Science in the Quran

Chapter 1:

From a Gaseous
Mass to the Heavens and the Earth


The Qur'an was
revealed in the seventh century. Many statements pertaining to physical
phenomena are dispersed throughout the Qur'an. These are there in the
Qur'an to draw the attention of people to the wonders of Allah's creation.


Any other seventh
century book making statements about the physical universe would surely
contain mistakes. Our knowledge of physical sciences in the twentieth
century is far advanced beyond the imagination of people living the seventh
century. What will come as a surprise to many people is that of


all the numerous
statements about scientific matters found in the Qur'an, not one of those
have proved contrary to the established facts of science. On the other
hand, many of those statements have already been verified by modern scientific
studies, and we confidently expect that as various fields of knowledge
advance, other Quranic statements will likewise prove true.


Let us look
at some of the statements which science has already verified.


Concerning the
creation of the heavens and the earth, the Qur'an says that prior to the
creation, the Heaven was smoke. God then commanded it and the earth to
come into being and they came willingly (see surah 41:11). How does that
compare with modern scientific explanations? Let us hear a scientific
explanation and then judge for ourselves.


The French scientist
Dr. Maurice Bucaille in his book called The Bible, the Qur'an and Science
explains:


"At the
earliest time it can provide


us with, modern
science has every reason to maintain that the universe was formed from
a gaseous mass principally composed of hydrogen and a certain amount of
helium that was slowly rotating" (p.147).


Didn't the Qur'an
say that the Heaven was smoke before its creation? Dr. Bucaille explains
the connection between his description and that of the Qur'an as follows:


"Smoke
is generally made up of a gaseous substratum, plus, in more or less stable
suspension, fine particles that may belong to solid and even liquid states
of matter at high or low temperature" (p. 143).


He therefore
sees no contradiction of the Quranic use of the Arabic word dukhan
(translated smoke) and a modern interpretation of that word as a gaseous
mass with fine particles when speaking of the formation of the universe.


We notice here
two remarkable fea


tures of the
Qur'an. The first feature is that it expresses scientific truths that
will be verified many centuries later. The second feature is that the
Qur'an expresses those truths using terms and expressions that would avoid
confusing its first readers in the seventh century. The seventh century
reader of the Qur'an can easily relate to the image of smoke, and the
twentieth century scientist can easily interpret the word as a gaseous
mass.


Chapter 2:


The Fusing
and Separating of the Heavens and the Earth


How do modern
scientists explain the formation of the universe? Dr. Maurice Bucaille
explains it in his book, The Bible, the Qur'an and Science, as
follows:


"The basic
process in the formation of the universe . . . lay in the condensing of
material in the primary nebula followed by its division into fragments
that originally constituted galactic masses. The latter in their turn
split up into stars that provided the sub-product of the process, i.e.
the planets" (p.149).


Does the Qur'an
say anything about this condensing and separation of the


primary material
to result in the formation of our universe? Let's have a look. Our creator,
Allah, says in his final book:


"Do not
the unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together,
then we clove them asunder . . ." (Qur'an 21:30).


This could also
be translated as follows:


"Do not
the unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were fused together,
then we separated them . . ." (Qur'an 21:30).


Dr. Bucaille
sees this as "the reference to a separation process of a primary
single mass whose elements were initially fused together" (p.143).


Thus the Qur'an
gives an accurate account of the formation of the universe to call upon
humankind to recognise the power of their creator.


This raises
an interesting question: How could a man living in the seventh century
invent these ideas which could not be confirmed until modern times? And
how could he in so doing avoid


the mythical
and fanciful ideas prevalent in human history?


Dr. Bucaille
mentions some of these myths for contrast:


"When,
as in Japan, the image of the egg plus an expression of chaos is attached
to the above with the idea of a seed inside an egg (as for all eggs),
the imaginative addition makes the concept lose all semblance of seriousness.
In other countries, the idea of a plant is associated with it; the plant
grows and in so doing raises up the sky and separates the heavens from
the earth. Here again, the imaginative quality of the added detail lends
the myth its very distinctive character" (p. 152).


