Monday, 13 February 2012


Ever since the dawn of human life on this planet, Man has always tried to understand Nature, his own place in the scheme of Creation and the purpose of Life itself. In this quest for Truth, spanning many centuries and diverse civilizations, organized religion has shaped human life and, to a large extent, has determined the course of history. While some religions have been based on written text, claimed by their followers to be divinely inspired, others have relied solely on human experience. Al-Qur’an, the main source of the Islamic faith, is a book believed by its followers, the Muslims, to be completely of Divine origin. Muslims also believe that it contains guidance for all humankind. Since the message of the Qur’an is believed to be for all times, it should be relevant to every age. But does the Qur’an pass this test? In this booklet, I intend to give an objective analysis of the Muslim belief regarding the Divine origin of the Qur’an, particularly in the light of established scientific discoveries. There was a time, in the history of world civilization, when ‘miracles’, or what were perceived to be miracles, took precedence over human reason and logic. Of course, the normal defination of ‘miracle’ is simply, anything that takes place out of the normal course of life and for which humankind has no explanation. However, we must be careful before accepting something as a miracle. In 1993, ‘The Times of India’, Mumbai, reported that ‘a saint’ by the name ‘Baba Pilot’ claimed to have stayed continuously submerged under water in a tank for three consecutive days and nights. However, when reporters wanted to examine the bottom of the tank of water in which he claimed to have performed his ‘miraculous feat’, he refused to let them do so. He argued by asking as to how one could examine the womb of a mother that gives birth to a child. Obviously the ‘saint’ had something to conceal! His claim was a gimmick simply to gain publicity. Surely, no modern person with even the slightest inkling towards rational thinking would accept such a ‘miracle’. If such false miracles are the tests of divinity, then we would have to accept all world famous magicians known for their ingenious magical tricks and illusions, as genuine God-men! A book, claiming to be of Divine origin, is in effect, claiming to be a miracle. Such a claim should be easily verifiable in any age, according to the standards of that age. Muslims believe, that the Qur’an is the last and final revelation of God, the miracle of miracles, revealed as a mercy to mankind. Let us therefore investigate the veracity of this belief.


Literature and poetry have been instruments of human expression and creativity, in all cultures. The world also witnessed an age when literature and poetry occupied pride of position, similar to that now enjoyed by science and technology.

Even non-Muslim scholars agree that the Qur’an is Arabic literature par excellence – that it is the best Arabic literature on the face of the earth. The Qur’an challenges mankind to produce the likes of it:

002.023► وَإِنْ كُنْتُمْ فِي رَيْبٍ مِمَّا نَزَّلْنَا عَلَى عَبْدِنَا فَأْتُوا بِسُورَةٍ مِنْ مِثْلِهِ وَادْعُوا شُهَدَاءَكُمْ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ صَادِقِينَ

002.024► فَإِنْ لَمْ تَفْعَلُوا وَلَنْ تَفْعَلُوا فَاتَّقُوا النَّارَ الَّتِي وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ أُعِدَّتْ لِلْكَافِرِينَ

“And if ye are in doubt as to what We have revealed from time to time to Our servant, then produce a Surah like thereunto; and call your witnesses or helpers(if there are any) besides Allah,if your (doubts) are true.“But if ye cannot –and of a surety you cannot –then fear the Fire which is prepared for those who reject Faith.” [Al-Qur’an-Surah Al-Baqara 2:23-24]

The challenge of the Qur’an, is to produce a single Surah (chapter) like the Surahs it contains. The same challenge is repeated in the Qur’an several times. The challenge to produce a Surah, which, in beauty, eloquence, depth and meaning is at least somewhat similar to a Qur’anic Surah remains unmet to this day.

A modern rational man, however, would never accept a religious scripture which says, in the best possible poetic language, that the world is flat. This is because we live in an age, where human reason, logic and science are given primacy. Not many would accept the Qur’an’s extraordinarily beautiful language, as proof of its Divine origin. Any scripture claiming to be a divine revelation must also be acceptable on the strength of its own reason and logic.

According to the famous physicist and Nobel Prize winner, Albert Einstein, “Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.” Let us therefore study the Qur’an, and analyze whether the Qur’an and Modern Science are compatible or incompatible?

The Qur’an is not a book of Science but a book of ‘Signs’, i.e. Aayaats. There are more than six thousand ‘Signs’ in the Qur’an of which more than a thousand deal with hard core Science.

We all know that many a times Science takes a ‘U-turn’. In this book I have considered only established scientific facts and not hypotheses and theories based on mere assumptions and not backed by proof.

