Has Science Become a New Religion?

Has Science Become a New Religion?

By Truth Seeker Staff

In this amazing video by the London Dawah Movement, Brother Abdurraheem Green answers this very problematic question of, has science become a new religion? And what does this mean with respect to Islam as well as other divinely revealed religions.

Join us to see what Brother Green has to say on this…

 

 

 

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Is Atheism Unnatural?

Is Atheism Unnatural?

By Hamza Tzortzis

Is Atheism Unnatural?

Why do human beings believe in God? This question has engrossed thinkers for centuries. Why are beliefs about supernatural agents and ritual practices derived from those beliefs found in all human societies, across disparate times and far-ranging cultures?

Join us to see this wonderful video…

 

 

 

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Steps Towards Inner Peace

Steps Towards Inner Peace

By Salman al-`Awdah

God knows the sincerity that is in our hearts and He helps those who are sincere.

God knows the sincerity that is in our hearts and He helps those who are sincere.

Steps Towards Inner Peace

Inner peace is the source of all peace.

When a person is at harmony with himself, he is able to live in harmony with others.

God says:

“When you enter houses, greet yourselves with peace.” (Al-Nur 24: 61)

Believers recite the following words in all of their prayers: “Peace be upon us and upon Allah’s pious servants.” In the Qur’an, we encounter the word “self” being used in the context a group of people.

Indeed, it is from the depths of the self that peace radiates forth. Inner peace requires that a person’s relationship with himself is clear, and that his goals and objectives are understood and at harmony with his inner being.

Indeed, after knowledge of the Lord, the most important thing for a person to have knowledge of is knowledge of his self and how to perfect it and purify it. He needs to be sensitive to his own gifts and talents, aware of his weaknesses and strengths. Would he describe himself as patient or hasty, forthright or timid, tenacious or easily bored?

A person needs to know the truth about himself so he can go make good progress in a direction where he can best capitalize on his strengths and potential. This does not mean that a person must explore the nature of his existence and of the human soul. Such knowledge is outside of our grasp except for what is revealed to us in the sacred texts. (Al-Isra’ 17: 85)

At the same time, it is quite possible for a person to become acquainted with the dimensions of his personality, his talents, and his true nature. He can then use this knowledge to help him toward what is good and to safeguard him from misfortune.

Inner Peace and Human Nature

Islamic Law takes a person’s nature into account and often legislates in accordance with it without blame or reproach. This applies even to the Prophets and Messengers when they acted according to their instincts and their natures, for they were human beings, no more and no less. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

We are more deserving of doubt than Abraham was when he said: {‘My Lord, show me how you resurrect the dead. And (Allah) said ‘Do you not believe?’ And he said: ‘Yes, but it is just to make my heart content.’} And may Allah have mercy on Lot, for he had betaken himself to a powerful support. Had I languished in prison as long as Joseph had, I would have complied with their demands.” (Al Bukhari and Muslim)

Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) had sought after knowledge and desired to be acquainted with the true nature of things. This was just to satisfy his natural, human curiosity. When Prophet Muhammad said: “I would have complied with their demands” he was alluding to our natural, human love of liberty and freedom and our loathing of being confined and having our potentials held back, especially for a long period of time.

Moses (peace be upon him) knew himself well, and he was frank about his feelings, speaking about them unequivocally and without shame. He spoke about his natural fears when he said:

“And I had fled from you when I was afraid of you.” (Ash-Shu`ara’ 26: 21) And,

“Our Lord! Truly, we fear that he will fall upon us or transgress against us.” (Ta-Ha 20: 45)

When a person knows himself in this way and accepts himself, it keeps him to what is within his natural capacity and his abilities and defines for him his goals so he can go forward with a clear vision. Our submission should be to our principles and values in our heart, the values by which we relate to our Lord, and according to which we should speak and act.

These true and established values should be the basis of our conduct. Otherwise, by always seeking to please this person or avoid that person’s displeasure, our lives become nothing more than perpetual pretentiousness and flattery, in surrender to those around us so that we lose our individuality and our independence. One aspect of inner peace is for our inner selves to be in harmony with our outward conduct. What we profess should be reflected in what we do. (Al-Saff 61: 3)

This requires us to be upright and correct in our approach. Prophet Muhammad defined what it means to be upright on the occasion when Sufyan ibn `Abdullah al-Thaqafi asked:

“O Messenger of Allah! Tell me about Islam what will suffice me so I will not have to ask anyone else about it.” The Prophet replied: Say: ‘I believe in Islam.’ Then be upright.” (Muslim)

Our worship should be in harmony with the way we treat others.

Our worship should give direction to our affairs and make us uphold justice and honor the rights that other people have. We should not lead a double life, one persona for the mosque and an utterly different one for the outside world. Many failures take place and reversals take place because of the abysmal state of those who live lives of outward piety accompanied by inward wretchedness. We really need to strengthen and deepen our faith, so that it can be a pillar to support us through all of life’s trials and tribulations.

We are faced with problems and disappointments at home, at work, and within ourselves, and our faith in God must be strong if we are to endure them and prevail. This faith must be accompanied by genuine devotion that emanates from deep within the heart before manifesting itself in our outward worship. Inner peace requires our wants and aspirations to be in keeping with our abilities and with what is possible for us. Prophet Muhammad said:

O you who believe! Assume the works that you are capable of carrying out, for indeed Allah does not become disinterested until you do, and indeed the most beloved of works to Allah are those that are most constant, no matter how small they might be.” (Al Bukhari)

This applies to everything. In the pursuit of material gain, a person can destroy himself with avarice. Inner peace in what we call towards. No one of us can expect the whole world to respond positively to what he advocates, nor is it right that it should. This did not even happen for God’s Messengers. Whatever one of us works for, there is always someone else working to the contrary and who may obliterate our achievements. Inner peace requires being at peace with our own unique dispositions.

A person cannot compel himself to assume what is alien to his nature or at conflict with it. He must be in harmony with himself. We can see how Prophet Muhammad, when he was served a spiny-tailed lizard to eat, refrained from partaking in it. Khalid ibn al-Walid noticed this and asked if eating the meat of the spiny-tailed lizard was unlawful. The Prophet replied: “No. It is just that it is not found in the land of my people, and I find myself disinclined to it.” He did not eat it, simply because it did not agree with his disposition. It was not a question of whether or not its flesh was permitted by Islamic Law.

The same can be said for the companions; each of them had his or her own unique disposition. Abu Bakr was different than Umar. The question of how to deal with the prisoners of war at Badr is a clear case in point each one of them offered an opinion that concurred with his own personality and outlook, as long as the matter was open to more than one point of view. Abu Bakr was a man of gentleness and forbearance, and Prophet Muhammad acknowledged this about him. Umar was forceful and strict, and likewise, Prophet Muhammad took this into consideration. We must recognize our unique personalities and come to terms with them. We cannot force ourselves into a pretence of denying our individual qualities and temperaments. Umar ibn `Abdul-`Aziz had said: “The most pleasurable of things is a personal predilection that is in accordance with Islamic teachings.”

Inner Peace and Resignation

We must be at peace with what God decrees for us, though we should seek by way of God’s decree to avoid the harm of God’s decree. It is as Umar had said when he avoided entering a plague-stricken region: “We flee from Allah’s decree towards Allah’s decree.”

