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Summary of 10.12 "Source of the Quran XI - Borrowing from the Bible IV"

Last time we discussed a hypothesis of different possibilities that some writers raise about the other sources of the Quran and whether it borrowed from other sources.  We investigated the historical standpoint.  On the question of the stories of the historical aspect of Prophets we found that there are certain things which are in the Bible which are not in the Quran.  These were not mere details that were left out but those parts that are not found in the Quran because everything is totally consistent with the theme of the Quran and its view of Prophets and other credal things that we have discussed previously.    Second, there are certain historical things which are in the Quran but are not in the Bible even though it relates to enchant Prophets.  The Question here was were did Prophet Muhammad get this information from?  He obviously couldn’t have adopted that from the Bible.  We said that even in common stories about Prophets which appear in both the Quran and the Bible we find major yet important differences and certain details which are significant in their in their implication.  We indicated that the Quran challenged the contemporaries of the Prophet who denied the divine origin of the Prophet.  The final question is that some people may ask how do we know which narrative is more accurate in which case perhaps the benefit of the knowledge obtained recently could perhaps shed some light on these historical questions.


10.13   The Quran and Modern Sciences I - Reservations/Comparisons

Host:  Why are some Muslims reserved in interpreting the Quran with the sciences?

Jamal Badawi:

In fact this is one of two extremes.  They say that after all the Quran is a book of spiritual guidance but not intended to be a book of science.  Second, they uphold that science may change and with the emergence of new evidence or discoveries.  They say why not keep the Quran away from these fluctuations in the issue of science.  The other extreme are those who are over zealous and any new theory even if it is not prove is jumped to it and say that the Quran mention it some times ago.  In the Quran there are many references to natural phenomena.  We have to make a distinction between two things that are contained in the Quran: the aspects that deal with belief, worship, moral system, social political and economic system and references that the Quran makes to creation or the natural phenomenal around us.  With respect to the first category there should be no difference and no difficulty of interpretation of their foundations because the matters of belief and worship should not be subjected to fluctuation and should be clear cut.  On the references pertaining to science and scientific discoveries it is a matter that needs to be investigated as there are two types of information.  We can make a distinction between two types of information. One can be called scientific facts, which are established beyond any doubt and that has been proven.  For example to say that the earth is spherical, nobody denies it as it has been proven.

The second type is theory which is a combination of some scientific discoveries but also with some assumptions of how these facts fit together.  Again when we talk about scientific theory there are degrees.  Some theories are reasonably established like the origin of the universe being one and then splitting into other parts.  There are some theories that are reasonably well established like the origin of the universe being one part which then splits into other parts.  It is reasonably well established even though nobody can say they were there billions of years ago.  There are also other theories that are still a little more shaky.  If we are referring to scientific facts which are verified and can be revivified then it is impossible to find any text in the Quran that contradict these established facts.  It has never happened in the 1400 hundred years in the past since the revelation of the Quran and I don’t think it will ever happen.  When it comes to theory it is a different matter.  People can understand the Quran in one way or the other depending on their state of knowledge at a given point in time.  There is no absolute guaranty that they would have the right reflection and understanding.

The other extreme of just trying to jump on any finding that may emerge which is tentative and assume it is in ht Quran is a sort of apologetic approach because it may reflect the attitude that we are trying to prove the validity of the Quran by science.  For anyone who believes in the Quran as the word of Allah they believe that Allah does not need verification from any human being.  The truth in the Quran is eminent in the Quran itself and doesn’t need any proof from any humans.  The word of Allah is the truth and science may agree with the Quran but not the reverse.  Science may agree with the Quran when people discover certain things which may help them understand passages in the Quran which were not clear before.  But it doesn’t work the other way around.  If we approach it this way it could be a useful and interesting area of research.


Host:  What are examples of what the Quran says about this?

Jamal Badawi:

There is nothing in the Quran that prohibits us from thinking or using the means of science to understand the Quran.  The Quran is full of verses and passages which end with verse such as “afala yanthoroon, “afala yasmaoon,” “afala yanthoroon,” “afala yatafakaroon,” which means don’t they think, don’t they hear, don’t they reflect.  This shows that there is an open invitation for us to investigate.  If you might recall in the previous series on economic system in Islam on the topic of production and productivity where we gave a number of citations.  In the Quran in (21:30) it says “Do not the Unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together (as one unit of creation), before we clove them asunder? We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe?”  The fact that the Quran gave reference to the origin of the universe, that the heavens and earth were all one part, doesn’t this imply that we have to think, study, analyze and discover?  Another interesting passage says “soon will We show them our signs in the horizons and in themselves until it becomes manifest to them that this is the truth.”  Notice here the use of the word horizon.  Some translate it to be that God will show His signs in the farthest regions but the original word in the Quran actually means horizons.

Hasnain Makhlook, in his dictionary on the wording of the Quran, says that Affaq means the bounds of heaven and earth and it does not only mean earth but could mean space as well.  What does God mean when He says that He will show them His signs on the horizons.  This means that scientific discoveries are signs of God.  And it says in themselves which some translate to be in themselves whether it is in the human soul or body.  Then it refers to the Quran as being the truth, because the passage before this one talks about people who reject the divine origin of the Quran and argue that it did not come from Allah.  So this is the response “till they realize that the Quran is from Allah.”  There is clear implication that they should contemplate and the more they discover in sciences that pertain to the universe the more they will realize that this Quran did not emanate from the mind of any human being and as such they will realize that it had come from Allah.  Another similar citation it says that had the Quran been of any source other than Allah they would have seen in it much contradiction as is found in (4:82) and discrepancies.  These investigations would help us answer questions that we raised in several discussions we investigated before about the source of the Quran, who the real author of the Quran is and if it is possible that Prophet Muhammad would have learned it or borrowed it from any other source.  The best source on this topic is perhaps the book by Bucaille .


