Dance of the Particles: A Confluence of Science and Religion
Abdur Rahim Choudhary*
One of the unique contributions of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi is his scientific approach to religious concepts and thoughts, in the sense that he established religious approach on the same type of reasoning as science uses. However, Said arrived at different conclusions because he asked questions that go beyond the scope of science, and in so doing, he liberated himself from some of the confining assumptions and scope limitations of the present day science. In this article we describe the fundamentals of this approach that Said pioneered, and then we use it to reach the next step. This next step is a roadmap that Muslims can use to bring faith, meaning and peace to their lives in their own countries. The Muslims can also share their success story with the others to bring the same peace to the rest of this multicultural world.
Said Nursi was born in 1873, a time when the last of Muslim empires was declining, and some European countries were hastening this political decline of Muslims, as well as attempting to block the flow of Religious Fountain from which the Muslims, all over the world, drank and derived nourishment and strength. To borrow an instance from Said Nursi's biography, he was appalled at the attempts of the then British Secretary of the Colonies to discredit the Muslim holy book, the Qur'an. Said decided to prove and demonstrate to the world that the Qur'an is an undying, inextinguishable Sun. His determination pioneered his approach for a lucid presentation of the Qur'an. The approach was simple enough for his countrymen to comprehend and appreciate, and it was powerful enough to blunt the attempts of those who wanted to discredit the Qur'an and the Muslims. He used reasoning methods that were common in scientific circles, but not yet adapted by Muslim religious scholars. His countrymen appreciated his efforts and made him 'Bediuzzaman' Said Nursi.
We will illustrate this approach that Said pioneered by using the 30th Word from the Risale-i Nur collection, which has the bold title of "Man and the Universe". Said devotes a good deal of this narration taking clue from the ayah of the Qur'an which asserts1 that even the smallest particle in the heaven or the earth is described in the 'Clear Book'. He contrasts the motion of these small particles, as he understands it using the scientific and Qur'anic paradigms, and as the scientists describe it using the scientific paradigm alone. The two understandings coincide when we restrict ourselves to the scope of the science. However, the two understandings lead to vastly different world-views.
In this paper we are discussing the world-peace, which squarely depends on the world-view one adopts. Bediuzzaman Said Nursi discusses at great length, in his 30th Word, that the world-view adopted from the science is inherently incapable of producing the world-peace, largely because it violates the unity of life, and the sanctity of the Universe. Nearly half a century has passed since Said Nursi first declared his conclusions. In the eye of an impartial observer, the world events have more than testified to those conclusions. According to Said Nursi, the only alternative is the Qur'anic alternative that is consistent with the scientific methodology, but invites to a totally different world-view. This world-view, which is common among the Muslims, but is new to the Euro-American societies, is the only hope for the world-peace, according to Said Nursi.
In the rest of the paper, we will dwell upon these ideas, explain the scientific and Muslim world-views and discuss how the scientific world-view can be improved to become consistent with the more encompassing Muslim world-view. After elaborating the pioneering methodology of Said Nursi, we will extend its application to the problem of achieving the world-peace, in a way that employs the scientific methodologies, but understands the results using the Muslim world-view. As Said Nursi concluded nearly half a century ago, this is the only hope for the mankind and their home on this planet. We will provide additional details to make these conclusions more amenable in practice.
Science as a Subset of Religion
In a long footnote2 to the 30th Word, Said Nursi provides a brilliant exposition of the commands that Allah has ordained, even for the minutest entity that exists in the heavens and the earth. According to Said Nursi, the Clear Book referred to in the footnote 1 and other assertions in the Qur'an, contains two kinds of records. For the purpose of the discussion in this paper, let us refer to these two sets of records as the Command_Set 1 and the Command_Set 2. The Command_Set 1 deals with the knowledge that Allah included in the act of creation. This knowledge consists of principles and laws, and it is like a "notebook of the principles of divine knowledge". It is likely a "small register of divine commands" that deals with the world of the unseen, the past and the future. He provides an example of this kind of divine command: "A seed may be seen as the program and index that will give form to the structure of the whole tree; and further more, as a tiny embodiment of the commands that cause the tree to come into existence and determine its programs and indexes".
The scientific research succeeds in deciphering some crude working approximations to some of the commands included in the Command_Set 1. So, while the methodology of scientific research and the approximate description of the commands that arise from the methodology are valid, the world-view that needs to accompany this process needs to expand to include the Creator behind the creation, the ordainer behind the Commands. We will have more to say on this topic later.
The Command_Set 2 in the Clear Book relates "more to the manifest world than to the world of the unseen. That is to say, it looks more to the present time than to the past and the future". It is a "book of the will and power of God, rather than of His knowledge and commands". This set of records ensures "that everything in its existence, essence, attributes and functions displays perfect art and orderliness". There are no error conditions and no exceptions. This interpretation by Said Nursi seems to imply, as far as I can fathom it, that there is a sort of supervision that Allah exercises over the Universe as it behaves in the real-time, and this supervisory function is not included in the first set of records in the Command_Set 1, that was described above.
