Letters to the Editor
Q. I have a problem for which I am looking for a suitable answer. While talking to one of my non-Muslim friends he said that Muslims should stop reading Qur’an and should rather concentrate on scientific studies.
It is interesting to note that your friend should ask Muslims to stop reading a book that he himself has perhaps never read. Anyone who has read this Book – the Qur’an – from cover to cover once, will have a different kind of advice to offer to others, Muslims or not.
In any case, no thanks to his advice since it has come one hundred years late. The great majority of Muslims have already abandoned the Qur’an and are now devoted in blind faith to various disciplines of modern knowledge.
On the other hand, since the non-Muslims have been concentrating on scientific studies since several centuries, which, except for increase in material production, solved none of their problems, even worsening them: grinding poverty among the great majority (70%), a hundred-fold increase in crime, large number of spinsters, divorcees abandoned to themselves, and countless other social ills, isn’t it time for them now to consider that no amount of scientific achievements and developments, no number of universities and research centres, no number of farms and industries, will solve any human problem so long as they lead a life in complete neglect of their Creator? From Adam until Muhammad, God has addressed them through revelations, and now, an individual’s peaceful existence in this world, and salvation in the next depends entirely on how they treat His final Message, the Qur’an. What would go wrong, if, as they try so many things, should also try the Qur’an?
Q. I said in reply that there is absolutely no contradiction between Qur’an and science and it is because of Qur’an only that European renaissance came about.
You were right about there being no contradiction between science and the Qur’an. But to say that European renaissance can be entirely attributed to the Qur’an is an overstatement. Scientific development through the ages has largely been the result of human enquiry. Religion plays the role of either curbing the enquiring spirit, as Christianity did during the mediaeval period, or that of encouraging it and smoothening the way by giving its adherents an unhindered mind-set, as Islam did.
Credit goes to the Qur’an for opening up the minds and inviting the people to think, ponder and consider: a constant Qur’anic refrain. It released them from taboos, fetishes, and superstitions. It censured those who live on blind following, calling them “worse than animals.” Thus the Qur’an indirectly contributed to the development of science in its early stages.
As for the Muslim contribution, at best what can be said about them is that they laid the foundation in the pre-medieval period (“Dark Ages” of Europe) for the scientific studies that reached their acme in modern times. Also, they made some unique contributions and paved the way for modern developments. Thus, although it is always difficult to lay foundations, and so the Muslims get the credit, yet, it must be pointed out that the human spirit is insuppressible, and hence, hadn’t the Muslims done it, some others would have done it, if not as early as that, then in later times. What is unique however, in the way it was done by the Muslims is that they did it without rebelling against God, rather in humbleness, and were able to avoid getting drunk on power that comes with knowledge. In contrast, those who took over after the Muslims, the Western nations, did it in rebellion and are drunk in power.
In consequence, the world is paying the price in terms of ecological disturbances, depletion of natural resources through monstrous wastage, wayward development, and, manufacture and use of weapons of gruesome destruction on innocent people.
Surely, in Muslim hands, science would have been more humane whose benefits would have reached the great majority of people who, in every age, and in every place, have been consigned to the slums.
Q. After that I spoke at length about scientific achievements of early Muslims and their impact on Europe and the world. To this, my friend replied that even the Hindus were very advanced in science in ancient era and Muslims learnt from them.
The statement is only partly true.
The contributions made by the Muslims in the field of science, were of a different nature than those of the Indus Valley civilization. Their’s was more on the practical side, as against the contemplative and abstract kind that the ancient Indians preferred. The Muslims are indebted more to the Greeks, whose scientific thoughts and ideas were the true seeds of modern science.
Perhaps the truly important thing that they borrowed from the Indian system is the concept of zero. As for the numerals, “Scholars do not know how Arabic numerals originated. But the symbols for all the digits except zero probably originated with the Hindus in India.” (“The World Encyclopedia”, art., “Arabic numerals.” (Numbers one to ten are one thing, whereas the symbols expressing them is another).
We do not know how much they agreed with and used, but the Muslims were familiar with the ideas of the ancient Indians in other fields also, such as for e.g., astronomy. For e.g., Ibn al-Shatir mentions that along with Ptolemy, Hipparchus, and his own calculations concerning the size of the solar disk, the Indians had arrived at their own figure which he mentions, although he doesn’t agree with the figure.
