Science in the Quran

Science in the Quran

Although the Quran is a holy book that God revealed to Prophet Muhammad more than 14 centuries ago, it contains many things that have been proven to be true in modern science. In other words, the Quran is a scientific miracle in that it has explained scientific facts that their veracity have been recently been discovered.

In this article, we will take a look at:

Creation of the Universe

Allah refers to the creation of the heavens and the earth in various verses and surahs of the Quran. For example, God says:

وَلَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا فِي سِتَّةِ أَيَّامٍ وَمَا مَسَّنَا مِن لُّغُوبٍ ﴿38﴾

Certainly We created the heavens and the earth, and whatever is between them, in six days, and any fatigue did not touch Us. 1

It is important to note that in Arabic the word yawm (یوم) does not necessarily mean 24 hours, but can also mean a long duration. What is different from the way God created the universe in the Quran compared to what the Bible mentions is that God in the Quran emphasizes that He did not become tired of creating the heavens and the earth. However, in the Bible, it is written that God rested on the seventh day that was Sabbath or Saturday. God is clear from such humanly attributions as He is a Divine being who is unlike any other living being.

The Splitting of the Heavens and the Earth

God makes it clear that the universe was formed by an act of splitting or tearing:

أَوَلَمْ يَرَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَنَّ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ كَانَتَا رَتْقًا فَفَتَقْنَاهُمَا ۖ وَجَعَلْنَا مِنَ الْمَاءِ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ حَيٍّ ۖ أَفَلَا يُؤْمِنُونَ ﴿30﴾

Have the unbelievers not ever considered that the heavens and the earth were one piece and that We tore them apart from one another. From water We have created all living things. Will they then have no faith? 2

Modern science has proven that all the galaxies were like one entity and then they were separated that resulted in the creation of galaxies, planets, and stars. When the Quran says We created the heavens and the earth and what is in between them, what is in between them has been discovered to be the bridges of matter that are in between galaxies and are not organized unlike the galaxies themselves.

Science in the Quran: Astronomy

The Quran mentions many astronomical facts that were not yet discovered during the period of its revelation. Some think that it is not unusual for the Quran to contain many points on astronomy, as according to them, the Arabs had made many astronomical discoveries. However, it is important to realize that those discoveries were made long after the revelation of the Quran and during the Islamic Golden Age, which was a few centuries after the revelation of the Quran.

Science in the Quran: The Sun and the Moon

The Quran uses two different terms for describing the sun and the moon. It calls the sun “light” (نور) and the moon “lamp” (سِراج). This refers to the fact that the sun produces light by itself, whereas the moon reflects light and does not produce light by itself. This is another scientific miracle of the Quran that was later discovered as astronomy developed.

Science in the Quran: The Stars and Planets

The Quran uses the word najm (نَجم) in surah Tariq to mean star and describes it by saying it is thāqib (ثاقِب), meaning a radiant and light-giving celestial body:

وَالسَّمَاءِ وَالطَّارِقِ ﴿1﴾

By the heaven, and by the nightly visitor

وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا الطَّارِقُ ﴿2﴾

(and what will show you what is the nightly visitor?

النَّجْمُ الثَّاقِبُ ﴿3﴾

It is the brilliant star).

Later, it was discovered that stars, like the sun, produce their own light and heat. God had mentioned this fact in the Quran long before it was known.

The Quran uses the word kawkab (کوکب) to mean planet:

إِنَّا زَيَّنَّا السَّمَاءَ الدُّنْيَا بِزِينَةٍ الْكَوَاكِبِ ﴿6﴾

Lo! We have adorned the lowest heaven with an ornament, the planets; 3

Planets also do not emit light but rather reflect light, just like the moon. Therefore, the Quran again makes a distinction between stars and planets by using two different names.