Science acknowledges no such supervisory function. It seems to me that this supervisory function takes place in such a way that it is not possible to detect its existence as separate from the "small register of divine commands" included in the first type of records in the Command_Set 1. A hint may again be available from what Said Nursi argues. With respect to the motion of the particles that science might describe as random walk, or in terms of quantum mechanical probability, Said Nursi insists that this motion of the particles is actually full of meanings under the real-time supervision of Allah. It is obvious that more research is needed to explain this circumstance with respect to the Command_Set 2 and the attitude of the science towards it. We will share some additional results in the section titled "The Clear Book".
Our discussion has shown that science is a subset of religion. This is so in at least two major ways. First, science seeks to find theories that approximate the records in the Command_Set 1. The scientific results are a subset of the records in Command_Set 1 because the Command_Set 1 is larger than the sum total of all the science theories, and also because each theory is only a subset of the true records to which it endeavors to approximate. Second, the coarse resolution of the theories in science is not even capable of detecting the presence of the Command_Set 2. With respect to the later point, the science does not include any non-empty subset of the Command_Set 2. To restate the last point, the records included in the Command_Set 2 do not even appear on the radar screen of the science because of its coarse resolution.
To picture the science as a subset of the religion, one could think of the religion as a majestic river, and the science as a tributary to the river.
Scope of the Science
As the above discussion would indicate, science really has very modest objectives. This is true in two essential ways.
First is the approximate nature of the science, as discussed above. In this case, the exact motion of the particles is not even sought, and in the case of quantum mechanical systems, the exact results simply do not exist, only the probabilities for the results are attainable. At a more fundamental level, the constructs like the 'wave function' in Quantum Mechanics and the 'field' in Quantum Field Theory are not measurable; only certain observables derived from those constructs can be measured. Even in this case there are severe restrictions on the simultaneous measurements of certain observables, which arise from such fundamental ideas as the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.
Second is the ongoing nature of scientific research. The science does not provide all the answers, only certain answers can be provided for practically an infinite number of enquiries. The answers that do obtain from the science are only approximate in nature. Certain models like the 'quantum electrodynamics' provide stunning accuracy, but this is so only within the framework of our measurement systems that have limited capabilities. Even those theories that are very mature, they are understood only partially. This is so with respect to the intrinsic mathematical structure of those theories, as well as with respect to the understanding of the theory in all possible regions of its validity or otherwise, such as differing 'initial and boundary conditions' and 'asymptotic considerations'.
Further, there is the question of simultaneous understanding of different theories, within the same type of theoretical constructs and regions of validity. A good example of this situation is the simultaneous understanding of the 'quantum field theory' and the 'general relativity': these two theories simply do not admit a unified description using a common set of constructs and concepts, and they do not operate in a common region of applicability. Last but not the least, the set of all the theories is incomplete, at least in the sense that there are likely many theories that have not been yet discovered.
There is another important point to keep in mind. It is one thing to have a theory that explains a particular phenomenon, and it is quite a separate matter to have the capability to use the theory to create that phenomenon, in the sense that the use of the theory causes the phenomenon to take place. An example is the so-called string theory in Physics that is sometimes touted as the theory of every thing. Even if all the difficulties in such a theory are satisfactorily resolved, which is indeed a big if considering its present state, the theory at best can explain the constituent structure of a rose flower, without necessarily providing the capability to generate a rose flower from its constituent strings.
The above limitations of science are very profound. The success of science is also profound. But both must be analyzed and understood within their proper scope. The success of science places tremendous powers in our hands.3 The limitations of science can render these powers dangerous and destructive. Science is a great tool, but its limitations render it highly unsuitable for its use out of the region of its scope.
When the Euro-American nations allowed science to frame their world-view, indeed they used science out of its scope of validity, as is clear from our discussion of the limitations of science. This is the error Said Nursi emphasizes. The world-view must be formulated using the transcendental ideals that Qur'an embodies. It must not be formulated using the pragmatism and the phenomenology of the science. This distinction is of utmost importance because the world-peace hangs in the balance.
Scope of the Religion
Said Nursi describes the contradistinction between the Euro-American world-view and the Muslim world-view, using the analogy with trees.4 He asserts that the world-view that science yields, to which Euro-American countries subscribe, is like the Zaqqum5 tree. The world-view inspired by the Qur'an is then compared to the Tuba6 tree. He goes on to illustrate the distinction using the parable of two travelers (2nd Word).
The difference is not due to the science but it is due to the use of science outside of its scope of validity. The scientific approach does not ask the metaphysical enquiries. Thus having discovered the phenomenon of gravity, the science is content without asking why the law of gravity is the way it is, and is it so determined by a Necessary Being7 that planned and executed the creation of all things and laws? These questions are genuinely out of the scope of the science, though they are not out of the scope of human enquiry.