Similarly, the ancient Indians had their own approach to the science of medicine. Muslims were aware of it. But, once again, they opted for the Greek medicine, the famous Unani system, which strangely, the Greek themselves abandoned, but Muslims made some spectacular advances, and is still serving its function in certain areas of treatment.
The truth is, despite all the lose talk, most of which is actually discrediting, the ancient Indian contribution to science has not yet been fully brought to light following principles of scholarly research. What needs to be done perhaps is to train some scientists in the Arabic language and send them across to Middle-eastern libraries collecting early Muslim manuscripts in different fields of science, and then, sieve the information that the Arab scientists attribute to Indian origin.
Original copies of the Indian books as translated by the Arabs should also be obtained from the libraries of the world, and a team of scholars set to retranslate them into English. This is because, India has not preserved what others have preserved. It might take two or three decades, but Indian wealth of information would have been brought to India.
As regards the statement that we often hear, that the Indians were very advanced in science during the Vedic period, it has to be understood in its proper perspective.
If what is meant is science of the speculative nature, then perhaps yes, but, if it is of practical and experimental nature, then, to be fair, contributions were made by many ancient peoples such as the Incas, the Mexican-Indians, the Maya, and several others. Pyramids of Egypt are still a mystery. Despite scientific advancements, and notwithstanding various propositions, today’s scientists haven’t been able to figure out how the Egyptians constructed them at all.
Thus, there is a substantial difference between Muslim contributions to science and those of the ancient civilisations, be it the Indus Valley civilisation, the Chinese or those of the Babylonian. The Muslims made contribution to both the theoretical as well as applied sciences whereas the ancients made contributions of the nature of abstract ideas.
However, in modern times, when science achieved some spectacular successes, every people who suffered from an inferiority complex, and a sense of non-accomplishment, either belittled the scientific developments or began to claim that they too once made great contributions. Not only the Hindus do it today, but also the Muslims, who would like to take a greater share of the credit for the development of modern science than they deserve.
Coming back to the main point, regarding the contribution made by the Indus Valley civilisation, the prevalent populist opinion among the Hindus is that there is no branch of science that the Vedic sages did not know, and that all scientific discoveries since then, either have their origin, or precedence, in the Vedic literature.
However, since most people, including the Hindus, fail to understand the nature of the claim, we would like to educate, at least our readers, on this subject.
Accordingly, herewith we offer as an example the following quotations from a review of a book on ancient Indian contributions to sciences. This should give some idea about how those people argue who say that all modern science is no more than an explanation of and progression over the scientific ideas of India’s ancient past. As we quote, we shall add our remarks in square brackets.
The book under discussion is “Vedic Physics: Scientific Origin of Hinduism”, by Raja Ram Mohan Roy, with a Foreword by Subhash Kak (1999). Golden Egg Publishing, 1245 Dupont Street, P.O. Box 99045, Toronto, Canada M6H 4H7. It has been reviewed by Dr. N.S. Rajaram, a mathematician, linguist and historian of science based in Oklahoma City, USA and Bangalore, India.
The reviewer writes:
“His (the original author’s) goal is to show that the Vedas, in keeping with their name, meaning ‘knowledge’, contain a good deal of scientific knowledge that was lost over millennia, which he seeks to recover by suitably interpreting them. In particular, he regards the Rigveda as a book on particle physics and cosmology that has much in common with modern physics, but sometimes more subtle, especially when it comes to explaining the origin and evolution of the universe.”
[Note by YMD: It may be observed in the above passage that the author’s goal is stated as “to interpret.” But, the question is, can scientific truths be derived out of interpretations? Is that how modern science works? Or does it work with collection of data, working out a hypothesis, follow up with experimentations, strengthen them with mathematical calculations, and finally work out a theory that can stand the test of falsification?
Further, scientific terms like “particle physics”, (or “photons” of the passage that follows) are completely modern terms, that, even a specialist of a field other than physics, (say medicine) does not know the true significance of, since it is not his specialised field of study and work. That’s about those who specialise in one or the other discipline of science. As for the ordinarily educated man, they are just words with no meaning. How then, could those in that early period, speculate about these scientifically highly charged terms?]
