A Response to a Muslims Arguments for the Inspiration of the Quran
|Part 1:||Islamic Hermeneutics: Proposing a Methodology to Insure Proper Interpretation of the Quran|
|Part 2:||Analysis and Refutation of The Alleged Scientific Claims Within the Quran|
As was stated in our first article Muslim Apologist Nadir Ahmed (NA) had a debate with Denis Giron where he presented 8 propositions to prove his assertion that the Quran is Gods word.
NA proposed the following algorithm as a way of checking to see the different possible explanations for the scientific statements within the Quran.
NA forgot to include the following possibility to his list, namely:
We submit that most (if not all) of NAs examples are nothing more than verses which have been misinterpreted with the agenda of trying to make the Quran fit in with modern science.
Furthermore, even if one were to conclude that the Quran was the result of a source greater than man (H), this still wouldnt prove that it is from God. It would only show that some entity more knowledgeable than man was the author, an entity like Satan.
The Holy Bible states that false prophets and false Christs would arise to perform signs and wonders by the power of Satan in order to deceive many away from the truth of God:
"You must be careful to do everything I am commanding you. Do not add to it or subtract from it! If a prophet or one who foretells by dreams should appear among you and show you a sign or token, and the sign or token should come to pass concerning what he said to you, namely, Let us follow other gods-gods whom you have not previously known-and let us serve them, you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer, for the Lord your God will be testing you to see if you love him with all your mind and being. You must walk after the Lord your God and revere only him; and you must observe his commandments, listen to his voice, serve him, and cling to him. As for that prophet or dreamer, he must be executed because he encouraged rebellion against the Lord your God who brought you from Egypt, redeeming you from the place of slavery, and because he has tried to deflect you from the way the Lord your God has commanded you to go. In this way you must purge out evil from within." Deuteronomy 13:1-5 NET Bible
"Then if anyone says to you, Look, here is the Christ! or There he is! do not believe him. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect." Matthew 24:23-24 NET
"The coming of the lawless one will be by Satan's working with all kinds of miracles and signs and false wonders, and with every kind of evil deception directed against those who are perishing, because they found no place in their hearts for the truth so as to be saved. Consequently God sends on them a deluding influence that they may believe what is false. And so they will all be judged who have not believed the truth but have delighted in evil." 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 NET
"Then I saw another beast coming up from the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but was speaking like a dragon. He exercised all the ruling authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and those who inhabit it worship the first beast, the one whose lethal wound had been healed. He performed momentous signs, even making fire come down from heaven in front of people and, by the signs he was permitted to perform on behalf of the beast, he deceived those who live on the earth. He told those who live on the earth to make an image to the beast who had been wounded by the sword, but still lived. The second beast was empowered to give life to the image of the first beast so that it could speak, and could cause all those who did not worship the image of the beast to be killed." Revelation 13:11-15 NET
Since Satan is a spirit who has been around way before man ever appeared on the scene, it should therefore not surprise us that he would both know and be able to communicate accurate scientific statements to human beings, especially to his ministers.
Now a Muslim may interject here and claim that the Quran attacks Satan as an enemy of God. Why would Satan attack himself in the Quran if the latter were his work?
The question betrays a certain naiveté on how Satan actually works, at least according to the Holy Bible. The Scriptures plainly teach that Satan will and does masquerade his lies in the guise of religious truth:
"For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will correspond to their actions." 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 NET
Satan doesnt mind producing a religion which attacks him since he realizes that any religion which doesnt originate from the true God cannot affect him. A religion that does not originate from God and which does not have the authority of the risen and exalted Christ can do nothing to stop the Adversary or undermine his cause to destroy the souls of men.
Furthermore, the Muslim is erroneously assuming that the figure which the Quran calls Satan is actually the Devil. In reality, the Satan of Islam is not the same Satan mentioned in the Holy Bible ... just as the Jesus of Islam is not the real Jesus of history, the Christ of faith.
Paul warns against people who preach another Jesus and present a different Gospel:
"But I am afraid that just as the serpent deceived Eve by his treachery, your minds may be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus different from the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit than the one you received, or a different gospel than the one you accepted, you put up with it well enough." 2 Corinthians 11:3-4 NET
The foregoing passage shows that just because a religion happens to mention Satan this doesnt mean that they have the right Satan or the real Adversary in mind. It maybe a Satanic counterfeit aimed at deceiving people into thinking that they are truly opposing Gods spiritual enemy.
Besides, if the Muslim claim is correct then this means any religion which warns against Satan must also be true and could not originate from the Devil. Therefore, Mormonism, Bahaism, Ahmadiyyism etc. could not be satanic in origin since they all have negative things to say about the Adversary. Yet all these religions have conflicting views of God, Christ, Satan, man and the nature of salvation. Unless we assume that God inspires chaos and confusion it is evident that not all of these religions can be from the same divine source. They can all be false, but they cant all be true.
This again is based on the assumption that the Quran is not human in origin. As we shall see none of the propositions set forth by NA prove that the Quran is supernatural in origin.
In light of the foregoing we now turn to NAs eight propositions yet in no particular order.
The Quran, in agreement with modern scientific theories on the origin of the universe, states that the heavens and the earth were originally one piece which Allah then split apart:
Have not the unbelievers then beheld that the heavens and the earth were a mass all sewn up, and then We unstitched them and of water fashioned every living thing? Will they not believe? S. 21:30 A.J. Arberry
The first thing to note is that the Quranic author assumes that the unbelievers already knew that the heavens and earth were initially one mass:
Have not those who disbelieve known that the heavens and the earth were of one piece, then We parted them ...? Pickthall
Yet, if the claim that such information was unknown until modern times is correct then how could the Quran appeal to the knowledge of the unbelievers as verification for what is being asserted in this passage? It couldnt, which presupposes that the passages view of the alleged origin of the cosmos was common knowledge.
This leads us to our second point. The belief that the earth and sky were originally one mass or piece was a basic and common motif in most ancient creation myths. The following citations are taken from David Adams and Margaret Adams Leemings book A Dictionary of Creation Myths, Oxford University Press, New York and Oxford, paperback 1995.
Separation of Heaven and Earth This separation is a basic motif of creation myths. It assumes that until there is differentiation there can, in fact, be no creation as we know it. The world parents - the unified or coupled unity of earth and heaven or sky - are suffocating for the potential world caught within the potentiality divisible unity ... In fact, the unified heaven and earth are analogous to chaos in other myths ... (p. 242)
Creation from Division of Primordial Unity In this type of creation, the cosmos is created from the breaking of a cosmic egg, from the division of chaos, or most popularly, from the separation of original world parents. In a sense, chaos as earth or primordial waters can be seen as the commingled primordial parents, who must be separated for creation to take place, creation being a long process of differentiation. Usually, but not always, the sky is the world father and the earth the world mother. Together they are a mass of no-thing, that is, chaos; separated they become the world. In many of these myths it is a newer god who performs the separation of the parents ... (p. 61)
World Parent Creation The Earth Mother-Sky Father motif is the basis for world-parent creations. In this type of myth, which can be seen in the Fon, Polynesian, Zuni, Egyptian, Minyng, Yoruba, Yuma, and Greek creations, among others, the universe evolves from a union of the opposite qualities of sky and earth, the heights of thought and the depths of matter. Usually creative space between the world parents is made - sometimes violently - by their own children ... (pp. 286-287)
The following nations and peoples all shared the belief that the earth and heavens were one mass from which the cosmos was created.
