Scientific Miracle of the Qur'an
The Scientific Miracle of the Qur'an is a theory which tries to show that the Qur'an is a miracle by comparing some Quranic statements with findings in empirical sciences. According to the theory of the Scientific Miracle of the Qur'an, there are statements in the Qur'an concerning empirical facts which were not discovered at the time of its revelation. And since it was outside the ordinary human capacity to state such facts at that time, the Qur'an should be considered as a miracle of Prophet Muhammad (s) and as a book revealed by God. Examples of the scientific miracle of the Qur'an include Quranic statements regarding the rotation and the orbit of the Earth, the origination of life from water, the Earth's gravity, and the division of plants and animals into males and females.
In the last century, the Scientific Miracle of the Qur'an has been the focus of the attention of many Quranic scholars in the world. Muhammad b. Ahmad Iskandarani, Rashid Rida, and Tantawy have been the first scholars who propounded the theory. In Iran, the pioneers of the Scientific Miracle of the Qur'an have been Muhammad Taqi Shari'ati, Sayyid Mahmud Taliqani, and Mahdi Bazargan.
Some Muslim scholars reject the scientific interpretation of the Qur'an, holding that scientific theories are always subject to revisions or refutations, and thus, with the scientific approach to the interpretation of the Qur'an, the Qur'an would be subject to falsifications by the refutation of scientific theories. However, proponents of the Scientific Miracle of the Qur'an take the match between Quranic verses and empirical findings to be a way to prove the truth of the Qur'an.
Scientific exegeses of the Qur'an have a long history in the Islamic world. Ibn Sina (b. 370/980 - d. 428/1037) was allegedly the first scholar who tried to match some philosophical propositions with Quranic verses and to provide a scientific interpretation of some Quranic verses. Al-Fakhr al-Razi (544-606/1149-1209) interpreted the phrase "sab' samawat" (seven skies) in the Qur'an in terms of the seven planets discovered in the ancient Greek astronomy. However, it was in the recent century when the Scientific Miracle of the Qur'an on the basis of new discoveries in empirical sciences came to be the focus of attentions.
In this century, many Shiite and Sunni exegetes and scholars tried to argue for the Scientific Miracle of the Qur'an. Many books were written about the scientific exegesis of the Qur'an and its miracle. Muhammad b. Ahmad al-Iskandarani, Rashid Rida, and Tantawy are among the first scholars who wrote on the subject-matter. In Iran, the pioneers of such studies were Muhammad Taqi Shari'ati, Sayyid Mahmud Taliqani, and Mahdi Bazargan.
Theory and Argument
According to the theory of the Scientific Miracle of the Qur'an, there are remarks pertaining sciences, and in particular, empirical sciences, in the Qur'an which were not yet discovered at the time of its revelation. Moreover, unlike many scientific books whose theories were refuted during time, the Qur'an involves scientific contents which were never refuted. Since it was outside the human capacity to discover such scientific facts at that time, the Qur'an should be considered as a miracle of the Prophet (s) and a book revealed to him by God.
Examples of the Scientific Miracles of the Qur'an
Many scientific contents have been attributed by the exegetes to the Qur'an as its scientific miracles. They include the orbit and the rotation of the Earth, the origination of life from water, the gravitational force of the Earth, the division of all plants and animals into males and females, and the motion of planets on certain orbits. There are disagreements among exegetes of the Qur'an about these cases.
Here are some of the Quranic verses which are said to involve scientific miracles:
Some scholars have appealed to new findings of empirical sciences according to which life was originated from water and thus, considered this verse to be a scientific miracle of the Qur'an.
According to Tafsir Nimuna, it was known in the past that some plants had males and females, but it was only in the middle of the 18th century that empirical scientists discovered that it was a general law applying to all plants.
According to some exegetes, the verse points to the Big Bang Theory which is concerned with the origins of the cosmos. They believe that the smoke (or vapor) referred to in this verse refers to the huge mass of vapor said by the scientists to have been produced as a result of the Big Bang.
- "Whomever Allah desires to guide, He opens his breast to Islam, and whomever He desires to lead astray, He makes his breast narrow and straitened as if he were climbing to a height."[Note 4] (Q 6:125).
