Archive for the ‘ISLAMIC TRUTHS’ Category


quran
• Kalima Tayyaiba is mentioned in Quran for 2 times.
• The word Quran means “read one”.
• 114 total number of Surah
• Surah means city of Refuge.
• 86 Makki Surah.
• 28 Madine Surah.
• 558 Rukus.
• Al-Baqrah is the longest Surah.
• Al- Kausar is the shortest Surah.
• Al-Nass is the last surah.
• 14 bows are in Quran.
• First bow occurs in 9th Para i.e Al-Inaam Surah.
• Al-Fatiha is the preface of the holy Quran.
• Five verses were revealed in the first wahy.
• Namaz commanded in Quran for 700 times.
• Al-Imran is the surah in which Hajj is commanded.
al-quran
• Al-Mudassar-2nd Revealed Surah.
• Al-Muzammil- 3rd Revealed Surah.
• Al-Tauba does not start with Bismillah.
• Al-Namal contains two Bismillahs.
• Three Surahs start with curse.
• 6666 is the number of Ayats.
• 29 total number of Mukata’t.
• Hazrat Usman was the first Hafiz of the Holy Quran.
• Hazrat Khalid Bin Saeed, the first writer of Wahy.
• Gap between first wahy and second wahy was 6 months.
• 12 Ghazawahs described in Holy Quran.
• Abdullah Ibn Abbas, the first commentator of the Quran and also known as interpreter of the Quran.
• In surah Al-Saf, Hoy prophet is addressed as Ahmed.
• Ghar-e-Sor is mentioned in Surah Al-Tauba.
• 4 Surhas start with Qul. (chkd)
• Hazrat Umar proposed the compilation of Holy Quran.
• Al- Nasr is known as Surah Widah.
• First annulled order of holy Quran was the transfer of Qibla.
• The word Islam occurs 6 times in the Quran.
• Abdul Malik Marwan applied the dots in the Holy Quran.
• Hajjaj bin yousuf applied diacritical points in Quran.
• 8 Siparas starts with Bismillah.
• 37 total number of surah in last parah.
• Al- Baqrah and Surah Al-Nissa is spread over 3 Parahs.
• Al-Falq and Al-Nas revealed at the same time.
• 3 Surah stats with “Ya Ayananabiyau”.
• City of Rome is mentioned in Holy Quran.
• Surah Yaseen is known as Heart of Quran.
• Suran Rehman is known as beauty of Quran.
• Tafseer Ibn Kaseer was written by Hafiz Ismaeed Bin Umar-Imam Ud Din.
• First revealed surah was Al Alaq, 96 in arrangement
• Complete revelation in 23 years.
• Subject of Holy Quran is Man.
• Last Surah reveled in Al-Nasr.
• Risalat means to convey message.
• 25 prophets mentioned in holy Quran.
• Holy Quran consist 105684 words and 3236700 letters.
• Longest Ayat of Holy Quran is Ayatul Kursi.
• 6 Surah start with the name of prophets.
• Surah maryam wholly revealed for a woman.
• In Bani Israeel and Al-Najaf the event of Miraj is explained.
• Last revelation descended on 3rd Rabi-ul Awal and it was written by Abi- Bin Kab. (chk)
• Language of Divine Books.
• Taurat Hebrew
• Injil Siriac
• Zubur Siriac
• Holy Quran Arabic.
• Taurat was the first revealed book.
• Holy Quran was revealed in 22y 5m 14 days.
• There are 7 stages in Holy Quran.
• Abdullah Ibn Abbas is called as leader of commentators.
• Apollo 15 placed the copy of the Holy Quran on the moon.
• Tarjama-ul-Qu’ran is written by Abdul-Kalam Azad.
• Theodore Bailey in 1143 translated Holy Quran in Latin, for the first time.
• First Muslim interpreter of Quran in English is Khalifa Abdul Hakeem.
• Shah Waliullah translated Holy Quran in Persian and Shah Rafiuddin in Urdu in 1776.
• Hafiz Lakhvi translated Holy Quran in Punjabi.
• Ross translated the Holy Quran in to English.
• Surah Alaq was revealed on 18th Ramzan.(contradictory)
• Number of Aayats in al-Bakar is 286.
• Longest Makki Surah is Aaraf.
• Second longest Surah is Ashrah/Al-Imran.
• Surah Kausar has 3 Aayats.
• First Surah compilation wise is Surah Fatiha.
• Fatiha means opening.
• Fatiha contains 7 aayats.
• Fatiha is also called Ummul Kitab.
• First Surah revealed in Madina was Surah Fatiha.
• Surah Fatiha revealed twice-in Makkah & Madina.
• Angles mentioned in Quran are 7.
• Meaning of Aayat is Sign.
• Meaning of Hadith is to take.
• Stone mentioned in Quran is ruby (Yaakut).
• First Sajda occurs in 9th Para, Al-Inaam Surah.
• Longest Surah (al-Bakr) covers 1/12th of Quran.
• Madni Surahs are generally longer.
• Madni Surahs consist of1/3rd of Quran.
• Makki Surahs consist of2/3rd of Quran.
• Surah Ikhlas is 112 Surah of Quran.
• First complete Madni Surah is Baqarah.
• Names of Quran mentioned in Quran is 55.
• Surahs named after animals are 4 in number.
• Namal means Ant.
• Surah Inaam means Camel.
• Surah Nahl means Honey bee.
• Surah Ankaboot means spider.
• The major part of Quran is revealed at night-time.
• Generally aayats of Sajida occur in Makki Surahs.
• 10 virtues are blessed for recitation of one word of Quran.
• Surah Anfal means Cave.
• In Naml two bismillah occur (2nds one is at aayat no:30)
• Surah Kahf means the cave.
• Muzammil means Wrapped in garments.
• Kausar means Abundance.

• Nasr means Help.

• Ikhlas means Purity of faith.
• Falak means Dawn.
• Un-Nass means Mankind.
• Al-alq means Clot of blood.
• Alm Nashrah means Expansion.
• Uz-zukhruf means Ornaments.
• Surah Rahman is in 27th Para.
• Bride of Quran is Rahman Surah.
• Surah Yasin is in 22nd and 23rd Para.
• Present shape of quran is Taufeeqi.
• Quran is the greatest miracle of Prophet.
• Word surah has occurred in Quran 9 times.
• First seven aayats of quran are called Tawwal.
• The alphabet Alf comes most of times and Alf, Zuwad Alphabet comes least number of times.
• Quran is written in Prose & Poetry.
• Quran is also regarded as a manual of Science.
• Surah Alq is both Makki and Madni.
• Name of Muhammad is mentioned in Quran for 4 times.
• Adam is mentioned in Surah Aaraf.
• first Sindhi translation of Quran by Aakhund Azizullah Halai
• Torat means light.
• Zaboor means Pieces/ Book written in big letters.
• Injeel means Good news.
• 99 number of aayats describe Khatam-e- Nabuwat.
• Command against Juva & amputation of hands came 8th A.H
• Laws about orphanage revealed in 3 A.H.
• Laws about Zina revealed in 5 A.H.
• Laws about inheritance revealed in 3 A.H.
• In 4th A.H wine was prohibited.
• The order of Hijab for women reveled in 4th A.H.
• Ablution made obligatory in 5th A.H.
• In Surah Al-Nisa the commandment of Wuzu is present.
• Procedure of ablution is present in Surah Maidah.
• In 4 A.H Tayammum was granted.
• Interest was prohibited in 8th A.H.
• The order of Hijiab reveled in 8th Hijrah. (chk)
• During ghazwa Banu Mustaliq the command of tayamum was reveled.
• Quran recited in Medina firstly in the mosque Nabuzdeeq.
• Quran verse abrogating a previous order is called Naasikh.
• First man to recite Quran in Makkah: Abdullah bin Masood.
• Forms of revelation granted to Prophet were 3 (wahi,Kashf,dream)
• First method of revelation of Quran Wahi.
• Kashf means Vision.
• Initially Quran was preserved in memory form.
• After Umar’s death, copy of quran was passed on to Hafsa.
• Only Sahabi mentioned in Quran Zaid bin Haris.(surah ahzab)
• Paradise is mentioned in Quran for150 times.
• Section of Paradise in which Prophets will dwell Mahmood.
• Doors of Hell are 7.
• Subterranean part of hell is Hawia.
• Number of angles of hell 19.
• Gate-keeper of hell Malik.
• Gate-keeper of heaven Rizwan.
• Place of heaven at which people whose good deeds equal bad deeds will be kept in Aaraf.
• A tree in hell emerging from its base is Zakoon.
• Name of the mountain of hell is Saud.
• Heaven on earth was built by Shadad.
• The word Islam has been used at 92 places in the holy quran.
• First revelation written by Khalid bin Saeed
• Last wahi written by Abi Ibn Kaaf.
• Last wahi came on3rd Rabiul Awal 11 A.D
• In 15th Para the event of Miraj is mentioned.
• Except the name of Maryam the name of no other woman has come explicitly in the Quran.
• Iblees will not be punished with fire but with cold.
• Iblees’s refusal to prostrate before man is mentioned in Kuran for 9 times.
• Iblees means “disappointed one”.
• Al-Kausar relates to death of Qasim and Hazrat Abdullah
• Jibrail came 24 000 times into the court of the Prophet.
• Quran has been translated into fifty languages to date.
• If a woman marries the second time, she will be in Jannah with the second husband. (Hadith)
• The Earth and the Heaven were created by Allah in 6 days, it is described in Surah Yunus.
• Zaid bin Thabit collected the Quran in the form of Book.
• Tarjumanul Quran Abdullah bin Abbas.
• In Surah Muzzamil verse 73 reading quran slowly and clearly is ordained.
• 4 Mosque mentioned in Holy Quran.
• Jibraeel is referred in Quran as Ar-rooh.
• In Quran Rooh-al-Qudus is Jibrael it means holy spirit.
• In Quran Rooh-al-Ameen is Jibrael.
• Incharge of Provisions is Mekaeel.
• The angel who was sent to Prophets as a helper against enemies of Allah was Jibraeel.
• The Angel who sometimes carried Allah’s punishment for His disobedients was Jibraeel.
• Jibrael is mentioned in Quran for three times.
• Old Testament is the Torait.
• New Testament is Injeel.
• Psalms is Zuboor.
• Gospal is Injeel.
• Prophet is called Farqaleet in Injeel.
• Taharat-e-Sughra is Wuzu.
• There are two types of Farz.
• Saloos-ul-Quran is Surah Ikhlas.
• Aroos-ul-Quran i.e bride of Quran is Al-Rehman.
• Meaning of Baqarah: The Goat
• In Surah Waqiya the word Al-Quran ul Hakeem is used.
• First Wahi was revealed on 17 Ramzan.
• Two Surahs are named with one letter heading.
• Surah Baqara & Ale Imran are known as Zuhraveen.
• Wine is termed in Quran as Khumar.
• The first authority for the compilation of Ahadis is .
• Sahih Bukhari contains 7397 ahadis.

 

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إِنَّا أَعْطَيْنَاكَ الْكَوْثَرَ
فَصَلِّ لِرَبِّكَ وَانْحَرْ
إِنَّ شَانِئَكَ هُوَ الْأَبْتَرُ

Inna aAtayna kal kawthar
Fasalli li rabbika wanhar
Inna shani-aka huwal abtar

Verily We have given to you the abundance
So pray to your Lord and sacrifice
Indeed your enemy is the one who is cut off

Chapter al-Kawthar (The Abundance) is the smallest chapter in the Qur’an consisting of only three lines. From a linguistic, literary, theological, rational and ideological point of view this chapter has the utmost significance. Being the smallest chapter in the Qur’an it is often cited by those who are involved in some form of polemic. This is due to the famous challenge of the Qur’an. The Qur’an states:

“If you (mankind) are in doubt concerning what We revealed to Our servant, than bring a chapter like it….” Qur’an 2:23

Muslim and non-Muslim exegetes have commented that these verses, and other verses similar to it, are an open challenge to humanity to try and match the literary and linguistic feature/nature of the divine text. It is not surprising that this chapter is often quoted and its significance highlighted by those propagating the Islamic way of life.

This chapter is used as a proof of the Islamic creed. If someone can meet the challenge the text cannot be from the Divine. However if the challenge can not be met, even though there are a finite set of literary and linguistic ‘tools’ at their disposal; then the question of authorship has great implications.

The Qur’an was revealed approximately 1400 years ago and for this amount of time the challenge has remained. This however does not mean that no one has attempted to match the literary and linguistic style/feature/nature of the text. Throughout the centuries thinkers, poets, theologians and literary critics have attempted to challenge the Qur’an. Some of these challengers include Musaylamah, Ibn Al-Mukaffa‘, Abu’l-’Ala Al-Marri, Yahya b. Al-Hakam al-Ghazal, Sayyid ‘Ali Muhammad, Ibn al-Rawandi, Bassar bin Burd, Sahib Ibn ‘Abbad, Abu’l – ‘Atahiya and the contemporary Christian Missionaries who developed the ‘True Furqan’.

Without going into an analysis of why Muslim and non-Muslim scholars have agreed that those who have attempted to challenge the Qur’an have failed, the summary below should suffice:

Even though the challengers have had the same set of ‘tools’, which are the 29 letters, finite grammatical rules and the blue print of the challenge – which is the Qur’an itself; they have failed to:

1. Replicate the Qur’ans literary form
2. Match the unique linguistic genre of the Qur’an
3. Select and arrange words like that of the Qur’an.
4. Select and arrange particles like that of the Qur’an.
5. Match the Qur’ans phonetic superiority.
6. Equal the frequency of rhetorical devices
7. Match the level of informativity
8. Equal the Qur’ans conciseness and flexibility

For example if we take Musaylamah’s attempt to challenge the Qur’an,

The elephant.
What is the elephant?
And who shall tell you what is the elephant?
He has a ropy tail and a long trunk.
This is a [mere] trifle of our Lord’s creations.

it can be clearly seen, with reference to the Arabic original, that the style of his speech is in the kahin style of rhymed prose. It lacks informativity and the words and phrases that have been used can be replaced with words that will express greater meaning and produce more eloquent discourse. In other words from a literary and stylistics point of view, this challenge fails.

In light of the above what makes the Qur’an, or in this case, what makes the shortest chapter in the Qur’an inimitable? To start, below is a summary of chapter al-Kawthar’s literary and linguistic features:

1. Unique Literary Form
2. Unique Linguistic Genre
3. Abundance of rhetorical devices/features:
– Emphasis
– Multiple Meaning
– Iltifaat – Grammatical shift
– Word order and Arrangement
– Ellipsis
– Conceptual Relatedness (Intertextuality)
– Intensification
– Choice of words & Particles
– Phonetics
– Semantically Orientated Repetition
– Intimacy
– Exaggeration
– Rebuke and contempt
– Conciseness
– Flexibility
– Prophesy/Factual

Unique Literary Form

This chapter like all the other chapters in the Qur’an can only be described as a unique literary form. This means that this chapter can not be explained as any of the known literary forms of the Arabic language.

The Arabic language can be categorised into ‘Prose’ and ‘Poetry’. Arabic Prose being further grouped into rhymed prose (saj’) and continuous speech (mursal). Arabic poetry differs from Arabic Prose as it ends with a rhyme and is distinguished by its metrical rhythmical patterns which are called the ‘al-Bihar.’ There are 16 al-Bihar which all Arabic poetry, pre and post Islamic, are based upon.

This chapter is unique as its internal rhythm can not be described as any of the al-Bihar and its end rhyme and literary bonds differ from any Arabic prose. Therefore its literary form is unlike any known literary forms of the Arabic language.

Unique Linguistic Genre

Like all other chapters in the Qur’an, chapter al-Kawthar marry’s together rhetorical and cohesive elements in every sentence. This is a unique use of the Arabic language as Arabic texts mostly employ cohesive elements in every sentence. Below is an analysis of this chapter in light of the above:

This chapter can be split into two sentences:

[1] Verily We have given to you the abundance so pray to your Lord and sacrifice

[2] Indeed your enemy is the one who is cut off

In the first sentence the rhetorical aspects are (these will be explained later):

Emphasis/Intensification
Choice of Word & Particle
Rhythm and Sound
Iltifaat (grammatical shift)
Multiple meaning
Conceptual Relatedness (intertextuality)

The cohesive device used in this sentence is the ‘fa’ particle (which is causative) and links the structure ‘Verily We have given to you the abundance’ with the structure ‘pray to your Lord and sacrifice’.

In the second sentence the rhetorical aspects are:

Choice of Word and Particle
Rhythm and Sound
Semantically Orientated Repetition
Confinement/exclusivity
Rebuke and Contempt
Prophesy/Factual
Word order and Arrangement

The cohesive device used in this sentence is what is known as ‘Zero’ cohesion. This is a form of cohesion where a cohesive particle like waw (and) or fa’ (so) is not used. The cohesive element is easily understood via the readers’ linguistic intuition. The whole structure relates to the preceding sentence, if it was not apparent then a cohesive particle would have to be used. The way the Qur’an achieves cohesion in this sentence can also be seen as a rhetorical feature, not using a cohesive particle in this case creates conciseness in language; any needless or repetitive lexical items are removed. If the relationship between one sentence and another can be understood without the use of additional words or particles then they should not be used, as this achieves brevity and eloquent discourse. This is similar to the chapter al-Ihklas (Sincerity).

Abundance of Rhetorical Devices/Features

This chapter like all the other chapters in the Qur’an has an abundance of rhetorical features and devices. According to Abu Musa, Abdul Raof and others the Qur’an has a greater use of rhetorical devices and features than any other text; past or present. Below are some examples of how chapter al-Kawthar achieves this ‘sea of rhetoric’. What is meant by rhetoric here is what is known in the Arabic tradition as ‘balagha’, this encompasses the use of language to please and persuade; expression in the best verbal forms, eloquence and interrelation between style, structure and meaning. The list below is not exhaustive but sheds some light into this chapter’s unique use of language.

Emphasis & Choice of Pronoun

إِنَّا

[Verily, We] This structure is emphatic (harf al-tawkid); also the plural is used to indicate power, certainty, ability, greater quantity or sometimes to stress the status and greatness (li-ta’zim al-mutakallim aw ihtimaman bi-dhikr rabbika wa ta’ziman). This is an apt choice of pronoun as its persuasive force can not be matched by any other pronoun. The effect is “The creator, who has power to do anything has indeed given you….”

Word Choice

أَعْطَيْن

[A’Tayn] This term as been used instead of ‘Aataaina’ because of a subtle difference. The difference as defined by Ibn Manzoor in his Lisan al-‘Arab differs conceptually. The Qur’anic choice indicates ‘to hand over with one’s own hand’ whereas the non Qur’anic selection does not provide this meaning. This choice of word is apt as it strengthens the sentence emphasizing the surety of giving, ability, greatness, power and intimacy (to console and strengthen the Prophet).

According to Naishapuri this term also indicates the extra notion of ownership with it.

The verb has also been used in the past tense which indicates that is has already happened and makes it definitive. This further accentuates the meaning of surety, power and greatness. This also expresses certainty of a promise, in this case the Prophet will have al-Kawthar.

