- The Challenge of the Quraan
- General Science
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
Ever since the dawn of human life on this planet, Man has always sought to understand Nature, his own place in thescheme 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 determined to a large extent, the course of history. While some religions have been based on books, claimed by their adherents to be divinely inspired, others have relied solely on human experience.
Al-Quraan, the main source of the Islamic faith, is a book believed by Muslims, to be of completely Divine origin. Muslims also believe that it contains guidance for all mankind. Since the message of the Quraan is believed to be for all times, it should be relevant to every age. Does the Quraan pass this test? Here, I intend to give an objective analysis of the Muslim belief regarding the Divine origin of the Quraan, in the light of established scientific discoveries.
There was a time, in the history of world civilization, when miracles, or what was perceived to be a miracle, took precedence over human reason and logic. But how do we define the term miracle? A miracle is anything that takes place out of the normal course of life and for which humankind has no explanation. However, we must be careful before weaccept something as a miracle. An article in The Times of India Mumbai, in 1993 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 base of the tank of water where he claimed to have performed this miraculousfeat, 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. The Baba was hiding something. It was a gimmick simply to gain publicity. Surely, no modern man 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 Mr. P. C. Sorcar, the world famous magicianknown for his ingenious magical tricks and illusions, as the best God-man.
A book, claiming 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 Quraan 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.
I would like to thank Brother Musaddique Thanks for his editorial assistance. May Allah reward him for his efforts, Aameen
Dr. Zakir Naik
(Islamic Research Foundation)
Muslims as well as non-Muslims agree that Al-Quraan is Arabic literature par excellence - that it is the best Arabic literature on the face of the earth. The Quraan, challenges mankind in the following verses:
The challenge of the Quraan, is to produce a single Soorah (chapter) like the Soorahs it contains. The same challenge is repeated in the Quraan several times. The challenge to produce a Soorah, which, in beauty, eloquence, depth and meaning is at least somewhat similar to a Quraanic Soorah 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 Quraans 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 Quraan, and analyze whether The Quraan and Modern Science are compatible or incompatible?
The Quraan is not a book of science but a book of signs, i.e. ayats. There are more than six thousand signs in the Quraan of which more than a thousand deal with 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 mere hypotheses and theories that are based on assumptions and are not backed by proof.
In ancient times a well-known theory by the name of Theory of Atomism was widely accepted. This theory was originally proposed by the Greeks, in particular by a man calledDemocritus, who lived about 23 centuries ago. Democritus and the people that came after him, assumed that the smallest unit of matter was the atom. The Arabs used to believe the same. The Arabic word dharrah most commonly meant an atom. In recent times modern science has discovered that it is possible to split even an atom. That the atom can be split further is a development of the 20th century. Fourteen centuries ago this concept would have appeared unusual even to an Arab. For him the dharrah was the limit beyond which one could not go. The following Quraanic verse however, refuses to acknowledge this limit:
The Unbelievers say, Never to us will come The Hour: say, Nay! But most surely, By my Lord, it will come Upon you by Him Who knows the unseen From Whom is not hidden The least little atom In the Heavens or on earth: Nor is there anything less Than that, or greater, but Is in the Record Perspicuous. [Al-Quraan 34:3]
In 1580, Bernard Palissy was the first man to describe the present day concept of water cycle. He described how water evaporates from the oceans and cools to form clouds. The clouds move inland where they rise, condense and fall as rain. This water gathers as lakes and streams and flows back to the ocean in a continuous cycle. In the 7th century B.C., Thales of Miletusbelieved that surface spray of the oceans was picked up by thewind and carried inland to fall as rain. In earlier times people did not know the source of underground water. They thought the water of the oceans, under the effect of winds, was thrust towards the interior of the continents. They also believed that the water returned by a secret passage, or the Great Abyss. This passage is connected to the oceans and has been called theTartarus, since Platos time. Even Descartes, a great thinker of the eighteenth century, subscribed to this view. Till the nineteenth century, Aristotles theory was prevalent. According to this theory, water was condensed in cool mountain caverns and formed underground lakes that fed springs. Today, we know that therainwater that seeps into the cracks of the ground is responsible for this. The water cycle is described by the Quraan in the following verses:
Seest thou not that Allah Sends down rain from The sky, and leads it Through springs in the earth? Then He causes to grow, Therewith, produce of various Colours. [Al-Quraan 39:21]
He sends down rain From the sky And with it gives life to The earth after it is dead: Verily in that are Signs For those who are wise. [Al-Quraan 30:24]
And We send down water From the sky according to (Due) measure, and We cause it To soak in the soil; And We certainly are able To drain it off (with ease). [Al-Quraan 23:18]
No other text dating back 1400 years ago gives such an accurate description of the water cycle.