It is proved today that when one goes up the surface of the Earth, it becomes more difficult for them to breathe such that they pass out because of the lack of oxygen. Thus, this is considered to be a Scientific Miracle of the Qur'an.
Opponents of the scientific exegesis of the Qur'an believe that the Qur'an is a book of guidance and it should not be expected to state scientific theories or chemical and physical laws. They hold that scientific theories are always subject to changes, revisions, and refutations, and thus, a scientific exegesis might make the Qur'an subject to falsifications. However, proponents of the scientific exegesis have argued that it is not incompatible with the guiding nature of the Qur'an to match its statements with scientific facts. On the contrary, to show scientific facts in the Qur'an proves its truth and helps its guiding agenda.
There is also a disagreement among proponents of the scientific exegesis of the Qur'an: some of them maintain that all sciences can be found in the Qur'an and so they have tried to extract sciences such as medicine, mathematics, geometry, algebra, and astronomy from it. Champions of this approach include Tantawy, Muhammad 'Abd al-Na'im al-Jamal, Muhammad b. Ahmad al-Iskandarani, and Sayyid Ahmad Khan Hindi.
However, some other scholars believe that these people have overacted with respect to the scientific exegesis of the Qur'an and have, in fact, imposed theories in empirical sciences to the Qur'an without complying with standard methods of exegesis. They believe that the Qur'an has not talked about all sciences, although some facts have, indeed, been stated in some Quranic verses which were discovered centuries later by empirical scientists. They take these verses to be instances of the Scientific Miracle of the Qur'an. The latter group of scholars includes Sayyid Qutb, Rashid Rida, Muhammad Taqi Shari'ati, Sayyid Mahmud Taliqani, and Mahdi Bazargan.
In the preface to his book, al-Mizan, 'Allama Tabataba'i says that the scientific exegesis of the Qur'an is an imposition of theories in empirical sciences to the Qur'an, and has referred to it as "tatbiq" (تطبیق; matching).
Many books, articles, and academic journals have been published with regard to the scientific exegesis of the Qur'an. The first scientific exegeses of the Qur'an include the following three books:
- Kashf al-asrar al-nuraniyya al-Qur'aniyya fi ma yata'allaq bi l-ajram al-samawiyya wa l-ardiyya wa l-hayawanat wa l-nabatat wa l-jawahir al-ma'daniyya (discovery of illuminated Quranic secrets on what concerns the heavenly and Earthly objects and animals and plants and gems) by Muhammad b. Ahmad al-Iskandarani,
- al-Minar by Rashid Rida,
- Jawahir al-Qur'an by Tantawy.
A well-known book in this regard is Tafsir nuwin by Muhammad Taqi Shari'ati who has tried to show examples of Quranic miracles without any exaggerations. In the 6th volume of his al-Tamhid, Muhammad Hadi Ma'rifat concerned himself with the Scientific Miracle of the Qur'an.
The quarterly, al-I'jaz al-'ilmi fi l-Qur'an wa l-sunna (the Scientific miracle in the Qur'an and the Tradition), is an academic journal containing papers about the Scientific Miracle of the Qur'an in fields such as medicine, astronomy, geology, biology, mathematics, economics, education, and sociology in over 30 volumes.
- وَجَعَلْنَا مِنَ الْمَاءِ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ حَيٍّ (Q 21:30)
- وَمِن كُلِّ الثَّمَرَاتِ جَعَلَ فِيهَا زَوْجَيْنِ اثْنَيْنِ (Q 12:3)
- ثُمَّ اسْتَوَىٰ إِلَى السَّمَاءِ وَهِيَ دُخَانٌ (Q 41:11)
- فَمَن يُرِدِ اللَّـهُ أَن يَهْدِيَهُ يَشْرَحْ صَدْرَهُ لِلْإِسْلَامِ ۖ وَمَن يُرِدْ أَن يُضِلَّهُ يَجْعَلْ صَدْرَهُ ضَيِّقًا حَرَجًا كَأَنَّمَا يَصَّعَّدُ فِي السَّمَاءِ (Q 6:125)
- The material for writing this article has been mainly taken from اعجاز علمی قرآن in Farsi wikishia.