... It is not until the work of Hesiod who lived in Boetia in the late eight century B.C.E., that we find a fully developed Greek creation myth. The Story is contained in Hesiods Theogony and his Works and Days. Note the presence in this story the theme of the primordial parents, Earth and Heaven (Sky) and their separation ... (p. 106)
"CHAOS - in one ancient Greek myth of creation, the dark, silent abyss from which all things came into existence. According to the Theogony of Hesiod, Chaos generated the solid mass of Earth, from which arose the starry, cloud-filled Heaven. Mother Earth and Father Heaven, personified respectively as Gaea [Gaia] and her offspring Uranus [Uranos], were the parents of the Titans. In a later theory, Chaos is the formless matter from which the cosmos, or harmonious order, was created." (Source)
Christopher Siren's Sumerian Mythology FAQ explains that in Sumerian mythology there was originally a primeval sea (abzu) within which the earth (ki) and sky were formed. Between heaven and earth was a vault with atmosphere. Each of these regions corresponds with one of the four gods, Enki, Ninhursag, An, and Enlil. (Source)
The Minyong are a non-Hindu people of northern India. Their creation myth contains the familiar theme of the separation heaven and earth or world parents ... (A Dictionary of Creation Myths, p. 192)
In one Egyptian creation myth, the sun god Ra takes the form of Khepri, the scarab god who was usually credited as the great creative force of the universe. Khepri tells us, "Heaven and earth did not exist. And the things of the earth did not yet exist. I raised THEM out of Nu, from their stagnant state. I have made things out of that which I have already made, and they came from my mouth." It seems that Khepri is telling us that in the beginning there is nothing. He made the watery abyss known as Nu, from which he later draws the materials needed for the creation of everything. (Source)
In the beginning, the heavens and earth were still one and all was chaos. The universe was like a big black egg, carrying Pan Gu inside itself. After 18 thousand years Pan Gu woke from a long sleep. He felt suffocated, so he took up a broadax and wielded it with all his might to crack open the egg. The light, clear part of it floated up and formed the heavens, the cold, turbid matter stayed below to form earth. Pan Gu stood in the middle, his head touching the sky, his feet planted on the earth. The heavens and the earth began to grow at a rate of ten feet per day, and Pan Gu grew along with them. After another 18 thousand years, the sky was higher, the earth thicker, and Pan Gu stood between them like a pillar 9 million li in height so that they would never join again. (Source)
A long time ago, Heaven and Earth were together, and the In and Yo were also together. They made a very big, dirty egg shape. The clean part went away and made Heaven. The heavier, blacker parts went down and became the earth that was covered with water. Heaven was made first because the clean, light parts came together very easily. The earth was made next. After that, many gods were made between them. (Source)
This universe existed in the shape of darkness, unperceived, destitute of distinctive marks, unattainable by reasoning, unknowable, wholly immersed, as it were, in deep sleep.
Then the Divine Self-existent, himself indiscernible but making all this, the great elements and the rest, discernible, appeared with irresistible power, dispelling the darkness.
He who can be perceived by the internal organ alone, who is subtle, indiscernible, and eternal, who contains all created beings and is inconceivable, shone forth of his own will.
He, desiring to produce beings of many kinds from his own body, first with a thought created the waters, and placed his seed in them.
That seed became a golden egg, in brilliancy equal to the sun; in that egg he himself was born as Brahma, the progenitor of the whole world....
The Divine One resided in that egg during a whole year, then he himself by his thought divided it into two halves;
And out of those two halves he formed heaven and earth, between them the middle sphere, the eight points of the horizon, and the eternal abode of the waters. (Source)
The preceding examples show that the Quran didnt present something new or unknown since many nations even prior to the time of Muhammad believed that the earth and the heavens were one mass which was then divided. The difference is that the Quran simply purified the story by omitting the polytheistic elements contained within the pagan cosmogonies.
But even here the Quran wasnt unique in ridding the creation story of any pagan elements. The Holy Bible had already done this long before Muhammad ever existed:
"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light, and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. And God said, Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters. And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day. And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear. And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good." Genesis 1:1-10 ESV 
Third, analyzing the text more carefully we discover an additional error. The literal Arabic text doesnt say that the heavens and the earth were one piece, but that they were actually SEWN TOGETHER:
Have not the unbelievers then beheld that the heavens and the earth were a mass ALL SEWN UP, and then We UNSTITCHED them ... Arberry
Yusuf Ali translates it as:
Do not the Unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth WERE JOINED TOGETHER (as one unit of creation), BEFORE we clove them asunder? ...
Note that the passage claims that the heavens and earth were sewn together, which presumes that they initially existed separately, a clear contradiction with the theory of the Big Bang. The Quranic author presumes that the heavens and the earth were brought together so that Allah could split them apart with the purpose of creating the cosmos. In the words of renowned Muslim commentator Ibn Kathir:
... Do they not see that the heavens and earth WERE JOINED TOGETHER, i.e. in the beginning they were all one piece, attached to one another and piled up on top of one another, THEN He SEPARATED THEM FROM ONE ANOTHER, and made the heavens seven AND THE EARTH SEVEN, placing the air between the earth and the lowest heaven. Then He caused rain to fall from the sky and vegetation to grow from the earth ...
Sufyan Ath-Thawri narrated from his father from Ikrimah that Ibn Abbas was asked: "Did the night come first or the day?" He said, "Do you think that when the heavens and the earth WERE JOINED TOGETHER, there was anything between them except darkness? Thus you may know that the night came before the day."
Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Ibn Umar said that a man came to him and questioned him about when the heavens and the earth WERE JOINED TOGETHER THEN THEY WERE PARTED. He said, "Go to that old man (Shaykh) and ask him, then come and tell me what he says to you." So he went to Ibn Abbas and asked him. Ibn Abbas said: "YES, THE HEAVENS WERE JOINED TOGETHER and it did not rain, AND THE EARTH WAS JOINED TOGETHER and nothing grew. When living beings were created to populate the earth, rain came forth from the heavens and vegetation came forth from the earth." The man went back to Ibn Umar said, "Now I know that Ibn Abbas has been given knowledge of the Quran. He has spoken the truth, and this is how it was." Ibn Umar said: "I did not like the daring attitude of Ibn Abbas in his Tafsir of the Quran, but now I know that he has been given knowledge of the Quran."