Word Choice

الْكَوْثَرَ

[al-Kawthar] The root stem for this word are the letters kaaf, tha and ra (=kathara). This signifies plentiful, multitude, overflowing, rich, unstinting and unending. Other derivations of this root include:

Katha-ratun: Multitude
Katheerun: Much, many, numerous
Ak’tharu: More numerous (emphasis)
Kath-thara: To multiply
Takathur: Act of multiplying
Is-thak-thara: To wish for much

Al-Qurtubi states that the Arabs used ‘Kawthar’ to denote anything which is great in quantity or value. This word can not be replaced with another, as its meaning can not be matched equally with any other Arabic word. Ibn Abbas mentioned that the al-Kawthar includes all types of good. (Ibn Abbas Tanwir al-Miqbas: this is of doubtful origin. However this is also the opinion of Sa‘id Ibn Jubayr, ‘Ikramah, Qatadah and Mujahid.)

Word Arrangement

The placement of al-Kawthar is an attribute; plentiful/abundance. However this word has been placed at the end of the verse with no word after to be attributed to it, as al-Qurtubi points out, this indicates that the Prophet has been given an abundance of everything. The Scholars state that if God had bestowed one thing in great multitude then that would have been mentioned, however due to giving the Prophet an abundance of everything nothing is mentioned to indicate everything or many things. Also within the science of eloquence and rhetoric mentioning all the things would be superfluous and not a good use of language.

Multiple Meaning

The word al-Kawthar has been given multiple meanings by the scholars. These meanings include:

1. That river of paradise from which rivers flow.
2. The fountain on the Day of Judgement from which the Prophet will quench the thirst of his people.
3. His prophethood.
4. The Qur’an, no other divine book is as comprehensive as the Qur’an.
5. The way of life called Islam.
6. The multitude of his companions, no other prophet had that many companions
7. Elevated status. No one is more researched, more mentioned and more praised than the prophet Muhammad.
8. It is multitude of goodness.

Grammatical Shift: Iltifaat

إِنَّا …ِرَبِّكَ ْ

[…to your Lord]. Iltifaat is a unique rhetorical and stylistic device employed by the Qur’an. The Qur’an is the only text to have the highest frequency of grammatical shifts and related rhetorical features. In this Surah, there is a change from the first person plural [We in innaa] to the second person […your Lord]. This change is not an abrupt shift; it is calculated and highlights the intimate relationship between God and the Prophet. The use of ‘We’ as described above is used to emphasize the majesty, power and ability of God whereas ‘Your Lord’ is used to indicate and emphasize intimacy, closeness and love; this is an apt use as the preceding concepts are about prayer, sacrifice and worship. [So to your Lord pray and sacrifice]. Furthermore, the purpose of this chapter is also to console the Prophet, using intimate language enhances the psycholinguistic effect.

Conceptual Relatedness (intertextuality)

فَصَلِّ لِرَبِّكَ وَانْحَرْ

[So to your Lord pray and sacrifice]

The ‘fa’ (so) particle is sababi (causative) this indicates a recommendation to the Prophet to be thankful for the abundance he has been given. This conceptually relates to tawhid (oneness of God). The Oneness of God is the central theme in the Qur’an which permeates every chapter. The Arabs at the time of revelation would worship, pray and sacrifice to other ‘deities’ rather than God. Therefore this statement is not only a logical and rational concept i.e. to be thankful as a result of being the beneficiary of abundant good, rather it is to show the difference to the polytheists who would offer worship and sacrifice to idols. This relates to a major theme in the Qur’an, the oneness of God.

There are other verses that related to this particular verse, these include:

Say: “Verily, my Salah, my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of all that exists. He has no partner. And of this I have been commanded, and I am the first of the Muslims.” Qur’an 6:162-163

And do not eat from what Allah’s Name has not been pronounced over, indeed that is Fisq (transgression). Qur’an 6:121

It can be clearly seen that chapter al-Kawthar conceptually relates to other verses and chapters within the Qur’an. This feature from a linguistics point of view is called thematic intertextuality.

Word Choice

وَانْحَرْ

[Wanhar] The word ‘wanhar’ is from the root na, ha and ra (= nahara) which means to sacrifice an animal by cutting or piercing the jugular vein. The word ‘wanhar’ also has the meaning of standing facing Qibla for Salah (prayer). It also means raising hands while reciting Takbir (God is the Greatest).

This word is the most apt word for the meaning of sacrifice as it has multi layered meanings which are most appropriate for the ideas and concepts that are trying to be delivered in this structure. Surely it is only out of God’s Greatness that al-Kawthar is given to the Prophet and it should be received with thanks and sacrifice, which are manifested in Islam via sacrificing animals, prayer and recitation of Gods names (dhikr).

If anyone was to scan the Arabic language for a word that has such expression they would not be able to find one.

Emphasis and Choice of Particle

إِنَّ

[Inna] ‘Indeed’ is used to emphasize and accentuate that it is the enemies of the Prophet that are cut off. The effect is ‘you enemies are certainly the ones you are cut off’.

Semantically Orientated Repetition & Rhythm

إِنَّا أَعْطَيْنَاكَ الْكَوْثَرَ
فَصَلِّ لِرَبِّكَ وَانْحَرْ
إِنَّ شَانِئَكَ هُوَ الْأَبْتَرُ

The repetition of the second person (ka = ‘you’ x 3) is singling out/focusing/making exclusive the Prophet as the target of the speaker. The emphasis (iqrar) is a stylistic move to fortify and strengthen the Prophet. The consistent use of the second person establishes continuity in the verse and generates rhythm. Moreover, there is a juxtaposition between the iltifaat of the speaker (al-mutakallim = God) with the fixity/repetition of ka in the second person (mukhatab = Prophet).

Rebuke and Contempt

إِنَّ شَانِئَكَ هُوَ الاٌّبْتَرُ

[It is your enemy that is cut off]

The use of the word ‘abtar’ (cut off) is most suitable as it was a word used by the enemies of the Prophet against him. This structure indicates that in reality the enemies of the Prophet are the ones who are cut off i.e. have acquired great loss. This is accentuated by the preceding two verses which are an intense, emphatic and exaggerated use of language to show that all good has been given to the Prophet. The contrast between the persuasive preceding structures and the use of the word ‘abtar’ gives the word more power and intensity.

Word Arrangement

إِنَّ شَانِئَكَ هُوَ الاٌّبْتَرُ

[abtar] This chapter uses the insult the enemies of the Prophet used to enhance the communicative effect. This word in the Arabic tradition means `Leave him, for indeed he is a man who is cut off having no descendants. So when he dies he will not be remembered.’

This return of insult is not merely done as a form of ‘tit for tat’ rather it is eloquently arranged as the last word used in the chapter to stress the meaning. The effect is, that it is they who are really cut off as the word ‘abtar’ is placed right at the end of the chapter to allude to this fact. There are no words after ‘abtar’ just like no remembrance and no offspring to continue someone’s lineage (Note: This is a linguistic indication and not a fact).

Choice of Particle: Confinement/Exclusivity

هُوَ الاٌّبْتَرُ

[…that is cut off]. The alif lam (a and l) after the ‘huwa’ denotes confinement and exclusivity (designates a specific person or thing i.e. the enemies of the Prophet). For the context of this chapter, the definite article (al-) may designate either definition (li ’l-ta’rif) i.e. refer to a specific person/thing or it may designate ‘familiarity’ (li ’l-‘ahd). The effect here is that the enemies specifically and not the Prophet who are really cut off. Such minutiae changes the power of the structure, which is a great use of language.

Rhythm and Sound

The Qur’an has been described as an “inimitable symphony” whose rhythm moves men to tears and ecstasy. The Qur’an not only selects the most apt words and phrases, but also achieves a unique sound within a unique literary form. This chapter has the following verse end rhyme:

Kawthar
…nhar
…tar

What is noticeable about the rhyme in this chapter is that the end rhyme of the last two verses resonate the sound of the word ‘al-kawthar’, what is meant here is as if the sound of the word ‘al-kawthar’ is extended to support the overall theme that the Prophet has really been given an abundance. It is as though the word ‘al-kawthar’ has been exaggerated and phonetically elongated to further highlight its meaning and enhance the overall persuasive power of the structure. Please also see ‘Semantically Orientated Repetition & Rhythm’ above.

Prophesy/Factual

An interesting observation of the chapter is that it also is factual and accurate. At the time when this chapter was revealed the Prophet was in one of the lowest points in his life. His enemies were the ones who seemed to have prosperity and power. However, the reality soon changed. The Prophet turned out to be the most successful Prophet both as a man delivering a message and as a statesman. His enemies eventually lost their power.

However the Qur’an used the word ‘abtar’ here, this describes the Prophet gaining power and success but it should also indicate something more specific for it to be appreciated as a factual description and a form of prophesy.

There are major opinions of the reason for this revelation. The first opinion is that Al-`As bin Wa’il would say, whenever the Prophet would be mentioned (in his presence), `Leave him, for indeed he is a man who is cut off having no descendants. So when he dies he will not be remembered.’ Therefore this chapter was revealed to console the Prophet.

The other opinion is that Abu Lahab, another leading member of the Quraish, exlaimed `Muhammad has been cut off (i.e., from progeny) tonight.’ when the Prophet’s son passed away.

What makes this chapter a prophesy and factual is the events that took place after this revelation.

With regards to Abu Lahab he died of a form of plague and was not buried by his sons until one the leading tribe leaders noticed how his body was rotting. His sons eventual placed the remains of the body on a wall and threw stones on it. Abu Lahab had lost power, honour and dignity.

‘As bin Wa’il faced similar humiliation. His sons had converted to Islam thus becoming his enemies, as he was an active enemy of Islam. Furthermore his sons did not take any inheritance from him. So in reality his lineage was broken.

This is Prophetic and factual.

Please read the exegesis and the historical background of this chapter to find out more details.

Conclusion

This chapter is truly unique and inimitable.

This chapter has less than 15 words yet briefly analysing this chapter more than 15 rhetorical devices and related features have been found. These features are not just mediocre attempts to please and persuade, rather they are sublime features that if removed or altered will distort the impact and communicative effect of the text.

Not one feature or any words can be changed or improved upon.

It doesn’t stop there. In addition to the above this chapter is structured within its own literary form and linguistic genre.

How can a human being create a unique literary form and linguistic genre, select the most apt words placed in the most perfect arrangement, produce a unique rhythm and semantically orientated sounds, provide factual prophetic information in concise eloquent expression with an abundance of rhetorical devices, in less than 15 words?

It was no wonder that those best placed to challenge the Qur’an failed.

This article intends to provoke further questions and sufficiently stimulate the reader to research further, particularly the question of authorship of the Qur’an. At the heart of that question lies only a limited set of possible answers. The Qur’an can only have come from an Arab, a non-Arab, the Prophet – if you believe he had a mastery of Arabic better than the Arabs of his time – or, as Muslims suggest, the Creator, which only counts as a possible source if you believe in its existence (that is of course a subject unto itself but an important pre-requisite).

From the above evidence the Qur’an is acknowledged to be written with the utmost beauty and purity of Language. It is incontestably the standard of the Arabic tongue, inimitable by any human pen, and because it still exists today, it insists on as a permanent miracle sufficient to convince the world of its divine origin. If the Qur’an was written by Muhammad, why were not Arab scholars and linguists able to rival the Qur’an?

 

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Isa bin Muhammad (Alaihir Rahmah) says that I once saw Abu Bakr bin Mujahid (Alaihir Rahmah) after his death in a dream reading the Holy Quran. I asked, “You have died, how are you reciting,” upon which he said, “After every Salah and finishing of the Quran, I would pray “O Allah, give me the Taufiq to recite the Quran in my grave” and that is why I am praying.” (Faizan-e-Sunnat)

Ahadith

The Holy Prophet said:
1) The best of you is he who learnt the Holy Quran and taught it to others. (Bukhari)
2) Undoubtedly, the heart gets rusted like metal gets rusted when water goes over it. The People asked, “How can they [hearts] be cleaned.” The Prophet replied, “To remember death in abundance and to recite the Holy Quran.” (Mishkat)
3) That chest which does not have any Quran in it is like an abandoned house. (Tirmizi, Darmi)
4) Whoever read the Quran and memorized it and belived its’ Halal to be Halal and its Haram to be Haram [i.e., accepted it commandments of Halal and Haraam], Allah will accept the intercession for such 10 people on from him whom Hell had already become Wajib. (Tirmizi, Ibn-e-Majah)
5) Whoever is an expert in reciting the Holy Quran is with the Kiraman Katebeen and whoever reads the Quran with pauses and it is difficult for him, that is, his tounge does not move easily and he recites with difficutly for him there are two rewards. (Bahar-e-Shariat)
6) The one who has memorized Quran will be told to read and climb and recite with Tarteel (clear and distinct recitation) like you used to read with Tarteel in the Dunya; your place will be where you read your last Ayat. (Bahar-e-Shariat)
7) Allah says, “Whoever was kept busy with the [recitation] of Quran from my Zikr and asking me, I will give him better than those who I give to those who ask” and the excellence of the Word of Allah over all the other words is like the excellence of Allah over all his creation.
8) Learn the Quran and read it because whoever learned the Quran and read it and did Qayam with it is like a bag filled with Musk whose fragrance is spread everywhere and whoever learned the Quran and slept that is he did not do Qiyamul Layl is like a bag which is filled with Musk and its mouth has been closed. (Tirmizi, Ibn-e-Majah, Nisaee)
9) Read the Quran when you heart feels affection and attachment and when your heart becomes bored stand up that is stop reciting the Quran. (Saheeh Bukhari and Muslim)
10) Decorate the Quran with your (good) voices. (Mishkat)
11) O People of the Quran, do not make the Quran a pillow, that is do not be lazy and be careless, and read the Quran in the day and night like it is the Haq of Recitation, and spread it, that is, read with good voices or do not take compensation for it, and whatever is in it, reflect upon itso that you may attain success, and do not hurry in its reward because the reward for it is great (which will be given in the Akhirah). (Bahiqi)

Rewards for certain Surahs and Ayahs

The Holy Prophet said:
1) Surah Fatiha is a cure from every illness. (Darmi, Bahiqi)
2) Do not make your home a graveyard, the Shaitan runs from the home in which Surah Baqrah is recited. (Sahih Muslim)
3) Whoever memorized the first ten ayahs of Surah Kahf will be saved the Dajjal. (Sahih Muslim)
4) Whoever recites Surah Kahf on the day of Jummah, there will be a Nur brightened for him between two Jummahs.
5) Everything has a heart and the heart of the Quran is Surah Yaseen, whoever read Yaseen, Allah will write the reward of reading the Quran ten times from him. (Tirmizi and Darmi)
6) Whoever reads Surah Yaseen for the pleasure of Allah, his past sins will be forgiven so read this near your deceased. (Bahiqi)
7) (Reading) Qul hu WAllahu Ahad (Surah Ikhlas) is equal to [reading] one third of the Quran.
8) Whoever read Ayatul Kursi after every Fard Salah, he will be under the protection and security of Allah. (Dailmi on the Authority of Sayeduna Ali)
9) (On the Day of Judgement) a caller will say O Recitor of Surah Inaam, come to Jannat for loving Surah Inaam and its recitation.
10) Surah Tabarak (Surah Mulk) saves one from Hell.
11) Whatever task is not begun with Bismillahir Rahamnir Raheem remains incomplete and unfinished.

Ettiquteets and Rules of Tilawat:
1) To memorize one Ayah of the Quran is Fard-e-Aeen on every Mukallaf Muslim; to memorize the entire Holy Quran is Fard-e-Kafyah; to memorize Surah Fatiha and a small Surah or something similar like three small Ayahs or one long Ayah is Wajib-e-Aeen. (Durre Mukhtar)
2) To read the Holy Quran while looking at it is better then reading without looking at it because in this case one touches the Holy Quran, sees the Holy Quran, and reads the Holy Quran and all this is Ibadat. (Bahar-e-Shariat)
3) To read the Holy Quran in the restroom and such places of impurity is not allowed (Na-Jaiz)
4) It is Haraam that everybody read the Holy Quran in a gathering loudly at once, however, it is necessary to read loudly enough so that one can hear what he/she is reading, that is, if there is no other distraction like noise. (Bhare-e-Shariat) Also, many children read together at once in a Madrsa loudly for learning purposes and this is okay.
5) It is better to read the Quran loudly that is if somebody praying, sleeping, or somebody ill will not be distracted. (Gunyah)
6) If somebody is reciting the Quran incorrectly then it is Wajib to tell him/her unless if one fears jealousy and hate. (Gunyah)
7) To memorize the Holy Quran and then to forget it is a sin.
8) It is from the ettiqutes of respecting the Holy Quran that one does not put their back towards the Quran or spread their legs towards the Quran or sit in a high place when the Quran is beneath. (Bahare Shariat)
9) During recitation reflect on what you are reading. For example, when reading about punishment, one should repent; when reading about paradise, one should rejoice and pray for Jannah.
10) The way to do Sajdah of Tilwat is as follows: If one hears or reads the Ayat of Sajdah then he should stand with the intention of performing the Sajdah of Tilawat and saying Allahu Akbar should go into Sajdah and should recite the Tasbeeh of Sajdah atleast three times. Then, saying Allahu Akbar, one should stand up. To say Allahu Akbar both times is Sunnah. Similarly, to stand before and after the Sajdah is Mustahab. (Durre Mukhtar)

Lastly, learn how to read the Quran in the company of a Qualified Sunni Alim [and mature sisters must go to a Qualified Sister] who can teach them how to read as this is necessary. At times, while reciting many brothers and sisters unknowingly make mistakes in recitation which change the meaning which breaks their Salah. Likewise, send your children to Madrsas where they may learn how to recite the Quran with correct pronunciation and Qirat. If there is not a Madrsa in your town, then establish one. Knowledge of Islam leads one to Love Allah and helps to build a good moral character within the Muslim community. By learning the Quran, a Muslim saves his Salah, his Iman, and his Akhirah. Learning the Quran is not limited to just learning how to recite the Holy Book, rather, it is a life long process of learning how to recite it and understand what the Quran says. The noble Ulama have worked hard and written volumes of Tafseer which consists of Ahadith, Stories, and important points. After learning the Quran, we must practice it and spread the word into our family and community.


Many verses have been direct reasons for idolaters to become Muslims at early era of Islam, time of the revelation of the Qur’an. Today these verses still have same power to touch non – Muslims hearts and minds. Should we -Muslims- humble our hearts to Allah, too.….

This atheist was denying the existence of God and mock at those who believe.

He was proud of his disbelief and being atheist, he always say:” If Allah exist, why He do not show up himself..?

Allah willing to teach him an unexpectedly lesson.

So, he dreamed as if he were drowning and at the moment he came close to death he found himself screaming : “O God!!!”.

He waked up upon his cry , both his body and the deep of himself were shaking. He was astonished, whispering to himself:” How could it be! how could I feel the presence of the God? while I’m Ultra-atheist !!!

Next day same scene repeated in his dream, and he resorts to God the moment he is about to drown, and he wake up frightened, but intended to read Qur’aan.

For his astonishment ,he was going through a verse describing himself drowning and resorts only to God to save him !!

He was never expect to read such meaning in Quran !!:

“And when harm touches you upon the sea, those that you call upon vanish from you except Him (Allah Alone). But when He brings you safe to land, you turn away (from Him)And man is ever ungrateful.”  Al-Israa, verse 67

He said at once, O, these words couldn’t be issued by a man lived 1400 years ago in a desert, didn’t sail once during his all life. How could a man like him describe exactly the feelings for who ever oversaw drowning. O,Allah, he is a truthful prophet ,Sincere in his claim.