WINDS IMPREGNATE THE CLOUDS
And We send the fecundating winds, Then cause the rain to descend From the sky, therewith providing You with water (in abundance). [Al-Quraan 15:22]
The Arabic word used here is lawqih, which is the plural of laqih from laqaha, which means to impregnate or fecundate. In this context, impregnate means that the wind pushes the clouds together increasing the condensation that causes lightning and thus rain. A similar description is found in the Quraan:
It is Allah Who sends The Winds, and they raise The Clouds: then does He Spread them in the sky As He wills, and break them Into fragments, until thou seest Raindrops issue from the midst Thereof: then when He has Made them reach such Of His servants as He wills, Behold, they do rejoice! [Al-Quraan 30:48]
The Quraanic descriptions are absolutely accurate and agree perfectly with modern data on hydrology. The water cycle is described in several verses of the Glorious Quraan, including 3:9, 7:57, 13:17, 25:48- 49, 36:34, 50:9-11, 56:68-70, 67:30 and 86:11.
In Geology, the phenomenon of folding is a recently discovered fact. Folding is responsible for the formation of mountain ranges. The earths crust, on which we live, is like a solid shell, while the deeper layers are hot and fluid, and thus inhospitable to any form of life. It is also known that the stability of the mountains is linked to the phenomenon of folding, for it wasthe folds that were to provide foundations for the relief thatconstitute the mountains. Geologists tell us that the radius of the Earth is about 3,750 miles and the crust on which we live is very thin, ranging between 1 to 30 miles. Since the crust is thin, it has a high possibility of shaking. Mountains act like stakes or tent pegs that hold the earths crust and give it stability. The Quraan contains exactly such a description in the following verse:
Have We not made The earth as a wide Expanse, And the mountains as pegs? [Al-Quraan 78:6-7]
The word awtad means stakes or pegs (like those used to anchor a tent); they are thedeep foundations of geological folds. A book named Earth is considered as a basic reference textbook on geology in many universities around the world. One of the authors of this book is Frank Press, who was the President of the Academy of Sciences in the USA for 12 years and was the Science Advisor to former US President Jimmy Carter. In this book he illustrates the mountain in a wedge-shape and the mountain itself as a small part of the whole, whose root is deeply entrenched in the ground. According to Dr. Press, the mountains play an important role in stabilizing the crust of the earth.
(* Earth, Press and Siever, p. 435. Also see Earth Science, Tarbuck and Lutgens, p. 157.)
The Quraan clearly mentions the function of the mountains in preventing the earth from shaking:
And We have set on the earth Mountains standing firm, Lest it should shake with them. [Al-Quraan 21:31]
The Quraanic descriptions are in perfect agreement with modern geological data.
MOUNTAINS FIRMLY FIXED
The surface of the earth is broken into many rigid plates that are about 100 km in thickness. These plates float on a partially molten region called aesthenosphere. Mountain formations occur at the boundary of the plates. The earths crust is 5 km thick below oceans, about 35 km thick below flat continental surfaces and almost 80 km thick below great mountain ranges. These are the strong foundations on which mountains stand. The Quraan also speaks about the strong mountain foundations in the following verse:
And the mountains Hath He firmly fixed. [Al-Quraan 79:32]
(*A similar message is contained in the Qur'aan in 88:19, 31:10 and 16:15)
OceanologyBARRIER BETWEEN SWEET AND SALT WATERS
Consider the following Quraanic verses:
He has let free the two bodies Of flowing water, Meeting together: Between them is a Barrier Which they do not transgress. [Al-Quraan 55:19-20]
In the Arabic text the word barzakh means a barrier or a partition. This barrier is not a physical partition. The Arabic wordmaraja literally means they both meet and mix with each other. Early commentators of the Quraan were unable to explain the two opposite meanings for the two bodies of water, i.e. they meet and mix, and at the same time, there is a barrier between them. Modern Science has discovered that in the places where two different seas meet, there is a barrier between them. This barrier divides the two seas so that each sea has its own temperature,salinity and density. Oceanologists are now in a better position to explain this verse. There is a slanted unseen water barrier between the two seas through which water from one sea passes to the other.
And made a separating bar between the two bodies Of flowing water? [Al-Quraan 27:61]
This phenomenon occurs in several places, including the divider between theMediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean at Gibralter. But when the Quraan speaks about the divider between fresh and salt water, it mentions the existence of a forbidding partition with the barrier.