Science in the Quran: Orbits

During the time of the Prophet Mohammad and even a while after it, people did not know that the earth and moon travel along orbits. However, God in the Quran has expressly stated this phenomenon:

وَهُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ اللَّيْلَ وَالنَّهَارَ وَالشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ ۖ كُلٌّ فِي فَلَكٍ يَسْبَحُونَ ﴿33﴾

It is He who created the night and the day, the sun and the moon, each swimming in an orbit. 4

The word yasbaḥūn (یَسبَحون) is an Arabic word that means motion by a moving body. This could be movement of the body on the ground or swimming in water. However, when we want to translate it as regards a celestial body, it means “to travel with its own motion.” 5

Science in the Quran: Rotation of the Earth

The Quran proves the rotation of the earth on its own axis by using the word kawwara (کَوَّرَ) that means to coil or wind up. God says in the Quran:

خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ بِالْحَقِّ ۖ يُكَوِّرُ اللَّيْلَ عَلَى النَّهَارِ وَيُكَوِّرُ النَّهَارَ عَلَى اللَّيْلِ ۖ وَسَخَّرَ الشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ ۖ كُلٌّ يَجْرِي لِأَجَلٍ مُّسَمًّى ۗ أَلَا هُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْغَفَّارُ ﴿5﴾

He created the heavens and the earth with consummate wisdom. He winds the night over the day, and winds the day over the night, and He has disposed the sun and the moon, each moving for a specified term. Indeed, He is the All-mighty, the All-forgiver!

This winding the day over the night and winding the night over the day depicts a rotational movement of the earth. God states this fact long before astronomers discovered the rotation of the earth around its own axis. This is yet another proof of the veracity of the Quran and the religion of Islam.

Science in the Quran: The Solar Apex

God in surah Yāsīn refers to a phenomenon that is known as the solar apex by modern astronomers. That is, the sun has a settled or resting place:

وَالشَّمْسُ تَجْرِي لِمُسْتَقَرٍّ لَّهَا ۚ ذَٰلِكَ تَقْدِيرُ الْعَزِيزِ الْعَلِيمِ ﴿38﴾

The sun runs on to its place of rest: That is the ordaining of the All-mighty, the All-knowing. 6

Modern science has proven that the entire solar system is moving in a circulatory motion around a specific location towards a specific point. Astronomers have called this point, the solar apex.

Science in the Quran: Expansion of the Universe

God says in the Quran:

وَالسَّمَاءَ بَنَيْنَاهَا بِأَيْدٍ وَإِنَّا لَمُوسِعُونَ ﴿47﴾

We have built the heaven with might, and indeed it is We who are its expanders. 7

One of the modern discoveries of science is that the size of the universe is continuously being increased. This is supported by the general theory of relativity and calculations of astrophysics. “The regular movement of the galactic light towards the red section of the spectrum is explained by the distancing of one galaxy from another. Thus, the size of the universe appears to be progressively increasing.” 8

Science in the Quran: Geology

The Quran explains many concepts relevant to geology that was way ahead of its time. For example, it talks about the water cycle and the mountains.

Science in the Quran: Water Cycle

The Quran mentions how God sends rain from the sky that nourishes the earth and causes plants and crops to grow:

أَلَمْ تَرَ أَنَّ اللَّـهَ أَنزَلَ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً فَسَلَكَهُ يَنَابِيعَ فِي الْأَرْضِ ثُمَّ يُخْرِجُ بِهِ زَرْعًا مُّخْتَلِفًا أَلْوَانُهُ ثُمَّ يَهِيجُ فَتَرَاهُ مُصْفَرًّا ثُمَّ يَجْعَلُهُ حُطَامًا ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَذِكْرَىٰ لِأُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ ﴿21﴾

Have you not seen that Allah sends down water from the sky, then He conducts it through the ground as springs. Then He brings forth with it crops of diverse hues. Then they wither and you see them turn yellow. Then He turns them into chaff. There is indeed a lesson in that for those who possess intellect.

Although this might seem very simple and self-evident to us, it must be noted that it was not so until the sixteenth century when an explanation for the water cycle was given. People before used to believe that winds thrust the water of the oceans into the continents, which then returned to the oceans by means of the great abyss. The Quran had a correct explanation for and description of the water cycle more than 14 centuries ago and it is completely in line with modern science.

Science in the Quran: Mountains

A phenomenon called folding that has been recently discovered is what caused mountain ranges. “The earth’s crust is like a solid shell, while the deeper layers are hot and fluid, and thus inhospitable to any form of life.” 9 The firmness of mountains has been attributed to this very phenomenon. Folding caused solid foundations to appear deep beneath mountains. The Quran says in this regard:

أَلَمْ نَجْعَلِ الْأَرْضَ مِهَادًا ﴿6﴾

Did We not make the earth a resting place?

