Sunday, March 22, 2009

459)Pakistan to battle fundamentalism with science; Quotes of Aga Khan IV and Aga Khan III.

"Islam is fundamentally in its very nature a natural religion. Throughout the Quran God's signs (Ayats) are referred to as the natural phenomenon, the law and order of the universe, the exactitudes and consequences of the relations between natural phenomenon in cause and effect. Over and over, the stars, sun, moon, earthquakes, fruits of the earth and trees are mentioned as the signs of divine power, divine law and divine order. Even in the Ayeh of Noor, divine is referred to as the natural phenomenon of light and even references are made to the fruit of the earth. During the great period of Islam, Muslims did not forget these principles of their religion. Alas, Islam which is a natural religion in which God's miracles are the very law and order of nature drifted away and is still drifting away, even in Pakistan, from Science, which is the study of those very laws and orders of nature.……Islam is a natural religion of which the Ayats are the universe in which we live and move and have our being………..The God of the Quran is the one whose Ayats are the universe……"(Aga Khan III, April 4th 1952)

"The second great historical lesson to be learnt is that the Muslim world has always been wide open to every aspect of human existence. The sciences, society, art, the oceans, the environment and the cosmos have all contributed to the great moments in the history of Muslim civilisations. The Qur’an itself repeatedly recommends Muslims to become better educated in order better to understand God’s creation"(Closing Address by His Highness Aga Khan IV at the "Musée-Musées" Round Table Louvre Museum, Paris, France, October 17th 2007)

“Parts of the Ummah are concerned about the relationship between Muslims and the contemporary knowledge society, which is now principally rooted in the West. It is my deepest conviction, my deepest conviction, that we must make that knowledge society our own, in keeping with the Alid tradition towards the intellect, but always doing so within the ethics of our faith. Thus, I have sought from my Jamat your Nazrana of time and knowledge.”(Aga Khan IV, Paris, France, July 11th 2007)

"In this context, would it not also be relevant to consider how, above all, it has been the Qur'anic notion of the universe as an expression of Allah's will and creation that has inspired, in diverse Muslim communities, generations of artists, scientists and philosophers? Scientific pursuits, philosophic inquiry and artistic endeavour are all seen as the response of the faithful to the recurring call of the Qur'an to ponder the creation as a way to understand Allah's benevolent majesty. As Sura al-Baqara proclaims: 'Wherever you turn, there is the face of Allah'.The famous verse of 'light' in the Qur'an, the Ayat al-Nur, whose first line is rendered here in the mural behind me, inspires among Muslims a reflection on the sacred, the transcendent. It hints at a cosmos full of signs and symbols that evoke the perfection of Allah's creation and mercy"(Aga Khan IV,Speech, Institute of Ismaili Studies, October 2003, London, U.K.)

"The Muslim world, once a remarkable bastion of scientific and humanist knowledge, a rich and self-confident cradle of culture and art, has never forgotten its past.The great Muslim philosopher al-Kindi wrote eleven hundred years ago, "No one is diminished by the truth, rather does the truth ennobles all". That is no less true today"(Aga Khan IV, Speech,1996, Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.A.)

"Science is a wonderful, powerful tool and research budgets are essential. But Science is only the beginning in the new age we are entering. Islam does not perceive the world as two seperate domains of mind and spirit, science and belief. Science and the search for knowledge are an expression of man's designated role in the universe, but they do not define that role totally....."(Aga Khan IV, McMaster University Convocation, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, May 15th 1987)

"In Islamic belief, knowledge is two-fold. There is that revealed through the Holy Prophet (s.a.s.) and that which man discovers by virtue of his own intellect. Nor do these two involve any contradiction, provided man remembers that his own mind is itself the creation of God. Without this humility, no balance is possible. With it, there are no barriers. Indeed, one strength of Islam has always lain in its belief that creation is not static but continuous, that through scientific and other endeavours, God has opened and continues to open new windows for us to see the marvels of His creation"(Aga Khan IV, Aga Khan University, 16 March 1983, Karachi, Pakistan)

"Our religious leadership must be acutely aware of secular trends, including those generated by this age of science and technology. Equally, our academic or secular elite must be deeply aware of Muslim history, of the scale and depth of leadership exercised by the Islamic empire of the past in all fields"(Aga Khan IV, 6th February 1970, Hyderabad, Pakistan)

