I want to invite the AMU community to reflect on something that has always been a part of an Alig’s existence and yet has not attracted the required discussion and debate.
I am referring to the symbols in the AMU emblem. The apparently common place symbols, a tree, a book, and the crescent moon, all have deep significance attached to them and one need not be a symbolist or Illuminati to realize their worth. The verse within the emblem especially is extremely important as it tells us something that has the potential to change the face of earth, only if we can realize its true message.
The tree, our symbol at the center, represents a parallel branch of life that is complementary and essential to our existence. As far as I know, Dr Tarak Mohan Das, a researcher from University of Calcutta was the first scientist in the world to have published a paper (Indian Biologist, Vol XI, No. 1-2, 1979), quantifying the services that a tree renders during its average life span of fifty years. The total value of these services, divided into eight heads, surprisingly came to about fifteen lacs and seventy thousand rupees, in 1979. From this data, Dr Das had concluded that if we cut a tree prematurely, we lose a much larger sum than the meager gain (about 0.3% of the real value) we get from the selling of its wood.
In 1985, after receiving permission from Dr. Das, I made a short film on it. Ironically it was during the making of film that I realized the real worth of the tree. Dr. Das, while calculating the cost of Oxygen produced by a tree during its lifetime, had compared it with its market value. However, while shooting the scenes in the factory of ‘Indian Oxygen Limited’ (IOL) for comparison, I came to know that IOL only filters the Oxygen from the air and packs it in cylinders. It does not produce the oxygen as a tree does. The Oxygen gets replenished in the world only through the chlorophyll.
Fortunately, the entire world is now aware of the importance of this symbol in our life, and we hear a lot of green campaigns. However, it would be to our advantage if our university, remains in the forefront of debates on each service that these alternate life forms render for us so selflessly.
Our second symbol of emblem, the crescent moon is also quite significant. Against the popular astral worship of the time, Bible and Quran both had stated clearly that sun, moon and stars are not the objects of worship. These are for illumination and their rhythmic movements should be utilized to mark the passage of time. The acceptance of lunar cycle, especially, helps rotate our month of fasting and the Hajj pilgrimage all the year round, putting all countries and nations on equal footing.
Through the inclusion of crescent moon in our emblem, our ancestors seem to have emphasized, not only on the value and passage of time that we often waste, so thoughtlessly, but also on the Divine wisdom of creating conditions that rotate for all nations and countries, marking no one favorite of God.
Third symbol in our emblem can either be interpreted as the Quran itself, a book in general or simply a written word. The written word or ‘knowledge through the pen’ has been mentioned in the fourth verse of Sura Alaq (96:4) in Quran as a gift from the Creator to humanity. Pertaining to this gift, a scientist, Dr. A G Cairn, who is unaware of this statement in Quran, has offered a brilliant insight. He says that for billions of years, the only way to transmit information between organisms and their descendants on earth was via nucleic acids. All physical appearance of specie or its abilities – genetic as well as cultural (song of a bird), got transmitted through the DNA. But this mode of transfer had its limitations. Access, copying and modification of the information were difficult. Nucleic acids were “designed” to be replicated – but not written to. However, with the advent of the written word, a radical change took place. For the first time in the history of the world, man became able to preserve and transmit a large amount of information on a media other than nucleic acids. By learning to inscribe information on a different media, man found a new way to store and transmit huge volume of heritable, high-fidelity information. Beginning with hides, parchments and cuneiform tablets, humans progressively discovered newer forms of media such as books, CDs, DVDs and other optical, electromagnetic and electronic storage media. In comparison with DNA – most of the storage media available to us even now, may still appear to be large, wasteful, and ugly, but the advantages are significant. The information can be easily accessed, copied, modified, stored and transmitted. Other men can now build on this base, dissect, fine tune and add to the already existing quantum of information, thereby helping tremendously the creative potential of man.
We can thus see the vital importance of discussion on all three symbols in our emblem. However, much more relevant and important among all the symbols, is the verse from Quran, quoted within the emblem. It is the fifth verse of Sura Alaq, mentioned immediately after the gift of writing. In this verse, God refers to giving man the information he did not possess – ‘Taught man that which he knew not’ (Al-Alaq 96:5)
Most of us believe that revealed guidance is limited primarily to ethical injunction only, about speaking the truth, keeping fast, turning away from ‘murder and adultery’, and care for the ‘orphan, parents and neighbors’ etc. However, numerous ancient records have been discovered that contain such instructions for even the oldest of civilizations, the Babylonians and Sumerians.
Such knowledge therefore was known to humanity and the reference towards information ‘he knew not’ could not have meant the ethical injunctions.
The verse, clearly, is referring to information unknown at the time or ‘ahead of its time’ in revelations.
Significantly, a verse from Fussilat (41:52) refers to those who doubt the non-human origin of revelations – ‘Say: See ye if the (revelation) is from Allah and yet do ye reject it?’ Then, the next (41:53), reveals a promise from Allah about a way to clear the doubts – ‘Soon will We show them our Signs in the regions, and in their own souls, until it becomes manifest to them that this is the Truth.’ [Fussilat 41:53]
We can thus see that combining the verse from Alaq (96:5) with verses from Fussilat (41:52,53), a clear method emerges to test the claim of non-human origin of the Quran – through confirmation of specific information in revelations, unknown to humanity at the time as mentioned in Alaq (96:5).
Incidentally, prominent scientists like Dr. Sagan have also suggested that an effective way to establish the non-human origin of any ancient document would be to demonstrate the presence of knowledge ‘ahead of its time’ in it clearly and unambiguously.
The Quran indeed reveals numerous such statements containing information that was not known at the time. The problem however is that the mere demonstration of this ‘information’ in revelations alone is not enough, however unambiguous the hint may be. It can always be interpreted differently and rejected. Therefore, to objectively investigate this information, a sound scientific approach is also required, which would be acceptable to the rational majority.
In a recent work ‘In Search of Our Origins: How Quran Can Help in Scientific Research’, I have tried to present a transparent method to extract information from the revelations, based on the epistemological study of the Quran; and more than hundred packets of information ‘ahead of its time’ from the original text of Quran that can be used as a guide in scientific researches related to origin of life and man. The book was displayed in the International Frankfurt Book Fair from 10th-14th of October. (http://www.pr.com/press-release/447240)
The relevance of this work is that it also outlines a mechanism, based on information theoretic precepts, for verification of the information presented in revelations.
Unfortunately, till date no credible effort has been done to scrutinize the veracity of such data by the scientific community. On various platforms, I have presented the mechanism through which a panel of scientists, linguists and science historians can debate and give us collectively an informed and credible opinion on this data.
The AMU community has a global presence and those of you, who are interested in the scientific investigation of revealed knowledge, should look at ‘Project Infinite Peace‘, and if you find the project interesting and worth your time, support it by sending it to intellectuals known to you.
The basic objective of AMU from its beginning is to educate the masses, and AMU community has initiated several literary drives for children in the villages of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Unfortunately, with reference to revelations, an average westerner is as ignorant as these children of under developed countries. He urgently needs a different kind of literacy drive to make him aware of the benefits of this alternative window of information. It would be a fitting tribute to the legacy of Sir Syed, if the AMU community gets involved in this massive global project with unlimited positive potential.