reason, and religion has reached a peak (or a high plateau,
depending on your perception of time scales) of intensity,
breadth, and confrontational vigor. Hundreds of Web sites,
blogs, and forums have sprung up, enabling the debate to rage day-to-day. But people will always want points of view to be encapsulated in portable form: books.
Faith in the Unseen is a contribution to the debate. Its author,
Dr. Rashid Seyal, who is a consultant cardiologist with numerous books on cardiology and religion under his belt,
approaches the debate on the "faith" side as a religious man
(he is a Muslim) with a strong background in science. The title of his book places the emphasis on the key issue that stands between the scientific atheist side and the faith side: evidence, and the absence thereof. For fundamentalist believers, evidence (other than what is written in holy books) is simply not an issue. However, for the rational religious believer, it is a pivotal point and must be rationalized.
It is divided into substantial chapters, each dealing with a major subject of faith and/or reason, and each chapter is subdivided into sections, which discuss various detailed aspects or examples, including death, the afterlife, and the philosophy of life.
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About the Author
Qur'anic Poetry and Philosophical interpretation in the light of modern day science has given a new direction to understanding the Holy Scripture. He has already written three books on the subject including Divine Philosophy and Modern Day Science.
Read an Excerpt
Faith in the Unseen
By Rashid Seyal
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2010 Rashid Seyal
All right reserved.
Chapter OneFaith in the Unseen
A'lif L'am M'im
This is the Scripture, Whereof there's no doubt to debate Guidance for the virtuous in state Who assert and affirm, faith in unseen And also abide prayers, noble in esteem Dole out alms affirmed in routine Out of Our Bestowal in supreme (2:1-4)
Assertion of faith in the unseen is the basis of Islam, but as a routine, scientists have refuted the discipline of faith in the unseen. When we open the second chapter of the Holy Scripture, it very clearly gives a true picture of the subject.
'A'lif 'L'am 'M'im-undoubtedly, there should not be any discrepancy or dissent, disavowal or dissension, disagreement or defiance in anybody's mind regarding the truth of discipline ordained in this book. Which book? The one which has been decreed and distinguished by His "A"lmighty "A"LLah and conferred through Gabrie"L," the archangel, to His Prophet ["M"uhammad.sup.PBUH]. The revelation pronounced by His Almighty Lord to His Prophet [Muhammad.sup.PBUH] through the Archangel Gabriel is perhaps the only Scripture that is preserved in its categorical conformation to stance and stanza of each word communicated by His Almighty and conveyed to His Prophet [Muhammad.sup.(PBUH)].
We recite the each venerable verse and each ornate word of the sanctified scripture in its glorious antediluvian configuration. When this concept prevails in the mind, it becomes exceptionally beseeching and bracing because these are the words uttered in their original pronunciation and position by the Lord Almighty, the Archangel Gabriel, and [Muhammad.sup.PBUH], the Holy Prophet. When this perception deeply insinuates itself in the mind, that we are vocalizing the words, phrases, and verses that were primarily established by His Almighty, a state of serenity and satisfaction, blissfulness and beatitude prevails in the mind, body, and soul.
The Holy Scripture gives an account of all the instances, occurrences, and happenings when the things and the world itself had not actualized. Divine perception and vision commands all instances of how and when it would happen.
Has any book in this world ever made this challenge or pronouncement to defy its entirety and essence?
Perhaps none so far!
The Holy Scripture invites you to concentrate on the course and contents of the Scripture sagaciously and then look for any inconsistency, scruple, or suspense in the text, the slur or blur of its assertions and affirmations, proclamations and declarations.
It is guidance for the virtuous-precisely, it is the spring of erudition and edification, demeanor and deportment, injunction and inclination for mankind, but only those who strive to secure the convinced capabilities as enumerated below acquire virtuosity and vivacity, and they are blessed with benevolence in faith.
