On Scientific Miracles in The Quran

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most-Merciful

All praise is due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon our master, Muhammad, and upon his family and Companions.

I bear witness that there is no deity but Allah, Who has no partner. This is a testimony by a person who has no evidence on any other god: {And whoever invokes besides Allah another deity for which he has no proof then his account is only with his Lord}. It is a testimony by a person who has seen proofs of His Divinity in the perfect and wonderful creation of the universe, as evident by hearing, sight, and perception, as well as the signs and verses sent with His Messengers to be realized by perceptual faculties and by reason and heart.

And I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger, the Seal of Prophets and the ascender to the heavens in an event that gives evidence on the inevitable existence of the Almighty Creator.

I bear witness that if You, my Lord, give my rein to myself, You will be leaving me to weakness, imperfection, sinfulness, and utter misguidance. It is You Who we worship, by Your Grace, and it is You to Whom we resort, by Your Blessing, to enable us to fulfill the duties of such a blessed testimony in the realms of reason, heart, and perception. O Allah! Help us fulfill it and hold on to it until we meet You. We humbly pray to You, with a tongue that expresses our weakness and inability and Your Power and Encompassment of everything, that You may enable us to fulfill the requirements of the testimony that there is no deity but Allah and that Muhammad is the Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him), in all faith, goodness, and submission to Your Ordinances and Prohibitions, and in adherence to the Sunnah of Your Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).

Scientific miraculousness of the Qur’an is a discipline that focuses on newly discovered scientific facts that humanity had never before been able to discover and that come to agree with some statements in the Qur’an or Prophetic Sunnah.

Dear brothers!

Today, we will discuss the connection between Allah’s Words in the Qur’an and the sings and laws found in this universe, as perceived by human senses, reason, or both.

Religion Vs. Science

As you already know, this blessed religion, with which Allah concluded the Heavenly Revelation, has faced many challenges, overcome many hardships, and refuted many falsehoods.

One challenge faced by this religion is extermination and expulsion of its followers. Allah says,{And verily, they were about to frighten you so much as to drive you out from the land. But, in that case, they would not have stayed (therein) after you except for a little while}[Al-Isra’: 76].

This verse was revealed when the Prophet was still in Mecca. And it was just 15 months after expelling him that the expellers went out to fight him in the Battle of Badr, in which they were crushingly defeated. In At-Tahrir Wa At-Tanwir (Liberation and Enlightenment), it is stated, “That verse predicted that the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) would be expelled from Mecca and that his expellers would stay in Mecca only for a short time thereafter”.

For its enemies, eradication of this religion altogether has always been a big dream. But Allah has aligned for it dedicated followers who, supported by His Help and Power, managed in less than a century to expand geographically as considerably as from China to the Pyrenees, thus guaranteeing it a never-ending existence.

Another challenge comes from other heavenly as well as earthly religions. With its pure monotheism, just legislation, and full equality, Islam argues with other religions and faiths in the fairest manner, using clear proofs and undeniable arguments. The Trinity has been proved incoherent, and clergymen of other religions have been flabbergasted before the light of Islamic Prophethood and perfection of Revelation. Since the advent of Islam, there have been many clergymen who, with Allah’s Guidance, embraced Islam and many who fought against it, both ideologically and militarily. In response, many preeminent Muslim scholars stood to defend Islam against such allegations, such as Ibn Hazm, Ibn Taymiyyah, and Ash-Shahrstani.

The third challenge is the Western philosophies, particularly ancient Greek philosophy, which had spoiled Christianity with blasphemous and atheistic views. Equipped with irrefragable Revelation and sound reasoning, Muslim scholars acted to debunk such fallacies, remarkably Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali, Ibn Taymiyyah, and Ibn Rushd (Averroes). Despite their differences, they all armed themselves with the light of pure Revelation to stand firmly against the fatally erroneous theories of philosophy and approve its positive contributions, in a uniquely constructive give-and-take. Objective Western philosophers have benefited much from Islamic philosophy, and the true religion has overpowered all its opponents by virtue of compelling argument, not the sword, as stated by the Andalusian scholar Abu Bakr Ibn Al-`Arabi.

