Portal: Islam and Science
Among the many and diverse matters discussed in or touched upon by Islamic scriptures are topics of direct or indirect scientific interest. These topics include reproductive science, embryology, cosmology, and medicine, among others.
Discussions on the religion of Islam and science usually revolve around pieces of Islamic scripture which appear to comment on or imply something related to topics of modern scientific interest. Modern Islamic scholars argue that these portions of scripture, read in the orthodox literal manner, meet and even forecast the findings of modern science. Critics argue to the contrary and cite historical research, all of which indicates that the Quran drew on the proto-scientific ideas circulating in the world during, and often from well before, the seventh century.
Islamic scholars read in literal terms the accounts found in the Quran regarding the original creation of mankind, reproductive science, and other passages which, when read literally, appear to be of biological interest. It has, as a result, been extremely challenging for modern Islamic scholars to come to terms with recent discoveries made in evolutionary and reproductive science. Attempts to achieve this reconciliation have, however, not been wanting and have formed the subject of heated polemical exchanges.
The cosmology described and implied in Islamic scripture holds the earth to be the topmost of the seven earth-like terrestrial surfaces stacked above a cosmic whale and held in place by peg-like mountains. this super structure rests in the midst of a universal ocean high above which is the throne of Allah. Between the throne and the earth are seven heavens, the bottom-most of which contains all the stars of the night sky and which, as a corporeal firmament, could collapse in pieces upon the Earth, save for the perpetual intervention of Allah. Islamic law, as outlined in Islamic scriptures, appears to be ignorant of the phenomenon of global poles. While some modern Islamic scholars, particularly those in the West, have made efforts to reinterpret this cosmology to reconcile it with modern science, others have held firmly to it.
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Islamic practices and rituals
Islamic medicinal practices draw almost exclusively on the folk medicine of 7th century Arabia. In reading scriptures literally, Islamic scholars devised an entire literature on "the medicine of the prophet", or tibb al-nabi. Islamic law also ritually prescribes devotional practices known to 7th century Arabs, such as the hijab and fasting, which, in recent scientific studies, have been shown to have a detrimental impact on adherents' physical, financial, and social health. In other cases, as with the legality and even encouragement of cousin marriage, Islamic law permanently legalized practices which were later discovered to lack scientific merit. While a minority of modern Islamic scholars have remained silent on these topics of growing controversy in the Muslim world, the remainder have persisted in encouraging and authorizing them.
Prominent figures and movements
Public figures who have spoken openly and enthusiastically on Islam and science have tended to attract controversy, whether Muslim or non-Muslim. The most prominent Muslim speakers to speak on Islam and science include the preachers Zakir Naik, Hamza Tzortzis, and Harun Yahya, all three of whom have, since their public inception, become infamous to a greater or lesser degree. The two non-Muslim scientists who have produced academic publications on Islam and science, Keith Moore and Maurice Bucaille, were at various points directly patronized by the Saudi Arabian government and have attracted derision from the wider scientific community.