The reviewer further writes:
“Such a claim is of course not new; there is no shortage of books claiming that the Vedic seers had seen everything, and modern science is only a rediscovery. The author makes no such claim.”
[Note by YMD: Later passages reveal that the author makes claims more ambitious than the above, but on a line of argument that doesn’t sound very appealing to a modern mind.]
“His position is that by following a path of discovery quite different from that followed by modern science, the Vedic sages had arrived at a model of the universe, supported by a theory of atomic and subatomic particles that bears some similarity to modern physics; but Vedic cosmology is quite different from modern theories of the universe. What lends credence to the author’s claim is his comprehensive grasp of modern physics.”
[Note by YMD: Our question with reference to “sub-atomic particles” is that the scientists needed certain technologically advanced tools to be able to discover that atom is the smallest unit and that it is composed of sub-atomic particles. Just one hundred years ago when the idea was first mooted, few scientists were ready to pick up the lead. Thomson, who did a number of experiments, some with the help of his own fabricated gadgets, wrote, “At first there were few who believed in the existence of these bodies smaller than atoms. I was even told long afterwards by a distinguished physicist who had been present at my (1897) lecture at the Royal Institution that he thought I had been “pulling their leg.” (See, “The Discovery of Subatomic Particles” by Steven Weinberg, p. 67).
In contrast, how could anyone in the world, in that ancient age, produce a model of the universe, when they didn’t know anything about galaxies, nebulas, and a host of other celestial objects, and support the idea with a theory of atomic and subatomic particles?]
“This allows him to construct – possibly reconstruct – a Vedic model of the universe that avoids some of the difficulties of modern theories like the Big Bang. This may sound similar to some other books on the subject like Fritjof Capra’s “Tao of Physics”, but there are important differences.”
[Note by YMD: May we point out that to refer to Capra’s “Tao of Physics” or books of that class, is to discredit science as taught and learnt in the centres of learning. No scientist can ever refer to works of this sort for scientific reasons without losing credit among the scientific community].
“Next, he (the author) offers some remarkable insights that go beyond contemporary knowledge of cosmology and even physics. Most significantly, he reconstructs a theory of the universe that may be a serious competitor to modern theories like the Big Bang.”
[Note by YMD: It may be pointed out that the Big Bang theory is supported by mathematical calculations that run into dozens of pages. Also, it made certain predictions, which came out true. Although admittedly, it has a few unresolved questions, which even the “Inflationary model” of Allan Guth and others could not fully resolve, yet, it is essentially a scientific theory, in the sense that it is strongly supported by lots of space research and calculations done on supercomputers.
Now, the question is, is its competitor, as proposed by the writer, based on similar calculations and experimentations? If not, then, is any comparison meaningful?]
“The message of the book under review may be summarised as follows: one of the keys to unlocking the secrets of the Rigveda consists in reading many of the words, like ‘gau’ and ‘ashva’, as well as names of gods like ‘Marut’ and ‘Indra’, as technical terms used in the natural sciences, and the hymns themselves as descriptions of laws of nature. In other words, the Rigveda contains a description of the forces of nature and the laws that govern them, written in cryptic, even coded language.”
[Note by YMD: For those who prefer an objective approach to these kinds of questions, there are a few problems. For one thing, nobody has interpreted the simple Rigvedic terms such as “gau,” “ashwa,” “Marut” and “Indira” and a host of other terms, as “technical terms.” The Vedic scholars, of the present times also understand them as they have been understood throughout the centuries, for e.g., “gau” means cow, and so on. A modern interpretation of the above kind will completely change the meaning of the Vedas. But, we must remind ourselves that a mammoth philosophy has been built on the traditional understanding. What will happen to that philosophy, religious rulings, etc., seeing that the two interpretations are irreconcilable? A word such as “gau” for e.g. can either have a technical connotation or stands for a (venerable) cow whose slaughter is a sin. It cannot be both a technical term as well as a biological entity one and at the same time.
