Muhammad Yunus & Ashfaque Ullah Syed
16 May, 2015
The Qur’an is alive with reflections on the beauty and
harmony of nature and on its relationship with life as part of its ontological debate.
These reflections are in the form of statements, which capture the laws of the
cosmos in expansive open ways that captivate and beguile us by their beauty,
majesty and accuracy. Thus for example, the following Qur’anic observations are
picturesque and imaginative, and at the same time clearly indicative of the
axial and the orbital rotations of heavenly bodies that science discovered many
· Merging (yulij) of the night into the day and vice versa (31:29).1
(yukawwir) of the night into the day and vice versa (39:5).
incapability of the night to outstrip (sabiq) the day, and all (the
heavenly bodies) floating in an orbit (falak) (21:33).2
of the night (as a veil) (yughshi) over the day, which it pursues
· The sun and the moon being constant (dai’bayn) in their courses
A cross-section of the verses including those referred
to above are rendered below to give a broad overview of the Qur’anic treatment
of the subject.
of heavenly bodies in orbits
“Your Lord is God who created the heavens and the
earth in six periods, and is established on the Seat of Authority. He draws the
night (as a veil) (yughshi) over the day (which) it pursues ceaselessly. He has
subjected the sun, the moon and the stars to His Laws. Aren’t the creation and
order up to Him? Blessed be God, the Lord of all the Worlds” (7:54).
“He has made serviceable to you the sun and the moon,
both constant (dai’bayn) (in their
courses) and He has made serviceable to you the night and the day” (14:33).
“He is the One who created the night and the day and
the sun and the moon – each floating in an orbit (falak)” (21:33).
“Haven’t you seen that God causes the night to merge
(yulij) into the day and the day to merge (yulij) into the night and has
subordinated the sun and the moon (to His laws) – each running (its course) for
a determined term – and God is Informed of what you do” (31:29).
“(God) created the heavens and the earth in accordance
with the truth (universal laws). He causes the night to overlap (yukawwir) the
day and the day to overlap (yukawwir) the night and has subordinated the sun
and the moon (to His laws) – each running (its course) for a determined term.
Isn’t this God Almighty, Most Forgiving” (39:5).
of Heaven and Earth
“In the creation of the heavens and the earth, (in)
the alternation of night and day, (in) the ships that sail the ocean for the
benefit of humanity, (in) the water which God sends down from the sky with
which it enlivens the earth after its death and spreads out all kinds of
creatures on it, (and in) the coursing of the winds and the clouds, compelled
between the sky and the earth, are indeed signs for a people who use their
“God is the One who has raised the heavens without any
pillars that you can see, and is firmly established on the Seat (of Authority).
He has subjected the sun and the moon (to His laws), each running (its course)
for a determined term. He regulates (all) affairs and spells out these signs
that you may be certain about meeting with your Lord” (13:2).
“Don’t those who deny (God) see that the heavens and
the earth were joined together (before), and We split them apart? We made every
living thing from water. Won’t they still believe” (21:30).
“He sends down water from the sky, so that the valleys
flow according to their measure, with the stream carrying the swelling froth
(on its surface). And what they heat in the fire to make ornaments or utensils
produces similar froth. Thus does God demonstrate truth and falsehood: as for
the froth, it goes away like the foam, while what benefits humanity remains
on earth. Thus does God draw comparisons” (13:17).
“(Say,) Who made the earth a settlement and put rivers
in its clefts and set mountains on it, and placed a barrier between the two
waters (sweet and saline): Is there any deity besides God? No, but most of them
do not know” (27:61).
“He created the heavens without any pillars, you can
see, and set firm mountains on earth - lest it might shake with you, and spread
out on it all kinds of creatures; and We send down water from the sky, and We
thereby produce every kind of noble species on it” (31:10).
rain and water cycle
“He is the One who sends the winds as good news
heralding His mercy: when they have carried heavy laden clouds, We drive them
to a dead land, sending down thereby water, wherewith We produce all kinds of
fruits. Thus do We raise the dead, that you may be mindful” (7:57).
“Haven’t you seen how God drives the clouds, gathers
them together, then piles them into layers, and you see a downpour emerging
from within them? He sends down mountain-masses (of clouds) from the sky with
hail in them, and He strikes with it anyone He wills, and diverts it from
anyone He wills. The flash of its lightning almost takes away the sight” (24:43).
and animal world
“He is the One who sends down water from the sky;
thereby We bring forth all kinds of sprouts. And We produce therewith green
(crops), out of which We produce heaps of grains. And from the date palm and
its spathes, (hang) clusters (of dates) within reach, (and We produce) groves
of grapes, and olives, and pomegranates, similar but different (in variety).
Look at their fruit when they bear, and in its ripeness! There are signs in
this for a people who believe” (6:99).
“And what He has multiplied for you on earth are in
different colors. There is a sign in this for a people who are mindful (16:13).