It is He Who has Let free the two bodies Of flowing water: One palatable and sweet, And the other salty and bitter; Yet has He Made a barrier between them, And a partition that is forbidden To be passed. [Al-Quraan 25:53]
Modern science has discovered that in estuaries, where fresh (sweet) and salt-water meet, the situation is somewhat different from that found in places where two seas meet. It has been discovered that what distinguishes fresh water from salt water in estuaries is apycnocline zone with a marked density discontinuity separating the two layers. This partition (zone of separation) has salinity different from both the fresh water and the salt water.
This phenomenon occurs in several places, including Egypt, where the river Nile flows into the Mediterranean Sea.
(Oceanography, Gross, p. 244 and Introductory Oceanography, Thurman, pp. 300-301. )
Prof. Durga Rao is an expert in the field of Marine Geology and was a professor at King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He was asked to comment on the following verse:
Or (the Unbelievers state) Is like the depths of darkness In a vast deep ocean, Overwhelmed with billow Topped by billow, Topped by (dark) clouds: Depths of darkness, one Above another: if a man Stretches out his hand, He can hardly see it! For any to whom Allah Giveth not light, there is no light! [Al-Quraan 24:40]
Prof. Rao said that scientists have only now been able to confirm, with the help of modern equipment that there is darkness in the depths of the ocean. Humans are unable to dive unaided underwater for more than 20 to 30 meters, and cannot survive in the deep oceanic regions at a depth of more than 200 meters. This verse does not refer to all seas because not every sea can be described as having accumulated darkness layered one over another. It refers especially to a deep sea or deep ocean, as the Quraan says, darkness in a vast deep ocean. This layered darkness in a deep ocean is the result of two causes:
- A light ray is composed of seven colours. These seven colours are Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange and Red (VIBGYOR). The light ray undergoes refraction when it hits water. The upper 10 to 15 metres of water absorb the red colour. Therefore if a diver is 25 metres under water and gets wounded, he would not be able to see the red colour of his blood, because the red colour does not reach this depth. Similarly orange rays are absorbed at 30 to 50 metres, yellow at 50 to 100 metres, green at 100 to 200 metres, and finally, blue beyond 200 metres and violet and indigo above 200 metres. Due to successive disappearance of colour, one layer after another, the ocean progressively becomes darker, i.e. darkness takes place in layers of light. Below a depth of 1000 meters there is complete darkness.
(Oceans, Elder and Pernetta, p. 27. 1 2)
- The suns rays are absorbed by clouds, which in turn scatter light rays thus causing a layer of darkness under the clouds. This is the first layer of darkness. When light rays reach the surface of the ocean they are reflected by the wave surface giving it a shiny appearance. Therefore it is the waves which reflect light and cause darkness. The un-reflected light penetrates into the depths of the ocean. Therefore the ocean has two parts. The surface characterized by light and warmth and the depth characterized by darkness. The surface is further separated from the deep part of the ocean by waves. The internal waves cover the deep waters of seas and oceans because the deep waters have a higher density than the waters above them. The darkness begins below the internal waves. Even the fish in the depths of the ocean cannot see; their only source of light is from their own bodies.
These clouds as explained are barriers one over the other that further cause darkness by absorption of colours at different levels.
Prof. Durga Rao concluded by saying, 1400 years ago a normal human being could not explain this phenomenon in so much detail. Thus the information must have come from a supernatural source.
Consider the following Quraanic verse:
Do not the Unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together (as one Unit of Creation), before We clove them asunder? We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe? [Al-Quraan 21:30]
Only after advances have been made in science, do we now know that cytoplasm, the basic substance of the cell is made up of80% water. Modern research has also revealed that most organisms consist of 50% to 90% water and that every living entity requires water for its existence. Was it possible 14 centuries ago for any human-being to guess that every living being was made of water? Moreover would such a guess be conceivable by a human being in the deserts of Arabia where there has always been scarcity of water?
