Those who have knowledge
God says in the Holy Quran:
“Allah witnesses that there is no deity except Him, and (so do ) the angels and those of Knowledge (too are witness)..“ (3:18).
God surely knows best. However, I have seen many scholars in different fields who are mere atheists!
In an attempt to solve the paradox, I asked myself, who is the real scholar? And what is the difference between a scholar and an ordinary man? Pondering on the previous questions, I found out that the way we deal with information is what matters. In other words, we all receive many pieces of information from different sources, but people differ in processing information.
The Puzzle Game Metaphor:
For simplicity, imagine that we divide people into three groups; each group is given pieces of a puzzle to solve. The pieces of the puzzle if completed depict a single frame of Cinderella’s movie.
- The first group fails to put any pieces together. This group represents people who gain discrete pieces of information and don’t have the ability to connect those pieces. The majority belongs to this category.
- The second group manages to connect two or more pieces of the puzzle, thus being able to decipher part of the figure given to them, let’s say Cinderella’s shoes. This group represents people who gain discrete pieces of information and have the ability to connect some of them. Out of these connections and relations they derive new conclusions, explore theories, and many of that category receive awards and international prizes and we call some of them “scholars” and "those who have knowledge".
- The third group manages to put together the whole picture of the puzzle, thus revealing and grasping the image of Cinderella dancing with the prince, and understanding the whole story behind it. This group represents people who have the ability to understand how the bits and pieces of the information fit together, and accordingly, they explore the utmost aim of all principles and theories of all branches of science, and ultimately the purpose of life and death and the purpose of our existence. These are, I suppose, the real scholars in the eyes of God, who are held in great esteem by God. They are the people of knowledge.
Words of Wisdom
Indeed, Newton was a great and eminent scholar who brilliantly derived the laws of gravity upon observing an apple fall from a tree! As we know, the fall of an apple is a kind of information everyone experiences every day, yet nobody had reached this magnificent law before Newton. There are also those who take the understanding of gravity law into a higher level. For them, it is an evidence of the limits of our senses, for we cannot see gravity yet we experience its huge impact. It is the same as our disability to see God with our limited senses, yet we can feel His boundless presence. They also know that if the value of gravity had been stronger or weaker by 1 part in 10 to the 40th power, then life-sustaining stars like the sun could not exist. This would most likely make life impossible. Thus, they conclude that the law of gravity is an evidence of a fine tuned universe. In other words, they see God in His magnificent laws and supreme design. Newton was one of them as he says: “In the absence of any other proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God’s existence.” He also says: “God created everything by number, weight, and measure.”  This reminds me of the verse that says:
“And everything with Him is by due measure.” (13:8)
Newton was not the only scholar whose knowledge helped him sense God’s glory, there are many others as well. Albert Einstein says: “Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a Spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe – a Spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble. In this way, the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort, which is indeed quite different from the religiosity of someone more naive.” (Einstein 1936, as cited in Dukas and Hoffmann, Albert Einstein: The Human Side, Princeton University Press, 1979, 33)
I also quote Einstein: “The more I study science the more I believe in God.” (Einstein, as cited in Holt 1997)
The Real Scholar
Certainly, the scholar who discovers the ultimate purpose of his knowledge – which is reaching out to God – is a genuine scholar and deserves to be held in great respect and high esteem.