The Qur'an proposes scientific approach to learn about the universe,8 and it helps the metaphysical enquiry by declaring that every thing and every being in the heaven and the earth celebrates9 Allah's praises. In this regard, every thing that we find out via the science is actually a pointer to the Necessary Being that Allah is. Indeed Qur'an declares that the natural phenomena are the signs10 of Allah.
Instead of stopping at the understanding of the nature around us, the Muslim world-view enquires about the Creator behind the veil of the natural phenomena. Said Nursi makes a very compelling case for the existence of a Necessary Being behind the veil of the nature. In the 30th Word, he uses the motion of the particles to argue that each particle behaves as though it is fully aware of the rest of the Universe in its surrounding. For instance, a seed when sowed in the soil, knows exactly what to look for, and how to use the Sun, the water, the chemicals in the soil, and the air etc. The particle also knows how exactly to conduct itself so as to maintain the superb beauty of the creation. Said Nursi argues11 that this behavior is possible only under three circumstances: first, the particle, on its own accord, acquires all the necessary knowledge about the rest of the Universe, and each similar particle acquires exactly the same knowledge, independently of one another and without incurring any errors in this acquisition process; second, each particle organizes coordination meetings with every other part of the Universe and they all come to a perfect consensus, without any exception and any reservation of their intentions; third, a Creator planned the act of creation and gave each part of the Universe the needed codes and programs that the particle executes without any necessity to acquire knowledge or to coordinate operations with other entities in the Universe. It is not difficult to see that the third option is the only feasible option. This leads to what Said Nursi calls the Necessary Being. He goes on to describe a relationship that each particle and entity in the universe feels it has with Allah, celebrates this relationship through reciting praises of Allah (see footnote 9), and indeed has a journey into the hereafter.12
Said Nursi's vivid description of this dance of the particles, and indeed of all entities in this Universe, is in sharp contrast to the limited scope of the science within which it is viewed, studied, analyzed, interpreted, theorized, and applied to human needs. It exemplifies the need for a rather all-encompassing framework (world-view) that should be able to guide the human endeavors and human pursuits in a way that leads to and yields the world-peace.
Having demonstrated that the limited scope of the science is highly inadequate for achieving the world-peace, and at times it is counter to the world-peace, the only available way to the world-peace is through the world-view that Qur'an expounds. Said Nursi spent his lifetime in analyzing this Qur'anic world-view and making it usable by the masses, within the circumstances of their space-time.
Books of Allah: the Qur'an and the Book of Nature
We have shown in the above discussion how the science is necessarily a subset of religion, especially as it concerns mankind with respect to achieving the world-peace. This might leave the reader wondering if the detailed approach and the methodologies of the science are also subset of religion. As far as Islam is concerned, the answer is a clear yes. In 20th Word, Second Station, Said Nursi asserts that the Clear Book discussed earlier in our paper, is none other than the Qur'an itself. He then goes on to discuss how the Command_Set 1 and Command_Set 2 are included in the Qur'an. He also provides specific examples of the science and technology innovations that can be understood to have been included in the Qur'an via subtle allusions. This shows that, according to Said Nursi, not only the detailed approach and methodologies of the science are a subset of the Qur'an they are actually included in the Qur'an explicitly.
The Qur'an uses the word 'Ayah' to signify a sign of Allah as provided by a natural phenomenon, as it is exemplified in footnote 10; and it also uses the same term to signify a verse13 in the text of the Qur'an itself. In adopting this approach, the Qur'an explicitly acknowledges the intrinsic identity between the verbal Qur'an and the book of nature. No dichotomy is ever found between these two versions of the book of Allah. As far as I am concerned, this is the profoundest proof of the divine origin of the Qur'an.
In the 19th Word, the First Droplet, Said Nursi asserts, "There are three great and universal things which make known to us our Sustainer. One is the Book of the Universe". In the Fourteenth Droplet he states that "The All-Wise Qur'an, which makes known to us our Sustainer, is thus: it is the pre-eternal translator of the great Book of the Universe". This suggests that Said Nursi agrees with the Book of Nature and the Qur'an being equivalent books, with the Qur'an revealing the secrets of the Universe for the benefit of the mankind. It is also a fundamental reason why Said Nursi spends so much effort to internalize the identity of the Qur'an and the book of Nature.
There is however a more direct reason, why Said Nursi regards the dance of the particles as his domain of study. The Qur'an makes a direct injunction to study the phenomenon of nature.14 This injunction indeed raises this pursuit of scientific enquiry to the sanctity of worship, for what Allah asserts man must heed and practice. In our research we call it the "Worship of Allah in Physical dimension" and we will have recourse to it in the section titled "Requirements for the world-peace". Through his practice of this worship Said Nursi revived a forgotten worship among the Muslims. Muslims have paid a heavy penalty in the affairs of the world-peace, for not heeding and practicing this worship of Allah, over the past century or so. This penalty is incurred under a causal process that applies across the board with no exceptions whatsoever, and holds the individuals and nations accountable for their actions and inactions.15
The world-view and the world-peace
Our discussion has shown: 1. that the scope of the science is too limited in order for it to serve as a basis for a world-view, 2. that Qur'an expounds a world-view that is all encompassing and holistic, 3. that the Qur'anic world-view is identical to the one that would result from the science if the scope of the science and its objectives were appropriately augmented.
