Let me begin by saying, “In the Name of God the Compassionate the All-Merciful,” as is customary. Beginning with this phrase, Muslims begin all of their ritualistic activities as well as daily activities that have ritualistic significance. Every chapter, or sura, of the Holy Koran 1, the holy book of Islam, begins with this formula. It serves as a guide for reading the text and for any following actions motivated by it. Through His names of love and kindness, God the One, the source of all revelation, revealed the entirety of the Koran.
It certainly seems straightforward. Unfortunately, one must acknowledge that reality often deviates greatly from these ideals. Everyone would undoubtedly concur that there is a gulf between ideals and reality, between what religion ought to be and what its adherents create of it, and between the world of spiritual principles and the ups and downs of history.
But does Islam have a particular problem? There are numerous arguments made against the Islamic faith. It is a truth that, in contrast to other cultural regions, the Islamic world appears to take a very small part in modern science and is frequently troubled by social and political unrest. These two realities have been linked by a number of authors to the same root cause: the Islamic faith’s alleged incapacity to forge a solid bond with the application of reason and, as a result, to compel rational conduct in society. Islam is accused of the following crime: it appears to contain the seeds of its own, violent deviance in its basic precepts.
With your permission, I’d want to address this particular issue in this lecture from the perspective of a Western Muslim who also happens to be a working scientist. Do the techniques and outcomes of science provide an insurmountable challenge to Islam because of its own principles? Is there a particular issue with reason that would make it impossible for Muslims to embrace reasonable behaviour in contemporary societies? Is it feasible to be a cohesive Muslim, contribute positively to our common world’s endeavors, and put science first in one sentence? In the paragraphs that follow, I’d want to make the case that even while ignorance, hatred, and violence sadly exist in the Islamic world, Muslims are actually encouraged to seek out knowledge, love, and peace by the spiritual teachings and intellectual resources of Islam.
I’ll break up my lesson into three sections: I’ll start by summarizing the fundamental tenets of Islam that seem important for comprehending the nature of knowing from an Islamic point of view. Second, I’ll quickly go through some historical and current perspectives on the relationship between religion and science and between belief and reason. Thirdly, I’ll argue for a position that, while religion does not directly address the content of science, it does provide a broad metaphysical context that aids me as a scientist in understanding the significance of scientific discoveries. I’ll wrap up by taking a fresh look at the previously discussed topic: the structure of societies and the interaction of religions and cultures. It turns out that this metaphysical framework provides us with instructions for a peaceful coexistence in this world as well as aids us in finding meaning and purpose in the variety of religious beliefs.
The tenets of the Islamic faith
The famous lecture given by Pope Benedict XVI in Regensburg on September 18, 2006, in front of an audience of “representatives of science” was recently summarized, with great talent and large impact, the alleged difficulty that Islam faces in its relationship with reason — the detail has its importance for the issue we are addressing here. The Holy Father outlined what he saw as the distinctive aspect of Christianity in an effort to offer a fresh perspective to a Europe that had become increasingly secular. He does not find it odd that the advancement of rational thought and modern science occurred in nations where Christianity predominated. Since Islam was used as a sort of counter-example—a religion in which the absence of reason and the existence of violence are intertwined—this lecture actually sparked intense emotions throughout the Islamic world.
The Pope asserts that in Islamic doctrine, God is wholly transcendent. None of our categories, not even that of rationality, are linked to His will. Following the Regensburg address, there were communications between the Islamic world and the Holy See, with one side apologizing and the other side claiming that the lecture had been misconstrued. I want to pick up where the Holy Father left off with this subject and respond positively to the pleas for dialogue that were eventually heard from both sides.
In actuality, I believe that the problem comes from the conception of God that we hold. The Pope, echoing many other authors, states that “for Muslim teaching, God is completely transcendent,” yet he actually means to say that “for Muslims, God is merely transcendent.” Is the Islamic God distinct from the Christian God? Muslims do not share that viewpoint. For them, the name of the Muslim faith’s deity is not Allah, a word whose etymology is “The God.” It is the Arabic word for the One God, the creator of all things and the deity that Muslims, Jews, and Christians all revere.
