In Part 1 we focused on science’s findings regarding the apparently “lifeless stuff” that populates the universe, the “stuff” which is mostly governed by laws of inorganic chemistry and of thermodynamics. Now we turn our attention to science’s findings regarding the “stuff” governed by laws of organic chemistry and which, by the Will of Allah, is often beyond our comprehension.
The Appearance of Microscopic Life, Plants and Animals on Earth: More Quranic Verses Converging with Scientific Findings
Science: While we have not yet discovered life like ours on other celestial bodies, scientists believe that this is because our instruments do not, as yet, have the power to penetrate into the depths of the universe and that we will eventually “find them” — or “be found by them.”
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The Qur’an leaves no doubt about the existence of a great number of other living things in the universe, as underscored by the following verse:
And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the living creatures that He has scattered through them both: and He has power to gather them together when He wills. [Surah Al-Shûrâ, 42:29]
Let us now look at other Qur’anic passages dealing with various aspects of life as we know it on earth.
Aquatic Beginning of Life
Science: It was only 150 years ago when Darwin proposed his theory of the evolution of species and also theorized that life evolved out of water.
Here is how the Qur’an describes the various types of creatures that Allah has created:
And Allah has created every animal from water: of them there are some that creep on their bellies; some that walk on two legs; and some that walk on four. Allah creates what He wills, for verily Allah has power over all things. [Surah Al-Nûr, 24:45]
It is He Who has created man from water. [Surah Al-Furqân, 25:54]
Male and Female Genders in All Living Matter
Science: While we have known all along that animals have been created in pairs, the knowledge that plants also exhibit this characteristic probably dates back only 250 years.
In contrast, the Qur’an mentioned this 14 centuries ago:
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. [Surah Yâ Sîn, 36:36]
Fertilization and Embryonic Development
Science: Similarly, the process of embryonic development has been understood only recently when modern technology and laboratory techniques became available.
But the Qur’an, amazingly, had revealed this with remarkable scientific accuracy as follows:
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 (fetus) 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! [Surah Al-Mu’minûn, 23:12-14]
Behold! thy Lord said to the angels: “I am about to create man, from sounding clay from mud moulded into shape; When I have fashioned [man] (in due proportion) and breathed into him of My spirit, [you are to] fall down in obeisance unto Him. [Surah Al-Ḥijr, 15:28-29]
The classic video lecture by embryologist Professor Emeritus Keith L Moore [i] (University of Toronto, 1956-1993) is a must-watch for anyone interested in the development of the embryo in the womb and the accuracy of the Qur’anic verses quoted above. Follow the link found in the endnote.
Sleep and Death
Science: While science does not, as yet, have a clear understanding of sleep and death, the Qur’an does:
It is Allah that takes the souls (of men) at death; and those that die not (He takes) during their sleep: those on whom He has passed the decree of death, He keeps back (from returning to life), but the rest He sends (back to their bodies) for a term appointed; verily in this are Signs for those who reflect. [Surah Al-Zumar, 39:42]
The thought that our souls goes back to the Creator every time we fall asleep and returns instantaneously when we awake, is a concept that our human mind may find unnerving as well as hard to digest. Currently, science has no way to test it.
Return to Life
Science: Science does not, as yet, provide any clue as to what happens after we die. But the Qur’an does:
We have decreed death to be your common lot, and We are not to be frustrated from changing your forms and creating you (again) in (forms) that you know not. [Surah Al-Wâqi’ah, 56:60-61]
Using Science and Revealed Sources to Enhance One Another
As modern people who give such high regard to the scientific method and to the truth-establishing ability of modern science, so it is only natural that we would want to judge the state of modern scientific knowledge in comparison with what we find in the Quran and Hadith. If we should find what seems to be a contradiction, we would want to know which one is “correct,” and why.
- If we work from an English translation of a Quranic or Hadith wording (See endnote i, for example) , we might find that the Arabic original term actually says something different from what was understood by the translator, simply because science had not then caught up with divinely revealed ayat, or because the translator was not aware of the latest finds of science.
- A researcher in any of the diverse academic fields could get inspirations regarding a promising direction for his/her future research by consulting appropriate Qur’anic verses. While this is a challenge because the Qur’an is arranged neither by chronology nor by subject – complicated further by the fact that Qur’anic verses explain spiritual concepts through the use of parables and general statements — still, a serious consideration of these verses could yield unexpected dividends.
In conclusion, we may say that the congruence between science and the Qur’an regarding the creation of the universe is convincingly evoked in numerous Qur’anic verses, starting from one of the first-mentioned in this article:
The heavens and the earth were joined together before God split them apart. [Surah Al-Anbiyâ’, 21:30]
Modern science has only recently come to this understanding.
The Universe’s Creation: What is our “Take-Away”?
First, the convergence between the Qur’an and science on how the universe was created, is simply amazing and insightful when we start from a knowledge of modern science. Thus, we are pressed to conclude that the Qur’an was divinely composed.
Secondly, the Qur’an also affirms,
Nothing is said to you (O Muhammad) that was not said to Messengers before you. (Surah Fuṣṣilat, 41:43)
Thus, Muslims should accept with humility that Muhammad, Islam and the Quran are a continuation of Allah’s previous prophets and revelations to humankind, teaching him the same belief system and way of life, as well as confirming that Allah is the One God of all mankind, the single Creator. Accordingly, we must work with followers of other faiths for peace and human welfare. Indeed, based on the verses below, Muslims should champion interfaith harmony.
This day have those who reject faith given up all hope of [your ever forsaking] your religion: yet fear them not, but fear Me. This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as your religion … [Surah Al-Mâ’idah, 5:3]
This day are [all] things good and pure made lawful unto you… [Surah Al-Mâ’idah, 5:5]