One more challenge posed to Islam and all traditional religions is the modern age of technology and scientific materialism, whose “dark side” is having more and more influence on the minds of new generations, sadly to the detriment of emotions and values. How to regain touch with morality in our lives, which is the safety valve for us as humans? Without doubt, with such weapons and technologies at hand, if man is detached from his sense of humanity, he will become more like a brainless, self-destructive beast.

Allah’s Words have always retorted to challenges in the fields of legislation, education, spirituality, etc. But now, modern science has come out with further evidence from the physical world on the truthfulness of Revelation. “The magic has backfired on the magician”, as the Arabic saying goes. The adversaries who wished to use science as a decisive weapon against religion have been given a taste of their own medicine, as unprecedented scientific demonstrations were found within the texts of the Qur’an and Sunnah.

Many figures of modern science are acknowledging that the religious texts of Islam are not like any other religious texts, whereto alterations and modifications have been made that are incompatible with modern science. Only the Munificent Qur’an, as argued by Maurice Bucaille, a French medical doctor, contains no statements contradicting established scientific fact, compared to numerous disagreements and repetitions in other scriptures. As we believe, the Qur’an is the only scripture divinely protected intact, which stands as evidence of its divine origin and the truthfulness of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).

Before discussing the scientific miracle in some detail, let’s first define some relevant terms:

Miracle is an event that appears inexplicable by the laws of nature and so is held to be supernatural in origin or an act of God.

Evidence is thing or things helpful in forming a conclusion or judgment.

Verse is one of the numbered subdivisions of a chapter in the Qur’an. Also, in Arabic, it is synonymous to the word “sign”.

Sign is something that suggests the presence or existence of a fact, condition, or quality.

According to Al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar, a sign is more generic than a miracle or supernatural power. He explained that some sings are meant to challenge opponents, while others serve only to prove truthfulness. That is, every miracle is by extension a sign, but not every sign is necessarily a miracle.

Ibn Khaldun, in the introduction to Tarikh Al-`Ibar (The History of Indicative Lessons), wrote, “Other signs of them (i.e., Prophets) include doing supernatural things that corroborate their claim. Such things are totally beyond human capacity.… Thus, a miracle combines an extraordinary event and challenge”.

Describing the revelation of the Qur’an unto an illiterate Prophet, Allah says, {And neither have you ever recited any book before it (i.e., the Qur’an) nor transcribed one with your right hand. Then, the falsifiers would have had a reason to doubt. Rather, it contains self-evident verses (preserved) in the hearts of those who have been granted knowledge}.

In another part of the Qur’an, the word “sign” is used to imply “evidence”. Talking about the recognition by the People of the Scripture of the Glorious Qur’an based on statements found in their scriptures, Allah says, {Is it not a sign for them that the learned among the Children of Israel recognized it? Yet, had We sent it down unto one of the non-Arabs such that he could recite it to them, they still would have never believed in it}.

Hence, the Qur’an consists of clear verses and sings and is the Prophet’s greatest miracle that will last till the end of time, bringing for the people of every time what may guide them to believe in God, depending on Allah’s predestination for them whether to be guided or not. The Prophet said, “No Prophet but was given such signs that would drive people to believe. However, what I have been given is but a revelation revealed by Allah, and I hope that I will have the greatest number of followers on the Day of Resurrection” (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim).

The hadith indicates the perpetuity of the last Message, which enables it to attract followers forever. It is a main feature that distinguishes the Qur’an from all the numerous miracles of the Prophet and other Prophets as well. Such miracles were known by direct witnessing for those who attended the events and by telling for whosoever else. We came to know about incidents like, say, the Prophet’s chest opening or the splitting of the moon through reports in the Qur’an and/or Sunnah. Such were miracles that just happened and gone.