"God has given us the miracle of life with all its attributes: the extraordinary manifestations of sunrise and sunset, of sickness and recovery, of birth and death, but surely if He has given us the means with which to remove ourselves from this world so as to go to other parts of the Universe, we can but accept as further manifestations the creation and destructions of stars, the birth and death of atomic particles, the flighting new sound and light waves. I am afraid that the torch of intellectual discovery, the attraction of the unknown, the desire for intellectual self-perfection have left us"(Aga Khan IV,Speech, 1963, Mindanao, Phillipines)

"The God of the Quran is the One whose Ayats(Signs) are the Universe in which we live, move and have our being"(Aga Khan III, April 4th 1952)

"Nature is the great daily book of God whose secrets must be found and used for the well-being of humanity"(Aga Khan III, Radio Pakistan, Karachi, Pakistan, February 19th 1950)

The above are 11 quotes and excerpts taken from Blogpost Four Hundred, a collection of about 100 quotes on the subjects of Knowledge, Intellect, Creation, Education, Science and Religion:

Pakistan to battle fundamentalism with science

13 March 2009 by
Lawrence Krauss

THIS month will see my last two World lines columns for New Scientist which, judging by some of the email I have received, will be a source of celebration in some quarters. While I have sometimes used the opportunity afforded by this column to criticise developments that I perceive as dangerous - from governments cutting back on support for basic research, to creationists' meddling in school boards - this week I want to discuss a development I just learned about which is truly worth celebrating.

Over recent years there has been much violence reported from the war in Afganistan against the fundamentalist Taliban, which has spilled over into Pakistan. But despite the military might we throw at the Taliban, winning the hearts and minds of the next generation in these regions may depend less on using bullets than books, and less on waging war than creating jobs. Educated minds are hopefully more open to the free exchange of ideas than minds that are closed in childhood. And gainful employment is often a cure for unrest and hatred.

Educated minds are hopefully more open to the free exchange of ideas than minds closed in childhood

As many people in developing countries have realised, the hope for economic progress in the 21st century lies in becoming technologically competitive - and such competitiveness depends on producing scientists and engineers. India is the poster child here. Anyone who has visited any of the Indian Institutes of Technology - where admission is harder than at Harvard University and graduation virtually guarantees a job in the growing technology sector- has seen how effective first-rate schools can be in contributing to raising a nation's standard of living.

This is why I was so heartened recently when I met my friend Bob Jaffe, a theoretical physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He told me about a remarkable experiment in Pakistan that he is a part of, in which a unique combination of private money, government support and intellectual leadership is helping to build the first private research school for science and engineering in that country, the School of Science and Engineering (SSE), part of the Lahore University of Management Sciences.

Developments so far have been encouraging. More than $53 million in support has come in from individuals, government and industry - and world-class faculty are returning to Pakistan to participate in the new institution. Admission is merit-based and open to all, independent of gender and social or religious background, providing opportunities to outstanding students who need financial aid to make a new life.

As Jaffe says in a brochure about the new institution: "Access to world-class education opens the door to economic prosperity and personal creativity. Our vision is to bring transformational science and engineering education to Pakistan. Our goal is to ignite development at a fundamental level by educating the most promising young people of all backgrounds. We hope to end Pakistan's disastrous "brain drain" by expanding the national market for superbly trained scientists and engineers. SSE will seek out the best-prepared, most motivated students from all social and economic backgrounds. We will educate them and provide them the skills and experience to succeed in the world... We believe that this is the most effective and positive way we can impact Pakistan's economic future."

It is developments like this that provide hope for the future. I wish all those at the SSE, and those who might be inspired to emulate this kind of institution elsewhere, the best of luck in using science and engineering to wage the war that really needs to be fought- the war on ignorance and poverty.

Lawrence Krauss is director of the Origins Initiative at Arizona State University in Phoenix

With thanks to Arif

Easy Nash

The Qur'an itself repeatedly recommends Muslims to become better educated in order better to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
The Quran tells us that signs of Allah's Sovereignty are found in the contemplation of His Creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
This notion of the capacity of the human intellect to understand and to admire the creation of Allah will bring you happiness in your everyday lives: Aga Khan IV(2007)
Islam, eminently logical, placing the greatest emphasis on knowledge, purports to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2006)
The first and only thing created by God was the Intellect(Aql): Prophet Muhammad(circa 632CE)