The current age is undeniably the age of science and technology. The last few decades alone have witnessed science and technology progress in leaps and bounds never before seen in the centuries that passed. Yet, for all the convenience and improved living conditions that it has brought about, science has also brought in its wake a major problem – the rejection of that which is not scientifically proven.

There was a time when the major religions of the world were regarded as Islam, Christianity and Judaism (though Christianity and Judaism at present are not acceptable as they have been abrogated by Islam), but now many have begun to regard science as a type of pseudo-religion. The reason is obvious – the beliefs of a scientist are moulded and defined by scientific findings. Accordingly, when his belief-system is based upon science, it is only fair to say that his religion is that of science.

Being trained to analyse and rationalize according to the scientific method is in fact a form of mental conditioning, and it is one that is extremely dangerous to a believer’s imaan. Hence, it is a fact proven through the experiences of countless ‘Ulama that many Muslim students who begin to study science thereafter develop serious doubts regarding their imaan, and some of them even turn apostate and renege from Islam (may Allah Ta‘ala save us!).

Even among those who do not pursue higher levels of scientific learning, on account of the science that they were exposed to in school, the influence of science is still seen in their thinking and behaviour. The West attaches such importance to science that people respect scientists, hold them in esteem and confidently follow their guidance. This was never more apparent than the time at the peak of the Covid outbreak when the vast majority of people, male and female alike, regarded it their personal, compulsory obligation to wear facemasks and social distance.

Such was the overwhelming compliance, based on the words of scientists that it would save lives, that even a hundred ‘Ulama announcing from mimbars that adopting purdah will save imaan would not have had the same effect – though the words of these ‘Ulama would have been based on the Quraan and hadeeth. This itself indicates the subtle effect which the indoctrination of science has had on our behaviour and beliefs.

As students in school, we are always shown the breakthroughs of science. We are shown the discovery of penicillin, the invention of pasteurization and other important and significant developments. However, what is unfair and unjust is that we are seldom – if ever – shown the failures and suffering that science has sometimes caused. Had we been shown the flip-side of the coin, we would have realized that science is far from infallible.

From a myriad of examples, one that comes to mind is that of the procedure known as a lobotomy which was widely used as a form of treatment for patients with disorders such as severe depression, etc. The purpose of the lobotomy was to destroy the frontal lobe of the brain – the section responsible for memory, emotions and problem-solving skills. The first lobotomy was pioneered in 1935 by a neurologist named Egas Moniz who was later awarded the coveted Nobel prize for inventing the lobotomy.

At the time, this procedure was hailed as a breakthrough and it sparked a medical revolution that led to more than 60 000 lobotomies being performed in the US and Europe alone in the ensuing years.

However, by the 1950’s, many countries banned the lobotomy stating that it was ‘against the principles of humanity’. People began to realize that instead of curing the patients, the lobotomy left many people completely unable to experience any emotion, while many became incapacitated or even died. As a result, the medical marvel of yesterday is regarded as brutal and barbaric today.

This is but one example, and if one digs a little deeper, one will find innumerable instances of science awakening to its errors years later, after hundreds or thousands of people were harmed. (For more examples, click here) One then begins to wonder how many of the scientific findings of today will be disproven and debunked tomorrow.

The purpose of this article is not to unnecessarily criticize science, as we acknowledge that science has improved life in many ways (e.g. through inventing many technologies such as the fridge, air conditioner, etc.). Rather, the purpose is to highlight that science can never be taken as a guide in regard to matters of our Islamic beliefs and the teachings of Deen. Whenever one comes across any scientific research or fact, one should immediately find out the Islamic perspective and teaching on the issue.

How can a believer be so naïve and gullible as to leave the divine teachings of Islam, acquired from the Quraan and the hadeeth of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) for science which is faulty and flawed? Such is the fickle nature of science that the theory of yesterday, based on so-called ‘concrete evidence and irrefutable proof’ has been disproven today!

In essence, a Muslim must never allow his beliefs and behaviour to be defined and shaped by science. In fact, a Muslim should understand that imaan is to believe in the unseen (which is not scientifically proven) on the sole basis that he has been informed of it by Allah Ta‘ala and Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam).

Therefore, if there is ever an apparent clash between science and the teachings of the Quraan and hadeeth, we must set science aside and wholeheartedly follow our Deen. It is only our Deen of Islam that it is perfect, complete and comprehensive and will never change. More than a thousand years have passed, yet our Islam has remained as practical, pure, perfect and relevant as ever. It is only our Islam that is timeless and without any fault or flaw.

May Allah Ta‘ala bless us with true Islam and a death upon imaan, aameen.