The ‘scholars’ of Al-Azhar have occupied themselves so much with the jurisprudence of al-walā’ wal-barā’,[1] menstruation and postpartum that Khomeini called them ‘scholars of menstruation and the toilet.’ Few of them have degrees, with the exception of figures such as Dr. Zaghloul al-Najjar, who used his degree to lie to the public about what he called ‘the scientific miracles in the Qur’ān’.


AL-AZHAR FORMED a ‘Scientific Research Academy’ which specialized in confiscating books critical of Islam or the Companions, instead of actually conducting scientific research. It issued a fatwā against philosophy in that it ‘necessarily denied what religion knows to be true’ and forbade the teaching of philosophy in Al-Azhar institutes. They also issued a fatwā saying that the cross offends the feelings of Muslims. They objected to the synchronisation of the Muezzin’s call to prayer in Egypt because that deviated from the Sunna of the Prophet. We are yet to read any scientific research hailing this famous research complex, but we have read a lot about its campaign against science and its quest to muzzle mouths, for Ṭanṭāwī, the former Shaykh of Al-Azhar demanded the flogging of journalists who criticized Al-Azhar or President Mubarak.

At the same time, they approved a doctoral thesis by an Azhari student that was entitled The Thesis of the Infidel which declared the magazine Rose Al-Youssef and its founder Fāṭima al-Youssef as ‘disbelievers’. Dr. Farḥāt Al-Mangi addressed the editors of Rose Al-Youssef thus:

I deplore you for excessive freedom, which collides with the enduring verities of faith, since you are the only magazine that has taken a stand against religion!

He added: “There is no freedom when it comes to these enduring verities of religion.” The esteemed Al-Azhar Research Council was jolted from from its sleep when it learned of the importation into Egypt of artificial hymens produced by China, and issued a statement in support of the demand made by Dr. ‘Abd al-Mu‘ṭī Bayyūmī, a member of the Islamic Research Academy, to apply the punishment for ḥirāba (unlawful killing) on those who import it, since it constituted ‘corruption in the earth’ and ‘licensed vice’. Dr. Āmina Nuṣayr, a professor at Al-Azhar University went on to comment:

I do not know what has become of the values of society, and I mean the most valuable value that is associated with a girl and her chastity and pure life for which she is being raised through her family environment with its moderate values and culture, up to the time she enters her husband’s house. If her chastity is to be manipulated like this, it is a form of cheating and deception, and it would be a catastrophe if men were to lose faith in girls.[2]

‘Scholars’ insisted on preventing non-Muslims from using the word ‘Allah’ because that name belongs exclusively to Islam

In Nigeria, a religious-political terrorist group called Boko Haram – which means ‘Western education is forbidden’ clashed with government authorities on several occasions, killing dozens of its supporters including their deputy commander. The clashes began in Bauchi State after members of the group had been arrested, and spread to three other states with the group burning police stations, churches and prisons.[3]

In Malaysia, a country where Islamists have become used to its economic progress and democracy – despite saying that ‘governance is only for God – and a country where Muslims are only sixty percent of the total, its ‘scholars’ have insisted on preventing non-Muslims from using the word ‘Allah’ because that name belongs exclusively to the god of Islam. They are unaware that the word is actually ilāh, denoted by the letters alif and lām[4] and used by the Arabs in their poetry decades before the advent of Islam. The Qur’ān mentions this fact.

In Pakistan and Afghanistan Muslim ‘scientists’ insist that girls’ education is forbidden because the Prophet of Islam said, “Do not settle them in rooms and do not teach them to read and write.”[5] Women, you see, ‘are lacking in both reason and religion’[6], and if we want to teach them to increase their wisdom, let us simply ‘increase their capacity for forbearance’. Muslims jurists accordingly burn down girls’ schools so that they cannot learn.