A believer is resigned to God’s decree and accepts it fully, so much so that he does not want to hasten what has been delayed nor defer what has been hastened on. The terminally ill, those homely of appearance, the feeble-minded, the bachelors and spinsters, the orphans, and all those who suffer from misfortunes – such people have a pressing need to come to make peace with what God has decreed for them, and then go forward with their lives, taking recourse to all practical means at their disposal while resigning themselves to that which is beyond their power.

Being fair and just is also an important factor in attaining inner peace. This requires us to do away with selfishness, vain desires, and avarice. `Ammar, the illustrious companion, used to say:

“There are three things that if someone possesses them all he will have comprehended faith: applying justice to yourself, greeting the world with peace, and spending in charity under straitened circumstances.” (Al Bukhari)

When some of us disagree with one another, why do we not try to put ourselves in the other’s place and try to see things from their point of view, and accept that for them at least what they accept for themselves? I am almost certain that there is no one on Earth who is truly fair with himself except the extremely few whom God graces with that ability. The Prophet said: “One of you sees the dust in his brother’s eye but fails to see the crud in his own.

Inner Peace of Mind

Inner peace also requires that we reconcile our minds to the knowledge of the unseen that the Messengers have brought us. That knowledge never contradicts with accurate scientific knowledge or with sound reason. We accept this knowledge of the unseen without allowing ourselves to succumb to the mindset of mythology that readily concedes every tale that is told without any discretion or discernment.

Matters of the unseen are matters that are beyond the powers of the human mind to ascertain, while fables and myths are beneath the level of the human mind. We must employ reason and eschewing blind acceptance. Indeed, the mind is for discernment; it is not a mere repository for information.

The eminent jurist and legal theorist `Izz al-Din ibn `Abd al-Salam pointed out that questions pertaining to welfare and harm are discernible by reason even before the revelation of the Law. I would like to add that these matters are still discernible to reason even after the Law has been revealed. This is how we understand the Qur’an and Sunnah and how we weigh various legal rulings against one another. We take matters of welfare and harm into due consideration, neither deriding the true worth of our minds nor exaggerating our estimation of their powers and burdening them with matters that are beyond their scope.

There are limits beyond which our minds must not transgress. We must also bring under control the misgivings that our human minds can fall victim to and that can spoil our lives by troubling us in both our worship and our worldly affairs. Most of these things that disquiet us so much are psychological in nature. The best and most effective treatment for such misgivings is to force ourselves to ignore them, to simply refuse to give them the time of day. We must beseech God to help us in this effort and seek refuge with Him in the manner shown to us by Prophet Muhammad by reciting Surah al-Ikhlas.

We must each muster our inner strength and resolve not to heed the demands of our misgivings, especially regarding doubts about our purification. We should even consider the affliction of being beset by misgivings to be an exceptional situation that allows us license to overlook things until God reveals for us a way out of our difficulties. God knows the sincerity that is in our hearts and He helps those who are sincere.

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This article is taken with slight editorial modifications from the author’s website, Islam Today – http://en.islamtoday.net.

Shaykh Salman was born in the village of Al-Basr near the city of Buraida in 1375 A.H. / 1955 A.C to a rich family which was known for its nobility and good name. The Shaykh became known for his intelligence at an early age. After completing his secondary studies, Shaykh Salman enrolled in the Arabic language faculty at the university of Imam Muhammad Bin Saud in Riyadh. He studied there for two years before transferring to the Shari’ah Faculty where he obtained his degree. On receiving his degree, Shaykh Salman returned to al-Qaseem where he studied at the Academic Institute at Buraida. He then transferred to the Shari’ah and Usul ad-Deen Faculty at the Imam Bin Saud Islamic University – Qaseem Campus, where he worked as a lecturer and continued his university studies. He received his Masters degree with a thesis on “The Estrangeness of Islam”.

 

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7 Reasons Islam beats Atheism!

7 Reasons Islam beats Atheism!

7 Reasons Islam beats Atheism!

By Truth Seeker Staff

In this amazing video, one knowledgeable Muslim draws a comparison by the Qur’an and a book that advocates atheism and he proves that it is the Qur’an that is perfectly capable of answering a major as well as crucial question:

What best explains REALITY?

Join us to see the answer to this question…

 

 

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Aishah bint Abi Bakr: Mother of the Believers

Aishah bint Abi Bakr: Mother of the Believers

By Truth Seeker Staff

Many of the learned companions of the Prophet and their followers benefitted from Aishah's knowledge. Abu Musa al-Ashari once said: "If we companions of the Messenger of God had any difficulty on a matter, we asked Aishah about it."

Many of the learned companions of the Prophet and their followers benefitted from Aishah’s knowledge. Abu Musa al-Ashari once said: “If we companions of the Messenger of God had any difficulty on a matter, we asked Aishah about it.”

Aishah bint Abi Bakr: Mother of the Believers

The life of Aishah is proof that a woman can be far more learned than men and that she can be the teacher of scholars and experts. Her life is also proof that a woman can exert influence over men and women and provide them with inspiration and leadership. Her life is also proof that the same woman can be totally feminine and be a source of pleasure, joy and comfort to her husband.

She did not graduate from any university there were no universities as such in her day. But still her utterances are studied in faculties of literature, her legal pronouncements are studied in colleges of law and her life and works are studied and researched by students and teachers of Muslim history as they have been for over a thousand years.

The bulk of her vast treasure of knowledge was obtained while she was still quite young. In her early childhood she was brought up by her father who was greatly liked and respected for he was a man of wide knowledge, gentle manners and an agreeable presence. Moreover he was the closest friend of the noble Prophet who was a frequent visitor to their home since the very early days of his mission.

In her youth, already known for her striking beauty and her formidable memory, she came under the loving care and attention of the Prophet himself. As his wife and close companion she acquired from him knowledge and insight such as no woman has ever acquired.

Aishah became the Prophet’s wife in Makkah when she was most likely in the tenth year of her life but her wedding did not take place until the second year after the Hijrah when she was about fourteen or fifteen years old. Before and after her wedding she maintained a natural jollity and innocence and did not seem at all overawed by the thought of being wedded to him who was the Messenger of God whom all his companions, including her own mother and father, treated with such love and reverence as they gave to no one else.

About her wedding, she related that shortly before she was to leave her parent’s house, she slipped out into the courtyard to play with a passing friend:

“I was playing on a see-saw and my long streaming hair was disheveled,” she said. “They came and took me from my play and made me ready.”

They dressed her in a wedding-dress made from fine red-striped cloth from Bahrain and then her mother took her to the newly-built house where some women of the Ansar were waiting outside the door. They greeted her with the words “For good and for happiness may all be well!” Then, in the presence of the smiling Prophet, a bowl of milk was brought. The Prophet drank from it himself and offered it to Aishah. She shyly declined it but when he insisted she did so and then offered the bowl to her sister Asma who was sitting beside her. Others also drank of it and that was as much as there was of the simple and solemn occasion of their wedding. There was no wedding feast.

Marriage to the Prophet did not change her playful ways. Her young friends came regularly to visit her in her own apartment.