1 Al-Qur’an 2:23-24 indicates Surah or Chapter No. 2 and Aayaat or Verses 23 and 24. The same notation is followed throughout this book. References and translation of the Qur’an are from the translation of the Qur’an by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, new revised edition, 1989, published by Amana Corporation, Maryland, USA.

The sun rotates

The sun rotates

For a long time European philosophers and scientists believed that the earth stood still in the centre of the universe and every other body including the sun moved around it. In the West, this geocentric concept of the universe was prevalent right from the time of Ptolemy in the second century B.C. In 1512, Nicholas Copernicus put forward his Heliocentric Theory of Planetary Motion, which asserted that the sun is motionless at the centre of the solar system with the planets revolving around it.

In 1609, the German scientist Yohannus Keppler published the ‘Astronomia Nova’. In this he concluded that not only do the planets move in elliptical orbits around the sun, they also rotate upon their axes at irregular speeds. With this knowledge it became possible for European scientists to explain correctly many of the mechanisms of the solar system, including the sequence of night and day.

After these discoveries, it was thought that the Sun was stationary and did not rotate about its axis like the Earth. I remember having studied this fallacy from Geography books during my school days.

Consider the following Qur’anic verse:

21:33 ►“ وَهُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ اللَّيْلَ وَالنَّهَارَ وَالشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ كُلٌّ فِي فَلَكٍ يَسْبَحُونَ “

“It is He Who created the Night and the Day, and the sun and the moon: All (the celestial bodies) swim along, each in its rounded course.” [Al-Qur’an- Surah Al-Anbiya 21:33]

The Arabic word used in the above verse is yasbahoon . This word is derived from the word sabaha. It carries with it the idea of motion that comes from any moving body. If you use this word for a person on the ground, it would not mean that he is rolling but would imply that he is walking or

running. If you use this word for a person in water, it would not mean that he is floating but would imply that he is swimming.

Similarly, if you use the word yasbah for a celestial body such as the sun, it would not only mean that it is flying through space but would also mean that it is rotating as it goes through space. Most school textbooks have now incorporated the fact that the sun rotates about its axis. The rotation of the sun about its own axis can be proved with the help of an equipment that projects the image of the sun on the top of a table, so that one can examine the image of the sun without being blinded. It is noticed that the sun has spots which complete a circular motion once every 25 days i.e. the sun takes approximately 25 days to rotate round its axis.

The sun travels through space at roughly 240 km per second, and takes about 200 million years to complete one revolution around the centre of our Milky Way Galaxy.

36:40 ►“ لا الشَّمْسُ يَنْبَغِي لَهَا أَنْ تُدْرِكَ الْقَمَرَ وَلا اللَّيْلُ سَابِقُ النَّهَارِ وَكُلٌّ فِي فَلَكٍ يَسْبَحُونَ “

“It is not permitted to the Sun to catch up the Moon, nor can the Night outstrip the Day: Each (just) swims along in (its own) orbit (according to Law).” [Al-Qur’an –Surah Ya-Seen 36:40]

This verse mentions an essential fact discovered only recently by modern astronomy, i.e. the existence of the individual orbits of the Sun and the Moon, and their journey through space with their own motion.

The ‘fixed place’ towards which the sun travels, carrying with it the solar system, has been located preirsely by modern astronomy. It has been given a name, the Solar Apex. The solar system is indeed moving in space towards a point situated in the constellation of Hercules (alpha Lyrae) whose exact location is now firmly established.

The moon rotates around its axis in the same duration that it takes to revolve around the earth. It takes approximately 29½ days to complete one rotation.

One cannot help but be amazed at the scientific accuracy of the Qur’anic verses. Should we not ponder over the question: “What is the source of knowledge contained in the Qur’an?”

The Heavens & Earth

Creation of the heavens & Earth

The Qur’an contains a great many verses concerning the creation of the Earth, the heavens and what lies between:

015.085وَمَا خَلَقْنَا السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأرْضَ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا إِلا بِالْحَقِّ وَإِنَّ السَّاعَةَ لآتِيَةٌ فَاصْفَحِ الصَّفْحَ الْجَمِيلَ

We did not create the heavens and Earth and everything between them, except with truth. The Hour is certainly coming, so turn away graciously. (Qur’an, Al-Hijr- 15:85)

Moreover Allah says in Al-Quran-

020.006► لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الأرْضِ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا وَمَا تَحْتَ الثَّرَى

