Signs, Science and Surety

The Qur’an is the last revelation, and a proof not only to the pagan Arabs one thousand four hundred years ago, but also to the scientists of today. Perhaps one of the most remarkable qualities of the Qur’an for those living in the twentieth, and what will soon be the twenty first century, is the complete consistency between the Qur’an and most of the discoveries of modern science, and in some cases pre-empting facts discovered within the last twenty years. One of the first Western scientists to make a serious study of this subject was Maurrice Bucaille, who wrote a book called The Bible, the Qur’an and Science. In this book, he compared the statements concerning natural and scientific data in the Bible and the Qur’an. He concluded: ”The Qur’an follows on from the two Revelations that preceded it and is not only free from contradictions in its narrations, the sign of the various human manipulations to found in the gospels, but provides a quality all of its own for those who examine it objectively and in the light of science, i.e. its complete agreement with modern scientific data. What is more, statements are to be found in it (as has been shown) that are connected with science: and yet it is unthinkable that a man of Muhammad’s time could have been the author of them. Modern scientific knowledge therefore allows us to understand certain verses of the Qur’an which, until now, it has been impossible to interpret. The comparison of several Biblical and Qur’anic narrations of the same subject shows the existence of fundamental differences between the statements in the former, which are scientifically unacceptable, and declarations in the latter which are in perfect agreement with modern data: this was the case of the Creation and the Flood, for example. An extremely important complement to the Bible was found in the text of he Qur’an on the subject of the history of the Exodus, where the two texts were very much in agreement with archaeological findings, in the dating of the time of Moses. Besides, there are major differences between the Qur’an and the Bible on the other subjects: they serve to disprove all that has been maintained-without a scrap of evidence-concerning the allegation that Muhammad is supposed to have copied the Bible to produce the text of the Qur’an. . . . In view of the level of knowledge in Muhammad’s day, it is inconceivable that many of the statements in the Qur’an which are connected with science could have been the work of a man. It is, moreover, perfectly legitimate, not only to regard the Qur’an as the expression of a Revelation, but also to award it a very special place, on the account of the guarantee of authenticity it provides and the presence in it of scientific statements which, when studied today, appears as a challenge to explanation in human terms.”

Some of the statements involving data confirmed by modern science are:

1. The Accurate Description of Embryonic and Fetal Development. At the time of Prophet Muhammad prevalent theories included those of Aristotle who thought that a child was formed by the congealing of menstrual blood catalyzed by the male blood, as rennet does to cheese. In the Eighteenth Century, Hartsoeker claimed to have seen within the sperm a pre-formed human being through the primitive microscopes. The Qur’an reflected none of these, describing the development of the embryonic human with detailed accuracy: “We created man from a quintessence of clay, We then placed him as a drop (Nutfa) in a place of rest firmly fixed, Then we made the drop into an Alaqah (leech-like) and then we changed the leech-like structure into a Mudghah (chewed-like) and then We made out of that chewed-like substance bones then We clothed the bones with flesh then We caused him to grow and come into being and attain the definitive form. Blessed be Allah the Perfect creator. After that, at length you will die. Again, on the Day of Judgment, you will be raised up.” (23:12-16) The Prophet further explained the meaning of Nutfa as meaning both the male sperm and female ovum. The word “alaqah” has three meanings in Arabic: 1) A thing that clings; 2) A blood clot; and 3) A leech like thing. All three accurately describe the first stage of the developing embryo. After the fertilisation of the egg, a blastocyst develops, which has on its exterior villocites which literally “cling” to the wall of the uterus. It then goes on to resemble a leech both in appearance and behaviour. (Both leech and embryo extract blood from host.) It also goes on to resembles a blood clot. The next stage, when it becomes “chewed-like”, is also accurate. It is also true that the bones precede the development of muscle and flesh. The Prophetic traditions state: “When forty -two nights have passed over the conceptus, Allah sends an Angel to it, who shapes it, makes its ears, eyes, skin, flesh and bones. Then he says O Lord! is it male or female? And your Lord decides what He wishes and then the angel records it.” This accurate information gives the correct time for the recognisable growth of the features described, and the sex of the fetus can not be definitely determined until just after forty-two days. This was not known until the invention of powerful microscopes only decades ago. I have mentioned this subject only briefly, and quoted a few of the verses and hadeeth concerning this topic. Keith Moore, Professor and Chairman, Department of Anatomy, University of Toronto, Canada, and author of The Developing Human, is considered one of the leading embryologists, said concerning these statements in the Qur’an and authenticated hadeeth: “Until the 19th Century, nothing was known about classifying the stages of human development. A system of staging human embryos was developed around the end of the 19th Century based on alphabetical symbols. During the 20th century, numerals were used to describe 23 stages of embryonic development. This system of numbering the stages is not easy to follow and a better system would be based on the morphological changes. In recent years, the study of the Qur’an has revealed another basis for the classification of the stages of the developing embryo which is based on easily understood actions and changes in shape. It utilizes terms which were sent from God to Muhammed the Prophet by the Angel Gabriel and recorded on the Qur’an . . . It is clear to me that these statements must have come to Muhammad from God because almost all of this knowledge was not discovered until many centuries later. This proves to me that Muhammed must have been a Messenger of God.” Marshall Jonson, Professor and Chairman, Department of Anatomy, Director of the Daniel Baugh Institute, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, U.S.A., said: “As a scientist I can only deal with things I can specifically see. I can understand embryology and developmental biology; I can understand the words that are translated to me from the Qur’an. If I were to transpose myself into that era , knowing what I do today and describing things, I could not describe the things that were described. I see no evidence to refute the concept that this individual Muhammed had to be developing this information from some place, so I see nothing in conflict with the concept that Divine Intervention was involved on what he was able to say.”