Said bin Jubayr said: "The heavens and the earth WERE ATTACHED TO ONE ANOTHER, THEN when the heavens were raised up, THE EARTH BECAME SEPARATE FROM THEM, and this is parting which was mentioned by Allah in His Book." Al-Hasan and Qatadah said, "They WERE JOINED TOGETHER, THEN THEY WERE SEPARATED by this air." (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Volume 6 (Surat Al-Isra, Verse 39 To the end of Surat Al-Muminun), Abridged by a group of scholars under the supervision of Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors Riyadh, Houston, New York, Lahore; First Edition: July 2000], pp. 440-441; see also the online edition; capital emphasis ours)
The problems are just starting for the Quran. If we were to read 21:30 in light of other Quranic passages then the Muslim is left with the uncomfortable position of trying to defend that which is scientifically indefensible. It should be clear from the above that the Qurans depiction of the order of creation is in stark contradiction with the theory of the Big Bang cosmology. In case it isnt, here is additional proof:
Say: "What, do you disbelieve in Him who created the earth in two days, and do you set up compeers to Him? That is the Lord of all Being. And He set therein firm mountain over it, and He blessed it, and He ordained therein diverse sustenance in four days, equal to those who ask. THEN (thumma) He lifted Himself to heaven when it was smoke, and said to it and the earth, "Come willingly, or unwillingly!" They said, "We come willingly." So He determined them as seven heavens in two days and revealed its commandment in every heaven." And We adorned the lower heavens with lamps, and to [preserve; that is the ordaining of the All-mighty, the All-wise. S. 41:9-12 Arberry
It is He who created for you ALL THAT IS IN THE EARTH, THEN (thumma) He lifted Himself to heaven and leveled them seven heavens; and He has knowledge of everything. S. 2:29 Arberry
Taking 21:30 in light of the foregoing statements leads to the conclusion that Allah first fashioned the earth and everything within it right after separating it from the heavens. The preceding verses also leave us with an internal contradiction since elsewhere Allah is said to have created the heavens first:
What, are you stronger in constitution or the heaven He built? He lifted up its vault, and levelled it, and darkened its night and brought forth its forenoon; and the earth - AFTER THAT (bada) He spread it out, therefrom brought forth its waters and its pastures, and the mountains He set firm, an enjoyment for you and your flocks. S. 79:27-33 Arberry
The contradictions do not end. If one tallies the number of days in Surah 41 (2+2+4) then we are left with Allah creating and fashioning the cosmos in 8 days. Yet, in other passages we are told that Allah created the universe in 6 days:
God is He that created the heavens and the earth, and what between them is, in six days, then seated Himself upon the Throne. Apart from Him, you have no protector neither mediator; will you not remember? He directs his affair from heaven to earth, then it goes up to Him in one day, whose measure is a thousand years of your counting. S. 32:4 Arberry. See also 7:54; 10:3; 11:7; 25:59; 50:38; 57:4.
Muslims have proposed different methods of reconciling the above passages. One method is to assume that the Arabic word used in 41:11 and 2:29, thumma, doesnt necessarily imply time sequence, i.e. that the heavens were fashioned later in time. Thumma can also imply a parallel act, i.e. that the earth and heavens were created during the same two-day period mentioned in 41:9. It is further proposed that the 4 days of fashioning or filling the earth mentioned in 41:10 include the first 2 days of 41:9.
Here are the proposed harmonizations so that the reader will be able to follow the Muslim arguments:
These proposals do not resolve the contradiction but further compound the problem. If we were to accept that the 2 days of 41:9 include both the 2 days of fashioning the heavens and part of the 4 days it took to create the earths nourishment, we are then left with the heavens being created during the same time that God was forming the provisions of the earth! We would have to translate the passage in the following manner:
Say: What! do you indeed disbelieve in Him Who created the heaven and turned it into seven heavens, as well as creating the earth and some of its provisions all in two days? He then took an additional two days after that to complete the provisions of the earth.
This leaves us with a total of 4 creation days, not 6! Hence, this proposal introduces a different contradiction, i.e. instead of eight days of creation we have four days, contradicting the statements which assert that the cosmos was created in six days.
This proposal that the heavens were created during the same time the earth was being formed is in direct contradiction with S. 79:27-33 which posits the creation of the heavens before the earth.
Furthermore, there is evidence to show that thumma in these passages refers to sequential acts and not to parallel events. Note for instance the following passage:
Allah it is Who raised up the heavens without visible supports, THEN (thumma) mounted the Throne, and compelled the sun and the moon to be of service, each runneth unto an appointed term; He ordereth the course; He detaileth the revelations, that haply ye may be certain of the meeting with your Lord. And He it is Who spread out the earth and placed therein firm hills and flowing streams, and of all fruits He placed therein two spouses (male and female). He covereth the night with the day. Lo! herein verily are portents for people who take thought. S. 13:2-3 Pickthall
Allah mounts the throne after raising the heavens. We quoted a passage earlier that said that Allah mounted the throne after the creation of the heavens and the earth and all that is in them. Cf. Surah 32:4
Here is another passage which reiterates this point:
Lo! your Lord is Allah Who created the heavens and the earth in six Days, THEN (thumma) mounted He the Throne. He covereth the night with the day, which is in haste to follow it, and hath made the sun and the moon and the stars subservient by His command. His verily is all creation and commandment. Blessed be Allah, the Lord of the Worlds! S. 7:54 Pickthall
For Allah to mount the throne after creating the heavens suggests that Allah had already finished creating the cosmos, a view supported by the following verse:
And verily We created the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them, in six Days, and naught of weariness touched Us. S. 50:38 Pickthall
This means that the earth and its nourishment must have been created before the heavens were formed. Otherwise, we are left with Allah mounting the throne before having created the earth and its provisions.
But this is precisely what 79:27-33 and 13:2-3 suggest, namely that Allah fashioned the earth and its nourishment AFTER he had created the heavens! Here again is the latter passage:
ALLAH is HE Who raised up the heavens without any pillars that you can see. Then HE settled HIMSELF on the Throne. And HE pressed the sun and the moon into your service; each planet pursues its course until an appointed term. HE regulates all affairs and HE clearly explains the Signs that you may have firm belief in the meeting with your Lord. And HE it is Who spread out the earth and made therein mountains and rivers, and of fruits of every kind HE made therein two sexes. HE causes the night to cover the day. Therein, verily, are Signs for a people who reflect. Sher Ali
According to this passage Allah spread out the earth and fashioned its nourishment after fashioning the heavens and mounting the throne, which perfectly AGREES with 79:27-33! One may argue that 13:2-3 doesnt imply a sequential act but is only highlighting the point that Allah also created the earth, and is therefore the reason why thumma is not used when the spreading of the earth is specifically mentioned . This may be the case with 13:3, but not with 79:27-33 since it uses the word bada, "after that."