This verse was the reason he became a Muslim. Praise be to Allah for the blessing of Islam. ♥


 

                         

Verses and Ahadith

Here are some Quranic verses and Ahadith Nabvi about suicide for your reference;

  • Quranic Verse 1: “Don’t kill yourself. No doubt Allah (swt) is merciful and anyone who does so, will be pushed in fire. And it is easy for Allah (swt).” (Nisa: 4:29, 4:30)

  • Quranic Verse 2: “We are property of Allah (swt) and we will return to Allah (swt) one day.” (Baqra 2:156)

  • Quranic Verse 3: “Don’t’ kill yourself with your own hands” (Baqra 2:195)

  • Hadith No.1: “Whoever kills himself with an iron weapon, he will be tortured in hell with the same weapon”. (Bokhari)

  • Hadith No.2: “Whoever strangles himself with a rope, he will keep on strangling himself until being burnt in hell. And he who killed himself with a spear, he will keep on being killed by spear until he is sent to hell.” (Bokhari)

  • Hadith No.3: “Before death, a sick person cut his own fingers due to prolonged sickness and depression. Rasulullah (saw) saw him in dream and he was hiding his fingers. Rasulullah prayed to Allah to forgive him for cutting his own fingers”. (Muslim)

  • Hadith No.4: “A hypocrite fighting alongwith Rasulullah (saw) was very brave in the fight but when he was too much hurt, he killed himself with his own sword to avoid pain. Upon this, Rasulullah (saw) informed all that this person goes to hell. He said that there are some who do a few things to qualify for heaven, but they actually qualify for nothing except hell. Similarly, there are some whom everyone considers as going to hell, but they are actually going to heaven.” (Muslim).

  • Hadith No.5: “Rasulullah said there was a person back in time who had a painful acne and he cut his own wound whereby a lot of blood spilled and he died. Allah (swt) said “Heaven is fobidden to him”. (Muslim)

  • Hadith No.6: Whoever kills himself with a weapon made of iron, he will keep on hurting himself in hell with the same weapon in hell. And whoever kills himself with poison, he will keep on eating poison in hell. And whoever commits suicide by falling from mountain, he will keep on falling in the fire of hell forever over and over again.” (Muslim)

  • Fatwa in Durre Mukhtar: “Although one who commits suicide, will burn in hell forever, but the deceased was a Muslim before doing this act and he will be buried as per normal Muslim traditions. Such a person will be given Ghusl, Janaaza Salaat and burial in a Muslim cemetery as is the case with any other sinful Muslim. “


The word Jihad has been frequently used by politicians, publications [1] and media outlets. Its uses have mostly, if not always, been associated with terrorism and wanton destruction.[2] Even during the aftermath of the tragic events of 9/11, 7/7 and the recent Mumbai Attacks, many western commentators labeled them as acts of Jihad. However, is Jihad terrorism? Does it involve wanton destruction and the killing of innocents en masse? Significantly, answers are required to the oft repeated question: what is Jihad?

This article aims to show that terrorist attacks and indiscriminate killing are antithetical to the Islamic concept of Jihad.

Fighting: A Human Reality

There have been many anthropological studies on war and fighting, and the conclusions are very similar. Not only have humans been fighting and killing for millennia, the act of fighting and killing is a human reality. The reasons for fighting and war differ. Some of these reasons include land, fame, fortune, religion, independence and resources. Humans have also fought to defend themselves and others, or to attack their enemies. In summary, war and fighting are human phenomena that are not specific to any particular race, ideology or religion.

In the modern world there are many wars, and they are mostly over resources. An example is the US and UK fighting for oil and strategic dominance in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Fighting & Islam

Islam, being a practical way of life, realises that humans fight and engage in war. Islam sets down rules for war, which are to be followed if Muslims go to war, examples include fighting for just reasons, no killing of innocent people, no killing of women and children, no burning of crops or trees, only fight those that fight you, and no wanton destruction. Abu Bakr who was the Prophet Muhammad’s first successor and is considered to have been his closest companion said:

“Stop, O people, that I may give you ten rules for your guidance in the battlefield. Do not commit treachery or deviate from the right path. You must not mutilate dead bodies. Neither kill a child, nor a woman, nor an aged man. Bring no harm to the trees, nor burn them with fire, especially those which are fruitful. Slay not any of the enemy’s flock, save for your food. You are likely to pass by people who have devoted their lives to monastic (or humanitarian) services; leave them alone.”

Many would argue that this is in contrast to certain Western nations when they invade countries; they tend to destroy the infrastructure of the countries causing more deaths than bullets and bombs (even the BBC reports that so called ‘smart bombs’ are not so smart, with only 40% hitting targets.[3] Civilian deaths in the US/UK invasions are evidence of this). Then contractual awards are given to western companies to rebuild the infrastructure, making the invaded country pay for it – Iraq is a striking example.

Whilst certain western powers wage war and invade for what everyone knows to be for resources and places of strategic value, in Islam war is not waged for these reasons; it does not invade to rob, steal and make lands poor – quite the opposite.

Jihad

The term most commonly used to describe Muslims fighting is Jihad, but it has been used politically to create fear of Islam and Muslims. Jihad has been linked to terrorism, however when the corpus of Islamic reference material is analysed, this cannot be further from the truth.

Jihad is when Muslims go to war, and it has its rules relating to it. Primarily there are two types of Jihad, defensive and progressive. Defensive is when Muslims rally to fight and expel armies from their lands which have been invaded. This concept is similar to article 51 of the UN Charter which states:

“Nothing in the present charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs….”[4]

Examples include when the Crusaders invaded Palestine in 11th/12th century, and when the Mongols invaded Central Asia, Persia, Iraq and Syria in the 13th century. This defensive Jihad is to push the occupiers out and has nothing to do with terrorism; in reality it is a basic human right.[5]

Progressive Jihad is practically undertaken by a legitimate Islamic State (no such state exists today) and is initiated for three main reasons. The reasons include removing oppression, defending the weak and implementing the justice of Islam. This is evident in Islamic history, John of Nikiou in 690 CE, who was a Coptic Bishop in Nikiu (Egypt), states,

“When Muslims saw the…hostility of the people to the emperor Heraclius because of the persecution wherewith he had visited all the land of Egypt…people began to help the Muslims.”[6]

Additionally, oppression and all forms of genocide would justify progressive Jihad.

Progressive Jihad has three parts to it. It first invites the people to accept Islam by explaining the Islamic belief and what Islam has to offer them. This is done by dialogue and discussion and can take some time. After this, the Islamic State then invites the people to live within the state and enjoy peace, justice, security and protection. Historically many non-Muslim peoples have opted for this option. This is in exchange for a small yearly tax.[7] The famous letter from a Rabbi, after Europe’s persecution of the Jews, found in Phillip Mansel’s book “Constantinople ”, reflect this reality,

“Here in the land of the Turks we have nothing to complain of. We possess great fortunes; much gold and silver are in our hands. We are not oppressed with heavy taxes and our commerce is free and unhindered. Rich are the fruits of the earth. Everything is cheap and every one of us lives in peace and freedom…”[8]

The third and final course of action after the first two have been followed is war. This war is called Jihad and in cases of genocide and extreme oppression it may be the first and only part of the process. It is the final part of a foreign policy used by the Islamic State, and as mentioned it has its rules, like no wanton destruction and killing of innocent people. When an Islamic State goes to war, it is not for money, land, or riches, but to show people the justice and security of Islam. Heinrich Graetz, a 19th century Jewish historian expressed the ‘favourable circumstances’ under Islamic rule,

“It was in these favourable circumstances that the Spanish Jews came under the rule of Mahometans, as whose allies they esteemed themselves the equals of their co-religionists in Babylonia and Persia. They were kindly treated, obtained religious liberty, of which they had so long been deprived, were permitted to exercise jurisdiction over their co-religionists…”[9]

This is unlike some western states, where Politicians claim they are fighting for so-called universal values, but in reality are fighting for resources and areas of strategic value. For example David Milliband, the British Foreign Secretary, said,

“Our party was created to fight for democracy and equal rights in our own country. We know we have further to go. But if we want to protect ourselves from terrorism at home, we need to defend and advance democracy and human rights abroad.”[10]

Judging by the current reality of the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, nothing can be further from the truth. Islamic foreign policy however is truthful about its goals and history bears testimony to this. This is why Jews fled Spain in the Inquisition and ran to the Muslims of Istanbul who welcomed them, because they knew justice lived in Islamic lands. Zion Zohar, a Jewish Historian, expressed similar sentiments in his book ‘Sephardic & Mizrahi Jewry’:

“Thus, when Muslims crossed the straits of Gibraltar from North Africa in 711 CE and invaded the Iberian Peninsula, Jews welcomed them as liberators from Christian Persecution.”[11]

Jihad is seen by western peoples and nations as barbaric and this is propagated to the masses, by politicians and the media, to portray Muslims as bloodthirsty killers. An Islamic State would commit to progressive Jihad, and will use war as a last resort – when diplomacy fails – to really liberate people from oppression. In addition to remove the tyranny of injustice and to show the people what Islam really is and how Islam can truly make their lives and society better – even if they do not become Muslim.

The Islamic belief is not forced upon people once land is taken, 1400 years of history bears testament to this [12]. This is evident in the early testimonies of Christian leadership. Ishoyabth who was patriarch from AD 647 to 657, writes,

“The Arabs, to who God gave the dominion over the world, behave to us as you know. They are not hostile to Christianity, but praise our religion, honour priests and saints, and help the Churches and Monastries.”[13]

The Qur’an & Fighting

The Qur’an discusses fighting and Jihad, the language used is emotive and can be seen as aggressive. However, the intended effect of these verses in the Qur’an are meant to evoke action, therefore in the context of fighting and war, the Qur’an would not say “Tickle their toes” or “Give them flowers”. What must also be realised is that the language is couched in restraining expressions such as “…and God does not love the transgressors” and “…be mindful of God”[14] thus instilling an awareness of God in such actions and to remind that the essence of Jihad is to remove oppression.

In the Qur’an, Jihad is a noble concept that is considered as a mercy from God. Without it there would be no mechanism to protect Muslims and Non-Muslims, remove oppression and implement justice. In today’s reality of death and destruction, due to oppressive western foreign policy, some people argue that this concept needs to be revived to today [15].

The Results of Jihad

U.S. Brig. General William Looney’s following statement is an apt description of Western foreign policy,

“If they turn on the radars we’re going to blow up their goddamn SAMs (surface-to-air missiles).They know we own their country. We own their airspace… We dictate the way they live and talk. And that’s what’s great about America right now. It’s a good thing, especially when there’s a lot of oil out there we need.” [16]

Whereas the Islamic view describes another paradigm,

“And what is the matter with you that you fight not in the cause of Allah and for the oppressed among men, women and children who say, ‘Our Lord, take us out of this city of oppressive people and appoint for us from Yourself a protector and appoint for us from Yourself a helper’?”[17]

Everyone wants to remove oppression and injustice. Islam does exactly that via Jihad and this can be seen in Islamic history. Contemporary pseudo-Islamic nations can not be used as a reference for Jihad and Islam as they do not implement and manifest the Islamic system. This is evident when their constitutions are analysed. It can only be concluded that Muslim world Governments implement and promote a system that is antithetical to Islam.

What, then, are the results of the Islamic foreign policy?

Reinhart Dozy, an authority on early Islamic Spain, explained the results of Jihad in Islamic Spain,

“…the unbounded tolerance of the Arabs must also be taken into account. In religious matters they put pressure on no man…Christians preferred their rule to that of the Franks.”[18]

Thomas Arnold, commenting on an Islamic source, states that,

“…the Christians called down blessings on the heads of the Muslims, saying, ‘May God give you rule over us again and make you victorious over the Romans; had it been they, they would not have given us back anything, but would have taken all that remained with us.’” [19]

Ulick R. Burke, a prominent historian specializing in the history of Spain, reached a similar conclusion,

“Christians did not suffer in any way, on account of their religion, at the hands of Moors…not only perfect toleration but nominal equality was the rule of the Arabs in Spain.’[20]

Adam Smith, the 18th century founding father of the modern capitalism, explains the impact of Islamic rule,

“The ruin of the empire of the Romans, and, along with it the subversion of all law and order, which happened a few centuries afterwards, produced the entire neglect of that study of the connecting principles of nature, to which leisure and security can alone give occasion. After the fall of those great conquerors and the civilizers of mankind, the empire of the Caliphs seems to have been the first state under which the world enjoyed that degree of tranquility which the cultivation of the sciences requires. It was under the protection of those generous and magnificent princes, that the ancient philosophy and astronomy of the Greeks were restored and established in the East; that tranquility, which their mild, just and religious government diffused over their vast empire, revived the curiosity of mankind, to inquire into the connecting principles of nature.” [21]

Bernard the Wise, a pilgrim monk, visited Egypt and Palestine in the reign of Caliph al-Mu’tazz (866-9 CE). He stated that,

“…the Christians and the Pagans [i.e. Muslims] have this kind of peace between them there that if I was going on a journey, and on the way the camel or donkey which bore my poor luggage were to die, and I was to abandon all my goods without any guardian, and go to the city for another pack animal, when I came back, I would find all my property uninjured: such is the peace there.”[22]

Reading the above, the reader must now ask “Does this sound like terrorism?”

The Cause of Terrorism

The history of terrorism and political violence demonstrates that it is cross-cultural, cross religion and is driven by a number of factors often born out of a sense of political injustice, occupation or invasion. An academic study by Professor Robert Pape, an Associate Professor at Chicago University, published in his book ‘Dying to Win: The Logic of Suicide Terrorism’ [23], demonstrates that the advent of suicide bombing is not unique to Muslims but is rather a generic human issue driven by a number of political factors rather than theological beliefs.

The study included the first complete database of every suicide attack around the world from 1980 to early 2004. The study found that:

• The world leader in suicide attacks was the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka – a Marxist, secular group.
• Two thirds of Muslim ‘suicide bombers’ have been from countries where US forces have or are still maintaining military forces.
• The presence of US forces is creating suicide attackers in Iraq which was a country that had never previously had a suicide attack in its history prior to the 2003 invasion.

According to the study, political injustice provides a possible reason for the proponents of such attacks to justify such actions. It is therefore crucial that acts of political violence are analysed as a separate issue based upon the individuals who choose to engage in them.

The Professor states,

“The data show that there is little connection between suicide terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism, or any one of the world’s religions. . . . Rather, what nearly all suicide terrorist attacks have in common is a specific secular and strategic goal: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from territory that the terrorists consider to be their homeland” [24]

Regarding the July 2005 bombings in London, the British government was forewarned that its involvement in the catastrophic US invasion of Iraq had increased Britain’s vulnerability to the threat of retaliation. The leaked report from the UK’s Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC), which predated the attacks, warned:

“Events in Iraq are continuing to act as motivation and a focus of a range of terrorist related activity in the UK”.

In April 2005, a report drawn up by the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) entitled “International Terrorism: Impact of Iraq” was even more explicit, stating:

“We judge that the conflict in Iraq has exacerbated the threat from international terrorism and will continue to have an impact in the long term. It has reinforced the determination of terrorists who were already committed to attacking the West and motivated others who were not.”

It is essential to understand what role Western foreign policy has played in exacerbating the sense of political injustice and in driving individuals to undertake acts of political violence against those they perceive as aggressors. This is not a justification, but it does set a context for a discussion to find answers to contemporary political problems.

Rather than blame a whole community or its leanings towards Islam and its concept of Jihad, it is important to understand the political nature of the factors that drive such acts as opposed to solely attributing them to Jihad, which does not take account of the history of political violence across cultures, religions and ways of life.

Final Remarks

It has to be noted, that Muslims are simply human beings that believe in Islam, which is a comprehensive way of life that seeks to promote religious tolerance and social cohesion. The Islamic concept of Jihad is not indiscriminate terrorism, rather it is a mechanism that seeks to remove oppression and protect the innocent. In line with the teachings of classical Islam, Muslims do not – and should not – seek to violently attack non-combatants.

Muslims want to facilitate understanding and promote mutual peaceful coexistence. This however cannot be achieved without engaging in an open and honest discussion on what Islam really is. Outdated clichés of ‘Jihadi Terrorist’ can no longer quench the public’s intellectual thirst and a more nuanced and comprehensive discussion is now needed.

It was intended that this article would achieve just that.

 

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References 

[1] http://www.amazon.com/Jihad-Incorporated-Guide-Militant-Islam/dp/1591024536/
[2] http://www.spectator.co.uk/melaniephillips/597641/jihad-with-money.thtml
[3] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/1184086.stm
[4] http://www.un.org/aboutun/charter/chapter7.htm
[5] This is different from what many commentators describe as ‘political violence’ please access the following link that differentiates between theology and political violence http://hamzatzortzis.blogspot.com/2008/07/questions-is-islam-responsible-for.html or see section below in this article
[6] John of Nikiou, quoted by Petra M. Sijpesteijn, Egypt in the Byzantine World, Cambridge, 2007, P. 442.
[7] “Life as a Non-Muslim in the Caliphate”http://www.caliphate.co.uk/caliphate/nonmuslims.htm
[8] Philip Mansel. 1995. Constantinople : City of the World’s desire, 1453-1924. Penguin Books, p. 15
[9] H. Graetz, History of the Jews, London , 1892, Vol 3, P. 112.
[10] http://www.epolitix.com/latestnews/article-detail/newsarticle/david-miliband-speech-in-full/
[11] Zion Zohar, Sephardic & Mizrahi Jewry, New York, 2005, P. 8-9.
[12] “Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects Taghut (evil) and believes in Allah has grasped the most trust worthy hand-hold that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things. ” Qur’an 2:256
[13] Caliph and their non-Muslim subjects: A critical study of the covenant of Umar. A. S. Tritton. Routledge Library Editions: Islam. 2008, p. 138-139
[14] The orders are always couched in restraining language, with much repetition of warnings, such as “do not transgress” and “God does not love the transgressors” and “He loves those who are conscious of Him”. These are instructions given to people who, from the beginning, should have the intention of acting “in the way of God”. Linguistically we notice that the verses in this passage always restrict actions in a legalistic way, which appeals strongly to Muslims’ conscience. In six verses (Quran 2:190-5) we find four prohibitions (do not), six restrictions: two “until”, two “if”, two “who attack you”, as well as such cautions as “in the way of God”, “be conscious of God”, “God does not like aggressors”, “God is with those who are conscious of Him”, “with those who do good deeds” and “God is Forgiving, Merciful.” It should be noted that the Qur’an, in treating the theme of war, as with many other themes, regularly gives the reasons and justifications for any action it demands.http://www.islamicity.com/articles/Articles.asp?ref=IV0603-2947
[15] Observer Comment Extra “Imperialism may be out, but aggressive wars and colonial protectorates are back”http://observer.guardian.co.uk/worldview/story/0,,684308,00.html
[16] U.S. Brig. General William Looney (Interview Washington Post, August 30, 1999) Referring, in reality, to the brutal mass-murder of hundreds of civilian Iraqi men, women and children during 10,000 sorties by American/British war criminals in the first eight months of 1999.
[17] Qur’an 4:75
[18] Reinhart Dozy, A History of Muslims in Spain , 1861 (reprinted 1913, 2002), Delhi , P.235.
[19] T. W. Arnold , Preaching of Islam, London , 1913, P. 61.
[20] Ulick R. Burke, A History of Spain , London , 1900, Vol I, P. 129.
[21] The Essays of Adam Smith, London , 1869, P. 353.
[22] Christopher J. Walker, Islam and the West, Gloucester , 2005, P. 17.
[23]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dying_to_Win:_The_Strategic_Logic_of_Suicide_Terrorism
[24] Ibid


Note: The aim of this article is not to reject the science related to evolution. Its aim is to evoke thinking about the scientific method and the philosophy of science.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 ”In questions of science the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual.” Galileo Galilei

Over the past few decades there has been a growing discourse on science, evolution and its compatibility with Divine revelation. This discourse can be summarised in the following way: the theory of evolution has been established as a scientific fact therefore a believer in a particular revealed text, such as the Qur’an, must reconcile evolution with their holy book. If there is no hope for reconciliation there are three main outcomes: the religious text is discarded, evolution is renounced, or a hope for a better understanding of the religious text and evolution in the future. However, in this growing discussion there is a hidden premise. This premise is that science produces certainty, evolution is fact and science is the only way to establish or verify truth claims. This premise is assumed in the popular discussion amongst many religious people, popular scientists and even the media, and by not bringing this premise to the forefront of the debate many Muslims (and fellow theists) have been left confused and disheartened.