Let us explain the last point. Before modifying the scope and the goals of the science, there needs to be recognition that the current scope and objectives are inadequate. The Muslims have long recognized this vital fact, but alas the Euro-American countries have not only failed to make this recognition, some of them are adamant that their world-view, which is based on the science as is, is not only adequate but actually superior. This indeed is a formidable hindrance to the world-peace.
This circumstance is not because of some evil intentions on the part of those Euro-American societies, but it is engrained in many chapters of their history, and the history of science. Let me explain.
First, the Euro-American psyche genuinely regards their world-view as superior to what the rest of the world has to offer, especially what the Muslim world has to offer. There may be historical reasons that cement their irrational attitude towards the Muslims, like the Crusades which the Europeans waged against the Muslims, the creation of Israel, and the experience with the Ottoman Empire, to name a few. This situation can be remedied, over time, through dialogues of which this Symposium is an instance, and through ever-innovative approaches to educate our Euro-American sisters and brothers. In fact Said Nursi provides a great example of such an innovative effort.
Second, the science has progressed gradually so that the Euro-American world-view, which is based on science, has not had time to catch up with the rapid progress of science that the world has seen in the past century. This makes their world-view outmoded even with reference to the science itself.
Let me provide an example of this outmoded situation. The Muslims subscribe to a holistic approach to life. In particular they do not divide life into watertight compartments like the Euro-American world-view does. An example is the separation of church and state in Euro-America. Its counter part does not exist in the Muslim world. Both situations have their reasons. The Euro-America has had bad experience16 with the Church. There is no such experience among the Muslims, where the religion and the religious scholars actually encouraged and rewarded scientific enquiry. Among the Muslims, any attempt towards a separation of state and the religion is counter intuitive and unnatural. This perhaps is an extension of their firm commitment to the concept of Tauheed.
Let us examine this situation with respect to the 'lagging behind' phenomenon that exists for the Euro-American world-view with respect to the progress in science. Some lag is intrinsic to the very definition of the Euro-American world-view. However, when the pace of science picks up, the Euro-American societies cannot keep up with this pace and fall more and more behind. This has been the case with respect to some recent discoveries, some of which are profound. Take the example of the Quantum Mechanics versus the Classical Mechanics. In the Classical Mechanics the parts of a system can exist independently of one another and the system, and the properties of the system can be accurately understood in terms of the properties of its parts. The Quantum Mechanical description of a system asserts that the constitution of each component involves contributions from all other components, and their environment. It is therefore impossible to discuss components in isolation, far less to be able to compose a system from a set of isolated components. The Euro-American world-view is still tangled in the unrealistic modalities of the Classical Mechanics, where as the Muslim world-view has always reflected the sophistication of a Quantum Mechanical description.
We anticipate that the difficulties that a simplified world-view causes, together with the intellectual progress that would be required to come to grip with the Quantum Mechanical sophistication, will move the Euro-American world-view to a more refined state, which will be substantially closer to the world-view that the Muslims already have. This world-view is Qur'anic, and is well explained by Said Nursi. This world-view makes Muslims a most sophisticated and intellectual people, in harmony with the nature, yet simple and modest to the core, glowing with spirituality, conscious of human values, and above all in an ever present Allah-conscious state.
A prudent thing for the Muslim world would be not to wait until the Euro-American world-view catches up. The burden of demonstration for the superiority of the Muslim world-view is on the Muslims. Starting from the advantages that the science and technology offer, they must take those advantages to the next logical stage in promoting prosperity, peace and love. They must demonstrate this superiority of their world-view in their own countries, and extend a loving and willing helping hand to the Euro-American communities.
Lest the present depressive state of the Muslim world create doubt regarding the practicability of the above suggestion, let us hasten to remind the world that the Muslims actually have been in that status of a superior world-view throughout their history. It is only over the past century or so that they have been dethroned. This is a brief period indeed, compared to their history. Unfortunately, this brief period has proven tragic to the world, largely because of the inadequacy of the Euro-American world-view that is forcefully imposed on the rest of the world, including the Muslim world. Ever since the Muslim world-view has lost sway, the world has seen two big wars, spirituality has taken a long break, and lies, deceit, corruption, exploitation and oppression are rampant.17 At this epoch of human history, the Muslims come in for a vital role to save the humanity from its own greed and foolishness. The Muslims must shoulder their responsibilities that their world-view requires18 of them, to take control and purify the world order, and let every one rejoice in the caravan of Peace.
Said Nursi shares this assessment and strongly believes that the Muslims will lead the world because of their superior world-view, for example see his Damascus Sermon.
Research in Spirituality à la Said Nursi
Said Nursi provided a model for research in spirituality by actually performing such research that responded to the immediate and pressing needs of his space-time. Our space-time is different but the need to perform this research is no less. Even though there is no towering figure like Said Nursi among us today, collectively we can more than meet this need. The role of the efforts, like this Symposium, can be understood in this light.