As for the Glorious Qur’an, it bears the true Testimony of Allah, Exalted be He, and His unmistakable clarification for all people. It is a declaration conveyed to everyone, everywhere and at every time: {This (Qur’an) is a declaration for all people}; {And this Qur’an has been revealed to me (as a means) with which to forewarn you and whomever it reaches}.The Qur’an is a message and a witness, a premise and a conclusion, a claim and a proof. It is kept unchanged with a pledge by the Creator, to substantiate its authenticity. Evidence, signs, verses, and miracles, all are closely related features of the tree of Prophethood, which has no human match.

The Islamic Message is like a delightful, fruitful, evergreen tree that every beholder will perceive just one aspect of its splendor, beauty, and perfection. Some embraced Islam because they were impressed by the person of the Prophet. `Abdullah Ibn Salam said, “When I saw the Prophet’s face, I said this could not be the face of a liar, and I immediately entered Islam”. In another hadith, Ar-Rubyyi` Bint Mu`awwidh (may Allah be pleased with her) said, “When I saw him, I would say that the sun was shining”.

Others went beyond appearance to reflection, as indicated in a hadith by Salman (may Allah be pleased with him). A third group challenged the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) to perform them perceivable miracles — such as when Quraysh asked him to split the moon and it was split in twain that the Mount Hira was visible between the two parts (as authentically reported), or when a man of the tribe of Sulaym asked him to resurrect a dead lizard and then Allah raised it from the dead at the Prophet’s hands and made it testify to his Prophethood. Other miracles of that kind include the testimony to his Prophethood by the trees and stones, the moaning of a tree trunk in front of many Companions because the Prophet stopped using it, the blessing of little amounts of food and drink to become sufficient for many people (as reported in many hadiths with semi-reliable chain of narrators).

A fourth group considered it a miracle that the Prophet foretold things that would happen in his life and after his death. The last kind in particular is the strongest, everlasting evidence on the Prophet’s truthfulness.

Some of the People of the Scripture (i.e., Christians and Jews) entered Islam by virtue of predictions in previous Messages. All Scriptures contained some description of him, whether explicit or implicit; even Hindu and Buddhist scriptures mentioned his exact name.

In addition, some considered that the Prophet’s miracle was his teachings about the spiritual refinement and elevation felt in obeying Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him). Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali wrote, “When you know about medicine or jurisprudence, you can identify doctors or jurists by observing their conditions and hearing their words, even if you do not actually meet them”. By the same token, if you understand the meaning of Prophethood and reflect deeply on the Qur’an and Prophetic reports, you will necessarily realize that the Prophet is at the highest level of Prophethood. To illustrate, consider his teachings relating to acts of worship and their heart-purifying effect. He said, “He who acts upon what he knows will be granted by Allah knowledge of what he does not know”.

The above are just examples of the countless miracles and signs demonstrating Muhammad’s Prophethood. But his indisputably greatest and eternal miracle is the Munificent Qur’an, a miracle witnessed by all succeeding generations of humanity with guidance to the Creator, the way to salvation and perpetual residence in the Abode of Righteous Souls, and the wisdom behind our existence in this world.

In the Book of Allah, each generation will find such clear signs that cannot be denied, {so that those who perished (through unbelief) would perish after having a clear proof and those who lived (in faith) would live with a clear proof}. That is, the door will remain always open for all generations to interpret the Qur’an, provided that the following basics are closely observed:

1. Reports ascribed to the Prophet (peace and blessings e upon him),

2. Reports ascribed to Companions (may Allah be pleased with them all), and

3. Rules and considerations of the Arabic language (we will discuss this later).

With such principles in place, there will be no restriction on interpretation. Most probably, this does not fall under the Prophet’s warning in a hadith reported by Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi, and An-Nasa’i: “He who speaks about the Qur’an out of his own opinion and speaks right will be making a mistake”. In the same line is Abu Bakr’s reply when asked about an ambiguous word in the Qur’an: “Which land will bear me and which sky will extend over me if I speak with my own opinion about the Qur’an?!”

