A Student’s Reflection on Faith: Pondering over the Signs of Science
The Quran and Hadith are a source of guidance and Islam is a way of Life. Islam encompasses all facets of our everyday living so let’s take a look at how science such as biology and psychology have been mentioned in Islamic texts - long before the scientific discoveries that support them.
Islam and Biology
The Beginning of Mankind
Let’s begin with the zygote or the early stages of conception. The Quran mentions: “Be cursed (the disbelieving) man! How ungrateful he is! From what thing did He create him? From Nutfah He created him and then set him in due proportion.” (Al-Qur’an, 80:17-19). Nutfah, linguistically, refers to a small drop of fluid that is composed of mixed substances. This tracks with what we know; that a zygote forms through the secretions of both male and female and the fusion of the sperm and ovum, and that fusion contains genetic material that determines a child's characteristics. SubhanAllah. This information was ahead of its time with scientific discoveries supporting these statements occurring in the 18th century by Van Beneden and early 20th century respectively.
The Basis of All Creation
Just like how this planet we call home is made mostly of deep-blue oceans, we humans too are essentially walking water bodies. Today, scientists have discovered that 80% of a cell’s cytoplasm consists of water, however, this was only recently discovered with the advancements of the electron microscope. But, more than 1400 years ago, it was clearly stated in The Quran that water is the basis of creation. Allah says “And We created from water every living thing. Will they not then believe?” (Al-Qur’an, 21:30). So, will they not believe? Even after seeing the magnificence of His Creation manifested in even the tiniest of particles? How water enters our cells through the very precise function of the aquaporin (water channel). Something so intricately designed by Him that only allows water molecules to fit and pass through. Anything else, even just slightly larger in size - would be rejected entry. A precision so remarkable that they make water filtration systems based on the aquaporin’s design. They call it biomimicry but can you please tell me how they’re in awe of the Creation yet they don’t ponder about The Creator?
Islam and Psychology
Mindfulness in Islam
Beyond biology, Islam teaches us to care for our mental wellbeing. One way of which is to be mindful. In the famous Hadith of Jibreel, Umar ibn al-Khattab (R.A.) reported that our Prophet (S.A.W.) defined spiritual excellence, or Ihsan, “is to worship Allah SWT as if you see Him, for if you do not see Him, He certainly sees you.” (Sahih Bukhari, Book 65, Hadith Number 299). In fact, Islam teaches that we should all strive for this with the goal of attaining calmness and a positive mental state through pursuing muraqabah. How? Many have turned to meditation. Hence, the rise of mindfulness meditation. But did you know, that Islam offers our own ‘versions’ of meditation? As summarised by Ibn Al-Qayyim, these included “reflecting, or tafakkur, remembering, or tadhakkur, examining, or nathr, meditating, or ta’amul, contemplating, or i’tibar, deliberating, or tadabbur and pondering, or istibsar”. All of these practices, encouraged by our religion, can be considered a type of meditation that InshaAllah, if we implement them, would help us achieve mindfulness of our Creator.
Gratitude in Islam
They say gratitude is riches, well quite literally, because, in Islam, shukr (gratitude) opens the doors to rizqi (provisions). Allah tells us “If you are grateful, I will certainly give you more” (Al-Qur’an, 14:7). Islam teaches Muslims that gratitude elevates us, emotionally and spiritually. That gratitude is a form of worship. That gratitude is most befitting to earn the love of Allah SWT who calls Himself as As-Shakoor - The Most Grateful and The Most Appreciative of Gratitude. The One that rewards abundantly if we show gratitude to Him. And this act of being in constant gratitude towards our Creator undoubtedly leaves a lasting positive mark on our overall well-being. With gratitude lists becoming the in-thing after the rise in popularity of the fourth wave of psychology, positive psychology, was coined by the American psychologist William James in the 19th century. But, it is important to remember long before any of this, it was Islam that showed us that shukr (gratitude) is like sowing a seed that would eventually allow us to reap the sweet fruit from the orchards that would spring forth - the sweet taste that such a grateful person can enjoy - both in this world and in the next. InshaAllah.
These are just some of our reflections on how what we learnt in biology or psychology interlinks back to what we find in The Quran and The Hadith. Now, we would like to pass it over to you. Do you just blindly study for the sake of exams without pondering deeply, when He is the one who bestowed knowledge upon you?