ويتعلمون ما يضرهم ولا ينفعهم
They learn what harms them and does not benefit them. [al-Baqarah: 102]
A colleague mentioned to me today that one of his students attending his Arabic class is a Professor studying mathematical aspects of String Theory. This reminded me of a conversation I had meant to write about for some time.
A Muslim living near me has Masters, and by now what not, in Physics. A few years back he mentioned how according to String Theory there exists an infinite amount of parallel universes, each with our mirror personalities therein. In addition, these universes are created by every possible permutation of actions, however minor. For example, if I lift my right hand, that happens in one universe, and simultaneously another universe is created where I lift my left hand instead.
Although my first objection was rather weak, it still reveals the worrying influence of a materialist based education. I do not object to secular sciences, but the attitude of those who make it into an unassailable idol. Science is a means of recognising the Creator. As such it is a form of worship. Yet worship can be adulterated and innovated into service of the Devil.
I objected that his theory of creating an entire universe from such a petty act, implies the power of creation in our most mundane, profane and indeed disgraceful acts. That is indeed most insulting to the Creator.
His ready reply, to which I admit I had no immediate rebuttal, was that the creation of those universes are pre-programmed into those mundane acts which are merely the triggers for their creation.
Fair enough. Whatever the theological implications might be of such an argument, I would like the dear reader to ponder over the mind-set of such a person. Consider that when examining a scientific issue in regards religion, one may cling to a doctrine and reject all evidence to the contrary, as did the Catholics when debating Copernicus. It is also possible to examine the evidence independently and research a path of conciliation. Here however we have a case where a supposedly scientific theory is declared absolute truth and religion is bent to fit the case. Does the religion even provide the basis for a pre-programmed creation theory? Even if it did, the arrogance still lies in unilaterally theorising a religious doctrine, rather than researching if such doctrine is compatible with the faith. The difference may be subtle, but I hope the reader grasps the distinction as well the harm this might have to one’s faith.
My next bone of contention, which I did not raise at the time, was the idea of infinity. Infinite is defined as something boundless, an amount without end. As such I would contend that all material objects are in fact finite in the knowledge of the All-Knowing. A man might regard the number of leaves on all the trees in the world or the grains of sand on all the shores of the world to be infinite, yet in the knowledge of Allāh, a number, however mind-boggling it may be to me, does exist and is NOT infinite. Infinity in its true sense is only applicable to Allāh and His Attributes. Anything less is quantifiable. Allāh is the First without beginning, the Last without end. His is the perfect and complete knowledge of everything. His Power, Beauty and Perfection are infinite. The angels are less than Him. Their number is finite, they do not share in His infinity.
Now how possibly can acts like lifting my hands create infinite universes – when firstly creation is Allāh’s prerogative – and secondly the number (infinity) which is only truly associated with Allāh, now becomes my profane tool?
As some could care to overlook such subtleties, let me be as blunt as I can. Skip this paragraph if you overly sensitive. Can you accept that a universe was created because I answered the call of nature and a different one was created because I was constipated and a third because I suffered from diarrhoea? Then add the number based on the different nano-seconds I spent differently engaged in these acts. (Since supposedly I spent different nano-seconds in different universes). Consider that in each universe a New Adam is also created – because of me passing urine! What exactly each new Adam did before and where was he before I wonder. Now consider that in each of these toilet-created universes there are perfectly created people. Some are reciting the Qurān. Some are assisting humanity. Some are behaving less than beasts and engage in every vice. Wow!
Rome defeated Persia
I asked the Physicist, if he as a Muslim would accept the Qurān as the absolute truth in all his varied universes. Thankfully he agreed to this. However, all his responses were basically repackaging the same reply, “So you do not accept scientific String Theory!” I also do not remember each new variation of the same response after these years, so I do not mention them further.
I then said that when the Persians practically annihilated the Byzantine Empire, the Qurān declared to the incredulous Arabs that the Byzantines would gain the upper hand within 3 to 9 years. This transpired as the Qurān predicted, against all the odds! However, in the “infinite” universes where every permutation of events occurs, the following would also have to happen, which would make the Qurān false:
· Rome defeated Persia in less than three years.
· Rome defeated Persia after 9 years.
· Rome never defeated Persia, there was a stalemate.
· Rome never defeated Persia, a third nation such as the Mongols wiped out Persia.
· Rome never defeated Persia, a third nation such as the Goths wiped out Rome.
· Rome never defeated Persia, Persia wiped Rome out of existence.
Each of the above permutations exist according to String Theory and each would be a refutation of the Qurān which is the True Word of Allāh.
The Most God Fearing vs the Most Wretched
Who can begin to describe the status of the most noble Companion of the Prophet Muḥammad – salutations and peace be upon him. Let us suffice with the Qurān calling Abū Bakr - al-Aṭqā – he who fears Allāh the most, in contradistinction to castigating Abū Jahl as al-Ashqā – the most wretched. I asked the physicist if he does not realise that his belief supports the following worlds, in contradiction to the Qurān:
· Abū Bakr – may Allāh be pleased with him – is less pious. Thus ‘Umar – may Allāh be pleased with him – is al-Aṭqā.
· Abū Jahl is not so bad. He is number 2.
· All the variuations in between, until a stage is reached…
· ….that Abū Bakr and Abū Jahl exchange the positions the Qurān declares for them!
Loyalty to Abū Bakr Raḍiyallāhu ‘anhu had no effect. So I resorted to, what I thought at the time, can only be a final appeal.
The Final Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم
I thought of Prophethood being the final argument at that point. That my mind did not reach the point of presenting monotheism is perhaps for the best. I asked if he could accept that he believes in the possibility of Muḥammad صلى الله عليه و سلم not being the Final Messenger and every possible lowering of his pure status which I would not verbalise? Even then he would not recant and firmly defended String Theory as absolute undeniable truth.
Dealing with one who showed no emotion in dishonouring Abū Bakr رضى الله عنه, the Qurān and the Final Messenger Muḥammad صلى الله عليه و سلم, I said, “I hate saying this, but it seems that you will only understand the implications of your belief if it affects you directly. Do you understand that you believe that somewhere your mother is a prostitute?”
He finally kept quiet ….. but still remained convinced of his correctness!
The issues the above raises of a sector of Muslims worshipping the intellect are quite worrisome. Indeed the intellect is a great bounty to be correctly used. It is however my experience that there are many who submit their intellect to their desires and then submit their religion to their supposed intellect. Thus intellectualism is but a front for the worship of personal desires and destruction of religion.
خسر الدنيا والآخرة ذلك هو الخسران المبين
….They lose this world and the hereafter. That is indeed the manifest loss. [al-Ḥajj: 11]