He is the One who has made the sea subject (to His Laws) that you may eat fresh
flesh from it, and you extract from it gems that you may wear; and you see the
ships cleaving through it, that you may seek some of His bounty, and thus be
grateful (to Him)” (16:14).
“Don’t they see how the birds are governed in the air
of the sky: none holds them up but God. There are signs in this for a people
who believe” (16:79).
“Among His signs is the creation of the heavens
and the earth and the living creatures that He has spread out in either of
them. He has the power to gather them together when He wills” (42:29).
has created everything in pairs
“He is the One who has spread out the earth and set on
it mountains and rivers; and He made fruits of all (kinds) in pairs. He draws
the night (as a veil) (yughshi) over the day. There are signs in this for a
people who reflect” (13:3).
“Glory to the One who created in pairs all of them,
that the earth produces, as well as their own (human) kinds, and (those) of
which they have no knowledge” (36:36).
“The creator of the heavens and the earth: He has made
for you pairs from among yourselves and pairs from among the cattle; thus he
multiplies you. There is nothing like Him and He is Observant and Aware”
“We have made everything in pairs that you may be
A number of Qur’anic verses refer to the reproductive
process in a woman’s fetus, touching on one or more stages of embryonic
development. The stipulations of these verses are immaculately consistent and
can be paraphrased into two statements: i) ‘Man is created out of a tiny drop
(of semen),3 which is established in a secured resting
place,4 and transformed first into a clot (22:5,
23:14),5 then into a chewed (lump of) flesh - formed and
unformed (22:5), then into bones, which are finally clothed with clean
flesh (23:14). ii) God completes the creation of man in due proportions6 in
his mother’s womb, through different stages of formation, within three (veils
of) darkness (39:6).
“Surely We created man from an extract of clay (tin,
inorganic matter) (23:12). We then placed him as a drop (of semen) in a secured
resting place (13). We then transformed the drop into a clot and We transformed
the clot into a chewed (lump of) flesh, and We transformed this chewed (lump
of) flesh into bones, and We clothed the bones with flesh, and then We produced
another creature from it. So blessed be God, the Best of Creators” (23:14).
“O people, if you are in doubt about the Resurrection,
(consider) that We created you from dust (turab), then from a drop (of semen),
then from a clot, then from a chewed (lump of) flesh, formed and unformed, that
We may manifest (Our Power) to you; and We keep those We wish in the wombs for
a determined term, then We bring you out as babies and then you (grow and) reach
your prime. Some of you die (early) and some of you will be kept back until the
feeblest age, so that they know nothing after having known (much); and
(further), you see the earth barren and lifeless, but when We send down water
on it, it is stirred (to life), it swells, and it puts forth every kind of
beautiful species” (22:5).
“…He creates you in your mother’s womb -
transformation after transformation, within three (veils of) darkness…”(39:6)
Any further elaboration of the Qur’anic
stipulations to show their conformity with the latest scientific knowledge will
be rather technical and detract from the subject, but it may suffice to quote
the noted French surgeon, Maurice Bucaille quotation:7
“The Qur'anic description of certain stages in the
development of the embryo corresponds exactly to what we know today about it,
and the Qur'an does not contain a single statement that is open to criticism
from modern science.”
of nature that have come to light only in recent times
The Qur’an also makes fleeting references to diverse
mysterious phenomena that have come to light only in recent times with modern
scientific advancement in different fields. Such verses are therefore highly
technical in nature, and sound scientific knowledge will be required to grasp
the essence of these verses, as briefly listed below.
of time: a ‘day’ in space may be as long as 1000 years 8 or
in oxygen content of air at higher altitudes.10
layers of tissues enclosing the embryo in a woman’s womb.11
growth in a woman’s uterus with progress of pregnancy.12
finger prints of humans.13
of wind in carrying pollens for certain plants.14
‘barrier’ between sweet water, and saline water.15
of the universe from a single mass,16 and the evolution
of all living things from water.17
universe is expanding.18
potential to explore space and ocean beds. 19
pain receptors are located on the skin.20
frontal lobes of the brain are responsible for lying and sins.21
layers of darkness in ocean depths, resulting in such intense darkness deep
down the ocean that one can’t see one’s own hand.22
of only female bees in the building of the hive.23
existence of communities among all animals and living creatures.24
Preservation of the Pharaoh’s dead body with the
parting of river Nile,25 though until the
archaeological discovery of mummies in late 19th century, the Pharaoh was known
to have died and perished.26
The verses cited in the foregoing under different
sub-headings clearly show the extraordinary accuracy and consistency of
Qur’anic stipulations on natural phenomena. Muhammad, or for that matter, any
mortal in that era, had no means to repeatedly make axiomatic pronouncements on
the various facets of nature for more than two decades without any reference to
the prevalent myths and legends; and this reflects the extraordinary in the
40:67, 53:46, 75:37, 76:2, 80:19.
Bucaille, The Bible, The Qur’an and Science, 5th edition,
Paris 1988, English translation, p. 218.