In the kingdom of Wahhabism, the land of the Revelation by Jibrīl, modern science is not part of the dictionary of ‘scientists’, of doctors and professors. For example, when two Bedouin witnesses claimed to have seen the crescent moon of Ramadan, and astronomers said that the crescent moon could not have appeared that night, the Grand Mufti of the Kingdom replied that the testimony of the Bedouin’s sighting of the crescent moon on Dhū al-Hijja in 1425 AH (2005 AD) was valid in that “they were not children and the state of the moon could not escape them since they were herders and camel trainers”. 

The Mufti advised those who maintain that lunar eclipses were simply phenomena of space, to repent to God

The testimony of two Bedouins who swore on the Qur’ān thus tops the testimony of astronomers, because the Bedouins were camel herders and shepherds. ‘Umar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb was right when he said, “The only thing that suits the Arabs is what suits their camels.” As for the Mufti Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azīz Āl al-Shaykh, he advised those who maintain that solar and lunar eclipses were simply phenomena of space, to repent to God:

His Eminence the Grand Mufti of the Kingdom and Chairman of the Council of Senior Scholars Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azīz ibn ‘Abdallah Āl al-Shaykh, responded to those who say that eclipses of the sun and moon are simply phenomena of space and have nothing to do with sins and transgressions, saying: “This causes confusion as to the reasons for punishment, given that eclipses occur both for Muslims and Disbelievers, while they claim to know the exact date of the solar and lunar eclipses.” His Eminence stressed that those who say so are sinning because the eclipse of the sun and moon are mentioned in two of God’s verses, by means of which he makes His servants to be afraid. His Eminence the Grand Mufti said that those who say that solar and lunar eclipses space phenomena are opposing the Sunna of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), and he called on those who say such things and put into writing these opinions and ideas to repent to God Almighty, and follow the Sunna of the Messenger of Allah.

The Saudi Shaykh Ibn al-‘Uthaymīn was asked: The Prophet passed by two groups of people, one group chanting in remembrance of God, and the other a group of scholars. He sat with the group of scholars. Is it then permissible to sit in groups chanting remembrance? His response was: 

“I do not know whether this hadith is valid, but I do not think it is true about the Prophet peace be upon him. However, attending groups meeting for science is undoubtedly one of the best deeds one can perform because science is a kind of jihād for the sake of God. The religion can only be established through knowledge, exposition and fighting against those who reject and oppose it and who do not submit to its rulings. As for chanting remembrance, associating with these groups is fine, as long as it is not the meetings that some Sufis practice when they gather together to chant God’s name with one voice or something like that. But If they are gathering together to read the Qur’ān or something like that, whereby someone reads and others listen and arrange readings between themselves in an orderly manner, then there is nothing wrong with that.[7]

Religion, then, is founded upon Islamically legitimate sciences and on fighting those who reject it and do not submit to its rulings, and these religious sciences are considered to be a jihād for the sake of God.

Religion, then, is founded upon Islamically legitimate sciences and on fighting those who reject it

The eminent Saudi Shaykh Muḥsin al-‘Ubaykān issued a fatwā permitting medication through witchcraft. When some of their shaykhs reproached him on this, he replied as follows: 

A number of imams and jurists have permitted the use of solution from sorcery by magicians, and these shaykhs include Sa‘īd ibn al-Musayyib, Al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrī, Imam Aḥmad, Ibn al-Jawzī and Imam Al-Bukhārī.  A number of Ḥanbalī jurists have stipulated this in their approved books, from which fatwās have been issued and ruled upon by judges in Saudi Arabia.[8]

As for the ‘scientists’ of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sudan and Somalia, there is therefore nothing wrong with them. Do we wonder, in the light of this, why it is that our backwardness increases while other nations advance? I believe Reverend Stanley Jackie’s statement when he said that “science can only grow in a Christian setting”. I say this, not trying to defend Christianity here. I myself am not a religious man, but it is our duty nevertheless to state things as they are. Arab societies have been programmed by ignorant clerics to ruminate on their past and feed on it, just as a camel regurgitates its food from its stomach whenever it needs. Newton’s law of motion says that each object moves in a straight line until another force intervenes to stop it or alter the trajectory of its path. Unfortunately, we are led by clerics who cannot change course because they do not have the scientific ingredients to do so.

