IOS-IICC programme on Islamophobia
New Delhi, September 20: A scientifically and deeply thought-provoking lecture power point presentation on “A Scientific Solution of Islamphobia: A Global Problem” today at the India Islamic Cultural Centre by Jamshed Akhtar.
Mr. Akhtar put the issue in the context of understanding (or the “misunderstanding”) of the scriptures, especially the Qur’an, which he tried to understand in the light of revelation that, inter alia, relate to astrophysics and bio-sciences.
The following is a textual representation of the power point presentation:
Islamophobia denotes prejudice against, or hatred or irrational fear of, Muslims and Islam.
Islamophobia Watch, a website setup by two non-Muslims Edie Truman and Bob Pitt presents a list of anti-Muslim incidents globally.
Jamshed Akhtar says that Islamophobia has been recognized as a form of intolerance alongside xenophobia and antisemitism at the "Stockholm International Forum on Combating Intolerance". This conference was attended by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, the OSCE Secretary General Ján Kubis and representatives of the European Union and Council of Europe, and a declaration was adopted to combat it.
EUMC European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia has presented various reports on Islamophobia, since 2002.
Since the problem is genuine and global, and it is against Islam and Muslims, the proposed solution by JA is to analyse the claim of nonhuman origin of Quran, the primary Source of Islam.
JA asserts that if this claim can be established scientifically, then Quran can become considered as a common legacy of humanity, removing ‘us and they’ perspective, the real cause of Islamophobia.
To analyse this claim, JA presented an assertion from Quran, where the verse says that information has been given to man that he did not possess (96:5). Since ethical guidance was known to humanity before the Quran, this information had to be different logically. Moreover, at another place, Quran also asserts that soon God will show signs in humans themselves and in the earth and heavens that will gradually prove to the humanity that the Message is genuine.
JA further says that prominent scientists have also suggested that an effective way to establish the non-human origin of any ancient document is to demonstrate the presence of knowledge ‘ahead of its time’ in it clearly and unambiguously (Page-166-167, Contact: A Novel - Carl Sagan).
The Quran reveals numerous such statements containing information ahead of its time. The problem however is that the mere demonstration of this ‘information’ in revelations alone is not enough, however unambiguous the hint may be. It can always be interpreted in a different way and then rejected.
Applying renowned mathematician William Dembiski’s information theoretic work on Intelligent Design towards this problem, an objective method can be outlined to verify the information in revelations. This method would entail investigation and verification of four factors related to information in revelations, by a panel of experts.
First is ‘actualization of information’ or demonstration of the fact that the claimed information truly existed in the scripture, which means showing the presence of specific words in the ancient manuscripts of the scripture and establishing the exact meaning of the word objectively.
Establishing the exact meaning of the Arabic words has its own problems and would require research into its root.
Secondly, similar information often exists in other scriptures also. This gives rise to allegation of plagiarism instead of God being the common source of all scriptures. This can be resolved if we can show the presence of extraneous data in the older scriptures that has been excluded from Quran.
Thirdly, specifying the information in an ancient text with independently available information in the world now. In this regard, three issues are important.
The specification should not appear to have been done after the discovery has been made.
Second, some of the information in a body of revelations may not be easily comprehensible to all. Relevant experts of particular fields however can easily and accurately specify the information.
In the Quran, numerous packets of information exist. The verifiable component of information is meant to increase the credibility of revelations once humanity achieves a certain knowledge base to verify it with the passage of time. Whereas the non-verifiable information is meant to guide the human race subtly. Since both the information components are linked through a structure, verification of one part is expected to establish the credibility of the other. Muslim scholars however concentrate only on the part of information that has already been verified, without demonstrating the guiding potential of the still unverified information. The western scholars, predictably reject this information, arguing the use of such ‘revealed’ information that can only be identified after the West gets it verified through their own rational efforts. The real purpose of ‘revealing’ the knowledge thus gets lost in this off-the-track quibbling between two large segments of the intelligent human species.
Fourth factor is ‘Complexity’- In the case of revelations, complexity implies two things. Complexity of the information and demonstrating the existence of these patterns in such large numbers that chance gets ruled out from this exercise.
Jamshed Akhtar, the researcher who presented this program claims that in his recent book ‘In Search of Our origins: How Quran can Help in Scientific Research’, he has demonstrated more than hundred pointers from the original text of Quran on the ‘Origin of life and man’ that needs to be debated through the mechanism he has outlined. It would not only reduce the Islamophobia on global scale but will also open an alternative window of information from the universe.
The programme was conducted by Prof. Ishtiaque Danish and chaired by Dr. Mohmmad Manzoor Alam, Chairman of IOS.
Dr. Alam announced that he would organise similar programmes in days ahead and also promote the study of the methodology of Qur’anic studies.
A view of Audience