“I would be playing with my dolls,” she said, “with the girls who were my friends, and the Prophet would come in and they would slip out of the house and he would go out after them and bring them back, for he was pleased for my sake to have them there.” Sometimes he would say “Stay where you are” before they had time to leave, and would also join in their games. Aishah said: “One day, the Prophet came in when I was playing with the dolls and he said: ‘O Aishah, whatever game is this?’ ‘It is Solomon’s horses,’ I said and he laughed.” Sometimes as he came in he would screen himself with his cloak so as not to disturb Aishah and her friends.

Aishah’s early life in Madinah also had its more serious and anxious times. Once her father and two companions who were staying with him fell ill with a dangerous fever which was common in Madinah at certain seasons. One morning Aishah went to visit him and was dismayed to find the three men lying completely weak and exhausted. She asked her father how he was and he answered her in verse but she did not understand what he was saying. The two others also answered her with lines of poetry which seemed to her to be nothing but unintelligible babbling. She was deeply troubled and went home to the Prophet saying:

“They are raving, out of their minds, through the heat of the fever.” The Prophet asked what they had said and was somewhat reassured when she repeated almost word for word the lines they had uttered and which made sense although she did not fully understand them then. This was a demonstration of the great retentive power of her memory which as the years went by were to preserve so many of the priceless sayings of the Prophet.

Of the Prophet’s wives in Madinah, it was clear that it was Aishah that he loved most. From time to time, one or the other of his companions would ask:

“O Messenger of God, whom do you love most in the world?” He did not always give the same answer to this question for he felt great love for many for his daughters and their children, for Abu Bakr, for Ali, for Zayd and his son Usamah. But of his wives the only one he named in this connection was Aishah. She too loved him greatly in return and often would seek reassurance from him that he loved her. Once she asked him: “How is your love for me?”

“Like the rope’s knot,” he replied meaning that it was strong and secure. And time after time thereafter, she would ask him: “How is the knot?” and he would reply: “Ala haaliha in the same condition.”

As she loved the Prophet so was her love a jealous love and she could not bear the thought that the Prophet’s attentions should be given to others more than seemed enough to her. She asked him:

“O Messenger of God, tell me of yourself. If you were between the two slopes of a valley, one of which had not been grazed whereas the other had been grazed, on which would you pasture your flocks?”

“On that which had not been grazed,” replied the Prophet. “Even so,” she said, “and I am not as any other of your wives. “Everyone of them had a husband before you, except myself.” The Prophet smiled and said nothing. Of her jealousy, Aishah would say in later years:

“I was not, jealous of any other wife of the Prophet as I was jealous of Khadijah, because of his constant mentioning of her and because God had commanded him to give her good tidings of a mansion in Paradise of precious stones. And whenever he sacrificed a sheep he would send a fair portion of it to those who had been her intimate friends. Many a time I said to him: “It is as if there had never been any other woman in the world except Khadijah.”

Once, when Aishah complained and asked why he spoke so highly of “an old Quraysh woman”, the Prophet was hurt and said: “She was the wife who believed in me when others rejected me. When people gave me the lie, she affirmed my truthfulness. When I stood forsaken, she spent her wealth to lighten the burden of my sorrow..”

Despite her feelings of jealousy which nonetheless were not of a destructive kind, Aishah was really a generous soul and a patient one. She bore with the rest of the Prophet’s household poverty and hunger which often lasted for long periods. For days on end no fire would be lit in the sparsely furnished house of the Prophet for cooking or baking bread and they would live merely on dates and water. Poverty did not cause her distress or humiliation; self-sufficiency when it did come did not corrupt her style of life.

Once the Prophet stayed away from his wives for a month because they had distressed him by asking of him that which he did not have. This was after the Khaybar expedition when an increase of riches whetted the appetite for presents. Returning from his self-imposed retreat, he went first to Aishah’s apartment. She was delighted to see him but he said he had received Revelation which required him to put two options before her. He then recited the verses:

“O Prophet! Say to your wives: If you desire the life of this world and its adornments, then come and I will bestow its goods upon you, and I will release you with a fair release. But if you desire God and His Messenger and the abode of the Hereafter, then verily God has laid in store for you an immense reward for such as you who do good.”

Aishah’s reply was:

“Indeed I desire God and His Messenger and the abode of the Hereafter,” and her response was followed by all the others.

She stuck to her choice both during the lifetime of the Prophet and afterwards. Later when the Muslims were favored with enormous riches, she was given a gift of one hundred thousand dirhams. She was fasting when she received the money and she distributed the entire amount to the poor and the needy even though she had no provisions in her house. Shortly after, a maidservant said to her: “Could you buy meat for a dirham with which to break your fast?”

“If I had remembered, I would have done so,” she said. The Prophet’s affection for Aishah remained to the last. During his final illness, it was to Aishah’s apartment that he went at the suggestion of his wives. For much of the time he lay there on a couch with his head resting on her breast or on her lap. She it was who took a toothstick from her brother, chewed upon it to soften it and gave it to the Prophet. Despite his weakness, he rubbed his teeth with it vigorously. Not long afterwards, he lost consciousness and Aishah thought it was the onset of death, but after an hour he opened his eyes.

Aishah it is who has preserved for us these dying moments of the most honored of God’s creation, His beloved Messenger may He shower His choicest blessings on him.

When he opened his eyes again, Aishah remembered Iris having said to her: “No Prophet is taken by death until he has been shown his place in Paradise and then offered the choice, to live or die.”

“He will not now choose us,” she said to herself. Then she heard him murmur: “With the supreme communion in Paradise, with those upon whom God has showered His favor, the Prophets, the martyrs and the righteous…” Again she heard him murmur: “O Lord, with the supreme communion,” and these were the last words she heard him speak. Gradually his head grew heavier upon her breast, until others in the room began to lament, and Aishah laid his head on a pillow and joined them in lamentation.

In the floor of Aishah’s room near the couch where he was lying, a grave was dug in which was buried the Seal of the Prophets amid much bewilderment and great sorrow.

Aishah lived on almost fifty years after the passing away of the Prophet. She had been his wife for a decade. Much of this time was spent in learning and acquiring knowledge of the two most important sources of God’s guidance, the Quran and the Sunnah of His Prophet. Aishah was one of three wives (the other two being Hafsah and Umm Salamah) who memorized the Revelation. Like Hafsah, she had her own script of the Quran written after the Prophet had died.

So far as the Ahadith or sayings of the Prophet is concerned, Aishah is one of four persons (the others being Abu Hurayrah, Abdullah ibn Umar, and Anas ibn Malik) who transmitted more than two thousand sayings. Many of these pertain to some of the most intimate aspects of personal behavior which only someone in Aishah’s position could have learnt. What is most important is that her knowledge of hadith was passed on in written form by at least three persons including her nephew Urwah who became one of the greatest scholars among the generation after the Companions.

Many of the learned companions of the Prophet and their followers benefitted from Aishah’s knowledge. Abu Musa al-Ashari once said: “If we companions of the Messenger of God had any difficulty on a matter, we asked Aishah about it.”

Her nephew Urwah asserts that she was proficient not only in fiqh but also in medicine (tibb) and poetry. Many of the senior companions of the Prophet came to her to ask for advice concerning questions of inheritance which required a highly skilled mathematical mind. Scholars regard her as one of the earliest fuqaha of Islam along with persons like Umar ibn al-Khattab, Ali and Abdullah ibn Abbas. The Prophet referring to her extensive knowledge of Islam is reported to have said: “Learn a portion of your religion (din) from this red colored lady.” “Humayra” meaning “Red-coloured” was an epithet given to Aishah by the Prophet.