The following verse refers to the creation of animals from water:
And Allah has created Every animal from water. [Al-Quraan 24:45]
The following verse refers to the creation of human beings from water:
It is He Who has Created man from water: Then has He established Relationships of lineage And marriage: for thy Lord Has power (over all things). [Al-Quraan 25:54]
And has sent Down water from the sky. With it have We produced Diverse pairs of plants Each separate from the others.[Al-Quraan 20:53]
FRUITS CREATED IN PAIRS, MALE AND FEMALE
And fruit Of every kind He made In pairs, two and two. [Al-Quraan 13:3]
Fruit is the end product of reproduction of the superior plants. The stage preceding fruit is the flower, which has male and female organs (stamens and ovules). Once pollen has been carried to the flower, they bear fruit, which in turn matures and frees its seed. All fruits therefore imply the existence of male and female organs; a fact that is mentioned in the Quraan. In certain species, fruit can come from non-fertilized flowers (parthenocarpic fruit) e.g. bananas, certain types of pineapple, fig, orange, vine, etc. They also have definite sexual characteristics.
EVERYTHING MADE IN PAIRS
And of everything We have created pairs. [Al-Quraan 51:49]
This refers to things other than humans, animals, plants and fruits. It may also be referring to a phenomenon like electricity in which the atoms consist of negatively and positively charged electrons and protons.
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. [Al-Quraan 36:36]
The Quraan here says that everything is created in pairs, including things that the humans do not know at present and may discover later.
There is not an animal (That lives) on the earth, Nor a being that flies On its wings, but (forms Part of) communities like you. [Al-Quraan 6:38]
Research has shown that animals and birds live in communities, i.e. they organize, and live and work together.
THE FLIGHT OF BIRDS
Regarding the flight of birds the Quraan says:
Do they not look at The birds, held poised In the midst of (the air And) the sky? Nothing Holds them up but (the power Of) Allah. Verily in this Are Signs for those who believe. [Al-Quraan 16:79]
A similar message is repeated in the Quraan in the verse: Do they not observe The birds above them, Spreading their wings And folding them in? None can uphold them Except (Allah) Most Gracious: Truly it is He That watches over all things. [Al-Quraan 67:19]
The Arabic word amsaka literally means, to put ones hand on, seize, hold, hold someone back, which expresses the idea that Allah holds the bird up in His power. These verses stress the extremely close dependence of the birds behaviour on Divine order. Modern scientific data has shown the degree of perfection attained by certain species of birds with regard to the programming of their movements. It is only the existence of a migratory programme in the genetic code of the birds that can explain the long andcomplicated journey that very young birds, without any prior experience and without any guide, are able to accomplish. They are also able to return to the departure point on a definite date.
Prof. Hamburger in his book Power and Fragility gives the example of mutton-birdthat lives in the Pacific with its journey of over 15,000 miles in the shape of figure 8. It makes this journey over a period of 6 months and comes back to its departure point with a maximum delay of one week. The highly complicated instructions for such a journey have to be contained in the birds nervous cells. They are definitely programmed. Should we not reflect on the identity of this Programmer?
And thy Lord taught the Bee To build its cells in hills, On trees, and in (mens) habitations; Then to eat of all The produce (of the earth), And find with skill the spacious Paths of its Lord.[Al-Quraan 16:68-69]
Von-Frisch received the Nobel Prize in 1973 for his research on the Behaviour and communication of the bees. The bee, after discovering any new garden or flower, goes back and tells itsfellow bees the exact direction and map to get there, which is known as bee dance. The meanings of this insects movements that are intended to transmit information between worker bees have been discovered scientifically using photography and other methods. The Quraan mentions in the above verse how the bee finds with skill the spacious paths of its Lord.
The worker bee or the soldier bee is a female bee. In Soorah Al-Nahl chapter no. 16, verses 68 and 69 the gender used for the bee is the female gender (fasluk and kul), indicating that the bee that leaves its home for gathering food is a female bee. In other words the soldier or worker bee is a female bee. In fact, in Shakespeares play, Henry the Fourth, some of the characters speak about bees and mention that the bees are soldiersand that they have a king. That is what people thought in Shakespearean times. They thought that the worker bees are male bees and they go home and are answerable to a king bee. This, however, is not true. The worker bees are females and they do not report toa king bee but to a queen bee. But it took modern investigations in the last 300 years to discover this.
SPIDERS WEB / HOME IS FRAGILE
The Quraan mentions in Soorah Al-Ankabt,
The parable of those who Take protectors other than Allah Is that of the Spider, Who builds (to itself) A house; but truly The flimsiest of houses Is the Spiders house If they but knew.[Al-Quraan 29:41]
Besides giving the physical description of the spiders web as being very flimsy, delicate and weak, the Quraan also stresses on the flimsiness of the relationship in the spiders house, where the female spider many a times kills its mate, the male spider.
