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Scientific miracles of the Qur'an: The Universe

25 Jul 2017

I've always wanted to be scientist. My father and I would always have so much fun dreaming and visualizing about how I would change the world and be featured in TIME magazine's Person of the Year. We would think about how to present our story - my childhood, my parents, our challenges, my influences and journey - to make it sound as inspiring and magical as we possibly could.

All the way up till my third year in University, I was dead sure that I was going to pursue a PhD after my graduation. 

 

That all died a natural death when I went through my final year thesis. I got extremely jaded by the futility of it all. I mean, who cares what tiny organisms are living on the top, middle and bottom part of different seaweeds?? My findings were inconclusive but I had to twist it in a way that sounds legitimate and substantial (my absolute forte). My professor read my thesis and said 'Wow, making something out of nothing. You can be a lawyer already'. I took that as a compliment.

 

That whole experience made me realize that science, or academia in general, just seems to be a race to publish as many papers as possible without much care about the use and application of it.

 

Where was the beauty in science that I got to feel through Darwin and all his contemporaries? Or the great scholars of the past like Galileo and Copernicus? They made science seem so beautiful.

 

The way they contemplated day and night, the way they observed everything around them so astutely and discerningly; the way they scribbled and drew into the yellow pages of their leather bound notebook - worn out with their brilliant insights - how beautiful was that.

 

Don't get me wrong. I still love science, and I can't wait to introduce the world of science to baby Masha when she grows up. I just didn't feel the same for it anymore. Perhaps I'll find a way to do it again. May I find that beauty again insha Allah.

 

And perhaps it's His way of guiding me back - by making me write a 5,000 word essay on the scientific miracles of the Qur'an as my assignment. So I thought that it would be interesting for us to explore and discover some instances of the scientific miracles found in the Qur'an across various fields.

 

This will be done through a series of posts, each focusing on a different field.

 

Bismillah, here goes!

The Qur’an is divided into 114 sections of varying lengths. It contains some 6200 verses, of which only 300 deals with ritual practices and laws. The bulk of the Qur’an expounds fundamental virtues and merits, such as patience, justice, kindness and charity. It also referred to stories of earlier prophets, gave new teachings or commentaries on events (Haleem, 2004). The Qur'an also makes frequent mentions of what is referred to in the Book as ‘Signs’:

 

 

“And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations in your languages and your colours: verily in that are Signs for those who know.” (Qur’an, 30:22)

 

“…He does regulate all affairs, explaining the signs in detail, that you may believe with certainty in the meeting with your Lord.” (Qur’an 13:2)

 

It was reiterated throughout the Qur’an that the act of reflection upon these signs would lead believers to Him. During the Prophet’s time, science and technology was understandably more primitive. However, given the advancement in science and technology in the present day, several examples of how these signs can be validated and proven have emerged. What would have been confusing or inconceivable to believers of an earlier time, and accepted as God’s divine knowledge that escaped the scope of human comprehension, have been revealed by science to be true, lending credence to the veracity of the Qur’an.

 

These signs are not limited to a specific field of science; they span across a variety which include cosmology, astronomy, geography, biology. This first post will touch (very briefly) on some of the miracles relating to the Universe and Creation.

 

 

 

THE UNIVERSE AND ITS CREATION

 

 1. Creation in 6 days

 

The beginning of the universe has always been a topic of interest. At first glance, the Qur’anic description of the creation of the universe appears utterly incompatible with the findings of modern science. It has been established that the universe is at least 13.8 billion years old (Gribbin, 2015). Yet, in the Qur’an, it is stated that the entire universe was created in six days:

 

“Your Guardian-Lord is Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth in six days, and is firmly established on the throne [of authority]” (Qur'an, 7:54)

 

A closer examination of the verse would reveal that the word ayyamin, could be translated to not only ‘days’ but also ‘age, period, eon, or an undefined time period’. 

 

Interestingly, if we were to study on the most widely accepted theory of the creation of the universe, the Big Bang Theory, the formation of the universe could be divided into 6 distinct phases: 1) Big Bang, 2) Inflation, 3) High energy particle reactions, 4) First formation of nuclei, 5) First formation of atom, and 6) First formation of galaxies and stars (Harland, 2003).

 

It has also been established that the due to the relativity of time, the first four phases lasted mere seconds (Misra, 2012), which reinforces the interpretation of ayyamin as not the literal meaning of 24 hours as we now it in the present day, but an undefined time period.

 

2. Creation in pairs

 

It is stated in the Qur’an:

 

“Glory to Allah, who created in pairs all things that the earth produces, as well as their own [human] kind and [other] things of which they have no knowledge.” (Qur'an, 36:36)

 

A clear example would be the creation of two separate genders, in humans, animals and plants, which forms the basis of reproduction and the proliferation of creatures on earth. The Qur’an clearly hinted at the gender distinction in plants 1400 years ago, which was only recently discovered some 100 years ago:

 

“…We send down rain from the sky, and produce on the earth every kind of noble creature, in pairs.” (Qur'an, 31:10)

 

"…We produced diverse pairs of plants each separate from the others.” (Qur'an, 20:53)

 

Another possible phenomenon this could be alluding to is the concept of ‘Parity’, which was discovered by a British Physicist who later won a Nobel prize for his work. Paul Dirac observed that that duality existed across the universe in the form of matter and anti-matter, with the latter being virtually identical to the former, but with the opposite characteristics (Farmelo, 2009).

 

Matter and antimatter particles are always produced as a pair, and it is believed that every particle we know of has an antimatter. At any given time, antiparticles exist in an opposing state to its particle, bearing a certain characteristic and orientation that is diametrically opposed to it (Fraser, 2000).

 

3. Orbits and the death of the Sun

 

The Qur’an has also been proven to have accurately related several aspects of the solar system we reside in.

 

It is a distinct literary feature in the Qur’an where Allah makes an oath by the grandeur of his creations. For instance, in surah Ad-Dhariyat, Allah vows "by the Sky with [its] numerous paths” (Qur’an 51:7) and in surah At-Tariq, “by the Firmament which returns [in its round]” (Qur'an 86:11).

 

The oscillations and orbits of planets were not established until the invention of the telescope and advancements in cosmology that enabled humans to track the movement of planets in space (Bucaille, 1978). For the Qur’an to have indicated that that space had “[its] numerous paths” (Qur'an 51:7) as a mere coincidence is highly improbable.

 

In surah az-Zumar and surah Ya Seen, we find references to the “appointed term” of the sun (Qur'an 39:13) and its “course for a period determined for him” (Qur’an 36:38) which appears to hint at the expiry of the sun. It was only recently that it was discovered that the sun had a life span, despite initial beliefs that it was a ceaseless star that would burn forever (Bucaille, 1978).

 

In about 5 billion years from now, the sun’s core will run out of hydrogen and helium which renders continued nuclear fusion for the production of heat and light impossible. The sun’s core and its outer layers will progressively contract, expand, cool, and eventually be reduced to a black dwarf (Kambic, 2010).

 

Interestingly, the Qur’an might have alluded to this black dwarf in descriptions of Qiyamat, where it was mentioned that “the Sun is compacted in blackness” (Qur’an 81:1).

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