Fourteen centuries ago, God sent down the Qur'an to mankind as a book of guidance. He called upon people to be guided to the truth by adhering to this book. From the day of its revelation to the day of judgment, this last Divine Book and the Sunnah of our Prophet, peace be upon him, will remain the guide for humanity.
The matchless style of the Qur'an and the superior wisdom in it are definite evidence that it is the word of God. In addition, the Qur'an has many miraculous attributes proving that it is a revelation from God. One of these attributes is the fact that a number of scientific truths that we have only been able to uncover by the technology of the 20th century were stated in the Qur'an 1,400 years ago.
Of course the Qur'an is not a book of science. However, many scientific facts that are expressed in an extremely concise and profound manner in its verses have only been discovered with the technology of the 20th century. These facts could not have been known at the time of the Qur'an's revelation, and this is still more proof that the Qur'an is the word of God.
In order to understand the scientific miracle of the Qur'an, we must first take a look at the level of science at the time when this Holy Book was revealed.
In the 7th century, when the Qur'an was revealed, Arab society had many superstitious and groundless beliefs where scientific issues were concerned. Lacking the technology to examine the universe and nature, these early Arabs believed in legends inherited from past generations. They supposed, for example, that mountains supported the sky above. They believed that the earth was flat and that there were high mountains at its both ends. It was thought that these mountains were pillars that kept the vault of heaven high above.
However all these superstitious beliefs of Arab society were eliminated with the Qur'an. In the 2nd verse of Surat ar-Rad, it was said: "God is He Who raised up the heavens without any support... "(Surat ar-Rad: 2). This verse revealed that the belief that the sky remains above because of the mountains was incorrect. In many other subjects, important facts were revealed at a time when no one could have known them. The Qur'an, which was revealed at a time when people knew very little about astronomy, physics, or biology, contains key facts on a variety of subjects such as the creation of the universe, the creation of the human being, the structure of the atmosphere, and the delicate balances that make life on earth possible.
Now, let us look at some of these scientific miracles revealed in the Qur'an together.
The Coming of the Universe Into ExistenceThe origin of the universe is described in the Qur'an in the following verse:
He is the Originator of the heavens and the earth. (Surat al-An'am: 101)This information given in the Qur'an is in full agreement with the findings of contemporary science. The conclusion that astrophysics has reached today is that the entire universe, together with the dimensions of matter and time, came into existence as a result of a great explosion that occurred in no time. This event, known as "The Big Bang" proved that the universe was created from nothingness as the result of the explosion of a single point. Modern scientific circles are in agreement that the Big Bang is a rational and provable explanation of the beginning of the universe and of how the universe came into being.
Before the Big Bang, there was no such thing as matter. From a condition of non-existence in which neither matter, nor energy, nor even time existed, and which can only be described metaphysically, matter, energy, and time were all created. This fact, only recently discovered by modern physics, was announced to us in the Qur'an 1,400 years ago.
The Expansion of the UniverseIn the Qur'an, which was revealed 14 centuries ago at a time when the science of astronomy was still primitive, the expansion of the universe was described like this:
And it is We who have constructed the heaven with might, and verily, it is We who are steadily expanding it. (Surat adh-Dhariyat: 47)The word "heaven", as stated in this verse, is used in various places in the Qur'an with the meaning of space and universe. Here again, the word is used with this meaning. In other words, in the Qur'an it is revealed that the universe "expands". And this is the very conclusion that science has reached today.
Until the dawn of the 20th century, the only view prevailing in the world of science was that "the universe has a constant nature and it has existed since infinite time". The research, observations, and calculations carried out by means of modern technology, however, have revealed that the universe in fact had a beginning, and that it constantly expands.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Russian physicist Alexander Friedmann and the Belgian cosmologist Georges Lemaître theoretically calculated that the universe is in constant motion and that it is expanding.
This fact was proved also by observational data in 1929. While observing the sky with a telescope, Edwin Hubble, the American astronomer, discovered that the stars and galaxies were constantly moving away from each other. A universe where everything constantly moves away from everything else implied a constantly expanding universe. The observations carried out in the following years verified that the universe is constantly expanding. This fact was explained in the Qur'an when that was still unknown to anyone. This is because the Qur'an is the word of God, the Creator, and the Ruler of the entire universe.
OrbitsOne of the most important reasons for the great equilibrium in the universe is the fact that celestial bodies follow specific paths. Stars, planets and satellites all rotate around their own axes and also rotate together with the system of which they are a part, and the universe functions within a finely-tuned order, just like the wheels in a factory.
