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Summary of 10.17 "The Quran and Modern Sciences V - Astronomy"

We discussed the water cycle and how the Quran made reference to that more than 900 years before modern science discovered it which could relate to the main question in this series as to what is the source of the Quran.  We discussed specific detailed descriptions found in the Quran which deal with the source of the spring water and how it comes from rain water unlike the myths that were believed.  The role of the wind in joining together clouds and as such increasing condensation and the reference in the Quran that the wind acts as a fertilizing factor in mixing rain carrying clouds with non rain carrying clouds which results in condensation and rain fall.  What is amazing is the mention in  the Quran about the barrier between different masses of water or seas which is a reference to the balance between freshwater and saltwater.  We also discussed that even if it is the same body of water when we analyze the Gulf Stream and its lengthy trip it is is quite distinct from the rest of the water in a considerable difference in the temperature of the water.  This is something that the Quran made reference to far before any notion was ever known about this amazing phenomena.


10.18   The Quran and Modern Sciences VI - Geology, Botany, Zoology

Host:  Is there any hint in the Quran as to the function of the mountains?

Jamal Badawi:

There are clear and explicit references in the Quran about the crucial function that the mountains play in stabilizing the earth’s crust.  The citation in the Quran is in (31:10) “He set on the earth mountains standing firm, lest it should shake with you.”  We find some similar citations in (16:15) and(21:31).  In other citations in the Quran it ads another dimension to the role of mountains as we find in (78:6-7) it describes the mountain as awtad which means pegs.  This is an interesting that is found for mountains in the Quran because now with knowledge in modern geology it has been found that radius of the earth is a little less than 4,000 miles from the surface to the core.  They also found that the crust which is used to grow plans and which we live on is a minor part of that radius measuring approximately 1%.  It measures anywhere from 10 to 30 miles or so in depth.  In comparison with the total radius it really is just a small part of the whole.  It was found by geologists that the folds on earth which form the mountain ranges are essential because it gives this thin crust stability.  This process is sometimes referred to as orogenesis which means that in order for the development of relief on earth the crust was driven far down which insures a sort of foundation in the layer which underlies the mountains.  This shows the accuracy of the description “pegs.”  Some also refer to the balance between the depth of the ocean and the hight of the mountain together seem to maintain the crust of the earth in some degree of stability.  This information was definitely not known at all at the time the Quran was revealed nor for hundreds of years afterwards.


Host:  Are there any other natural phenomena which the Quran refers too that we should look at?

Jamal Badawi:

There are two points that writers refer to frequently.  One is the notion of the shadow.  In the Quran in (25:45) “How He doth prolong the shadow! If He willed, He could make it stationary! then do We make the sun its guide.”  When it says prolong the shadow they say that this is evidence of the rotation of the earth around its own axis around in the face of the sun.  Without this rotation half of the earth would be in perpetual day and the other would be in perpetual night.  This could be devastating and life would eventually parish because one part would be over exposed and the other part would be under exposed.  There is really a delicate balance here related to this rotation.  If it were true as many believed in the past that the earth is stationary it would have meant that the shadow would have been stationary.  This is why the verse said if Allah willed He would have made it stationary but that he did not and He made it changing.  At the time the Quran was revealed people believed that the sun moved from the East to the West but that the earth was stationary.

In fact the Quran makes another reference in (28:71-72) “Say: See ye? If Allah were to make the night perpetual over you to the Day of Judgment, what god is there other than Allah, who can give you enlightenment? Will ye not then hearken?  Say: See ye? If Allah were to make the day perpetual over you to the Day of Judgment, what god is there other than Allah, who can give you a night in which ye can rest? Will ye not then see?”  This could be a reference to that phenomena or a reminder to us that there are parts of the world which were not known to Prophet Muhammad in those times.  Allah shows us His signs when in some places it is perpetual day or night for some parts of the year, not the whole year so there is still a chance to maintain life.