Aishah not only possessed great knowledge but took an active part in education and social reform. As a teacher she had a clear and persuasive manner of speech and her power of oratory has been described in superlative terms by al-Ahnaf who said: “I have heard speeches of Abu Bakr and Umar, Uthman and Ali and the Khulafa up to this day, but I have not heard speech more persuasive and more beautiful from the mouth of any person than from the mouth of Aishah.”

Men and women came from far and wide to benefit from her knowledge. The number of women is said to have been greater than that of men. Besides answering enquiries, she took boys and girls, some of them orphans, into her custody and trained them under her care and guidance. This was in addition to her relatives who received instruction from her. Her house thus became a school and an academy.

Some of her students were outstanding. We have already mentioned her nephew Urwah as a distinguished reporter of hadith. Among her women pupils is the name of Umrah bint Abdur Rahman. She is regarded by scholars as one of the trustworthy narrators of hadith and is said to have acted as Aishah’s secretary receiving and replying to letters addressed to her. The example of Aishah in promoting education and in particular the education of Muslim women in the laws and teachings of Islam is one which needs to be followed.

After Khadijah al-Kubra (the Great) and Fatimah az-Zahra (the Resplendent), Aishah as-Siddiqah (the one who affirms the Truth) is regarded as the best woman in Islam. Because of the strength of her personality, she was a leader in every field in knowledge, in society, in politics and in war. She often regretted her involvement in war but lived long enough to regain position as the most respected woman of her time. She died in the year 58 AH in the month of Ramadan and as she instructed, was buried in the Jannat al-Baqi in the City of Light, beside other companions of the Prophet.

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Taken with slight editorial modifications from http://www.islamicweb.com.

 

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Tips for Staying Healthy While Observing Fasting

Tips for Staying Healthy While Observing Fasting

By Truth Seeker Staff

Staying Healthy

To stay in shape during a fast, it is also advisable to stay out of the sun, spend most of the day in cool places and avoid strenuous exercise.

Tips for Staying Healthy While Observing Fasting

During Ramadan, practicing Muslims change their eating habits dramatically.

Questioned by Relaxnews, nutritionist Charlotte Debeugny provided her recommendations to religious fasters looking to make the most out of this festive time of year.

Pack in fibre and protein at Suhoor

Suhoor and Iftar, the two daily meals during Ramadan, are taken before dawn and after dusk, respectively. Suhoor is crucial, as it is the faster’s last meal before facing the day. So it is important to make sure this pre-dawn meal contains protein (found in eggs, cheese, yogurt, nuts, etc.) and fibre (fruit, vegetables, whole grains, etc.), both of which help stave off hunger over a long period.

Avoid overeating after sundown

After a day of deprivation, there is a strong temptation to overindulge at Iftar. To curb the pangs of hunger before reaching for calorie-rich foods, try having a bowl of cold soup or a healthy salad. The evening meal should also include protein, whole grains, and vegetables.

Especially during Ramadan, it is important to avoid empty calories and junk food, to eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables per day, and to ensure that each meal includes healthy portions of protein and dairy products.

Eat almonds and dates instead of rich desserts

While Ramadan is a festive time of year, it has the potential to negatively impact one’s health. Eating at night rather than during the day affects the body’s metabolism, thus increasing the risk of weight gain. Fasting can also lead to cravings for foods that are high in sugar and fat, which can also impact your waistline. Charlotte Debeugny recommends eating a few dates or almonds instead of the extremely calorie-rich pastries served during Ramadan, such as baklava or halva.

Avoid the sun and stay hydrated

To stay in shape during a fast, it is also advisable to stay out of the sun, spend most of the day in cool places and avoid strenuous exercise. Eating fruit before sunrise is a good idea, as the water it contains helps to hydrate the body during the day. Be careful not to drink too much water at once. Coffee and tea are to be avoided, as they can actually lead to increased thirst and dehydration. For additional energy, try drinking smoothies or fruit juice diluted with water.

Adapt fasting to your physical condition

Before starting a fast, it is necessary to talk to a doctor, particularly for seniors, diabetics taking medication to control their insulin levels, pregnant women and pre-adolescent children. Those with compromised health who still wish to fast for Ramadan should consult their doctor to develop a fasting plan adapted to their condition. At the first symptom of failing health, it is important to stop fasting.

 

Note from the Editor:

Along with having healthy food while we are fasting during the month of Ramadan, we should not forget the core essence of the ritual of fasting in Islam, namely to obtain Taqwa (piety) and fear of Allah, the Creator of all and everything. Allah the Almighty says in the Ever-Glorious Qur’an what means,

“O you who have attained to faith! Fasting is ordained for you as it was ordained for those before you, so that you might remain conscious of God. [Fasting] during a certain number of days. But whoever of you is ill, or on a journey, [shall fast instead for the same] number of other days; and [in such cases] it is incumbent upon those who can afford it to make sacrifice by feeding a needy person. And whoever does more good than he is bound to do does good unto himself thereby; for to fast is to do good unto yourselves – if you but knew it. It was the month of Ramadan in which the Qur’an was [first] bestowed from on high as a guidance unto man and a self-evident proof of that guidance, and as the standard by which to discern the true from the false. Hence, whoever of you lives to see this month shall fast throughout it; but he that is ill, or on a journey, [shall fast instead for the same] number of other days. God wills that you shall have ease, and does not will you to suffer hardship; but [He desires] that you complete the number [of days required], and that you extol God for His having guided you aright, and that you render your thanks [unto Him].” (Al-Baqarah 2: 183-185)

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Taken with slight editorial modifications from AFP Relaxnews: http://malaysiandigest.com

 

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Ramadan: Month of Fasting or Month of Feasting?

Ramadan: Month of Fasting or Month of Feasting?

By Sarah Ghias

ramadan

If a person overeats in the evening and indulges in heavy, fatty foods, this offsets the physical benefits of fasting.

Ramadan: Month of Fasting or Month of Feasting?

The holy month of Ramadan is a time of restraint, reflection, and renewal. Muslims make every effort to better themselves and to be drawn closer to their Creator.

They guard their tongues, engage in long hours of worship, exercise patience, and open up their hearts and pockets to charitable causes.

However, when it comes to consuming food during the evening hours, some believers fall short of following the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessing be upon him (PBUH).

In order to compare the eating habits of Muslims today, during the month of Ramadan, with that of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) an informal survey was conducted.

In 2008, over 270 participants from around the world were asked about their consumption habits during this sacred month.

Sixty percent of participants were from the US, 20% from the Middle East, 10% from South Asia (Indian Subcontinent) and 10% were from other countries.

Breaking the Fast

Regarding the iftar meal, it is encouraged to break your fast as soon as it is permissible to do so. The Prophet (PBUH) would hasten to break his fast.

Sahl ibn Sa`d reported that the Prophet (PBUH) said: “The people will not cease to be upon good as long as they hasten in breaking the fast.” (Bukhari and Muslim).

It is reported that the Prophet (PBUH) would also break his fasts with dates as do 86.5% of the survey participants; this is a Sunnah that is well followed by Muslims today.

