3. Unity of Knowledge: Religious, Rational and Experimental
The first subjects that began to take shape among Muslim scholars after the spread of Islam were related to the commentary on the Qur'an (tafsir), Traditions (Hadith) and Asma' al-Rijal (biographies of Hadith scholars), Sirah (Biography (of the Prophet) and Maghazi (Battles of the Prophet), Usul al-Din (theology), Fiqh (Jurisprudence) and Usul al-Fiqh (methodology/principles of Jurisprudence). The Arabic language was classified by Ibn Khaldun as an auxiliary science to explain the terminology of the Qur'an . It would therefore appear that during the 1st and 2nd Hijri centuries a number of new subjects were gradually developed to explain the Qur'an, the Traditions and Islamic history. On the whole the study of basic religious sciences was given priority over other subjects.
The Islamic scholar Muhammad ibn Idris al-Shafi'i (d. 204/820) classified science into two broad categories, science of the bodies (‘ilm al-abdan) and science of the religions (‘ilm al-adyan) . In the hierarchy of science Islamic scholars placed religious subjects at the top of their list, although secular sciences, such as mathematics, physics, chemistry, astronomy and philosophy were recognised as useful branches of knowledge. From the ‘Abbasid period onwards, Muslims were avid readers of religion, science and philosophy. In fact, religious and philosophical sciences developed in parallel. Although some religious scholars (the ‘ulama' and fuqaha') undervalued philosophical sciences , such secular subjects were, however, widely tolerated, allowed to flourish in Islamic society and were accommodated in the educational curriculum. The critical attitude of the ‘ulama' towards the philosophical sciences has belatedly attracted severe criticism from some Orientalists . More often than not, it seems quite clear that there was no clear division between sacred and profane sciences. Usually, scholars of the calibre of Ibn Khaldun divided science into two classes, namely the traditional sciences (‘ulum naqliyah) and the philosophical sciences (‘ulum 'aqliyah) .
Many outstanding scholars emphasized the unity of knowledge. Thus scientists of the calibre of Jabir ibn Hayyan, al-Kindi, al-Khwarizmi, al-Razi, al-Biruni, al-Farabi and Ibn Sina were as adept in the religious (sacred) sciences as in the profane sciences of medicine, philosophy, astronomy or mathematics. They were conscious of the various dimensions of science.
The Prophet Muhammad was credited with a number of statements regarding cleanliness, health and medicine. These were collected together and became known to Muslims as the Prophetic medicine (al-tibb al-nabawi). A number of books bear this title, including one written by Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah and another by al-Suyuti. These books contain some authentic statements of the Prophet and include herbal medicine and natural cures. Drinking honey and reciting the Qur'an are recommended as a panacea for all kinds of ailments. One such Tradition asserts that every disease has a cure . In other words, God has provided cures for all kinds of disease. Commenting on this and other Traditions, Muhammad Asad says that when his followers read the Prophet's saying (quoted in al-Bukhyii): "God sends down no disease without sending down a cure for it as well". They understood from this statement that by searching for cures they would contribute to the fulfilment of God's will. So medical research became invested with the holiness of a religious duty Ibn Khaldun, while commenting on the Prophetic medicine, said that it resembled medicine of the nomadic type, which is not part of the divine revelation, and therefore is not the duty of Muslims to practise it .
It is generally believed by Muslims that no contradiction exists between religion and science. However, this is not the case in Europe, as we shall see.
4. Maurice Bucaille's Theses
The relevance of science to scripture has been examined by a French scholar, Maurice Bucaille, whose study The Bible, the Qur'an and Science (an English version of his La Bible, le Coran et la science) is relevant to our discussion. Bucaille, aware of the fact that Judaism, Christianity and Islam are Abrahamic religions, makes the following observations.
1. The Old Testament, the New Testament and the Qur'an differ from each other. The Old Testament, he claims, was composed by different authors over a period of nine hundred years. The Gospels, on the other hand, were the work of different authors, none of whom witnessed in person the life of Jesus. The latter merely relayed what happened to Jesus. Islam has something comparable to the Gospels in Hadith, which are collection of sayings and descriptions of the Prophet. Comparing the Gospels with the Hadith Bucaille says: "Some of the Collections of Hadiths were written decades after the death of Muhammad, just as the Gospels were written decades after Jesus. In both cases, they bear human witnesses to events in the past."
