Religion of 2014-06-29

Qur'anic Commentary & Analysis Through the Lens of Modern Science

[1] "Everything made so much sense. This is the beauty of the Qur'an; it asks you to reflect and reason. When I read the Qur'an further, it talked about prayer, kindness and charity. I was not a Muslim yet, but I felt the only answer for me was the Qur'an and God had sent it to me." --- Cat Stevens [Yusif Islam], former British pop star

The Qur'an is defined in Arabic as; Reading or Recitation. It is inarguably the only most authentic of all divine books revealed on to the messengers and prophets of Allah, the Almighty. The prophet in his adolescence use to go to the cave of hirah, for spiritual retreat and meditation; thinking about this world and its origin, trying to know about the source of our life. He refused to worship the idols that his uncle and other medieval Arabs worship, because Allah fine-tuned his mind to focus on the possibility of a superior power, far beyond those powerless idols in Mecca. According to Encyclopedia Britannica[Micropaedia Knowledge in Depth-Islam Life], while in this state of contemplation and cogitation, on the night of 610 CE, (which was in Ramadan) an angel(Gabriel) appeared to him and commanded him; "Iqrah", "read" He said, "I cannot read." The angel repeated two times, still insisting he cannot read. At this point, he(the angel) squeezed him and recited to him the first revelation located in Qur'an chapter 96 verse 1-9, that, "Read in the name of your Lord who created…" Upon reading after him, the angel disappeared and the prophet ran so fast, shivering and shaking, when he got home he said to his wife Khadijah; "zamilinii…zamilinii", or "cover me…cover me", since he could not withstand the powerful and scary image of Gabriel that he saw. Aisha, one of his wives narrated that, the prophet was once asked by Ibn Hisham, one of his companions, "O messenger of Allah, how do you receive revelation[the Qur'an], the prophet answered him saying; "Sometimes it comes to me like a ring of a bell, and I would hear what he (angel) revealed. In another instance, the angel would appear in the image of a man, he would talk to me and I would hear what he says. Aisha said: I once saw him sweating in a severe cold, due to the power of the divine revelation…" And he used to say, "Never once did I receive a revelation, without thinking that my soul had been torn away from me." There were also instances where the revelations would come to him while riding on his camel and the camel would rest on her knees due to the powerful and pervasive tempo of the Qur'an. The greatest miracle ever existed on earth was and still is the Qur'an, which was revealed at a time when the Arabs are deeply rooted in composing poetry with their awesome and dynamic Arabic language(PBUH). In the sense that this exceptional and extra-ordinary book is characterized by thousand and one verses of scientific nature, which was not meant for the interpretation of the medieval period of the prophet. And to paraphrase late Sheikh Muhammad Mutawwali Sha'rawi mentioned in his "Muh'jizatul Qur'an", or "Miracle of the Qur'an", If prophet Muhammad(PBUH) had interpreted the Qur'an during his time, the book would have been frozen. But Allah inspired him to leave especially, those verses with scientific connotations to be physically and practically translated by the events, episodes and phenomena of our contemporary generations, by giving then different kinds of "gifts" which will continue unfolding till the end of time. Miracles in the Language of the Qur'an If we just take into consideration the language of the Qur'an, and analyze it on the basis of common sense, reason and logic, we cannot help admitting that no human being could have written such a perfect and unique language. We should recall once more that prophet Muhammad(PBUH) could not read and write. In fact. He could not even sign his name. He also did not have a group of learned persons around him. Moreover, he did not make frequent travels outside the Arabian Peninsula, where he could have gained mastery of language. Yet the language of the Qur'an is of linguistic perfection and miracle in itself. Simple reason and common sense dictate that prophet Muhammad (PBUH)could not have been the author of the Qur'an. It is rather a book revealed to him by Allah, the Almighty and the All-Wise. The following is just a small sample of the miracles in the language of the Qur'an. At the time when the Qur'an was revealed, Arabic writings and poetry were confined to the Arab environment, culture, customs, and history. Thus, the majority of Arabic literature contained descriptions of praises of such topics as: camels, horses, women, tribal chiefs, tribal wars, and tribal histories, etc. The Qur'an, however, does not describe anything that may reflect the Arab environment, culture and history, etc. Moreover, the Qur'an uses it own specific words and terms to describe various things and events. Most of these words and terms were unknown to the then contemporary writers, e.g. the Qur'an uses the term "Surah" for its chapter and "Ayah" for its verse, where as early Arabic books used the term "Qasidah" for chapter and "Bait" for a verse. The Arabic poetry and prose, while describing an object or an event, often goes into such exaggerations that they obscure the facts. This is inherent tendency of the Arabic language. The language of the Qur'an, however, never exaggerates anything. In fact, language of the Qur'an is unique in the sense that it does not follow the normal tone and the inherent tendency of the Arabic language. The scholar Muhammad Ibn Juzay al-Kalbee in his compendium, divided the miracles of the Qur'an in ten parts: (1)The eloquence of the Qur'an above that of any human speech. (2)The unique arrangement and organization of its verses and surahs. (3)The incapability to produce anything similar to it by disbelievers during the prophet's time. (4) The stories and accounts of nations and prophets of the old, since the prophet had no recourse to such information. (5)The prediction which occurred in the Qur'an, which later came true. (6) The laws and the shariah that the Qur'an came with…all lead to the betterment of life on earth and the in hereafter. (7)The perfection of the set of laws that can be applied to any society at any time and place. (8) The fact that it has been protected and remained unchanged over such a long period of time, despite the fact that all other religious books has been distorted. (9) The ease by which it is memorized, and this is known by experience and observance…Unlike all other religious books, which none of them are memorized like the Qur'an. (10) The deep meaning it represent in it, and the fact