15. 25:53, 27:61, 55:19.
17. 21:30, 24:45.
23. 16:68, For
explanation, see Jeffery Lang, Struggling to Surrender, 2nd revised
edition, Maryland 1998, p. 35.
26. The Bible, Exodus
Muhammad Yunus, a Chemical Engineering
graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, and a retired corporate executive
has been engaged in an in-depth study of the Qur’an since early 90’s, focusing
on its core message. He has co-authored the referred exegetic work, which
received the approval of al-Azhar al-Sharif, Cairo in 2002, and following
restructuring and refinement was endorsed and authenticated by Dr. KhaledAbou
El Fadl of UCLA, and published by Amana Publications, Maryland, USA, 2009.
The answer to your
question is No!, if you define Islam by its core scripture - the Qur'an and
interpret it in accordance with its guidelines as noted in the Preface of my
joint publication that you can readily locate in the Book Section of this
website, the relevant except below:
"Thus, the Arabic Qur’an can be very challenging and can even
disorient and misguide a casual reader, not aware of its subtleties, nuances
and various contexts. However, the Qur’an leaves sufficient clues for the
reader to help comprehending its guidance and broader message. Thus, the Qur’an
affirms that it contains some clearly stated verses that form ‘the essence of
the Book’ (3:7).
“He is the One who has revealed to you (O Muhammad,) the Book
which contains (some) clear verses that (form) the essence of this Book, while
others are allegorical. As for those with perversity in their hearts, follow
that which is allegorical seeking confusion and seeking an interpretation. No
one knows its interpretation, except God. Those, who have knowledge, say: ‘We
believe in it; it all comes from our Lord;’ yet none is mindful of this, except
The Qur’an however asserts that only those stand to benefit from
it, who approach it with a pure heart,19 probe into its
verses,20 and seek the best meaning in it.21
Secondly, if the Qur'an did call for demolishing temples, how can
you find tens of thousands of ancient temples such as I personally saw in the
outskirts of Ajmer, remaining intact through the half a millennium Muslim rule
Thirdly, the Qur'an explicitly declares that God's name is
pronounced in all places of worship:
“Permission (to fight) is given to those who have been wronged and
God is indeed Able to grant them victory (22:39): those who have been
driven from their homelands unlawfully – only because they say: ‘Our Lord is
God!’Had God not driven people, some (communities) by others – monasteries,
churches, synagogues and mosques in which God's name is regularly proclaimed,
would have been demolished. (Remember,) God helps those who help His
(cause). Indeed God is Powerful, Almighty” (22:40).
Fourthly, the Qur'an proclaims its message on the brotherhood of
humanity in its conclusive phase - after its struggle for survival were over.
It makes two cardinal declarations:
"For each of you We have made a (different) code (shir‘ah), and an
open way (of action) (minhaj). If God so pleased, He would have made you (all)
into one community. Therefore vie (with each other) in goodness (so that) He
may test you by what He has given you. (Remember, you) all will
(eventually) return to God, and He will tell you in what you differed” (5:48)
“O People! We have created you as male and female, and made you
into races and communities* for you to get to know each other. The noblest
among you near God are those of you who are the most heedful (atqakum). Indeed
God is All-Knowing and Informed” (49:13). *[Lit., ‘tribes’]
Fifthly, the Qur’an commands
Muslims and to mock anyone on ground of faith or give anyone an insulting
“You who believe, whenever you
campaign in God's way, be discerning and do not say to anyone who offers you
peace: ‘You are not a believer’ - seeking worldly gains (by exploiting him),
for there are plenty of gains with God. (Remember,) you were like them before -
till God favored you. Therefore be discerning. Indeed God is Informed of what
you do” (4:94).
“Don’t insult those whom they
invoke besides God, lest they ignorantly insult God in enmity. Thus We have
made their action seem pleasing to every community; then their return is to
their Lord, and He will tell them what they had been doing” (6:108).
“You who believe, let not any
people (qawm) among you mock other people (qawm) who may be better than they are; nor should some women
(ridicule) other women who may be better than they are; and do not find fault
in each other, nor insult others with (insulting) nicknames. (Giving) an
insulting name after embracing the faith is most wicked, and those who do not
repent (after giving such nicknames to others) – it is they who are unjust” (49:11).
Six. The Muslim rulers in India had regarded the
Hindus as People of the Book until the time of Aurangzeb (1648-1707), the last
of Moghul Emperors. Aurangzeb’s eldest brother, Dara Shikoh (1615-1659) who was
the heir apparent and killed by Aurangzeb went to the extent of speculating
that the kitab al maknun (the hidden
book), mentioned in the Qur’an was no other than the Upanishads. Accordingly,
he translated into Persian, some 50 Upanishads from the original Sanskrit, and
advocated mystical affinities between Vedantic and Sufic speculations in his
famous book Majma-ul-Bahrain ("The Confluence of the Two