True faith has always endeavored to sense the softness and sweetness of the soul and determined diligence with fortitude and forbearance in the subjects who resolved after due forethought and with no vanity or vainglory in their minds, which men call exaltation or excellence. There should be an adamant faith of love with persistence, patience, and perseverance, and an ebullience to escort those who had anything to volunteer for the common weal of conviction. There is an everlasting firmness in giving to everyone according to the firm belief and the knowledge derived from the Holy Scripture that endows the experience of discernment and discretion, enlightenment and erudition, elegance and edification of special sophisticated subjects like modern-day science and philosophy, in addition to a bestowal of perception and prudence and discipline and direction in all walks of life.
The very first principle of perception as asserted in the Qur'an for the virtuous is to have faith in the unseen.
Is such a faith delusive and deceptive from a scientific point of view?
But when we concern the fundamental philosophy of the scientific convictions, for what they observe and assert is once again faith in the unseen, as Sir Arthur Eddington in his famous Cambridge lectures shows that all fundamental laws and constants of physics are deduced unambiguously from a prior consideration. These laws are very successful in explaining the objective world. So he concludes, in the age of reason, faith yet remains supreme, for reason is one of the articles of faith.
A few illustrations would make this point clearer.
Quantum physics starts with the assumption of a strange particle called a photon, which carries light energy. This particle does not have any dimension or charge. It does not have any property found in any physical object. Its rest mass is zero and moving mass is indeterminate. This scientific conviction has given birth to an idea that is considered to be one of the greatest achievements of human intellect.
De Brogue assumed that all microscopic particles could be associated with a wave when in motion. This is known as a matter wave. Since this is a complex wave, it does not have any physical parallelism and is purely abstract in nature. A wave is completely determined by measuring any two of the three parameters, namely, wavelength, frequency, and velocity. It is possible to measure all these parameters for the well-known electromagnetic and mechanical waves. But for the matter wave, no instrument can ever determine the wave frequency and wave velocity. A matter wave is a mathematical artifice, and its unique determination is inaccessible to observation. Yet believing in this matter wave solves complicated problems in atomic and nuclear physics. Thus, the matter wave is an article of faith in modern physics.
It is faith to believe that a moving particle behaves like a wave, and wave mechanics is based on this faith. Heisenberg's uncertainty principle states that the position and momentum of a particle cannot be accurately measured simultaneously and the product of the uncertainties in these measurements cannot be below a certain minimum. The existence of this lowest limit was initially an article of faith, namely that the smallest unit of action exists. This faith was verified experimentally, and the smallest unit was found to be h = 6.63 x [10.sup.34] joule/sec, known as Planck's constant.
In the theory of relativity, it has been possible to combine the effects dependent on time with space. But the theory in itself is a prior one. Scientists and mathematicians have not yet been able to remove the subjective effect of generic characteristics common to all observers. The theory of relativity again is another jubilant triumph of human intellectual activities in faith.
After all these scientific affirmations of a presumptuous, unseen particle like a photon that has no dimension or charge or any of the physical properties and at rest a mass of zero but while in motion assumes an indeterminate form, why don't we turn to concern the indeterminate cosmic order and try to discern the most fascinating and "mighty power" behind the effects and equipage of cosmic order-an unseen power that commands indeterminate control over all His creation?
In the Qur'an, the Almighty repeatedly reiterates:
What do you think all these Booms in Bloom are but just a rip and split, rend in trends and there is no Power behind this definite construct of intent in plan with immense effects and equipage.
Looking beyond the blinking lights and whirling gizmos, though, the new century is shaping up to be one of the most amazing periods in human history. The transitions we are undergoing define the scope of faith in the light of modern-day science. Max Tegmark in a Scientific American special issue on parallel universes asserts:
Our creation and that of the universes is just a matter of chance, as we may happen to have room no: 5 in a hotel that turns out to be the same as our birth date i.e. room no: 5 on the floor eleven as our birth day of November 5th. The chance happens to be once in a while but not all the time. When you check in next time in another hotel and even so by chance you happen to have the same room # 5 on the floor eleven, you will be really concerned of the situation and when it would happen for the third time in a row, you'll be sure that someone is there to arrange all that. But why don't we consider of such a state of affair for the whole cosmic order where everything is most orderly organized in a fascinating manner, Could it all be by a stroke of chance or luck without any definite design?