The second example is in reference to oceanography and what science is telling us is that the deep sea storm results in different types of waves which vary in width, length and hight which can be described as a sort of layer of waves.  In (24:39) which makes reference to the layers “But the Unbelievers,- their deeds are like a mirage in sandy deserts, which the man parched with thirst mistakes for water; until when he comes up to it, he finds it to be nothing: But he finds Allah (ever) with him, and Allah will pay him his account: and Allah is swift in taking account.”  This is in reference to a natural phenomena that exists not only with the layers of the waives but also the cloudy setting that it generates to the point where there is total darkness.


Host:  Does the Quran have anything to say about vegetation that was not known at the time of the revelation of the Quran?

Jamal Badawi:

There are numerous citations in the Quran which deal with the question of vegetation.  Some of these are more general, addressing vegetation as a bounty or gift form Allah which is found in (6:99), (13:4), (16:10-11) and (50:9-11).  Some passages in the Quran refer to an interesting phenomena of the variation in color and taste of vegetation even though they are planted and watered with the same water.  This could be a hint to the various plants where the roots are putting certain nutrients which are needed by that particular plant.  The expressions mentioned about the vegetation is totally free of the common  myth that existed about vegetation at the time of the revelation of the Quran.

This shows that the Quran was not simply a human document which rehearsed what was already known during its time.  In addition to this, many of the scientists speak about the balance in nature.  The Quran makes several references to this due proportion or balance in the creation of Allah.  It mentions this balance in general in (9:13), (25:12) and (54:49).  There is one particular passage in the Quran that is in (15:19) which speaks specifically about the ecological balance in the vegetation kingdom.  It says that Allah allowed for all kinds of things to grow in due balance.  The other aspect that the Quran refers to is the process of reproduction in plants.  It was only in recent decades that scientists found out that any plant involves both the male and female parts and even that animals (that were not visibly different) was proven to have both male female functions.  The Quran refers to the law of pairs genially and with respect to vegetation.

The Quran says in (51:49) that of everything did Allah create things in pairs.  When it says things that means animals, vegetations, humans and things.  Even if we look at the atom we have electrons and neutrons.  There is always electricity and there is a positive and negative.  Beyond this we find in (50:23) that is speaks about the variation of plants in pairs.  Again it is referring to the law of pairs as it applies to plants.  A third aspect is the process of germination.  When the plant is put in the soil it goes through certain stages and scientists tell us that the first thing that happen is that the outside casing of the seed splits and that allows the roots to emerge and draw the nutrients from the soil which results in the growth of a new plant.  In a passage in (6:95) it says “It is Allah Who causeth the seed-grain and the date-stone to split and sprout. He causeth the living to issue from the dead, and He is the one to cause the dead to issue from the living. That is Allah. then how are ye deluded away from the truth?”  Again the Quran uses language which is very descriptive of what scientists have been able to observe and study.


Host:  How does the Quran explain animal life?

Jamal Badawi:

There are a number of passages in the Quran which speak about the creation of animals and cattle as a bounty of Allah.  This is found in (16:5) where there is mention of the cattle that Allah created and how we derive warmth from them through clothing, the food, milk and the vessel to cary our loads and in enjoying the beauty of watching these animals like horses etc.  However, some interesting things that pertain to the animal kingdom also pertain to the process of reproduction which can be covered when we cover the human reproductive system and which an even more fascinating interesting subject in which the Quran gives lots of explanations.  One of the things which is very fascinating which is basic to the animal kingdom is the notion that animals, like humans, live in communities just like our communities with social organizations with leadership and everything else that we think is exclusive to us.


Host:  Is the notion of animals living in kingdoms something that was not understood till recently?

Jamal Badawi:

Yes, and again this is the question as to where the Quran got this information?  It is relatively a recent phenomena which was only achieved after a systematic and detailed study of animal behavior.  There is an interesting Ayah in the Quran, particularly about the communal life of animals, in (6:38) “There is not an animal (that lives) on the earth, nor a being that flies on its wings, but (forms part of) communities like you. Nothing have we omitted from the Book, and they (all) shall be gathered to their Lord in the end.”  This means that there is no animal (original word is dabeh which means any thing that walks or is living) on earth nor bird which flies on wings that doesn’t belong to communities.  Attempts are being made to study this further and to try and understand what mechanism is at the heart of this community life of various types of animals.


Host:  Are there specific examples of the kinds of organizations that come from the animal kingdom?