In the spirit of Said Nursi's research in spirituality based on the effulgence of the Qur'an, in this section we present some research results of our own. These results, though independently concluded, often seem to elaborate upon the works of Said Nursi, or extend them in some details. We feel that such research work, in the tradition of Nursi, can be a befitting attribute to him and his Risale-i Nur.
The Clear Book
In a previous section titled "Science as a Subset of Religion" we discussed two types of records that are included in the Clear Book, as alluded to in the Ayah 34:3 in the Qur'an. We stated in that section that more research is needed to resolve an ambiguity that potentially exists with respect to the records in the Command_Set 2. They refer to a supervision of the Universe in the real-time. In this section we hope to resolve that potential ambiguity.
According to Said Nursi, the Command_Set 1 is likely "a small register of divine commands". This is the set of laws to which Allah subjected His creation. These are the laws that stand as permanent signposts that point the seeker towards Allah. These laws are firm and no change ever occurs in them. These laws partially represent the planning and wisdom of the act of creation. They fulfill the requirements of creation and also guide the mankind towards its Creator, as asserted in the footnotes 10 and 14. These are the laws that scientists strive to discover, though they only find crude approximations to some of them.
The Command_Set 2 deals with the real-time operational supervision of the creation, and Said Nursi asserts that these represent "the will and power of Allah, rather than his knowledge and commands". It is this set of laws that the Science does not acknowledge the existence of. However this does not necessarily imply any contradiction between the science and the understanding of Said Nursi. For this to be contradiction free, a requirement is that the observations of the scientists should pose no arbitrariness or self-contradictory behavior. This is easily achieved if the real-time supervision does not override the laws of creation as contained in the Command_Set 1, since it is these laws that scientists deal with.
Said Nursi hints (9th Flash) that "Similarly, the inscriptions of beings, which appear through the manifestations of the Sacred Divine Names-occurring through will, choice, and power-in the mirror of the universe and mirrors of the true natures of things, have a created existence separate from the Necessary Existence. And this existence has been given permanence through Pre-Eternal Power. But if the connection were to be severed, all things would at once cease to be. For its continued existence everything is every instant in need of its Creator's preserving it. "The reality of things is constant," but it is constant and permanent only through His making it so." This illustration of real-time supervision according to the Command_Set 2 is subtle. It claims that if Allah's will to nourish the creation is withdrawn, the creation would instantly cease to exist. However Said Nursi also asserts that the created universe has "a created existence separate from the Necessary Existence. And this existence has been given a permanence through Pre-Eternal Power". This permanent created existence is what science works with, so that no contradiction is expected between Said Nursi's position and the science, so far as the experimentally observed phenomenology is concerned. However, the world-view that would obtain would be very different in the two cases.
Said Nursi provides some additional thoughts (10th Letter, First Question) on the Command_Set 2 when he states that "… This means the power and will have a universal, general collection of laws, a great ledger, according to which the particular existences and forms of all things are cut out, sewn, and clothed". In terms of science this may be understood to be vaguely analogous to applying a general principal to a specific situation, for example, to use the general principal of gravity to compute the orbit of the Earth around the Sun and to compute the perturbations of this orbit due to the gravitational fields of the other planets and the Moon. Said further asserts that "… This means that the motions of particles is a vibration, a movement, arising from that writing and copying, in the passage of beings from the World of the Unseen to the Manifest World, from Knowledge to Power". An example might be considered, for the purpose of human comprehension, which involves the general principles of creation from the Command_Set 1 to create a specific human being. In this example, there are specific qualities of that human being that need to obtain from outside the Command-Set 1. Examples of such individual qualities can include the weight, the height, the eyes, and the brain at a macroscopic level; while at a microscopic level the examples might be the cells, the DNA sequences, and the chromosomes etc. These qualities can be determined, programmed and indexed using the Command_Set 2. Such individualistic qualities that Said Nursi might attribute to the records in the Command_Set 2, are not within the scope of the science. Thus, the science does not seek to explain why the Earth has the specific mass that it does, or why the parameters in the theory of gravitation take the values that they do. Similarly, the biological theories do not seek to compute the DNA sequence of a specific child from the qualities of the parents. The records in the Command_Set 2 consistently fall outside the scope of the science. No wonder that science is unable to acknowledge the existence of the records in the Command_Set 2.