In contrast
to those myths, the Qur'anic statements are "free from any of the
whimsical details accompanying such beliefs; on the contrary, they are
distinguished by the sober quality of the words in which they are made,
and their


agreement with
scientific data" (p. 152).


It must be that
the Qur'an is not the product of any human or humans, but a revelation
from Allah. The Qur'an says:


"The revelation
of the scripture whereof there is no doubt is from the Lord of the Worlds"
(Qur'an 32:2).


Chapter 3:


Avoiding
the Mistakes of Genesis


As we saw in
chapter 2, both the Qur'an and modern science confirm that the heavens
and the earth were created simultaneously, having been separated from
a primary nebula. It is important to understand that the Bible, the most
famous record of the creation prior to the Qur'an gives a sequence for
the creation of the heavens and the earth that is today found unacceptable
from a scientific standpoint. If the Qur'an was the work of human beings
it is difficult to imagine how they could have avoided the human errors
so firmly fixed in the minds of people from the previous records.


In the Bible,
in Genesis, chapter 1, we read that God created light which


He called day,
and separated it from the darkness which He called night (see v. 3). Today
we know that the alternation of day and night is caused by the earth's
movement in relation to the sun. But, according to Genesis, the sun was
not created until the fourth day (see v. 16). So how could day and night
alternate before that?


A related problem
is that vegetation is created on the third day (see vv. 11-12) whereas
the sun which is necessary for sustaining vegetation does not appear until
the fourth day.


"What is
totally untenable" says Dr. Bucaille, "is that a highly organized
vegetable kingdom with reproduction by seed could have appeared before
the existence of the sun" (The Bible, the Qur'an and Science, p.
42).


We have already
seen that the Qur'an states, and modern science confirms, that the heavens
and the earth were formed together.


Dr. Bucaille
explains as follows:


"Earth
and moon emanated, as we know, from their original star,


the sun. To
place the creation of the sun and moon after the creation of the earth
is contrary to the most firmly established ideas on the formation of the
elements of the solar system" (p. 42).


By giving a
sequence in which the sun and moon are created after the creation of the
earth, the Genesis account proves erroneous. On the other hand, the Qur'an,
by speaking of the simultaneous creation of the heavens and the earth,
has judiciously avoided the errors of the Genesis account.


Could the Qur'an
have been authored by a human? No!


Dr. Bucaille
asks:


"How could
a man living fourteen hundred years ago have made corrections to the existing
description to such an extent that he eliminated scientifically inaccurate
material and, on his own initiative, made statements that science has
only in the present day been able to verify?" (p.151).


Chapter 4:


Six Days
of Creation or Six Periods?


Today we know
that the creation process can be measured in billions of years.


The priestly
editors or the Bible could not have known this. In their eagerness to
enjoin Sabbath observance on others they wrote that God rested on the
very first Sabbath day after finishing up his work of creating the heavens
and the earth.


The six days
of creation in the book of Genesis, then, are clearly like six days of
any seven-day week. The Priestly editors have made it clear that a day
is meant a period from one sunset to another. Six days meant from Sunday
to Friday. They believed that the reason the Sabbath day became holy


is that God
Himself had rested on that day. Thus the editors tell us:


"By the
seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh
day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made
it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he
had done" (Genesis 2:2).


If that is not
far enough, the editors took the idea that God rested farther still when
they wrote as follows:


"In six
days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested,
and was refreshed" (The Holy Bible, King James Version, Exodus 31:17).


The idea that
God rests like humans and gets refreshed like humans had to be corrected
by Jesus, on whom be peace, when, according to John, he declared that
God never stops working, even on the Sabbath day (see John 5:16). God
clarified the matter in His own words when he declared:


"And verily
we created the heavens and the earth and all that is between them in six
days, and naught of weariness touched us" (Qur'an 50:38 see also
v. 15).


The above qur'anic
verses clearly refute the idea that God rested. God, according to the
Qur'an does not get tired. Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes him (Qur'an
2:255).


But how about
the period of creation? Was that six days in the Qur'an too? In the above
quotation from the Qur'an the term translated `days' could mean, according
to Dr. Maurice Bucaille, "not just `days', but also `long periods
of time', an indefinite period of time (but always long)" (The Bible,
the Qur'an and Science, p. 139).


