When we discover the Muslims who have contributed great things to society, we are reminded that Islam has an impact that goes beyond simply within the Muslim community. As a matter of fact, Muslims have always been called upon to do good and contribute to the general well-being of mankind and the world at large.
The Prophet s.a.w. has said:
“The best of mankind are those who benefit others the most.”
1. IBN AL-NAFIS AND HIS CONTRIBUTIONS
Ibn al-Nafis was accepted by his community in al-Qarasyiyah as an expert on religious matters upon his graduation in fiqh, hadith and Arabic language studies in Hims, Syria, but he decided to continue his quest for knowledge by pursuing a course in medicine. This surprised his father who initially opposed his decision.
In response to this, he said, “There are many who are well-versed in fiqh and Arabic, but there very few doctors and medical experts in the Muslim community. I have interest in exploring medicine to discover the secrets and greatness of Allah s.w.t. within the human body. With knowledge and my passion in this field, I can help others who are in ill-health.”
After having secured his father’s blessings for his decision, he not only succeeded in his medical studies in Al-Nuri Hospital in Damascus, but also became one of the leading prodigies in the field.
Through his research in anatomy, Ibn al-Nafis revolutionised the medical world with his findings on the respiratory system and the circulation of blood, which are still of use today. His findings preceded William Harvey’s by more than four centuries.
2. IBN BATUTAH AND HIS VOYAGES
Ibn Batutah was a well-known voyager. He had spent his life exploring other lands, including Egypt, Syria, the Arabian Peninsular, Persia, Iraq, Central Asia, India, China, East Europe, Andalusia and others.
During his voyages, he served as a judge in India and the Maldives, and solidified political and business ties with Sudan and several African countries.
His experiences in interacting with other cultures while on his journeys enriched his understanding of culture, civilisation and human societies in general. He acknowledged and recorded his interactions, and how he had benefitted from them, in his travelogue “Rehlah ibn Batutah” (The Voyages of Ibn Batutah).
Today, his records are invaluable to the world’s repository of knowledge and research on cross-cultural and inter-faith studies.
3. SYEIKH YUSUF AL-QARDHAWI & ISLAMIC ECONOMICS
Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradhawi pays special attention to the field of Islamic economics. In his works, he adopts a pragmatic approach, going beyond theory to practical applications.
He advances a way of applying the concepts within a modern context. His ideas and concepts are clearly explained in his works such as Fiqh al-Zakat, The Problem of Poverty and How Islam Overcomes It, Murabahah Transactions and others.
He also proposed the demarcation of elements of Islamic law between those that are fixed and unchanging from those that are flexible. He espouses the clinging on to Islamic tradition, while being adaptive and appreciative of the realities of modern life.
As one of the contemporary intellectuals of our time, Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradhawi’s contributions to Islam are acknowledged internationally.
The experiences of these remarkable individuals, and their different journeys and backgrounds, illustrate the versatility of Islam. They also point to the importance of Muslims pursuing knowledge for the betterment of society.
In the Holy Quran, Allah s.w.t. has raised the status of the learned in this verse:
“God will raise up, by many degrees, those of you who believe and those who have been given knowledge.”