21st Century COE Program Archive


Date: May 23, 2006 13:00-15:00
Location: Fusokan, Imadegawa Campus, Doshisha University
Title: Islam and Science
Speaker: Osman Bakar (Professor, International Islamic University Malaysia)
  Islamic science distinguishes spirit and characteristics of Western science, although they have common natures. Islamic science was preeminent in the world until the 17th century, and after a period of stagnation, it is now in the process of revival.
   While Islamic science had characteristics of rationality and verification, which could be considered as 'modern' even before modern science emerged in the West, Islamic science has also been accompanied by 'religious and spiritual' characteristics. Islamic science was based on 'Islamic principles' derived from the Qur’an and Hadith. Principles of Islam were built on 'tawhid' or the idea of oneness, and the supreme purpose of Islamic science was to clarify the oneness of the universe and to admire the oneness of God.
  In Islam, the knowledge revealed by God is considered the most certain and is the purpose of all knowledge. Human beings are encouraged to seek a variety of knowledge, and the criterion by which human beings should judge the utility of such knowledge is Islamic law, deduced from the revelation of God.
  For example, in the universal view of human beings they are a 'micro-cosmos' which contain all elements of the universe. Human beings are the most excellent among the divine creatures, and the idea of human evolution from some other form of life is not acceptable.
  Prof. Osman finished by mentioning that, today, Islamic science is at the start of a revival through the process of the 'Islamization of knowledge.'
  There were questions from Prof. Miura on Prof. Osman’s presentation. One of his questions was this: Is the term, 'Islamic science' appropriate? There were contributions from non-Muslim scholars to classical Islamic science. Professor Osman answered that non-Muslim scholars also held views like the Islamic ‘universalist’ perspective. To be Islamic is to be universal.
  Then Professor Miura commented that the word 'nature' rarely appears in the Qur’an. So the question is: Is nature an important concept in Islam? While appearances of the word 'nature' itself are rare, Professor Osman suggested in reply, references to nature are nevertheless many in the Qur’an.
   Finally, Professor Miura asked whether it is possible for common Muslims to absorb Islamized knowledge in the contemporary world. Professor Osman responded that the 'Islamization of knowledge' is widely accepted in Muslim society, and that it is possible to spread the system of science based on tawhid.
Yuki Shiozaki
( COE Promoted Researcher, Graduate Student, School of Theology, Doshisha University)