Further, do the original texts allow this kind of interpretation? For e.g., let us take the following from the Rigveda and see if a technical connotation can be fitted into the context in which the term “gau” has been used:
“5.030.10 When the cows were separated from their calves, they wandered about hither and thither; but when the well-offered libations had exhilarated him, then Indra, with his vigorous (maruts), reunited them (with their calves).”
“5.069.02 Mitra and Varun! The cows are full of milk through your (command), and the rivers yield through your (will) sweet water; through you the three radiant receptacles and showerers of rain stand severally in their three spheres.”
“7.018.01 Our forefathers, Indra, glorifying you, have obtained all desirable (riches); in your gift are cows easy to be milked, and horses, and you are the liberal donor of wealth to the devout.”
It is obvious that in all the above examples, taken from the Rig-Veda, the new interpretation of the word “cow” (“gau” of Sanskrit) taken in a technical sense, does not fit into the context.
The above could be also used as examples for the meaning to be given to the word “Indra” which, according to Hindu scholars, is a deity, and not a technical term. However, below we offer a few more examples from the Rigveda to show that it is a “deity” that is meant by the original texts and that a technical interpretation can be ruled out.
“5.011.02 The priests have first kindled, in three places, Agni, the banner of sacrifice, the family priests, (riding) in the same carriage with Indra and the gods; he, the performer of pious acts, the invoker (of the gods), has sat down on the sacred grass for the (celebration of the) rite.”
“5.029.15 Most mighty Indra, be pleased to accept the prayers which we are about to offer, and the present praises which we repeat; firm, doing pious acts, and desirous of wealth; I have fabricated acceptable and pious works like (rich) garments, and like a chariot.”
“5.030.04 As soon as generated, Indra, you have made your mind resolved; you have gone alone to contend against numerous (foes); you have rent asunder the rock by your strength; you have rescued the herd of milk-yielding cow (gau).”
“5.031.07 Handsome and sagacious Indra, this is your deed, that, slaying Ahi, you have here displayed your vigour; you have … overcome the Dasyus.”
In all the above passages, the devotees are addressing a deity called Indra. They couldn’t have been addressing a technical term.] – (Note by YMD ends here).
(In any case), the reviewer of the book under discussion continues:
“For example, in the Vedic literature we have frequent statements like ‘agni was pashu’ and ‘pashus are agneya’ that make no sense when read literally. The author, however, identifies ‘pashu’ with particle and ‘agni’ with energy. Then a whole series of Vedic passages including the ones just cited become comprehensible and even coherent. Similarly, he identifies Vasyu with field – one of the most important concepts in physics. Surya of course stands for light, and the seven horses yoked to Surya’s chariot are the seven colours of the light spectrum. The word ‘gau’ (cow), which Yaska tells us also means light, actually refers to the particle state of light or the photon. Based on his approach, the author suggests that the great Rigvedic hymn 1. 123 by Dirghatamas, actually describes the creation and annihilation of particles, which some liken to Shiva’s Dance of Creation. It should be emphasised that this brief description – necessarily simplified – does not do full justice to the author’s interpretations.”
The reviewer further writes,
“This is a profoundly different cosmic view, which the author supports with the help of Rigvedic passages including 2.20.7 and 6.47.21. The latter may be read as: “Everyday Indra removes half of the people, similar to the other half but black in colour, born in his house.”
“The author goes on to observe,” says the reviewer, “Indra is considered responsible for killing the black people in the Rigveda. As matter and antimatter are attracted towards each other due to the opposite nature of electric charge resulting in annihilation, electric force is indeed responsible for this phenomenon.”
So black refers to antimatter.
“… the Vedas have returned to tell an even greater truth [than mass-energy equivalence]: equivalence of space, mass and energy. (According to modern science: YMD), Space is no different from matter and energy. In the beginning there was no mass-energy in the universe because there was no space. Mass energy is created due to expansion of the universe. The universe cannot expand without creating mass energy and universe cannot contract without annihilating mass-energy. Thus the universe started with zero mass energy and will end up with zero mass-energy as well. Thus there was no singularity in the beginning and there will be no singularity at the end.”