Anas Ibn Maalik said: “The Prophet (PBUH) used to break his fast with fresh dates before he prayed. If he didn’t find fresh dates then with dried dates. If there were no dried dates then with a few sips of water.” (Abu Dawood).

Imam Ibn Qayyim Al Jauziyah states in his book “Healing With the Medicine of the Prophet” that breaking the fast with dates “is a wise decision because fasting empties the stomach of food. Thus the liver would not find any sufficient energy that it could transfer to the various organs. Sweets are the fastest foods to reach the liver when one eats ripe dates the liver accepts it, benefits from it and then transfers the benefit to the rest of the organs of the body.”

After this process, the body is ready to accept and digest additional food. Thus ideally, one should break their fast with a date and after praying the Maghrib prayer, they should continue with their meal.

This gives the body ample time to prepare itself for the sudden increase in food intake. 58% of respondents to the survey stated that they eat their meal after the Maghrib prayer.

Overeating

It is during the Iftar meal that we consume the most and often overindulge ourselves.

40% of participants admitted that they eat at least twice as much for Iftar than they eat for a regular dinner in any other month.

Fifty percent of respondents to the survey admitted that they overeat during Ramadan and 62% felt that they eat heavier and richer foods during this blessed month.

Thus, it is a cause for concern that especially in this holy month of Ramadan, when the nafs (self) should be kept in check, some choose to overindulge and eat in extravagance.

Fasting during the daylight hours has several health benefits; it cleanses the system and removes harmful toxins from the body.

When the body is fasting and not occupied with the process of digestion, its organs are given an opportunity to rejuvenate and restore themselves, in turn allowing the one who fasts to recover from various ailments.

However, if a person overeats in the evening and indulges in heavy, fatty foods, this offsets the physical benefits of fasting.

It is generally presumed that since one is restraining from food and drink during the daylights hours, the body needs increased input during the non-fasting hours.

This isn’t the case, however, as the body regulates itself when it is in fasting mode and has the opportunity to utilize its storage of body fat.

To remain healthy and active during Ramadan, the amount of food intake isn’t as important as the variety of foods we eat.

The Prophet (PBUH) was known to eat an assortment of foods including meat, fruit, bread, and dates, according to Imam Ibn Qayyiim.

Thus to maximize the physical benefits of fasting it is desirable to eat less but have a balanced diet which taps into the major food groups.

As for the types of foods eaten during Ramadan, 67% of respondents said they eat 3 or more different types of dishes, with the over 30-year-olds eating more of a variety of foods than the 18 – 30-year-olds.

Fifty-seven percent of the participants stated that they eat fried food for iftar and 34% of them said that the majority of their meal consists of this type of food. Thirty-four percent of respondents include desserts in their iftar meal.

Suhoor, the Blessed Meal

The Prophet (PBUH) strongly recommended eating Suhoor. Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri reported that the Messenger (PBUH) said: “Eating the Suhoor is blessed. Do not neglect it even if you take a gulp of water because Allah and His angels invoke blessings upon those who partake in the pre-dawn meal.” (Ahmad).

It is encouraged by the Sunnah to delay the Suhoor as much as possible and eat until the last permissible minute.

70% of the respondents claim that they delay their suhoor till the last moment.

According to ‘Amr ibn Maimun: “The companions of Muhammad (PBUH) would be the first to break the fast and the last to eat their Suhoor.” (Al-Baihaqi, Abdur-Razzaq, and Al-Haithami; Sahih).

For Suhoor it is recommended to have high fiber, slow digesting foods that satisfy the hunger for longer; oats and fiber-rich fruit are good options to have.

The Prophet used to eat dates for Suhoor and it is recorded that he said: “The best Suhoor for the believer is dates.” (Abu Dawood, Al-Baihaqee, and Ibn Hibbaan).

Dates are a powerhouse of nutrients and an instant source of energy; they are high in sugar, fiber, iron, potassium, and magnesium.

Consuming dates allows one to feel satiated for an extended period of time, making it a perfect food to start your fast with.

Forty-nine percent of the respondents said they have tea or coffee for Suhoor, this isn’t a wise option as caffeine is a diuretic which doesn’t provide us with sufficient hydration and causes us to lose liquids along with essential minerals from our body.

Sixty-one percent of respondents who are over 30 drink tea or coffee in the morning and 42% of respondents younger than 30 drink tea or coffee.

Ramadan is an excellent opportunity to rid ourselves of addictions to caffeinated drinks. One should drink plenty of water and pure fruit juices instead.

Moderation is Key

Allah says in the Qur’an,

“Eat of the good things We have provided for your sustenance, but commit no excess therein.” (Taha 20:81)

The body of mankind has been blessed with is an Amanah (trust) from Allah.

It is an obligation to take care of it and fuel it with that which is good.

The Prophet (PBUH) is reported to have said, “The stomach is the tank of the body and the veins go down to it. When the stomach is healthy the veins come back in a healthy condition, but when it is in a bad condition, they return diseased.

Islam emphasizes moderation in every aspect of life and it is essential that this concept be applied to food intake as well.

Imam Ash-Shafi’ said: “I have not filled myself in sixteen years because filling oneself makes the body heavy, removes clear understanding, induces sleep and makes one weak for worship.”

Temperance in eating leads to a healthy body, a sound intellect, and a gentle disposition. It curbs our desires and positively affects the physical as well as the spiritual being of the heart.

This point is further explained by Imam Ibn al-Qayyim when he said: “From the Mercy of the Mighty and Most Merciful is that He has prescribed for them fasting, which will cut off the excesses of eating and drinking, and empties the heart of its desires that divert it in its journey towards Allah the Most High.”

The Prophet (PBUH) warned against submitting to our desires when he said, “My greatest fear for you is the appetites of transgression with regard to your stomachs and your privates and the inclinations which lead astray.” (Ahmad).

Thus we should eat only that which is beneficial and only enough to sustain us and give us the strength to carry out acts of worship and obedience.

A well-known hadith reported by al-Tirmidhi relates that the Prophet (PBUH) said: “Man fills no vessel worse than his stomach. A few morsels should be enough for him to preserve his strength. If he must fill it, then he should allow a third for his food, a third for his drink and leave a third empty for easy breathing.

This concept is emphasized in the Qur’an where Allah says,

“Eat and drink: but waste not by excess, for Allah loves not the wasters.” (Al-A`raf 7:31)

Ramadan is an opportunity to reevaluate one’s relationship with food. It allows one to realize that they can get by without eating for several hours and that their bodies are capable of functioning on a moderate amount of consumption.

Ramadan is fast approaching so instead of spending the coming weeks stocking the pantry and freezer with delights to feast on when the sun sets, let us focus our attention on perfecting our ibadah (worship) so that we may savor the bountiful treats of Jannah (Heaven) without having to worry about clogged arteries or accumulating extra pounds!

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Courtesy onislam.net with slight editorial modifications.

Sarah Ghias is a freelance writer who currently resides in Texas, United States. She graduated with Honors from the University of Texas at Dallas with a Business Administration Degree. You can contact her by sending an e-mail to ScienceTech@islam-online.net.