It is not the scope of this article to enter into a discussion concerning the various approaches taken by scholars and thinkers to reconcile evolution with revelation. What will be discussed is what can be described as a foundational approach to the discussion or what is sometimes referred to as anepistemic approach. We believe that this approach exposes the false assumption that the theory of evolution is a fact, or is certain. Therefore, the need for reconciliation is not entirely necessary. By understanding the scientific method and the philosophy of science, and applying the concepts and principles to evolution, it will be evident that it is not a fact, and thus does not reach the level of certainty. This is also true for many of the intellectual outputs of science.

It must be noted that science can reach a level of certainty – but this is very rare – and although highly effective, it has severe limitations. People need to understand this and limit it to its sphere. There are many areas of knowledge that science is de-scoped, in other words, it has no say. Therefore, people must be aware of the fanatics in this debate masquerading as bastions of truth and beacons of light for all to follow. These fanatics are the science fundamentalists who advocate a narrow and dogmatic approach to science. They presume and propagate naturalism, empiricism and scientism, all of which are incoherent and lead to philosophical absurdities. We strongly believe that people should beware of these popularisers, and understand what science really is – a blessing from God with limitations and unresolved problems concerning some of its claims to truth.

A Note on the Definition of a Fact and Certainty

The words fact and certainty in this article are going to be used interchangeably. In the context of the discussion they will mean the representation of a state of affairs (reality). The level of accuracy is affected by the type of assumptions and metaphysical presuppositions used to try and described the state of affairs. The words fact and certainty do not mean a workable theory or the best theoretical model that has yet to be proven false; this is a scientific and pragmatic approach which doesn’t take into consideration the epistemic value of a particular theory. What is meant by epistemic value is a particular theory’s level of accuracy in describing reality, a theory may be a fact from a scientific perspective, but it may have a very low epistemic value. In scientific terminology evolution is a fact, but this use of the term means confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent[1]. To deconstruct the term ‘fact’ from a scientific perspective the key term to understand is ‘confirmed’. In the context of evolution this confirmation is achieved with certain assumptions and metaphysical presuppositions. It is the purpose of this article to expose what these are, therefore, by understanding these assumptions and presuppositions it will allow the reader to think outside of the box, and appreciate that evolution is not certain, in other words it does not yet fully represent reality, even though it may be confirmed scientifically. This is why the termsfact and certainty used in this article will refer to guaranteed conclusions such as the conclusions from deductive arguments (to be discussed later). To confine ourselves to a definition of fact and certainty based on the assumptions and presuppositions of science would be incoherent because they are not established truths either – in reality some of them have been exposed as incoherent, problematic and baseless in this article.

The Epistemic Approach

The epistemic approach that we will use can be summarised in the following way; Since this whole discussion rests on the premise that evolution is a fact and has reached the level of certainty, then the easiest way to provide an intellectual response is to readdress the hidden premise. Is evolution a fact? What epistemic status does revelation have? By answering these two questions, the problem is solved. This approach follows the subsequent logical structure:

i.            Evolution is an intellectual product of science.

ii.            Science is made up of a process and a philosophy (the logic through which we build scientific knowledge, also known as the philosophy of science).

iii.            The scientific process is limited.

iv.            The philosophy of science – most of the time – does not produce certain knowledge (this type of non-certain knowledge in Islamic thought is known as al-‘ilm adh-dhann). When the philosophy of science is understood and applied to evolution, the conclusion is that it is not a fact and has not reached the level of certainty.

v.            Divine revelation is certain knowledge (this type of certain knowledge is known as al-‘ilm al-qat’i) which can be proven using deductive arguments.

vi.            Conclusions:

  1. Science is a limited method of study with its own scope and sphere.
  2. The philosophy of science brings to light a whole range of issues and problems concerning the theory and study of knowledge (epistemology).
  3. The philosophy of science, when applied to evolution, exposes it as not reaching the level of certainty.
  4. Revelation is a source of certain knowledge.
  5. In situations where science and Divine revelation are irreconcilable, revelation supersedes science.

A detailed analysis and justification for the above statements will follow.

i. Evolution is an intellectual product of science.

This is generally true, and does not require justification.

ii. Science is made up of a process and a philosophy (the logic through which we build scientific knowledge, also known as the philosophy of science).

Science is commonly thought to just involve a method or a set of steps that one has to take to ensure the results of an experiment or theory are scientific. While this is true, the philosophy of science – which is the way in which we reach conclusions from the results of a particular experiment – is often a neglected topic of popular science and rarely discussed in the public domain.

So what is the scientific method and the philosophy of science?

The scientific method

The word science comes from the Latin word scientia, meaning knowledge. A concise definition of science has been accurately stated by the philosopher Bertrand Russell,

The attempt to discover, by means of observation and reasoning based upon it, … particular facts about the world, and the laws connecting facts with one another.[2]

To elaborate on the above definition, the scientific method can be described in the following way. The scientific method:

  • Focuseson the physical natural world. Science can only answer in terms of natural phenomena and natural processes. When we ask questions like, what is the meaning of life? Does the soul exist? The general expectation is to have answers that are outside of the natural world — and hence, outside of science.
  • Aimsto explain the physical natural world. Science as a collective institution aims to produce more and more accurate natural explanations of how the natural world works, what its components are, and how the world got to be the way it is now.
  • Only accepts ideas that can be tested. For an idea to be testable, it must logically generate specific expectations – in other words, a set of observations that we could expect to make if the idea were true and a set of observations that would be inconsistent with the idea and lead you to believe that it is not true.
  • Relies on the evidencefrom testing a testable idea. Ultimately, scientific ideas must not only be testable, but must actually be tested – preferably with many different lines of evidence by many different people.[3]

So where does the philosophy of science fit it?

The philosophy of science focuses on deriving and building knowledge from the evidence gathered from testing a testable idea. For that reason, it concerns itself with the implications of the data collected from an experiment, the metaphysical assumptions used to interpret the data, and the thinking processes used to form conclusions based on scientific evidence.

iii. The scientific process is limited.

The limitations of the scientific process are rarely discussed. One key reason for this is that science has become a social enterprise. A social norm has developed that exclaims that science has replaced religion and is now the new gospel truth. Rupert Sheldrake, one of the world’s most innovative biologists and writers, who is best known for his theory of morphic fields and morphic resonance, highlights this point in his new book The Science Delusion,

Yet in the second decade of the twenty-first century, when science and technology seem to be at the peak of their power, when their influence has spread all over the world and when their triumph seems indisputable, unexpected problems are disrupting the sciences from within. Most scientists take it for granted that these problems will eventually be solved by more research along established lines, but some, including myself, think they are symptoms of a deeper malaise…science is being held back by centuries-old assumptions that have hardened into dogmas.[4]

It must be noted that the Islamic spiritual tradition does not reject science, it is quite the opposite; Islam is pro-science. According to historians of science, it was the Muslim intellectuals and scientists that were the pioneers of the scientific method. For instance, the Muslim physicist and scientist Ibn al-Haytham used experimentation to obtain the results in his Book of Optics published in 1021 CE. He combined observations, experiments and rational arguments to support his intromission theory of vision.[5] Also, the Islamic influence on the renaissance – via the establishment of Islamic Spain – was unprecedented, as Professor Thomas Arnold in his book The Preaching of Islam writes:

…Muslim Spain had written one of the brightest pages in the history of Medieval Europe. Her influence had passed through Provence into the other countries of Europe, bringing into birth a new poetry and a new culture, and it was from her that Christian scholars received what of Greek philosophy and science they had to stimulate their mental activity up to the time of the Renaissance.[6]

It is therefore fair to conclude that Islam has not been at odds with science, and this article does not intend to belittle science. In actual fact, science is seen to be a great blessing from God and a sign of His Mercy.

The scientific method is limited due to:

Sensory perception:

George Gaylord Simpson, the renowned evolutionist of Harvard, wrote,

It is inherent in any acceptable definition of science that statements that cannot be checked by observations are not really about anything—or at the very least they are not science.[7]

This means that what cannot be observed is outside the scope of science. For example, questions such as does God exist? and is there a soul? are outside the realm of the scientific method. This does not imply that such questions are meaningless, rather it exposes the limitations of the scientific process, as there are other methods that can provide answers to the above questions. The philosopher of science Elliot Sober verifies this limitation of science, he writes in his essay Empiricism,

At any moment scientists are limited by the observations they have at hand…the limitation is that science is forced to restrict its attention to problems that observations can solve.[8]

It is important to note that to claim that conclusions which have not been established via observation – and by extension science – are meaningless or false, is making the inaccurate assumption that science is the only method to verify claims to truth. This false assumption, known as scientism, will be discussed later.

Time:

Science cannot explain the past or the origins of things. For instance questions such as, what was before the Big Bang? and how did the first living cell emerge? are technically outside the realm of the scientific method. Enno Wolthius explains this in his book Science, God and You:

Science seeks to explain the behavior of that which is, and to check its explanation by means of experiments. But this experimental requirement can be met only in the present time. The past, and especially the beginning of things, lies beyond the grasp of this method, and so science can only speculate about the origin and history of the world.[9]

Morality:

In other words science is amoral. It cannot provide detailed answers to the following questions, how must we act? and what should we do? Science also removes any true meaning to our sense of objective moral obligation. If science were to be relied upon concerning this, the conclusions would lead to absurdities. Charles Darwin thought about this point in 19th century,

If…men were reared under precisely the same conditions as hive-bees, there can hardly be a doubt that our unmarried females would, like the worker-bees, think it a sacred duty to kill their brothers, and mothers would strive to kill their fertile daughters, and no one would think of  interfering.[10]

What Darwin seems to be pointing out here is that our values would have no objective meaning from a scientific perspective, as we are just a by-product of a set of socio-biological circumstances. This is why the oft repeated statement you cannot get an ought from an is, is true. Science can tell us what is, but it cannot tell us what ought to be. This sense of ought is best explained outside of the scope of science, Professor of Theology and Ethics Ian Markham comments on this:

Embedded in the word ‘ought’ is the sense of  a moral fact transcending our life and world…The underlying character of moral language implies something universal and external.[11]

iv. The philosophy of science – most of the time – doesn’t produce certain knowledge (this type of non-certain knowledge in Islamic thought is known as al-‘ilm adh-dhann). When the philosophy of science is understood and applied to evolution, the conclusion is that it is not a fact and has not reached the level of certainty.

What this statement means is that – most of the time – the conclusions or implications of theoretical models and experimental data do not provide levels of knowledge that can be described as certain. The inconclusive, or non-certain  nature of science is due to major metaphysical assumptions used to interpret scientific results. This includes theoretical and experimental bias, which exposes the relative nature of scientific conclusions. When these assumptions are understood and applied to evolution the conclusion will be clear – it is not a fact and has not reached the level of certainty.

There are a whole range of conceptual, logical and philosophical issues in the philosophy of science that highlight the approximate and tentative nature of science:

The problem of Induction:

Induction is a thinking process where one makes conclusions by moving from the particular to the general. Arguments based on induction can range in probability from very low to very high, but always less than 100%.

Here is an example of induction:

I have observed that punching a boxing bag properly with protective gloves never causes injury. Therefore no one will be injured using a boxing bag.

As can be seen from the example above, induction faces a key problem which is the inability to guarantee the conclusion, because a sweeping generalisation cannot be made from a limited number of observations. The best it can provide are probabilities, ranging from low to very high.[A] In the aforementioned example the person who made the statement could not logically prove that the next person to punch a boxing bag will not get injured.

Therefore, the problem with induction is that it can’t produce certainty.[B] This issue was raised by the 18th century Scottish philosopher David Hume in his book, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. Hume argued that inductive reasoning can never produce certainty. He concluded that moving from a limited set of observed phenomena to making conclusions for an unlimited set of observed phenomena is beyond the present testimony of the senses, and the records of our memory.[12]

From a practical scientific perspective, generalisations made for an entire group or for the next observation within that group based on a limited set of data, will never be certain. For example, a scientist travelled to Wales and wanted to find out the colour of sheep (assuming he does not know the colour of sheep), and he started observing the sheep and recording what colour they are. Say after 150 sheep observations he found that all of them were white. The scientist would conclude based upon his data, using induction, that all sheep are white. This basic example highlights the problematic nature with the process of induction as we know sheep can also be black. Certainty using induction will never be achieved.

Professor Alex Rosenberg in his book Philosophy of Science: A Contemporary Introduction explains the problem of induction and he concludes that this is a key problem facing science; he writes,

Here we have explored another problem facing empiricism as the official epistemology of science: the problem of induction, which goes back to Hume, and added to the agenda of problems for both empiricists and rationalists. [13]

Since evolution is based on inductive generalisations from data, including direct and indirect observations, the conclusions from these will never be certain.

The problem with empiricism:

Empiricism claims that we have no source of knowledge in a subject or for the concepts we use in a subject other than sense experience. Philosopher Elliot Sober in his essay Empiricism explains the empiricist’s thesis,

Empiricists deny that it is ever rationally obligatory to believe that theories provide true descriptions of an unobservable reality…For an empiricist, if a theory is logically consistent, observations are the only source of information about whether the theory is empirically adequate.[14]

Empiricism suffers from limitations and logical problems. One form of empiricism – which we will call strong empiricism – is limited to things that can only be observed. This form of empiricism faces a whole host of logical problems. The main problem with strong empiricism is that it can only base its conclusions on observed realities and cannot make conclusions on unobserved realities. Elliot Sober explains this problem,

Empiricists need to address problems in the philosophy of perception. The most obvious first stab at saying what seeing an object involves is to describe the passage of light from the object into the eyes, with the result that a visual experience occurs. However, the invisibility of white cats in snowstorms and the fact that we see silhouettes (like the moon during an eclipse) shows that this is neither sufficient nor necessary.[15]

Further exploring Sober’s example, imagine you observe a white cat walking outside of a house towards the direction of an oncoming snowstorm; you can see the cat walking up to the snowstorm and then you can no longer see the cat. A strong empiricist’s account would be to deny that there is a cat in the snowstorm, or at least suspend any claims to knowledge. However, based on other intellectual tools at your disposal you would conclude that there is a white cat in the snowstorm regardless of whether or not you can observe one.

The problems faced by strong empiricism have not gone unaddressed by empiricists. They have responded by weakening their definition for empiricism by redefining empiricism to the view that we can only know something if it is confirmed or supported by sensory experience – we shall call this weak empiricism. Others have dogmatically maintained the view that the only way to truth is via direct observation and being supported by observation is not good enough. These responses have created an unresolved dilemma for the empiricist. The Philosopher John Cottingham exposes this problem in his book Rationalism:

But what about ‘all water at a given atmospheric pressure boils at 100 degrees Celsius’? Since this statement has the form of an unrestricted universal generalization, it follows that no finite number of observations can conclusively establish its truth. An additional and perhaps even more worrying problem is that when we reach the higher levels of science…we tend to encounter structures and entities that are not observable in any straightforward sense. Atoms, molecules, electrons, photons and the like are highly complex theoretical constructs…here we seem to be very far removed from the world of direct ‘empirical observation’…The positivists tended to respond to this difficulty by weakening their criterion for meaningfulness…it was proposed that a statement was meaningful if it could be confirmed or supported by sensory experience. However, this weaker criterion is uncomfortably vague…Statements about God or Freedom, or the nature of Substance, or the Absolute, may not be directly checkable against experience…The positivist thus seems to be faced with a fatal dilemma: either he will have to make his criterion so stringent that it will exclude the generalizations and theoretical statements of science, or else he will have to weaken his criterion sufficiently to open the door to the speculations of the metaphysician. The dilemma has remained unresolved to this day…[16]

In light of the above, since empiricism is used as a metaphysical assumption to justify evolution then it cannot claim certainty, as there is the main problem of the unobserved. It can be assumed that our observations do not encompass all phenomena therefore evolution is tentative, in other words it can change based upon future observations. For evolution to be certain, all phenomena related to the change in the inherited characteristics of biological populations over successive generations must have been observed. Including observing all evolutionary processes that give rise to diversity at every level including species and individual organisms.

A prioriand Causality:

Empiricism is exposed as an incoherent metaphysical assumption because it claims that knowledge must be dependent on experience, known as a posteriori in the language of philosophy. If it can be shown that there are truths that are independent from experience, known a priori, then the empiricist’s thesis breaks down.

There are many truths that are known independent of experience and are necessarily true and not merely products of empirical generalisations. These include,

  • Mathematics and logical truths
  • Moral  and ethical truths
  • Causality
  • From semantics (deductive logic – discussed in detail later):
    • All bachelors are unmarried.
    • All bachelors are male.
    • Therefore all bachelors are unmarried males.

The innate knowledge of causality is an interesting way of exposing the empiricist’s worldview. Many empiricists in the field of quantum physics have rejected the idea of causality, known as determinism, for an indeterministic view. This contention has arisen due to the apparent observations in the quantum vacuum, that sub-atomic events behave spontaneously without any causes. From a philosophical perspective it is extremely difficult for these empiricists to justify their conclusions. This is because without the concept of causality we will not have the mental framework to understand our observations and experiences.

As mentioned above, causality is a priori, which means knowledge we have independent of any experience or observations. We know causality is true because we bring it to all our experiences, rather than our experience bringing it to us. It is like wearing yellow-tinted glasses; everything looks yellow not because of anything out there in the world, but because of the glasses through which we are looking at everything. Take the following example into consideration[C]; imagine you are looking at the White House in Washington DC. Your eyes may wonder to the door, across the pillars, then to the roof and finally over to the front lawn. You can also reverse the order of your perceptions. Contrast this to another experience, you are on the river Thames in London and you see a boat floating past. What dictates the order in which you had these experiences? When you looked at the White House you had a choice to see the door first and then the pillars and so on, as well as the ability to reverse the order of your perceptions. However, with the boat you had no choice as the front of the boat was the first to appear.

The point here is that you would not have been able to make the distinction that some experiences are ordered by yourself and others are ordered independently, unless we had the concept of causality. In the example of the boat you would not be able to understand the logical causal connection between the front of the boat and the back. In absence of causality our experiences would be very different from the way that they are. It would be a single sequence of experiences only: one thing after another. So to accept that sub-atomic events do not correspond with causality would be tantamount to denying our own experience. Philosopher John Cottingham summarises how observations already presuppose  causality,

But on Kant’s argument we would not be able to recognize the…event in the first place, unless there were a rule that makes it necessary that the order of our perceptions should be thus and not otherwise. In short, the very experience of an external event already presupposes an understanding of causal necessity.[17]

From this perspective, empiricism is faced with a huge problem. Either they accept that knowledge can be achieved outside of sensory experience or they reject causality and by doing so reject their own perceptions, which would be tantamount to rejecting empiricism itself.