Someone else may choose one of the proposals as opposed to combining them together. For example, a person may wish to argue that 41:9-10 refers to a total of 4 days, as opposed to 6 (i.e., the 2 days it took to create the earth overlap with the 4 days it took to fashion its nourishment). The heavens were then created afterwards, which took an additional 2 days, leaving us with a total of 6 days.
The problem with this proposal is that it leaves us with two contradictions, one with science and the other with the Quran itself.
The preceding factors should demonstrate to the readers that the harmonizations proposed are complete nonsense and only demonstrate the desperate measures some Muslims will take to try and save the Quran from its gross errors.
So far we have limited ourselves to a discussion of the Quran. We havent bothered looking into the interpretations of the first Muslims, so we now turn our attention to them. We begin with The History of al-Tabari, Volume 1 - General Introduction and from the Creation to the Flood, translated by Franz Rosenthal (State University of New York Press, Albany 1989), pp. 187-193. All bold and capital emphasis ours:
"We have stated before that time is but hours of night and day and that the hours are but traversal by the sun and the moon of the degrees of the sphere. Now then, this being so, there is (also) a sound tradition from the Messenger of God told us by Hannad b. al-Sari, who also said that he read all of the hadith (to Abu Bakr) - Abu Bakr b. 'Ayyash - Abu Sa'd al-Baqqal - 'Ikrimah - IBN ABBAS: The Jews came to the Prophet and asked him about the creation of the heavens and the earth. He said: God created the earth on Sunday and Monday. He created the mountains and the uses they possess on Tuesday. On Wednesday, He created trees, water, cities and the cultivated barren land. These are four (days). He continued (citing the Qur'an): Say: Do you really not believe in the One Who created the earth in two days, and set up others like Him? That is the Lord of the worlds. He made it firmly anchored (mountains) above it and blessed it and decreed that it contain the amount of food it provides, (all) in four days, equally for those asking- for those who ask. On Thursday, He created heaven. On Friday, He created the stars, the sun, the moon, and the angels, until three hours remained. In the first of these three hours He created the terms (of human life), who would live and who would die. In the second, He cast harm upon everything that is useful for mankind. And in the third, (He created) Adam and had him dwell in Paradise. He commanded Iblis to prostrate himself before Adam, and He drove Adam out of Paradise at the end of the hour. When the Jews asked: What then, Muhammad? He said: Then He sat straight upon the Throne. The Jews said: You are right, if you had finished, they said, with: Then He rested. Whereupon the Prophet got very angry, and it was revealed: We have created the heavens and the earth and what is between them in six days, and fatigue did not touch Us. Thus be patient with what you say."
"According to al-Muthanna - al-Hajjaj - Hammad - 'Ata' b. al-Sa'ib - 'Ikrimah: The Jews asked the Prophet: What about Sunday? The Messenger of God replied: On it, God created the earth and spread it out. They asked about Monday, and he replied: On it, He created Adam. They asked about Tuesday, and he replied: On it, He created the mountains, water, and so on. They asked about Wednesday, and he replied: Food. They asked about Thursday, and he replied: He created the heavens. They asked about Friday, and he replied: God created night and day. Then, when they asked about Saturday and mentioned God's rest(ing on it), he exclaimed: God be praised! God then revealed: We have created the heavens and the earth and what is between them in six days, and fatigue did not touch Us."
"The two reports transmitted by us from the Messenger of God have made it clear that the sun and the moon were created AFTER God had created many things of His creation. That is because the hadith OF IBN ABBAS ON THE AUTHORITY OF THE MESSENGER OF GOD indicates that God created the sun and the moon ON FRIDAY. If this is so, earth and heaven and what was in them, except the angels and Adam, had been created before God created the sun and the moon. All this (thus) existed while there was no light and no day, since night and day are but nouns designating hours known through the traversal by the sun and the moon of the course of the sphere. Now, if it is correct that the earth and the heaven and what was between them, except what we have mentioned, were in existence WHEN THERE WAS NO SUN AND NO MOON, the conclusion is that all existed when there was no night or day. The same (conclusion results from) the following hadith of Abu Hurayrah reported on the authority of the Messenger of God: God created light on Wednesday - meaning by light THE SUN, if God wills."
Al-Tabari also comments on the word bada:
"And it was the earth that He spread out thereafter," to mean: "He spread out simultaneously" (attributing to the preposition ba'da "after" the meaning of ma'a "together [simultaneous] with"). Now, what is your evidence for the soundness of your statement that we have here the meaning of "after", the opposite of "before"? The reply would be: The meaning of "after" generally known in Arabic speech, as we have said, is that of the opposite of "before," and not "simultaneous with." Now, word meanings considered applicable are those that are preponderant and generally known among speakers (of a language), and no others are. (Ibid., p. 216; bold emphasis ours)
Ibn Kathir writes regarding S. 2:29:
The Earth was created before Heaven
Mujahid commented on Allahs statement ...
"Allah created the earth before heaven, and when He created the earth, smoke burst out of it. This is why Allah said ...
<Then He Istawa ila (turned towards) the heaven when it was smoke.> (41:11) ..."
This Ayah testifies to the fact that the earth was created before heaven, as Allah has indicated in the Ayat in Surat s-Sajdah ...
Sahih Al-Bukhari records that when Ibn Abbas was question [sic] about this matter, he said that the earth was created before heaven, and the earth was spread out only after the creation of the heaven. Several scholars of old and recent times also have elaborated on [sic] in the Tafsir of Surat An-Naziat (chapter 79). The result of that discussion is that the word Daha (translated as "spread") is mentioned and explained in Allahs statement ...
Therefore, Daha means that the earths treasures were brought to its surface after finishing the job of creating whatever will reside on earth and heaven. When the earth became Daha the water burst out to its surface and the various types, colors, shapes and kinds of plants grew. The stars started rotating along with the planets that rotate around them. And Allah knows best. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Volume 1, Parts 1 and 2 (Surat Al-Fatihah to Verse 252 of Surat Al-Baqarah), Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri [First Edition: January 2000], pp. 180-182; underlined emphasis ours)
The following is another version of Ibn Kathirs comments which are found online:
These Ayat [Sam- S. 41:9-12] indicate that Allah started creation by creating earth, then He made heaven into seven heavens. This is how building usually starts, with the lower floors first and then the top floors, as the scholars of Tafsir reiterated, as we will come to know, Allah willing ...
It is said that "Then" in the Ayah (2:29) relates only to the order of reciting the information being given, it does not relate to the order that the events being mentioned took place, this was reported from Ibn `Abbas by `Ali bin Abi Talhah. (Source)
The Earth was created before Heaven
Mujahid commented on Allah's statement ...
(He it is Who created for you all that is on earth) "Allah created the earth BEFORE heaven, and when He created the earth, smoke burst out of it ...
(And made them seven heavens) means, one above the other, while the ‘seven earths’ means, one below the other."