Jamal Badawi:

One of the most interesting things in the Quran is that it refers many times to various creations of Allah, to the point that some Surah’s in the Quran are titled after specific animals or insect.  There is a Surah called The Bees (Alnahl) another is Spidar, another is Al Naml which means The Ant.  Interesting things that the Quran refers to which have been subjected to scientific study in recent decades is the community living of the honey bee.  there is an amazing citation about ti in the Quran in (16:68-69) which is called The Bee where it talks about how Allah inspired the bees to build their own habitat in the mountains on top of trees and that Allah inspired them to eat from all types of fruits.  Then it says Allah inspired them to eat from all types of fruits and then it speaks about the honey that comes out of their belly and how there is cure in the honey.  “And thy Lord taught the Bee to build its cells in hills, on trees, and in (men's) habitations; Then to eat of all the produce (of the earth), and find with skill the spacious paths of its Lord: there issues from within their bodies a drink of varying colors, wherein is healing for men: verily in this is a Sign for those who give thought.”  First, why does it speak particularly about bees?  Is there anything special about the community life of the bees?  Even though it addresses bees in plural when it says that they make out of mountains habitation it says itakhithi which is referring to the female gender.  Is this a possible hint of the fact that the main builders of this habitation are in fact the female workers?

The other interesting point is that it says follow the way of your Lord in taking their food from fruit or flowers.    Scientists have found that there is a remarkable nervous organization in the bee which is reflected in the pattern of the bee dance.  There have been in-depth studies of the bee dance.  When a be finds a flower she comes back and informs other bees how to get there.  The be lets the other bees that she has discovered nice flowers and tells them how to get there.  Scientifically speaking the study of the pattern of the bee dance and the way she moves her wings and the direction of it gives the indication that directions are being given for the exact directions.  There is definite communication and definite direction.  A person who has made lots of studies on that is a man by the name Von Frisch.  In addition some studies were made as to how the cells are designed and again it was found that there there are meticulous angles and degrees that bees have in their genetic code.  The mention of the cure of honey for many diseases is a topic in itself and there have been many benefits of honey.  Another example which is similar to that is the spider.

In the Quran (29:41) appears to be very spiritual but actually has a great deal of mention to scientific things.  “The parable of those who take protectors other than Allah is that of the spider, who builds (to itself) a house; but truly the flimsiest of houses is the spider's house;- if they but knew.”  Like the bee the nervous system of the spider was designed where it results in perfectly geometric designs.  The additional discovery as to why the Quran chose among all other things the spider to as having the flimsiest and weakest of dwelling is that it was found that there are certain glands in the spider which secrete these fine threads with which the spider builds the web and it was found that the caliber of those fibers is almost infinitely fine and that it the weakest, finest dwelling that can not be synthetically imitated.

Host:  Is there anything unusual about ants that is mentioned in the Surah The Ants?

Jamal Badawi:

There is in fact a Surah called The Ants and in (27:17-19) it speaks of the story of Solomon.  It says how Prophet Solomon was on his way with a big army which included humans, birds and it says that one ant told the other ants to get back into their dwelling lest Solomon’s army crushes you under their feet without realizing it.  On the surface saying all of this- for many people this may be difficult to grasp.  But there have been lots of studies made on Ants and how they have this meticulous social organization for themselves.  It was found that not only do they have this organization but they also have a great deal of intelligence and that they love to work hard.  Besides humans ants are the only animals known to barry its dead which is quite fascinating.  It was found also that ants have developed the custom of meeting in large groups once in a while where they exchange commodities, get to know each other or chat (as we call it among humans).  The participate in collective projects such as building of their pathways.

This takes lots of organization and the ability to channel everybody’s efforts.  Furthermore when they collect their food, if it is too big and they can not get it to their store house they try to split it and if it is still to heavy they push it with their legs and raise it with their arms.  When rain falls and the greens they collected get wet they take them out of their homes to dry in the sun and then take it back.  Something that shows us that all of these things were programed by the creator is that when they collect the grains they start by cutting the roots then they split the grain because if they cut the grain first there is no chance that the plant will regrow.  These sophisticated things are going on among ants then what is so strange about communicating a specific message with meaning?

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