There are about 200 billion galaxies in the universe, consisting of nearly 200 billion stars in each. Most of these stars have planets, and most of those planets have satellites. All of these heavenly bodies move in very precisely computed orbits. For millions of years, each has been "swimming" along in its own orbit in perfect harmony and order with all the others. Moreover, many comets also move along in the orbits determined for them.
The orbits in the universe do not only belong to some celestial bodies. The Solar System and even other galaxies also exhibit considerable motion around other centers. Every year the Earth, and the Solar System with it, move some 500 million km from where they were the previous year. It has been calculated that even the slightest deviation from celestial bodies' paths could have drastic consequences which might spell the end of the entire system. For example, the consequences of the earth's deviating from its course by a mere 3 mm have been described in one source as follows:
That the entire universe is full of paths and orbits such as this one, is written in the Qur'an as follows:
Another characteristic of heavenly bodies is that they also rotate around their own axes. This may be one of the implications of the verse "[I swear] by Heaven with its cyclical systems." (Surat at-Tariq: 11).While rotating around the sun, the earth follows such an orbit that, every 18 miles, it only deviates 2.8 millimeters from a direct course. The orbit followed by the earth never changes, because even a deviation of 3 millimeters would cause catastrophic disasters: if the deviation were 2.5 mm instead of 2.8 mm, then the orbit would be very large, and all of us would freeze. If the deviation were 3.1 mm, we would be scorched to death.53
Surely at the time the Qur'an was revealed, mankind did not possess today's telescopes or advanced observation technologies to observe millions of kilometers of space, nor the modern knowledge of physics or astronomy. Therefore, at that time, it was not possible to determine scientifically that space is "full of paths and orbits" as stated in the verse. (Surat adh-Dhariyat: 7) However, this was openly declared to us in the Qur'an that was revealed at that time-because the Qur'an is the word of God.
The Sun's TrajectoryIt is stressed in the Qur'an that the Sun and Moon follow specific courses:
It is He Who created night and day and the sun and moon, each one swimming in a sphere. (Surat al-Anbiya': 33)The word "swim" in the above verse is expressed in Arabic by the word sabaha and is used to describe the movement of the Sun in space. The word means that the Sun does not move randomly through space, but that it rotates around its axis and follows a course as it does so. The fact that the Sun is not fixed in position but rather follows a specific trajectory is also stated in another verse:
And the sun runs to its resting place. That is the decree of the Almighty, the All-Knowing. (Surah Ya Sin: 38)These facts set out in the Qur'an were only discovered by means of astronomical advances in our own time. According to astronomers' calculations, the Sun moves in the general direction of the star Vega, which lies somewhat close to the "Solar Apex," -the unique direction in our galaxy that our sun moves-at an incredible speed of 720,000 km/hour. In rough terms, this shows that the Sun traverses some 17.28 million kilometers a day. As well as the Sun itself, all the planets and satellites within its gravitational field also travel the same distance.
The Protected RoofIn the Qur'an, God calls our attention to a very interesting attribute of the sky:
We made the sky a preserved and protected roof yet still they turn away from Our Signs.. (Surat al-Anbiya: 32)This attribute of the sky has been proved by scientific research carried out in the 20th century.
The atmosphere surrounding the earth serves crucial functions for the continuity of life. While destroying many meteors big and small as they approach the earth, it prevents them from falling to earth and harming living things.
In addition, the atmosphere filters the light rays coming from space that are harmful to living things. Strikingly, the atmosphere lets only harmless and useful rays- visible light, near ultraviolet light, and radio waves pass through. All of this radiation is vital for life. Near ultraviolet rays, which are only partially let in by the atmosphere, are very important for the photosynthesis of plants and for the survival of all living beings. The majority of the intense ultraviolet rays emitted from the sun are filtered out by the ozone layer of the atmosphere and only a limited-and essential-part of the ultraviolet spectrum reaches the Earth.
The protective function of the atmosphere does not end here. The atmosphere also protects the earth from the freezing cold of the space, which is about minus 270 degrees Centigrade.
Dr. Hugh Ross has this to say on the importance of Van Allen Belts to our lives:
In fact, the Earth has the highest density of any of the planets in our Solar System. This large nickel-iron core is responsible for our large magnetic field. This magnetic field produces the Van-Allen radiation shield, which protects the Earth from radiation bombardment. If this shield were not present, life would not be possible on the Earth. The only other rocky planet to have any magnetic field is Mercury-but its field strength is 100 times less than the Earth's. Even Venus, our sister planet, has no magnetic field. The Van-Allen radiation shield is a design unique to the Earth.54
The energy transmitted in just one of these bursts detected in recent years was calculated to be equivalent to 100 billion atomic bombs similar to the one dropped on Hiroshima. Fifty-eight hours after the burst, it was observed that the magnetic needles of compasses displayed unusual movement and 250 kilometers above the earth's atmosphere, the temperature suddenly increased to 2,500 degrees Celsius.