Dr. Bucaille
notes that the Qur'an also speaks of "a day whereof the measure is
a thousand years of your reckoning" (Qur'an 32:5). The Qur'an also
speaks of "a day whereof the measure is 50,000 years" (Qur'an
70:4).


Dr. Bucaille
also points out that long before our modern ideas of the length


of time involved
in the creation, commentators of the Qur'an understood that when the Qur'an
speaks of six days of creation, it does not mean six days like ours, but
rather six periods. Abu al Su'ud, for example, writing in the sixteenth
century, understood it as six events (see The Bible, the Qur'an and Science,
p.139).


Again, we see
that the Qur'an has avoided repeating an error which was established in
a previous book ? an error that will not be discovered until modern
times. In view of this, can anyone insist that the Qur'an is the work
of a man?


Chapter 5:


How Old is
the Earth?


The Bible provides
a chronology of history that extends back to the creation of Adam and
Eve and to the creation of the earth. From this chronology it is possible
to determine the date of the creation and hence the age of the earth.


Archbishop Ussher
of Armagh (1581-1657) had calculated the year of creation to be 4004 B.C.
If that was not precise enough, Dr. Lightfoot of Cambridge worked out
that the exact time when God completed His creation was 9 a.m. on Friday,
October 23, 4004 B.C. (see the book Thinking about God by Sr. R.
W. Maqsood, p. 63).


Many religious
groups and sects have used this date in predicting precise dates for the
end of the world, but all such predictions have so far proved erroneous.
The one fact against them is


that the world
is still intact and we are very much alive. One reason all of those predictions
failed is that they are calculated from a false date of creation. If 4004
B.C. was the year of creation, that would make the earth less than six
thousand years old. No scientist can accept this today.


Modern scientists
estimate that the earth is 4.5 billion years old with a maximum error
of 2.2 % (see The Bible, the Qur'an and Science, p. 148). Knowing
this, many educated people lost faith in religion. They naturally felt
that the Word of God should not contain errors of this kind. Others maintain
that the Word of God was meant to teach only that truth which God wanted
put into the scriptures for our salvation. It is therefore immaterial
if the book contains historical or scientific errors. As the scientist
Galileo put it, the Bible is there to teach people how to go to heaven;
it is not there to teach people how the heavens go. Some maintain, therefore,
that it is understandable that the book will con >


tain some historical
and scientific errors since it was written by human beings who lived a
long time ago and did not share our modern knowledge.


The Qur'an,
on the other hand, does not contain any historical or scientific or any
kind of error. God challenges us to test this claim by examining the book
for ourselves (see Qur'an 4:82).


The Qur'an does
not repeat the incorrect biblical chronology we have seen above. The Qur'an
does not give a chronology since its purpose is not to provide us with
the details of history, but only to teach us the lessons arising from
specific events in history.


The Qur'an does,
however tell us that God measured the sustenance of the earth in four
periods (Qur'an 41:10). As to what could be the significance of these
four periods, Dr. Bucaille comments as follows:


"One could
perhaps see in them the four geological periods described by modern science,
with man's appearance, as we already know, taking place in the quater


nary era. This
is purely a hypothesis since nobody has an answer to this question"
(The Bible, the Qur'an and Science, p. 150).


How did the
author of the Qur'an avoid the mistake in chronology committed by so many
others, and believed in by so many others even up to our present day?
Could a man in the seventh century have known that the earth was much
more than six thousand years old? How could he come by this modern knowledge
unless God was revealing knowledge to him?


God tells us
that the Qur'an is His book and not the work of any man (see Qur'an 10:37).


Chapter 6:


Interstellar
Galactic Material


The Qur'an mentions
a rather curious category of created things, namely things between
the heavens and the earth. Dr. Bucaille observes that this mention in
the Qur'an "may surprise the twentieth century reader of the Qur'an"
(The Bible, the Qur'an and Science, p. 144).


For example,
one verse says as follows:


"To Him
(God) belongs what is in the heavens, on earth, between them and beneath
the soil" (Qur'an 20:6; other verses include 25:59, 32:4 and 50:38).