Evidence shows that someone may be blessed with a new understanding of something in the Qur’an that had never been understood before. The Prophet blessed Ibn `Abbas saying, “O Allah! Grant him subtle comprehension of the religion and teach him interpretation”.Scholars agreed that this means interpretation of the Qur’an. Moreover, Abu Ju7ayfah asked Caliph `Ali (may Allah be pleased with him), “Do you have anything of Revelation that is not contained in the Book of Allah?” `Ali replied, “No. By the One who has split the grain and created humans, there know nothing of that except for such an understanding of the Qur’an given by Allah to some person”. That understanding is what we use when dealing with Qur’anic sciences. Al-Fakhr Ar-Razi said, “If early scholars have stated certain aspects in interpreting a Qur’anic verse, this does not mean that later scholars are not allowed to deduce other aspects in the same verse”. This applies to interpretations that were not reported from the Salaf (early Muslim generations) in particular.

As for scientific interpretation, however, it is controversial. Perhaps the best opinion to follow is stated by Ibn `Ashur in At-Tahrir Wa At-Tanwir (Liberation & Enlightenment): “Some scientific issues may be closely related to the interpretation of the verses of the Qur’an… as in the following verse: {Have they not looked at the sky above them (and see) how (perfectly) We have built and adorned it and how it is void of rifts?}. The intended meaning here is to consider the visible phenomenon; but if an interpreter goes deeper to explore that phenomenon using detailed knowledge from astronomy, then he will be better serving the purpose. Wehere possible, Qur’anic statements can be reconciled in meaning with well-established scientific facts, or they can be interpreted metaphorically. For example, the verse{And (remember) a day when We shall cause the mountains to pass away} can be taken as implying the annihilation of the earth with earthquakes, and the verse {When the sun enfolds} as implying that gravity will stop by the end of the world”.

Ibn `Ashur quoted Ibn Rushd Al-Hafid as saying in Fasl Al-Maqal (The Decisive Word), “There is a consensus among Muslims that not all the words of the Lawgiver should imperatively be taken literally, nor should they necessarily be interpreted figuratively. The reason why Shari`ah has surface structure and deep structure is that people vary in their thinking and in their persuadability”.

However, the focus of this article is quite different: It discusses the agreement between Qur’anic statements and sound scientific knowledge (as stated earlier). Scientific miracle involves telling about cosmic information hundreds of years before it is discorvered by modern sciences. Allah says, {For every claim there is some fixed time (when its reality will come out)}. Such information has always been true and in effect, but the time to discover it was delayed for centuries, which is not contrary to the texts or objectives of Shari`ah.

Components of Scientific Miracle

The phrase “scientific miracle” involves two concepts: (1) science (which can be defined as the observasion, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena; here, it refers to the cosmic facts which are discovered empirically and have some reference in Qur’anic or Prophetic statements) and (2) miracle (which denotes being matchlessly superior and preternatural).

Analytically, the scientific miracle has three aspects:

1. Time: In the Revelation age, it was still beyond human capacity and knowledge to find out such facts.

2. Person: It is impossible for an uneducated man with no scientific education whatsoever like Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) to come to know such highly sophisticated information.

3. Delay: It is only modernly when such information has become known to humanity.

Guidelines for Scientific Miracle

In fact, any approach to such a topic must be put within a Shar`i framework to avoid divergence, deviation, and chaos, otherwise it will be rather fabrication and blasphemy than an individual misperception. The Prophet strongly warned against this: “He who speaks about the Book of Allah without knowledge will be making a mistake even if speaking rightly”.

