Royalty at Knowledge Convention
Azlan Othman

THE Knowledge Convention 2014 yesterday featured a premier forum titled ‘Ideal Muslim Scientists,’ which discussed, among others, what a true Muslim scientist is and education’s role in producing such a person.

Held at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Berakas, the event was held to mark His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam’s 68th birthday celebration.

His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Deputy Sultan, and His Royal Highness Prince ‘Abdul Malik attended the event.

One of the panelists, Prof Dr T S Salim Al-Hassani, President of the Science, Technology and Civilisation Foundation in the United Kingdom, noted that Brunei Darussalam is in an ideal position to lead in the production of a special breed of scientists, those who are physically and morally guided to work tirelessly towards inventing new solutions to societal matters.

“If we look at history and the Holy Al-Quran, we find there are some characteristics that come out quite clearly. An ideal Muslim scientist is one whose faith in Allah the Almighty is manifested into positive and useful deeds, he explained.

“But a scientist is a person who sees nature and how it works. Therefore, for a Muslim to be an ideal scientist, he must combine several characteristics (including understanding the greatness of Allah the Almighty) and must use his knowledge for the betterment of life here on Earth.”

In response to what can be done to inspire our children in science, how to contribute to national development and improve the quality of life, Prof Dr T S Salim said, “When our children grow up in Western countries, they are surrounded by buildings, parks and laboratories named after great Western scientists or Greeks – everywhere they go.

“I have supervised 48 PhD students in my life as an academic professor – many of whom are Muslims. What is common in most of them is that they have good hearts and are good people, but they lack one thing… They need a ‘checkup from the neck-up’ and need to translate their faith into useful deeds.

“There are no names of Muslim, Indian or Chinese discoverers in the Book Syllabus of the Western part of the world. As we live in ‘one village’ in this world, we should mention the names of all scientists or none at all. It is not right to mention only the Europeans… The young ones need to be inspired.”

Public Works Department (PWD) Sewerage and Drainage Acting Director Dr NorImtihan binti Hj Abd Razak chaired the premier forum.

Meanwhile, Prof Datuk Dr Osman Bakar, the Director of the Research Centre of Sultan Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien, Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD), another panelist, explained that to answer what an ideal Muslim scientist is, we first need to know the history. This is because if the Ummah has not produced such an ideal person up until today, we should not dream of producing the ideal Muslim scientist.

Up until today, thousands of Muslim scientists exist.

“Most Islamic historians have said Islamic Science only began in the third century of Hijrah or ninth century of the Common Era.

“But for me, based on historical facts, the first Muslim scientist in Islamic history was during the reign of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). It was a companion of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) named ‘Harith,’ who was also the medical doctor for the community,” he said.

Prof Datuk Dr Osman said virtuous and pious Muslims of strong faith would make ideal scientists, and that they should link all six pillars of faith in their mind.

This is because nowadays there are scientists who do not believe in Allah the Almighty. Thus, education at school and at home is necessary.

Modern scientists also make the existence of angels redundant. A Muslim scientist would never say that.

An ideal Muslim scientist is not solely a specialist in his field, but knowledgeable in other areas such as on Allah the Almighty, angels, on ‘Wahyu’ (revealation through a dream), on holy book and describes Science in ‘Qadha and Qadar.’

Meanwhile, another panelist, Dr Hj Mohammed Hussain bin Pehin Penyurat Hj Ahmad, the Deputy Rector of Sultan Sharif Ali Islamic University (UNISSA), said there are principles between Muslim and non-Muslim scientists.

Muslim scientists hold the responsibility of prosperity for mankind (in the field of Science) not for the individual himself, but for the entire people. Science can be used for destruction or to achieve prosperity.

In terms of education, to produce an ideal Muslim scientist we need to balance them physically and spiritually – with the Holy Al-Quran as the core.

Our students must also think critically and parents need to encourage them.

His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah and His Royal Highness Prince ‘Abdul Malik later toured the Knowledge Convention exhibition. - Borneo Bulletin (4 November 2014)