The Qur'ân and ScienceIt must be pointed out that the basic purpose of the Qur’ân is to show humanity the proper way to attain guidance and to call people towards it.
Verily, this Qur’ân guides to that which is most just and right and gives glad tidings to the believers who work deeds of righteousness that they shall have a great reward.
Thus, all the things that the Qur’ân mentions about the signs of Allah’s power in the human body and in the universe, it is only for the fulfillment of this greater goal. Allah says:
We will show them Our signs in the universe and in their own selves, until it becomes manifest to them that this is the truth. Is it not sufficient with your Lord that He is a Witness over all things?
The value of these indications of the physical world becomes clear in our present, scientific age, because these indications are proof that the Qur’ân is Allah’s speech and not the speech of a human being. For how could Muhammad (peace be upon him) have known these things with such detail and accuracy when the means for knowing them did not even exist, and moreover, he was an illiterate denizen of the desert?
The agreement between scientific facts and what the Qur’ân says about the physical world shows that the Qur’ân came from the Creator. It is impossible for any established scientific fact to be at variance with the Qur’ân, in the same way that the words and deeds of a rational person should not contradict. The Qur’ân is the speech of Allah and the universe is His Creation, thus both of them have the same origin and are for the same purpose.
Perhaps this is the secret behind all of the oaths in the Qur’ân that come with this meaning. Allah says:
So I swear by the setting of the stars – and this is truly a great oath if you but knew – that this is indeed an honorable recitation in a Book well-guarded that none can touch but the purified; a Revelation from the Lord of all the worlds.
The discussion that the Qur’ân gives about certain issues in physical science is coming from the One who is All-Knowing, Well-Acquainted with His Creation. Therefore, even after human knowledge has been renewed and the veil has been lifted from the secrets of the world, the Qur’ân remains in harmony with scientific knowledge. Allah says:
Say (O Muhammad): ‘It has been sent down by Him Who knows the secrets of the heavens and the Earth. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most-Merciful.
We are not saying that the Qur’ân is a textbook on chemistry, physics, astronomy, or some other science, but we are saying that the perspectives on the universe that these sciences present us with are in complete harmony with the one presented by the Qur’ân in every way.
This is very different from other religious scriptures that have been authored by people. They are a mixture of truth and falsehood, vanity and earnest, knowledge and ignorance.
This is why Islam has always been at peace with science and actively encourages scientific endeavors. Other religions, to the contrary, have often been at war with science, and this has had a very detrimental effect on human history and civilization.
We will now look at a few examples f the Qur’â’s harmony with scientific knowledge.
The motions of heavenly bodies
Allah is He Who raised the heavens without any pillars for you to see. Then He mounted the Throne. He has subjected the Sun and the Moon, each moving for a term appointed. He manages and regulates all affairs. He explains the signs in detail that you may believe with certainty in the meeting with your Lord. It is He who spread out the Earth and placed therein firm mountains and rivers, and He made every kind of fruit in pairs. He brings the night as a cover over the day. Verily, in these things there are signs for people who reflect.
He has created the heavens without any pillars for you to see and has set on the Earth firm mountains lest it should shake with you. And He has scattered therein moving creatures of every kind. And We send down rainwater from the sky and cause plants of every goodly kind to grow therein. This is the Creation of Allah. So show Me that which those besides Me have created. Nay, the transgressors are in manifest error.
These two verses – as well as others – contain the following facts about the physical world:
- The heavens are suspended without any pillar to be seen. The astronomers say that centripetal force and the force of gravity determine the motions of the heavenly bodies. These forces are the determining factors behind the positions of the heavenly bodies, not physical pillars.
- The Sun and Moon are both in motion, each having its own specific motion.
- The mountains on the Earth’s crust have a dampening effect on earthquakes.
- The Earth is extended. This implies that it is round, because extension is the only description that applies to the surface of a sphere, for whenever you try to determine the limits of its surface, you find that it continues on.
- Rivers are placed on the Earth.
- All forms of fruits exist in pairs.
- Day and night are in continuous succession.