Science and the Qur’an

Many people think that science and religion are completely incompatible. This is not true, however, and I wanted to highlight and discuss some of the scientific facts which are mentioned in the Qur’an.

When I read about these scientific truths in the English translation of the Qur’an, and then read further about the meaning behind them, I found it extremely powerful so I simply wanted to share for others. I will only discuss a few of the most notable ones which had an impact on me as there are in fact many different verses in the Qur’an which relate to a wide range of discoveries made in science.

First of all, it is important to outline the fact that the Qur’an was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) over 1400 years ago over a period of approximately 23 years. During the lifetime of the Prophet (pbuh) there were many people who had memorised the whole Qur’an. After the death of the Prophet (pbuh), his companions compiled a written artefact of the whole Qur’an. Up until that point it had only been memorised and recited and written down in parts. When they were compiling it, they only put verses in the final manuscript once they each had respectively been confirmed through at least two written copies from two different people. Since its revelation the Qur’an has not changed one single letter. Manuscripts have been found dating back to around this period, so this is how we know the Qur’an has not changed and the words we read today are the exact words which were revealed to the Prophet (pbuh).

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Bearing in mind the nature of the revelation and time period of the Qur’an; this is why verses relating to scientific topics have such significance to believers. It would have been impossible to have that scientific knowledge 1400 years ago.

One of the most notable and well known verses which has a scientific nature is that regarding the human embryo. We find these verses in Surah Al-Muminoon (The Believers).

Here is the English translation:

And certainly did We create man from an extract of clay.

Then We placed him as a sperm-drop in a firm lodging.

Then We made the sperm-drop into a clinging clot, and We made the clot into a lump [of flesh], and We made [from] the lump, bones, and We covered the bones with flesh; then We developed him into another creation. So blessed is Allah , the best of creators.

Qur’an 23:12-14

In Arabic:

وَلَقَد خَلَقنَا الإِنسانَ مِن سُلالَةٍ مِن طينٍ

ثُمَّ جَعَلناهُ نُطفَةً في قَرارٍ مَكينٍ

ثُمَّ خَلَقنَا النُّطفَةَ عَلَقَةً فَخَلَقنَا العَلَقَةَ مُضغَةً فَخَلَقنَا المُضغَةَ عِظامًا فَكَسَونَا العِظامَ لَحمًا ثُمَّ أَنشَأناهُ خَلقًا آخَرَ ۚ فَتَبارَكَ اللَّهُ أَحسَنُ الخالِقينَ

The word used in this verse for a ‘clinging clot’ is the Arabic word ‘alaqah’ which has three meanings: leech; suspended thing and a blood clot.

The human embryo gets its nourishment from the blood of the mother, similar to the way the leech feeds on the blood of others. Furthermore, in the earliest stages, the blood does not circulate in the embryo therefore it is similar to a blood clot. Professor Moore, one of the most noteworthy scientists in the field of anatomy and embryology, stated that:

“It has been a great pleasure for me to help clarify statements in the Quran about human development.  It is clear to me that these statements must have come to Muhammad from God, because almost all of this knowledge was not discovered until many centuries later.  This proves to me that Muhammad must have been a messenger of God.”

There is a lot more extensive discussion on this topic which can be found in many different formats but I am just sharing a brief outline.

Another scientific notion in the Qur’an can be found in Surah Adh-Dhariyat (The Scattering).

Here is the English translation:

And the heaven We constructed with strength, and indeed, We are [its] expander.

Qur’an 51:47

Here it is in Arabic.

وَالسَّماءَ بَنَيناها بِأَيدٍ وَإِنّا لَموسِعونَ

At the time of the revelation of this verse and during the lifetime of the Prophet (pbuh), the word ‘space’ or any Arabic equivalent was not known. Therefore the word used for heaven is referring what lies above the earth; space and the universe. This verse is ultimately stating that the universe is expanding. Something which was not known until the 1900s. In 1912 an astronomer, Vesto Slipher, observed that galaxies were moving away from the Earth and this provided the first evidence for the theory that the universe is expanding. In 1916 Albert Einstein coined his theory of relativity which stated that the universe must either be expanding or contracting. The expanding-universe theory was then confirmed in 1929 by Edwin Hubble made observations such as the proportionality of the galaxies, their speeds and their distance from the earth. He basically did lots of great scientific stuff which I don’t understand but he had ‘Hubble’s Law’ named after him and he proved the theory so that was great.

The point being, it is now common knowledge that the universe is expanding (unless you’re Sherlock Holmes) and this was something which was revealed in the Qur’an over 1400 years ago.

There are also many other concepts which, through scientific discoveries, we now know as simple facts and have been mentioned in the Qur’an in some way. Some of these include the way mountains are like pegs in the earth; the origin of the universe; barriers between the seas; cloud formation; the matter of iron and the fact that all living beings were created from water. You can look into some of these here.

Also check out this video of spoken word which mentions some of these scientific discoveries in the Qur’an and is also just really nice.

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