Since empiricism is a key metaphysical assumption used to justify evolution, it then weakens the view that evolution is based on certainty, because empiricism faces many philosophical problems.

Popper’s Falsification, Kuhn & Feyerabend:

The philosophers and thinkers Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn and Paul Feyerabend radically changed our view on scientific theories. For instance, Karl Popper understood that the problem of induction will never be resolved and developed “falsification” to show which scientific theories were genuine and which where pseudo-science. Popper’s falsification states that theories cannot be proven to be true but they can be proved false. If a theory claims that something will be observed under certain circumstances, and it is not observed, then the theory is proved false.[18]

Conversely, Thomas Kuhn and Paul Feyerabend rejected the empiricist model of science but also Popper’s view that notions can be falsified by having their consequences checked against experience. Kuhn argued  that ‘normal science’  is practiced within a framework of assumptions and agreed practices, in other words it has its own paradigm. Data or experimental results that do not fit within that framework (known as anomalous results) are “routinely dismissed and explained away“[19]. Feyerabend argued that no theory can be completely consistent with the facts. He saw the use of improvised concepts to save the paradigm as essential to the progress of science. Feyerabend took examples from the history of science and argued that scientists regularly deviate from the scientific method when they use improvised ideas to explain observations that are only later justified by theory.

The key points of Kuhn and Feyerabend can be summarised in the following way:

  • A so-called observation may (and probably will) have observation bias.
  • New theories provide different conceptual lenses which will produce new ‘data’ – a new way of seeing things.
  • If observations depend on a theory and theory in some sense determines how we read the world, then there is no way of objectively deciding between two theories.[20]

Robert Sheldrake, one of the world’s most innovative biologists and writers, aptly summarises the above contentions,

Anyone who has carried out scientific research knows that data are uncertain, that much depends on the way they are interpreted, and that all methods have their limitations.[21]

Considering the perspectives on Popper, Kuhn and Feyerabend, it is obvious to see that scientific theories cannot be proven in a way that gives them status of certainty. Applying the concepts developed by Kuhn and Feyerabend, we can see that evolution also faces some theoretical problems, and therefore cannot be considered as certain. For example, language acquisition in human beings has caused theoretical problems for evolution. It is not the place to discuss this at length. However, the fact that human beings seem to have an innate ability to take meagre linguistic input and develop knowledge of language that extends far beyond anything that he has learned, cannot be explained by evolution.[22]  Noam Chomsky a proponent of this perspective on language acquisition argues the difficulty evolution has in providing an adequate explanation,

…it is quite pointless to speculate about the ‘evolution’ of human language from animal communication systems.[23]

Simon M. Kirby the British Computation Linguist also raises the challenges evolution faces concerning the development of language,

This highlights an important and difficult challenge facing the study of language evolution: the need for cooperation between different disciplines and between researchers working on different aspects of the problem. Without this cooperation a satisfactory account of the evolution of human language, and therefore of human language itself, is likely to be elusive.[24]

Naturalism:

Naturalism is the view that the super-natural does not exist. The universe is like a box, a closed system, nothing outside can interfere and natural laws are an adequate account for all phenomena. Naturalism is the ontology of most atheists and scientists. They believe that plain cold matter is the source and nature of reality. It has to be made clear here that naturalism is not an epistemological thesis – it doesn’t tell us how to obtain knowledge – it is an ontology, it is the lens with which some people use to describe the source and nature of reality. Therefore, having a naturalistic presupposition is obviously going to skew the way scientific facts and experimental data are interpreted.

Philosophical naturalism faces many issues and therefore should not be used as the lens in which scientific theories are developed. These problems are called ‘recalcitrant facts’. A recalcitrant fact is a fact that resists a theory. For example, if Joe Bloggs was charged with murdering his wife on Sunday 6th January 2013 at 6PM but he could show that he was at a football game outside of the country at the time, the very fact that he was not at the murder scene is a fact that resists the theory that he murdered his wife. So the theory is incoherent and fails. This is true for naturalism. There are many recalcitrant facts that indicate the incoherence of naturalism, some of them include:

  • Consciousness
  • Language acquisition
  • Objective moral truths
  • “Big Bang” cosmology
  • Free Will

Consciousness is an interesting and powerful topic to expose the incoherence of naturalism. For example, a naturalistic ontology cannot explain intentionality which is a product of consciousness. One of the pioneers in the field of Neuroscience Wilder Penfield, explained how when the cerebral cortex of a subject was probed, the subject’s hand would move. The subject was subsequently asked who moved his hand, and he would reply that he didn’t do it, that the neuroscientist did it. If the physical brain was the cause of all conscious activity such as the subject intending to move his hand, then by probing the brain it should also cause the subjective phenomenon of intending to do something. But this wasn’t the case; the subject clearly knew that he did not intend to move his hand. Penfield concluded that there is no place in the cerebral cortex where electrical stimulation will cause a patient to decide.[25]

Although the topic of consciousness requires volumes to be explained and to respond to materialistic objections, the point that to be noted here is that naturalism cannot fully explain consciousness, especially intentionality. The philosopher J. P. Moreland in his essay The Argument from Consciousness explains that there is no plausible naturalistic explanation for the emergence of consciousness,

The truth is that naturalism has no plausible way to explain the appearance of emergent mental properties in the cosmos. Ned Block confesses that we have no idea how consciousness could have emerged from nonconsious matter: ‘we have nothing – zilch – worthy of being called a research programme…Researchers are stumped’.[26]

Evolution is a naturalist’s project. Therefore interpretations of the relevant data and observations will be filtered via the metaphysical assumption of naturalism. Since naturalism is incoherent and faces its own philosophical issues, then it follows that evolution – which has been formulated via a naturalist ontology – cannot be certain.

Scientism:

Scientism claims that a proposition is not true if it cannot be scientifically proven. In other words if something cannot be shown to be true via the scientific method, then it is false. There are a few problems with scientism, some of which we have already discussed, for instance:

    • Scientism is self-defeating. Scientism claims that a proposition is not true if it cannot be scientifically proven. But the proposition itself cannot be scientifically proven! It is like saying “there are no sentences in the English language longer than three words” or “I cannot speak one word of English”.
    • Scientism cannot prove necessary truths like mathematics and logic. For example, If P, then Q. P. Therefore, Q[27] and 3 + 3 = 6 are necessary truths and not merely empirical generalisations.
    • Scientism cannot prove moral and aesthetic truths. For example love, beauty, right and wrong.
    • Science cannot prove other sources of knowledge. For example justified beliefs via ‘authentic testimony’.

A major problem with scientism is that truths can be established outside the scientific paradigm. As aforementioned, authentic testimony is a valid source of knowledge in which epistemologists have argued at length to explain that the say so of others can – within certain criteria – provide a basis for truth.

The epistemology of testimony is the branch of the theory of knowledge concerned with how we acquire knowledge and justified belief from the say-so of other people“.[28] Therefore, one of the key questions it tries to answer is how we successfully acquire justified belief or knowledge on the basis of what other people tell us.[29]

Many truths that we hold are on the basis of authentic testimony, because we trust the statements of others and we have no good reason to reject what they have said. This is especially so when we have multiple people telling us the same thing via different chains of transmission (known as tawattur reporting in Islamic thought). Professor C. A. J. Coady highlights some of the truths we accept on the basis of testimony, he writes,

Many of us have never seen a baby born, nor have most of us examined the circulation of the blood…[30]

 Assistant Professor Benjamin McMyler in his book Testimony, Truth and Authority, explains that some of the things he knows are due to testimony,

Here are a few things that I know. I know that the copperhead is the most common venomous snake in the greater Houston area. I know that Napoleon lost the Battle of Waterloo. I know that, as I write, the average price for gasoline in the U.S is $4.10 per gallon. All of these things I know on the basis of what epistemologists call testimony, on the basis of being told of them by another person or group of persons.[31]

Although this is a vast topic, there is a general consensus that authentic testimony is a source of knowledge. However, there are disagreements amongst epistemologists on how we validate the transmission of knowledge via testimony. Even scientists require testimony as a source of knowledge in order to understand science itself. For instance, there are many assumptions in science that are purely based on the say so of other scientists.

Whatever discussions there are around testimony, the key point to raise here is that it is a valid source of knowledge. Therefore, the view that science is the only way to establish truth, is false. Professor Keith Lehrer summarises the validity of testimony as a source of knowledge,

The final question that arises concerning our acceptance of testimony is this. What converts our acceptance of testimony of others into knowledge? The first part of the answer is that we must be trustworthy in our evaluations of the trustworthiness of others, and we must accept that this is so. Moreover, our trustworthiness must be successfully truth-connected, that is, the others must, in fact, be trustworthy and their trustworthiness must be truth-connected. We must accept this is so. In short, our acceptance of their testimony must be justified in a way that is not refuted or defeated by any errors that we make in evaluating them and their testimony. Undefeated or irrefutable justified acceptance of the testimony of others is knowledge.[32]

Although scientism – as an issue in the philosophy of science – does not seem to provide problems for evolution, it is useful to highlight that non-scientific sources of knowledge may also play a vital role in our understanding of who we are and where we came from. It logically follows that since science is not the only way to reach conclusions about things, then we should entertain the possibility of other routes to knowledge.

v. Divine revelation is certain knowledge (this type of certain knowledge is known as al-‘ilm al-qat’i)  which can be proven using deductive arguments.

If Divine revelation is from God, then by definition its knowledge claims are true or certain. There is the obvious caveat that this depends on our understanding of what the revelation says and if we have come to the correct interpretation, however, the point here is that since it comes from the Divine – who is the All-Knowing and transcends our limitations – then what the revelation says is going to be true. An important point to highlight is that there are some unequivocal verses in the Quran and some that are open to interpretation. It seems contradictory to make this claim about the Qur’an when some of its verses will be uncertain from the perspective of what they imply and mean. However, interpreting the Qur’an has been made an intellectual endeavour between suitably qualified exegetes. What we are saying here is that the proposition here concerns the ontology of knowledge – its source and nature. Therefore, if the Qur’an is from the Divine it follows that its knowledge claims are true, regardless if we understand what these claims to knowledge are, because by definition God is the All-Knowing and His knowledge transcends human knowledge. With respect to evolution we are assuming that if the verses in the Qur’an cannot be reconciled with the science, then the Qur’an takes precedence due to its Divine nature.

The article does not intend to present a detailed case for how the Qur’an is from God; however it is important to note that using methods outside of the scientific paradigm, it can be rationalised that the book cannot have come from a human being. In other words there are no naturalistic explanations to explain the authorship of the Qur’an. There are various arguments to justify the above claim. For instance, Muslims can rely on deductive arguments to explain the miraculous nature of the Qur’an. Deductive arguments are arguments which the premises guarantee the truth of the conclusion. If the premises of a deductive argument are true then it is impossible for the conclusion to be false.

Here are some examples of deductive arguments:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause

2. The universe began to exist

3. Therefore the universe has a cause

1. Stockholm is in Norway or Sweden.

2. If Stockholm is in Norway then it is in Scandinavia.

3. If Stockholm is in Sweden then it is in Scandinavia.

4. Therefore, Stockholm is in Scandinavia.

1. All men are mortal.

2. George is a man.

3. Therefore, George is mortal.

The above are examples of valid and sound arguments.  A deductive argument is valid if the conclusion follows from its premises. It is sound if its premises are true and it is valid. With regards to the Qur’an there are many deductive arguments that can substantiate its claim of being a Divine book. For example, there is a well known deductive argument concerning the literary miracle of the Qur’an,

1. A miracle is an event that lies outside of the productive capacity of nature (there are no causal links between the event and the nature of the event).

2. The Qur’an’s literary form lies outside of the productive capacity of nature (its literary form cannot be logically explained using the Arabic language).

3. Therefore, the Qur’an is a miracle (a miracle is an act of God).

This deductive argument is valid because the conclusion logically follows from its premises. It is sound due to an overwhelming amount of evidence to substantiate the premises claims. However, it is not the place to justify and explain this argument here, for more information please read the chapterThe Challenge in the Qur’an from the book The History of the Magnificent Qur’an published by Exhibition Islam.[33]

The point that needs to be understood here is that the Qur’an can be shown to be Divine revelation, and therefore its claims to knowledge are certain and factual.

vi. Conclusions.

In light of the above it can be concluded that not only have many people misunderstood evolution, but they have misunderstood science itself. Evolution may be a coherent explanation based upon its own metaphysical assumptions, theoretical limitations and philosophical presuppositions, but it is not certain knowledge. This is because the scientific method is limited and the intellectual tools used to understand the results and data from scientific experiments do not – most of the time – produce certainty. Since revealed texts are certain and science cannot produce certain knowledge, revealed texts will always supersede science if there is a need for reconciliation and if there are irreconcilable differences. For the Muslim, this revealed text is the Qur’an, and this text can be established as a Divine book outside of the method and philosophy of science using deductive arguments.

The irony of this evolution debate is that majority of the people who believe in evolution do so out of the testimony of others, namely our teachers at school or the books we read, because we haven’t done the experiments ourselves. This is no different than a new form of priesthood – the scientific priesthood! But we must be wary, teachers and scientists and priests are human beings, and humans err. For example Marc Hauser, a Harvard professor of biology, was found guilty of misconduct as he invented and falsified data in experiments on monkeys. This was not detected by peer reviewers but by a student whistleblower. Hauser, an atheist, authored the book Moral Minds: The Nature of Right and Wrong in which he claims morality is an inherited instinct and that atheists are just as ethical as churchgoers.[34] The point being made here is that although we must respect scientists and teachers, we should not do so blindly. Rather, we must always understand knowledge and claims of truth from an epistemological perspective, meaning does this knowledge have the right to claim certainty? By understanding the scientific method and its philosophy we can easily conclude that it is a blessing and mercy from God, but it does not – most of the time – produce certain knowledge.

This brings us to briefly address scientific consensus. Many people who claim that evolution is certain do so on the say-so of others. They cite the scientific consensus on the issue as a defeater to anyone who claims otherwise. However, if we look into the history of science this position is unsound. There are many examples to show that when the scientific and academic authorities of the time thought something to be 100% certain, they were later proved to be wrong. For example in 1843 Oliver Wendell Holmes published  work on the contagiousness of puerperal fever but the scientific community attacked his conclusion. Just a few years prior to Wendell in 1775 Dr Alexander Gordon published a paper on contagious nature of puerperal fever. His paper highlighted the importance of the correct hygiene as a means to prevent the spread of the disease. Nevertheless, his paper faced harsh criticism and immense opposition. Many lives would have been saved if the scientific consensus was less dogmatic and open to the fact that a consensus should be there to be broken, all of which is in the spirit of the scientific process. There are many similar examples in the history of science, and if we can learn anything from them, is that a scientific consensus on an issue doesn’t necessarily make it the truth.

Interestingly there have been intellectual exchanges and debates concerning philosophical issues in evolution. For example, in the academic volumeConceptual Issues in Evolutionary Biology, that was written to highlight the conceptual issues that arise in the theory and practice of evolutionary biology, its editor writes,

Evolutionary biology is a living, growing discipline, and the same is true of the philosophy of evolutionary biology. One sign that a discipline is growing is that there are open questions, with multiple answers still in competition.[35]

Even from an experimental and theoretical perspective there are many academics that have published peer reviewed work that still questions the coherence of evolution. For example a paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Bioremediation, Biodiversity and Bioavailability, written by Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig, Kurt Stüber, Heinz Saedler and Jeong Hee Kim, entitled ‘Biodiversity and Dollo’s Law: To What Extent can the Phenotypic Differences between Misopates orontium and Antirrhinum majus be Bridged by Mutagenesis’ concluded that the debate continues whether mutations and selection alone will be sufficient to produce all the new genetic functions and innovations necessary for the cytoplasm, membranes, and cell walls.[36]

On a final note, this reminds me of a personal conversation I heard of Richard Dawkins. Someone questioned the answer he gave to an audience member at the World Atheist Convention in Ireland, which was “why did you tell them not to study the philosophy of science and ‘just do the science’?”, his silence really spoke volumes. Once you study the philosophy of science you will start to appreciate science for what it is; a useful evolving tool (no pun intended). It is not the only way to justify claims to truth, and it does not necessarily give you certainties, especially if it is laden with assumptions, theoretical presuppositions and limitations.

Footnotes & References


[A] There are two main types of induction, strong induction and weak induction. Strong induction moves from the particular to the general in a way that makes a conclusion for the whole group. Weak induction moves from the particular to the general in a way that makes a conclusion for the next observation.

An example of strong induction is the conclusion that all ravens are black because each raven that has ever been observed has been black.

An example of weak induction is that because every raven that has ever been observed has been black, the next observed raven will be black.

[B] Induction can reach certainties but not in the form of generalisations. For example,

I observe an instance of A with the quality B.

Therefore, the nature of A allows B.

 If you have observed Crows that are black you can conclude with certainty that some Crows are black. But you could not achieve certainty if you concluded that all Crows were black based on a limited set of observations. This type of induction that produces certainty doesn’t apply to evolution as inductive reasoning in the form of generalisations is not certain.

[C] This argument has been adapted from the 18th century German philosopher Immanuel Kant’s book Kritik der Reinen Vernuft (A Critique of Pure Reason).

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                                              [1] http://www.stephenjaygould.org/library/gould_fact-and-theory.html

[2] Bertrand Russell. Religion and Science. Oxford University Press. 1935, p. 8.

[3] Adapted and taken from Understanding Science: How Science Really Works http://undsci.berkeley.edu/article/whatisscience_03

[4] Rupert Sheldrake. The Science Delusion. Coronet. 2013, p. 6.

[5] D. C. Lindberg. Theories of Vision from al-Kindi to Kepler. University of Chicago Press. 1976, pp. 60–7.

[6] Thomas Arnold. The Preaching of Islam, p. 131.

[7] George Gaylord Simpson. The Nonprevalence of Humanoids. 1964. Science, 143:769, Feb. 21.

[8] Elliot Sober “Empiricism” in The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Science. Edited by Stathis Psillos and Martin Curd. 2010, pp. 137-138.

[9] Enno Wolthius. Science, God & You. Baker Book House. 1963.

[10] Charles Darwin. The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex. Second Edition. New York. 1882, p. 99.

[11] Ian Markham. Against Atheism: Why Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris Are Fundamentally Wrong. 2010,  p. 34.

[12] David Hume. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, p. 108.

[13] Professor Alex Rosenberg. Philosophy of Science: A Contemporary Introduction. 2012, p. 198.

[14] Elliot Sober “Empiricism” in The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Science. Edited by Stathis Psillos and Martin Curd. 2010, p. 129.

[15] Elliot Sober “Empiricism” in The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Science. Edited by Stathis Psillos and Martin Curd. 2010, p. 131.

[16] John Cottingham. Rationalism. Paladin. 1984, pp. 109 -110.

[17] Ibid p. 88.

[18] See Karl Popper. Conjectures and Refutations. Routledge and Keagan Paul, 1963, pp. 33-39; from Theodore Schick, ed., Readings in the Philosophy of Science. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Company. 2000, pp. 9-13.

