Muslims and Their Chronic Intellectual Stagnation By: Serkan Zorba Source: IslamiCity Jul 17, 2015 22 Comments Category: Featured, Middle East, Nature & Science Topics: Creation, Environment, Evolution, Islam, Muslims Views: 10523 According to a quotation usually attributed to Einstein, insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and yet expecting different results. In my view, this describes the state of the understanding and interpretation of Muslims of their way of life, i.e., Islam, for about the last few hundred years. Muslim world is in a state of civilizational inanition and stagnation. Corruption, political oppression, poverty, victim mentality, conspiracy theories, and pseudoscience run rampant in the Muslim world. Muslims are by-and-large in a state of lethargy and/or denial vis-a-vis this predicament. They lack the critical mass of a vanguard of scientific and critical thinkers to pull them out of this fatal impasse. It is high time to talk about--and potentially find solutions to--these issues especially now as the so-called Arab Spring struggles are raging and bringing to the fore more of the ills of the current Muslim civilization. The Quran provides an acid test for Muslims in Chapter 21 verse 105: "And certainly We have written in the Scripture before the Reminder that my righteous servants shall inherit the earth," reflecting what Jesus said in the New Testament "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." Muslims of the last couple of centuries, leave alone being the "inheritors" of the earth, have been in the most unenviable status among the nations of the world: subjugation and oppression by either foreign elements or by their homegrown oppressors, corruption, and sectarianism. To this bleak state of affairs, the response of the influential Muslim religious leaders has been more of what had been tried before: imitation (called taqliyd) of the intellectuals of a bygone era. It wouldn't be unfair to say that a spell of intellectual stagnation overtook the Muslim lands for the last few centuries. Especially, the events of the last few decades show that the socio-political machinery, nay, the whole civilizational modus operandi of Muslims has gone broken. Much has been written and said about this ongoing civilizational crisis of Muslims: especially by Muslim intellectuals themselves. Some blame the West, some blame worldwide conspirators, some blame the Jews, some blame Islam, some blame lack of religiosity, some blame the Quran, some blame the Hadith, and on and on. In response to this ongoing civilizational crisis, the only practical and visible answer the Muslim world seemingly produced is violence and terrorism, the latter a product of the modern era socio-political struggles and turmoils. Muslim masses seem to be numbed, indifferent, and worse of all, helpless toward the incessant news of senseless killings/sectarian violence coming out of Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, and now Egypt. Muslims are coaxed into blaming others, sometimes believing in the most fantastic conspiracy theories, but not casting a critical gaze at their own selves. Criticizing fellow Muslims from the same denomination and faction is almost a taboo and viewed as sinful, even if what they do is as despicable as killing innocent civilians in mosques. The magnitude of what Muslims are doing to each other and desensitization and indifference to these atrocities is biblical in its gravity. It does not seem to occur to mainstream Islamic religious leaders that perhaps their understanding and practice of Islam is at fault. That perhaps they should begin to try different solutions, adopt different attitudes, and cultivate different viewpoints. Instead, they in fact redouble their efforts of injecting more regurgitation of the previous thinkers and more bigotry and closed-mindedness into Muslims. They tacitly presume that they cannot possibly be the objects of the Quranic warning: They follow their forefathers blindly. By so doing, I will aver, they, in the words of Einstein, display insanity. The reason for this insanity and impasse, I will advance, is because the most fundamental cause of the civilizational crisis that Muslims are in is not tackled. I will venture to say that this cause is the lack of practice of critical thinking and analytical reasoning on the part of Muslims in general. In the words of the Quran, Muslims "la ya'kiluun," that is, they are not using their faculty of reason. To be sure, the Muslim world does produce brilliant religious scholars, some of whom are the apotheoses of scholarship, such as the late Muhammad Hamidullah1 and Muhammad Asad. However, they don't hold a great sway for the masses. Their ideas are not the ones that are widely taught in the educational institutions, or discussed on TV channels or heard in mosques. They are not the mainstream. Thus by "Islamic or Muslim religious leaders" this article refers to the mainstream Islamic establishment scholars and figures. I use the word "figures" deliberately because some of them are absolute charlatans without any deep intellectual background who deceive unsuspecting masses by hook or by crook. The influential Islamic leaders of the mainstream establishment are by-and-large not qualified to bring about, nay even to sow the seeds of, change, which might eventually take Muslims out of this chronic civilizational coma. As I will try to demonstrate below, most of the Islamic religious leaders themselves don't know and practice critical and scientific reasoning. This claim is closely related to the fact that Muslims distanced themselves from a scientific worldview long before the scientific revolution took place in Europe. In fact, one could arguably claim that a scientific devolution had just been completed in the Muslim lands by the time the scientific revolution began to take hold in the Western world. Since then the Muslim lands have been in an intellectual sclerosis, which, of late, has started to take its toll in earnest. Muslims must bring their act together and take up a historical role and start tackling their chronic disease before it turns fatal. I am not blinded by the technically and materially advanced state of the Western societies. In fact, I think that the Western societies lack many other valuable and critical civilizational assets that are grounded in spirituality. If not tackled, I will opine, the latter might be the Achilles heel of the West. So then, why this interest in the so-called Western science? I am not motivated so much by the technical and material progress science cultivates as the invaluable gift of critical and analytical thinking skills it inculcates. And, as noted above, I am of the opinion that the latter is what Muslims in general are lacking so dearly. Practice of the scientific method is the best way to teach, sharpen and hone the critical thinking skills of our youth. Only a science-conscious society that knows how to think, as the Quran so positively and ruefully alludes to, and that which is complemented by genuine spirituality, can rise high to "inherit the earth." Below, I will try to demonstrate the anti-scientific, anti-critical thinking attitude that is very pervasive in the Muslim world today, focusing on evolution as a case in point. In the last couple of decades, it has become a fashionable thing for Muslim religious leaders and authors to talk disparagingly about evolution and deny its validity, seemingly justifying their position with the Quran. A quick search on the Internet search engines will reveal that a good majority of the influential Islamic scholars and religious leaders are against evolution. They contend, seemingly using Quranic verses, that evolution is an anti-Islamic and anti-Quranic idea. So much so that a few go as far as declaring anyone believing in evolution to be unbelievers. A 2008 Pew study, U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, indicates that 51% of American Muslims, who are usually viewed as more educated and progressive than the average Muslim population of the world, don't see evolution as the best explanation for the origins of human life on Earth.2 In a 2006 survey measuring public acceptance of evolution by country, Turkey-a Muslim majority country-ranked the lowest.3 This is not surprising given the fact that a vigorous anti-evolutionist campaign has been waged in Turkey within the last couple of decades by well-organized and well-funded religious groups, two of whose influential leaders are mentioned below. A striking example to the vehemence and vigor with which some Muslim religious figures "fight" evolution in the public realm is that of Adnan Oktar, aka Harun Yahya. Adnan Oktar is a veteran of the creationist movement in Turkey, who had the now-famed 800 glossy-paged Atlas of Creation sent unsolicited--and free of charge-- to numerous places all around the world a few years ago. His group has a slew of websites dedicated to spreading disinformation about evolution. Fethullah Gulen is an influential and venerable Turkish Islamic scholar who leads a movement known as the Gulen movement. The latter is known for opening and operating literally hundreds of schools around the world with a mission and philosophy mandated by Mr. Gulen. Gulen's early work involved debunking the theory of evolution. Zaman, a daily Turkish newspaper run effectively by the Gulen movement, publishes articles every now and again fiercely attacking evolution. Even some Sufis are not impressed by the theory of evolution. Nuh Ha Mim Keller, an American convert to Islam and a Sufi master, declares that the claim that humans are descended from a non-human species is kufr, that is unbelief.4 The anti-scientific attitude of many Muslim religious leaders goes beyond the theory of evolution. Bilal Philips, a convert and an Islamist preacher situated in Qatar, claims in his book on Islamic monotheism that believing in Einstein's famous equation E= mc2 and the conservation/transformation of energy it implies is tantamount to