This Ayah testifies to the fact that the earth was created BEFORE heaven, as Allah has indicated in the Ayat in Surat As-Sajdah. (Source)
He also says about 7:54:
The Universe was created in Six Days
Allah states that He created the universe, the heavens and earth, and all that is in, on and between them in six days, as He has stated in several Ayat in the Quran. These six days are: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. On Friday, the entire creation was assembled and on that day, Adam was created. There is a difference of opinion whether these days were the same as our standard days as suddenly comes to the mind, or each day constitutes one thousand years, as reported from Mujahid, Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, and from Ibn Abbas according to Ad-Dahhaks narration from him. As for Saturday, no creation took place in it since is the seventh day (of the week). The word As-Sabt means stoppage or break.
Imam Ahmad recorded Abu Huraryah saying: Allah's Messenger told me ...
((Allah created the dust on Saturday, and He created the mountains on Sunday, and He created the trees on Monday, and He created the unpleasant things on Tuesday and He created the light on Wednesday and He spread the creatures through out it on Thursday and He created Adam after 'Asr on between 'Asr and the night.)) (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Volume 4, Surat Al-A'raf to the end of Sura Yunus [First Edition: May 2000], pp. 76-77; see also the online edition)
We also read in the Mishkat:
Al-Abbas b. Abd al-Muttalib asserted that he was sitting in al-Batha with a company among whom Gods messenger was sitting when a cloud passed. They looked at it and Gods messenger asked, "What do you call this?" and they received the reply "Clouds (sahab)." He said, "And rain-clouds (muzn)," to which they agreed. He asked, "Do you know the distance between heaven and earth?" and when they replied that they did not, he said, "The distance between them is seventy-one, seventy-two, or seventy-three years, the heaven which is above it is at a similar distance (going till he counted seven heavens). Above the seventh heaven there is a sea the distance between whose surface and bottom is like that between one heaven and the next. Above that there are EIGHT MOUNTAIN-GOATS the distance between whose hoofs and haunches is like that between one heaven and the next. On their backs is the Throne the extent of which from top to bottom is like the distance between one heaven and the next. Then God is above that." Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud transmitted it. (Mishkat Al-Masabih English Translation With Explanatory Notes by Dr. James Robson, Volume II [Sh. Muhammad Ahsraf Publishers, Booksellers & Exporters, Lahore-Pakistan, Reprint 1994], p. 1226; italic emphasis ours)
This final tradition comes from Qisas al-Anbiya - Tales of the Prophets:
Kaab al-Ahbar said: When God wished to create the dry land, He commanded the wind to churn up the waters. When they had become turbulent and foamy, wave swelled and gave off vapor. Then God commanded the foam to solidify, and it became dry. In to days He created the dry land on the face of the waters, as He hath said: Say, do ye indeed disbelieve in him who created the earth in two days? (41:9). Then He commanded these waves to be still, and they formed the mountains, which He used as pegs to hold down the earth, as He hath said: And we placed stable mountains on the earth lest it should move with them (21:31). Were it not for the mountains, the earth would not have been stable enough for its inhabitants. The veins of these mountains are connected with the veins of Mount Qaf, which is the range that surrounds the earth.
Then God created the seven seas. The first is called Baytush and surrounds the earth from behind Mount Qaf. Behind it is a sea called Asamm, behind which is a sea called Qaynas, behind which is a sea called Sakin, behind which is a sea called Mughallib, behind which is a sea called Muannis, behind which is a sea called Baki, which is the last. These are the seven seas, and each of them surrounds the sea before it. The rest of the seas, in which are creatures whose number only God knows, are like gulfs to these seven. God created sustenance for all these creatures on the fourth day, as He hath said: And he provided therein the food of the creatures designed to be the inhabitants thereof, in four days; equally, for those who ask (41:10).
There are seven earths. The first is called Ramaka, beneath which is the Barren Wind, which can be bridled by no fewer than seventy thousand angels. With this wind God destroyed the people of Ad. The inhabitants of Ramaka are a nation called Muwashshim, upon whom is everlasting torment and divine retribution. The second earth is called Khalada, wherein are the implements of torture for the inhabitants of Hell. There dwells a nation called Tamis, whose food is their own flesh and whose drink is their own blood. The third earth is called Arqa, wherein dwell mulelike eagles with spearlike tails. On each tail are three hundred and sixty poisonous quills. Were even one quill placed on the face of the earth, the entire universe would pass away. The inhabitants thereof are a nation called Qays, who eat dirt and drink mothers' milk. The fourth earth is called Haraba, wherein dwell the snakes of Hell, which are as large as mountains. Each snake has fangs like tall palm trees, and if they were to strike the hugest mountain with their fangs it would be leveled to the ground. The inhabitants of this earth are a nation called Jilla, and they have no eyes, hands or feet but have wings like bats and die only of old age. The fifth earth is called Maltham, wherein stones of sulphur hang around the necks of infidels. When the fire is kindled the fuel is placed on their breasts, and the flames leap up onto their faces, as He hath said: The fire whose fuel is men and stones (2:24), and Fire shall cover their faces (14:50). The inhabitants are a nation called Hajla, who are numerous and who eat each other. The sixth earth is called Sijjin. Here are the registers of the people of Hell, and their works are vile, as He hath said: Verily the register of the actions of the wicked is surely Sijjin (83:7). Herein dwells a nation called Qatat, who are shaped like birds and worship God truly. The seventh earth is called Ajiba and is the habitation of Iblis. There dwells a nation called Khasum, who are BLACK and short, with claws like lions. It is they who will be given dominion over Gog and Magog, who will be destroyed by them.
And the earth was tossed about with its inhabitants like a ship, so God sent down an angel of extreme magnitude and strength and ordered him to slip beneath the earth and bear it up on his shoulders. He stretched forth one of his hands to the East and the other to the West and took hold of the earth from end to end. However, there was no foothold for him, so God created from an emerald a square rock, in the middle of which were seven thousand holes. In each hole was a sea, the description of which is known only to God. And He commanded the rock to settle beneath the angel's feet. The rock, however, had no support, so God created a great bull with forty thousand heads, eyes, ears, nostrils, mouths, tongues and legs and commanded it to bear the rock on its back and on its horns. The name of the bull is al-Rayyan. As the bull had no place to rest its feet, God created a huge fish, upon whom no one may gaze at because it is so enormous and has so many eyes. It is even said that if all the seas were placed on one of its gills, they would be like a mustard seed in the desert. This fish God commanded to be a foothold for the bull, and it was done. The name of this fish is Behemoth. Then He made its resting place the waters, beneath which is the air, and beneath the air is the Darkness, which is for all the earths. There, beneath the Darkness, the knowledge of created things ends. (Muhammad ibn 'Abd Allah al-Kisa'i, Tales of the Prophets-Qisas al-anbiya, trans. Wheeler M. Thackston Jr. [Great Books of the Islamic World, Inc., Distributed by Kazi Publications; Chicago, IL 1997], pp. 8-10; bold emphasis ours)
The preceding Muslim traditions make it hard for any intelligent person to buy into the Muslim line that the Quran goes hand in hand with modern science. We would like NA to quote one recognized and reputable scientist who agrees with the assertion that the heavens, the sun, the moon and the constellations were created after the earth and its provisions.