Some Western scholars, including Ignaz Goldziher and Joseph Schacht, have argued against the authenticity of certain Traditions. Even Bucaille wrote critically  of a few that dealt with the ‘creation myth' finding them incompatible with modern science. Such reservations inevitably offend Muslims, because the Traditions enshrine the moral and spiritual values of Islam. However, the author is equally critical of the four Canonic Gospels and cannot therefore be accused of bias or prejudice. In fairness to Bucaille, it should be said that he was studying the Scriptures from the point of view of science and not vice versa. His objectivity, though inevitably hurtful to some, is rare even in modern scholarship. The author boldly argues that Christianity does not have ‘a text that is both revealed and written down. Islam, however, has the Qur'an, which fits this description'.
The Qur'an is an expression of the Revelation from God delivered by the Archangel Gabriel to Muhammad, which was memorised, written down by the Prophet's amanuences and recited as liturgy. The Qur'an was thus fully authenticated. The Revelation lasted around twenty years. Muhammad himself arranged the chapters and the full text was compiled into a book by Caliph ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan about eighteen years after the death of the Prophet (ca 650 CE).
2. Debates between the Biblical Exegists and Western scientists have arisen as a result of discrepancies between the Scriptures and science . In contrast, many verses of a scientific nature can be found in the Qur'an. Bucaille asks: "Why should we be surprised at this when we know that, for Islam, religion and science have always been considered the twin sisters? From the very beginning Islam directed people to cultivate science; the application of this precept brought with it the prodigious strides in science taken during the great era of Islamic civilization, from which, before the Renaissance, the West itself benefited ."
According to Bucaille, some verses of the Qur'an have puzzled interpreters until the discoveries of modern science attested to the truth. The range of the scientific data contained in the Qur'an is explored in the following pages.
The creation of the heaven and earth and everything in them happened in six days . The term six "days" is interpreted by modern exegetes of the Qur'an as six "periods" or "stages". The Qur'an also refers to a day as being equivalent to a thousand earthly years . In another context, a day is described as being equivalent to 50,000 years .
Moreover, some verses of the Qur'an refer to such things as ‘heaven and the earth being a solid mass, which was ripped apart. There are references to navigation in the seas; and God created meat (fish) for food, and precious objects, such as coral (marjan) and pearls for use as jewellery; that God created an orderly cosmos in which every planet, including the sun and the moon, moved along its prescribed orbit. For instance, the sun does not overtake the moon; and that God created male and female for humans  as well as for vegetables and animal kingdoms; that man was created through the sex act and that women's menstruation is a time for sexual abstinence; that God created everything out of water. God sends down rain to revive the dead earth to produce and for growing grains, fruit and vegetable; and that He let the earth produce all kinds of food ; that God created cattle to produce milk for humans; that He created horses, mules and donkeys as working animals ; that He created the constellation , and the sequence of day and night as natural phenomena to remind people of God's majesty and power and to encourage them to study astronomy. There are many more examples, but these should suffice for our purpose.
Nowhere in the Qur'an is there anything which has been proven scientifically untrue? Thus Maurice Bucaille, after considering all the scientific data in the Qur'an concluded as follows: "In view of the level of knowledge in Muhammad's day, it is inconceivable that many of the statements in the Qur'an which are connected with science could have been the work of a man. It is, moreover, perfectly legitimate, not only to regard the Qur'an as the expression of a Revelation, but also to award it a very special place, on account of the guarantee of authenticity it provides and the presence in it of scientific statements which, when studied today, appear as a challenge to explanation in human terms."
Imbued with the values of the Qur'an, the early Muslims were psychologically ready to travel widely in search of all kinds of knowledge and were urged to study nature. Through trying to establish the coordinates of longitude and latitude of the Ka‘bah, the Muslims developed their knowledge of geography and cartography. Books were written and maps were used as illustrations. As a result of the study of science in other cultures through the translation of books in Greek, Sanskrit and Middle Persian at the institutions like the Bayt al-Hikmah in Baghdad from the 9th to the 11th century CE, the incipient scientific movement among the Muslims received a boost and contributed to the further development of science in the lands of the Caliphate.