disbelief. Not surprisingly, he also rejects evolution.5 Sheik Bin Baz, the influential late Saudi scholar of Islam asserted that the Sun rotates around the earth, not the other way around as the Copernican paradigm claims.6 Furthermore, pseudo-scientific discussions are very common on the TV channels of the Islamic world. Anyone interested in checking some of these out is encouraged to visit the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) website.7 This does not, of course, mean that I agree with the mission of this institute; it seems to have a pro-Israel agenda. The influential Muslim religious leaders simply lack a true understanding and interpretation of what science is and does. They don't understand what the scientific method is and how various scientific theories are closely related by virtue of them being the product of the rigorous application of the scientific method. They don't see that it is inconsistent to accept and physically depend on some of the well-established concepts and products of the scientific method and reject others: For instance, accept that the universe got started and galaxies formed within a timescale, or accept to pay to use cell phones and GPS, but reject the biological explanation of how life evolved on Earth. Science is God-neutral; it can of course provide inspiration for people to draw conclusions about God. But the science proper does necessarily concern itself about the "how" question. Strictly speaking, it cannot conceivably answer the why question, although it can and will and should speculate, e.g., why this particular universe with its specific physical laws out of zillion possibilities? Apart from the above-mentioned inconsistent evaluation of science and lack of understanding thereof, I will venture to add that Muslims scholars, in general, are incompetent to properly understand and interpret the Quranic verses pertaining to natural phenomena. In particular, I will try to demonstrate that contrary to the claims of these so-called scholars, the Quran, far from being anti-evolution, in fact describes the creation of man in nothing but clear evolutionary terms. Not only that, but the Quran goes as far as even using the word "evolution" explicitly for the creation of man. Here, I need to state my philosophy on the interaction between the Quran and science in very clear terms. It is an interaction based on inspiration. I am of the opinion that a Muslim scientist can draw inspiration from the Quran not unlike the way Einstein drew inspiration for his physical ideas from the philosophies and worldviews of Spinoza and Hume. Of course, the ideas so drawn will have to face the objective test of the scientific method, which can validate or invalidate them. As Einstein said "Truth is what stands the test of experience." In the case of invalidation, I am not of those who think that the Quran is invalidated. The reason is that one has to have the intellectual flexibility and maturity to distinguish between a holy book, a philosophy, or a work of art, and the inspirations they may engender in people's minds. With this in mind, let us see what the Quran explicitly states about the origin of creation (of organic matter, and therefore man). First task before us is to show that unraveling the mystery of the creation of man is not an unknowable and inscrutable thing as the anti-evolutionists make it out to be. Since obviously if one says that God just created something, although from God's perspective that may very well be, from our mortal perspective we can only see the creation of that thing through the chain of causality, i.e., cause and effect. To focus the point, I remind the reader the fact that today the science of cosmology has reached a stage where we have arrived at certain seemingly mysterious knowledge about the creation of the Universe. How all that exists came into being with a Big Bang from a point and how with this cosmic "explosion," space-time began to expand, and matter and radiation in it became diluted; how first subatomic particles formed, how the atoms formed and how stars and galaxies came into being. By sheer scientific exertion and study, humans have been able to unravel these cosmic mysteries. Although today we are not yet at a stage where we can claim to know how life originated on Earth, there is progress made on that front as well. Nevertheless, compared with the creation of the heavens and the earth, the creation of man, according to the Quran, is a minute thing. The Holy Quran states in 40:57: "The creation of the heavens and the earth is a greater (event) than that of humans, but most humans do not know." The creation of the whole universe is an immense thing, the Quran avers, and I think most of us will agree with that statement. Further, the Quran compares the two "creations," i.e., that of the Universe and that of man, and asserts the former to be a greater phenomenon than the latter. It, in a way, demystifies the creation of man, which is put on a pedestal by so many creationists, much more