What is that
between the heavens and


the earth? Dr.
Bucaille explains as follows:


"The creation
outside the heavens and outside the earth is a priori difficult
to imagine. To understand these verses, reference must be made to the
most recent observations on the existence of cosmic extra-galactic material,
and one must indeed go back to ideas established by contemporary science
on the formation of the universe . . ." (p. 145).


Scientists tell
us that a primary nebula condensed, then divided up into fragments. These
fragments, these galactic masses, further split up into stars and their
sub-products, the planets. Each time such a division or split occurred,
there remained extra material apart from the principal elements newly
formed. The scientific name for these extra materials is `interstellar
galactic material'.


Is this extra
material significant? Yes. Experts in astrophysics are quite


aware of such
material which have "a tendency to interfere with photometric measurements"
(The Bible, the Qur'an and Science, p. 149). The extra material
is so rarefied that they may be referred to as dusts or smokes or gases.
Yet they altogether occupy so much total space that they may correspond
to "a mass possibly greater than the total mass of the galaxies"
(p.149).


Again, we must
face up to the implication of all this. How could a man living fourteen
hundred years ago have known about interstellar galactic material? Was
Muhammad, on whom be peace, well versed in modern astrophysics? Or is
the Qur'an nothing but the Word of God?


Allah, the only
true God, declares in His book:


"The revelation
of the scripture is from Allah, the Mighty, the Wise. Surely We [Allah]
have revealed the scripture unto you [Muhammad] with truth; so worship
Allah, making religion pure for Him (only)" (Qur'an 39:1-2).


Chapter 7:


How Many
Earths are There?


If you open
the Qur'an to the first surah, you will notice it begins as follows:


"In the
name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. Praise be to Allah, Lord
of the Worlds."


Worlds? Not
just one? Yes . . . worlds! There is the physical world, the spiritual
world, the world of bacteria, and so forth. That, obviously, is one sense
in which we can understand `worlds'.


Another verse
of the Qur'an, however, makes it clear that there are many earths (see
Qur'an 65:12). Is it possible that there may be other earths out there?


No one expects
to find another earth


within our solar
system. But scientists say it is likely that in our galaxy there are many
earths outside the solar system. They say that approximately 50 billion
stars in the Milky Way rotate slowly, as does the sun. This characteristic
indicates that those stars are surrounded by planets that are their satellites.
The Bernard Star, for example, is believed to have at least one planetary
companion. (see The Bible, the Qur'an and Science, p. 148). Dr.
Bucaille quotes P. Gu?rin as follows:


"All the
evidence points to the fact that planetary systems are scattered in profusion
all over the universe. The solar system and the earth are not unique"
(p. 148-9).


In a recent
article published in the Toronto Star, two scientists advanced evidence
that there may indeed be many earths waiting to be discovered. The headline
read: "Earths may be dime a dozen out there."


The Qur'an also
uses the symbolic plural number 7 to indicate the exist


ence of a plurality
of heavens (see Qur'an 2:29, for example). Dr. Bucaille comments that
this is "confirmed by modern science due to the observations experts
in astrophysics have made on galactic systems and their very large number"
(p. 150).


Once again we
find that the Qur'an says something and scientists later discover it to
be true. Can we resist believing in this book of God? God says:


"Those
who disbelieve in the Reminder when it comes unto them (are guilty), for
indeed it is an unassailable Scripture. Falsehood cannot come at it from
before it or behind it. (It is) a revelation from the Wise, the Owner
of Praise" (Qur'an 41:41-42).


Chapter 8:


Organization
of the Universe


What the Qur'an
mentions about the organization of the Universe is important because "these
references constitute a new fact of divine Revelation" (The Bible,
the Qur'an and Science,
p. 153). The Qur'an deals with this matter
in depth although this is not dealt with in the previous scriptures.


Dr. Maurice
Bucaille also points out the important fact that the Qur'an does not contain
"the theories prevalent at the time of the Revelation that deal with
the organization of the celestial world" (p. 153). If the Qur'an
was authored by any human being, he or she would have naturally included
the ideas prevalent at the time. But many of those ideas were later shown
to be


inaccurate.
How did the author of the Qur'an know enough to exclude those ideas, unless
the author is God himself?