God is utterly transcendent and perfectly immanent in Islam, just as He is in Judaism and Christianity. It implies that He cannot fit into any of our categories while also being close to us, acting in the world, knowing and loving us, and allowing Himself to be known and loved by us. Nothing compares to Him, and He is the One who hears and knows everything properly, according to the Koran. God combines opposing qualities, as He is both the First and the Last, as well as the Visible and the Hidden. He is also “nearer to us than our jugular vein,” says the song. In a monotheistic religion, it is essential for these two elements to coexist in order to prevent our conception of God from becoming an idol. According to Islamic doctrine, the affirmation of God’s unity (tawhid) necessitates both the affirmation of God’s uniqueness (tanzih) and the comparison of God’s names, characteristics, and deeds to those of the created order (tanshbih). A God who is only immanent is nothing more than a type of cosmic energy, whereas a God who is only transcendent is an abstract idea.
It is clear that the balance between transcendence and immanence is crucial for the question of whether God’s qualities and deeds are understandable, as well as for the expansion of the domain in which reason can be applied to grasp both religion and science. It is true that Islamic thought contained extreme viewpoints in both directions. The mainstream, on the other hand, supported the coexistence of these two ideas, as well as the idea that immanence is feasible because God is so transcendent that His transcendence is unaffected by His proximity to us and the world.
The earth was made by God. The world cannot sustain itself, according to this statement. There might not have been a world. However, it does exist, and according to religions, a different Being—one who is not only “a being” like the others, but rather the act of being itself—gives the world its being. God has also revealed Himself to us in the world through distinct instances where eternity and time meet infinite. These events give rise to new religions, which, from an Islamic perspective, are just fresh applications of the same universal truth to new populations (and their own “languages”). Additionally, God has a unique relationship with every person that he cares for and encourages.
After Judaism and Christianity, Islam is the third monotheistic religion to emerge as a result of God’s promise to Abraham. Keep in mind this Genesis narrative, in which Abraham submits to God’s will and abandons his wife Hagar and son Ishmael in the desert. For Muslims, the location of Hagar and Ishmael’s departure is the valley of Bakka, where, prior to the Deluge, was a temple that had been given to Adam by God following the Fall from Eden. Later, Abraham and Ishmael reconstructed the temple, a little cubic structure now housed inside the mammoth mosque in Makka. Although God is everywhere, he nevertheless specifically manifests in some areas, leaving this edifice unoccupied and only home to the sakina, a mystery and holy presence of God.
Through a new revelation, or an initial miracle that establishes a new relationship of a portion of the human race with God, Islam brings about the revival of this Abrahamic faith. The Holy Koran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad, who was born in Makka at the end of the sixth century. This is the first miracle. The Prophet’s death in 632 marked the end of a 20-year revelation that began on the Night of Destiny. What precisely is this wonder? For Muslims, the miracle is that God not only chose the words, sentences, and chapters of the Holy Koran but also the order in which they were placed in a particular human language—Arabic—so that the divine voice could be heard, uttered, and understood by humans. Muhammad was a trustworthy messenger who did not change or add to the Holy Reading or Proclamation (the Arabic term for the Koran), which later developed into a Book and took on its final form during Uthman’s reign (644–656). Naturally, the weight of the heavenly utterance nearly renders the Arabic language unintelligible. There are nuances, unusual terminology, and isolated letters that can all be used to express enigmatic information. The role of the commentators is to draw attention to the depth of the teachings that one verse might convey because Arabic words frequently have multiple meanings. Each verse of the Koran has an inner meaning, an outer meaning, a legal meaning, and a location of ascension, which has a direct spiritual influence on the reader, as the Prophet himself noted when he said so. Because these different connotations do not easily translate into other languages, particularly into European languages, the translator’s job becomes extremely difficult. The Koran’s collection of messages about God’s names, attributes, and actions, as well as His commands and prohibitions, as well as tales of the prophets, descriptions of this world and the next, moral guidance, and accounts of the early Islamic community that surrounded the Prophet are all fascinating aspects of the book. However, each of the 114 chapters contains a number of these chains that are somewhat entangled or mixed up, making it difficult to identify the internal coherence without repeatedly reading the book, which gradually reveals more and more of itself.