Now before Islamists respond with a catalogue of the glories of Islamic sciences during the ‘Abbāsid state, we should say that those who excelled in these natural sciences were not actually clerics, and those few clerics who attempted to delve into philosophy or the nature of existence were pronounced ‘disbelievers’ by religious shaykhs such as Ḥujjat al-Islām al-Ghazālī and charged with atheism and their books burned.  Even ‘Abbās ibn Firnās who attempted to fly with wings made of bird feathers and broke his neck and died for his efforts, was not spared their charges of ‘Disbeliever’. 

Most of those who succeeded in the natural sciences did so because they came from scientifically rich civilizations such as Persia and Byzantium, not because they were Muslims, and because the translation of the Greek heritage into Arabic had given them the opportunity to do some research into these natural sciences.

[1] See Glossary: Al-Walā’ wal-Barā’ and see also the Almuslih backgrounder on al-walā’ wal-barā’ here

[2] Elaph, October 4, 2009.

[3] Al-Sharq Al-Awsaṭ, 1 August 2009.

[4] The name Allah is an ancient Semitic term. The semitic root:   ‘ – l – h   is a common one for the deity. We have it in Hebrew אלוה  found as אלוהים  Elohim, and in Aramaic/Syria as ܐܠܗܐ alāh-ā (the definite article ‘the’ is placed at the end of the word here, whereas in Arabic it is at the front: Al-Ilāh – contracted by usage to Allāh). The Arab philologian Aḥmad al-Jallād has studied a number of ancient pre-IsIamic inscriptions, noting that in the Zebed inscription the Christian god is called al-ʾilāh ‘the God’, and in a pre-Islamic Christian Arab inscription from Dūmat al-Jandal (548/9 CE) God is called again al-ʾilāh. It is not until the Islamic period that the contracted form Allāh becomes the general word for ‘God’ in all forms of Arabic and for all confessions. One of Aḥmad al-Jallād’s works can be found and downloaded from the library in the section ‘Pre-Islamic Arab monotheism’. See A. Jallad: The “One” God in a Safaitic inscription(Ed.)

[5] The full sentence is the following: The Messenger of God said: “Do not settle your wives in their own rooms and teach them to write. Do not teach them Sūrat Yūsuf; teach them the spindle and Sūrat al-Nūr”. The Sūrat Yūsuf contains the tale of the Egyptian’s wife attempting to seduce Joseph, and her accusations of his attempts to dishonour her. Sūrat al-Nūr contains warnings against fornication and punishments relating to adultery, the exhortation for women to be married and exhortations to modest demeanour.

[6] Cf. the famous hadiths which run: Why is it, O Messenger of Allah, that we [women] form the majority of the people of Hell?” He said: “You curse a great deal and you are ungrateful to your husbands, and I have never seen anyone lacking in discernment and religion more overwhelming to a man of wisdom than you. (Sunan Ibn Mājah, 4003 et al.) (Ed.)

[7] فتاوى الشيخ ابن العثيمين

[8] شفاف الشرق  July 8, 2006.

Main image: Muslim worshippers outside a mosque in Sidon, Lebanon, performing the Ṣalāt al-Kusūf, asking for mercy from Allah during a solar eclipse.

See Part One of this essay here

Dr. Zaghloul El-Naggar: deceiving the public about science in the Qur’an
Eclipses of the sun and moon, not ‘a space phenomenon’ but a warning, since during a solar eclipse Muḥammad – according to a Hadith narrated by ‘Ā’isha – ‘went out, stood up and said a takbīr (“Allah Akbar”) and people formed rows behind him.’