We see that what was presented as an indication of accurate scientific foreknowledge turns out to be one of the grossest errors in the Quran. In light of the foregoing we can safely conclude that the passage falls under the category G. in NAs algorithm, and our category I.
For more on this subject, please read the following articles:
NA also made reference to the orbital movements of the planets as an indication of the Qurans scientific accuracy. Again, when one carefully examines the Quran and the so-called authentic Muslim traditions, this proposed argument actually works against the Quran. For instance, even though the Quran mentions that the planets such as the sun and the moon are traveling in the heavens the Quran erroneously assumes that the earth remains in a fixed position. Furthermore, when we read the hadith literature documenting the purported interpretation of Muhammad regarding the traversal of the sun, we discover that he clearly believed that the sun actually travelled to the throne of Allah from which it then returns back on its course.
Since these issues have already been addressed elsewhere, we wont repeat the material but simply link to the articles in question:
The Quran mentions that Jerusalem is the lowest point in the earth:
The Roman Empire has been defeated - In a land close by (adna al-aardi); but they, (even) after (this) defeat of theirs, will soon be victorious - Within a few years. With God is the Decision, in the past and in the Future: on that Day shall the Believers rejoice - S. 30:2-4 A.Y. Ali
The Arabic term adna can mean either nearest or lowest. In context this passage refers to the Romans being defeated by the Persians in or near Jerusalem. Since Jerusalem is the lowest point in the earth this again shows accurate scientific knowledge on the authors part by using the term adna to convey this fact.
First, since adna can have either meaning it is evident that this is another example of science being used to guide ones interpretation of the passage. There is nothing in the immediate context which forces one to assume that adna must or should mean lowest as opposed to nearest. In fact, none of the major Quranic versions we have accessed translate the word as lowest:
"... in the nearer part of the land ..." A.J. Arberry
"... in a neighboring land ..." N.J. Dawood
"In the nearer land ..." Pickthall
"... in the lands close-by ..." Muhammad Asad
"In a near land ..." Shakir
"In the land nearby ..." Sher Ali
"In a near land ..." Maulana Muhammad Ali
"... in a nearby land ..." Muhammad Sarwar
"In a nearer land ..." Abdul Majid Daryabadi
"In the nearest land ..." Saheeh International
"... on the nearest front! ..." T.B. Irving
"In the nearest land ..." Rashad Khalifa
"... in the nighest parts of the land ..." Palmer
"... in the nearest part of the land ..." Sale
Furthermore, other versions make it explicit that they do not take the land to be referring to Jerusalem at all:
"In the nearest land (Syria, Iraq, Jordan, and Palestine) ..." Hilali-Khan
"In the land nearby (- Syria and Palestine) ..." Amatul Rahman & Abdul Mannan Omar
This leads us to our third point, namely how does NA know that this passage is referring to Jerusalem? Where does it mention Jerusalem? In fact how does he know that this is even referring to the Persians defeating the Romans? How does he even know when this section was supposedly "sent down"? He doesnt know since the Quran doesnt answer any of these questions.
The problems are far from over. The accepted rendering of the Arabic consonantal text says that the Romans will be victorious in a few years, yet a few years from what date? And why does God have to guess that it would be within a few years? Why wasnt he able to specify the exact number of years? The passage poses a lot more problems and demonstrates that it is anything but miraculous.
NA may claim that the answers to these questions are to be found in the Islamic literature, i.e. the Sira and hadiths. But herein lies the problem with NAs methodology. The moment he goes outside the Quran to demonstrate his case then he only shows that these passages are far from being clear. He shows that a plain reading of these passages do not necessarily lead to his conclusion that the Quran is miraculous since they are open to interpretation.
Second, the appeal to the Sira and/or hadith sounds the death knell to his entire case since these very sources demonstrate that the Quran contains gross scientific errors. They show that the first Muslims understood these passages in a manner which completely contradicts modern scientific facts and discoveries.
The final problem with NAs claim is that he is wrong regarding Jerusalem being the lowest point in the earth. In the words of Muslim turned Atheist Mr. Ali Sina, taken from his online written debate:
Mr. Ahmed claims that the word near (Adna) can also be translated as lower and hence the above could be read: The Roman Empire was defeated in the lowest land ... Then Mr. Ahmad claims that since the Black Sea is it the lowest point on earth (1300 ft bellow sea level) then Muhammad has said something that no one could have known.
This is of course wishful thinking of a deluded believer and the absurdity of that is self-evident. The Romans were not defeated in the Red Sea but in Jerusalem and Jerusalem is above sea level. If we had to take Mr. Ahmed for his word and disregard the obvious meaning of the word, this verse would have become yet another blunder of Muhammad. However all the interpreters of the Quran have translated the verse correctly. If Muhammad really wanted to impress his readers he could have easily said that the Red Sea is the lowest land on Earth. Note that the verse is mentioning land and not sea. Muhammad is talking about the Jerusalem and not about the Red Sea. (Source)
For a more detailed discussion of the problems posed by Surah 30 we recommend the following articles:
In conclusion, the assertion that the Quran accurately states that Jerusalem is the lowest part of the earth is another indication of misinterpretation and falls under proposition I. in our list of possible explanations.
This completes our examination of two of NA's alleged miraculous statements in the Quran. When looking at the understanding of the Quran at the time when Muhammad recited it to his followers, then all claims of a scientific miracle crumble. Instead of supporting the divine origin of the Quran, these verses become a liability to Islam, and clear evidence against NA's claims.
When we find time, we will continue this series and look at the remaining six propositions, and scrutinze them in a similar manner.
 Muslim sources provide evidence that Muhammad fell under the influence and power of Satan as the following articles show:
This doesnt necessarily mean that Muhammad received his information about science from Satan. To fall under Satans influence doesnt preclude the person drawing information from already known and existing sources, or from reflecting the views and practices of that culture and time frame.
 It seems that we are not the only ones who see it this way. In an online debate with NA, Muslim turned atheist Ali Sina of www.faithfreedom.org reasoned:
Even if the Quran is proven to be a "miracle" as you state, this does not prove that Muhammad was a messenger of God. If it is proven that he was an evil character unworthy of the rank of prophethood, then we can say that the Quran is the words of Satan or jinns. (Source)
We highly recommend these series of exchanges since Sina and the other contributors thoroughly dismantle NAs scientific arguments for the Quran.
 Can the preceding biblical statements be interpreted in a way which fits in with the scientific theory of the origins of the universe? You bet.
