally wrong. I don’t mean what is acceptable to modern standards, but fundamentally evil. Not only there is no evil within what is ordained, but it can only be depicted as righteous and good when looked at as a whole. Here are some Islamic principles that are listed in the Quran:

Say, “Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited to you. [He commands] that you not associate anything with Him, and to parents, good treatment, and do not kill your children out of poverty; We will provide for you and them. And do not approach immoralities – what is apparent of them and what is concealed. And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed] except by [legal] right. This has He instructed you that you may use reason.”

And do not approach the orphan’s property except in a way that is best until he reaches maturity. And give full measure and weight in justice. We do not charge any soul except [with that within] its capacity. And when you testify, be just, even if [it concerns] a near relative. And the covenant of Allah fulfill. This has He instructed you that you may remember.

And, [moreover], this is My path, which is straight, so follow it; and do not follow [other] ways, for you will be separated from His way. This has He instructed you that you may become righteous.

Surah Al-Anam (6 – 151-153)

Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded.

Surah An-Nahl (16 – 90)

And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word.

And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy and say, “My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up [when I was] small.”

Your Lord is most knowing of what is within yourselves. If you should be righteous [in intention] – then indeed He is ever, to the often returning [to Him], Forgiving.

And give the relative his right, and [also] the poor and the traveler, and do not spend wastefully.

Indeed, the wasteful are brothers of the devils, and ever has Satan been to his Lord ungrateful.

And if you [must] turn away from the needy awaiting mercy from your Lord which you expect, then speak to them a gentle word.

And do not make your hand [as] chained to your neck or extend it completely and [thereby] become blamed and insolvent.

Indeed, your Lord extends provision for whom He wills and restricts [it]. Indeed He is ever, concerning His servants, Acquainted and Seeing.

And do not kill your children for fear of poverty. We provide for them and for you. Indeed, their killing is ever a great sin.

And do not approach unlawful sexual intercourse. Indeed, it is ever an immorality and is evil as a way.

And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden, except by right. And whoever is killed unjustly – We have given his heir authority, but let him not exceed limits in [the matter of] taking life. Indeed, he has been supported [by the law].

And do not approach the property of an orphan, except in the way that is best, until he reaches maturity. And fulfill [every] commitment. Indeed, the commitment is ever [that about which one will be] questioned.

And give full measure when you measure, and weigh with an even balance. That is the best [way] and best in result.

And do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge. Indeed, the hearing, the sight and the heart – about all those [one] will be questioned.

And do not walk upon the earth exultantly. Indeed, you will never tear the earth [apart], and you will never reach the mountains in height.

All that – its evil is ever, in the sight of your Lord, detested.

That is from what your Lord has revealed to you, [O Muhammad], of wisdom. And, [O mankind], do not make [as equal] with Allah another deity, lest you be thrown into Hell, blamed and banished.

Surah Al-Isra (17 – 23-39)

Most of the accusations come from people who do not agree with the standard of morality or virtue that is ordained in Islam. For instance, the Hijab for women; not being allowed to have a sip of wine or not even having a girlfriend… These practices have become customary in “modern” civilizations, yet they are considered illicit in Islam. Society is always faced with dumbing down standards and laws to curtail the desires of the majority. But the fundamental question remains; what makes it right now but made it wrong before (and vice versa)? This type of thinking induces decadence. Virtues and morals become trivial, unattainable utopias, unrealistic… mockeries.

This was the same discourse used by the people of Lot thousands of years ago when they wanted him and his family out of their city.

But the answer of his people was only that they said, “Evict them from your city! Indeed, they are men who keep themselves pure.”

Surah Al-Aaraf (7 – 82)

Wow! Accused of being too pure… It’s like someone who says: “Ah! He gets on my nerves because he is too polite.” or: “look at her; she thinks she is so superior! She doesn’t even want to dress like us.” and the classic: “Look at that geek; he thinks that his A+ is going to stop him from that face pounding.” What is it that makes that person’s conduct wrong in the first place; what did he do to deserve this reprimand? Is it high self-esteem (or lack of it)? Is it because a person is different (where his difference is not accepted)? Is it because of jealousy (or more likely envy)?

It is sad to see that we have reached a point where righteous conduct is ridiculed and marginalized. Someone who gives his seat on the bus is looked at awkwardly; a student who says Mam and Sir is called a suck-up; a 16-year-old virgin is made fun of. But, as we have seen, this attitude has been present for millennia, all depending on the context and stage in which a society is to be found.

But in the end…

And it will be said to those who feared Allah, “What did your Lord send down?” They will say, “[That which is] good.” For those who do good in this world is good; and the home of the Hereafter is better. And how excellent is the home of the righteous –

Surah An-Nahl (16 – 30)


the process of belief