The Young Muslim’s Guide to Modern Science is aimed at high schoolers, university students and teachers, and anyone wanting to understand what modern science says. This book presents a wide range of topics, from the Big Bang to genetic engineering, in simple, clear, and scientifically accurate language, but also showing the Muslim or religious reader how this all fits with his/her beliefs and cultural background. Dr Nidhal Guesssoum shows how it is possible to uphold both one’s religious teachings and the scientific education that we acquire in schools, in total harmony and without sacrificing one or the other.
Beacon Books –
Dr Nidhal Guessoum, a respected astrophysicist who has worked in many parts of the world, has written this accessible book that integrates a sincere Muslim faith with respect for contemporary science, demonstrating that these are not in conflict. It is especially written for young Muslims, but it will be useful for anyone who is interested in understanding the importance of science within contemporary Muslim societies. Parents and educators will also benefit from reading this short readable introduction to the subject.
In the Introduction, Professor Guessoum acknowledges that some Muslims, as well as followers of other religions, can be suspicious of science, as it employs a naturalistic approach. He clearly demonstrates that this is not necessarily in conflict with a religious view of the world, which poses other questions about purpose and meaning. Religious and scientific language may be different, but scientific methodology is not in conflict with religious understanding.
Professor Guessoum demonstrates that scientific discovery has always been embedded in Islam and that throughout history Muslim scholars have been engaged in scientific thinking. Indeed he argues that the Qur’an has been “the birth of the inductive intellect” and suggests that it should be the religious obligation of every Muslim to master the inductive method.
Professor Guessoum does not hide his frustration at the level of scientific illiteracy (not just amongst religious people) in societies that thrive on the outcome of scientific discoveries and technological applications. Tackling some of this scientific illiteracy, he outlines the principles of the scientific method, involving empiricism, objectivity, testability and reproducibility. In this he pleads for improved scientific literacy, especially in the Arab-Muslim world, and explains how the foundations of modern science are based on observations (facts), laws, hypotheses, models and theories.
A chapter is devoted to outline the basic science that we should know, and he explains essential physics (with atoms, relativity, quantum mechanics), astronomy and cosmology (with big bang, galaxies, stars and planets); biology (with evolution and human identity).
The author acknowledges that some Muslims will not agree with his arguments and he sensitively addresses different opinions and respectfully considers those who take opposing views, addressing their concerns from within a clear Muslim worldview. He does this without compromising on the firm view that Islam is not threatened by contemporary science, but rather is enriched by embracing all that science has discovered about the world and our place within it. Bringing this into contemporary view he also reviews what Islam has to say about the Big Bang, evolution, climate change and genetic engineering.
Emphasising the importance of science for Muslims he points out that about one eighth of the Qur’an refers to nature and the cosmos, and in so doing encourages people to contemplate, explore and understand and so to recognise the Creator’s wisdom. The human condition should be elevated and improved through knowledge and rigorous thinking and that science is an important aspect of this process. As well as arguing that religion should care about science, he also shows why science should care about religion.
This is a book that should be read by young Muslims, who may be concerned that they have to make a false choice between religion and science. I hope that it will encourage more Muslim young people to appreciate the wonders of science. It will also dispel some of the secular myths that science and religion are in necessary conflict and demonstrate that Islam does not suppress scientific literacy.
Professor Keith R. Fox
The Faraday Institute
The Woolf Building
Cambridge CB3 0UB,