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In a modern and supposedly secular age, religions struggle to redefine their roles in order to retain or regain a prominent position in society. Few aspects of modern life are, from the believers point of view, as difficult to deal with as science. The uneasy relationship between modern science and Islam is certainly no exception.
Some Muslims concede that while Islam is valid and has a place in lives of individuals, it has no place meddling with scientific knowledge. For a growing number of Muslim scholars, this answer is clearly unsatisfactory. Islam and science are not alternatives on an equal footing - Islam, for them, is a superior and all-encompassing order. The challenge is thus to find a place for science within the given Islamic framework.
Several attempts to combine Islam and scientific knowledge have been formulated over the last few decades. At stake is the right to define the relation between Islam and science, and the function of Islam in general. In order to create a vision of an Islamic science, Muslims mobilize an array of strategies: Islamic terminology, a certain interpretation of the history of Islam, and so forth.
Muslims in Europe and North America play a crucial role in the debate. Four scholars have achieved particular prominence in this field: the French convert and physician Maurice Bucaille, the Persian-American scholar Seyyed Hossein Nasr, the British-Pakistani author Ziauddin Sardar and the Arab-American scholar Ismail Raji al-Faruqi. They are all part of a Muslim intellectual elite. Their interpretations of Islam have, however, reached broad audiences among Muslims all over the world. Their books are referred to as authoritative expositions on Islam among Muslims in various contexts.
These European and North American Muslims can be seen as Muslims in a non-Muslim environment who attempt to counteract what they perceive as the increasingly marginal role of Islam. In their understanding, this marginalization is part and parcel of a destructive process of secularization. Today, it seems that their interpretations of Islamic traditions could forge new paths in the understanding of Islam among Muslims.
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