 Ibn Khaldun, The Muqaddimah (tr. F. Rosenthal), vol. 2, p. 437.
 Ibn ‘Abd Rabbihi, al- 'Iqd al-Farid, Cairo, 1940, vol. 2, p.208. Cf. also M. A. J. Beg, Wisdom of Islamic Civilization (A Miscellany of Islamic Quotations), Kuala Lumpur, 1986, p. 57.
 Ibn Khaldun, The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History (tr. F. Rosentahal), Princeton, N.J., 1980, vol. 3, pp. 143-47.
 Patricia Crone, Pre-Industrial Societies ( New Perspectives on the Past),Blackwell, Oxford, 1995, p.97. The author of this book notes that "In the Muslim world, for example, the religious scholars did not fear lay participation in religious knowledge for the simple reason that they were laymen themselves, not members of a hierarchy sealed off from the lay society: their authority rested on mastery of learning available to anyone; they simply had more of it than the rest. But here as elsewhere knowledge had to be controlled. ..Muslim scholars were happy to share religious learning with everyone who wanted it, but they were suspicious of different types of learning associated with different exponents (such as doctors and philosophers); obviously had these types of learning won out, their own knowledge would have been devalued, meaning loss of income and prestige alike."
 Ibn Khaldun, The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History (tr. F. Rosentahal), Princeton, N.J., 1980, vol. 3, p.150.
 Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, Tibb al-Nabawi, Dar al-Fikr, Beirut, circa 1957, pp. 334.
 Al-Suyuti, Tibb al-Nabi (The Medicine of the Prophet), tr. Cyril Elgood, OSIRIS, Brussels, 1962.
 M.A.J. Beg, Wisdom of Islamic Civilization, Kuala Lumpur, 1986, p. 57 (citing Ibn ‘Abd Rabbih, al- ‘Iqd al-Farid, Cairo, 1940, vol. 2, p. 208).
 Quoted from Muhammad Asad's monthly journal Arafat, Lahore, 1946-7,in M.A. J. Beg (ed.) The Image of Islamic civilization, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 1980, pp. 66-7.
 Maurice Bucaille, The Bible, the Qur'an and Science (translated from the French by Alistair Pannell), Paris edition, 1977; English edition, North American Trust Publications, Indianapolis, 1979.
 Ibid, p. vi.
 Ibid, pp. 242-8.
 Ibid, p. vi.
 Al-Khuza‘i, Takhrij al-dalalat al-Sam‘iyah, pp. 159-69. The Prophet's secretaries who wrote down the Revelation were ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan, ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, Ubayd ibn Ka‘b and Zayd ibn Thabit. When all of these four amanuenses were absent, others took their place, for instance Mu ‘awiyah ibn Abi Sufyan, Khalid ibn Sa ‘id ibn al-‘As, Aban ibn Sa‘id, al- ‘Ala' ibn al- Hadrami and Hanzalah ibn al-Rabi'.
 Bucaille, op. cit., p. vi.
 Ibid, p. ix.
 Al-Qur'an: Chapter 54: Verse 7.
 Ibid, Chap. 32 : Verse 5.
 Ibid, Chap. 70: Verse 4.
 Ibid, Chap. 21: Verse 30.
 Ibid, Chap. 31: Verse 31.
 Ibid, Chap. 16: Verse 14.
 Ibid, Chap. 55: Verse 58.
 Ibid, Chap. 55: Verse 22.
 Ibid, Chap. 21: Verse 33.
 Ibid, Chap. 36: Verse 42.
 Ibid, Chap. 49: Verse 13.
 Ibid, Chap. 36: Verse 36 ; Chap. 53: Verses 45-46.
 Ibid, Chap. 86: Verses 6-7.
 Ibid, Chap. 2: Verses 222-223; Chap. 65: Verse 4.
 Ibid, Chap. 21: Verse 30. Some scholars and scientists interpret an acquatic origin of life to include a reference to semen.
 Ibid, Chap. 10: Verse 4.
 Ibid, Chap. 55: Verse 10-13.
 Ibid, Chap. 16 : Verse 66.
 Ibid, Chap. 16: Verses 5-8.
 Ibid, Chap. 85: Verse 1.
 Ibid, Chap. 2: Verse 164.
 Bucaille, op. cit., pp. 251-2.
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