The creation marvel is replicated by the wonder of the Koran’s descent. God commands everything to exist by speaking, “Be! (kun)” Through this ontological order, God grants existence to the creatures. The second time that God reveals hidden knowledge by speech is when He gives Prophet Muhammad the first word of the Koran, “Read!” (iqra’). This directive is addressed to the reader, the intelligent individual who reads and comprehends the Holy Text. As a result, the Koran is comparable to a second creation; it is a book in which God reveals his verses, or signs, in a manner similar to how we think about God’s signs in the entities and occurrences of the first creation. Similar to how He produced the Book of Existence (kitâb attakwîn), God revealed the Book of Religion (kitâb attadwîn). The coherence between the first and second books is explicitly addressed when discussing the link between faith and science. Similar terminology is used in different religions to discuss this subject of the Liber Scripturae and the Liber mundi.
Islam appears as the revival of Abraham’s religion, a new application of the same universal truth that was revealed to Adam, the first human, the first sinner, the first person to repent, the first person to be pardoned, and the first prophet. The Bible has numerous prophets, including Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, Moses, David, and Solomon, as well as John the Baptist and Jesus. Muhammad is the final link in this line. The Koran also tells tales of additional prophets who were sent to the Arabs or perhaps other Asian peoples but are not included in the biblical record. Thus, the shahada, or “profession of faith,” which is the first of Islam’s five pillars, is the core principle of the religion: “There is no god but God, and Muhammad is God’s prophet.” The Koran is the message; it is a revelation from God urging Muslims to follow their own path in life. The five daily times of the canonical prayer—before sunrise, after noon, in the middle of the afternoon, after sunset, and when night falls—that are associated with cosmic events make up Islam’s second pillar. On accumulated riches, almsgiving is the third pillar. The fourth pillar is ritual fasting, which is observed from sunrise to sunset throughout the holy month of Ramadan (when the first verses of the Koran were revealed). The journey to the Kaaba, the House of God, and other locations close to Makka is the fifth and final pillar. These five pillars serve as touchstones for worship-related actions. This is the most significant section of the Shari’a, or religious law. Numerous facets of social life are described in the Sharî’a as well. Only a few passages in the Koran specifically address social organization, yet the early Islamic community was able to resolve all problems thanks to the Prophet’s presence. The so-called classical sharî’a was gradually created as a result of the need for a more thorough codify of religious law when Islam later grew to be the official religion of a sizable empire. Muslims now must reevaluate this matter in a context that is considerably more complicated, in societies that are affected by science and technology, globalization, exchanges of people and information, and the presence of numerous minorities. It presents a significant challenge and calls for a significant “effort of interpretation,” or ijtihâd.