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Scientists: Fasting Triggers Stem Cell Regeneration & Fights Cancer

Scientists: Fasting Triggers Stem Cell Regeneration & Fights Cancer

By Truth Seeker Staff

Fights Cancer

Fasting may help to combat cancer and boost the effectiveness of treatment

Fasting Triggers Stem Cell Regeneration & Fights Cancer

A number of ancient health practices are proving to be effective in multiple ways. We recently posted an article about meditation, and how

neuroscience can now explain what happens to the brain when we meditate. Now, scientists have discovered the first evidence of a natural intervention triggering stem cell-based regeneration of an organ or system. The study was published in the June 5 issue of Cell Stem Cell by researchers from the University of Southern California. The research shows that cycles of prolonged fasting protect against immune system damage and induce immune system regeneration. They concluded that fasting shifts stem cells from a dormant state to a state of self-renewal.

Human clinical trials were conducted using patients who were receiving chemotherapy. For long periods of time, patients did not eat which significantly lowered their white blood cell counts. In mice, fasting cycles “flipped a regenerative switch, changing the signaling pathways for hematopoietic stem cells, which are responsible for the generation of blood and immune systems.”

“We could not predict that prolonged fasting would have such a remarkable effect in promoting stem cell-based regeneration of the heatopoietic system. When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged. What we started noticing in both our human work and animal work is that the white blood cell count goes down with prolonged fasting. Then when you re-feed, the blood cells come back. ” – Valter Longo, corresponding author.

Again, because fasting significantly lowers white blood cell counts, this triggers stem cell-based regeneration of new immune system cells. More importantly, it reduces the PKA enzyme, which has been linked to aging, tumor progression and cancer.(1) It’s also noteworthy to mention that fasting protected against toxicity in a pilot clinical trial where patients fasted for 72 hours prior to chemotherapy.

“Chemotherapy causes significant collateral damage to the immune system. The results of this study suggest that fasting may mitigate some of the harmful effects of chemotherapy.” Co-Author Tanya Dorff

Fasting is a tradition that’s been incorporated into many ancient cultures, from Vedic to Buddhist and more, fasting should not be confused with starvation. It’s the process of restraining and control from the sensorial experience of eating and at the same time making sure you are doing it correctly. When I fast, I usually do water fasts and I have been doing them for almost eight years now and I always feel great and full of energy after doing so.

More Research

1. Fasting helps protect against brain disease:

Researchers at the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore have found evidence that fasting for one or two days a week can prevent the effects

Fights Cancer

Scientists found tumour cells responded differently to the stress of fasting compared to normal cells

of Alzheimer and Parkinson’s disease. Research also found that cutting the daily intake to 500 calories a day for two days out of the seven can show clear beneficial effects for the brain.

2. Fasting cuts your risk of heart disease and diabetes:

Regularly going a day without food reduces your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Studies show that fasting releases a significant surge in human growth hormone, which is associated with speeding up metabolism and burning off fat. Shedding fat is known to cut the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Doctors are even starting to consider fasting as a treatment.

3. Fasting effectively treats cancer in human cells:

A study from the scientific journal of aging found that cancer patients who included fasting into their therapy perceived fewer side effects from chemotherapy. All tests conducted so far show that fasting improves survival, slow tumor growth and limit the spread of tumors. The National Institute on Aging has also studied one type of breast cancer in detail to further understand the effects of fasting on cancer. As a result of fasting, the cancer cells tried to make new proteins and took other steps to keep growing and dividing. As a result of these steps, which in turn led to a number of other steps, damaging free radical molecules were created which broke down the cancer cells own DNA and caused their destruction! It’s cellular suicide, the cancer cell is trying to replace all of the stuff missing in the bloodstream that it needs to survive after a period of fasting, but can’t. In turn, it tries to create them and this leads to its own destruction

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Read More:

More Than 1 Billion People Stopped Eating and Drinking: Discover Why

An Atheist Finds Islam Through Fasting Ramadan

 

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Al-Wadoud: The All-Loving God

Al-Wadoud: The All-Loving God

By Dr. Muhammad Ratib An-Nabulsi

godAl-Wadoud: The All-Loving God

Allah’s divine name “Al-Wadoud” (The All-Loving), is an emphatic name derived from the Arabic word “Woudd”, which means “Houbb” (Love) as Allah says:

“And He (Allah) is the All-Forgiving, the All-Loving.” (Al-Buruj 85:14)

The Arabic word “Houbb” is, in turn, derived from “Habab Al-Asnan”, which means “whiteness, cleanliness and purity of teeth”. This means that those who love Allah, Most Gracious, are pure, chaste, sincere, and faithful. The word “Houbb” also indicates submission and obedience to the beloved. Hence, those who love Allah, Most Gracious, are dutiful and obedient to Him. They are modest, humble and submissive to the Lord, Exalted and All-High.

The word “Houbb” also means “instability”, which, in turn, means that those who love Allah are in constant instability as regards their relationship with their lord. True believers, who really love their Lord, undergo constantly changing feelings as regards their relationship with Him; while hypocrites, whose hearts are dead and, hence, emotionless, remain stable and unchangeable. Also, the word “Houbb” or “Habb” refers to a seed from which we get good fruits.

This means that those who love the Lord their love is like a seed that produces a shady tree that, in turn, yields good fruits. In fact, the word “Houbb” (love) embraces all of the foregoing meanings: purity, chastity, submission, humbleness, instability, growth and good …etc.

Love into Action

Undoubtedly, there is a delicate difference between both words. “Al-Houbb” means love as a noble feeling dwelling in the heart; while “Al-Woudd” means love substantiated by action. In other words, if you love someone, your inner feelings towards him are called “Houbb” (i.e. love that exists in your heart), but when you translate such love into action by smiling to him, for example, or doing him a favor, this is “Woudd” (i.e. love that you put into action).

If you offer him a present, it is “Woudd”. If you help him out of a problem, it is “Woudd”. If you visit him when he is ill, it is “Woudd”. If you offer him a present when he gets married, it is “Woudd”. In short, inner feelings of love are “Houbb”; while ostensible substantial acts of love are “Woudd”.

All those who have “Woudd” must necessarily have “Houbb”, but not vice versa. This means that someone might love another but does not show that in his behavior, but if someone shows love to another, this means that he loves him.

This means that the whole universe, that is, with its heavens, stars, planets, galaxies, the sun, the moon, rain, fishes, birds, animals, plants, flowers, is but a substantiation of Allah’s “Woudd” (Love) for mankind. Children, who fill the home with life and movement, are of Allah’s “Woudd”. The great many kinds of fruits are of Allah’s “Woudd”. Wives, whom Allah created especially for men’s psychological and physical comfort, are of Allah’s “Woudd”. Husbands, whom Allah created especially for women’s comfort, are out of Allah’s “Woudd”. Wool, which Allah created to protect us from cold is out of Allah’s “Woudd”. All things that Allah has subjected for mankind are out of Allah’s “Woudd”. The whole universe is subjugated for man as a kind of “Woudd” from God.

And when God loves someone He honors and mercies him/her. However, Allah’s love for true believers is confirmed in the Qur’an.

Allah’s divine love for man is manifested by His divine protection, help, victory, success, sending down mercy upon his heart, sending down peace and tranquility upon him, providing him with all the things he needs. This is Allah’s divine love for man. But man’s love for Allah is substantiated by inclination and attachment, because if Allah forsakes him, or deprives him of His divine light, he feels unbearable pain and sorrow.