Turn to the pages of perfect creation and you will be fascinated by the order of discipline in and around every object right from the core of an atom to the sprawling cosmic order where everything is moving with a tremendous speed in a definitely planned path-the orbit. The moon is moving around the earth, the earth is moving around the sun, the solar system is moving around the Milky Way Galaxy, and the Milky Way galaxy has its own way in the cosmic order.
(Do you know the speed of these objects? They are dashing away from each other in their orbits at a fascinating speed in a most orderly discipline. Read the text in "Perfect Creation."
Look at the most comprehensive order of arrangement. Do you find any flaw or fault in it? Nay, you cannot.
Turn your looks once again to sort out the situation. You might be able to discern some defiance in the discipline. But nay!
The Qur'an asserts:
You are denied to find out any snare or snag and even a slightest bit of sway or swing in the order of cosmic discipline. (Surah Al Mulk)
We all accept the existence of things that we cannot see but could see if we moved to a different vantage point or merely waited, like people watching for ships to come to the horizon. Objects beyond the cosmic horizon have a similar status. The observable universe grows by a light-year every year as light from farther away has time to reach us. Infinity lies out there, waiting to be seen. You will probably die long before your alter egos come into view, but in principle and if cosmic expansion cooperates, your descendants could observe them through a sufficiently powerful telescope.
The idea of such an alter ego seems strange and implausible, but it looks as if we will just have to live with it, because it is supported by astronomical observations. The simplest and most popular cosmological model today predicts that you have a twin in a galaxy about 10 x [10.sup.28] meters from here. This distance is so large that it is beyond astronomical, but that does not make your scientific assumption any less real. The estimate is derived from elementary probability and does not even assume speculative modern physics, merely that space is infinite (or at least sufficiently large) in size and almost uniformly filled with matter, as observations indicate. In infinite space, even the most unlikely events must take place somewhere. There are probably infinitely many other inhabited planets, including not just one but infinitely many that have people with the same appearances, names, and memories as you, who play out every possible permutation of your life choices.
You will probably never see your other selves. The farthest you can observe is the distance that light has been able to travel during the past fourteen billion years since the big bang, or Kun, and the explosion initiated Fa Ya Koon. The expansion began. The most distant visible objects are now about 4 x [10.sup.26] meters away-a distance that defines our observable universe, also called our Hubble volume, our horizon volume, or simply our universe. Likewise, the universes of your other selves are spheres of the same size centered on their planets. They are the most straightforward example of parallel universes. Each universe is merely a small part of a large "multiverse." How congruent is the concept of modern science with the very first verse of the Holy Scripture where the Lord Almighty asserts, "All Praises for Lord of the Multiverses" (1:1).
By this very definition of "universe," one might expect the notion of a multiverse to be forever in the domain of metaphysics. Yet the borderline between physics and metaphysics is defined by whether a theory is experimentally testable, not by whether it is weird or involves unobservable entities. The frontiers of physics have gradually expanded to incorporate ever more abstract (and once metaphysical) concepts, such as a round earth, invisible electromagnetic fields, the slowing of time at high speeds, quantum superposition, curved space, and black holes. Over the past several years, the concept of multiverses has joined this list. It is grounded in well-tested theories such as relativity and quantum mechanics, and it fulfils both of the basic criteria of empirical science: it makes predictions, and it can be falsified. Scientists have discussed as many as four distinct strata of parallel multiverses. The key question is not whether the multiverses exist but rather how many levels they have.