The Qur'an provides an example19 from the events in the battle of Badr. Help did arrive from Allah in response to the prayers of the Prophet (S). The details of this help are not elaborated, but the Qur'an does provide some hints. As instruments of this help Allah mentions the following: angels, a message of hope and an assurance to the heart, covering with a sort of drowsiness to give calm from Allah, and Allah caused the rain to remove the stain of Satan, to strengthen the hearts, and to plant the feet firmly. Please note that Allah could provide assistance any which way but His choice was to provide it using angels, physical drowsiness, and rain etc. It is not clear if, during this process, any laws from the Command_Set 1 were bent or changed. We hypothesize that these laws were neither modified nor violated, because these laws are 'words of Allah' and the words of Allah do not change.20 Said Nursi seems to agree. In 20th Word, Second Station, he takes a position with respect to the miracles of the Prophets stating that "Yes, through mentioning the Prophets' miracles, it traces the final limit of man's science and industry. It points the finger at his furthest aims. It specifies his final goals. And by striking the hand of encouragement on man's back, it urges him forward towards them". This view of Said Nursi suggests that the miracles do not violate the Command_Set 1. On the other hand, he argues that the phenomena mentioned in the miracles are actually achievable by man, through exerting in the science.
The existence of the real-time supervision according to the records in the Command_Set 2, without causing any observable change in the records in the Command_Set 1, is understandable (even for the scientists) in terms of the limitations in the current scope of the scientific enquiry that we have discussed earlier.
There are many aspects of this real-time supervisory process that can be gleaned from the Badr example, and other Qur'anic assertions. In this example, the real-time help did not come automatically; rather it came as the result of a prayer. This is quite a general feature that the help/punishment comes as a result of some human behavior. It is also a general feature that every human imploring to Allah gets answered.21 That the answer to the human imploring comes via the Angels22 is also a common feature together with the fact that the Angels descend only under the commandmen23 of Allah. Indeed it is a function of the Angels to serve as messengers24 for the commandments of Allah.
Though every prayer gets answered, not every request for real-time help gets granted. This follows from the fact that Qur'an promises man only those results that are in accord with his efforts.25 We are expected to think ahead and prepare for the anticipated situations as best as we can, according to our best strategy, and utilizing all available resources.26
Requirements for the world-peace
We have carried out research in spirituality that has yielded many results, of which we will share one that analyzes the world-peace and spells out the necessary conditions for achieving it. These conditions are not only necessary; they are probably also sufficient for achieving the world-peace. We will refer to these conditions as the requirements for the world-peace. This research result can be summarized in a diagram presented in the accompanying Figure in this section.
Figure: Requirements for the world-peace
Let us explain the requirements for the world-peace as embodied in the accompanying Figure. First, Allah created mankind as His khalifah on earth;27 then He made a promise28 with the mankind that those who believe and perform righteously, Allah will give them khilafah on the earth, their way of life will flourish, and they will enjoy Peace. We summarize the requirement of believing and performing righteously by saying that those people perform the "Worship of Allah in Ethical dimension",29 as is shown in the Figure in the top right hand ovule shape. If these worships are performed, the result is the Peace on earth as indicated in the rectangular box at the bottom. Anything that is done righteously contributes to what we call "Taqwa" as shown in the box at the center lower part of the Figure. Taqwa is a Qur'anic construct that measures the Allah-Consciousness30 of the behavior of an individual or a nation. It is also a measure31 of the degree to which an individual or a nation is honored in the sight of Allah.
Let us explain the significance of the "Worship of Allah in Physical dimension" indicated in the ovule shape on the top left of the Figure. As was stated in the section titled "Books of Allah: the Qur'an and the Book of Nature", this refers to Allah's injunction for the mankind to observe the natural phenomena and understand them. It was also described under the section titled "Scope of the Religion" and the corresponding Qur'anic Ayahs referred to in footnotes 8, 9, and 10. Understanding the implications of these Qur'anic Ayahs and using them in practice amounts to performing scientific research within a world-view that is Qur'anic. Since Qur'an explicitly requires it from mankind, these science-like activities are actually raised to the level of worship.
Performance of this worship therefore contributes to the Taqwa of an individual and a nation. As shown in the Figure, Taqwa derives from two ingredients. First, there is the understanding of the "Signs of Allah" that derives from the Worships in the Physical dimension. This understanding ensues from the Qur'anic prescription of observing and comprehending the natural phenomena, irrespective of the amount of formal training or education. This is because Allah has created man with His spirit32 into him, and has taught him knowledge about all things.33 Although the capability to understand the natural phenomena is built into the act of creation, however, the amount of understanding derived by the people is proportional to the effort they invest in it, see footnotes 25 and 26.
The second component of Taqwa derives from the "Worships in the Ethical dimension", and it manifests itself as a "Commitment to the understanding". The Understanding and the Commitment to it are the two essential components of Taqwa. If either component is missing, it negates the possibility for the presence of any Taqwa.
It is this Taqwa that automatically generates the world-peace.34 Without Taqwa, there can be no world-peace. That means that the world-peace is impossible without understanding the Signs of Allah and a sincere commitment to that understanding. The absence of either will make the world-peace impossible.