Those who say
that Muhammad authored the Qur'an think that the Arabs were very knowledgeable
in the field of Science, and Muhammad was or course one of them. But this
explanation is based on the incorrect assumption that the Arabs knew Science
before the Qur'an was revealed. As pointed out by Dr. Bucaille, the fact
is that Science in Islamic countries came after the Qur'an, not before.
"In any case", writes Dr. Bucaille, "the scientific knowledge
of that great period would not have been sufficient for a human being
to write some of the verses to be found in the Qur'an" (The Bible,
the Qur'an and Science,
p. 153-154)


Modern astronomers
are aware that the stars and planets are kept within ranges of precise
distances from each other. Had it not been for this fact, collision between
them would be inevi


table. The author
of the Qur'an was also aware of this. In the Qur'an we read "the
sun and the moon (are subjected) to calculations (Qur'an 55:5).


Again, we read:


"For you
(God) subjected the sun and the moon, both diligently pursuing their courses"
(Qur'an 14:33).


The phrase `diligently
pursuing their courses' is a translation of the Arabic term daa'ib which
here means `to apply oneself to something with care in a perseverant,
invariable manner, in accordance with set habits' (The Bible, the Qur'an
and Science,
p.155). And that indeed is how the sun and moon behave.


Another verse
in the Qur'an says, "the stars are in subjection to His command"
(Qur'an 16:12).


Order in the
universe is essential for its preservation. God, who subjected them to
that order knew about it before any scientist.


Chapter 9:


What Holds
up the Sky?


Today scientists
speak of gravitational forces that hold the heavenly bodies apart from
each other and prevent them from colliding with each other. How was this
to be conveyed to the first readers of the Qur'an? God tells us in the
Qur'an that He is the One Who raised the sky (Qur'an 55:7) and that he
holds it back from falling on the earth (Qur'an 22:65). But how exactly
does God do this?


If the author
of the Qur'an was a human being, it would have been very easy for the
author to copy the answer to this question from the Bible. But today no
one will believe that answer.


In the New American
Bible, a picture is drawn to show how the authors


of the Bible
imagined the world to look like. In that picture, the sky "resembles
an overturned bowl and is supported by columns" (The New American
Bible, St. Joseph's Medium Size Edition, pp. 4-5). The earth in that picture
is flat, and is also supported by pillars. After describing the picture
at length, the editors of that Bible conclude by calling that idea of
the world a "prescientific concept of the universe."


At the time
when the Qur'an was being revealed, anyone could have easily believed
this description which was already found in the Bible. It is only in modern
times that people would know better. How did the author of the Qur'an
avoid this mistake?


God says in
the Qur'an that He created the heavens "without any pillars that
you can see" (Qur'an 31:10). Again, the Qur'an says:


"God is
the One Who raised the heavens without any pillars that you can see"
(Qur'an 13:2).


Dr. Maurice
Bucaille comments:


"These
two verses refute the belief that


the vault of
the heavens was held up by pillars, the only things preventing the former
from crushing the earth" (The Bible, the Qur'an and Science,
p.154).


To be able to
avoid that prescientific error, the author of the Qur'an must have been
either a modern scientist, or God Himself.


Chapter 10:


Comparing
Apples and Oranges


The sun and
the moon are different from each other not only in terms of size, but
also in terms of function. The sun generates light, but the moon does
not. The moon merely reflects the light coming from the sun. Every high
school student today knows this.


A man or woman
in the seventh century, however, would not have known about this fine
distinction between the sun and the moon. To such a person, the two would
appear as a greater light and a lesser light. Such a person would observe
that the greater light lights up the day and the lesser light lights up
the night. And this indeed is how the sun and the moon were described
in previous books.


The Bible, describing
the creation, says:


"God made
two great lights ? the greater light to govern the day and the lesser
light to govern the night" (Genesis 1:16).


The author of
the Qur'an however, was aware that this comparison between the sun and
the moon is not adequate. Therefore the Qur'an does not refer to them
as being a greater and a lesser light.


The Qur'an says:


"God is
the One who made the sun a shine and the moon a light" (Qur'an 10:5).


