Man always tries to reason things out. The chapter Al-Ahqaf (The Sand Dunes) of the Qur’an, tells us that there are two genuine sources of authentic knowledge that will enlighten us in this regard. The translation of this verse is as follows: Say, ‘Have you thought about those you call upon apart from God? Show me what they have created on the earth. Or do they have a share in the heavens? Bring me a Book revealed before this or some other vestige of knowledge, if you are telling the truth. (46:4)
According to this Qur’anic verse, there are two sources of authentic knowledge—revealed knowledge and scientific knowledge. Revealed knowledge is authentic because it comes directly from God Almighty. And scientific knowledge is authentic because it is based on the laws of nature. Other than these two sources, there is no third source that may be credited as being reliable. In this sense, the Qur’an and nature are like each other’s counterparts. What is revealed in the Qur’an is hidden in nature, and what is in nature is revealed in the Qur’an in a language understandable to man.
The Qur’an can be understood by acquiring a good command of the Arabic language or by having recourse to its correct translation. By applying the scientific method, what is hidden in nature can be understood by unfolding it. In other words, there are two sources of knowledge—religious knowledge and secular knowledge. Religious knowledge is based on divine revelation and secular knowledge is based on scientific discovery. One, who wants to be a right thinker, must acquire these two kinds of knowledge. All other knowledge besides these two kinds is speculative and not authentic.
The above-mentioned two kinds of knowledge are not totally different. They are, in fact, complementary to each other. Revealed knowledge justifies scientific knowledge and scientific knowledge confirms revealed knowledge. And both are necessary for intellectual development. We should peruse this book with complete sincerity, so that we may learn of the basic principles of creation, the real direction of human activities, and the right goal for mankind. It can be said that revealed knowledge is a body of basic facts, while scientific knowledge goes into greater detail about them. It is impossible to find any point on which they contradict each other, provided revealed knowledge is preserved in its original form and scientific knowledge is established by following the method of strictly scientific inquiry.
The above Qur’anic verse points to the right course of study. First, we have to read the revealed book. We should peruse this book with complete sincerity, so that we may learn of the basic principles of creation, the real direction of human activities, and the right goal for mankind. Then we have to use scientific knowledge as a supportive factor. In fact, science is a Dictionary of Creation and this dictionary is very helpful in understanding the Book sent by the Creator, God Almighty. So, both are equally important for having the right knowledge. If you study matters objectively and also in the questing spirit, you will find that there is no difference between the two sources of knowledge. Both are equally effective in the discovery of the truth.