LIFESTYLE AND COMMUNICATION OF ANTS
Consider the following Quraanic verse:
And before Solomon were marshaled His hosts of Jinns and men And birds, and they were all Kept in order and ranks. At length, when they came To a (lowly) valley of ants, One of the ants said: O ye ants, get into Your habitations, lest Solomon And his hosts crush you (Under foot) without knowing it. [Al-Quraan 27:17-18]
In the past, some people would have probably mocked at the Quraan, taking it to be a fairy tale book in which ants talk to each other and communicate sophisticated messages. In recent times, research has shown us several facts about the lifestyle of ants, which were not known earlier to humankind. Research has shown that the animals or insects whose lifestyle is closest in resemblance to the lifestyle of human beings are the ants. This can be seen from the following findings regarding ants:
- The ants bury their dead in a manner similar to the humans.
- They have a sophisticated system of division of labour, whereby they havemanagers, supervisors, foremen, workers, etc.
- Once in a while they meet among themselves to have a chat.
- They have an advanced method of communication among themselves.
- They hold regular markets wherein they exchange goods.
- They store grains for long periods in winter and if the grain begins to bud, they cut the roots, as if they understand that if they leave it to grow, it will rot. If the grains stored by them get wet due to rains, they take these grains out into the sunlight to dry, and once these are dry, they take them back inside as though they know that humidity will cause development of root systems and thereafter rotting of the grain.
The bee assimilates juices of various kinds of flowers and fruit and forms within its body the honey, which it stores in its cells of wax. Only a couple of centuries ago man came to know that honey comes from the belly of the bee. This fact was mentioned in the Quraan 1,400 years ago in the following verse:
There issues From within their bodies A drink of varying colours, Wherein is healing for men. [Al-Quraan 16:69]
We are now aware that honey has a healing property and also a mild antiseptic property. The Russians used honey to cover their wounds in World War II. The wound would retain moisture and would leave very little scar tissue. Due to the density of honey, no fungus or bacteria would grow in the wound. A person suffering from an allergy of a particular plantmay be given honey from that plant so that the person develops resistance to that allergy.Honey is rich in fructose and vitamin K. Thus the knowledge contained in the Quraan regarding honey, its origin and properties, was far ahead of the time it was revealed.
The Quraan was revealed 600 years before the Muslim scientist Ibn Nafees described the circulation of the blood and 1,000 years before William Harwey brought this understanding to the Western world. Roughly thirteen centuries before it was known what happens in the intestines to ensure that organs are nourished by the process of digestive absorption, a verse in the Quraan described the source of the constituents of milk, in conformity with these notions.
To understand the Quraanic verse concerning the above concepts, it is important to know that chemical reactions occur in the intestines and that, from there, substances extracted from food pass into the blood stream via a complex system; sometimes by wayof the liver, depending on their chemical nature. The blood transports them to all the organs of the body, among which are the milk-producing mammary glands.
In simple terms, certain substances from the contents of the intestines enter into the vessels of the intestinal wall itself, and these substances are transported by the blood stream to the various organs.
This concept must be fully appreciated if we wish to understand the following verse in the Quraan:
And verily in cattle there is A lesson for you. We give you to drink Of what is inside their bodies, Coming from a conjunction Between the contents of the Intestine and the blood, A milk pure and pleasant for Those who drink it. [Al-Quraan 16:66]
And in cattle (too) ye Have an instructive example: From within their bodies We produce (milk) for you To drink; there are, in them, (Besides), numerous (other) Benefits for you; And of their (meat) ye eat. [Al-Quraan 23:21]
A few years ago a group of Arabs collected all information concerning embryology from the Quraan, and followed the instruction of the Quraan:
If ye realise this not, ask Of those who possess the Message.[Al-Quraan 16:43 & 21:7]
All the information from the Quraan so gathered, was translated into English and presented to Prof. (Dr.) Keith Moore, who was theProfessor of Embryology and Chairman of the Department of Anatomy at the University of Toronto, in Canada. At present he is one of the highest authorities in the field of Embryology. He was asked to give his opinion regarding the information present in the Quraan concerning the field of embryology. After carefully examining the translation of the Quraanic verses presented to him, Dr. Moore said that most of the information concerning embryology mentioned in the Quraan is in perfect conformity with modern discoveries in the field of embryology and does not conflict with them in any way. He added that there were however a few verses, on whose scientific accuracy he could not comment. He could not say whether the statements were true or false, since he himself was not aware of theinformation contained therein. There was also no mention of this information in modern writings and studies on embryology. One such verse is:
Proclaim! (or Read!) In the name Of thy Lord and Cherisher, Who created Created man, out of A (mere) clot Of congealed blood. [Al-Quraan 96:1-2]
The word alaq besides meaning a congealed clot of blood also means something that clings, a leech-like substance. Dr. Keith Moore had no knowledge whether an embryo in the initial stages appears like a leech. To check this out he studied the initial stage of the embryo under a very powerful microscope in his laboratory and compared what he observed with a diagram of a leech and he was astonished at the striking resemblance between the two!
