Sunday, May 08, 2011

Science and The Meaning of Life from Islamic Perspective

[Source courtesy of Society for Bhagavata Culture]

AlhamdulilLahx3, was privileged to be invited to this 7 May 2011 talk and given the opportunity to observe, first-hand, how inter-faith dialogue was to be conducted by Sheikh Abdul Halim - with diplomacy, honesty, sensitivity and an open mind.

What I took away from this expreience include the need to spread the message by starting with clarity of concepts (the What from Islam's perspective), providing the opportunity for the audience to reflect on the 'So What?' to make an informed action or choice (Why Islam is 'Adeenul Haq by illustrating comparisons from Islam's Worldview and Wordlview of others... to do this, one needs in-depth inter-faith knowledge) and invite others to Islam with wisdom (the How... depending on the demographics and dynamics of the audience, the choice of words seems essential).

Upon further reflection, due to the time limitation of the talk... it seems incomplete to not mention that the key source of Authentic Knowledge and True Report is the Quran, a source Muslims rely upon given that RasululLah SAW was the Seal of Prophethood and after 124,000 prophets, Muslims still could turn to the Quran for divine guidance and the Sunnah for the way of life prescribed by RasululLah SAW. Also, a list of useful references would enable the audience to do further research about 'Adeenul Haq from the time of Prophet Adam AS to Prophet Muhammad SAW. Wallahu a'lam bissawab... Let me end this post: 

"There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is henceforth distinct from error. And he who rejecteth false deities and believeth in Allah hath grasped a firm handhold which will never break. Allah is Hearer, Knower." [QS al-Baqarah: 2: 256]

"I exist therefore I am"... sounds familiar? Due to fitrah saleema, a true 'Abd (Servant of Allah) will feel humbled when reflecting or seeking essential answers to pertinent questions - The origin of life, The source of Creations, The Sustainer, subhan Allah!

May Allah SWT protect us from attributes of Iblis (arrogance)... insya Allah amiin Allahuma amiin. May Allah SWT also protect the Ummah, who is spreading the Truth, from harm's way and bestow His hidayah upon mankind..."O Allah, show us the truth as the truth and bless us with obedience (to it) and show us falsehood as falsehood and bless us to refrain (from it) with Your Mercy, O Most Merciful" ... insya Allah aamiin ya Rabb! :)

Afterthought: Recall the concept of Aynul Qalb when reflecting on the question of consciousness :)


ET said...

As for the meaning of life, Ven Shi's perspective asks the question whether it makes any difference knowing the answer if you still 'do the wrong thing'. So the Buddhist way is to do the 'right' thing irrespective of the answer, and proceeds to describe the approach to 'manage oneself' - not dissimilar with the idea of a personal jihad.
As for Dr Ramgopal, he put together an extremely compelling and scientifically sound presentation to prove that there are no answers scientifically - yet - whatever has happened to date. His approach is more compelling than what we have seen from Harun Yahya - that there must have been a Creator. However, he was careful not to reveal too much about Vedanta principles.
Mr Halim explained the basic principles about Islam, which was well received and eye opening for non-Muslims. He then shared what the Quran commanded about the need to use a logical, analytical (scientific) approach together with intuition and validated knowledge - a topic that would have warranted a longer treatment.

a.i. said...

Ya Brother Suleyman, Subhan Allah, Islam is indeed beautiful, complete and comprehensive! Muslims can live our lives with certainty as Islam guides us through the means to reach the end. Truly we are in this world but not of this world as our final destination is the Hereafter. Apologies for not commenting on Ven Shi's and Dr Ramgopal; you've covered the points sufficiently :)

a.i. said...

Subhan Allah! JazakalLahu khairan katsiira for sharing your comments, Bro Suleyman.

Indeed, Islam is beautiful, complete and comprehensive in that it clearly guides Muslims on how to operate our lives with certainty (means and ends prescribed!).

We are mindful that we are in this world but not of this world... our final destination is Hereafter and we are but mere 'Abd (Servants of Allah) who must submit fully to Allah's will, Allahu akbar!

Apologies for not commenting on Ven Shi's and Dr Ramgopal's presentation (you've covered them sufficiently).

h.m. said...

Panel discussion on life and its origin: Scientific and Spiritual perspectives conducted by Society of Bhagavata Culture on 7 May 2011

From the Buddhist perspective, Venerable Shi regards the question on the origin of life maybe irrelevant. He stressed the importance of true happiness and to not get too caught up with the pursuit of an answer – hence the question ‘why bother’. However personally, he did not outrule the possibility of life to originate from evolution or from divine being.