In short, a perfect system is at work high above the Earth. It surrounds our world and protects it against external threats. Scientists only learned about it recently, yet centuries ago, God informed us in the Qur'an of the world's atmosphere functioning as a protective shield.
The Returning SkyThe 11th verse of Surat at-Tariq in the Qur'an, refers to the "returning" function of the sky:
By Heaven with its cyclical systems. (Surat at-Tariq: 11)
This word interpreted as "cyclical" in Qur'an translations also has meanings of "sending back" or "returning".
As known, the atmosphere surrounding the Earth consists of many layers. Each layer serves an important purpose for the benefit of life. Research has revealed that these layers have the function of turning the materials or rays they are exposed to back into space or back down to the Earth. Now let us examine with a few examples of this "recycling" function of the layers encircling the Earth.
The ozone layer, which lies in the Stratosphere at an altitude of 25 kilometers, reflects harmful radiation and ultraviolet light coming from space and turns both back into space.
The ionosphere reflects radio waves broadcast from the Earth back down to different parts of the world, just like a passive communications satellite, and thus makes wireless communication, radio, and television broadcasting possible over long distances.
The magnetosphere layer turns the harmful radioactive particles emitted by the Sun and other stars back into space before they reach the Earth.
The fact that this property of the atmosphere's layers, that was only demonstrated in the recent past was announced centuries ago in the Qur'an, once again demonstrates that the Qur'an is the word of God.
The Layers of the AtmosphereOne fact about the universe revealed in the verses of the Qur'an is that the sky is made up of seven layers:
It is He Who created everything on the earth for you and then directed His attention up to heaven and arranged it into seven regular heavens. He has knowledge of all things. (Surat al-Baqara: 29)
Then He turned to heaven when it was smoke. In two days He determined them as seven heavens and revealed, in every heaven, its own mandate. (Surah Fussilat: 12)The word "heavens", which appears in many verses in the Qur'an, is used to refer to the sky above the Earth, as well as the entire universe. Given this meaning of the word, it is seen that the Earth's sky, or the atmosphere, is made up of seven layers.
Indeed, today it is known that the world's atmosphere consists of different layers that lie on top of each other.55 The definitions made based on the criteria of chemical contents or air temperature have determined the atmosphere of the earth as seven layers.56 According to the "Limited Fine Mesh Model (LFMII)", a model of atmosphere used to estimate weather conditions for 48 hours, the atmosphere again consists of 7 layers. According to the modern geological definitions the seven layers of the atmosphere are as follows:
Another important miracle on this subject is mentioned in the statement "(He) revealed, in every heaven, its own mandate" in the 12th verse of Surah Fussilat. In other words, in the verse, God states that He assigned each heaven its own duty. Truly, as seen in the previous section, each one of these layers has vital duties for the benefit of human kind and all other living things on the Earth. Each layer has a particular function, ranging from forming rain to preventing harmful rays, from reflecting radio waves, to averting the harmful effects of meteors.
The verses below inform us about the appearance of the seven layers of the atmosphere.
Do you not see how He created seven heavens in layers? (Surah Nuh: 15)
He Who created the seven heavens in layers… (Surat al-Mulk: 3)The Arabic word tibaqan in these verses, translated into English as "layer" means "layer, the appropriate cover or covering for something," and thus stresses how the top layer is well suited to the lower. The word is also used in the plural here, giving the meaning of "layers." The sky, described in the verse as being in layers, is without doubt the most perfect expression of the atmosphere.
It is a great miracle that these facts, which could not possibly be discovered without the technology of the 20th century, were explicitly stated by the Qur'an 1,400 years ago.
| 53. General Science, Carolyn Sheets, Robert Gardner, Samuel F. Howe; Allyn and Bacon Inc. Newton, Massachusetts, pp. 319-322 |
54. "The Incredible Design of the Earth and our Solar System," http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/designss.html
55. Michael Pidwirny, "Atmospheric Layers," 1996; http://royal.okanagan.bc.ca/mpidwirn/atmosphereandclimate/atmslayers.html
56. "Numerical Prediction Models used by NWS," Integrated Publishing; http://www.tpub.com/weather3/4-27.htm