[19] Rupert Sheldrake. The Science Delusion. Coronet. 2013, p. 297.

[20] See Thomas Kuhn. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and Paul Feyerabend’s article “Explanation, Reduction and Empiricism”.

[21] Rupert Sheldrake. The Science Delusion. Coronet. 2013, p. 298.

[22] Recent Contributions to the Theory of Innate Ideas, p. 123.

[23] Noam Chomsky cited in A. Denkel’s “The Natural Background of Meaning” p. 108.

[24] [Prefinal Draft] Kirby, S. (2007). The evolution of language. In Dunbar, R. and Barrett, L., editors, Oxford Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology, pp. 669–681. Oxford University Press.

[25] See Mystery of the Mind: A Critical Study of Consciousness and the Human Brain. Princeton University Press. 1978.

[26] J. P. Moreland. “The Argument from Consciousness” in The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology. Edited by William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland. 2009, p. 340.

[27] Access the following link to understand what this means http://www.philosophy-index.com/logic/forms/modus-ponens.php

[28] Benjamin McMyler. Testimony, Truth and Authority. Oxford University Press. 2011. p. 3.

[29] The Epistemology of Testimony. Edited by Jennifer Lackey and Ernest Sosa. Clarendon Press: Oxford. 2006, p. 2.

[30] C. A. J. Coady. Testimony: A Philosophical Study. Oxford University Press. 1992, p. 82.

[31] Benjamin McMyler. Testimony, Truth and Authority. Oxford University Press. 2011. p 10.

[32] Keith Lehrer cited in The Epistemology of Testimony. Oxford University Press. 2006, p. 158

[33] To purchase the book please access the following link http://www.exhibitionislam.com/books.aspx?ID=28

[34] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_Hauser#Scientific_misconduct

[35] Conceptual Issues in Evolutionary Biology. Edited by Elliot Sober. The MIT Press. 2006, p. ix.

[36] Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig, Kurt Stüber, Heinz Saedler, Jeong Hee Kim, “Biodiversity and Dollo’s Law: To What Extent can the Phenotypic Differences betweenMisopates orontium and Antirrhinum majus be Bridged by Mutagenesis,”Bioremediation, Biodiversity and Bioavailability, Vol. 1(1):1-30 (2007).


“No question is more sublime than why there is a universe: why there is anything rather than nothing.”[1]

When we reflect upon our own existence we will come to the realisation, that at some point in time, we began to exist. Since we were once non-existent and are now in existence, it follows that we must have had a beginning. In light of this, the Qur’an raises some profound questions: were we created by nothing? Did we create ourselves? Or did we create the universe?

“Or were they created by nothing? Or were they the creators (of themselves)? Or did they create heavens and earth? Rather, they are not certain.” Quran 52:35-36

These questions can be addressed to the existence of everything temporal, in other words the entire universe. Therefore, the exegetical implications of these verses can be logically formulated in the following way:

Things that began to exist were either:-

1. Created or brought into being from nothing
2. Self caused or self created
3. Created or brought into being by something else that began to exist
4. Created or brought into being by a non-created or un-caused entity

Before we proceed, the first presupposition has to be subtantiated, as it forms the basis for the Qur’an’s argument for the existence of God. This first assumption is that the universe began to exist.

Did the universe begin to exist?

To substantiate the view that the universe began to exist we can bring into our discussion a plethora of philosophical and inductive arguments:

1. The second law of thermodynamics
2. The absurdity of an infinite history of past events
3. Astrophysical evidence

1. The second law of thermodynamics

The concept of entropy was introduced to explain the direction of various processes that occur in the natural world. Entropy is a measure of how evenly energy is distributed in a system. For example, heat always flows from a body of a higher temperature or energy (low entropy) to one of a lower temperature or energy (high entropy). Take the following illustration of a container with gas,


when the partition is removed, the gas in one end of the container will spread to the whole of the container, going from a state of low entropy (higher temperature or energy) to high entropy (lower temperature or energy).

Hence, according to the second law of thermodynamics, processes in a closed system tend towards higher entropy, as their energy is being used.

Applying the second law of thermodynamics to the universe we will conclude that it must have began to exist. Since the universe is a closed system, with enough time the universe will suffer a heat death or thermodynamic equilibrium. When systems are in thermodynamic equilibrium, they cannot transfer energy. This is because entropy can only increase over time. Therefore, as the universe continues to expand it will eventually become cold and dead. However this raises a question, if the universe never began to exist it would imply that the universe has existed for an infinite amount of time. If this is true then why isn’t the universe already in a state of heat death? This strongly suggests that the universe must have had a beginning, because if it didn’t it would imply that it has existed for an infinite amount of time, which would mean that it should already have suffered a heat death. Since it hasn’t suffered a heat death, it strongly indicates that the universe is finite, meaning it began to exist.

2. The absurdity of an infinite history of past events

Some philosophers such as Bertrand Russell argued that the universe is eternal, meaning it has no beginning and it will never end. However if we think about this we will conclude that this position is irrational. If the universe never had a beginning it means there must be an infinite history of past events. Yet does an actual infinite exist in the real world? Is it possible?

The concept of the actual infinite cannot be exported into the real world, because it leads to contradictions and doesn’t make sense. Let’s take the following examples to illustrate this point:

1. Say you have an infinite number of balls, if I take 2 balls away, how many do you have left? Infinity. Does that make sense? Well, there should be two less than infinity, and if there is, then we should be able to count how many balls you have. But this is impossible, because the infinite is just an idea and doesn’t exist in the real world. In light of this fact the famous German mathematician David Hilbert said,

“The infinite is nowhere to be found in reality. It neither exists in nature nor provides a legitimate basis for rational thought…the role that remains for the infinite to play is solely that of an idea.”[2]

2. Imagine you are a soldier ready to fire a gun, but before you shoot you have to ask permission for the soldier behind you, but he has to do the same, and it goes on for infinity. Will you ever shoot? No you wouldn’t. This highlights, the absurdity of an infinite regress and this applies to events to. Therefore, there cannot be an infinite history of past events.

3. Take the distance between two points, one may argue that you can subdivide the distance into infinite parts, but you will always be subdividing and never actually reach the ‘infinitieth’ part! So in reality the infinite is potential and can never be actualised. Similarly the ancient Greek Philosopher Aristotle explained,

“…the infinite is potential, never actual: the number of parts that can be taken always surpasses any assigned number.”[3]

So if we refer back to an infinite history of past events we can conclude, since events are not just ideas they are real, the number of past events cannot be infinite. Therefore the universe must be finite, in other words the cosmos had a beginning.

3. Astrophysical evidence

The ‘Big Bang’ is the prevailing theory in cosmology. It was first formulated by the aid of some observations made by an American Astronomer called Edwin Hubble. While Hubble was trying to understand the size of the universe, he observed immensely luminous stars called Cepheid Variables and noticed something peculiar. He observed that some of these stars were further away than initially anticipated, and that their colour was slightly changed, shifting towards red, something now known as red-shift. From Hubble’s observations we were able conclude that everything seems to be moving away from each other, in other words the universe is effectively expanding. As time moves on the universe continues to expand, but if time is reversed, the theory is that everything starts to coalesce and come together. Coupled with the discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation, which is the radiation uniformly filling the observable universe, the idea of the ‘Big Bang’ was born. In other words the universe began at a cataclysmic event which created space-time and all matter in the universe. The physicist P. C. W. Davies explains,

“If we extrapolate this prediction to its extreme, we reach a point when all distances in the universe have shrunk to zero. An initial cosmological singularity therefore forms a past temporal extremity to the universe. We cannot continue physical reasoning, or even the concept of spacetime, through such an extremity. For this reason most cosmologists think of the initial singularity as the beginning of the universe. On this view the big bang represents the creation event; the creation not only of all the matter and energy in the universe, but also of spacetime itself.”[4]

Although our understanding of what happened 10-43 seconds after the ‘Big Bang’ is highly speculative, astrophysicists now concede little doubt that this universe in which we live is the aftermath of the emergence and expansion of space-time, which occurred approximately 14 billion years ago. John Gribbin, an astrophysicist at Cambridge University, summarises the importance of ‘Big Bang’ cosmology,

“…the discovery of the century, in cosmology at least, was without doubt the dramatic discovery made by Hubble, and confirmed by Einstein’s equations, that the Universe is not eternal, static, and unchanging.”[5]

Thus the ‘Big Bang’ model describes our universe as having a beginning a finite time ago. As Alex Vilenkin, one of the world’s leading theoretical cosmologists, writes,

“It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning.”[6]

Other models have been proposed to try and explain away the obvious metaphysical questions that arise from a finite universe, for instance P.C.W. Davies questions,

“What caused the big bang? . . . One might consider some supernatural force, some agency beyond space and time as being responsible for the big bang, or one might prefer to regard the big bang as an event without a cause. It seems to me that we don’t have too much choice. Either…something outside of the physical world…or…an event without a cause.”[7]

These models include the oscillating and vacuum fluctuation models. These models however still have principles that necessitate a beginning to the universe, in other words they are non-infinitely extendable into the past. Take the oscillating model as an example, this model maintains that if the gravitational pull of the mass of the universe was able to surmount the force of its expansion, then the expansion could be changed into a cosmic contraction or ‘Big Crunch’, and then into a new expansion, with the process continuing ad infinitum. However, there are a few issues with this model,

1. Firstly there is nothing available in modern physics that would allow a universe that is collapsing to spring back into a new expanding universe.

2. Secondly the mean mass density of the universe, derived from observational evidence, has shown that it is not enough to develop the required gravitational force to stop and reverse the expansion of the universe.

3. Thirdly, the second law of thermodynamics (as discussed above) implies the finitude of the universe. According to the oscillation model, the entropy is conserved from cycle to cycle of the various oscillations of expansion, crunch and expansion. This has the effect of generating larger and longer oscillations. Therefore the thermodynamic property of this model implies a beginning, as the universe that we exist in has not suffered a heat death, or thermodynamic equilibrium.

Since we have presented good evidence that the universe began to exist. We can now address the logically possible explanations the Qur’an presents as rationalisations of the origins of the universe.

Created or brought into being from nothing

We know the universe couldn’t have come out of nothing, because out of nothing, nothing comes! This is an undeniable philosophical principle, as P. J. Zwart in his publication About Time explains,

“If there is anything we find inconceivable it is that something could arise from nothing.”[8]

A significant point to raise here is that nothingness should not be misconstrued as the nothingness that some physicists talk about. The term nothingness in this context refers to the absence of anything physical, in other words there is no pre-existing ‘stuff’. In light of the beginning of the universe, there was absolutely nothing before it began to exist, which is why physicists have explained the universe as having a space-time boundary.

However, nothingness as defined by some physicists relates to the quantum vacuum. This is misleading because the quantum is something. In quantum theory the vacuum is a field of energy pervading the whole of the universe. In the word’s of John Polkinghorne, a philosopher of science, the quantum vacuum,

“…is not ‘nothing’; it is a structured and highly active entity.”[9]

So, in context of some of the physicists’ definition, the universe could not have come from absolutely nothing, as the quantum vacuum is something. It is a sea of fluctuating energy, which is still part of the cosmos and it did not pre-exist the universe. This point leads us nicely to the next possible explanation.

Self caused or self created

Philosophically, the universe couldn’t have created itself because that would imply a paradox. It would mean that something can exist and not exist at the same time. The logical ends of this explanation are tantamount to saying that your mother gave birth to herself!

Recently, the world renowned physicist, Stephen Hawking in his new book The Grand Design argues that the universe did self create due to the law of gravity,

“Because there is a law like gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing…”[10]

But his view on nothing, as previously mentioned, is not really nothingness but is space filled with the quantum vacuum, which is part of the universe. In essence Hawking is telling us that the universe can create itself, but it has to already exist for it to do that!

Concerning the law of gravity, well that is just a mathematical equation that describes nature. This law is part of the universe, which can also be described as a force of attraction between material objects. Therefore, how can this force exist before matter, in other words the universe?

To assert that the universe created itself would be absurd and self refuting, because in order for something to create itself it would need to exist before it existed!

Created or brought into being by something else that began to exist

This is not an adequate explanation for the origins of the universe. The universe could not have owed its existence to another state of temporal physical existence. To maintain such an explanation would be equivalent of expanding the boundaries of the universe, as all things which have a temporal beginning exist within the universe. Also, if temporal physical existence owes itself to another temporal physical existence ad infinitum, it doesn’t explain anything. Rather it highlights the absurdity of an infinite regress, and that there has to be a beginning to the temporal physical states, which logically must be a non-physical state.

Take the following example into consideration. If the universe, U1, followed another temporal cause U2, and U2 followed another temporal cause U3, and this went on ad infinitum we wouldn’t have the universe U1 in the first place. Think about it this way, when does U1 come into being? Only after U2 has come into being. When does U2 come into being? Only after U3 has come into being. This same problem will continue even if we go to infinity. If U1 depended on its coming into being on a chain of infinite temporal causes, U1 would never exist. As the Islamic Philosopher and Scholar Dr. Jaafar Idris writes,

“There would be no series of actual causes, but only a series of non-existents, as Ibn Taymiyyah explained. The fact, however, is that there are existents around us; therefore, their ultimate cause must be something other than temporal causes.”[11]

Created or brought into being by a non-created or un-caused entity

Since something cannot come from nothing, and self creation is absurd, including the unreasonableness of the aforementioned explanation, then the universe being created or brought into existence by an uncaused entity is the best explanation. This concept is intuitive but also agrees with reality: whatever begins to exist has a cause or a creator.

This cause or creator must be uncaused due to the absurdity of an infinite regress, in other words an indefinite chain of causes. To illustrate this better, if the cause of the universe had a cause and that cause had a cause ad infinitum, then there wouldn’t be a universe to talk about in the first place (something we have already discussed above). For example, imagine if a Stock Trader on a trading floor at the Stock Exchange was not able to buy or sell his stocks or bonds before asking permission from the investor, and then this investor had to check with his, and this went on forever, would the Stock Trader every buy or sell his stocks or bonds? The answer is no. In similar light if we apply this to the universe we would have to posit an uncaused cause due to this rational necessity. The Qur’an confirms the uncreatedness of the creator, God,

“He neither begets nor is born.” Qur’an 112:3

The cause or creator for the universe must be a single cause for several reasons. An attractive argument to substantiate this claim includes the use of the rational principle called Occam’s razor. In philosophical terms the principle enjoins that we do not multiply entities beyond necessity. What this basically means is that we should stick to explanations that do not create more questions than it answers. In the context of the cause for the universe we have no evidence to claim multiplicity, in other words more than one. The Qur’an affirms the Oneness of the creator,

“Say: He is God, [who is] One.” Qur’an 112:1

However some philosophers and scientists claim: why doesn’t the cause be the universe itself? Why can’t the cause stop at the universe? Well, the problem with these claims is that they would imply that the universe created itself, which we have already discussed, is absurd. Additionally, we have good reasons to postulate a cause for the universe because the universe began to exist, and what begins to exist has a cause.

Our argument thus far allows us to conclude that this cause or creator must be non contingent meaning that its existence is dependent on nothing but itself. If it were contingent it would be one more effect in the chain of causes. The Qur’an verifies this,

“God is Independent of (all) creatures.” Qur’an 3:97

The cause or creator must also be transcendent, this means that the cause of the universe must exist outside of and apart from the universe. Since this being exists apart from the universe it must be non-physical or immaterial, if it was material then it would be part of the universe. This is confirmed in the Qur’an,

“There is nothing like unto Him, and He is the Hearing, the Seeing” Qur’an 42:11

This cause must have the power to create the universe, without this ability nothing could be created. The Qur’an testifies to God’s power,

“Certainly, God has power over all things.” Qur’an 2:20

This cause must have a will, because it wouldn’t be able to create the universe without one. What this means is that it must have a will so the power to create could be acted on. The Qur’an refers to God as having a will in many places, for instance,

“And God guides whom He wills to a straight path.” Qur’an 2:213

In summary, we have concluded what the Qur’an concluded over 1400 years ago, that a creator for the universe exists, that is one, has a will, is powerful, uncaused, immaterial and eternal.

Quantum Physics Undermines the Argument

A common contention to the central argument made in this essay is that the assumption – whatever begins to exist has a cause – is false. This is due to the apparent observations in the quantum vacuum that sub-atomic events behave spontaneously without any causes. In light of this common contention there are some good objections we can raise:

1. Firstly, the view that some events just happen, also known as indeterminism, for no reason at all is impossible to prove conclusively. Our inability to identify a cause does not necessarily mean that there is no cause.

2. Secondly, there are deterministic perspectives adopted by physicists to explain these so-called spontaneous sub-atomic events. For instance in the 1950s David Bohm showed there was an alternative formulation of quantum theory that is fully deterministic in its basic structure. [12] Commenting on Bohm’s theory Polkinghorne explains,

“In Bohm’s theory there are particles which are as unproblematically objective and deterministic in their behaviour as Sir Isaac Newton himself might have wished them to be. However, there is also a hidden wave, encoding information about the whole environment. It is not itself directly observable, but it influences in a subtle and highly sensitive manner the motions of the particles in just such a way as to induce the experimentally observed probabilistic effects.”[13]

What this means is that the apparent indeterminism present at the quantum level can be explained deterministically by this hidden wave that produces observed indeterministic or probabilistic effects.

However, since these two interpretations of quantum theory are empirically equivalent the choice between them will not be based on a scientific decision but on a metaphysical one. This leads to the philosophical objection to this contention.

3. Thirdly, from a philosophical perspective it is extremely difficult for these physicists (who adopt an indeterministic explanation of sub-atomic events) to justify their conclusions. This is because without the concept of causality we will not have the mental framework to understand our observations and experiences. In philosophical terms causality is a priori, which means knowledge we have independent of any experience. We know causality is true because we bring it to all our experience, rather than our experience bringing it to us. It is like wearing yellow-tinted glasses, everything looks yellow not because of anything out there in the world, but because of the glasses through which we are looking at everything. Take the following example into consideration; imagine you are looking at the White House in Washington DC. Your eyes may wonder to the door, across the pillars, then to the roof and finally over to the front lawn. Now contrast this to another experience, you are on the river Thames in London and you see a boat floating past. What dictates the order in which you had these experiences? When you looked at the White House you had a choice to see the door first and then the pillars and so on. However, with the boat you had no choice as the front of the boat was the first to appear.