Once man loves God he gets inclined to Him, seeks refuge in His divine shade, light, holy manifestations, peace and tranquility, and he feels that Allah is always protecting and helping him. But Allah’s divine love for man means protection, help, support…etc. And “Al-Woudd” is the practical substantiation of both kinds of love.

Allah Is All-Loving

1- The first point concerns Allah’s name “Al-Wadoud” (The All-Loving) is that He endears Himself to His slaves by bestowing His innumerable divine favors upon them. Therefore, logic and good reason show that the entire universe is nothing but a manifestation and substantiation of Allah’s Divine “Woudd” (i.e. Love) for mankind.

Thus Allah favors you with His never-ending favors and graces: good health, fresh water, delicious food and drink, fruits, fishes, birds…etc. When your heart and all other parts of your body work properly, this is one of Allah’s uncountable Divine Favors and Graces. Therefore, true believers should say what Allah’s Prophets taught us to say:

“Say: ‘Truly, my prayer, my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allah, Lord of all worlds.” (Al-An`am 6:162)

Before Allah created you and brought you into existence, you were nothing at all. But from the moment He brought you into existence, He bestowed on you a couple of Priceless Divine Favors:

“Have We not made for him (Man) a pair of eyes, a tongue and a pair of lips, and shown him the two Ways (of good and evil)?” (Al-Balad 90:2-4)

The first divine gift man that receives from his Lord upon his birth is a very complicated operation, namely the so-called “Suck reflex”, which enables him, from the moment of birth, to take his mother’s breast tightly with his small mouth and start sucking. Without such reflex, human life would be impossible! Your mother is one of Allah’s great divine signs and favors, for she is naturally pre-disposed to consecrate, and even sacrifice, all her existence for her baby. She devotes all herself, her nerves, her feelings and emotions, her powers, and her efforts, for the sake of her baby.

Air that we breathe and water that we drink are great Divine Favors. What would you say about the different kinds of fruits?! Even more, God has endowed you with an intelligent mind with which you think and take up a certain vocation or profession and do it properly.

2- When in the Qur’an Allah says: “And He (Allah) is the All-Forgiving, Al-Wadoud (the All-Loving)”, the word “Al-Wadoud” here means that Allah loves and honors His righteous slaves. It also means that His favors and blessings are but substantiations and manifestations of His Divine Love for them:

“On those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, will (Allah) Most Gracious bestow love.” (Maryam 19:96)

3- Allah is “Wadoud” (All-Loving) for His slaves in the sense that He creates love and casts it among His slaves.

Who casts love for children in the hearts of mothers? If you go to an infant-hospital, you see something really amazing: different mothers from all walks of life cry for their babies. In fact, all mothers, Muslim and non-Muslim, without any exception, cry for their babies if anything goes wrong with them. Undoubtedly Allah, most gracious, has cast such love for children in the hearts of mothers!

Therefore, Allah “Al-Wadoud” (the All-Loving), creates love and casts it among His slaves: fathers, mothers, husbands, mothers, siblings, and friends. They all enjoy love among them. To the same effect, Allah, Most Gracious, says:

“And among His Signs is that He has created for you wives from among yourselves that you may find repose in them; and He has put between you affection and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed Signs for a people who reflect.” (Ar-Rum 30:21)

Who creates such affection and mercy? It is Allah, Most Gracious!

4- Allah is All-Loving in the sense that He seeks love of His slaves, just as they seek His divine love. And He casts love into their heart for one another and for Him. In this sense, this name has three meanings: love from the Lord for His slaves, love from slaves to their Lord, and love among slaves for one another. That is why Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, says “The zenith of wisdom, after belief in Allah, is to seek people’s love.”

Therefore, the wisest, cleverest and best thing a believer can do, after having believed in Allah, is to seek people’s love and friendship, in order to help them know the truth. To this, Allah says:

“And by a Mercy from Allah you dealt with them gently. And had you been severe and harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from around you; so pass over (their faults), and ask (Allah’s) Forgiveness for them, and consult them in the affairs. Then, when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah. Certainly, Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him).” (Aal `Imran 3:159)

Here emerges a difference between “Al-Woudd” (Practical love) and “Ar-Rahmah” (mercy) as the latest is offered to a weak, helpless, miserable, ill, suffering person who is inferior to you, and, hence deserves your mercy; while “Al-Woudd” (love) is offered to others not because they are inferior to you or are in need of your help.

In other words, “Al-Woudd” is offered without request or imploration, but “Ar-Rahmah” is offered upon request, imploration or inferiority. When God created us, He was “Wadoud”, i.e. loving. We were nothing, but He created us, honored us, and bestowed His Innumerable divine favors and graces upon us: “O man! What has made you careless about your Lord, the Generous, Who created you and made you in due measures? In whatever shape He desires He constructs you.

“Be cursed (the disbelieving) man! How ungrateful he is! From what thing did He (Allah) create him? From a semen He created him and then set him in due proportion. Then He made the Path easy for him. Then He caused him to die and caused him to be put in a grave. Then, when He wills, He will resurrect him. Nay! But he (man) has not done what He (Allah) commanded him.” (`Abasa 80:17-23)

———–

This article is a summarized version of the article (Al-Wadoud) by the author, published at his web site www.nabulsi.com.

Dr. Muhammad Ratib An-Nabulsi is a Muslim Syrian preacher and writer. He has written a number of Islamic books, most remarkable of which are: “Encyclopedia of the Beautiful Names of Allah”, “Encyclopedia of Scientific Miracles of the Holy Qur’an and Prophetic Sunnah” , “Outlooks on Islam” and “Contemplations on Islam”. He delivers a number of lessons, orations, symposiums and chat programs broadcasted on the Syrian, Arab, and Islamic radios and Televisions.

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Book review: “Why Science Does Not Disprove God”

Book review: “Why Science Does Not Disprove God”

By Alan Lightman

Aczel discusses the mysteries of “emergent” phenomena — when a complex system exhibits a qualitative behavior that cannot be explained in terms of the workings of its individual parts.

Aczel discusses the mysteries of “emergent” phenomena — when a complex system exhibits a qualitative behavior that cannot be explained in terms of the workings of its individual parts.

“Why Science Does Not Disprove God”

In “Einstein, God, and the Big Bang,” a colorful chapter of his new book, Amir D. Aczel maintains that Albert Einstein truly believed in God. He points out that Einstein attended synagogue during his year in Prague (1913).

He repeats several famous Einstein utterances mentioning the Deity: “Subtle is the Lord, but malicious he is not” and “I want to know God’s thoughts — the rest are details.” And he quotes from a letter the great physicist wrote to a little girl in January 1936:

“Everyone who is seriously interested in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that some spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe, one that is vastly superior to that of man.”

Aczel goes on to express strong displeasure with such people as physicist Lawrence Krauss and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins (who, in his bestseller “The God Delusion,” says that Einstein “didn’t really mean it”) when they cast Einstein as an atheist in support of their diatribes against religious belief.

Dawkins; Krauss, with his bestseller “A Universe From Nothing”; and Sam Harris, with his bestseller “The End of Faith,” are prominent New Atheists, who use modern science to argue that God is not only unnecessary but unlikely to exist at all, even behind the curtains. There’s a certain religious fervor in all these books. Atheists, unite.