[Note by YMD: Obviously, the basis for the above ideas is intuition and sixth sense, rather than scientific investigation (as understood by every student of science today). However, if intuition and sixth sense are the basis, and interpretation as liberal as in the above passages, then, can we deny the right of such intuitive conclusions to other people with ancient texts, such as, for e.g., the Jews?]
The reviewer continues:
“The author recognises that since the universe is now in an expanding mode, we must be witnessing the creation of mass-energy in the universe. As evidence he points to gamma ray bursts that scientists have observed but have no clue as to its source. In 1973 it was discovered that about three times a day, the sky flashes with a powerful burst of gamma rays. The author observes: “The gamma-ray bursts are intense, bulk of their radiation is in the range of 100,000 to 1,000,000 electron volts, implying a very hot source and its sources release more energy within minutes than sun will release in its entire lifetime.”
“Astronomers believe that these bursts are coming from distances that range from three to ten billion light years. Various explanations have been offered – from black holes to collapsing neutron stars – but none is satisfactory. It is possible to account for it using Vedic cosmology. According to Vedic science, mass energy is continuously being created at the surface of the universe. This is related to the expansion of the universe. In the author’s words: “As the universe is huge now, its expansion will create immense radiation.”
“What is extraordinary is that these gamma-ray bursts – corresponding to the creation of mass-energy according to Vedic science – takes place three times a day. This is exactly the frequency given in the Rigveda in at least three passages. (3.56.6, 7.11.3, 9.86.18). The second of these tells us: “O Agni! We know you have wealth to give three times a day to mortals.”
[Note by YMD: If “seven horses” are seven colours of the spectrum of light, “cow” the equivalent of photon, “black” corresponds to antimatter and if Agni’s act (a deity) of “giving wealth three times a day” is referring to bursts of gamma rays, then, it might be pointed out that to most scientists, or those with a scientific bent of mind, such interpretations totally lack conviction and do discredit to the proponent(s).]
“This brings us to the author’s reconstruction of the Vedic universe, which he summarises as follows: “Like the Big Bang model, the Vedic model assumes that the universe started from a point and is expanding. However, unlike the Big Bang model, universe starts cold with zero mass-energy, and is rotating as well as expanding.
There is a similarity with the Steady State model that mass-energy is constantly being created. The difference is that [in the Vedic] the universe is not considered infinitely old, and the creation of mass energy is only during the expansion phase of the universe. During the contraction phase, the mass-energy is annihilated, so that the universe ends without a singularity.”
“Clearly, the author’s study of the Vedas combined with his knowledge of modern physics has allowed him to present an impressive synthesis of the two.”
[Quotations from the reviewer’s article end here]
[Note by YMD: If “the author’s study of the Vedas combined with his knowledge of modern physics has allowed him to present an “impressive synthesis of the two,” we might say that to us it is not very convincing. To say the least, it does not speak of a scientific mind.
For further information refer to the Internet site: http://www.hinduweb.org/home/dharma_and_philosophy/dharma, from which the material above has been picked up, of course, with thanks. The quotations from the Rigveda however, were not taken from the site referred to above.]
Before terminating this discussion, we might point out to our readers that we as Muslims are disallowed from making interpretations as illustrated in the above example. Indeed, the Qur’an, prohibits its adherents from indulging in guesswork. It says (10: 36), “Surely, conjecture is of no avail against the truth.” It also says (49: 12), “Surely, certain (kind of) conjecture is sin.” In another place it says, in very clear-cut terms (17: 36), “And do not indulge in things about which you have no knowledge.”
Qur’anic injunctions of this sort have helped the Muslims to have a very clear mind, and concepts that are concrete, free of ambiguities. The scholars of Islam have further worked upon this issue, and frown upon interpretations even where it seems to be well supported with facts. But their point is, interpretation is interpretation.
It cannot be taken far, and should never be placed side by side with established facts.
Therefore, if someone indulged in the above kind of interpretation of either the Scriptural texts, or any other text for that matter, he will be ignored. Let us illustrate this point with an example, since this is to us Muslims, an important issue.
We have a report coming from the Prophet. He was asked, “Tell us, O Prophet, what it was like at the beginning of the affair?” (That is, how did the world start off?).
The Prophet replied, “There was Allah and nothing else was there. Then He created the Pen…” (The narration goes on further, but we have dropped the rest since it is out of context).