so even than the creation of the Universe. So if we can unravel the mysteries of the creation of the whole universe, it is not unreasonable or unholy to expect that the creation of man can also be understood. Evolution is doing exactly that: showing us how man was created. Now, let us focus on what the Quran has to say about the creation of man, and evolution itself, if any: Well, the first thing that strikes the reader is how the Quran-instead of dismissively saying, like the anti-evolutionists, that we were just created all at once and separately with other creatures, and that there is nothing else to it-talks about how man was created out of various stages and from various substances (water, baked clay, etc.). In fact, after a critical reading of the creation account in the Quran, it is difficult to come away with any sense other than a gradual, step-by-step creation out of not just one substance but a few different substances. There is a double irony here; especially knowing how vigorously and contemptuously most modern Muslim religious scholars oppose the idea and theory of evolution. In the Islamic Golden era, the idea of evolution was advanced and espoused by many Muslim scholars such as al-Jahiz and Ibn Miskawayh. The second irony is that the Quran actually does give a procedural recipe for unraveling the mystery of the origin of life on Earth. The verses 29:19-20 read thus: "Do they not see how God originates creation and repeats it? This is most certainly easy for God. Travel through the earth and see how He did originate creation. Then God will bring forth a later creation. Most certainly God has power over all things." So now we Muslims need to ask ourselves: is there anyone who has followed that procedure, that recipe? Those Muslim scholars who oppose evolution perhaps?! Note here that the Arabic word used in the Quran is "un'zur," which is stronger than mere looking, and it implies examination and observation. So have modern Muslim scholars travelled the earth and observed how creation did originate? Sadly, no. In fact, perhaps a third irony, it was none other than Darwin and Wallace, two non-Muslim naturalists, who took the trouble of traveling the most exotic places on Earth, observing and studying painstakingly the book of nature, and finally advancing the theory of evolution. What else does the Quran tell us about the creation of man apart from the expository verses I mentioned? The Quran explicitly does describe evolution to the point of using the Arabic counterpart of the English word "in gradual stages." Chapter 71 verses 13 and 14: "What is wrong with you that you don't attribute majesty to God, seeing that He created you in stages?" A few verses down, verses 17 and 18: "God created you out of the earth in gradual growth (like a plant). Then He will return you to it, and in the end He will raise you forth (in resurrection)." Apart from the idea of gradual creation being so evident in these verses, the exact Arabic word used for the translated words "in stages" is أَطْوَارًا "atwaran," whose root verb means "to develop, to evolve", and whose noun form is تطوّر "tatawwur," meaning "evolution".8 It turns out that the late Islamic scholar Muhammad Hamidullah has made similar claims on evolution and the Quran but apparently they fell on deaf ears.9 Conclusion: My purpose in this article was (1) to critique the outmodedness and inadequacy of the current mainstream Muslim scholarship in general vis-a-vis the intellectual challenges of the modern era, and (2) using evolution as a case in point, to demonstrate how modern Muslim religious scholars and figures who reject evolution don't understand modern science and thus the Quranic text on natural phenomena properly. Specifically, I tried to demonstrate that contrary to the claims of the so-called Muslim "creationists," one can make a very strong case for the theory of evolution than against it, using the verses of the Quran. In closing, I think we Muslims must start owning up to our civilizational failures and seize the reformist momentum generated in the Arab Spring to transform the region and start establishing modern "Houses of Wisdom" and a new golden era of Islamic civilization. To begin to do that we must claim what is supposed to be ours: critical thinking and analytical reasoning per (1) the Quranic injunction itself to be of "those who think", (2) per our historical precedence as exemplified by al-Jahiz, al-Khwarizme, Ibn al Haytham (Alhazen), Ibn Rushd (Averroes) etc, and finally (3) per our own God-bestowed faculty of ratiocination, and not regurgitation. References and Notes 1 Bamba, A. Islamic Horizons, May/June 2013, p. 50. 2 http://religions.pewforum.org/reports 3 http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2006/08/14/science/sciencespecial2/20050815_EVO_GRAPHIC.html 4 http://www.masud.co.uk/ISLAM/nuh/evolve.htm 5 Philips, B. The Fundamentals of Tawhid, International Islamic Publising House, (2005) p. 51. 6 Holden, D. Johns, R. The House of Saud, Sidgwick&Jackson (1981) p. 262. 