The point to take here is that you would not have been able to make the distinction that some experiences are ordered by yourself and others are ordered independently, unless we had the concept of causality. In absence of causality our experience would be very different from the way it is. It would be a single sequence of experiences only: one thing after another. So to accept that sub-atomic events do not correspond with causality would be tantamount of denying our own experience!

zs

References

[1] Derek Parfit, “Why Anything? Why This?” London Review of Books 20/2 (January 22, 1998), page 24.
[2] David Hilbert. On the Infinite, in Philosophy of Mathematics, ed. with an Intro. by P. Benacerraf and H. Putnam. Prentice-Hall. 1964, page151.
[3] Aristotle, Physics 207b8 (available online here http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/physics.html)
[4] P. C. W. Davies, “Spacetime Singularities in Cosmology,” in The Study of Time III, ed. J. T. Fraser (Berlin: Springer Verlag, 1978), pages 78–79.
[5] John Gribbin, In the Beginning: The Birth of the Living Universe (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1993), page 19.
[6] Alex Vilenkin, Many Worlds in One: The Search for Other Universe. Hill and Wang. 2006, page 176.
[7] Paul Davies, “The Birth of the Cosmos,” in God, Cosmos, Nature and Creativity, ed. Jill Gready (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1995), pages. 8-9.
[8] P. J. Zwart, About Time (Amsterdam and Oxford: North Holland Publishing Co., 1976), pages 117-19
[9] John Polkinghorne and Nicholas Beale. Questions of Truth. 2009, page 41
[10] Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow. The Grand Design. 2011, page 180.
[11] http://www.jaafaridris.com/English/Books/physicists.htm accessed 1 October 2011, 10:32AM.
[12] See D. Bohm and B. J. Hiley. The Undivided Universe. Routledge, 1993.
[13] John Polkinghorne. Science and Religion in Quest of Truth. SPCK. 2011, page 39


 

 

The sun The Sun is made up of 70% hydrogen (H) and 28% helium (He) atoms.1 Other substances make up less than 2%. Six hundred million tons of hydrogen are converted into 596 million tons of helium in the Sun every second. The remaining 4 million tons is given off as heat and light energy.2 In that sense, the first thing that comes to mind when the Sun is mentioned is the letters H (hydrogen) and He (helium) that stand for the Sun. All the 15 verses in Surat ash-Shams of the Qur’an (Shams meaning ‘Sun’), end in the letters H and E. The Arabic equivalent of these letters are:

The Arabic letter "He"

The Arabic letter “He”

 

 

 

The Arabic letter "Elif"

The Arabic letter “Elif”

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Arabic form of the verses in Surat ash-Shams and the final letters thereof can be seen belowSURAH SHAMS

As can be seen, all the verses in Surat ash-Shams end in the letters He and Elif. The letter H stands for hydrogen and He for helium. No other Surah in the Qur’an ends in the letters HE in every verse from beginning to end. It is therefore extremely striking how only this Surah in the Qur’an ends in such a sequence of letters. Surat ash-Shams’s number, 91, is also highly significant. Apart from hydrogen, there are 91 other elements in the Periodic Table, and these are made up of hydrogen elements.  To put it another way, all atoms. From hydrogen, the lightest element, to the heaviest are intra-atomic combinations of hydrogen atoms. For that reason, the H (hydrogen) atom in the Sun makes up the other 91 elements in nature.3
Almighty Allah has created all the details in nature, and is still creating them. All our knowledge about such details is permitted to us in order for us to comprehend the omniscience of our Lord. In one verse, we are told:

Allah, there is no god but Him, the Living, the Self-Sustaining. He is not subject to drowsiness or sleep. Everything in the heavens and the earth belongs to Him. Who can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is before them and what is behind them but they cannot grasp any of His knowledge save what He wills. His Footstool encompasses the heavens and the earth and their preservation does not tire Him. He is the Most High, the Magnificent. (Surat al-Baqara, 255)

 

REFERENCES:

 

1 http://observe.arc.nasa.gov/nasa/exhibits/sun/sun_2.html; http://www.nineplanets.org/sol.html

2 http://observe.arc.nasa.gov/nasa/exhibits/sun/sun_5.html

3 http://periodic.lanl.gov/elements/1.html; William D. Harkins, “The Abundance of the Elements in Relation to the Hydrogen-Helium Structure of the Atoms”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA, April 1916, Vol. 4, pp. 216–224.


“Among His (God’s) signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the living creatures that He has scattered through them : and He has power to gather them together when He wills.”(Holy Qur’an 42:29)
On 7th August 1996, NASA (1) scientists made an announcement that made front page headlines throughout the world. Within a Martian meteorite, they had found evidence of a microscopic life form that may have existed on Mars more than three billion years ago. (2) Although other studies were later published which challenged this conclusion, (3) numerous recent discoveries, for example, the discovery by the Galileo spacecraft, (4) in February 1997, of a possible red-coloured sea under the ice crust of Jupiter’s moon, Europa, (5) are raising hopes that we may soon be able to get an answer to one of the oldest and most interesting questions asked by humans-“Is anyone out there, or are we alone in the universe?”

However, it may be that none of us may live to see the day when scientists will give us a definitive answer to this question. For Muslims, that should not be a problem. We already have the answer. Although many Muslims are unaware of the fact, the Qur’an (6) explicitly mentions the existence of extraterrestrial life.

The existence of creatures of a spiritual nature, such as angels, in the universe, is accepted as a fact by all Muslims, as well as people of other religions, such as Christians. The point that generates excitement among the public, and scientists is the question of whether material life forms like ourselves, which can be found by science, do actually exist outside the earth. (7) The objective of this article is to present evidence from the Qur’an for the existence in the universe, of MATERIAL life forms (“Life as we know it”).

“Dabbatun”
In Sura 42, Verse 29 (42: 29) of the Qur’an, we are told,

“Among His (God’s) signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the living creatures that He has scattered through them : and He has power to gather them together when He wills. ” 

(8) Before proceeding further, a point or two must be noted. The word “sama”, translated “heavens”, is also the Arabic for “sky”. One may object that the verse refers to creatures in the sky (which would be birds), not in the heavens. However, birds are mentioned separately from creatures of the heavens in 24: 41,

“Seest thou not that it is God Whose praise all beings in the heavens and on earth do celebrate, and the birds (of the air) with wings outspread? . . . ” 

(9)

In a note to 42; 29, Muhammad Asad states, “In the Qur’an, the expression “the heavens and earth” invariably denotes the universe in its entirety. ” (10) The Qur’an mentions that inanimate objects also worship God:

“Do they not look at God’s creation, (even) among (inanimate) things- how their (very) shadows turn round, from right to left, prostrating themselves to God. . . “(16: 48). (11)

 

Therefore, may not the creatures spoken of in 42: 29 in the heavens, be inanimate creatures of God. No. The next verse, 16: 49 goes, “And to God doth obeisance all that is in the heavens and earth, whether moving (living) creatures or the angels. . . “. (12) The word translated “living creatures” here is the same as that in 42: 29- “Dabbatun”. Comments Asad, “The word dabbah denotes any sentient, corporeal being capable of spontaneous movement and is contrasted here with the non-corporeal, spiritual beings designated as “angels” “. (13) In other words, 42: 29 is referring to precisely the type of life forms that science is searching for, not some metaphysical entities. Yusuf Ali says, “Dabbatun: beasts, living, crawling creatures of all kind. ” (14) This is the same word used in 2: 164, “. . . in the beasts of all kinds that He scatters through the earth. . . are signs for a people that are wise, ” (15) and in 24: 45, “And God has created every animal from water: of them are some that creep on their bellies; some that walk on two legs; and some that walk on four. God creates what he wills. . . ” (16) Commenting on 42: 29, Allama Shabbir Ahmad Usmani says, “From the verse it appears that like on the earth, there are some kinds of animals- living creatures- in the heavens also. ” (17) On the same verse, Yusuf Ali comments, “Life is not confined to our one little Planet. It is a very old speculation to imagine some life like human life on the planet Mars. . . it is reasonable to suppose that Life in some form or other is scattered through some of the millions of heavenly bodies scattered through space. ” (18) >From such remarks, the reader will realize that Muslim scholars are well aware of the fact that 42: 29 clearly mentions the existence of aliens.

Is There Any Alien Intelligent Life ?
Although the discovery of any form of life outside the earth would be dramatic, humankind is especially interested in knowing whether there is any alien intelligent life in the universe. NASA previously had a program on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). Although now scrapped due to budget cuts, private SETI organizations (19) have now been made which continue the search. The Planetary Society, (20) a private organization, in which the film director Steven Speilberg (21) is a member of the Board of Directors, has the largest SETI program in the world. So far, no sign of alien intelligent life has turned up. Can the Qur’an provide an answer?
Sura 27: 65 commands,

“Say: None in the heavens or on earth, except God, knows what is hidden: nor can they perceive when they shall be raised up (for Judgement). ” (22) 

This shows that, like humans, there are other creatures in the universe that will also be raised from the dead. We are told in 19: 93-96, “Not one of the beings in the heavens and the earth but must come to (God) Most Gracious as a servant. He does take an account of them (all), and hath numbered them (all) exactly. And everyone of them will come to Him singly on the Day of Judgement. On those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, will (God) Most Gracious bestow love. ” (23) From these verses we learn that there are alien life forms that, like us, will also be judged according to the works that they do during their lives. Among them are the believers. Therefore, naturally, there will also be those aliens who are unbelievers. The believers will be rewarded. The life forms being described in the above verses can hardly be expected to be microorganisms. The Qur’an is referring to creatures of a level of development that makes them morally accountable beings. They must be organisms possessing qualities which we would ascribe to intelligent life forms.

In Sura 72: 14-15, jinn (a type of spiritual life form, which the Qur’an mention as living on the earth) say, “Amongst us are some that submit their wills (to God), and some that swerve from justice. Now those who submit their wills- they have sought out (the path) of right conduct: But those who swerve- they are (but) fuel for Hell-fire. ” (24)

The Qur’an mentions that good jinn will be rewarded with Paradise. Summing up from all the above verses, it is clear that Judgement Day is for creatures in the whole universe (Sura 39: 68-

“The Trumpet will (just) be sounded when all that are in the heavens and on earth will swoon, except such as it will please God (to exempt). Then will a second one be sounded, when, behold, they will be standing and looking on! “) (25) 

and like jinn, aliens will also be sharing Paradise and Hell with humans. In fact, the Qur’an mentions that Paradise is of a size like that of our present universe- 57: 21, “Therefore (vie) with one another for the pardon of your Lord, and for a Paradise as vast as heaven and earh, prepared for those who believe in Allah and His apostles.

” (26) Therefore, it is not surprising that when we are sharing this universe with aliens, we should share Paradise and Hell with them too. The Qur’an shows us, therefore, that not only do aliens exist, but among them are also intelligent beings.

Where Can Aliens be Found?
Knowing that aliens, including intelligent life forms exist elsewhere, our next question would be, “Where do they live? “Scientists naturally expect them to live on planets. They look for other planets around other stars- planets that have the right conditions to harbour life- in other words, other earths. In October 1995, scientists announced the discovery of the first extra-solar planet around the star 51 Pegasi. (27) Since then, there have been a string of discoveries of other planets. At the time of writing of this article, fifteen planets have been claimed to have been discovered. (28) Although some of these objects have been dismissed as brown dwarfs (including the object around Pegasi 51) by some scientists, (29) at least some of the fifteen objects are agreed upon as being planets. Scientists believe that on potential moons around planets found to be orbiting two stars, the right conditions may exist for life to be present. (30)

In Sura 65: 12, we are informed, “God is He Who created seven heavens and of the earth a similar number. . . ” (31)
This verse, although usually translated properly, is very commonly misinterpreted by commentators. They give their interpretation that space is divided into seven zones, and likewise, as Yusuf Ali puts it, “the crust of the earth is built up of geological strata one above another”. (32) This interpretation arises due to a misunderstanding of what a “heaven” is as mentioned in the Qur’an. Before continuing further about the topic of aliens, it is necessary to clear up this confusion. The answer can be deduced from verses in the Qur’an itself and comparing them with our current scientific knowledge about the universe.

Sura 21: 30 asks, “Do not the unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together (as one unit of creation), before we clove them asunder? . . . ” (33)

Sura 41: 11-12 tell us,

“Then turned He to the heaven when it was smoke, and said unto it and unto the earth: come both of you, willingly or loth. . . Then We ordained them seven heavens. . . and inspired in each heaven its mandate; and We decked the lowest heaven with lamps. . . “

(34)

and Sura 71: 15-16,

“See ye not how Allah hath created seven heavens in harmony, and hath made the moon a light therin, and made the sun a lamp? ” (35) Sura 51: 47 informs us,

“And it is We who have built the universe with (Our creative) power; and, verily, it is We who are steadily expanding it. ” (36)

Asad, comments on the above verses as follows: about 21: 30, “. . . the above unmistakable reference to the unitary origin of the universe- metonymically described in the Qur’an as “the heavens and the earth”- strikingly anticipates the view of almost all modern astrophysicists that this universe has originated as one entity from one single element, namely, hydrogen, which became subsequently consolidated through gravity and then separated into individual nebulae, galaxies, and solar systems, with individual parts progressively breaking away to form new entities in the shape of stars, planets and the latter’s satellites”; (37) about 41: 11, he explains the word “smoke” as, “a gas- evidently hydrogen gas, which physicists regard as the primal element from which all material particles of the universe have evolved and still evolve. . . ” (38) and says about the verse, “explaining this passage, Zamakhshari observes: “The meaning of God’s command to the skies (heavens) and the earth to “come”. . . is this: He willed their coming into being. . . “”; for 41: 12, he explains “seven heavens” as, “a multiplicity of cosmic systems”; (39) about 51: 47 he says, “the phrase “inna la-musi’un” clearly foreshadows the modern notion of the “expanding universe”- that is, the fact that the cosmos, though finite in extent, is continuously expanding in space. ” (40) Finally, three more verses need to be referred to- 50: 38, “And verily We created the heavens and the earth and all that is between them. . . and naught of weariness touched us” (41) , 21: 104, “The Day when We shall roll up the heavens as a recorder rolleth up a written scroll. As We began the first creation, We shall repeat it. (It is a promise binding) upon Us. Lo! We are to perform it” (42) , and 14: 48, “One day the Earth will be changed to a different Earth, and so will be the heavens. . . ” (43)

From the verses above, we learn this from the Qur’an: a heaven is a material entity which arose from the same material as the earth originated from. Initially, there was one gaseous mass. A cleavage process occurred resulting in the making of the “seven heavens” and “all that lies between them”. The sun, moon and earth are constituents of a heaven. Therefore, a heaven must be larger than a star (sun). When the end of the universe is at hand, the heavens, which till then were in an expanding universe (51: 47) will come together. Then, the way our present universe came into being, in a similar manner, a new creation will come into being, containing other heavens and another earth. Any astronomer reading these verses can tell you that there is only one entity that fits the description of a heaven in the Qur’an- a “heaven” in the Qur’an must be referring to a “galaxy”. According to modern science, the universe arose from a singularity, at the Big Bang, and has since, been expanding. From a primordial gas cloud arose huge fragments from which the galaxies and their clusters arose. Today, the galaxies are moving apart from each other in space. They are separated by intergalactic space in which may lurk invisible dark matter, making up to 90% of the total mass of the universe. if there is sufficient dark matter, at some time in the future, the universe will stop expanding and enter a contraction phase in which the galaxies will finally come close together in a Big Crunch marking an end to the present universe. The universe would have returned to a singularity state similar to that from which the present universe arose. Then, once again, scientists predict, a new universe may rebound from the singularity of the Big Crunch, as another Big Bang gives rise to a universe with its own galaxies and planets etc. Verses in the Qur’an agree amazingly with our current ideas about the universe!

The purpose of our lengthy divergence from the main topic of this article was to prove that the “seven heavens” are not zones into which the universe is divided, but large astronomical entities, the galaxies. Some people have interpreted a heaven as being a solar system. However, while this view may seem appropriate for some verses, it does not tally with all the verses.

The Qur’an mentions the creation of seven heavens. Asad explains that, “. . . as regards the “seven heavens”, it is to be borne in mind that in Arabic usage. . . the number “seven” is often synonymous with “several”. ” (44) I have shown that the heavens are the galaxies and we can see that millions of them exist. Even if we assume that the heaven are some other astronomical objects that arose from the primary gas cloud, they definitely are not literally seven in number, but in the millions.

The relevance of this to our discussion on aliens is that the Sura 65: 12 tells us that, as God has created “seven Heavens”, He has created, “of the earth a similar number. . . ” Therefore, as there are millions of galaxies, God has also created millions of earths scattered throughout the universe. Usmani comments on 65: 12, “The earths as well, He created seven (Usmani thinks literally seven. We know it actually means “many”), as given in the Tradition of Tirmizi etc. It is possible they are not visible, it is possible they are visible, but people think them to be stars or planets, as the scientists of today have predicted the possibility of life on Mars etc. . . ” (45) An important thing to point out in 65: 12 is that God does not use the word “worlds”, but specifically, “earth”. An ‘earth’ would be a planet that harbours life. Scientists also often speak of looking for other earths. They mean not just any planet, but one sustaining or capable of sustaining life. In his book, The Bible, The Qur’an and Science, Maurice Bucaille writes, “. . . it comes as no small surprise to the reader of the Qur’an to find that earths such as our own may be found in the Universe. . . ” (46)

We have finally arrived at the Qur’an’s answer as to where aliens can be found. They inhabit the millions of earths that God has created among the millions of heavens (galaxies) in the universe. The Qur’an therefore, gives us a magnificent view of the universe- a universe teeming with life, a place that the late astronomer Carl Sagan described as a “cosmic fugue, with themes and counter- points, dissonances and harmonies, a billion different voices playing the life music. ” (47)

Will we ever Discover Aliens?
So far, we have learnt from the Qur’an that extraterrestrial life, including intelligent life, exists throughout countless earths in the universe. But this is not sufficient to satisfy our curiosity. We want scientists to actually discover aliens. Only after we have found incontrovertible scientific evidence that aliens exist, will our (unbelieving) hearts see that the Qur’an was correct all along. We actually won’t be satisfied till we meet an alien face to face. Is there any chance that in the future we will actually discover, through science, the existence of aliens and establish some kind of contact with them or even meet them?

To get some idea on this matter, we must return to Sura 42: 29. We are told over there that the scattering of living creatures in the heavens and the earth is a “sign”. What is a sign? Sura 6: 104 says,

 “Momentous signs have come to you from your Lord. He that sees them shall himself have much to gain, but he who is blind to them shall lose much. “ (48)

Sura 6: 109,

“They solemly swear by Allah that if a sign be given them they would believe in it. “ (49) Sura 7: 73,

“A clear proof has come to you from your Lord. Here is Allah’s she-camel: a sign for you. ” (50) Clearly, a sign is something which we can see, or at least, experience with our senses. Otherwise, it would not be a sign. Some signs are those that God showed to humans in the past. Other signs remain for God to show us in the future-

“Soon we will show them Our Signs in the (furthest) regions, and in their own souls, until it becomes manifest to them that this is the Truth” (41: 53). (51)

THERFORE, SURA 42: 29 CONTAINS A PROPHESY THAT A TIME WILL INDEED COME IN THE FUTUTE WHEN HUMANS WILL DISCOVER ALIENS.

In Sura 55: 33-34, we are addressed,

“O ye assembly of Jinn and men! If it be you can pass beyond the regions of the heavens and the earth, pass ye! Not without authority will ye be able to pass! Then which of the favours of your Lord will ye deny? ” (52)

Why does God ask us to go into space? There must be some purpose. Maybe it be for us to fulfill some grand destiny in store for our species- maybe to become a galactic race, a respectable part of the galactic community of civilizations. Maybe, it is our travels in space that may lead to our encounter with aliens and fulfill the prophesy in 42: 29. Only time will tell. In anticipation of the time when we become space-travellers, we are told in Sura 29: 22, “Neither on earth nor in heaven shall you be beyond reach: nor have you any guardian or helper besides Allah. ” (53)

To reach other civilizations, we must be capable of feasible interstellar transport. Might we one day be capable of undertaking such a voyage? Sura 16: 8 says,

“And (it is He Who creates) horses and mules for you to ride. . . and He will yet create things of which (today) you have no knowledge. “ (54)

The latter part of this verse is often translated in the present tense but as Asad points out, “The use in this context, of the aorist “yakhluqu” implies the future tense (“He will create”) . . . Since this reference to God’s continuing creation comes immediately after a mention of primitive means of transport, it obviously relates to other- as yet unknown- things of the same category: that is to say, to new means of transport which God unceasingly creates through the instrumentality of the inventiveness with which He has endowed man’s mind. ” (55) Therefore, it is possible that we may one day make the spacecraft required for interstellar travel. After all, God Himself has encouraged us to, “pass beyond the regions of the heavens”. Sura 42: 29 ends with the statement that God has the power to gather the creatures of the heavens and earth together if He wills. This also points to the possibility of our meeting aliens in the future. However, this gathering may well refer to that which will occur on Judgement Day as mentioned in Sura 19: 93-96 (see above).