that, a reader never tires of reading the Qur'an, no matter how many times, he has heard or read it. This is in contrast to any other books, since a person cannot read it more than a few times, without it getting monotonous and mundane. In the eighties, a young boy of seven to eight years in Egypt happened to be reading the Qur'an, and all of a sudden, he came across a verse that supposed to have read, "…Whoever follows any faith apart from Islam, it will not be accepted from him(or her) and will be among the losers on the last day." However, the straw that broke the camel's back was when he realized that, verse read, "…Whoever follows any other religion apart from Islam, it will be accepted from him and will not be among the losers on the last day." This is a complete manipulation and a distortion of the divine scripture par excel lance! This boy was able to read in between the line, in spite of his young age, he drew his father's attention and the father and called and informed World Muslims League Headquarters in Saudi Arabia, which ordered the Islamic world to identify the serial and ISBN numbers of this book and burn them. It was later discovered that, this was an attempt made by some Jews, by virtue of their understanding of the Arabic language in order to manipulate and misinform people about Islam. After all Allah himself vowed in the Qur'an 14 centuries ago that, "We(Allah) have revealed the remembrance(Qur'an) and We shall protect it(from such manipulations)!" In his "An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur'an", Sheikh Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi disclosed that, "The Alazhar University in Egypt [one of the most famous and foremost universities in the world] summarized the various types of literary miracle into three: The sentences, are constructed in elegant manner, which uses the smallest number of words, without sounding too brief, to express ideas of utmost richness. The consciousness of expression attains such a striking clarity that the least learned Arabic speaking person can understand the Qur'an without difficulty. At the same time, there is such profundity, flexibility, inspiration and radiance in the Qur'an that it serves as the basis for the principles and rules of Islamic sciences and arts for theology and for the juridical schools. Thus, it is almost impossible to express the ideas of the text by only interpretation, either in Arabic or in any other language even with the greatest care. There is a perfect blend between the two antagonistic powers of reason and emotion, intellect and feeling. In the narrations, arguments, doctrines, laws, and moral principles, the words have both persuasive teaching and emotive force. Throughout the whole Qur'an the speech maintains its surprising solemnity, power and majesty which nothing can disturb." Now having elucidated to the readers a brief background information about the history, nature and style of the Qur'an, the rest of the discourse will center on connecting the dots between some verses of the Qur'an that have scientific and historical connotations and will begin from the genesis or origin of the universe. Beginning of Universe as a gaseous mass "He comprehended in His design the heaven(universe) when it was only smoke." Q-41:11 Analysis: This verse indicates that the heavens in the beginning were just a smoky mass before being transformed into various galactic systems of stars, and planets. A modification of the Big Bang theory called the "Inflationary Theory" describes the original condensed matter as arising from an empty space. The astronomers today have pictures of the other galaxies being formed by condensation of spiraling celestial cosmic mists. Both these recent findings are in harmony with the above verse of the Qur'an. It should, however be noted that what astronomers call "mist", the Qur'an calls "smoke". Needless to say the word "smoke" implies a hot gaseous mass containing airborne particles. This is indeed another example of the literary miracle of the Qur'an that it gives an accurate description of the topic at hand by using the most appropriate words. Origin of the Universe as one entity/the "Big Bang" Theory "Have they not who disbelieve see that the heavens and the earth were joined together(as one piece), then We(Allah) parted them." Q-21:30 Analysis: Allah, the Almighty in this verse has stated a mystery that was unknown to the greatest physicists and astronauts for centuries. The Qur'an in this verse describes the phenomenon of the creation of the universe by using two specific words; Fataq and Rataq. The word Fataq in Arabic language signifies the process of breaking and separation of elements, and the word Rataq signifies the process of fusing or binding together of elements into a homogenous mass. Hence the verse reveals that heavens and earth at the beginning were joined together, and that subsequently they were separated. Recent advancements in astronomy especially the Big Bang theory of the creation of the universe corroborate with this statement of the Qur'an. The Big Bang theory was first proposed in 1950 by Ralph Alpher, Hans Bethe and George Gasmow. It holds that the universe in the beginning was concentrated as one unit in the form of a super dense agglomeration of matter and energy. Some fifteen billion years ago, there was a Big Bang, when within 10 minus 32 of a seconds the universe expanded 10 to 30 or more of its initial size. As a result of this explosion the super dense agglomeration of matter and energy was scattered into multitudes of fragments, all travelling with different speeds and in different directions, finally, condensing to form the present day bodies. This is what the Qur'an states in this verse, "the heavens and earth were joined together, then We parted them." Time element in the splitting of the original mass "We(Allah) have certainly created everything with a program; And our command is but, like the twinkling of the eye." Q-54:49-50 Analysis: As stated above, scientists postulate that the time required for the splitting of the original mass was less than 10 minus 32 seconds. This verse states the command of Allah, the Exalted is like the twinkling of the eye. In other words, a fraction of the second was needed for the formation of our present day universe. The Nobel Prize for science in 1977, was awarded for this discovery, whereas this mystery was solved by the Qur'an centuries ago.

Hussseini Y. BabalWaiz, is the Research & Outreach Coordinator at the Center for Media & Peace Initiatives Inc. New York, Author of three books, including "Not good without God" & Tutor in Arabic & Islamic Studies in New York, Further reading: 160 Mysteries & Miracles of the Qur'an, by Dr. Mazhar Kazi.