Now, if a Muslim scientist interpreted these words as meaning that mass and energy are thus proved equal by a statement of the Prophet, or that the Prophetic statement refers to singularity (a term of cosmic reference: see, for e.g., “The Left Hand of Creation – The Origin and Evolution of the Expanding Universe” by John D. Barrow and Joseph Silk), or that mass is equal to energy (Einstein’s famous brilliant equation), etc. … if any Muslim scientist spoke in these terms, not only religious scholars will repudiate him, but, if he is hired as a teacher for a Muslim university, he might lose his job. That is because, we have well-defined rules for interpretation of the religious texts. The foremost of those rules says that no religious text will be allowed to be interpreted, if the apparent meaning is possible of acceptance. Another rule says that any subsequent interpretation of a textual passage of religious content, should not contradict a clear and explicit meaning as expressed by the first two or three generation of Muslim scholars. If it does, it stands rejected. For e.g., seven rounds of ambulation around the Ka‘ba cannot be interpreted as “the seven colours of the light spectrum.” A few other conditions have been set as a barrier to an unprincipled interpretation, which we are sure both Hindu religious scholars as well as their scientists will appreciate if they knew them in detail.
In short, interpretations as above, do not impress us Muslims at all, even if they come through Western publishing houses, who will print anything that will sell, and knowing human weaknesses, exploit their sentiments whenever they see a chance to make their buck.
Q. Given this background, I need your help with information on wherefrom I can get a book which will give me details of achievements of Muslim in the field of science and its impact on the world. The world before and after Islam.
There are plenty of books on this topic. A recent American book dealing with the history of science, has four chapters on Muslim contributions. But, unfortunately, we do not have the title nor the publisher’s name. One that we have with us, deals only with astronomy. It is entitled “Arabic Astronomy” by George Saliba, New York University Press, Washington Square, New York, NY 10003. However, the work is pretty technical, with lots of trigonometrical figures and illustrations. Let us quote an example from it below to give our readers some idea of the content.
(Under discussion were the solar model and motion of the sun, moon and planets. Ptolemy’s model was creating problems and needed modifications): “Taking advantage of the fact that one could transfer motion on an eccentric circle to a motion along a concentric with an epicycle – the Apollonius equation referred to above – ‘Urdi’s (a Muslim scientist) problem was to devise such a motion so that point B (fig. 3) in Juzjani’s model could be brought closer to Ptolemy’s deferent, if possible to coincide with Z. This does not necessarily mean that ‘Urdi was trying to emend Juzjani’s model directly, for he does not mention Juzjani at all, and he could have been working directly with the Apollonius equation. But it was a strike of genius to realise one does not have to transfer the whole eccentricity TD = BH to secondary epicycle, but accept a compromise and transfer only half of that eccentricity KD = NB. To do so, and approximate Ptolemy’s deferent as close as possible, ‘Urdi found out that the epicycle BOH must move in the same direction and by the same amount as the new deferent with centre K that he just introduced. Only then the combined motion of the deferent with centre K and the epicyclet with deferent N will produce a resultant path marked by point O which hugs very closely the Ptolemaic deferent EZH.
Once that technique was discovered by ‘Urdi, it was used by every astronomer that came after him in one way or another to adjust the Ptolemic mode.” (p. 295-296)
There are other titles, such as, “A History of Astronomy from Thales to Kepler” by Deyer, John, Dover Publications, New York; “Arabian Medicine” by Brown, Edward, The University Press, Cambridge. You may also refer to chapters in “Legacy of Islam” ed. Schacht, Joseph, and Bosworth, Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford; “The Genius of Arab Civilisation,” JR Hayes, MIT Press, “A Short History of the Arabs,” by P. K. Hitti. However, most scholarly works are in either German or French.
Q. Suggest me a book on Hindu history, science, their ancient relations with Muslims and their impact whatsoever on Muslims.
We have already talked about the impact of ancient Indian learning on the Muslims. The early Muslims set about translating everything they could lay their hands on, whether it was of Indian origin, Chinese, Egyptian, Babylonian or Greek, before they moved further. They are indebted to all the sources, and not any particular one specifically. If any one school of thought has to be mentioned, then, it was the Greek sciences that Muslims drew heavily from and improved upon, making their own original contributions.