7 http://www.memri.org 8 Anyone can check the veracity of my claims using any Arabic-English dictionary, including Google's translation website. 9 Hamidullah, M. The Emergence of Islam, Islamic Research Institute (1993). ***** Dr. Serkan Zorba is associate professor of physics at Whittier College, CA, USA. He is originally from Turkey. His web site is www.serkanzorba.com . Related posts from similar topics: What's in a name? Islam, History, and Identity Earth: A Trust Bestowed Upon Us Jews and Muslims support each other in attacks The Bible Led me to Islam Concept of God Universal Beauty of Islam Disclaimer The opinions expressed herein, through this post or comments, contain positions and viewpoints that are not necessarily those of IslamiCity. These are offered as a means for IslamiCity to stimulate dialogue and discussion in our continuing mission of being an educational organization. The IslamiCity site may occasionally contain copyrighted material the use of which may not always have been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. IslamiCity is making such material available in its effort to advance understanding of humanitarian, education, democracy, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, and such (and all) material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml If you wish to use any copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. 22 Comments Comment Roohi Ahmad November 21st, 2015 Salam; I liked your article. I agree with you on many points. Islamic intellectualism is my area of study. Thanks for writing and sharing with us! asfah from India October 25th, 2014 This whole article seem to end with assertion that Muslims need to start their first step towards progression by believing in 'Theory of evolution' and unless and until they do that, they are going nowhere. To the best of my knowledge, its still the 'theory of evolution' heatingly debated by the likes of creationists in America, the likes of Prof Stephen C Meyer whose book about ' signature in the Cell' is the hammer in the coffin of the likes of Dawkins. It's the Bible that failed the test of science that forced christians to look at alternative theories to God. Quran hasn't failed science even though Muslims have failed to pursue it as vehemently as many other races of the world. shahid mecci from canada October 23rd, 2014 excellent article.i would suggest this as required reading in all high schools in muslim coutries.our religious leaders should be taught evolution.it is the basis of modern biology.please forward this to Serkan may we pray for more like him.Ameen Shahid Babandi A Gumel from U.K October 23rd, 2014 According to Darwin if plants were to posses intellects then it would necessarily be in their roots within the earth because it moves in the earth's interior encountering barriers and rocks. Now let us look at what Quran says Surah Raad "And gardens of vines,and green crops (fields etc) and date-palms,growing out two or three from single stem root,or otherwise watered with the same water,yet some of them We make more excellent than others to eat. Verily in these things there are signs for the people who understand. Subhanallah when a seed germinates and the germ emerges to form tiny roots it begins to feed on the stored food in the seed until its roots lengthens and penetrates into the earth in order to feed therefrom condition like fetus in human being or animal.Is there anyone besides Allah who has placed life in the seed? Is there anyone other than Allah who has given the roots bthe ability to penetrate the earth and brought forth the stem,sprouting upon its leaves such that it flowers and bears fruits? SO Glorified be Allah the Ever-Living who never dies the Bestower of Life.It is for us to reflect.May Allah give us hidayah. Babandi A Gumel from U.K October 23rd, 2014 It is He Who sent down water (rain) from the sky;and with it We bring forth vegetation of all kinds,and out of it We bring forth green stalks,from which We bring forth thick clustered grain.And out of the date-palm and its spathe come forth clusters of dates hanging low and near,and gardens of grapes,olives and pomegranates each similar( in kind) yet different (in variety and taste).Look at their fruits when they begin to bear,and the ripeness thereof. Verily! In these things there are signs for people who believe. (sura An'am) Rashad Abdul-Azim from USA October 22nd, 2014 I couldn't agree more with the authors observations and from of the comments it is clear that many Muslims are in a state of denial. Not only is there an intellectual stagnation, it is also clear to the world that there is also a moral and spiritual breakdown among many Muslims in the world, especially in the countries mentioned. Nureni Awayewaserere from Nigeria October 22nd, 2014 Salam Alaykum, I want to use medium to thank the writer for being reminder to the rest of muslims in the world. This is true, what we muslims have not being doing..we hwve not being thinking! jazakumlah