Science in Islam

Firstly, before we discuss about science in Islam, we need to override our mindset about religion dominance on science or science dominance on other science, which limit our view, but we need to view science as science, an embodied knowledge that give influence and related to each other, and can be developed with many perspective and different approach.

In Islam, basic sources are determined strictly from Al-Quran and Al-Hadits, and a lot of knowledge bordered and initiated from them. This statement cannot be argued with some opinions which have different grip, even sources where they had been initiated. Before we argue further on this point, let’s breakdown the basic principle firstly.

In Islam, philosophy of science divided into two main classes which are: conviction science and tangible science, this class cannot be compared one with another, because they are into two different matters, they rolled in different scopes, they formulate different product, and they just can be approached by different perspective.

Some classic sources, Al-farabi (known as Alpharabius) divide science into five categories which are: (1) literature, (2) logic, (3) basic science – math, (4) physics-metaphysics (include on it biology, mineral, chemistry, etc.), and (5) social science. Ibn Khaldun who wrote “The Mukaddimah” or famous as “Prolegomenon”, divided science into two classes which are: (1) philosophy – logic: science that can be learned naturally by human brain and intelligence from his birth, (2) direct delivery approach: science that just can be learned by direct education from its sources (preceptor), he also mentioned sciences which include on philosophy-logic are: (1) logic, (2) physics, (3) metaphysics, (4) quantitative science, and sciences which include on direct-relay are: (1) alquran: recitation, meaning and commentary, (2) alhadits, (3) jurisprudence: fiqh, (4) sufism – tasawuf, and (5) literature. This categories explain to us, how the Muslim scholar look faith either as conviction and a science which need learn process to gain better comprehension.

Al-farabi adapts vast knowledge from Aristotle, who was widely known for introducing logical method on science. Eventhough all his idea framed with the name “scientific”, and we can understand his idea by using logic, or something that can be calculate by scalar or non-dimensional number. Aristotle categorize science into (1) logic, (2) theoretical philosophy including Metaphysics, Physics, Mathematics, (3) Practical Philosophy and (4) Poetical Philosophy.

Even every influential scholar takes part to define the science, so also with Muslim scholars, they put faith (not just belief as logic) on their idea as basic philosophy to generated sciences, some people look at it as limitation by religion, but in fact this is really not a wise judgment. If we remember the thesis about energy conservation (first law of thermodynamics): energy cannot be destroyed, just transform into other forms, and how Archimedes could calculate volume irregular object using water, so be to science, faith on Muslim not just influence him as individual, and to generate sciences with it, but also direct science itself into other direction which is different.

This statement isn’t just a statement, the fact and as evidence are the era before renaissance in Europe when Muslim scholars played such a big role to push science into form which enlightening Europe. The main reason which support renaissance in Europe is the view that mentioned above, for a long period before, science viewed as a logic quantitatively, and the most influenced body in Europe is church or religion, in this era we can find in history many great scholars contrast with church provision (and even bring dead to the scholar) claimed as a threat against God will, contrast with position of science in Islam, they have class of science that can moderate understanding which logic less (conviction science), and understanding (a faith) about science is a part of transformation of scholar about world that be regulated by al-mighty Allah (God). Because this is how they believe the world would work, it doesn’t against a nature will, which understood as a role that give by God to nature to work systematically.

Back to our issue about science, if we can say about the latest trend of science in Islamic world, the situation doesn’t show what we hope and mostly the situation contrast with what we discuss above. Many scholars put religion as an obstacle to get knowledge, but is it that right? Many development on conviction science which open a gate of knowledge to understand an qualitative progress on human and many trend that show how people recently looking of serenity, something that can’t be afforded by quantitative logic which is a tangible science. Some of progresses are how people describe the emotional quotient, spiritual quotient, and technique to get serenity of soul. Some research prove the quality of people that can’t be count quantitatively, have great impact on how productive they are, how they solve the problem, how they initiates the idea, how they see futures and don’t got panic swiftly character.

It isn’t a coincidence situation, where soul serenity give great impact to optimize potential. In Islam human known as one of unique creature which can optimize their intellectual potential. Some recitation on Al-Quran noted about the position of knowledgeable persons.

O you who have believed, when you are told, “Space yourselves” in assemblies, then make space; Allah will make space for you. And when you are told, “Arise,” then arise; Allah will raise those who have believed among you and those who were given knowledge, by degrees. And Allah is acquainted with what you do. (Al-Mujadilah 58:11)

Intuition known as an intellectual potential that available can be used to accelerate understanding. Intuition well known in Islam termed with “rahmah” (grace), “mukjizat” miracles, “wahyu” (revelation), etc., which specified by individual competence on faith or serenity of soul, that thing not merely just a mystical matters but more about invention, innovation, and intellectual progress, which is credible give benefits to the world or influenced the world.

This intuition are intellectual potential which cannot be gain by logic or sense, it gain by other resources outside individual, this include some idle information that we save on our brain which wait momentum to empowered, people experience that be told which contained solution to solve a specific problem they experienced, style to pronounce words (dialect), way of life, way of thinking and other things that needed sample model to copied or followed. By above explanation, intuition can be categorized as direct delivery approach or furthermore as conviction science.

Some sample, Ibn Sina (Avicenna) that known by his work “Al-Qanun fi At Tibb” (The Canon of Medicine or Book of Healing) also known as a great scholar who introduce concept of inertia which latter on become formed basis of theory of impetus and Newton first law of motion, even he considered as father of momentum concept, and he also have works that related on philosophy and meta physics like “Kitab An-Najat”, etc.. Other sample that can be mentioned is Ibn Rusyd (Averroes) known by his work “Bidayatul Mujtahid” which contain about fiqh, “Kitab al-Kulliyat fi al-Tibb” which contain about medicine, “Kitab fi al-Harakah al-Aflak” which contain about astronomy, etc.. Many other Muslim scholar which give great influence on evolution of science in the world, which not only related on their study on something that tangible, but also their study on their conviction which related on their status as Muslim.

By above explanation, we can realize how Muslim scholar on earlier period can gain fabulous progress intellectually in science and serenity of soul.

Al-Quran, Al-Mujadilah (58:11)
Nasr, SH. Science and Civilization in Islam.
Ibn Khaldun, Muqaddimah.
Muslim Philosophy Website,

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