As regards material on Hindu contributions to science in the Vedic period, most of it is available in article form in Hindu religious magazines. Full-fledged books are few. For instance, no such specific title was available in a few bookstores that were checked in Bangalore. But, there are many Internet sites that deal with this subject. Search with “Google”, [hinduism (vedic science)].
Finally, although this answer has been pretty lengthy, we cannot close it without reminding that: despite the fact that the Muslims of the early age made some splendid contributions to the scientific disciplines, (Ibn Sina’s book “Canon” for e.g., was used in European universities as a standard work of reference for 500 years: P.K.Hitti, “History of the Arabs”), yet we Muslims, the religious class, are not at all proud of Muslim contributions to scientific learning. It does not mean we belittle human endeavours. In fact, we promote and encourage them, and are grieved to see that in the modern times, the Muslims failed to make noteworthy contributions. We believe this is a debt on them being indebted to the Western world which must be saluted for its incredulous single-minded devotion and hard work.
Rather, we pride in men and women like ‘Umar b. ‘Abdul ‘Aziz, Rabi`ah Busriah, Dhannun Misri, Imam Ghazali, and a host of others who stood for moral principles in the din and clutter of material developments of their times, and helped establish values of the Qur’an: the reason of its revelation. It said (2: 177): “Piety is not (simply in) that you turn your faces towards the east or the west. Rather (true) piety (is in) him who believed in God, the Last Day (of Judgement), the angels, the Books and the Prophets. And he gave (his) wealth – despite it being dear (to him) – to the near kin, orphans, the destitute, the wayfarer, to those who ask, and, to (ransom) slaves (and prisoners). Moreover, he established the Prayers, paid the charity. And those who fulfil their promises when they make them. And those who endure with fortitude poverty, illness, and, (remain steadfast) in moments of great stress in the battlefield. It is these (indeed) who are truthful (when they claim to be believers), and it is these (indeed) who are the God-fearing.”
We believe it is the values expressed here, and others stated in the Qur’an, that sustain the world and not scientific developments and technological innovations.
Q. I have got a problem; I want the answer in the light of hadith and Qur’an: I have been married from past two years and I have got a son who is 11 months old. I have not gone close to my wife from past 13-14 months as in any respect I don’t love her. Actually, I was not interested in marrying her but as she is my cousin I was emotionally coaxed by my parents and relatives so that left me with no choice except to marry her. In the first few months of my marriage, I was taking this as a religious obligation and I was trying to overcome my disliking towards her but it didn’t work. But now I am feeling due to this I may cross Allah’s bounds, so I have decided to divorce her, but nobody is allowing me to do that. Even my parents and friends are opposed to divorce. If I am divorcing her I have to leave my parents and even my friends and even my son. I am really frustrated so please suggest me. Please send the answer on my email id at the earliest.
We have made clear several times that we cannot afford to answer on e-mail. As regards the problem you are facing, there isn’t any doubt about it that is of the making of Satan. He is playing upon you. The Prophet has said that Satan sets his throne upon the ocean and conducts his court. Several lesser devils present their reports about how they mislead humankind. But Satan belittles everyone’s achievement. Finally, one of them says he managed to separate man and wife. Satan is pleased and offers him congratulations.
Separation of man and wife is a most horrendous thing that threatens to destroy the life of everyone involved: the divorcing man, the woman divorced, the children by the two, and scores, if not hundreds of relationships that is built around the family.
And, what is worse, the person who initiates the divorce, finds himself having fallen into fire, after escaping the frying pan. That is, no problem is solved. Because men are men, and women are women. Neither of them are angels. So, there is hardly any difference between one and the other: except for piety, which counts with Allah and counts with the people. However, the exact measure of piety being hidden in the folds of the heart, a divorce is justified not on the grounds of lack of piety, but because of impiety, or, in plain words, moral corruption. Yes, if one of the partners is morally corrupt, divorce is justified.
As for flimsy causes, such as “she doesn’t look good,” or, “my inner self just doesn’t accept her”, or, “I don’t love her at all,” or, “our two personalities don’t match with each other,” etc., are devil’s words with the help of which he wishes to destroys the peace of the people.
