In his Friday Sermon of 27 December 2013, the Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Sahib (atba) of Mauritius spoke profoundly on the instrumental role of science and the intrinsic merit of a moral compass offered by faith in the construction of true humanism and social order and the perils of rigidism so as to avoid the pitfalls of blind faith and value-neutral science.
Read the Extracts from the Friday Sermon:
"We have seen that science and faith, far from being contradictory, are perfectly complementary. Another question now arises: is it possible that science and faith can substitute each other whereby one takes the place of the other?
After defining the role of science and of faith, it will not be necessary either to ask this question or to answer it. It is clear that science cannot replace faith; faith which in addition to the light and power, gives us love and hope, enhances the level of our aspirations, and which moreover not only helps us in choosing goals and objectives and guide us in the way we have to go to reach, but moreover makes us change certain goals and aspirations, which instinctively and by nature, focus on individualism and self-centeredness to aspirations based on love and spiritual passion of goodness; it (faith) is an instrument at our disposal, it can transform our essence and our quiddity. Faith cannot also replace science which makes us have knowledge of nature and discover its laws, and allows us to know ourselves.
Historical experience has shown that the split between science and faith have caused irreparable damage and harm. It is in the light of science that we need to comprehend faith and it is in the light of science that faith, when it drifts away from science, it (faith) transforms into rigidity of mind, blind fanaticism and finally fixed ideas that lead nowhere. Where there is no science and knowledge, the faith of ignorant believers becomes a means available to the cunning impostors and hypocrites that we come across under different forms throughout history and the Kharijites/Khawarij are one of these examples from early Islam.
Science without faith is like a sword which has fallen into the hands of a drunkard. It is like a lamp left to the reach of a thief to enable him to better choose his booty in the middle of the night. It is for this reason that between the today’s faithless scientist and yesterday’s faithless ignorant, then to the point of view of behaviour and actions, there is not the slightest difference. What difference is there between today’s Washington, Blair, Sharon, Al-Sa’ud and Hussein and the Nimrod, Pharaoh, Genghis, Attila, Churchill, Johnson, Nixon and Stalin of yesterday?
Arguably, it is true that science provides light and power; this light and this power does not only serve to enlighten us and show us the outside world but also make us able to know the transformations of the inner world. Therefore, science can both build the world and shape man. It can therefore perform at the same time its own role of “the construction of the universe” and the work of faith, being “the formation of man.” All that is true but there is a fundamental nuance from the fact that the power of science is of instrumental order, that is to say, it depends on the will of man. Man, whatever the field, performs better his job with the help of science. This is why I say that science is the best contributor of man to achieve his goals, and to guide him in the way he has to travel to get there.
But the problem is elsewhere. Before guiding himself, man chooses his purpose/goal. So what is the origin of his objectives since man is of animal nature and he gradually acquires his human capacity. What is the form that enables him to transform himself, that revolts/awakens his conscience to guide him in a new way/path? If it is not faith, (then what?) because, science has not yet been able to discover the phenomenon that governs man.
Some values in the spirit/mind of man and the sanctification of values is by itself generated by a series of transcendent trends in man. These trends, in turn, were born from particular apprehension, from specific conception of the universe and of man that we can neither get in the laboratories nor in the content of reasoning and analogies. These apprehensions are not accessible by science.
History, ancient and modern, showed the negative results produced by the separation of science and faith. When faith alone existed and without the help of science, humanitarian efforts of individuals have found no results, at least mediocre ones, or, more often, they were the cause of fanaticism, rigidity of mind and even very harmful dissension. The history of mankind is full of these sorts of events.
When science reigned alone, without the intervention of faith, as in many contemporary societies, the scientific power was implemented to achieve selfishness, ambition, presumptions, colonization, exploitation, deception of men.
We can consider these two or three centuries as the era of the cult of science and abandonment of faith. Many scholars believed they could solve all human problems through science, but experience proved the opposite of today. Even the most materialistic scientists are now recognizing this. Any material work has no other aim than income, and cannot give a satisfactory result. To get results, you must choose a profession that has as concentrated in it “faith” in a person, an ideology or a high destination/aim.
Today, the materialists themselves are forced to pretend that philosophically, they are materialistic and morally idealistic; that is to say, from the theoretical point of view they are materialist and idealist practically. This is a paradoxical problem and it is for the materialists themselves to provide the answer.
There are some theologians who expressed lack in human relationships and in the achievement of the immediate needs of man without the power of faith. They believe that in some areas, science has made enormous and extraordinary progress, but in other areas, such as national or international policy concerning relations between human individuals themselves, then they find that people are still making fun of each other.
They recognize that the faith that man needs is a religious faith. So, man thus needs both science and faith. Without faith a man is completely lost because if he lives on science alone, he is doomed to spiritual death, putting humanity at risk. This danger is the drifting from God, from a power that is beyond the full understanding of man.
With the florescence of Islam like a flower which spread its fragrance everywhere, likewise faith in One God has claimed all the hearts thirsty of truth. The Quran, irrefutable database provides humanity, especially Muslims a way to advance both materially and spiritually so that they arrive to the goal they are intended to achieve: Allah, the One God. With the effort he is making, and along with science and strong faith which he acquires, the Muslim believer can go through thousands of stages to achieve this goal. At that moment, God shall certainly help (in this endeavour).