The Koran makes references to Jewish and Christian interactions with Prophet Muhammad during the time when it was revealed in Arabia. These discussions ultimately led to the following results: Islam emerged as a distinct religion from Judaism and Christianity because the majority of Jews and Christians refused to recognize Prophet Muhammad. The primary distinction between Islam and Judaism is that it is an overtly worldwide religion, like Christianity. Judaism is associated with a certain people, whereas its message is addressed to all people. The major difference between Christianity and other religions is the contention about Jesus’ identity. The Koran describes Jesus as a “Islamic prophet” who came to spread the truth of the unity of God. He is, nevertheless, a very unique Prophet. He was miraculously conceived from Maria the Virgin, who was shielded from all sin. Maria received the birth announcement from the angel Gabriel. Jesus is the Christ, al-Masîh, the Lord’s anointed, according to Muslims. Soon after his birth, he made miracles with God’s approval and spoke with knowledge. Alongside God, he miraculously survived death and is still alive. Muslims claim that Jesus is the Word of God (Kalimat Allah) and the Spirit of God (Ruh Allah), but they do not claim that Jesus is the son of God. They would identify as Christians, and Islam would be but another Christian church if they were to say so. Islam rejects the incarnation, the trinity, the cross, and redemption as a result (and in any case, no primeval sin that would make redemption of the human kind necessary). It is true that Jews and Christians have different perspectives on Jesus. Aside from this central figure, the three monotheistic religions have a lot in common, including the idea that there is only one God, that He created the world, that He created humans “in His image and likeness” (or, as we Muslims say, “according to the form of the Merciful”), that they should lead spiritual lives and care for the less fortunate, and that they are capable of improvement and salvation despite their sins. Finally, it is reasonable to claim that although if Jews, Christians, and Muslims are today divided by Jesus, he will finally bring them together in a future that is at the end of time. Muslims believe that Jesus is “the sign of the ultimate hour” and will return to assemble all believers. In actuality, Christians claim the same thing about Jesus, while Jews look forward to the Messiah. The fact that these believers, who have such divergent opinions about the Messiah, will eventually acknowledge and obey him, is a profound enigma.
Faith and knowledge are closely related, according to the Islamic tradition’s unwavering teaching, and because the Islamic Holy Text has a special status as the central axis of revelation. According to a well-known Koranic phrase, “worship your Lord till certainty” (Koran 15:99), and many sayings of the Prophets, seeking knowledge is a religious obligation “incumbent to all Muslims.” “My Lord, increase my knowledge,” the Prophet prayed. The source of this understanding is, of course, revelation from God. However, it is also obvious that any information that can be in some way related to God and that benefits both the religious and everyday lives of society are beneficial and should be pursued. It is obvious that the Prophet did not primarily refer to religious knowledge when he advised his companions to look for knowledge as far as China.
The Koran mentions three aspects of the “power of knowing” that humans possess: “And it is God who has brought you forth from your mothers’ wombs, and He has assigned you for hearing, sight, and inner vision” (Koran 16:78). In the Koran and Prophetic tradition, which are the two main sources of religious knowledge, hearing is our faculty for accepting and obeying the textual indication. Sight is our faculty for contemplating and reflecting on the phenomenon, and is closely related to the rational pursuit of knowledge. The inner vision, symbolically located in the heart, is the possibility of receiving knowledge directly from God through spiritual unveiling. Because of these three facets, knowledge has three different types: religious, rational, and mystical. Religious knowledge comes from studying the Holy Scriptures and adhering to their commandments and prohibitions. Rational knowledge comes from researching the world and reflecting on it. Mystical knowledge comes from inner enlightenment that is directly given by God to whoever He chooses among His servants.
Additionally, there is a well-known tale of how natural laws are independent of religious doctrine. The Prophet was questioned about the need for grafting by farmers who used to grow date palms. The Prophet replied, “No,” and they took his counsel. Then they grumbled about how poor the date crop was. The Prophet responded that he was only a fellow human being. In the interests of your world, you are more knowledgeable than I am, he said. This is an extremely significant tale. There are some areas where religion simply has nothing to say; these areas are unaffected by the revelation’s ethical and ritualistic teachings. The only knowledge that should be avoided, according to the Islamic perspective, is worthless knowledge, which is this type of knowledge that blinds us to the richness of our own spiritual mission. This is because Islam does not distinguish between the intellectual and ethical components of life.
To sum up, the revelation of God’s transcendence and immanence in the Koran gives Muslims an opportunity to both rejoice and approach God’s mystery and intelligibility. This comprehensibility necessitates the application of reason contained within a wider view of knowledge. God, because of His Mercy and Love for the universe, chooses to be partially constrained by the categories of reason through His explanations and promises. But since Truth is not merely conceptual, reason alone cannot approach all of it. Also included is the entire being. According to the Islamic viewpoint, “intellect” specifically refers to the use of reason as well as the clarity to recognize the points at which reason is no longer useful. In this section, I’ll try to provide an example of the kinds of discussions that occurred in Islamic thought regarding the precise extent of the domain of reason.