وَالْجِبَالَ أَوْتَادًا ﴿7﴾

and the mountains stakes? 10

These stakes are the foundations of mountains which are in the deep layers of the earth. Modern science has proven these Quranic statements.

Science in the Quran: Physiology

God says in the Quran:

وَإِنَّ لَكُمْ فِي الْأَنْعَامِ لَعِبْرَةً ۖ نُّسْقِيكُم مِّمَّا فِي بُطُونِهِ مِن بَيْنِ فَرْثٍ وَدَمٍ لَّبَنًا خَالِصًا سَائِغًا لِّلشَّارِبِينَ ﴿66﴾

There is indeed a lesson for you in the cattle: We give you a drink pleasant to those who drink, pure milk, which is in their bellies, between [intestinal] waste and blood.

This is very intriguing indeed. A thousand years before the discovery of the blood circulatory system, and how it nourishes the internal organs, as well as about thirteen centuries before the digestive system was discovered, God explains in this verse how milk is made in the cattle. That is, by the bloodstream going into the mammary glands and the digestive system nourishing the internal organs. The Quran is truly the word of God, not the word of Prophet Muhammad who was an untaught man.

Science in the Quran: Embryology

The Quran has stated all the stages that that the fetus or embryo goes through until becoming a full human being. The Quran states:

وَلَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ مِن سُلَالَةٍ مِّن طِينٍ ﴿12﴾

Certainly We created man from an extract of clay.

ثُمَّ جَعَلْنَاهُ نُطْفَةً فِي قَرَارٍ مَّكِينٍ ﴿13﴾

Then We made him a drop of [seminal] fluid [lodged] in a secure abode.

ثُمَّ خَلَقْنَا النُّطْفَةَ عَلَقَةً فَخَلَقْنَا الْعَلَقَةَ مُضْغَةً فَخَلَقْنَا الْمُضْغَةَ عِظَامًا فَكَسَوْنَا الْعِظَامَ لَحْمًا ثُمَّ أَنشَأْنَاهُ خَلْقًا آخَرَ ۚ فَتَبَارَكَ اللَّـهُ أَحْسَنُ الْخَالِقِينَ ﴿14﴾

Then We created the drop of fluid as a clinging mass. Then We created the clinging mass as a fleshy tissue. Then We created the fleshy tissue as bones. Then We clothed the bones with flesh. Then We produced him as [yet] another creature. So blessed is Allah, the best of creators! 11

It is very interesting that all of the stages mentioned in this surah are exactly the same stages a real embryo goes through as witnessed by advanced scientific instruments. What’s more, the word mughah (مُضغَة) means a chewed lump of flesh. If you look at the pictures of the embryo at a certain stage, it looks exactly like a piece of chewed substance such as gum! How in the world could have the Prophet known this more than 14 centuries ago when no advanced technological instruments existed?! This is a miracle of the Quran and a proof of the Quran’s veracity.

Conclusion

The Quran has stated many scientific facts that were unknown at the time of their revelation. Quran has talked about different branches of science such as, astronomy, geology, biology, and embryology. It has stated facts whose veracity was proven hundreds of years later by scientists. Truly, the Quran is a miracle of its own kind.


References

  1. Quran 50:38 (Qara’i).
  2. Quran 21:30 (Sarwar).
  3. Quran 37:6 (Pickthall).
  4. Quran 21:33 (Qara’i).
  5. Maurice Bucaille, The Quran and Modern Science, p. 12.
  6. Quran 36:38 (Qara’i).
  7. Quran 51:47 (Qara’i).
  8. Maurice Bucaille, The Quran and Modern Science, p. 13.
  9. Ibid, p. 15.
  10. Quran 78:6-7 (Qara’i).
  11. Quran 23:12-14 (Qara’i).

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Abu Mahdi
Abu Mahdi
I'm Abu Mahdi, one of the writers of this blog. I have a BA in English literature and an MA in English language teaching. I am also a teacher and reciter of the Quran in the field of reading the Quran, tajweed, and maqamat. Currently, we are working on a course for learning tajweed of the Quran here on Islam4u.

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