Disclaimer: I am not a scholar of religion or of physics; I have studied both and consider myself an enthusiast, at best. This is (as of yet) not an immutable hypothesis: I don't think it can be proven right or wrong with what I know (or what is known) but it's a pretty cool idea. And of course, I'm not arguing the fabric of the universe, merely the words we use to describe it. If you'd like to learn more about the physics that I talk about here (but hate book-learnin' and like jokes), check out Particle Party Part 1 and Part 2 on StarTalk Radio.
So, we don't know a whole, whole lot about the world around us. For those of us that happen to be active in both the religious (Ismaili, in my case) and secular spheres, we tend to get at least two different viewpoints. Now, for some people (or a lot of people, if you also frequent the Reddit Sphere) those two ideas are incongruent. But, in Islam we are told that it's the opposite case. Since Allah created the world that we live in, studying this physical world is an act of studying God; it's a type of worship. That probably explains why there's a stupidly long list of Muslims that reshaped their field. The viewpoints are still separated in their sources: one comes from scripture [usually] handed down from on high, and the other comes from observation. Personally, I think that can be rectified.
For the purposes of this blog post, it's important to be familiar with the Ismaili view of the dualism of the world in which we live, namely Din and Duniya. Din is often described as the spiritual aspect of the world; we practice Dini attributes through prayer morality, and stuff like that. Duniya, coming from the word for "world" would in turn be the physical aspect; I guess you practice that through... eating? You can call them by different names, as well: physical and metaphysical, exoteric and esoteric, etc. Anyway, what you need to know is that there is this dynamic and that both are equally important, and intrinsically linked.
Conservation of Mass and Energy
I'm sure you heard of it before: in an isolated system, matter and energy are conserved. That's, like the first law of thermodynamics. For those of you who have been in any science class ever, you know that matter and energy can change forms: matter can become energy, and energy can become matter. That's what E = mc^2 is. I'll get into how that happens a little later on, but for now, I'd like to postulate that the universe (the whole thing, not just what we can see) is an isolated system: nothing exists outside of everything. Therefor, there is a conserved amount of matter and energy in existence. Stick a pin in that, we're moving on.
The Image of God
When you look at the typical, Western depiction of God, it's typically some bearded dude in the sky, or Morgan Freeman (which I'm not opposed to). This whole idea of what God looks like comes down to one sentence: Genesis 1:27. If you prefer the King James Version of the Bible, like I do, that looks a little something like this.
So, God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.
Keep in mind that this is a translation (of a translation of a translation of a translation of a translation), so things may have been lost along the way. But when we look at this passage, it's easy to see: people look like God, ergo God looks like people. And that's where we get the Morgan Freeman interpretation of God.
But in Islam, we don't have that. The Islamic belief is that Allah doesn't have a physical form, and he certainly doesn't look like a person. Allah, in this case, is transcendent of the entire world. On Earth at least, Allah permeates every living and non-living thing. It's heavily reinforced that Allah is everywhere. Although He isn't portrayed as a person, Islamic texts certainly personify him a whole lot. In Quranic (and Biblical) stories, Allah is a lot of stuff, and Allah does a lot of stuff. With that, you can assume that even if Allah isn't made of matter, He definitely executes forces (cities don't burn themselves down).
Okay, now we're getting into the fun part. Everything that we consider the Known Universe is made up of these things:
These particles exist in fields that permeate the entire universe. Looking at the first two categories, quarks and leptons, that's what makes up matter. The other category, the bosons, make up the forces in the universe. For example, if you take two up quarks and a down quark and glue them together with a gluon field (clever), you get a Proton. Then, you can take two down quarks and an up quark and gluon those together, you get a Neutron. Then stick those together with some strong nuclear force and pop an electron cherry on top, you get Hydrogen: the most abundant element in the universe. The more you do that, the more you make all the matter, all the stuff, ever. Quarks and Leptons make up everything, and Bosons do everything.
However, these Particles do not make up what's known as Dark Matter or Dark Energy, which makes up the majority of everything. As of yet, we can't tell anything about this Dark-ness, except for how it affects the 5% of the Universe that we can observe.
So, here we have this dynamic between what we experience, and the unseen forces behind it and it's at this point that things start to sound familiar.