2. Cosmology. “Have not those who disbelieve known that the heavens and the earth were joined together as one united piece, then We parted them. And We have made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe.” (21:30) This verse clearly mentions the common origin of the universe, a fact that was not discovered until forty years ago with the advent of nuclear physics. The separation seems to refer to what the scientists call the “Big Bang”. Also, all living things are composed of protoplasm, which consists of 80-85% water. “Then He rose over towards the heaven when it was smoke, and said to it and to the earth: ‘Come willingly or unwillingly.’ They both said: ‘We come willingly.’” (41:11) The word smoke describes accurately the primeval state of the universe, which was composed of a hot gaseous mass, with particles moving vigorously, just as in smoke. From this the stars, planets and the earth were formed. “The heaven, We have built it with power, verily We are expanding it.’ (51:47) It is an accepted fact that we are living in an expanding universe. “Allah is the one who created the night and day, the sun and moon. Each one is traveling in an orbit with its own motion.” The Arabic word referring to a movement with self-propelled motion is the verb sahabah (yasbahuna in the text). It implies a motion that comes from the body in question. If it takes place in water, it is to swim; it is to move by the action of one’s own legs’ if it takes place on land. For movement that occurs in space it would mean “to rotate”. The sun is actually in orbit, not around the earth but around the centre of the galaxy, so there is no contradiction, since the Qur’an does not specify the Sun’s orbit. “Have you not seen how Allah merges the night into the day and the day into the night?” (31:29) “He coils the night upon the day and He coils the day upon the night.” (39:5) To coil or to wind is the translation of the Arabic verb kawwarra. The original meaning of the verb is to coil a turban around the head. The process of perpetual coiling, including the interpenetration of one sector by another is expressed in the Qur’an just as if the concept of the Earth’s roundness had already been conceived at the time, which is clearly not the case. “It is He who made the Sun a shining thing and the moon as a light, and measured out their stages . . . ” (10:5) The Qur’an describes the Sun as a “siraj” which means a torch, generating its own heat and light where as the Moon is described “an-nur” which is light originating from another source.

3. Geology. “Have We not made the earth an expanse; and the mountains stakes?” (78:6-7) “And Allah has cast into the ground mountains standing firm so that it does not shake with you.” (31:10) It has recently been discovered that mountains have roots that go into the earth’s crust which is composed of seven tectonic plates. Their movement is the cause of earthquakes. It is thought that the roots and weight of the mountains play a vital role in stabilizing the earth’s crust.

