Fusion of Modern and Traditional Knowledge


Certain groups of people these days overly emphasize the need for sound sources of revelation, especially the authenticity of hadiths, and make excessive claims of innovation upon people who don’t provide superflous references to the Qur’an and Sunnah.

Though I agree that information has to be accurate according to the Qur’an and Sunnah, this approach gives inclination toward narrow and rigid interpretation of revelation. There is also a tendency to neglect the perspective of the modern sciences and philosophy.
Anyone care to enlighten this issue?

Answer (by The Answer Man):

In Islam it is, of course, of extreme importance to never allow deviant belief or practice to enter the Muslim Ummah. Keeping strictly to the Qur’an and Sunnah is probably the best way to ensure we do not stray from the true message from Allah. At the same time Islam is to be a religion of progression. While we must stay within the limits of the traditional beliefs and practices of Islam this does not mean we must live lives as our brothers and sisters lived hundreds of years ago, nor must we limit our realm of knowledge to that which existed in less objectively scientific times.

It is my understanding that when Allah gives us revelation that this revealed knowledge may contain many layers of truth, some immediately accessible, some accessible only after we expand our knowledge base beyond that of our predecessors. So if there is more than one truth contained within any specific body of revelation then all of those truths are equally valid. We must be very careful we do not exclude valuable new insights gained by progressively accurate interpretation of the original sources of Islamic knowledge, particularly the Qur’an and Sunnah.

It has for several centuries now unfortunately been the case that many Islamic scholars have concentrated on the spiritual knowledge to the detriment of objective scientific knowledge and philosophies related to Allah’s Creation. The reasons for this are many but two of the main causes were the reality that scientific theories were time and again proven to be untrue as new facts became available, and many philosophies were developed that asserted truths that were incompatible with the stated truths of Islam.

Today much scientific knowledge has arrived at an objective look at reality through a rigorous adherence to the scientific method that brings us facts that are not likely to later be proven drastically in error, although they may be subject to further refinements in precision; and, while many philosophies offer claimed truths that clearly differ from the timeless truths of Islam, other philosophies are coming closer and closer to acknowledging the essential truths of Islam. In Islam we are required to find truth where ever it resides. If modern science and new philosophies are coming closer and closer to the undoubted truths of Islam then we should embrace those new sources of knowledge rather than reject them for their scientific and philosophical origins.

All the above is a long path to the fact that narrow-mindedness has no place in Islam.

The Answer Man


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