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The Qur'an And Space

- Published in The Muslim World League Journal (Vol. 36 Rabi Al-Awwal 1429) On March 2008

We shall see a scientific exposition of space in the verses of Godís Book the Quran recited by the blessed tongue of the Prophet (peace be upon him), which could be confirmed only after the modern development of the science. These facts doubtlessly confirm the prophet-hood of Muhammad (peace be upon him) because no one can deem or dream of them in the 7th century. Now God willing I shall concisely discuss as to what to the scientists speak of the space? And what does the Qur an take into account about it. The scientists speaking of the space between the sky and the earth say that it canít be determined by any scale.

They have worked out a system of light years with which they measure the distance from the earth to some of the stars. It has been found that the light travels 186,000 miles per second and a light year consists of 5.8 million, million miles. The scientists say that the vastness of space is so amazing that our planet earth is speck in proportion to the space around it. The unpredictable vast space with its innumerable celestial bodies tells us the greatness of its Marvelous Creator.

The Qur an speaking of this majestic creation said, ďWe have built the heaven with our hands (i.e. divine power) and it is We the enlarger of it. (51/47)

I have given verbatim of Arabic transcription of the above verse. Few translators do not give the verbatim or literal translation but translate their own opinion or interpretation it is unanimous among the Islamic clerics that the correct exegesis of the Qur an is from the Prophet (peace be upon him) or from his companions. If no explanation from them is found. They take into the consideration the literal meaning of the text. In my articles I have attempted to confirm the scientific facto following this principle, and have not diverted from it. Mamaduke Pickthallís work has been accepted as the literal translation of the Qur an by all the Islamic scholars.

Here in the Arabic text Lamooceoon means enlarge or expander (Al-Mawrid, Arabic-English) The words enlarger or expander point to the expansion of the Universe. This confirms to our modern scientific research. Our universe is in a state of expansion. The galaxies are receding into space. It is known from the stars in the universe, their light has not reached to the planet earth as yet. Such is the vastness of space as indicated in the aforesaid verse.

The Qur an said: Do they not look at the camels, how they are created, and the heaven how is it raised? (88/17, 18)

Here the Qur an has invited us to contemplate two things, which we see in our every day life. The first is the camel known as the ship of the desert. It lives on a dry and thorny shrubs and can go without water for days. Its flesh is eaten, its milk is drunk, its hairs are used in weaving. One of my friend who was posted in desert of Thar (Pakistan) told me that in a journey a camel with six hundred kilogram weight was pacing forth in a sandy desert. With all that weight its feet do not bury into the sand and it surpassed a horse. Certainly the camel is wonderful creation.

The second thing for contemplation is the blue vault high above us. The people during the advent of the Qur an were unaware of the unconceivable enormous attitude of the sky. They knew that the heat of the sun is the component part of the life, but they never knew that this heat is coming to them from hundred of thousands of miles. After the invention of the telescope we could imagine how wonderfully the sky is raised high. And what an apparent unimaginable void of space is around us. This space goes far beyond the millions of the light years. We see its limit in the shape of blue canopy over us. The Qur an put a question mark on its height in the 7th century. But the question mark on the enormous altitude of the sky is still there. The scientists have failed to fix the limit of the space which seems finite. They say the universe is in state of expanding.

The Qur an said: Have they not looked at the heaven above them, how We have made and adorned it and there are no rifts in it. (50/6)

Arabic text has a note of exclamation. Verily the blu canopy is surprisingly built. One gets bewildered when he considers its expansion that seems infinite. Certainly Allah is the great creator and the enlarger of it.

Giving a fair idea of the vastness of the space.

The Qur an said: He directeth the ordinance from the heaven unto the earth, then it ascendeth unto him in a day whereof the measure is a thousand years of that you reckon. (32/5)

Ibn Kathir referring to Mujahid, Qatada, and Dhohak writes, The descent of the angel may involve 500 hundred years and his ascent 500 hundred years, but he covers all this distance in the twinkling of an eye. It is therefore, said from your reckoning it may be thousand years, but by Allah a direction the angels come down and ascend in a very short spam time.

The other verse says: The angels and the Ruth ascend to him in a day the measure whereof is fifty thousand years. (70/4) Ibn Abbas speaking about Ruh (Gabriel) is the greatest of all angels in creration. The Qur an uses the word Gabriel on quiet few places it also uses the word Ruh for him. Imam Razi referring to other commentators writes. The angels ascend to the places in short while, where of any one who wants to ascend will take 50,000 years. Few Exegete held that by thousand and fifty thousand years a very long span of time is meant.

It is reality that at the time of the revelation of the Qur an every one was unaware of the enormousness of the space between the earth and the sky. Therefore the time span of on thousand and fifty thousand could not be apprehended. These verses refer to the time and distances simultaneously. When the Qur an mentioned a day of thousand years, it meant a period of time or an age. Thus we could know the six days of the making of the seven heavens were in six days of making were in six ages as twenty four hours day, the then did not exist. On the other the Qur an reffered to the direction of the affairs from heaven to the earth, thus we learnt the time period in measuring the distance is intended.

However, a distance of thousand or fifty thousand years was quiet novel to Arabs at the time of revelation. Should we call it a coincidence that we are now measuring the distance in the light years? No. When the Qur an mentioned any fact, it is presumed it is bound to occur. The time of the descent of the Qur an was the time of the scientific ignorance. With the advancement of the science, we measured these distances in years as was specified in the Qur an with only addition of the world light with years.

Another very interested point worth nothing is that the Qur an did not mention the distance between the earth and sky in hundreds or thousands of farsakh miles, but it stated in thousand of years. Thus it positively pointed to the enormousness of the space, which was unknown in those prescientific days. This proves that the Qur an is the Book of God, the Omniscient of all the things and Muhammad Mustafa (peace be upon him) is His Prophet, who invoked the humanity to accept Islam the only religion which came with truth and nothing but truth and the perfect order of Islam with which he was sent.

- By Ahmad Wahaj Al-Siddiqui Al-Taimi