One of the many implications of recent cosmological observations is that the concept of parallel universes is no mere metaphor. Space appears to be infinite in size. If so, then somewhere out there, everything that is possible becomes real, no matter how improbable it is. Beyond the range of our telescopes are other regions of space that are identical to ours. Those regions are a type of parallel universe. Scientists can even calculate how distant these universes are, on average.
And that is fairly solid physics. When cosmologists consider theories that are less well established, they conclude that other universes can have entirely different properties and laws of physics. The presence of those universes would explain various strange aspects of our own. It could even answer fundamental questions about the nature of time and the comprehensibility of the physical world. In the theory of relativity, it has been possible to combine the effects dependent on time with space. But the theory in itself is a prior one. Scientists and mathematicians have not yet been able to remove the subjective effects of generic characteristics common to all observers. The theory of relativity again is another jubilant triumph of human intellectual activities in faith.
After all these scientific affirmations of presumptuous unseen particles like the photon that has no dimension or charge or any of the physical properties and at rest a mass of zero but while in motion assumes indeterminate form, why don't we trend to concern the indeterminate cosmic order and try to discern the most fascinating and "mighty power" behind the effects and equipage of this cosmic order?
The role of faith is also discernible in the affirmations of Einstein, the greatest scientist of the modern age, with respect to the unified field theory. This great scientist spent the last thirty years of his life in search of a wider law covering both gravitation and electromagnetic fields. He firmly stuck to his faith to the last day of his life that such a law existed. Scientists, including Professor Abdus Salam, have been concerned with finding a grand unification theory (GUT) of interactions, namely the gravitational interaction, the electromagnetic interaction, the weak nuclear force, and the strong nuclear force.
Why should one attempt to unite the apparently disjointed interaction? After all, there is no difficulty in our understanding of nature even without the unification of these forces. The desire of physicists to unite these forces into a single one emanated from a faith, namely, that these forces are different manifestations of one and the same entity.
Salam's efforts and success in unifying the electromagnetic and the weak nuclear forces were understandably spurred by the vivacity of verses 3 and 4 of Surah 67 (Al-Mulk), which led him to an appropriate dignified faith in the order and equanimity of creation.
He created skies in series of seven There's no want in slant in terms of creation Most Amiable is Lord, immense in initiation So trend your looks once more to the heaven Can you discern a bit of slit in generation
Then trend and talent anew in quest You're denied of flaw in behest Not even perplexity or poop in the rest
Thus seeking patterns in laws itself implies faith in the grand proposition of the Lord's creation. In fact, there are hosts of other such matters in the scientific domain that are based on faith. All these discussions from the point of view of modern science tell us the role of faith in man's progress in knowledge. So faith in the unseen, as demanded by the Lord, is not illogical. For the unseen is beyond our comprehension due to our generic limitations. The above discussion points to the fact that faith in the unseen may not be inconsistent with the correct understanding of the materialistic world.
Excerpted from Faith in the Unseen by Rashid Seyal Copyright © 2010 by Rashid Seyal. Excerpted by permission.
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Table of Contents
A Reader's Report....................XXIII
Kun: Fa ya Koon....................XLV
Faith in the Unseen....................1
Initial and Infinite....................8
The Lord Is Domineering....................21
The Nature Of The Unseen....................22
Faith in the Hereafter....................24
Agony in Alarm....................39
Death: A Natural Phenomenon....................50
The Philosophy of Life....................59
Fate and Fortune....................86
The Adam of Qur'an and the Adam of Science Are One not Two....................135
Agile Author Astral O Astute....................156
From One Cell to Trillions....................163
The Purpose of Creation....................164
The Creation of the Multiverses Was an Arduous Job....................191
The Fate of the Universe....................207
Divine Perception of Time and Wormhole Theory....................229
Seas That Do Not Mix....................277
Wan Najm I Izza Hawwa....................290
Faith and the Physical Being....................307
Medicine and the Discipline of Faith....................332
About the Author....................341