Everything in the heavens and everything on the Earth and everything in between them and everything under the ground belongs to Him. (Qur’an, Ta Ha-20:6)

021.016► وَمَا خَلَقْنَا السَّمَاءَ وَالأرْضَ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا لاعِبِينَ

We did not create heaven and Earth and everything in between them as a game. (Qur’an, Al-Anbiya -21:16)

Scientists state that first of all, a mass of hot gas increased in density. This mass later divided into smaller parts to form galactic matter and later still, the stars and planets. To put it another way, the Earth along with stars around it, are all parts which separated from a united body of gas. Some of these parts brought the suns and planets into being, thus leading to the emergence of the many Solar Systems and galaxies. As we have set out in earlier sections of this book, the universe was first in a state of “ratq” (fusion: combined together, united) and then became “fataqa” (divided into parts). The emergence of the universe is described with the most suitable words in the Qur’an, in such a way as to confirm the scientific accounts.7

On the occasion of every division, a few particles remained outside the new, fundamental bodies forming in space. The scientific name for these extra particles is “interstellar galactic material.” Interstellar matter consists of 60% of hydrogen, 38% of helium and 2% of all other elements. Of the interstellar matter, 99% consists of interstellar gas and 1% of interstellar dust, which probably consists of heavy elements in small particles of 0.0001 to 0.001 mm in diameter.8 Scientists regard these substances as very important from the point of view of astrophysical measurements. These substances are so fine as to be capable of being regarded as dust, smoke or gas. However, when one considers these substances as a whole, they represent a larger mass than the total of all the galaxies in space. Although the existence of this interstellar galactic matter was only discovered in 1920, attention was drawn to the existence of these particles, described as “maa baynahuma”-translated as “everything between them”-hundreds of years ago in the Qur’an.

Sun’s trajectory

Sun’s trajectory

It is stressed in the Qur’an that the Sun and Moon follow specific trajectories:

021.033► وَهُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ اللَّيْلَ وَالنَّهَارَ وَالشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ كُلٌّ فِي فَلَكٍ يَسْبَحُونَ

It is He Who created night and day and the Sun and Moon, each one swimming in a sphere. (Qur’an, Al-Anbiya -21:33)

The word “swim” in the above verse is expressed in Arabic by the word “sabaha” and is used to describe the movement of the Sun in space. The word means that the Sun does not move randomly through space but that it rotates around its axis and follows a course as it does so. The fact that the Sun is not fixed in position but rather follows a specific trajectory is also stated in another verse:

036.038► وَالشَّمْسُ تَجْرِي لِمُسْتَقَرٍّ لَّهَا ذَلِكَ تَقْدِيرُ الْعَزِيزِ الْعَلِيمِ

And the Sun runs to its resting place. That is the decree of the Almighty, the All-Knowing. (Qur’an, Ya-Seen- 36:38)

These facts set out in the Qur’an were only discovered by means of astronomical advances in our own time. According to astronomers’ calculations, the Sun moves along a path known as the Solar Apex in the path of the star Vega at an incredible speed of 720,000 kmph (447,000 mph). In rough terms, this shows that the Sun traverses some 17.28 million km (10.74 million miles) a day. As well as the Sun itself, all the planets and satellites within its gravitational field also travel

Sun will be extinct

Sun will be extinct

The light of the sun is due to a chemical process on its surface that has been taking place continuously for the past five billion years. It will come to an end at some point of time in the future, when the sun will be totally extinguished, leading to extinction of all life on earth. Regarding the impermanence of the sun’s existence, the Qur’an says:

36:38 ►“ وَالشَّمْسُ تَجْرِي لِمُسْتَقَرٍّ لَّهَا ذَلِكَ تَقْدِيرُ الْعَزِيزِ الْعَلِيمِ “

“And the Sun runs its course for a period determined for it; that is the decree of (Him) the exalted in Might, the All-Knowing.” [Al-Qur’an –Surah Ya-Seen- 36:38]1

The Arabic word used here is mustaqarr, which means a place or time that is determined. Thus the Qur’an says that the sun runs towards a determined place, and will do so only up to a pre-determined period of time – meaning that it will end or extinguish.

Structural difference

Structural difference

078.012► وَبَنَيْنَا فَوْقَكُمْ سَبْعًا شِدَادًا

078.013► وَجَعَلْنَا سِرَاجًا وَهَّاجًا

We built seven firm layers above you. We installed a blazing lamp. (Qur’an, An-Naba 78:12-13)

As we know, the only source of light in the Solar System is the Sun. With advances in technology, astronomers discovered that the Moon was not a source of light but that it merely reflects the light reaching it from the Sun. The expression “lamp” in the above verse is a translation of the Arabic word “siraaj,” which most perfectly describes the Sun, the source of light and heat.

