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Last Updated: 2007/04/12
Summary of question
How can one create harmony between religion and science?
According to the materialist thinking of ruling parties in the West, science and religion are two opposite ways nowadays. What is your Excellency’s point of view on that and as a teacher how do you integrate both?
Concise answer

Those who consider religion and science as two separate ways aren’t truly familiar with divine religions particularly Islam and haven’t paid attention to the fact that the two are of completely different responsibilities that have nothing in common.

Religion is of three parts; man’s relationship with himself, man’s relationship with others (nature and society) and his relationship with God. Religion has guidelines for all three and Islam has the answer to all of the guidance needs of mankind by using the method of “ijtihad” that the Ahlul-Bayt have taught. On the other hand, technology and science are related to the materialistic and experimental dimension of this world, helping us make new discoveries of its potentials and invent mechanisms that allow us to make good use of the Godly blessings it contains. As science and technology develop and go further, the responsibility of religion also grows and as a result it gives us more guidelines and legislates new rulings concerning new issues through the method of ijtihad or jurisprudence.

Detailed Answer

The reason behind why some individuals believe that religion and science are two opposite ways is that they don’t have a complete and correct understanding of divine religions particularly Islam and what role this religion is supposed to play and what it is responsible for. They also don’t know which religion is the one which doesn’t have any collision whatsoever with science and technology.

Religion is a broad term that covers all religions; divine and undivine ones, distorted and falsified and undistorted ones etc. All of the divine religions that have been sent to mankind on the behalf of God have always had the answers to the needs of the people of that particular era. We believe that today (after the dawn of Islam), only Islam can have a solution for all of man’s needs and be of a positive performance, while other religions lack such a capability, because Islam is the final and most complete one yet to come.

Those who think that religion and science are two opposite ways must note that basically, the responsibilities of both completely differ and have nothing in common. Science and technology are responsible for material senses and experimental sciences which allow us to make discoveries concerning the potentials of the universe and invent instruments that help us make good use of God-given blessings. But man’s need for religion isn’t something he can reach with his intellect or experimenting and using his material senses. Philosophy also confirms the fact that our “tools” for understanding what is going on around us are limited ones. The Quran also verifies this fact saying:  علّمکم ما لم تکونوا تعلمون” (He taught you what you did not know)[1]. Taken into consideration this reality, one can conclude that man will never reach a point in which he will be in no need of religion.

Religion has guidelines for man in three different parts of his life; his relationship with himself, with others (nature and society) and with God, thus paying attention to both this life and the life to come. In addition to Islam being after us prospering in this world, it is also after us prospering in the hereafter as well and such a thing can in no way be expected by science and technology. Man is of various dimensions, so how can science, which doesn’t have a complete understanding of these dimensions, have complete guidelines for him that guarantee his absolute prosperity? Although science benefits us in teaching and helping us design the right mechanisms that suit us best, yet it cannot give us philosophy and ideology and way of thought, while man’s most important need is the latter. Islam leaves the designing of mechanisms and instruments to man, and takes responsibility of the matters that science can’t solve alone without religion’s help.

The more technology grows and develops, the more will religion plan and legislate new rulings. As new issues come up, the fuqaha (fiqh experts) use their sharpness to find and derive the rulings of those issues by referring to the true and necessary sources. This method (ijtihad) guarantees that Islam has an answer throughout time and in this modern era. Therefore man is always in need of religion and the teachings of the prophets no matter how much technology and science develop.

Moreover, if it was true that the development of science frees us of the need of religion, man would have felt his self-sufficiency centuries after Islam and continued his way using his mind and intellect. Yet we see the opposite; contemporary history shows that not only doesn’t man not feel free from religion, but after the Renaissance and not listening to religion, and having numerous bitter experiences he has once again returned to religion and is showing tendency to it.

For further information:

1- Science and intellect and religion – Quran and sciences – Question 111.

2- Comparison between science and religion – Question 210.

3- Religion and science – Question 210.

4- The secret behind Islam being the final religion – Question 399.

5- Religion and change – 206.

6- Islam and the necessity of a plan – Question 253.

7- Islam and the theory of recorded thought – Question 217.

8- Mahdi Hadavi Tehrani, Velayat va Dinayat, pg. 13-56, The Cultural Institute of Intelligence.

9- Mahdi Hadavi Tehrani, Bavar-ha va Porsesh-ha, the whole book, The Cultural Institute of Intelligence.

10- Mahdi Hadavi Tehrani, Mabaniye Kalamiye Ijtihad, the whole book, The Cultural Institute of Intelligence.

[1] Baqarah:239.

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