Man’s Position Among Creation
The most revolutionary discoveries in history have been those which altered the way humans perceived themselves in the universe. We discovered that the earth was not at the centre of the universe. We discovered that our Sun was a very ordinary star located in an insignificant part of an ordinary galaxy, which was only one of millions of galaxies. These discoveries should have humbled us. Yet, even today, many of us triumphantly proclaim ourselves as being the most supreme creation of God. It is common to ascribe our cherished position among all living things to our higher intellectual abilities. If we were to find out that there are other intelligent beings in the universe, and that some may be intellectually more superior to us, where would that leave us ? Would we finally be dethroned?

Sura 17: 70 informs us, “Verily We have honoured the children of Adam. . . and preferred them above many of those whom We created with a marked preferment. “ (56) Many translations fail to mention the “marked preferment” in the verse, although the verse contains the Arabic “tafzelan” which conveys this. Note that the verse mentions that there are other creatures besides humans, who have also been given a position of distinction, and humans have been preferred above many, not all, of these creatures. Usmani states in a comment on this verse, “Under this verse a debate is opened: Who is superior- Man or Angel? But logically this verse does not decide the issue. ” (57) Another scholar has written, “From this (verse) it is evident that whatever superiority humans have got over other creatures is not whole. Allah’s creatures contain such creatures upon which humans have got no superiority. “It must be remembered here that while so far we have been discussing material alien life forms, the debate of man’s position in creation includes both material and spiritual creatures of God. Some early authorities, such as Hasan, have not accepted the word “akser” mentioned in 17: 70 as meaning “many”. Hasan maintains that the word “akser”, as used in 17: 70, should be understood as meaning “all”, since the same word is used in 26: 233 and 10: 36, where it would be inappropriate to take its meaning as “many” but rather as “all”. With such a substitution in verse 17: 70, the meaning would be altered to mean that man is preferred by God over all creatures.

The debate on man’s status continues among scholars and also among the public. Let us make an analogy to the debate of whether man is superior to woman. Suppose for a moment that we hand the trophy to man and let him enjoy his “superior” position. On the Day of Judgement, it will only be deeds that count and good women will go to Paradise and bad men will burn in Hell. Who would have been more superior? As you can see, in the final analysis, any debate on the status of a race, or species is useless. From earlier verses mentioned in this article, the reader will remember that, according to the Qur’an, God will judge humans as well as aliens on the basis of their deeds and reward them accordingly. Many humans will be sent to Hell for their wrongdoings. At the same time there will be aliens who will be rewarded for their good deeds. Who would be more superior- the unbelieving human or the faithful alien? The answer is obvious. Therefore, what’s the use of debating this point? Status of a creature is relative to its moral conduct. Sura 95: 4-5 states,

“Surely We created man of the best stature, then We reduced him to the lowest of the low. “ (58)

Islam and the Geocentric Universe
It is the fanciful idea of religion-bashers that the discovery of extraterrestrial life will undermine any remaining credibility that religion may have. In the case of Islam, as one can see from this discussion, that can hardly be the case. On the contrary, such a discovery would verify the truth of the statements contained in the Qur’an relating to the subject of alien life, and strengthen the position of Muslims. The vision of Islam is that of a truly universal religion. It is far removed from the exclusiveness of Judaism (“We are the Chosen Ones for God’s message”). It is a pity that the image of all religions has suffered a setback from the great scandal of the Church- its treatment of Galileo, for (rightly) challenging their views of a geocentric universe, in which Man was The Central Figure in God’s Plan of Creation, living on a planet around which all the rest of creation revolved.

The Qur’an gives us a picture of our place in the universe that is quite different. In Sura 40: 57, God says,

 “Assuredly the creation of the heavens and the earth is a greater (matter) than the creation of men: yet most men understand not. ” (59)

Comments Yusuf Ali, “Man is himself a tiny part of creation. Why should he be so ego-centric? ” (60) No one race of humans was chosen to be the exclusive custodians of the truth. Sura 16: 36 tells us,

“For We assuredly sent amongst every People an apostle, (with the command), “Serve God, and eschew Evil”:

of the people were some whom God guided, and others on whom Error became inevitably (established). So travel through the earth, and see what was the end of those who denied (the Truth). ” (61) According to some Traditions of The Prophet (pbuh), 124, 000 messengers have been sent into the world by God, throughout the ages to people all over the world. No nation was denied access to the Truth. Even on earth, guidance was provided not only to humans, but also the Jinn who co-habit this planet with us- 6: 130: “(Then He will say): “Jinn and men! Did there not come to you apostles of your own who proclaimed to you my revelations and warned you of this day? ” (62) . God’s bounty, according to Islam, is not confined to creatures of the earth because He is,

“. . . Lord of the heavens and Lord of the earth, the Lord of the Worlds” (45: 36). (63)

To the people were sent revealed Books also, the last of which is the Qur’an. About the Qur’an itself, we are told in 43: 4, “It is in the Mother Book with Us, sublime and full of wisdom. ” (64) About other planets, S. Bashir-ud-din Mahmood has this to say, “On the basis of the interpretation of verse 65: 12 by Ibn-e-Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him), we can say that inhabitants of these worlds must have their religion like ours and so the Holy Books. They all come from the same “Supreme Source” of revelation from where the Holy Qur’an originated for us on the Earth. It is evident from the verse of the Holy Qur’an” (i.e.. 43; 4. All Books come from the “Mother Book with Us”). (65) The very first verse of the Qur’an begins, “Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. ” (66)

Summing up, while the Qur’an does point out that man has a favoured position on earth, (2: 30- “Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: “I will create a vicegerent on earth. “”; (67) 2: 34- “We said to the angels: “Bow down to Adam. . . “” (68) 95: 4- We have indeed created man in the best of moulds. ” (69) ) there are other creatures of God who have also been favoured in the universe (17: 70). Humans are just a small part of God’s creation (40: 57). When they act wrongly, they are reduced to the lowest of the low (95: 5). Salvation is not only for some race of humans, but for all humans and creatures throughout the universe. There is a grand destiny planned by God for all of them. All humans as well as aliens who follow the guidance that God sent to their respective planets, will be rewarded (19: 96). “. . . it is God Whose praise all beings in the heavens and on earth do celebrate. . . ” (24: 41). (70) All will return to Him. How far the picture of the universe that Islam paints is from that of a geocentric universe!

Conclusion – A “Secret” Waiting to be Told
If the Qur’an is so explicit in stating the existence of living organisms in the universe (42: 29), we would suppose that the Muslim population would generally be aware of the fact that the Qur’an mentions extraterrestrials. Unfortunately that is not the case. A significant proportion of Muslims have no idea that this exciting piece of information is provided in their Holy Book. I have quoted a number of scholars in this article, who have commented on the verses relating to extraterrestrials. Among them are those such as Yusuf Ali and Muhammad Asad, whose works are known to Muslims throughout the world. Allama Shabbir Ahmad Usmani was a prominent figure in the Freedom Movement of Pakistan. All scholars quoted are from the mainstream of Islam. So, at least, Muslim scholars are aware of the Qur’an mentioning aliens. Yet, there are scholars also who have no idea about this subject. Surprisingly, even Maurice Bucaille, whose brilliant book, The Bible, The Qur’an and Science is extensive in its coverage of scientific topics in the Qur’an, completely overlooked the mention of aliens.

How aware were the early Muslims, about the existence of extraterrestrials, or verses in the Qur’an on this topic? Bashir-ud-Din Mahmood writes, “The idea that there is life elsewhere in the universe also, was derived from the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) when he told Muslims, “When you sit down in the prayer for the Attahiyat and say: “Peace be upon us, and the righteous servants of Allah” you actually send peace on all the righteous people living on the Earth and in the heavens. “This clearly implies that all type of people, good and bad live in the other worlds as they live on our Earth. ” (71) He also writes, with reference to the Rasial Imam Ghazali, “According to Imam Muhammad Ghazali (11th Century), people in some of these planetary worlds have learnt to travel and communicate with each other. ” (72)

The case of Ibn-e-Abbas is interesting. He was one of the Companions of the Prophet (pbuh). The Prophet (pbuh) had prayed to God specially to endow Ibn-e-Abbas(73) with knowledge of the Qur’an, and he became one of the great scholars of the Qur’an. Maulana Maududi writing in his Tafhim-ul-Qur’an, tells us that, “Ibn-e-Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him). . . believed with confidence that there are many more earth-like bodies in the heavens. . . . He not only thought that such earths are inhabited by intelligent beings but also that their people are exactly like the inhabitants on the Earth. He even went so far as to say that they may have a Prophet like Muhammad (pbuh), and had a Adam, like our Adam, a Noah, like our Noah, an Ibrahim like our Ibrahim, and a Jesus like our Jesus (pbut). ” (74) The knowledge of the existence of aliens and that they are mentioned in the Qur’an, has been present among Muslims from the earliest days of Islam!

There is something else that we know about Ibn-e-Abbas. He did not widely publicize his views about aliens. Rather, he was quite secretive about this matter. The reason is that he was afraid that his ideas would confuse people. In fact, he was afraid that people would be in danger of becoming unbelievers by not accepting the truth of this matter, which the Qur’an itself attested to. Perhaps it was such considerations that lead Muslim scholars of later times not to touch on the topic of aliens much, and so today, also, so many Muslims remain unaware about this matter. But times have changed. We’ve come a long way in our voyage of discovery of the wonders that surround us. The recent discoveries of extra-solar planets, of ice on the moon (75) , of microbes deep beneath the earth’s surface and around thermal vents in the oceans (76) , of water on the sun (77) and many other amazing findings are setting the stage for a grand finale. The public is mentally prepared to hear soon about the discovery of life outside the earth.

In recent times, Muslims have missed golden opportunities of propagating their religion to the peoples of the world. For example, the Qur’an mentions the expansion of the universe. This phenomenon was discovered by scientists only in 1929. If Muslims had let the world know beforehand, that the Qur’an mentioned this fact, then upon its discovery, a big impact could have been made on the non-Muslim world. We would have shown the world the power, the miracle, of the Qur’an. Of course, even today, the miracle remains that the Qur’an mentions the expansion of the universe, but non-Muslims tend to say, “Now you tell us, after science has already discovered this! You must be construing the meaning of Qur’anic verses to suit your wishes. ”

Today, as we stand at the threshold of making the most revolutionary discovery in the history of humankind, we Muslims should ask ourselves, “Hasn’t the time finally come for the “secret” that Ibn-e-Abbas held to be made known to the whole world? “Yes, the time is ripe. Let the world know, before it discovers for itself, that 1400 years ago in the deserts of Arabia, a prophet received revelations, mentioning the existence of extraterrestrial life through countless heavenly bodies in the universe, and prophesying that one day, humans will indeed discover aliens.

The Qur’an contains many amazing statements relating to science. There is no reason to believe that it has finally yielded all of its scientific secrets and as we enter the next century, we can be confidant that the Qur’an will continue to shed light on some of the most enduring and intriguing scientific mysteries of our times.

1. NASA Home Page
2. Medline citation
–Ref: Search For Past Life On Mars: Possible Biogenic Activity In Martian Meteorite
2. ALH84001. McKay et al. in Science, Vol. 273, pages 924-930; August 16, 1996.
–Scientific American: The Case For Relic Life On Mars. December 1997.
3. Ref: Scott, Edward R. D. et al, Petrological evidence of shock melting of carbonates
3. in the Martian meteorite ALH84001. Nature, 387, 377-379(22 May, 1997).
4. Galileo Home Page
5. Water on Europa:
-Scientific American: Exhibit: Great Balls of Ice: August 19, 1996.
–NASA Space Science News: The Frosty Plains of Europa
6. The Qur’an:
–Translations by Yusuf Ali, Pickthall and Shakir. Muslim Students Association site
–(MSA-USC), containing the entire translated text by three scholars.
–Qur’an Search Engine. Search for verses in the Qur’an by key words.
–Transliteration of the Qur’an. The complete transliterated text of the Qur’an.
–Listen to the Qur’an. The complete text recited in Arabic and English in RealAudio files.
–Qur’an in MP3 format. Download the Qur’an as mp3 files.
7. The Astrobiology Web. Information on space life science. Highly recommended.

“Dabbatun”

8. Sura 42: 29. The Holy Qur’an. Text, Translation and Commentary. Abdullah Yusuf Ali.
9. Sura 24: 41. Yusuf Ali.
10. Note 33 on Sura 42: 29. The Message of the Qur’an. Muhammad Asad.
11. Sura 16: 48. Yusuf Ali.
12. Sura 16: 49. Yusuf Ali.
13. Note 55 on Sura 16: 49. Asad.
14. Note 4568 on Sura 42: 29. Yusuf Ali.
15. Sura 2: 164. Yusuf Ali.
16. Sura 24: 45. Yusuf Ali.
17. Note 43 on Sura 42: 29. The Nobel Qur’an. Tafseer-e-Usmani. Allama Shabbir Ahmed
17. Usmani.
18. Note 4569 on 42: 29. Yusuf Ali.

Is There Any Alien Intelligent Life ?

19. SETI organizations:
—The SETI Institute.
—SETI@home. Now you can participate in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence
—from your own home by installing a screen saver. Check it out.
20. The Planetary Society. This has the world’s largest SETI program.
21. Steven Spielberg.
22. Sura 27: 65. Yusuf Ali.
23. Sura 19: 93-96. Yusuf Ali.
24. Sura 72: 14-15. Yusuf Ali.
25. Sura 39: 68. Yusuf Ali.
26. Sura 57: 21. The Meaning of the Qur’an. Dr. Mahmud Y. Zayid.

Where Can Aliens be Found ?

27. A planet around 51 Pegasi:
—-Mayor, M. & Queloz, D. A Jupiter-mass companion to a solar-type star. Nature
—-378, 355-359. (1995).
28. The Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia. The main internet catalogue of all extrasolar planets
28. discovered so far.
29. Challenge to a planet around 51 Pegasi:
—-Walker, Gordan. One of our planets is missing. Nature, 385, 775-776. (27 Feb 1997).
—-Gray, David F. Absence of a planetary signature in the spectra of the star 51 Pegasi.
—-Nature, 385, 795-796. (27 Feb 1997).
—-Update: – New evidence for a planet around 51 Pegasi:
—-Marcy, Geoffrey. Extrasolar planets: Back in focus. Nature, 391, 127. (8 Jan 1998).
—-Gray, David F. A planetary companion for 51 Pegasi implied by absence of pulsations in the
—- stellar spectra. Nature, 391, 153-154. (8 Jan 1998).
—-Hatzes, Artie P. et al. Further evidence for the planet around 51 Pegasi. Nature, 391,
—-154-156. (8 Jan 1998).
30. The possible earths are potential moons of planets orbiting 16 Cygni B in the Swan
—-and 47 Uma in Ursae Majoris.
—-Chyba, Christopher F. Exobiology: Life on other moons. Nature, 385, 201. (16 Jan ’97).
—-Williams, Darren M. et al. Habitable moons around extra-solar giant planets. Nature,
—-385, 234-236. (16 Jan 1997).
31. Sura 65: 12. Yusuf Ali.
32. Note 5527 on Sura 65: 12. Yusuf Ali.
33. Sura 21: 30. Yusuf Ali.
34. Sura 41: 11-12. The Glorious Qur’an. Text and Explanatory Translation. Muhammad
—-Marmaduke Pickthall.
35. Sura 71: 15-16. Pickthall.
36. Sura 51: 47. Asad.
37. Note 38 on Sura 21: 30. Asad.
38. Note 12 and Note 13 on Sura 41: 11. Asad.
39. Note 14 on Sura 41: 12. Asad.
40. Note 31 on Sura 51: 47. Asad.
41. Sura 50: 38. Pickthall.
42. Sura 21: 104. Pickthall.
43. Sura 14: 48. Yusuf Ali.
44. Note 20 on Sura 2: 29. Asad.
45. Note 32 on Sura 65: 12. Usmani.
46. Ref: Bucaille, Maurice. The Bible, The Qur’an and Science. Section: The Qur’an and
46. Modern Science. Chapter III: The Creation of the Heavens and the Earth.
46. Subheading: The Basic Process of the Formation of the Universe and the Resulting
46. Composition of the Worlds.
47. Ref: Sagan, Carl. Cosmos. Chapter II.
—-Read the classic article: The Quest for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. By Carl Sagan.

Will we ever Discover Aliens ?

48. Sura 6: 104. Zayid.
49. Sura 6: 109. Zayid.
50. Sura 7: 73. Zayid.
51. Sura 41: 53. Yusuf Ali.
52. Sura 55: 33-34. Yusuf Ali.
53. Sura 29: 22. Zayid.
54. Sura 16: 8. Asad.
55. Note 6 on Sura 16: 8. Asad.

Man’s Position Among Creation

56. Sura 17: 70. Pickthall.
57. Note 105 on Sura 17: 70. Usmani.
58. Sura 95: 4-5. Pickthall.

Islam and the Geocentric Universe

59. Sura 40: 57. Yusuf Ali.
60. Note 4431 on Sura 40: 57. Yusuf Ali.
61. Sura 16: 36. Yusuf Ali.
62. Sura 6: 130. Zayid.
63. Sura 45: 36. Pickthall.
64. Sura 43: 4. Zayid.
65. Ref: Mahmood, Bashir-ud-din. Doomsday and Life After Death. Chapter 18,
65. Sub-heading: The Qur’an in Other Worlds. Ta-Ha Publishers.
66. Sura 1: 1. Pickthall.
67. Sura 2: 30. Yusuf Ali.
68. Sura 2: 34. Yusuf Ali.
69. Sura 95: 4. Yusuf Ali.
70. Sura 24: 41. Yusuf Ali.

Conclusion – A “Secret” Waiting to be Told

71. Ref: Mahmood, Bashir-ud-din. Doomsday and Life After Death. Chapter 18,
71. Sub-heading: Life in Other Worlds.
72. Ref: Mahmood, Bashir-ud-din. Doomsday and Life After Death. Chapter 18,
72. Sub-heading: Life in Other Worlds.
73. Ibn-e-Abbas- a short biographical note
74. Maududi, Abul Ala. Tahfhim-ul-Qur’an.
75. Ice on the Moon:
—-Scientific American: Science and the Citizen. Water, Water Everywhere: May 1998.
—-NASA Press Release: Ice on the Moon.
76. Subterranean microbes:
—-Wellsbury, Peter et al. Deep marine biosphere fuelled by increasing organic matter
—-availability during burial and heating. Nature, 388, 573-576. (7 Aug 1997).
—-Scientific American: Article: Microbes Deep Inside the Earth. October 1996.
77. Water on the Sun:
—-Polyansky, Oleg L. et al. Water on the Sun: Line Assignments Based on Variational
—-Calculations. Science, Vol. 277, pages 346-348; July 18, 1997.
—-Science magazine

 

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