In the same manner, he acquired more information on embryology that was hitherto not known to him, from the Quraan. Dr. Keith Moore answered about eighty questions dealing with embryological data mentioned in the Quraan and Hadith. Noting that the information contained in the Quraan and Hadith was in full agreement with the latest discoveries in the field of embryology, Prof. Moore said, If I was asked these questions thirty years ago, I would not have been able to answer half of them for lack of scientific information
Dr. Keith Moore had earlier authored the book, The Developing Human. After acquiring new knowledge from the Quraan, he wrote, in 1982, the 3rd edition of the same book, The Developing Human. The book was the recipient of an award for the best medical book written by a single author. This book has been translated into several major languages of the world and is used as a textbook of embryology in the first year of medical studies. In 1981, during the Seventh Medical Conference in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, Dr. Moore said, It has been a great pleasure for me to help clarify statements in the Quraan about human development. It is clear to me that these statements must have come to Muhammad from God or Allah, because almost all of this knowledge was not discovered until many centuries later. This proves to me that Muhammad must have been a messenger of God or Allah. 12
Dr. Joe Leigh Simpson, Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, at the Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, U.S.A., proclaims: ...these Hadiths, sayings of Muhammad (peace be upon him) could not have been obtained on the basis of the scientific knowledge that was available at the time of the writer (7 th century). It follows that not only is there no conflict between genetics and religion (Islam) but in fact religion (Islam) may guide science by adding revelation to some of the traditional scientific approaches there exist statements in the Quraan shown centuries later to be valid which support knowledge in the Quraan having been derived from God.
In embryonic stages, the reproductive organs of the male and female, i.e. the testicles and the ovaries, begin their development near the kidney between the spinal column and the eleventh and twelfth ribs. Later they descend; the female gonads (ovaries) stop in the pelvis while the male gonads (testicles) continue their descent before birth to reach the scrotum through the inguinal canal. Even in the adult after the descent of the reproductive organ, these organs receive their nerve supply and blood supply from the Abdominal Aorta, which is in the area between the backbone (spinal column) and the ribs. Even thelymphatic drainage and the venous return goes to the same area.
HUMAN BEINGS CREATED FROM NUTFAH (Minute Quantity of Liquid)
The Glorious Quraan mentions no less than eleven times that the human being is created from nutfah, which means a minute quantity of liquid or a trickle of liquid which remains after emptying a cup. This is mentioned in several verses of the Quraan including 22:5 and 23:13. 13 Science has confirmed in recent times that only one out of an average ofthree million sperms is required for fertilising the ovum. This means that only a 1/three millionth part or 0.00003% of the quantity of sperms that are emitted is required for fertilisation.
And made his progeny From a quintessence Of the nature of A fluid despised. [Al-Quraan 32:8]
The Arabic word sullah means quintessence or the best part of a whole. We have come to know now that only one single spermatozoon that penetrates the ovum is required forfertilization, out of the several millions produced by man. That one spermatozoon out of several millions, is referred to in the Quraan as sullah. Sullah also means gentle extraction from a fluid. The fluid refers to both male and female germinal fluids containing gametes. Both ovum and sperm are gently extracted from their environments in the process of fertilization.
MAN CREATED FROM NUTFATUN AMSHAAJ (Mingled liquids)
Consider the following Quraanic verse: Verily We created Man from a drop Of mingled sperm. [Al-Quraan 76:2]
The Arabic word nutfatin amshaajin means mingled liquids. According to some commentators of the Quraan, mingled liquids refers to the male or female agents or liquids. After mixture of male and female gamete, the zygote still remains nutfah. Mingled liquids can also refer to spermatic fluid that is formed of various secretions that come from various glands. Therefore nutfatin amsaj, i.e. a minute quantity of mingled fluids refers to the male and female gametes (germinal fluids or cells) and part of the surrounding fluids.
The sex of a fetus is determined by the nature of the sperm and not the ovum. The sex of the child, whether female or male, depends on whether the 23rd pair of chromosomes is XX or XY respectively. Primarily sex determination occurs at fertilization and depends upon the type of sex chromosome in the sperm that fertilizes an ovum. If it is an X bearing sperm that fertilizes the ovum, the fetus is a female and if it is a Y bearing sperm then the fetus is a male.