What we have described above is consistent with the works of Said Nursi. In a writing that is rich in its spiritual and ethical contents (21st Flash), Said Nursi asserts the meanings, the need, and the benefits of sincerity. In the opening paragraphs of the 21st Flash, he asserts that sincerity is "the highest quality, and the purest worship". In describing the Fourth Rule, he states that "Attaining a sense of the Divine presence through the strength of certain, verified belief and through the lights proceeding from reflective thought on creatures which leads to knowledge of the Maker" is a way to achieve sincerity. What Said Nursi calls "the lights proceeding from reflective thought …" is what we have labeled as the "Worship of Allah in Physical dimension". The sincerity, which is "the highest quality, and the purest worship", is what we have called "Worship of Allah in Ethical dimension". The dynamics of these two components are so strong that, in the words of Said Nursi, "Even those who are wrong gain strength from their sincerity in their wrongdoing"!
We have so far said nothing about the rectangular box labeled "Conquest of Physical Universe" on the center left side of the Figure. This is another result of the "Worship of Allah in the Physical dimension". The word conquest is used here in the sense of the Qur'anic assertions as referred to in footnote 3.
Strictly speaking, the "Conquest of Physical Universe" is not necessary to achieve the world-peace. However, the practical dynamics of the world of the mankind do make it necessary. Qur'an informs us that there are people in the world with a weak degree of Taqwa who would take differing postures depending upon their disposition. In austere times they may take a humble posture and be heedful for the worships that are for the benefit of mankind, but when the austerity passes, they are overtaken by greed.35 Such people do not mind causing disruption in opposition to what is right, and they respond with pretensions36 when reminded of this transgression. When they are asked to join the righteous attitudes, they equate the righteousness with foolishness.37 These people can be apt to disrupt peace at a small and large scale. The Conquest of the Physical Universe by such people places dangerous means in careless hands. This poses a serious possibility of lawlessness and bloodshed, as was originally expressed by the Angels.38 It then becomes mandatory for the people with strong Taqwa to also accomplish the Conquest of the Physical Universe in order to provide the capability to deter mischief and bloodshed. This is vital not only for the world-peace but also for the fundamental mission of the righteous people, which is to purge the vices and promote virtues39 in order to create an atmosphere that is free from oppression and exploitation so that all people of the world can enjoy the peace. The peace embeds in itself the freedom for the people to seek out Allah in their innermost beings.
Before we leave this topic we will digress a little on the central importance of peace in the Muslim world-view. The entire world-view revolves around peace: the peace within the individual, the peace within the Muslim society, the peace in the world at large, and above all the spiritual peace. This peace is a comprehensive concept that includes not only the people but also the nature, and it implies that the people must live in harmony with the nature. In particular, the nature must not be exploited or polluted. This is in a sharp contrast to what the science-based Euro-American world-view has done, causing environmental catastrophes40 and causing global climate changes.41
The Muslim world-view requires a peace that must accomplish all the different facets of it. Thus, there can be no individual peace without there also being peace in the society. In addition, the individual peace and the world-peace are incomplete without the spiritual peace. These different notions about peace are not separate, but they are intertwined and interdependent like the components within a Quantum Mechanical system. All the facets of peace converge into Taqwa. Thus the concept of Taqwa encompasses the individual, the society, the secular pursuits, and the spiritualism. In the sophisticated world-view of the Muslims, these various aspects are all part of the straight path that Islam is. The Qur'an has a term for this comprehensive and holistic way of life, the Deen.42
The ultimate purpose of the peace on Earth is to remove all obstacles that people encounter, in the absence of the peace, to exercise reflective thought on the book of nature that Allah has provided for the people to reach out to Him. Indeed all people originate from Allah and to Him is their final return.43 A successful final return44 to Allah is the real objective behind the pursuit for peace, so that the peace by itself is not the objective but only a necessary intermediate step, according to the Muslim world-view.
Further details are discussed in my book.45
In this paper we have focused on the 30th Word in the Risale-i Nur of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi. In describing the motions of the particles he has brought to light the similarities and differences between the science and the religion. The main difference is the world-view that each leads to. In this paper we have dwelled on our research that further elaborates these similarities and differences, including some aspects of Said Nursi's work that have a strong bearing on the Muslim world-view. We have argued, like Said Nursi did, that the world-view one adopts has profound bearings on the world-peace. This paper has also analyzed and discussed the requirements for the world-peace.
Acknowledgements: I am greatly indebted to Dr. Necati Aydin for introducing me to the works of Said Nursi, for suggesting that I write this paper, for critical reviews and feedback on this paper, and for providing specific references on 30th Word, 20th Word, 19th Word, 2nd Word, 9th Flash, 21st Flash, etc.
* Dr. Abdur Rahim Choudhary graduated from University of Karachi, Pakistan, in 1968 with a M.Sc. in Nuclear Physics. He completed his Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from Queen Mary College, University of London in 1971. He now works in the computer science industry in USA. He has taught at Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium; Bayero University; Nigeria, International Center for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy, and Al-Mustansiriyah University in Baghdad.
1. Qur'an 34:3: "And yet, the unbelievers assert, 'Never will the Hour come upon us!' Say, 'Nay! But most surely, by my Sustainer, it will come upon you - by Him Who knows the unseen, - from Whom is not hidden the least little atom in the heavens or on the earth, nor is there anything less than that, or greater, but it is in the Clear Book."
