Tuesday, January 30, 2007

124)Tawhid, Unity or Oneness, in the realms of both matter and spirit.

The Economist's most recent article in the Science and Technology discusses the continuous and relentless effort, begun during the 20th century, of trying to harmonize Albert Einstein's theory of General Relativity, which applies well to large objects like planets, stars, galaxies and black holes, with Quantum Physics, which describes most accurately the sometimes strange behaviour of microscopic and sub-microscopic matter like atoms, protons, electrons, quarks, etc. Latest research has shown that Einstein's general relativity, which ushered in a new era in physics in the early 20th century, may not be as solid a theory as once thought, that its description of the macro-universe may only be approximately correct, not totally correct. Experiments currently underway and being planned for the future are well described in the article below. This is a good example of the dynamic and open-ended nature of science, which always sniffs in the direction that empirical research takes it.

The most cutting edge mathematical and scientific research, involving, among other things, String theory, is part of an attempt to unify Einstein's general relativity theory with Quantum physics to give us an intellectually and esthetically pleasing theory of everything, a unified theory that accurately describes how all matter, from the most miniscule size(called 1 Planck length, which is ten to the power minus thirty five meters in length) to the entire universe(thought to be at least 156 billion light years wide(156,000,000,000 multiplied by 10,000,000,000,000, or 156 times ten to the power 22 kilometers wide, and expanding), operates in the cosmos.

Of course, a totally unified rational explanation of how the material universe operates would be precisely in keeping with Islam's most fundamental principle of Tawhid, applicable at all levels of reality from matter to spirit, and then to the unified whole as well. I am, once again, reminded about key utterances of our 49th and 48th Imams:

Imam Hassan has explained the Islamic doctrine of God and the Universe by analogy with the sun and its reflection in the pool of a fountain; there is certainly a reflection or image of the sun, but with what poverty and with what little reality; how small and pale is the likeness between this impalpable image and the immense, blazing, white-hot glory of the celestial sphere itself. Allah is the sun; and the Universe, as we know it in all its magnitude, and time, with its power, are nothing more than the reflection of the Absolute in the mirror of the fountain(Aga Khan 3, Memoirs, 1954).

Above all, following the guidance of the Holy Quran, there was freedom of enquiry and research. The result was a magnificent flowering of artistic and intellectual activity throughout the ummah(Aga Khan 4, 16 March 1983).

Of the Abrahamic faiths, Islam is probably the one that places the greatest emphasis on knowledge. The purpose is to understand God's creation, and therefore it is a faith which is eminently logical. Islam is a faith of reason(Aga Khan 4, 2006)

Islam is fundamentally in its very nature a natural religion. Throughout the Quran God's signs (Ayats) are referred to as the natural phenomenon, the law and order of the universe, the exactitudes and consequences of the relations between natural phenomenon in cause and effect(Aga Khan 3, 1952).

Islam has always lain in its belief that creation is not static but continuous, that through scientific and other endeavours, God has opened and continues to open new windows for us to see the marvels of His creation(Aga Khan 4, 1983).

The creation according to Islam is not a unique act in a given time but a perpetual and constant event; and God supports and sustains all existence at every moment by His will and His thought. Outside His will, outside His thought, all is nothing, even the things which seem to us absolutely self-evident such as space and time. Allah alone wishes: the Universe exists; and all manifestations are as a witness of the Divine will(Aga Khan 3, Memoirs, 1954).

Islamic doctrine goes further than the other great religions, for it proclaims the presence of the soul, perhaps minute but nevertheless existing in an embryonic state, in all existence in matter, in animals, trees, and space itself. Every individual, every molecule, every atom has its own spiritual relationship with the All-Powerful Soul of God(Aga Khan 3, Memoirs, 1954).

Once man has thus comprehended the essence of existence, there remains for him the duty, since he knows the absolute value of his own soul, of making for himself a direct path which will constantly lead his individual soul to and bind it with the universal Soul of which the Universe is, as much of it as we perceive with our limited visions, one of the infinite manifestations. Thus Islam's basic principle can only be defined as mono-realism and not as monotheism(Aga Khan 3, Memoirs, 1954).

This is a good article; its worth a read:

Weighing the universe
Jan 25th 2007
From The Economist print edition
How scientists are trying to find where Einstein went wrong:



Islam, eminently logical, placing the greatest emphasis on knowledge, purports to understand God's creation:Aga Khan 4.
The God of the Quran is the One whose Ayats(Signs) are the Universe in which we live, move and have our being:Aga Khan 3