That He did create In pairs male and female, From a seed when lodged (In its place).[Al-Quraan 53:45-46]
The Arabic word nutfah means a minute quantity of liquid and tumn means ejaculated or planted. Therefore nutfah specifically refers to sperm because it is ejaculated. The Quraan says:
Was he not a drop of sperm emitted (In lowly form)? Then did he become A clinging clot; Then did (Allah) make And fashion (him) In due proportion. And of him He made Two sexes, male And female. [Al-Quraan 75:37-39]
Here again it is mentioned that a small quantity (drop) of sperm (indicated by the wordnutfatan min maniyyin) which comes from the man is responsible for the sex of the fetus.
Mothers-in-law in the Indian subcontinent, by and large prefer having male grandchildren and often blame their daughters-in-law if the child is not of the desired sex. If only they knew that the determining factor is the nature of the male sperm and not the female ovum! If they were to blame anybody, they should blame their sons and not their daughters-in-law since both the Quraan and Science hold that it is the male fluid that is responsible for the sex of the child!
FOETUS PROTECTED BY THREE VEILS OF DARKNESS
He makes you, In the wombs of your mothers, In stages, one after another, In three veils of darkness. [Al-Quraan 39:6]
According to Prof. Keith Moore these three veils of darkness in the Quraan refer to:
- anterior abdominal wall of the mother
- the uterine wall
- the amnio-chorionic membrane.
Man We did create From a quintessence (of clay); Then We placed him As (a drop of) sperm In a place of rest, firmly fixed; Then We made the sperm Into a clot of congealed blood; Then of that clot We made A (foetus) lump; then We Made out of that lump Bones and clothed the bones With flesh; then We developed Out of it another creature. So blessed be Allah, The Best to create! [Al-Quraan 23:12-14]
In this verse Allah states that man is created from a small quantity of liquid which is placed in a place of rest, firmly fixed (well established or lodged) for which the Arabic word qarrin makn is used.
This mudghah is transformed into bones (izm). The bones are clothed with intact flesh or muscles (lahm). Then Allah makes it into another creature. Prof. Marshall Johnson is one of the leading scientists in US, and is the head of the Department of Anatomy and Director of the Daniel Institute at the Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia in US. He was asked to comment on the verses of the Quraan dealing with embryology. He said that the verses of the Quraan describing the embryological stages cannot be a coincidence. He said it was probable that Muhammad (peace be upon him) had a powerful microscope. On being reminded that the Quraan was revealed 1400 years ago, and microscopes were invented centuries after the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), Prof. Johnson laughed and admitted that the first microscope invented could not magnify more than 10 times and could not show a clear picture. Later he said: I see nothing here in conflict with the concept that Divine intervention was involved when Muhammad (peace be upon him) recited the Quraan.
According to Dr. Keith Moore, the modern classification of embryonic development stages which is adopted throughout the world, is not easily comprehensible, since it identifies stages on a numerical basis i.e. stage I, stage II, etc. The divisions revealed in the Quraan are based on distinct and easily identifiable forms or shapes, which the embryo passes through. These are based on different phases of prenatal development and provide elegant scientific descriptions that are comprehensible and practical. Similar embryological stages of human development have been described in the following verses:
Was he not a drop Of sperm emitted (In lowly form)? Then did he become a clinging clot; Then did (Allah) make and fashion (him) In due proportion. And of him He made Two sexes, male and female. [Al-Quraan 75:37-39]
Him Who created thee, fashioned thee in due proportion, And gave thee a just bias; In whatever Form He wills, Does He put thee together. [Al-Quraan 82:7-8]
EMBRYO PARTLY FORMED AND PARTLY UNFORMED
At the mugdhah stage, if an incision is made in the embryo and the internal organ is dissected, it will be seen that most of them are formed while the others are not yet completely formed.
According to Prof. Johnson, if we describe the embryo as a complete creation, then we are only describing that part which is already created. If we describe it as an incomplete creation, then we are only describing that part which is not yet created. So, is it a complete creation or an incomplete creation? There is no better description of this stage of embryo genesis than the Quraanic description, partly formed and partly unformed, as in the following verse:
We created you Out of dust, then out of Sperm, then out of a leech-like Clot, then out of a morsel Of flesh, partly formed And partly unformed. [Al-Quraan 22:5]
Scientifically we know that at this early stage of development there are some cells which are differentiated and there are some cells that are undifferentiated some organs are formed and yet others unformed.