khairan once more to the writer for sharing this...... I also want ask writer his own view on # travelling to the future# !what is the possibility from islmic point of view? thank you once more for this write.up let all muslims live up to expectation to become great scholars.... we shouldnt be our own weapon for destruction.... ma salam intellectual advancer from USA October 22nd, 2014 Dr. sorban, why do you and monkeys exist at the same time, since your evolved monkeys should have been out of the picture from the phase of this earth . sam from sa October 22nd, 2014 The only reason that the the Muslim world has stagnated is that the west had invented weapons of mass killing.... Malick from USA September 14th, 2013 I am always fascinated when people argue against a thing, thereby proving it. Intellectualism or reasoning, is the ability, or the tendency, to use one's intellect, or reason as the filter through which issues are processed. Rarely have I read any critique of Muslims' anti-intellectualism and have them respond to it intellectually. What I understood from this essay is that the author used theory of evolution as ONE example of an issue that Muslims respond to emotionally, without any intellectual process to support their argument. It is accepted, generally, that the Quran, the Prophet and the sahaba all spoke to people according to their level of understanding,as is generally understood that every ayat in the Quran has different meanings, and each one of us, reading one ayat, may come to a different understanding of such meaning. Hence the Quranic injunction to reason, and "if you don't know, ask those who know." Yet, throughout it all, the Quranic narrative reinforces the requirement to use one's intellect in order to make sense of God's ayats. Do we? Do we ponder on the signs? Do we look at His creation and think? No, most of us accept others' understanding as being the truth. In that, we have a less than scientific mind. We surely do not need to be western atheists, but we just as surely can be modern theists. I always took the Quranic words that Adam was created from clay at face value, until I realized that while the Quran is not an obvious scientific truth for evolution, it does not disprove it either. Its pages are replete with hints at an evolutionary process, whether directed at the fetus, plants, earth or the cosmos. So to come out and claim that Adam was the only creation not to have been subjected to the evolutionary process, is to take liberties with the book, perhaps even more liberties than he who reads evolution in it. Raed from Australia September 5th, 2013 This article only demonstrates the authors intellectual stagnation in that he has accepted modern ideals completely, hook, line and sink, without critically thinking about them in the slightest. Nice try my infreriority complex friend, but please come again. khondkar rabbani from canada September 1st, 2013 I was in Spain last month and visited Granada, Cordova and Seville. The evidence of enquiring mind and critical thinking the Muslims contributed are shining like daylight. We the Muslims of 21st century can make it work and free ourselves from the state of "insanity" if we care to cultivate not imitate. SHaque from USA August 31st, 2013 I completely disagree with your article and your assertion that Muslims are in intellectual stagnation. I am not trying to defend excuses of political corruption of rulers of Muslim lands. However, I do not agree that Muslim Scholarship, intellectual thinking and Muslim life style are outmoded and inferior to Western scholarship, intellectual thinking and life style. Muslim thinkers and intellectuals are way ahead of Western counterparts. Of course being highly intellectual and less brute, Muslim scholarship is able to check deterioration of their society even under highly materially visible successes of Western Society and even when Muslim lands are overwhelmingly dominated militarily and economically and politically subjugated to give Western Way of life first preferenceMy friend Serkan the results of intellectual scholarship that you highly praise and think Muslim should copy that are still felt by humanity in terms toxic pollution, high militarism and greed for more and more. Capitalism and Zionism has eliminated their competitions, their ideological mutations namely communism, Nazis and fascists. Now the thoughts that came out of the so called intellectual leadership have trained their guns on Muslim scholarship which is different and which is their real competitor for success of human civilization. I am beneficiary of Western Capitalism and like you in my thirties and forties I was highly impressed Western Scientific and intellectual progress. No more. That ideology is not for most of the humanity Like you I also earn my living from working in technical field but I always wish that there got to be better intellectual pursuit than making 90% of humanity slave. How many human know or care for Einstein or Pablo Picasso? Tanko Haruna from