By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi
The discussion whether science and religion are compatible has been around for decades, as some argue that autocracies have not added anything to science and technology, therefore the nature of religious fundamentals is not compatible with science. However, although this discussion still remains very active, the use and benefiting from science and technology is also the subject of many discussions among religious scholars.
Islam’s view on the notion of using modern technology and science is very similar to other religions, as it promotes the use of any modern means to simplify life for better causes and purposes. However, the difference lays in Islam’s consideration for all aspects affiliated with using technology and science, as these facilities come with various complications and twisting struggles that might challenge the faith of a believer. Therefore, Islamic jurisprudence has weighed in and presented many solutions for the proper use of technology and science, to enable Muslims take advantage of them in the best way possible, which doesn’t jeopardizes compliance with Islamic laws.
Primary purpose of Science and Technology
As majority of scientists argue, the purpose of science and technology is to serve people and make their lives simpler and more efficient, which means any negative and wrong use of science and technology was not originally intended. However, we have witnessed that individuals and groups have taken advantage of technology and science to slaughter people, eliminate races, and endanger humanity. In addition, the same ‘peaceful’ means of technology have been used for socially-ill purposes, like pornographic sites, intra-marital affairs, brainwashing youths and individuals, hacking and cybercrimes and many other technological actions that harm the society. Therefore, Islam’s goal to interfere with use of technology and science is only for the purpose of bringing sanity, rationality, accordance, ethical conduct, respect and compliance with religious and statuary laws.
Islamic Prospect on use of Technology
Islam views the primary use of technology should be in accordance with the original purpose that was behind the creation and development of technology, which is simplification and accommodation. The notion of simplification and accommodation can be affiliated with any aspect of one’s life, which can be personal, public, religious and ideological. An individual can use technology to generate wealth and revenue through legal and legit means, provide services and information for the public, deliver and present his ideologies and religious values and principle to others. Therefore, for instance something like internet can be used for legit on-line business, public information site or it can be used for cyber financial scams and preaching hate and violence.
The role of religion is to identify the threats and dangers of technology and outlining them to believers to prevent them from ever using technology in a way that makes them legally and jurisprudentially responsible. Islam does not place a limit on using technological means, as far as the use of such methods is for legit and legal purposes, especially if such a notion is used for delivering and presenting the true essence of Islam and its peaceful message. However, once technology is used for personal desires that demolish the characteristics of human being and his/her dignity, Islam intervenes and prohibits such use. Once technology is used to spread hateful and violent ideologies, Islam suggests using the same technology to present the opposite ideology and promote peace and tranquility. Once technology is used for generating illegitimate wealth, Islam intervenes and says the wealth generated through such method is Haram and unlawful. Once technology is used breaching people’s privacy through hacking and infiltration, Islam weighs in and states, individual privacy and personal affairs are not be shared in public, and any harm that might occur from such action should be indemnified and compensated.
However, some might argue that the mentioned laws and Islamic principles about use of technology have been addressed through statuary legal avenues, and nothing new is presented. Nonetheless, it should not be forgotten that Islamic principles and jurisprudential law have laid the ground work for these modern methods centuries ago, which means majority of these Islamic laws are extracted and derived from principles that are over centuries old. In addition, Islamic jurisprudence has presented answers and basic ground work for some of the most sophisticated scientific works in the recent years as well. Cloning, Telecommunication, surveillance, stem cell research, residence in space and other planets, property and ownership in space and other planets, natural resources gathering methods, genetic alteration and many other modern technological and scientific discoveries and advancements are subjected to Islamic laws and jurisprudence. Therefore, any Muslim is able to take advantage of these astonishing superiorities and advancements, if he/she comply with the principles and laws outlined by Islamic jurisprudence.