From the Islamic perspective, Mr Abdul Halim begins with explaining the cardinal principles of Islam, clarifying Islam’s conception of God that He is Unique and only He is to be ascribed divinity. That God is infinite but the universe is finite or limited in the sense that the universe cannot contain God. However knowledge is not limited because God created the universe to generate and to regenerate itself until the time of reckoning. As for the study of science, since science is the study of things or creations and these creations are created by God, hence he asserts that God must be considered in the very definition of science. In fact all these creations have a purpose and science should be the discovery of the patterns of nature or ‘Sunnatullah’ and to also better quality in our submission to God.

As for Dr Ramgopal Uppaluri, he provides a strong case that scientific theories and experimentation have yet to provide a definitive answer to the origin of life and neither life can be generated randomly nor it can be an emergent property of matter. Hence he maintains that life comes from life but not matter that follows the Vedanta principles. However he did not delve too deeply into explaining these principles.

This panel discussion is an excellent example and platform for interfaith dialogue to take place especially when Mr Abdul Halim tied together the possibility that besides the three religions of the Abrahamic tradition – Islam, Christian and Judaism, the Buddhists and the Hindus are also included in the Grand Plan. Rather he argued that it should be termed as the Adamic tradition due to its inclusivity, but bearing in mind Islam too is exclusive due to the difference in the conception of God as expressed in the shahadah that Islam in its submission proclaims the Oneness of God and the denial to other claimants to Divinity and Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) is His Messenger. The primordial message of Islam of submitting to the One True God is conveyed to mankind via the sending of the prophets throughout time till the last Prophet, Muhammand (p.b.u.h), to remind man as man tends to forget. Mr Abdul Halim, being well versed in the study of comparative religions, points out that the message of Oneness is there in the Upanishad and the theme of Oneness is also in the Tao Te Ching and is illustrated in one of the lines saying that the Tao is One. That is why the Muslim also readily accepts Jesus as a prophet and a Muslim and cannot outrule outrightly the prophethood of sages of old.

a.i. said...

Subhan Allah! Jazakillahu khairan katsiiran ya Ukhti Hayati. Your beautiful sharing made me reflect on QS Surah Baqarah: 2: 256-257.

Indeed, when truth is stacked upon truth, there is no way around it (therein lies the recognition of the word "God" repeatedly popping up in one's mind, subhan Allah! The next question then is "So What?", insya Allah).

Also QS ar-Rahman: 55: 29. Everyday Allah is sustaining us whether we deserve it or not! Shouldn't we acknowledge His love and mercy by saying, "Hasbunallahu wa ni`mal Wakil'' (sufficient is Allah for us and He is our Guardian)?

And the true adab of a grateful 'Abd (Servant of Allah) is to accord Allah in His Exalted place, recognise His Wisdom in the design of all of His creations and acknowledge Him as Rabbul 'Alameen by submitting fully to His will.

It would seem illogical to the mind's eye to not rightfully accord Allah Azza wa Jalla in the scheme of things when he is truly The Creator and Sustainer.

As in QS Ale-Imran: 3:190-191, may we be like those who, while standing, sitting or lying down, are perpetually thinking of Allah as they contemplate the SunnatulLah designed to make them know-able to us, insya Allah!

Indeed, Islam is a religion of ‘ilm…our fitrah (innate nature) and fikrah (capacity to think) bestowed by Allah SWT.

O Allah! The One Who turn (or flip) the hearts, make firm my heart to be upon Your Religion (al-Islam) and upon obedience to You.

O Allah, Turner of the hearts, direct our hearts to Your obedience.

Our Lord! Pour out constancy on us and make our steps firm; Help us against those that rejects the faith.

Our Lord! Make of us Muslims bowing to Thy (Will) and of our progeny a people Muslim bowing to Thy (Will) and show us our places for the celebration of (due) rites; and turn unto us (in Mercy); for Thou art the Oft-Returning Most-Merciful.

O Allah! Set right our faith which is the safeguard of our affairs. And set right for us our worldly affairs where in is our living. And set right for us our Hereafter on which depends our after-life. And make life for us (a source) of abudance for every good and make our death a source of comfort for protecting me against every evil. Ameen Allahuma Ameen :)