New Book on Islam and Modern Science

From Salman Hameed of Irtiqa:

It is my absolute pleasure to announce that Nidhal Guessoum has a new book out: Islam’s Quantum Question: Reconciling Muslim Tradition and Modern Science.

When I first found out about Nidhal’s book, I was sure that it was going to be good. He has been providing some sane analyses on Irtiqa for a year now (see his weekly posts here). So I was delighted that my hunch was right. I have read his book now and I’ve found it to be an excellent read and highly informative. So a couple of quick thoughts here.

There are very few good books out there that tackle the issue of Islam and science in a rational way. Often, we find apologetic writings that grossly misunderstand science and end up doing a disservice to both Islam and science. Then we have books that address the issues of science and religion, but without a deeper understanding of religion. It is very rare (and I’m quite familiar with the terrain) where the writer takes both religion and science equally seriously. Nidhal’s book is in this rare category.

If I were to write a one line review of his book, here is what I would say: His understanding of science and his interpretation of Islam are both solid in this book, and he makes a thoughtful and passionate effort to reconcile Islam and modern science.

This does not mean that I agree with all his conclusions, but the differences are more at the philosophical level rather than on misunderstood science or misrepresented religion. What I liked best about the book is that even when Nidhal completely disagrees with someone—and there are many in the book with whom he disagrees—he still manages to present their ideas fairly, clearly, and with respect.

Nidhal’s book starts with Islamic theology, addressing the notion of Allah/God in Islam and the concept of knowledge in the Quran. This lays the foundation for the rest of the book, and he proceeds to evaluate and often criticize—quite appropriately—proponents of “Islamic Science” (such as Seyyed Hossein Nasr and Ziauddin Sardar) and those who claim evidence for modern science in the Quran (such as Maurice Bucaille). If you are not familiar with the literature on this, Islam’s Quantum Question would be a fantastic resource.

The second part of the book addresses Islam and some issues of contemporary science. As expected, two big areas of discussion here are modern cosmology and biological evolution. He again presents the thinking of various Muslim scholars on the topic, and then presents his own thoughtful analysis.

So if you are looking for an example of how a Muslim scientist (an astrophysicist, in this particular case) might reconcile modern scientific discoveries with his own faith and the Quran, then this is the book for you. Even if you disagree with some parts, you will still end up learning a lot.

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One Response

  1. Lotfinia says:

    Thanks for the recommendation, to often I find Islamic scholars copying “Christian experts” seeking to prove today’s sciences, even the world, by a work ancient in construction.

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