Commenting on
this, Dr. Bucaille says:


"Whereas
the Bible calls the sun and moon `lights', and merely adds to one the
adjective `greater' and to the other `lesser', the Qur'an ascribes differences
other than that of dimesion to each respectively" (The Bible,
the Qur'an and Science,
p. 156).


Similarly, the
Qur'an says:


"Blessed
is the One Who placed the


constellations
in heaven and placed therein a lamp and a moon giving light" (Qur'an
25:61).


Here again,
the difference between the sun and the moon is noted. The sun is called
a lamp, and the moon is called an object giving light.


Again in the
Qur'an God says that He "made the moon a light" and "made
the sun a lamp" (Qur'an 71:15-16).


Furthermore,
God calls the sun a "blazing lamp" (Qur'an 78:12-13). This term
which is used for the sun is never used for the moon in the Qur'an.


In all of these
verses, God expresses the notion that the sun and the moon are "not
absolutely identical lights" (The Bible, the Qur'an and Science,
p. 156).


Dr. Bucaille
draws his conclusions from what he found in the Qur'an about the sun and
the moon:


"What is
interesting to note here is the sober quality of the comparisons, and
the absence in the text of the Qur'an of any elements of comparison that
might have prevailed at the time


and which in
our day would appear as phantasmagorial" (The Bible, the Qur'an
and Science,
p. 157).


In short,


"There
is nothing in the text of the Qur'an that contradicts what we know today
about these two celestial bodies." (The Bible, the Qur'an and
Science,
p. 157).


Chapter 11:


The Sun &
Moon and Their Orbits


Today we know
that the Moon revolves around the earth in approximately 29.5 days. The
sun also revolves in its own orbit. To understand the sun's orbit, Dr.
Bucaille says that the position of the sun in our galaxy must be considered,
and we must therefore call on modern scientific ideas (The Bible, the
Qur'an and Science,
p. 162).


Our galaxy,
the milky way galaxy, includes one hundred billion stars situated in such
a formation that the galaxy is shaped like a disc. This disc turns around
its centre like a gramaphone record. Now, it is obvious that when a gramaphone
record turns, any point on the disc would move


around and come
back to its original position. Similarly, every star in the galaxy moves
as the galaxy rotates on its axis. Therefore the stars that are away from
the centre of the galaxy orbit around the axis. The sun is one of those
stars.


Dr. Bucaille
explains that modern science has worked out the details of the sun's orbit
as follows:


"To complete
one revolution on its own axis, the galaxy and the sun take roughly 250
million years. The sun travels roughly 150 miles per second in the completion
of this" (The Bible, the Qur'an and Science, p. 162).


After describing
this, Dr. Bucaille comments:


"The above
is the orbital movement of the sun that was already referred to in the
Qur'an fourteen centuries ago." (The Bible, the Qur'an and Science,
p. 162)


And yet this
is a new finding. As Dr. Bucaille says, the knowledge of the sun's orbit
is an acquisition of mod


ern astronomy
(The Bible, the Qur'an and Science, p. 162).


Two verses in
the Qur'an refer to the orbits of the sun and moon. After mentioning the
sun and the moon, God says:


"Each one
is travelling in an orbit with its own motion" (Qur'an 21:33; 36:40).


How did the
author of the Qur'an know of this? Even after the Qur'an was revealed,
early commentators could not conceive of the orbits of the sun and moon.
The tenth century commentator Tabari could not explain this so he said,
"It is our duty to keep silent when we do not know" (XVII, 15
quoted in The Bible, the Qur'an and Science, p. 161).


Dr. Bucaille
comments:


"This shows
just how incapable men were of understanding this concept of the sun's
and moon's orbit." (The Bible, the Qur'an and Science, p.
161).


From this it
is clear that if the Qur'an was here expressing an idea already known
to the people, the commenta


tors would have
easily understood it. But this, as Dr. Bucaille explains was "a new
concept that was not to be explained until centuries later" (The
Bible, the Qur'an and Science,
p. 161)


This confirms
what God said to his prophet, on whom be peace:


"This is
of the tidings of the Unseen which we inspire in you (Muhammad). Neither
you nor your people knew it before this" (Qur'an 11:49).


