Traditional Islamic scholars generally remain on the sidelines of recent dialogue between religion and science. Similarly, those working at the religion-science interface are generally unfamiliar with Islamic theological frameworks used to assess scientific knowledge and technological advancements. Accordingly, Muslim religious leaders often treat scientific achievements with skepticism, and Muslims struggle to integrate scientific data with traditional doctrine about the world and the place of humans within it. This project addresses these discursive gaps by convening a group of traditional Islamic scholars, Islamic academicians, and human scientists to explore how science and Islam can work in concert to generate new scientific, spiritual, and practical knowledge, and foster greater shared understanding.
The working group will meet regularly over two years, and its members will bring their disciplinary expertise to bear on two core questions: 1. Can scientific notions of risk and religious concepts of necessity be combined to generate a schema of human health needs? 2. What is the soul and how are its capacities manifested bodily? To get at these multi-faceted questions we will start out by exploring the religious frameworks for assessing science, and the possible points of intersection between medical, theological, and socio-cultural understandings of what it means to be alive and risks to life. Instead of asking questions at the ethical level, our inquiry will focus on the deep epistemological, philosophical, and metaphysical questions that emerge, and ask about the practical goals of religion in the areas of health promotion and human welfare.
We will disseminate our work to the public and scholarly communities through manuscripts, conference presentations, and a symposium. This project will both model and promote a humble, bidirectional, and faithful dialogue between Islamic scholars and human scientists in the American context.