The following guidelines can be identified:

1. The Qur’anic or Prophetic statement put in comparison with a scientific fact must have some explanation by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) or a Companion. For example, Allah says, {Have those who disbelieve not seen that the heavens and the earth were a patch, and then We separated them}. Ibn `Abbas interpreted the word “patch” as “conjoined mass”, the same interpretation given by Al-Hasan, `Ata’, Ad-Dahhak, and Qatadah.

It is not known how exactly such a conjoined mass was before the separation. Several ancient narratives coincide with the Big Bang theory, which purports that a primeval atom of an infinite energy density and temperature once exploded forming gas clouds, which kept expanding far and wide to fill in an empty universe. In April 1992, cosmologists noticed that initial findings of NASA’s Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) satellite were consistent with the Big Bang’s predictions regarding the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation.

In his book Sharh Al-Maqsud Wa Al-Mamdud (Explanation of the Brief and the Elaboration), the erudite 12th-century-A.H. scholar Sheikh Al-Mukhtar Al-Kinti Ash-Shinqiti wrote, “The first thing created by Allah, the Almighty, was the atom, which roamed for a million years where there were no earth or heavens. And when He willed to create the worlds, He looked with an Eye of Majesty to it. Then, it evaporated and emitted the five elements: water, air, light, darkness, and fire”.

2. Where there is no explanation by the Prophet or a Companion, the governing principle is to employ the rules and patterns of the Arabic language, interpreting the words according to the direct meanings attached to them in Arabic usage. This has two possible cases: (a) plain words that have just one meaning, and (b) ambiguous words that have more than one meaning and are determined dependent on context.

If a word is not self-explained or is context-bound, then it will require interpretation. One condition for good interpretation is to find some circumstantial evidence or analogy in a similar text, while keeping in mind the possible applicability of the less relevant meaning from a scientific, or at least linguistic, perspective. For example, Allah says, {And from it We have brought forth green (sprouts)}. Literally, the verse is talking about something green; but technically, it can be construed as referring to chlorophyll, which accords with scientific information.

It is worth noting that a scientific interpretation may be in line with factual observation but still has a different figurative aspect accepted by Muslim scholars. So, it must first be made sure that there is no explanation by the Prophet or a Companion, and only then, the scientific interpretation can be approved. For example, Allah says, {And We have brought down iron in which there is mighty force and benefits for people}.Knowing that an American research team proposed a theory of the stellar origin of iron, the bringing down mentioned in the verse must definitely be literal, not metaphorical. In the same sense, Al-Qurtubi reported a hadith that reads, “Allah has brought down four blessings from the heavens to the earth: iron, fire, water, and salt”.

Most Qur’an commentators construed the bringing down allegorially as meaning the creation of iron, as indicated in At-Tahrir Wa At-Tanwir (Liberation and Enlightenment).

The above are general guidelines for any investigation into the scientific miracle of the Qur’an and Sunnah. They are regulative, rather than restrictive, precepts to ensure sound consideration of religious texts. Fundamentals of Jurisprudence scholars tell us that allusion is not to be considered if in conflict with the explicit textual indication; in fact, it will actually be inexistent.

Also, researchers can focus on broad issues in relation to the creation of the universe, such as the law of dualism highlighted in many verses. Allah says, {He has made for you from among yourselves mates and from (all kinds of) animals mates, thereby He multiplies you. There is nothing that is like Him. He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing}.

Dualism is found even in plants: {And We have caused to grow in it (something) of every delightful variety (of plant life)}.

It comes also in the context of creation: {And the sky We have built with mighty Hands, and indeed We are expanders (of it). And the earth We have spread wide, and how excellent smoothers We are! And of everything We have created a pair so that you may become mindful. Therefore, flee to Allah. Indeed, I am to you from Him a clear forewarner. And do not make with Allah another deity. Indeed, I am to you from Him a clear forewarner}.

This dualism is a main characteristic of all creatures and evidence of need and dependence, while Oneness is an exclusive Attribute of the Creator, as indicated by the comparison in the above verses.