On the 9th of November, 1976, an unusual lecture was given at the French Academy of Medicine. Its title was “Physiological and Embryological data in the Qur’an”. I presented the study based on the existence of certain statements concerning physiology and reproduction in the Qur’an. My reason for presenting this lecture was because it is impossible to explain how a text produced in the seventh century could have contained ideas that have only been discovered in modern times.
For the first time, I spoke to members of a learned medical society on subjects whose basic concepts they all knew well, but I could, just as easily, have pointed out statements of a scientific nature contained in the Qur’an and other subjects to specialists from other disciplines. Astronomers, zoologists, geologists and specialists in the history of the earth would all have been struck, just as forcibly as medical doctors, by the presence in the Qur’an of highly accurate reflections on natural phenomena. These reflections are particularly astonishing when we consider the history of science, and can only lead us to the conclusion that they are a challenge to human explanation.
There is no human work in existence that contains statements as far beyond the level of knowledge of its time as the Qur’an. Scientific opinions comparable to those in the Qur’an are the result of modern knowledge. In the commentaries to translations of the Qur’an that have appeared in European languages, I have only been able to find scattered and vague references to them. Nor do commentators writing in Arabic provide a complete study of the aspects of the Qur’an that deal with scientific matters. This is why the idea of a comprehensive study of the problem appealed to me.
In addition to this, a comparative study of similar data contained in the Bible (Old Testament and Gospels) seemed desirable. Thus, a research project was developed from the comparison of certain passages in the Holy Scriptures of each monotheistic religion with modern scientific knowledge. The project resulted in the publication of a book entitled, The Bible, the Qur’an and Science. The first French edition appeared in May 1976. English and Arabic editions have since been published.
RELIGION AND SCIENCE
There is, perhaps, no better illustration of the close links between Islam and science than the Prophet Muhammad’s often-quoted statements:
“Seeking knowledge is compulsory on every Muslim.”
“wisdom is the lost property of the believer.”
“whoever follows a path seeking knowledge, Allah will make his path to paradise easy.”
These statements and many others are veritable invitations to humanity to enrich their knowledge from all sources. It comes as no surprise, therefore, to learn that in Islam religion and science have always been considered as twin sisters and that today, at a time when science has taken such great strides, they still continue to be associated. Nor is it a surprise to learn that certain scientific data are used for the better understanding of the Qur’anic text. What is more, in a century where, for many people, scientific truth has dealt a deathblow to religious belief, it is precisely the discoveries of science that, in an objective examination of the Islamic scripture, have highlighted the supernatural nature of revelation and the authenticity of the religion which it taught.