In the Qur’an Allah employs different words when referring to such celestial bodies as the Moon, the Sun and the stars. This is how the differences between the structures of the Sun and Moon are expressed in the Qur’an:

071.015► أَلَمْ تَرَوْا كَيْفَ خَلَقَ اللَّهُ سَبْعَ سَمَاوَاتٍ طِبَاقًا

071.016► وَجَعَلَ الْقَمَرَ فِيهِنَّ نُورًا وَجَعَلَ الشَّمْسَ سِرَاجًا

Don’t you see how He created seven heavens in layers, and placed the Moon as a light in them and made the sun a blazing lamp? (Qur’an, Nooh -71:15-16)

In the above verse, the word “light” is used for the Moon (“noor” in Arabic) and the word “lamp” for the Sun (“siraaj” in Arabic.) The word used for the Moon refers to a light-reflecting, bright, motionless body. The word used for the Sun refers to a celestial body which is always burning, a constant source of heat and light.

On the other hand, the word “star” comes from the Arabic root “najama,” meaning “appearing, emerging, visible.” As in the verse below, stars are also referred to by the word “thaaqib,” which is used for that which shines and pierces the darkness with light: self-consuming and burning:

086.003► النَّجْمُ الثَّاقِبُ

It is the star that pierces through darkness! (Qur’an, At-Tariq- 86:3)

We now know that the Moon does not emit its own light but reflects that reaching it from the Sun. We also know that the Sun and stars do emit their own light. These facts were revealed in the Qur’an in an age when mankind simply did not have the means to make scientific discoveries of their own accord. It was an age when peoples’ knowledge of celestial bodies was severely restricted, to say the least. This further emphasises the miraculous nature of the book of Islam.

Perfect equilibrium

Perfect equilibrium

067.003► الَّذِي خَلَقَ سَبْعَ سَمَاوَاتٍ طِبَاقًا مَا تَرَى فِي خَلْقِ الرَّحْمَنِ مِنْ تَفَاوُتٍ فَارْجِعِ الْبَصَرَ هَلْ تَرَى مِنْ فُطُورٍ

067.004► ثُمَّ ارْجِعِ الْبَصَرَ كَرَّتَيْنِ يَنْقَلِبْ إِلَيْكَ الْبَصَرُ خَاسِئًا وَهُوَ حَسِيرٌ

He Who created the seven heavens in layers. You will not find any discrepancy in the creation of the All-Merciful. Look again-do you see any gaps? Then look again and again. Your sight will return to you dazzled and exhausted! (Qur’an, Al-Mulk -67:3-4)

The billions of stars and galaxies in the universe move in perfect equilibrium in the paths set out for them. Stars, planets and satellites rotate not only around their own axes but also together with the systems of which they are an integral part. Sometimes, galaxies containing 200-300 billion stars move across each others’ paths. Yet amazingly, no collisions take place that might damage the great order in the universe. This miracle is something over which all of us should reflect.

In the universe, the concept of speed assumes giant dimensions when compared to earthly measurements. Stars, planets, galaxies and conglomerations of galaxies-whose numerical properties can only be conceived by mathematicians-weigh billions or trillions of tons, and move through space at extraordinary speeds.

For example, the Earth rotates at 1,670 kmph (1,038 mph). If we consider that the fastest-moving bullet today possesses an average speed of 1,800 kmph, we can see how fast the Earth is moving, despite its enormous size and mass.

The speed of the Earth as it orbits the Sun is some 60 times faster than a bullet: 108,000 kmph. If we were able to construct a vehicle capable of moving at that speed, it would be able to circumnavigate the Earth in 22 minutes. These figures apply only to the Earth.

Those for the Solar System are even more fascinating. The speed of that system is such as to exceed the bounds of reason: The larger the systems in the universe, the greater their speed. The Solar System’s speed of orbit around the centre of the galaxy is 720,000 kmph. The Milky Way, with its 200 billion or so stars, moves through space at 950,000 kmph.

There is no doubt that there is a very high risk of collisions in such a complicated and fast-moving system. Yet nothing of the sort actually happens and we continue with our lives in complete safety. That is because everything in the universe functions according to the flawless equilibrium set out by Allah. It is for this reason that, as stated in the verse, there is no “discrepancy” in the system.