Ghana August 31st, 2013 The only thing you succeeded in doing is to retranslate the Holy Qur'an to suit your personal beliefs and in the process telling us that the translation by the Holy Prophet(SLAWS) is out-moded. Even with your "modern" translation, you could not show us where in the Holy Qur'an it is even implied how Allah created man from apes. With all the bashing you dished out to these muslim scholars, I thought you would have something better to say. All I see is a person strugling to reconcile his scientific knowledge with his religious beliefs. Prof. A. A. Ahmed from USA August 29th, 2013 If there is intellectual stagnation among Muslims, it would be wise to recognize it immediately in Serkan Zorba's miguided and misinformed diatribe. He claims to be pro- science, although he fails to realize that his view is nothing if not scientistic, demanding, as he does, that Islamic thought (from Gulen, to Keller, to Philips, to Bin Baz -- none of whom agree in principle with one other) bend to Zorba's vision of scientism. Nowhere to be found is reference to the works of S. H. Nasr, the only Muslim who has been honored for being at once a luminary of both theology and philosophy -- a philosophy continuing the millennial tradition of Islamic sciences. According to that perspective, held by not only the greatest Islamic thinkers, and articulated in the present day by the likes of Wolfgang Smith, Waleed El-Ansary, and many non-Muslims, the scientism loved by Zorba has led to a collapse of the intellectual infrastructure supporting not only Earth but our entire cosmos. Yes, the Islamic world is suffering an intellectual stagnation, and Zorba's compound ignorance of it shows just how deeply the problem goes. Momin from India August 28th, 2013 P.S. How does "Salihoon" / righteous of S.21 Aya 105 equate with "acceptors of non-believing so-called modern established science " . It seems quite clear that Allah swt has promised the earth's inheritors to be those who have Real Iman and Good (salih) Deeds.... nothing here about Darwin's theory of evolution...this is a misapplied Quranic ayat. In the words of the Quran, Muslims "la ya'kiluun," that is, they are not using their faculty of reason>>>>>We all entirely agree... 'Only a science-conscious society that knows how to think, as the Quran so positively and ruefully alludes to, and that which is complemented by genuine spirituality, can rise high to "inherit the earth." >>>>>> The Quran does not allude to a science- conscious society!!! It alludes to a Faith consciouse society....yes Faith.. an area which "modern" Science cannot even approach.. it is outside of the modern scientific paradigm/ territory !!! In the Quran, science/reason/thinking are merely tools towards developing Faith(Iman). Having achieved Faith(Iman) mankind produces actions that are righteous (amal salih), only when directed by Faith. It is this which results in their success in Aakhira and Duniya. This is the actual Guidance given in the Quran and Sunnah. Brother, there is no doubt that Allah swt, the creator of all human, the definer of what is success and failure, is also the giver of guidance on how to achieve that success. Your arguments are a little confused on some fundamental truths. Salaam alaikum, may Peace and Guidance be with you. Momin from India August 28th, 2013 Salaams, I agree with the article that the Muslim Ummah is in the pits. Without doubt a combination of many of the factors he mentioned are responsible. I do not agree that this is because the vast majority reject the theory of evolution or other scientific theories. And somehow if the Ummah were to embrace the so-called "established" "modern" "science" ( which will probably unravel and become unestablished over time!) that the Ummah will become successful in this Dunya. We all sympathise with the author in trying to understand and initiate a process by which the Ummah will come out of its depths. But the author has missed the very point of his and our existence (or failed to present it). It is NOT success in Duniya as measured by those who have no belief in Aakhira. It is sucess in Duniya which comes as a natural and God-given benefit for those who seek sucess in Aakhira and therefore follow the Guidance given in the Quran and Sunnah. Simple example I can present as a doctor: If all humans adopted the methods of eating and drinking taught in Quran and Sunnah, 80% of all lifestyle diseases would vanish. (even without accepting Darwinian evolutionary theory!)I could go on and on.....BTW, I myself accept the Islamic theory of Creation and Evolution that the author partially presented. Keep reasoning and thinking , ya ulil albaab, ..... Zahir from Maldives August 27th, 2013 An article about Muslim stagnation blames Muslims not upholding a stagnant, indefensible and dying theories in the light of modern science. Do Muslims have to be a Dawkinses to get away from that stagnation? Do we take changing theories/findings of science first and foremost over the unchangeable