SENSE OF HEARING AND SIGHT
The first sense to develop in a developing human embryo is hearing. The foetus can hear sounds after the 24th week. Subsequently, the sense of sight is developed and by the 28th week, the retina becomes sensitive to light. Consider the following Quraanic verses related to the development of the senses in the embryo:
And He gave You (the faculties of) hearing and sight and feeling (And understanding). [Al-Quraan 32:9]
Verily We created Man from a drop Of mingled sperm, In order to try him: So We gave him (the gifts), Of Hearing and Sight. [Al-Quraan 76:2]
It is He Who has created For you (the faculties of) Hearing, sight, feeling And understanding: little thanks It is ye give! [Al-Quraan 23:78]
In all these verses the sense of hearing is mentioned before that of sight. Thus the Quraanic description matches with the discoveries in modern embryology.
Does man think that We Cannot assemble his bones? Nay, We are able to put Together in perfect order The very tips of his fingers. [Al-Quraan 75:3-4]
Unbelievers argue regarding resurrection taking place after bones of dead people have disintegrated in the earth and how each individual would be identified on the Day of Judgment. Almighty Allah answers that He can not only assemble our bones but can also reconstruct perfectly our very fingertips.
Why does the Quraan, while speaking about determination of the identity of the individual, speak specifically about fingertips? In 1880, fingerprinting became the scientific method of identification, after research done by Sir Francis Golt. No two persons in the world can ever have exactly the same fingerprint pattern. That is the reason why police forces worldwide use fingerprints to identify the criminal. 1400 years ago, who could have known the uniqueness of each humans fingerprint? Surely it could have been none other than the Creator Himself!
PAIN RECEPTORS PRESENT IN THE SKIN
It was thought that the sense of feeling and pain was only dependent on the brain. Recent discoveries prove that there are pain receptors present in the skin without which a person would not be able to feel pain. When a doctor examines a patient suffering from burn injuries, he verifies the degree of burns by a pinprick. If the patient feels pain, the doctor is happy, because it indicates that the burns are superficial and the pain receptors are intact. On the other hand if the patient does not feel any pain, it indicates that it is a deep burn and the pain receptors have been destroyed. The Quraan gives an indication of the existence of pain receptors in the following verse:
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, That they may taste The Penalty: for Allah Is Exalted in Power, Wise. [Al-Quraan 4:56]
Prof. Tagatat Tejasen, Chairman of the Department of Anatomy at Chiang Mai University in Thailand, has spent a great amount of time on research of pain receptors. Initially he could not believe that the Quraan mentioned this scientific fact 1,400 years ago. He later verified the translation of this particular Quraanic verse. Prof. Tejasen was so impressed by the scientific accuracy of the Quraanic verse, that at the 8th Saudi Medical Conference held in Riyadh on the Scientific Signs of Quraan and Sunnah he proclaimed in public: There is no God but Allah and Muhammad (peace be upon him) is His Messenger.
Behold! In the creation Of the heavens and the earth, And the alternation Of Night and Day There are indeed Signs For men of understanding. [Al-Quraan 3:190]
The scientific evidences of the Quraan clearly prove its Divine Origin. No human could have produced a book, fourteen hundred years ago, that would contain profound scientific facts, to be discovered by humankind centuries later. The Quraan, however, isnot a book of Science but a book of Signs. These signs invite Man to realize the purpose of his existence on earth, and to live in harmony with Nature. The Quraan is truly a message from Allah, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. It contains the same message of the Oneness of God, that was preached by all prophets, right from Adam, Moses, Jesus to Muhammad (peace be upon them).
Several detailed tomes have been written on the subject of Quraan and modern science and further research in this field is on. By the will of God, this research will help mankind to come closer to the Word of the Almighty. This booklet contains only a few of the scientific facts present in the Quraan. I cannot claim to have done full justice to the subject.Prof.Tejasen accepted Islam on the strength of just one scientific sign mentioned in the Quran. Some people may require ten signs while some may require hundred signs to be convinced about the Divine Origin of the Quraan. Some would be unwilling to accept the Truth even after being shown a thousand signs. The Quraan condemns such a closed mentality in the verse:
Deaf, dumb and blind, They will not return (To the path). [Al-Quraan 2:18]
The Quraan contains a complete code of life for the individual and society.Alhamdulillah (Praise be to Allah), the Quraanic way of life is far superior to the isms thatmodern man has invented out of sheer ignorance. Who can give better guidance than theCreator Himself?
I pray that this humble effort is accepted by Allah, to whom I pray for mercy and guidance (Aameen).