Islamic views on reason and belief
During the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates, which followed the expansion of the Islamic empire, Greek science and philosophy were introduced to Islamic ideas. In order to delineate the area that we can legitimately study with our own reason, it was thus necessary to define more precisely the role of rational understanding in the search of religion. The famous thinker al-Ghazali (1058–1111), often known as Algazel in the West, looked at the relationship between philosophy and science and religion. He shared the same firm conviction as all of his forebears that there is only one truth and that well-grounded reason cannot be in conflict with textual evidence provided by the Koran and Prophetic tradition. He listed the several disciplines that Islamic philosophers (al-falâsafah) practiced in the wake of Plato and Aristotle’s writings in his intellectual and spiritual autobiography “The Deliverer from Error” (al-Munqidh min al-dalâl). Arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy among these sciences “have no association whatever, positive or bad, with religious subjects.” They prefer to deal with matters that have been proven and, once recognized and understood, cannot be disputed. Al-Ghazali claims that there is a “double risk” in their method. On the one hand, these scientists often travel outside the realm in which reason may be used and make metaphysical or theological claims about God and religious matters that happen to conflict with textual clues because they are very self-important. Al-Ghazali denounced “those who believe they defend Islam by rejecting the philosophical sciences” and “actually cause much damage to it,” adding that “the common believers are led to reject all sciences indiscriminately after seeing the excesses of these scientists.” Now, assuming there is only one Truth, how should we resolve any potential discrepancies between science and biblical verses? The problem is clear: Whenever science appears to contradict textual cues, it is the scientists’ fault since they undoubtedly made mistakes in their research and came to conclusions that are inconsistent with revealed truth. Al-Ghazali attempted to reexamine the arguments made by philosophers in his book “The Incoherence of the Philosophers” (Tahâfut al-falâsafah) and to show logically and scientifically where their faults originate.
Ibn Rushd (1026–1098), known in the West as Averroes, revisits the topic raised by al-Ghazali in his book “The Decisive Treatise which Establishes the Connection between Religion and Wisdom” (Kitâb faslilmaqâl wa taqrîr ma baynashsharî’ah walhikmah minalittisâ In fact, Ibn Rushd’s work is a legal ruling (fatwa) to determine “whether the study of Philosophy and Logic is allowed by the revealed Law, or prohibited by it, or required, either as recommended or as mandatory.” Ibn Rushd was a judge (qâdî). Will they not reflect on the kingdom of the heavens and the earth, and everything that God created? is one of the many verses in the Koran that Ibn Rushd mentioned. In Islamic law, enforcing the given Law necessitates the application of the juridical syllogism (qiyâs shar’î), whereas understanding Creation and reflecting on it necessitate the application of the rational syllogism (qiyâs ‘aqlî), that is, the writings of the philosophers. As a result, Ibn Rushd stated, “We Muslims know with certainty that rational examination will never contradict the teachings of the revealed text: because truth cannot contradict truth, but agrees with it and supports it.” He continued, “Since this revelation [i.e. the Koran] is true and prompts to practicing rational examination (nazhar) which leads to the knowledge of truth.” Because of this, Ibn Rushd explains that the text must be given to an allegorical interpretation (ta’wîl) whenever the findings of logical analysis contradict the text’s inferences.
Modern science presented a material and an intellectual threat to the Islamic world in the 19th century. The Ottoman Empire needed to acquire Western technology and Western science, which is the basis of the latter, in order to defend itself against the military assault brought about by Western nations and to successfully carry out colonization. The West seems to be the standard of progress that must be attained, or at least imitated, by constant efforts to develop engineers and technicians and convey the necessary technologies to developing third-world nations. Thoughts and possibly a disagreement of a philosophical and doctrinal kind were also inspired by the interaction between Islam and modern science.
