Definition and conditions of scientific truth

Dr. Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Musleh

Scientific truth (Al-Haqeeqah Al-‘Ilmiyyah) is a compound term. Defining it requires defining both of its parts. Al-Haqeeqah (Truth)(Arabic: Haqeeqah [singular], Haqaa’iq [plural]):It is said, “The matter has come true (haqqa,yahiqqu, yahuqqu);haqqan and huqooqan (nominal infinitive form). [This is when] something becomes established.” [An-Nihaayah fee Ghareeb Al-Hadeeth]

Al-Haqq (Truth): the opposite of falsehood, and something of which its existence is confirmed. In origin, it means “conformity” (mutaabaqah). Ar-Raaghib Al-Asfahaani defined Haqeeqah (truth) as being “sometimes used for something that is established and exists.” [Al-Mufradaat, Ar-Raaghib Al-Asfahaani]It may also be something established with certainty. The taa’ (i.e. -ah in the end) is for feminization.

Al-‘Ilmiyyah (scientific): used here as an adjective for truth (Al-Haqeeqah).

‘Ilm (knowledge [which is the root of ‘Ilmi, which in this context means ‘scientific’]) is the opposite of ignorance. The conventional definition of ‘Ilm is to perceive something according to its reality [At-Ta‘reefaat, Al-Jarjaani]. What is intended here is empirical knowledge.

The conventional definition of “scientific truth”: A concept that transcends the hypothesis and theoretical study stages and thus becomes established and unanimous among specialized scholars. Examples includethe expansion of metal with heat, the contraction of metal with cold, the evaporation of water at 100 degrees Celsius under normal atmospheric pressure and the freezing of water at zero degrees Celsius.

The definitions of theory and hypothesis: Hypothesis: a proposal and intelligent inference that a researcher temporarily drafts to explain observations made on facts and phenomena.

Theory: the explained relationship between the cause and effect in variables in order to explain specific phenomena. Theories are classified according to their proximity to facts. The strongest theories are those that have a more logical explanation for the observations. [Usool Al- Bahth Al-‘ilmi wa Manaahijuhu (The principles and methodology of scientific research), Dr. Ahmed Badr]

Sound theory that is reached through scientific study cannot be considered a definitive truth, but it amounts to the best answer accessible and is subject to change and replacement.

Thus, one of the guidelines for determining I‘jaaz is that it is based on an unadulterated scientific fact and it is not permissible to associate theories with the Qur’an, as theories are subject to change.

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