scripture? Didn't science and scripture compliment over the other? In order to escape the stagnation, do we have to be in the 'matrix' without suspecting something our religion warn us about? Are there no plots and plans against us. Are all our problem created within not without? Rather the author needs to come out from the induced stagnation to take us into glory heights which author seems to see through the deceptive and utterly false lens of a Godless civilization. Reef from UK August 27th, 2013 ... The crashing majority of muslims have an outdated useless education provided by oppressive regimes in muslim lands. Change will begin by removal of these corrupt and bankrupt states. It will take a long time but it is beginning to happen. Then and only then we, as muslims, can hope for justice and human dignity and think beyond survival and transcend the lowly state we're in as promised by the quran. Reef from UK August 27th, 2013 I was looking forward to learn about some novel ways of dealing with this gigantic failure of the muslims to be part let alone lead human civilisation. All the author has advanced is a repeated rant about disbelief in evolution. In other words, muslims owe their current backwardness to their lack of belief in evolution. I for one don't believe in evolution simply because it has not answered many of the fundamental questions on the origins of life. The origin of dna, genes, proteins, the first living cell, positive mutations and many many more questions. Even leading evolutionists themselves admit that, statistically speaking, life creation through evolution is a mathematical impossibility. And it's not muslims only but many western scientists don't believe in it. The latest I hear from Dawkins is life must have originated in a different universe and somehow eventually reached Earth! The author's arguments on the quran's support for evolution is a blind alley. There is no good or bad or judgement day in evolution; there is only cut-throat survival of the fittest. Is this what the quran says? The very nature of the quranic message is anti-evolution. I hope the author revises his knowledge on the current state of thinking in evolution theory and at least be clear on what he believes and supports rather than regurgitate some useless criticism of muslims. What we muslims suffer from is simply lack of proper education and I mean the very first few years of primary school. Because at that stage great men and women and a knowledgeable society are formed. continue with next message ... Makki from USA August 27th, 2013 Well.. I was for this article until it hit evolution... Anyway... With regards to Bilal Philips: I think I have understood he has redacted his statement about E=mc^2. With respect to Sh Bin Baz: yes he did say Sun revolves around Earth but also towards the end of his life he changed his perspective (from what I understood). Additionally, lets make one thing clear... Sun being the center of the Earth is used as a reference point. You could very well use any other reference point. You can certainly explain that Earth is center of Earth with equations.. however; it becomes incredibly complex. And things revolving around Sun makes equations very simple...Its all a point of reference !!! Don't belittle someone just because you have partial knowledge. Now with regards to evolution: you presented verses which are very general in nature. Certainly you cannot accept evolution based on them !! How about these specific verses which deal with our ancestry (if you will) - 4:1 (and many similar verses), 5:27. They very clearly point to 'human' form of Adam (ra) and his sons. How do you interpret these verses and consider them to be other than human ? Why is Islamic perspective not opined in public: prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has said Adam (ra) was over 10 cubit tall (~100ft). And with time, we became smaller and smaller. The bones of Neanderthals are perhaps these remains- just a theory. But if evolutionists can present something as truth w/o proof, I certainly can. Note: As you can guess, I do not ascribe to evolutionists point of view. And I have a Masters degree in Math from Univ of Chicago (check out UofC Math Dept to see its worth) Don't tell me about evolutionary biology and Math equations - string theory is incredibly complex and has incredible equations. Yet it has by and large proven to be false after LHC experiments in Europe. Complexity does not imply truth T.K. from U.S.A. August 27th, 2013 The problem, my dear doctor, is that when you truly apply the scientific method to the Qu'ran, you run into the serious problem that the Qu'ran spits out prophey and "facts" in such vague terms that they can be contorted to mean anything. Ambiguity in the texts prevents it from being used as statements, according to abstract mathematical principles. Thus, you can't really use any of it as "scientific evidence." On top of that, counterexamples may crop up that will render the book useless as being the perfect word of God.