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The science-faith tussle.

Byline: Ahmed Umer Sohaib

Bishop Usher preached to thousands that the world came into being at 9 am, Sunday 23rd October 4004 BC. John Wycliffe - a renowned philosopher - provided adequate evidences to Usher regarding fossils that earth was made some hundred thousand years ago. As his notion was contrary to doctrines of Bishop, John Wycliffe was killed; his bones were broken into pieces and thrown into sea.

The revulsion of Christian orthodoxy towards science was paramount. Take another instance, of Galileo. He remained controversial not because of his massive contribution to science but a conflict with Pope Paul V. The pope ordered him to abandon the theory of heliocentrism. On his refusal, Galileo was brought forth to Vincenzo Maculani and was charged imprisonment on the grounds of suspect of heresy.

Christian orthodoxy fought a long and brutal battle with scientific discoveries. The churches in Europe were deeply rejective to independent thinking and scientific inventions. A dissent from religious dogmas and preaching were considered crime.

Muslims also have been in constant hassle with science for last three centuries. Sir Syed pleaded to Muslims of subcontinent to acquire modern scientific education and that it will not sabotage their religious beliefs. After inception of Pakistan, the religious orthodox segment remained agile in different - forms and ways - echelons of social and political fabric. Be it Jamaat-e-Islami's animosity towards Darwin's Theory in KPK school curriculum or withdrawing of Physics Center name on Dr. Abdus Salam at Quaid-e-Azam University after country wide protest call by CII, we have seen powerful ruling governments surrendering to their anti-science pronouncements.

European society has come out of science-faith clash and devised a systematic procedure to solve faith and scientific issues with different methodologies. This approach transformed their society and a rise in collective tolerance was seen. While in Pakistan, the confusion is prevalent over logic and doubts are stronger than beliefs.

One recent example swirling around is Mufti Muneeb ur Rehman's backlash to Fawad Chaudhary on moon sighting matter. The former squelched the latter that he should not talk about religion as he knows less on this matter. True. Very true. But what about those self-proclaimed contractors of religion who - know adequate about religion - haven't yet agreed upon a simplest formula to observe fast and celebrate Eid on same day?

If moon sighting is solely religious domain and science cannot intrude in this then why we are celebrating two Eids every year in this country? Why does it happen that even one part of the city residents celebrate Eid while other observe fast? Why it always happens that moon is sighted by native people in KPK through naked eye and it is not seen by Royat Hilal Committee in Islamabad through telescope? Why Popalzai's religious approach and findings on moon sighting is different to Mufti Muneeb ur Rehman?

When it comes to measuring something quantitatively with precision and accuracy, scientific laws deduce best results. The movement of sun and moon today and a year after, the predictions of rainfall in 2022, and a rise in mercury in 2025 can be calculated by scientific equations.

It is an acclaimed fact that modern technology has solved myriad of problems that are solely based on displacement, energy and frequency. Even a simple application in our smart phone tells the exact timings of sunrise and sunset, the accurate weather forecast, direction and velocity of wind blowing, and level of humidity. The timings of namaz are set with the motion of sun. But does anyone go outside and calculate the motion of sun and then offer namaz? No. Because digital watches are all there and calendar of yearlong namaz timings is made by scientifically calculating the motion of sun. How it is possible that there isn't any technology thus exists that doesn't tell us the precise location and birth of moon?

Every year we see the same cat and mice fight over moon sighting. It has created a division in the society. Even the members of same family - if living in different parts of the same city - in KPK can't observe fast and celebrate Eid on same day, end up making humour about 'jaali roza'.

It is bizarre how religious segment is still practicing the same obsolete techniques of moon sighting that has created more fissures rather than solving the matter. Throughout the year, these religious segments don't bother to sit together to sort this matter out - either religiously - and when any scientific solution is brought forth, these religious scholars castigate scientific approaches.

Until the telescope will be replaced with scientific calculations, this confusion will loom large around our society and our next generation will see the same fiasco in their lives too. They will laugh on us how we have made fun of religion and science at the same time.

The government needs to take an audacious step to resolve this matter on scientific grounds. We don't see conflict on moon sighting in other countries, especially Muslim countries. A nuclear powered country that has made the nuclear bomb (that is a product of science) is inefficient to resolve the matter of moon sighting. This hullabaloo needs to be grounded now. A vivid policy on Ramzan and Eid on same day needs to be implemented. A collective unity needs to be instilled in the society. The spiritual university will not sort out this matter. Only proper research work and legislation will sort out this problem. This has deteriorating the provincial harmony but who cares? European society has come out of this ignorance, how long will it take for our society to think sanely?
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Publication:The Nation (Karachi, Pakistan)
Date:May 15, 2019
Words:1002
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