To make a long story short, there is now a lot of debate in the Islamic world over what science is or needs to be in order to be completely assimilated into Islamic communities and be considered “Islamic.” According to the modernist school, “Islamic science” refers to only universal science as it is applied by Muslim scientists. In order to meet the needs of Islamic societies, “Islamic science” must be “rebuilt” from Islamic principles for the reconstruction stream. According to the traditional stream, “Islamic science” refers to an ancient, symbolic science that needs to be restored in a way that is more considerate of both the environment and the scientists’ spiritual aspirations. The numerous schools of modern Islamic thinking exhibit vigorous discussion on the interrelationship between science and religion. They all need to be aware of potential obstacles on their way. The fundamental problem with these notions is that they were developed a priori as mental representations of Muslim scientists’ work and may not accurately reflect actual laboratory work. If I were to make a statement about these streams, I would say that each one highlights and seizes a particular aspect of the circumstance. It is true that science, in terms of its principles and practices, is basically universal and a trait shared by all members of the human race. It is true that society shapes how science evolves, and that the way it is organized, the issues that are addressed, and the ethics that are upheld are all influenced by the scientists’ worldviews. Yes, it is true that scientists who are believers must take into account the question of meaning and purpose, as well as the inclusion of the scientific endeavor in a larger search for knowledge, even though science depicts the material world.
As a framework for purpose, faith
Let me now put forward a viewpoint on how the Islamic tradition might approach the articulation between current science and religion. I’d like to propose that the theological and metaphysical body of Islamic thought is sufficiently robust to aid the Muslim scientist in discovering a purpose for the world as it is described by the field’s most recent scientific research. Naturally, I won’t provide a novel parallelism structure. I’d rather to talk about convergence. Modern science’s discoveries of reality can be incorporated into a larger metaphysical stage. Only four examples of how this convergence might occur will be shown.
(1) The world’s ability to make sense
The fact that the world is understandable is the central mystery that underlies physics and cosmology. According to Islamic belief, this intelligence is a component of God’s plans for the world because God, who is all-knowing, created the universe and human beings from His Intelligence. Then He imbued the human with intelligence. Our intelligence continuously encounters His Intelligence as we study the cosmos. The unity of humanity and the cosmos, as well as the capacity of our mind to comprehend at least some of the world, are ensured by the fact that God is One.
The Koran addresses the regularities that exist in the earth, saying that “God’s custom will not change.” Therefore, “God’s creation has not changed.” Since the Koran highlights the changes we observe in the sky and on earth in several verses, it is obvious that this does not imply that Creation is unchangeable. These words imply that God’s immutability is reflected in the “stability” of Creation. Furthermore, these patterns that result from God’s Will fall under the category of “mathematical regularities”. The reader is made aware of the numerical arrangement of the cosmos in several phrases, such as “The Sun and the Moon [are ordered] according to an accurate computation (husbân).”
(2) God’s creative action
What actions does God take in His creation? The majority school of Islamic thought holds that God does not create the world by establishing the beginning conditions and the laws of physics and then allowing it to develop mechanically. In actuality, the “secondary causes” just disappear since God, the “main Cause,” keeps creating the universe repeatedly. “Some task engages Him every day.” The atoms and their accidents are continuously renewed in this process of creation (tajdîd al-khalq). The accident does not last for two seconds because of this. The patterns we see in the world aren’t caused by a causal relationship between the occurrences, but rather by a regular concurrence between them that has been formed by God’s Will.
(3) God honors and cherishes diversity.
Islam’s view that God loves and celebrates diversity is one of its tenets: “Among his signs: the diversity of your languages and of your hues.” In reality, because of His love, God never stops creating, or rahma, a word that etymologically relates to the womb of the mother. According to a Prophetic teaching, God created one hundred parts of this rahma and kept 99 of them with Him while letting one part descend to earth. This makes the mother’s love for her children the best example of this divine love on earth. All women look after their children with this portion of the earth. According to this well-known verse: “And if God had desired, He could have made you all one single community. And this divine love extends to the diversity of beings, physical phenomena, plants, and animals, as well as the human diversity of ethnic kinds, languages, and cultures. However, He decided against it in order to put you to the test with what He has given you. So collaborate with one another to carry out good deeds. You must all turn back to God, and when you do, He will help you properly grasp everything that divides you.