Chapter 12:


The Sun &
Moon Move With Their Own Motion


The Qur'an makes
the following statement about the sun and the moon:


"Each one
is travelling in an orbit with its own motion" (Qur'an 21:33; 36:40).


Why did the
Qur'an say that the sun and moon move with their own motion? And, if that
is true, where did the author of the Qur'an get this information?


The fact is
that the sun and moon rotate on their axes and are in part animated by
this rotating motion.


The phrase "travelling
with its own motion" in the verses quoted above is a translation
of the arabic verb `yasbahoon'. This could also be translated `they swim.'
In that case, the


verse would
read that the sun and the moon, "Each swim in its own orbit."
Those who translate the verse this way explain that the term swim refers
to movement with one's own internally generated force. Furthermore the
movement of a swimmer is graceful, measured, and smooth. This is a very
fitting description for the movement of the stars and planets including
the sun and the moon.


After describing
the scientific data concerning the rotation of the sun and the moon, Dr.
Bucaille says:


"These
motions of the two celestial bodies are confirmed by the data of modern
science, and it is inconceivable that a man living in the seventh century
A.D. . . . could have imagined them" (The Bible, the Qur'an and
Science,
p. 163).


It is also amazing
that the Qur'an uses a different term for the movement of the clouds and
the mountains (see Qur'an 27:88). Obviously, the clouds and mountains
are driven by external forces. The cloud is driven by


the wind and
the mountains move with the rotation of the earth. The sun and moon, however,
move with their own motion, and therefore the Qur'an uses a peculiar term
"they swim" to refer to their smooth, graceful, self-propelled
movement.


How did the
author of the Qur'an know enough to make this choice of words that will
reflect a modern scientific truth? The Qur'an is no less than a revelation
from God.


Chapter 13:


What Shape
is the Earth?


Today we can
look at a globe and know that the earth is somewhat like a ball, a sphere.
The Qur'an makes certain statements that led Muslim scientists to understand
long before their European counterparts that the earth is spherical. When
Europe was in the dark ages thinking that the earth was flat, Muslim students
were using globes for studying the earth in Islamic universities.


Since it was
not the purpose of the Qur'an to teach science, the Qur'an did not need
to state explicitly that the earth is spherical in shape (or more precisely,
a geoid). But some of what the Qur'an says stimulates you to think of
the world as a globe. Take, for example, the following verse:


"Have you
not seen how God merges


the night into
the day and merges the day into the night?" (Qur'an 31:29).


Another verse
tells us that God coils the day and night around:


"He coils
the night upon the day and He coils the day upon the night" (Qur'an
39:5).


The word `coils'
in the verse above is a translation of the Arabic verb kawwara
which is used in describing the action of coiling a turban around the
head. To understand this statement fully, readers of the Qur'an had to
think of the earth as a sphere.


To fully appreciate
the above two statements in the Qur'an, try this experiment at home:


You need a flashlight
and a globe. Take these items into a dark room. Using the flashlight to
simulate the light of the sun, shine the light upon the globe. Notice
that only one half of the globe is lighted up. The other half is in darkness.
Half the world is having day, the other half is having night. Now, recall
that the earth is continuously rotating on its axis and will go around


completely in
twenty four hours. Slowly turn the globe around to simulate this rotation.
Notice that as the globe turns, the day is going around the globe to light
up the other half of the world. The night is also going around the globe
to give rest to the other half of the world.


The day and
night are perpetually coiling around the earth with some degree of interpenetration.
This is exactly how it appears to astronauts during their space flights.


Dr. Bucaille
makes the following remark:


"This process
of perpetual coiling, including the interpenetration of one sector by
another, is expressed in the Qur'an just as if the concept of the earth's
roundness had already been conceived at the time ? which was obviously
not the case." (The Bible, the Qur'an and Science, p. 165).


This obviously
did not reflect the level of learning of the time, but was helpful in
stimulating Muslim scientists to conceive of the earth in its real shape.
How could this knowledge get into the Qur'an?


Soon


will We show
them


Our Signs


in the furthest
regions


of the earth


and in their
own souls,


until it
becomes manifest


to them


that this
is the truth.


(Qur'an 41:53)