Host:  Can you tell us about the book, The Bible The Quran and Science, and authored Maurice Bucaille ?

Jamal Badawi:

This book was originally written in French and Maurice Bucaille  is a scientist and physician.  The book was translated into several languages including English which was published in 1997 in North America by the American Trust Publication.  What Bucaille  did in this book was to compile citations in the Bible and the Quran pertaining to science.  Then he tried to test the statements in both the Bible and the Quran against the findings of established sciences.  While reviewing the citations from the Quran he found absolutely no single statement in the Quran on anything that relates to science that has been proven to be untrue and is totally compatible with established scientific facts.  He said that the same thing doesn’t hold with any other scripture other than Islam.  This was uniquely the characteristic of the Quran.  In addition he also compiled verses in the Quran which do not have parallels in the Bible which pertain to science, creation and so on.  Non of the other sources were even compatible with current science.  In his concluding chapter he explains the them of the book and he says in page 251 “In view of the level of knowledge in Muhammad’s day it is inconceivable that many of the statements in the Quran which are connected with science could have been the work of a man.  It is moreover perfectly legitimate not only to regard the Quran as the expression of a revelation but also to award it a very special place on account of a guarantee of authenticity it provides in the presence of scientific statements which when studied today appear as a challenge to explanation in human terms.  It is inconceivable that 1400 years ago an unlettered man like Prophet Muhammad in the kind of environment he lived in with the state of knowledge of the world at that time that he could have made all those references if he were the author of the Quran.


Host:  What specific areas of the Quran did he analyze?

Jamal Badawi:

There are three areas that he covered.  One is the story of creation of the universe.  Second, is the approximate date of the emergence of the first human on earth, life on earth.  The third one deals with the story of the flood during the days of Prophet Noah.  He made many comparisons in these three areas which are heavily comparative in nature.


Host: How did Bucaille  compare the creation of the universe in the Biblical and Quranic versions?

Jamal Badawi:

He refers to the first two chapters in the book of Genesis.  In Genesis 1:3-5 we are told that day and night were created in the first day.  If we continue in Genesis 1:14 it indicates that the Heavenly systems were created on the fourth day in order to give light to the earth and vary the seasons.  Dr. Bucaille  refers to the fact that it is quite firmly established in science that day and night and the changes of season are related to the rotation of earth around its own star the sun.  As such it is totally inconceivable that day and night were known on earth before the creation of the Heavenly bodies which actually give light to the earth.  So how could these firmaments be created even though the day and night were created in the first day?  The opposite should be true.  This problem does not exist in the Quran.  Another aspect that Bucaille  refers to Genesis 1:9-13 it says that on the third day of creation God created vegetation and plants which yield seeds and fruit trees bearing fruit in which they seed.  Science has established that the organized vegetation which produce seeds could not have taken place before the emergence of the sun.  After all it is the sun that allows vegetation to grow.  According to the book of Genesis in 1:14 we are told that the sun was created on the fourth day which is the day after the creation of vegetation.  Again there is a problem with sequence here.  This problem does not exist at all in the Quran because the sequence is not given.  If it were true that Prophet Muhammad adopted information from the Bible how could he have known to avoid these points which were proven to be incompatible with scientific facts hundred of years after his birth.


Host:  What about the issue of the first human on earth?

Jamal Badawi:

Dr. Bucaille  starts with the Bible.  He makes an interesting analysis of the genealogy.  He said that the Bible indicates that Prophet Abraham was born 1948 years after Adam which are found in the books of Genesis (book 4, 5, 11, 21 and 25) and he compiled a list of the decedents of Adam and the dates of births and deaths and how long each lived.  From Abraham to Jesus he says that even though the Bible does not specify but using other sources a reasonable estimate comes to about 1800 with a slight margin of error.  From Jesus to date is 2000 years.  If we we add all of these up we come up with 5800 years.  By the way the Jewish calendar which dates back to the creation of Adam is is in year 5771.  Obviously this kind genealogy is impossible from the scientific standpoint.

The Quran doesn’t mention any of these dates.  The reason this is inconceivable scientifically is that there is sufficient evidence from archeology, excavations and anthropology that the date of the first human on earth goes back much farther than 6000 years!  Bucaille  said that there are remains of humans who were capable of thought and action who’s age might be calculated in the tens of thousands of years.  Leaving some of the remains which are not certain to be of humans which go back hundreds of thousands of years.  Even if we discount these remains and focus on the certain ones tens of thousands of years is quite different from 5800 years.  It is quite impossible for this to be scientifically compatible.


Host:  What was the reaction of theologians to the finding of Dr. Bucaille ’s book?

Jamal Badawi:

He actually mentioned reactions that some theologians had given to these difficulties.  He divided them into groups.  There were people like Saint Augustine who could not conceive that the Bible could have anything that is incompatible with reality.  There are those who tried to provide a sort of apologetic answer and say that after all the Bible still makes the point and if there are some mistakes here and there the essence of the Bible is correct.  Of course that is fine but does that mean that other statements about divinity should be reviewed as they can not apply the same logic to that too.  The social factors of the time may have effected the writers of the books but again if that is true we should carefully examine some of the doctrines that have been excepted for hundreds of years as they may reflect the attitude of the writers rather than the reality given by God.  In any case he mentioned that in the second vatican council that was held between 1962-1965 in the Councilor document number 4 where they says “these books (referring to the Old Testament) even though they contain material which is imperfect and obsolete.”  If the Bible and the Quran are both studied with an open mind and heart I am sure many of the difficulties and problems which are found in the bible could be easily resolved.


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