The above is the reason why your friends and family members are opposed to your step towards destruction. Follow the beautiful Qur’anic guideline (4: 19): “If you dislike (one of) them, then it might be that you dislike a thing but Allah has placed a lot of good in it.”
As for your act of not going near your wife for more than a year, since you have not stated a good reason, we assume that it is not the result of a “love-hate” situation.
It is a physical problem. No man, who is a man, can resist nature’s demands for that long. It is not resistance that is strong, it is the call that is weak. You need to regain your vigorousness through strong, healthy food, rich in vitamins. Fish, mutton, eggs, dates, dried fruits are the answer to the 14-month teetotaling, self-abnegation attitude. Add to the prescription, a chaste life, controlling sight and hearing, strong commitment to rituals of worship: prayers, fasts – and other measures of piety. For, piety normally results in strengthening masculinity in men and feminism in women.
Q/ Jazakallah for answering my doubts regarding ‘Iddat’ in August issue. But you have left one aspect unanswered. Allah forbid that I meant to go against the will of Allah and suggest abrogation of ‘Iddat’. What I meant and could not express clearly was this: is it a must that a woman should not leave the confines of her home during the period of ‘Iddat’? Is she not allowed into the backyard of her house, or say a stroll in the park-just to be alone, away from the gloomy environs for four months ten days or for the matter, just a day.
Misunderstandings of various nature are involved in the issue: ‘Iddah is not necessarily a mourning period. People cannot be forced to mourn. Let us assume, in the worst case, that the woman is not at all sorry, for good reasons, that her husband is dead. How can she be made to mourn when she is grateful to Allah for good riddance?
‘Iddah period is primarily to ascertain if the woman is pregnant. Secondly, by this measure she is assured of food and shelter for a period, and need not add worry to her worry of being husbandless. Thirdly, it allows a woman who loved her husband, to get over the grief so as to be able to assault life once again with renewed vigour after the termination of the period. Fourthly, it allows people around, her in-laws, parents, and others of the well-knit Muslim society, to ready themselves for the new situation, in which the woman will no more be there with the in-laws, and, will, soon be an added member in the parent’s house. A believing woman is a very important person. She could have, for example, started several projects while in the in-laws’ house, or in the house of her husband. Those projects cannot be terminated on a sudden.
There are several other objectives of the ‘Iddah period, the true knowledge being with Allah alone, who gave us these unmatchable social laws that no human mind could ever formulate.
The other misunderstanding is the belief that ‘Iddah is a period of confinement. It is assumed that the woman’s freedom is to be curtailed who should remain within the inner compartments of the house, if not confined to her own room. That is not correct. She is free to move about, go to the market, if need be, and take some fresh air in the park to relieve herself once in a while. As for the back or front yard of the house, they are included in the definition of a “house” and so, there can be absolutely no restriction in moving about there. What is not allowed to her is that she should spend a night outside the house, or treat the ‘Iddah period as a time when everything that couldn’t be done earlier, be done now, such as, visiting exhibitions, circus shows, and things of that sort. She should respect the relationship that existed between herself and her husband, observe certain decorum, and not exhibit hilariousness over his death or total disregard of a person’s memory who, after all, had remained faithful to her till his last.
Q. We wanted to verify the claim of the traditionalist in our house. We did not expect such harsh words, doubting our beliefs and getting on us on completely wrong context, though it may’ve definitely helped some of us.
A lot depends, when we answer, on the tone of the questions received. We match our answer to the tone. At other times, we vary it for a variety of reasons. In your case, we regret to have misread the tone. In any case, the unsavoury harsh tone is only an assumed facade.
The military conflict continues in Kashmir, leaving behind an army of orphans and young widows living in pathetic conditions. It is both our religious and moral obligation to provide a helping hand to these victims. We are striving hard to help these unfortunate victims. All the readers of the Young Muslim Digest are requested to pray for the success of our noble cause.
J&K Yateem Foundation (NGO)
Bait-ul-Hilal, 21,Gogi Bagh Srinagar -190008. Srinagar, Kashmir.
Phone: 0194-439045, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org