(4) Science and ethics are inextricably linked.
The human being is created from clay and God’s spirit, according to Islamic faith, to serve as “God’s vice-regent of earth.” The human being was created on earth as a garden keeper in the garden and is the only creature capable of knowing God through all of His names and traits. Instead of having a relationship with other living things from an upper to a lower level, with the potential to exploit all “inferior” beings, we have a relationship from the center to the periphery. The watchman who equally looks out for all of the garden’s occupants occupies the “central” role of the garden keeper on earth. This indicates a sense of responsibility for all of creation and ought to inspire humility rather than conceit. Because of this, we are permitted to consume the fruits of the garden but are not permitted to uproot the trees that do not belong to us. A stronger awareness of the ethics required to wield this power with judgment and wisdom must go hand in hand with the power that science has given us. In a few words, we must refrain from doing all within our power, much as Adam was forbidden from touching a certain tree in the garden. Because freedom necessitates the ability to make a decision, this prohibition sets us free. With the ongoing discussions on how to combat global warming, how to share natural resources sustainably, or how to preserve biodiversity, this image of the gardener in the garden still resonates strongly today.
A crucial concept for the twenty-first century is inclusivity.
Islamic culture has left behind a sizable spiritual and intellectual legacy that ought to help shape the 21st century. We sincerely hope that the human race can discover a paradigm that accommodates its diversity while maintaining a strong feeling of its oneness. Unfortunately, our world is also ruled by forces of ignorance and darkness. Fragmentation is what we perceive in place of diversity. We observe uniformity rather than unity. Because they fail to spread a sincere sense of religious truth, believers have some of the blame for this catastrophe.
What connection does that have to the conflict between science and religion? I believe that the notion that God revealed “many Books of Scriptures” that are also in fundamental agreement despite apparent discrepancies can help us prepare for the idea that God wrote two books, the Book of Creation and the Book of Scriptures, with the certainty that these books are in fundamental agreement despite what may appear to be discrepancies. While praising the Lord for the magnificent diversity He created and showed, we must depart with some uncertainty over how these differences will be resolved.
Finally, let me address the question of ultimate truth and share with you a moving tale that exemplifies the paradox of the human experience. We must go back in time and take another look at Ibn Rushd. Ibn Rushd was informed somewhere about 1180 that Muhyîd-dîn Ibn ‘Arabî, a young man who was around 15 years old, had received spiritual openings during his retreats. This young person was invited to meet with Ibn Rush, the greatest philosopher of his time. Ibn ‘Arabi later wrote about the meeting in the preface of his major work, The Meccan Openings, a 4000-page work that reveals the content of his spiritual intuitions. At the time, he was regarded as the Greater Master of Islamic mysticism. I simply listened to Ibn ‘Arabi. “Ibn Rushd stood up as I approached him out of love and respect. He hugged me and replied, “Yes.” I replied “Yes.” I had understood him, which made his excitement grow. When I understood why he had been happy about it, I replied, “No.” He lost his smile, his complexion changed, and he began to question his own abilities. The solution to these strange exchanges, in which questions are followed by answers, is then provided by Ibn ‘Arabi. Ibn Rushd asks, “How did you find the situation in revealing and divine effusion? “, which is the main point of our presentation this evening. Is that what rational thought suggests to us? Yes, no, Ibn ‘Arabi responded. Between “yes” and “no,” spirits depart from their bodies and heads depart from them. According to Ibn ‘Arabi, Ibn Rushd’s response to these statements was to become pale and shake. Being aware of my allusion, he sat there reciting, “There is no power and no strength but in God.”