Dr. William C. Campbell writes in relation to Genesis 1:2:
Dr. Robert C. Neuman has a Ph.D in astrophysics from Cornell University, and a Master's degree in sacred theology from Biblical School of Theology. Mr. Herman J. Eckelmann, Jr. was a research associate with the Center for Radiophysics and Space Research at Cornell University, and has a Master of Divinity degree from Faith Theological Seminary. Their book Genesis One and the Origin of the Earth is full of modern information and carefully reasoned arguments supporting the idea that Genesis Chapter one is in agreement with modern science. Their degrees and experience in astrophysics and the Bible would seem to qualify them to speak both as scientists and theologians...
Concordist approach of Dr. Neuman and Mr. Eckelmann
"Likewise the word mayim which is nearly always translated "water" or "waters", has a broader meaning than one might at first suppose. It is occasionally used for other fluids (or at least mixtures involving more than water (for example: urine, 2 Kings 18:27; semen, Isaiah 48:1). Also it is used in reference to the solid and vapor states of H2O (ice - Job 37:10; 38:30; vapor or droplets - 2 Samuel 22:5; Job 26:8; 36:27-28; Jeremiah 51:16).
"The exact meaning of mayim in Gen.1:2 is therefore uncertain, but a large body of ice or water, a mass of ice crystals or droplets, a large cloud of water vapor, or even some other fluid altogether, would be within range of the usage of the word throughout Scripture. All of these would have a surface over which the Spirit of God might "move" or "hover". In agreement with the scientific model proposed, a dark nebula would be expected to contain some water vapor.
"An alternative possibility is that mayim is intended to intimate something of the chemical, rather than the physical, composition of the cloud. Water consists of hydrogen and oxygen, and the cloud consists principally of hydrogen, helium, carbon, nitrogen and oxygen. Mayim is one of the few Hebrew words which could communicate such information." (Adapted from Campbells book, The Qur'an and the Bible in the Light of History & Science [Middle East Resources, Second Edition 2002; ISBN 1-881085-03-01], pp. 22-23; also available online)
The following scientific chart is adapted from Dr. Robert C. Neuman in the book titled, Evidence For Faith: Deciding the God Question, ed. John Warwick Montgomery, World Publishing, 1986. Neuman contrasts the Genesis account of creation with the modern scientific hypothesis prevalent amongst most scientists regarding the origin of the universe, demonstrating the similarities between the two.
|1.In the beginning God created the universe. (Gen. 1:1)||1. A beginning; Big Bang?|
|2. Earth is without form, void||2. Earth is amorphous, tenuous|
Dr. Neuman notes:
"... the ancient Jews who translated Genesis into Greek some two centuries before the time of Christ rendered these two words (Heb. Tohu [formless] and bohu [void]) by aoratos (invisible) and akatas-keuastos (unprepared, unfurnished). In agreement with this ancient translation and most modern translations, we suggest that the earth at this point in the narrative is not yet a solid body but is shapeless and empty, perhaps even invisible. This is an excellent non-technical description of the gas cloud which eventually forms the earth in the scientific model." (pp. 104-105)
|3. Darkness on the face of the deep. (Gen. 1:2)||3. After some contraction, cloud becomes dark within.|
|4. Spirit of God moves on the face of the waters.||4. (providential oversight with occasional intervention)|
Neuman's comments on Genesis 1:2 and the mention of water:
"Likewise mayim, though nearly always translated 'waters,' is also used for other fluids and for the frozen and vapor states of water. Scientifically, we now know that water is found in extraterrestrial gas clouds such as that which formed the earth." (Ibid., p. 105)
|5. "Let there be light."||5. Further contraction causes cloud to glow.|
|6. Light is divided from darkness. (Gen. 1:3)||6. Planetary material thrust outside glowing cloud.|
Here is Neuman again:
"Now after darkness comes light. This is certainly in agreement with the standard scientific model. The contracting gas cloud, having first become dark within, now heats up to the point where it begins to glow. But this is a strange sort of light, for we are explicitly told that God by an additional act separates it from the darkness. Taking these clauses to be ordered chronological developments rather than further descriptions of a static state, our hypothetical observer first sees darkness everywhere, then light everywhere, then some of both after they are separated. But if our observer is riding along with the material which will later become the earth, this is just what he would see in the scientific model! Inside the cloud during its dark state, he sees only darkness. Then the cloud begins to glow, and he sees only light all around him. Finally, he is pushed outside the cloud along with the equatorial disk that will form the earth, and he then sees both light and darkness at once." (Ibid., p. 105)
|7. Light equals Day, darkness equals Night. (Genesis 1:5)||7. Planet condenses from planetesimals; sun, rotation gives day/night sequence.|
|8. Waters burst forth from the womb of the earth (Job 38:8-9); firmament appears.||8. Earth is heated within by pressure and radioactivity, driving out water and gases to produce atmosphere and oceans.|
|9. Waters are divided above and below the firmament. (Genesis 1:6-8)||9. Presence of atmosphere allows both surface and atmospheric water.|
"Here the words day and night occur for the first time. In Hebrew, as in English, darkness and night are not synonymous, nor are light and day. Rather 'night' is a particular subclass of 'darkness,' which we now know occurs when our side of the planet earth is facing away from the sun. 'Day' is an analogous subclass of 'light' for our side facing toward the sun. Notice it is just at this point in our scientific model, when the planet earth condenses out of the equatorial disk of dust, that it is proper to identify light with day and darkness with night. We suggest, then, that it is here in the Genesis account that the planet earth becomes a solid body and not before." (Ibid., p. 106)
"To reconcile Genesis and Job, we suggest that the sea 'burst forth from its womb' at the same time that 'the firmament was dividing water from water.' Likewise in our scientific model, the sea and atmosphere were formed simultaneously by outgassing from the earth's interior, exactly the same picture!" (Ibid., p. 107)
|10. Waters are gathered; dry land appears. (Genesis 1:9-10)||10. Continental material develops from sub-oceanic by volcanism and erosion.|
|11. Earth brings forth vegetation. (Genesis 1:11-13)||11. Land vegetation appears.|
|12. Light appears in the sky to mark off days and seasons; sun dominates day; moon dominates night. (Genesis 1:14-19)||12. Photosynthesis by vegetation replaces carbon dioxide with oxygen, clearing atmosphere so sun, moon, stars visible; also prepares atmosphere for man.|
"According to Genesis, the earth was once totally covered by water, after which dry land appeared. As pointed out in our discussion of the scientific model, this seems to fit the evidence from geology: (1) there is enough water to cover the earth to a depth of two miles if the dry land were perfectly smooth, and (2) neither of the two types of crust presently covering the earth would alone provide enough relief for dry land to exist, but the action of plate movements has opened the ocean basins and built up mountains. This plate movement will not begin until the earth's interior heats up enough for the outgassing mentioned in Genesis 1:6-8." (Ibid., p. 107)
"The traditional interpretation of this passage assumes that the sun, moon, and stars did not exist until this point in the narrative, in obvious contradiction with the present scientific consensus. This view is still maintained by young-earth creationists. However, in view of our modern knowledge that the day-night sequence is a result of sunlight and the earth's rotation, it seems gratuitous to suppose that God creates the sun to replace some other unspecified source of light previously created in Genesis 1:3, all without any statement to this effect. Since the Genesis account has already mentioned atmospheric water, and since Job 38:9 speaks of clouds and 'thick darkness' covering the seas, it seems more reasonable to suppose that Genesis 1:14-19 describes the first appearance of the sun, moon, and stars to our hypothetical observer on the occasion of the break up of the earth's cloud cover. This loss of cloud cover would be the result of plant life oxygenating the atmosphere.
