(Draft Article) Question: “What about Muslims using science to manufacture medicines and the like?”

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By a member of the MuslimAnswers.net Team

بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيم

A certain person asked me, after reading the article “(Draft Article) “Shouldn’t Muslims advance in Modern Science?””, that first of all, the point I was trying to make was not very clear, and secondly, about the consideration of a simple thing related to science, such as a Muslim country establishing industries that can manufacture its own medicines, and the like.

The person is wondering whether all of these discussions on the philosophy and metaphysics of science are really relevant to simpler tasks, such as the manufacture of products that can make the life of all Muslims easier in this world and help them to perform their acts of worship in a better way.

To begin with, let me make a summary of the first article: Science, as currently understood in the modern world, makes certain assumptions about the Universe and about the state of human knowledge that the serious Muslim cannot accept, since these assumptions subtly point towards atheism. The very general advice which I feel is correct is for the Muslim to first strengthen himself in the deeper sciences of Islam, before considering whether he should study higher secular fields.

The question might remain for many, that how does this map onto say, making new pharmaceutical industries in Muslim countries or the like? Do I really think that there is some danger of people losing their Imaan only because they are working in this kind of field where there might be some “mimicking” of the West, albeit for a good cause?

The truth is that the ideological background I mentioned above still has a relationship with these sorts of tasks, for a number of reasons. One of the big reasons is that the modern non-Muslim world is looked upon uncritically by many Muslims as the bastion of advancement and progress, even before many Muslims decide exactly what it is that they wish to develop in their lands. As we know, there are different types of “progress” that one can take part in, such as progress in making medicines, or cars, or armaments, their economies, and so forth.

And many times, there is not even a second thought given as to whether advancement and progress in the modern context are good things to begin with within the Islamic framework, but it is only seen that progress seems to be very good, and everyone should just “hop on” and try to do their part is making humans progress further and further.

This is one matter, and then we move on to another closely related issue, which is that the non-Muslim world has taken a chokehold on the thinking processes of too many Muslims nowadays. Taking the simple case of “medications”, many Muslims might be enthralled by the apparent efficacy of the drugs and treatments in non-Muslim lands without considering the Islamic view on who is the real Curer of diseases and ailments. Thus, the desire to have our own laboratories and pharmaceutical industries seems like a “fake” type of independence, where the Muslim tries to show the non-Muslim that he can do just as well in the non-Muslim’s “backyard”, and does not need to “import” these products.

This enthusiasm shown one way or the other is many a times done without considering the delicate situation at play in here, in that the non-Muslims, who currently have the upper hand in technological advancement, would do everything to keep us dependant on them. I would not ascribe this to a “Zionist” plot or a specifically “anti-Islamic” agenda, but it is rather due to the simple fact that maintaining a sense of power is something that people will generally try to preserve over others at all costs. Consider that even if such non-Muslims were to let go of their “supremacy” in this respect, it would not be until they have molded the nominal Muslims into fully accepting their techniques and their underlying ideology to its fullest extent, until these nominal Muslims have been molded into exact replicas of what the non-Muslims are. Again, this is not carried out necessarily as a part of a grand design to corrupt Muslims, but rather it is because certain thought processes and paradigms are so deeply entrenched within people and within a field that it is extremely difficult to let go of such things.

So the general advice in here is that we have to be very careful about what we wish to achieve at both a personal and at a societal level as Muslims. It does actually come back full circle to the main point of the first article. Yes, having the capability to independently produce our own technological products and to achieve technological independence has its place in an Islamic society, but this cannot be pursued blindly either by the individual Muslims or by the Muslim society as a whole. Rather, we should really make an effort to understand Islam first and foremost, even if this leads to certain diminutions in our material living for a period of time. This is because the only path to true progress and advancement for a Muslim is through learning his religion properly, and there is no goodness in people learning any subject or science that comes in front of them, without knowing the deeper Islamic arguments for or against this topic.

I hope that both we all take this advice to heart and pray for Allah to guide in the correct direction, so that we may pursue those sciences related to both this world and the next that will result in the Pleasure of Allah the Exalted. And may Allah bless and grant peace to the Prophet Muhammad, his Family and Companions.