While we commonly identify five human senses – sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell, the Quran frequently refers to three senses – hearing, sight and intellect.
Although the materialist view on senses recognizes five as the basic ones, it is restricted and limited compared to the three senses of the Qur’an. By assuming – arbitrarily or not – that the nature can be known only as the result of the information collected by the five human senses, science has made a great disservice to human society. It has limited our ability to know the nature, the truth and the transcendental. In our schools and universities, no one mentions the fact that the commitment or the assumption of materialist scientists to study only the part of nature that can be perceived via the five senses is an arbitrary or subjective commitment. Because this scientific method has the monopoly on the academia, universities and schools, it gives the impression that if something cannot be perceived via the five senses, it is not part of the existence.
The Qur’an has the most comprehensive and wholesome approach. It specifies that there are three senses for a person to learn: hearing, sight, and intellect.
“And Allah brought you out of the wombs of your mothers while you knew nothing, and gave you hearing, sight, and intellect so perhaps you would be thankful.” [16:78]
“He is the One Who created for you hearing, sight, and intellect. Yet you hardly give any thanks.” [23:78]
“then He fashioned them and had a spirit of His Own creation breathed into them. And He gave you hearing, sight, and intellect. Yet you hardly give any thanks.” [32:9]
So, the Qur’an points out that intellect is a sense. The scholars of the Qur’anic exegesis mention that intellect could be in the heart or in the brain. The Qur’an also refers to ‘hearts not reasoning,
“Have they not travelled throughout the land so their hearts may reason, and their ears may listen? Indeed, it is not the eyes that are blind, but it is the hearts in the chests that grow blind.” [22:46]
Indeed, it is the intellect – whether it is in the actual heart or in the brain, the most important sense through which we perceive the nature and beyond it. What we can see and hear compared to what we cannot see and hear is extremely too little. It is the insight and the intellect which make us have a complete understanding of reality: materialist and transcendental, and which lead us to perfection by being grateful to God and by knowing God.
Hearing, touch, smell, sight, and taste are basic and primitive. It is the sense of intellect which gives us access to know the most sublime truth, that is, God and the unseen. It is also the intellect which perceives the purpose, which makes us grow, develop, discover and explore.
There is no contradiction between the Qur’an and science except that the latter is committed to a more limited domain.