"If this is the proper understanding of Genesis 1:14-19, then the sequence of the Genesis account is striking indeed. The author has delayed mentioning one important aspect of the physical environment - the final clearing and preparation of the atmosphere in its present breathable form - until after he has mentioned the plants. From a literary point of view, this event appears to be out of order, as the rest of the Genesis account would lead us to expect that the preparation of the physical environment would be concluded before the creation of life begins. Instead the creation of plants is before the appearance of the heavenly bodies. Yet according to our scientific model, vegetation was the immediate cause of both the oxygenation of the atmosphere and the removal of its heavy cloud cover!" (Ibid., pp.108-109)
Now will the preceding explanation convince the skeptics that Genesis 1 is indeed compatible with modern scientific theories? Perhaps, depending on the kind of skeptic one is dealing with. Those skeptics who have already been convinced that God doesnt exist and/or the Bible is not Gods word will not be persuaded since to them no amount of evidence or interpretation will suffice as proof.
 The translators of this particular edition of Tafsir Ibn Kathir have omitted all the inauthentic traditions from their work. The following website writes in regards to this translation:
This commentary is the most popular interpretation of the Noble Quran in the Arabic Language and the MAJORITY of the Muslim Ummah in the world today consider it to be the BEST available source of understanding of the Quranic text based on the Quran and the authentic Sunnah ...
To cover all of the references, Ibn Kathir has also collected some weak Hadith and stories from the Israelites. Some repitions [sic] also occur in it as and when the topics require them ...
Careful analysis and eforts [sic] have been made and taken to ensure that weak Hadith are not included within the abridged version of the English translation. (http://www.ibnkathir.com; bold and underlined emphasis ours)
This means that all our quotations from these volumes are to be regarded as sound by those Muslims who look to the Quran and the Sunnah of Muhammad as outlined in the Sira literature, hadiths, commentaries etc. The only problem with this method is that it exposes the attempts of NA and other Muslims in passing the Quran off as a scientific miracle as misplaced. The Quran is anything but scientific in its pronouncements on issues relating to science.
 Another Muslim tries to take a stab at reconciling Surahs 41 and 79 with each other and with modern science. Responding to Denis Girons article, Quran: A Work of Multiple Hands?(*), Muslim convert Yahya Sulaiman writes:
Second, Giron compares 41:9-12, which speaks of the earth being made before the heavens, to 79:27-30, which speaks of the heavens being made before the earth. So what "wild confabulation" do I have to offer? How am I going to "sacrifice my intellectual integrity" here? Well, the fact is, there are two different heavens: first, there's the heaven we know as "the sky," ending where the earths ozone layer ends, and then there's the heaven around and above it, which we know as "outer space." First outer space was formed, and then the earth was formed (as well as other planets), and then the atmosphere of the earth settled into what it is now, giving the earth a sky. It's all very scientifically accurate. The heaven being referred to in surah/chapter 79 is obviously the sky, since this heaven darkens at night and has a forenoon:
79:27 What, are you stronger in constitution or the heaven He built?
79:28 He lifted up its vault, and levelled it,
79:29 and darkened its night, and brought forth its forenoon.
And the heaven being spoken of in Surah/Chapter 41 is obviously outer space, since it is this heaven which contains the stars:
41:11 Then He lifted Himself to heaven when it was smoke, and said to it
and to the earth, "Come willingly, or unwillingly!" They said, "We come
41:12 So he determined them as seven heavens in two days, and revealed its commandment in every heaven. And We adorned the lower heaven with lamps, and to preserve; that is the ordaining of the All-mighty, the All-knowing.
The author has obviously not pondered over the texts carefully. Adopting science as his hermeneutic he reads into the Quran the view that the passages refer to two heavens, namely the sky and outer space.
The author claims that "outer space was formed" first, "and then the earth was formed (as well as other planets), and then the atmosphere of the earth settled into what it is now, giving the earth a sky." But the author ends up contradicting himself since he interprets Surah 79:27-29 as referring to the sky. Note his words carefully:
The heaven being referred to in surah/chapter 79 is obviously the sky, since this heaven darkens at night and has a forenoon:
He then says that Surah 41:11-12 refers to the formation of outer space:
And the heaven being spoken of in Surah/Chapter 41 is obviously outer space, since it is this heaven which contains the stars:
The problem with the authors proposed harmonization is that this leaves us with the sky being formed before the earth and outer space being created afterwards! Note the passages again:
Say: 'What, do you disbelieve in Him who created the earth in two days, and do you set up compeers to Him? That is the Lord of all Being. And He set therein firm mountains over it, and He blessed it, and He ordained therein its diverse sustenance in four days, equal to those who ask. THEN (thumma) He lifted Himself to heaven when it was smoke, and said to it and to the earth, "Come willingly, or unwillingly!" They said, "We come willingly." So He determined them as seven heavens in two days, and revealed its commandment in every heaven. And We adorned the lower heaven with lamps, and to reserve; that is the ordaining of the All-mighty, the All-knowing. S. 41:9-12 A.J. Arberry
What, are you stronger in constitution or the heaven He built? He lifted up its vault, and levelled it, and darkened its night, and brought forth its forenoon; and the earth - AFTER THAT (bada) He spread it out, therefrom brought forth its waters and its pastures, and the mountains He set firm, an enjoyment for you and your flocks. S. 79:27-33 A.J. Arberry
We have already discussed the meaning of thumma and bada in this paper, so there is no need to repeat ourselves. What we want to focus on is the authors proposed solution. If his interpretation is correct then this means that the author of the Quran believed that the sky was fashioned first, then the earth and its nourishment, and then later outer space with all its stars.
If the author claims that Surah 79 doesnt speak of the creation of the earth, but of its expansion, which implies that the earth was already created, he then faces additional problems. First, this leaves us with the sky being formed even before the earth was extended or spread out, contradicting the authors statement that the sky settled after the earths formation.
Second, we are now left with both the sky and outer space being created only after the earth was already formed.
Third, as was already mentioned, we still have the problem of Surah 41 positing the formation of the earths provisions before the creation of outer space, which is scientifically incorrect.
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