Aczel, trained as a mathematician, currently a research fellow in the history of science at Boston University and the author of “Fermat’s Last Theorem,” takes aim at the New Atheists in his intelligent and stimulating book “Why Science Does Not Disprove God.” He attempts to show that the New Atheists’ analyses fall far short of disproving the existence of God. In fact, he accuses these folks of staining the scientific enterprise by bending it to their dark mission.

(“The purpose of this book is to defend the integrity of science,” he writes in his introduction.) Yet Aczel has a sly mission of his own. Invoking various physical phenomena that do not (yet) have convincing scientific explanations, he sets out not only to debunk the arguments of the New Atheists but also to gently suggest that the findings of science actually point to the existence of God.

In stockpiling his arguments, Aczel quotes from his interviews with dozens of leading scientists and theologians, and interprets statements in a range of popular writings. The resulting book is part science (interesting but superficial summaries of cosmology, quantum mechanics, evolutionary biology, chaos theory), part history of religion, part philosophy, part spirituality, and a modicum of backbiting and invective. The latter applies to the writings of the New Atheists as well.

Let’s start with the origin of the universe. There is plenty of good scientific evidence that our universe began about 14 billion years ago, in a Big Bang of enormously high density and temperature, long before planets, stars and even atoms existed. But what came before? Krauss in his book discusses the current thinking of physicists that our entire universe could have emerged from a jitter in the amorphous haze of the subatomic world called the quantum foam, in which energy and matter can materialize out of nothing.

(On the level of single subatomic particles, physicists have verified in the lab that such creation from “nothing” can occur.) Krauss’s punch line is that we do not need God to create the universe. The quantum foam can do it quite nicely all on its own. Aczel asks the obvious question: But where did the quantum foam come from? Where did the quantum laws come from? Hasn’t Krauss simply passed the buck? Legitimate questions. But ones we will probably never be able to answer.

In his foray into biology, Aczel says the theory of evolution is flawed. In particular, he points out that it does not explain altruistic behavior with no apparent survival benefit to the genes of the do-gooder. He cites a recent example of a Mount Everest climbing expedition in which an Israeli climber was well on his way to the top when he discovered a fallen Turkish climber who had lost his face mask and oxygen supply. At the cost of his own fingers and toes to frostbite, and sacrificing the glory of reaching the summit, the Israeli stopped and saved the life of the Turkish fellow. Why did he do it? “Human decency and goodness,” Aczel writes, with the implication that such qualities come from religion and spirituality. (In another chapter, he explains how a code of morality developed in early religions.)

Aczel discusses the mysteries of “emergent” phenomena — when a complex system exhibits a qualitative behavior that cannot be explained in terms of the workings of its individual parts: for example, the emergence of self-replicating life from inanimate molecules or the emergence of consciousness from a collection of connected neurons. He writes, “The inexplicability of such emergent phenomena is the reason why we cannot disprove the idea of some creative power behind everything.”

I disagree. It is not the inability of science to explain some physical phenomenon that shows we cannot disprove the existence of a creative power (i.e., God). Science is a work in progress, and phenomena that science cannot explain now may be explained 100 years from now. Before the 18th century, people had no explanation for lightning. The reason that science cannot disprove the existence of God, in my opinion, is that God, as understood by all human religions, exists outside time and space. God is not part of our physical universe (although God may choose to enter the physical universe at times). God is not subject to experimental tests. Either you believe or you don’t believe.

Thus, no matter what scientific evidence is amassed to explain the architecture of atoms, or the ways that neurons exchange chemical and electrical signals to create the sensations in our minds, or the manner in which the universe may have been born out of the quantum foam, science cannot disprove the existence of God — any more than a fish can disprove the existence of trees. Likewise, no matter what gaps exist in current scientific knowledge, no matter what baffling good deeds people do, no matter what divine and spiritual feelings people have, theology cannot prove the existence of God. The most persuasive evidence of God, according to the great philosopher and psychologist William James in his landmark book “The Varieties of Religious Experience” (1902), is not physical or objective or provable. It is the highly personal transcendent experience.

There is one scientific conundrum that practically screams out the limitations of both science and religion. And that is the “fine tuning” problem. For the past 50 years or so, physicists have become more and more aware that various fundamental parameters of our universe appear to be fine-tuned to allow the emergence of life — not only life as we know it but life of any kind. For example, if the nuclear force were slightly stronger than it is, then all of the hydrogen atoms in the infant universe would have fused with other hydrogen atoms to make helium, and there would be no hydrogen left. No hydrogen means no water. On the other hand, if the nuclear force were substantially weaker than it is, then the complex atoms needed for biology could not hold together.

In another, even more striking example, if the cosmic “dark energy” discovered 15 years ago were a little denser than it actually is, our universe would have expanded so rapidly that matter could never have pulled itself together to form stars. And if the dark energy were a little smaller, the universe would have collapsed long before stars had time to form. Atoms are made in stars. Without stars there would be no atoms and no life.

So, the question is: Why? Why do these parameters lie in the narrow range that allows life? There are three possibilities: First, there might be some as-yet-unknown physics that requires these parameters to be what they are. But this explanation is highly questionable — why should the laws of physics care about the emergence of life? Second possibility: God created the universe, God wanted life (for whatever reasons), so God designed the universe so that it would allow life. Third possibility, and the one favored by many physicists today: Our universe is one of zillions of different universes with a huge range of parameters, including many different values for the strength of the nuclear force and the density of dark energy.

Some universes have stars and planets, some do not. Some harbor life, some do not. In this scenario, our universe is simply an accident. If our particular universe did not have the right parameters to allow the emergence of life, we wouldn’t be here to talk about it. In a similar way, Earth happens to be at the right distance from the sun to have liquid water, a nice oxygen atmosphere and so on. We can ask why our planet has all these lovely properties, amenable to life. And the explanation is that there is nothing special or designed about Earth. Other planets exist. But if we lived on Mercury, where the temperature is 800 degrees, or on Neptune, where it is 328 degrees below zero, we could not exist. Unfortunately, it is almost certain that we cannot prove the existence of these other universes. We must accept their existence as a matter of faith.

And here we come to the fascinating irony of the fine-tuning problem. Both the theological explanation and the scientific explanation require faith. To be sure, there are huge differences between science and religion. Religion knows about the transcendent experience. Science knows about the structure of DNA and the orbits of planets. Religion gathers its knowledge largely by personal testament. Science gathers its knowledge by repeated experiments and mathematical calculations, and has been enormously successful in explaining much of the physical universe. But, in the manner I have described, faith enters into both enterprises.

Several years ago, I thought that the writings and arguments of such people as Dawkins and Aczel, attempting to disprove or prove the existence of God, were a terrible waste of calories. I have changed my mind. I now believe that the discussions of science and religion, even the attempts of one side to disprove the other, are part of the continuing and restorative conversation of humanity with itself. In the end, all of our art, our science and our theological beliefs are an attempt to make sense of this fabulous and fleeting existence we find ourselves in.

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Alan Lightman is a physicist, novelist and professor of the practice of the humanities at MIT. His latest book is “The Accidental Universe.”

 

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