2. 30th Word, Second Aim, Footnote 21. Nursi, The Words [Eng. trans.] (Istanbul: S?zler Publications, 2002), 571-2.
3. Qur'an 16:12 and 14:13.
4. Word 30, First Aim.
5. Qur'an 37:62, Zaqqum represents a bitter tree that springs out of the bottom of the hell.
6. Qur'an 13:29, Tuba symbolizes a state of blessedness and inward joy.
7. Said Nursi uses this terminology for example in the 30th Word, First Aim.
8. Qur'an 32:27 and 22:46.
9. Qur'an 24:41 and 17:44.
10. Qur'an 3:190.
11. Word 30, Second Aim, First Point and Second Point.
12. Word 30, Second Aim, Third Point.
13. Qur'an 10:1 and 12:1.
14. Qur'an 32:27, 22:46 and 6:74-79, also see footnotes 9 and 10.
15. Qur'an 31:16, 99:7-8 and 53:39.
16. For instance, the case of Galileo Galilei and the Church is well known. Galileo Galilei was born near Pisa, on February 15, 1564. In 1589 he became professor of mathematics at Pisa, where he is reported to have shown his students the error of Aristotle's belief that speed of fall is proportional to weight, by dropping two objects of different weight simultaneously from the Leaning Tower. His contract was not renewed in 1592, probably because he contradicted Aristotelian professors. In 1613 he published a work on sunspots and predicted victory for the Copernican theory of planets. In 1614 a Florentine priest denounced Galileists from the pulpit. Galileo held that interpretation of the Bible should be adapted to increasing knowledge and that no scientific position should be made an article of Roman Catholic faith. In 1616 Copernican books were subjected to censorship by edict. The Jesuit cardinal Robert Bellarmine instructed Galileo that he must no longer hold or defend the concept that the earth moves. In 1624 Galileo began a book he wished to call "Dialogue on the Tides," in which he discussed the Ptolemaic and Copernican hypotheses in relation to the physics of tides. In 1630 the book was licensed by Roman Catholic censors at Rome, for printing. They however altered the title to Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems (trans. 1661). It was published at Florence in 1632. Despite the official licenses, Galileo was summoned to Rome by the Inquisition to stand trial for "grave suspicion of heresy". This charge was grounded on a report that Galileo had been personally ordered in 1616 not to discuss Copernicanism either orally or in writing. Cardinal Bellarmine had died, but Galileo produced a certificate signed by the cardinal, stating that Galileo had been subjected to no further restriction than applied to any Roman Catholic under the 1616 edict. No signed document contradicting this was ever found. Galileo was nevertheless compelled in 1633 to abjure and was sentenced to life imprisonment. His book was ordered to be burned, and the sentence against him was to be read publicly in every university. Galileo became blind and he died at Arcetri, near Florence, on January 8, 1642.
Galileo's trial document was published in the 1870s. An investigation calling for the reversal of Galileo's sentence was opened in 1979 by Pope John Paul II. In October 1992 a papal commission acknowledged the Vatican's error. (Encarta 1998).
17. The Qur'an refers to these as Fitnah and Fasad, see for example Qur'an 8:73
18. Qur'an 3:110 and 3:104
19. Qur'an 8:9-11.
20. Qur'an 10:64.
21. Qur'an 2:186.
22. Qur'an 97:4.
23. Qur'an 19:64.
24. Qur'an 35:1.
25. Qur'an 53:39-40.
26. Qur'an 8:60.
27. Qur'an 2:30-34.
28. Qur'an 24:55.
29. In a footnote, while translating Qur'an 24:55, Muhammad Asad asserts that 'This Qur'anic reference to God's "promise" contains an oblique allusion to the God-willed natural law which invariably makes the rise and fall of nations dependent on their moral qualities'.
30. See the translation of the Qur'an by Muhammad Asad and the footnote he provides for the translation of Qur'an 2:2.
31. Qur'an 49:13.
32. Qur'an 32:9.
33. Qur'an 2:31.
34. Peace is a byproduct of Taqwa. In a secular sense, peace itself is a great achievement. But the real objective of man is to seek out their Creator (Qur'an 84:6) with certainty that He is their final destination (Qur'an 2:46). The real objective of Taqwa is to honorably return to Allah.
35. Qur'an 10:23.
36. Qur'an 2:11.
37. Qur'an 2:13.
38. Qur'an 2:30.
39. Qur'an 3:104.
40. One such catastrophe is the Ozone Hole around the South Pole of the Earth. The scientists conclude that it is caused by the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) released into the atmosphere mostly by the Euro-American industries: the Montreal Protocol at http://www.ciesin.org/TG/OZ/oz-home.html.
41. The Global warming and the climate change at http://www.pewclimate.org/.
42. Qur'an 5:3
43. Qur'an 2:46.
44. Qur'an 84:6.
45. Abdur Rahim Choudhary, "A Mental Hijrah: Towards a Unified Muslim world-view", ISBN 81-86632-84-0, Maktaba Al Hasanat, 2003. (Also available from DKAgencies.com).