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Theory of Knowledge

Reconstruction of Qur’anic Thoughts with an Attempt to Unify Rationalism and Empiricism

By S.M. Zakir Hussain (Bangladesh)

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The Qur’anic Model of Information Technology


 “Information Technology describes the storage, processing and transmission of information by computerized system”. (The Kingfisher Science Encyclopedia). The key-concepts related to IT can, therefore, be identified as follows:

1. A Database (for storage of information)
2. a Very Speedy Device (for processing and transmitting information, i.e the computer)

The usefulness, importance, and potential of IT lie in these two possibilities. Therefore, the possibility of IT could never have been conceived of prior to the development of the electronic computer. We should not forget that all the ideas and concepts about Information Technology came to man’s mind after the emergence of the Technology. In other words, while in most case of human invention the idea is the thing that came first, not the product of the idea, the opposite is true in the case of many inventions that involve the utilization of the flexibility, ability, and efficiency of the electronic computer. As a result, though Information Technology is important for its capability of storing and providing information world-wide, its very foundation is the technology, not the idea. In other words, it is the technology that created the idea in this case. Or what is the same thing the idea did not exist prior to the emergence of the communication technology and the computer. But, surprisingly enough, all the ideas relating to IT have been present in the years. Let us see the related verses that could give man the idea of a modern IT system even if he could not invent it up till now.

1. A Database:

In the Qur’an God speaks of a comprehensive Database that contains information of all sorts. He says that everything that is in the universe is in a clear record. Moreover, everything that happens on earth or any where in the whole universe is instantly recorded and stored in a huge database.

And We have recorded everything in a book. (78:29)

With us is a writing that preserves. (50:4)

Then as for him who is given his book (of record or performance appraisal kept by angels) in his right hand, he will say: Lo! Read by book; Surely I knew that I shall meet my account. (59:19-26)

And as for him who is given his book in his left hand he shall say: O would that my book had never been my account was (59:25:26)

Nay! Most surely the record of the wicked is in the Sijjin (in a different directory)... (which) is a written book.

Nay! Most surely the record of the righteous shall be in the Iliyin .... (which) is a written book. (83:18:20)

And most surely there are (record) keepers over you: Honorable recorders. They (and record) know what you do. (82:10:12)

The most basic and the most important characteristic of any database is its flexibility, its ability to be used in any way for any purpose by any body having access to it. This flexibility comes primarily from the storage and representation of the data by types of information. In other words, data need to be cattegorized on a multi-dimensional basis before storing it, so that a set of data can be identified as belonging to any of all the classes or dimensions that together make up the picture of the reality they represent. For example, a set of data relating to the ages of people should be classified by sex, place, education, marital status, etc. Man would not even think of so many dimensions of a single datum it the powerful storage system of the computer were not developed by the empirical sciences. But the very approach and tone that God takes when He describes some varieties of plants, fruits, etc., are instructive enough to make one think about how different angles of view. Consider the following verses:

And in the earth there are tracts side by side and gardens of grapes and corn and palm trees having one root and (others) having distinct roots-they are watered with one water, and we make some of them excel others in fruit, most surely in this there are sings for a people who understand (e.g., those who under stand taxonomy). (13:4)

A conscious reading of the above verse will reveal that in it there is a special emphasis on what angle of view we should in classifying various aspects of the reality to be described. Indeed, such an angle of view is something that makes a group of people worth considering scientists (“a people who understand”). The following will add to our understanding of the implication we are concerned with:

And He it is Who produces gardens (of vine), trellised and untrellised, and palms and seed-produce of which the fruits are of various sorts, and olives and pomegranates, like and unlike. (6:191)

And God has created from water every living creature: so of them is that which walks upon its belly, and of them is that which walks upon two feet, and of them is that which walks upon four. (24:45)

Do you not see that God sends down water from the could, then We bring forth therewith fruits of various colors; and in the mountains are flowers, white and red, of various hues and (others) intensely black? And of men and beasts and cattle are various species of it likewise, those of His servants only who are possessed of knowledge [believing scientists, thinkers, educated people etc.] fear God. (35:27-28)

(Published in the Observer Magazine on December 13, 2002)

Continued ...



Author of:

Secret Knowledge of the Qur'an