4. Animal and Plant life. The sixteenth chapter of the Qur’an mentions the bee that leaves its home to gather as feminine, although it has generally been believed that the bees are soldiers and they answer to a King. The Qur’an also mentions the sexes of plants and the winds as a means of their fertilization. “We sent forth the winds that fecundate.” (15:22) All recently discovered matters.

5. Atomism. The Greek philosopher Democritus (460-361 BC) advanced the theory that matter was composed of tiny, indivisible particles called Atoms. Modern science has discovered that there is the Atom, but that Atom is divisible. The Qur’an states: “He is aware of an atom’s weight in the heavens and on the earth, and even anything smaller than that . . .” (34:3)

6. Dermatology. “Does mankind think that We cannot assemble his bones? Nay, We are able to put together in perfect order the very tips of his fingers.” (75:3-4) No two finger prints are alike. This verse tells of both Allah’s knowledge and ability to resurrect us even to the most unique and individual part: “Those who reject Our signs We shall soon cast into the fire, As often as their skins are roasted through, We shall change them for fresh skins so that they may truly taste the Penalty, For Allah is exalted in power, wise.” (4:56) The nerve ends that feel pain are found in the skin. When the skin is severely burnt the nerve ends are destroyed and pain is not felt. In Hell, Allah will recreate the skin so that its inhabitants may permanently feel intense pain. “Verily, the tree of zaqqum will be the food of the sinners, like boiling oil it will boil in their bellies, like the boiling of scalding water, ‘ Taste you this! Verily you were pretending to be the mighty the generous! Verily this is that which you used to doubt!” (44:43-50) “. . . and drink boiling water which cuts their bowls to pieces.” (47:15) Thermal receptors are not present in the intestines. It is known that if the bowel is cut the contents go into the highly sensitive Peritonea Cavity, where intense pain is initiated. This is not common knowledge now, let alone in Muhammad’s time. The author of the Qur’an is, however, well acquainted with these facts!

7. The Water Cycle. The Qur’an correctly describes the water cycle, and the origin of underground springs as being from rain water. Obvious you may think, but the Greek philosophers did not get it right, suggesting that underground springs were produced by sea spray collecting in caves which fed a great underground sea through the ‘abyss’! In fact the water cycle was not accurately propounded until the 18th century. The Qur’an, however, states: “Hast though not seen that Allah sent water down from the sky and led it through sources into the ground?” (39:21).

For the sake of brevity, I have only mentioned a few of the statements and provided limited explanation of the statements contained in the Qur’an and traditions dealing with scientific subjects. T. V. N. Persud, Professor and Chairman, Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Manitoba, Canada commented: “Muhammed was a very ordinary man, he couldn’t read, didn’t know how to write, in fact he was an illiterate . . . we’re talking about 1400 years ago you have some illiterate person making profound pronouncements and statements that are accurate of a scientific nature. I personally can’t see how this could be a mere chance, there are too many accuracies . . . I have no difficulty in my mind reconciling that this is a divine inspiration or a revelation which led him to these statements.” Let us not forget the words of Dr, Bucaille that these facts “appear as a challenge to explanation in human terms.” And Professor Persud’s statement that it cannot be coincidence, there are too many accuracies! The probability against Muhammad taking wild guesses and getting each fact right are indeed phenomenal! These scientists, renowned experts in their fields, like the Arabs who had mastered their language in the time of the Prophet, recognize the clear proof and miraculous nature of the Qur’an.

“We will show them our signs on the furthest horizons and within themselves until they know that this is the truth.”

The Qur’an is consistent with external realities, and it is also consistent internally. It is the nature of the works of men, be they scientists, philosophers, sages or mystics to contain inconsistencies and contradictions. This cannot be so with the Divine Revelation as the Qur’an states: “Have they not carefully considered the Qur’an, had it been from other than Allah they would have found many discrepancies in it.”

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