Quran and Science by Dr. Zakir Naik - HTML preview

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1. Introduction …………………………………….……05
2. The Challenge of the Qur’aan ………………….……07
3. Astronomy ……………………………………….…..09
4. Physics ………………………………………….…....14
5. Geography …………………………………….……...17
6. Geology ……………………………………….….…..19
7. Oceanology ………………………………….………..21
8. Biology ………………………………………….……25
9. Botany ………………………………………………..26
10. Zoology ………………………………………………28
11. Medicine ……………………………………………..32
12. Physiology ……………………………………………33
13. Embryology …………………………………………..35
14. General Science ………………………………………44
15. Conclusion ……………………………………………46

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

ver since the dawn of human life on this planet, Man has always sought to understand Nature, his own place in the scheme of Creation and the purpose of Life itself. In this quest for Truth, spanning many centuries and diverse civilizations, organized religion has shaped human life and

determined to a large extent, the course of history. While some religions have been based on books, claimed by their adherents to be divinely inspired, others have relied solely on human experience.

Al-Qur’aan, the main source of the Islamic faith, is a book believed by Muslims, to be of completely Divine origin. Muslims also believe that it contains guidance for all mankind. Since the message of the Qur’aan is believed to be for all times, it should be relevant to every age. Does the Qur’aan pass this test? In this booklet, I intend to give an objective analysis of the Muslim belief regarding the Divine origin of the Qur’aan, in the light of established scientific discoveries.

There was a time, in the history of world civilization, when ‘miracles’, or what was perceived to be a miracle, took precedence over human reason and logic. But how do we define the term ‘miracle’? A miracle is anything that takes place out of the normal course of life and for which humankind has no explanation. However, we must be careful before we accept something as a miracle. An article in ‘The Times of India’ Mumbai, in 1993 reported that ‘a saint’ by the name ‘Baba Pilot’ claimed to have stayed continuously submerged under water in a tank for three consecutive days and nights. However, when reporters wanted to examine the base of the tank of water where he claimed to have performed this ‘miraculous’ feat, he refused to let them do so. He argued by asking as to how one could examine the womb of a mother that gives birth to a child. The ‘Baba’ was hiding something. It was a gimmick simply to gain publicity. Surely, no modern man with even the slightest inkling towards rational thinking would accept such a ‘miracle’. If such false miracles are the tests of divinity, then we would have to accept Mr. P. C. Sorcar, the world famous magician known for his ingenious magical tricks and illusions, as the best God-man.

A book, claiming Divine origin, is in effect, claiming to be a miracle. Such a claim should be easily verifiable in any age, according to the standards of that age. Muslims believe, that the Qur’aan is the last and final revelation of God, the miracle of miracles revealed as a mercy to mankind. Let us therefore investigate the veracity of this belief.

I would like to thank Brother Musaddique Thange for his editorial assistance. May Allah (swt) reward him for his efforts, Aameen



Literature and poetry have been instruments of human expression and creativity, in all cultures. The world also witnessed an age when literature and poetry occupied pride of position, similar to that now enjoyed by science and technology.

Muslims as well as non-Muslims agree that Al-Qur’aan is Arabic literature par excellence - that it is the best Arabic literature on the face of the earth. The Qur’aan, challenges mankind in the following verses:

“And if ye are in doubt As to what We have revealed From time to time to Our Servant, then produce a Soorah Like thereunto; And call your witnesses or helpers (If there are any) besides Allah, If your (doubts) are true. But if ye cannot –And of a surety you cannot. hen fear the Fire Whose fuel is Men and Stones – Which is prepared for those Who reject Faith.” [Al-Qur’aan 2:23-24] 1

The same notation is followed throughout the book. References and translation of the Qur’aan are from the translation of the Qur’aan by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, new revised edition, 1989, published by Amana Corporation, Maryland, USA.

The challenge of the Qur’aan, is to produce a single Soorah (chapter) like the Soorahs it contains. The same challenge is repeated in the Qur’aan several times. The challenge to produce a Soorah, which, in beauty, eloquence, depth and meaning is at least somewhat similar to a Qur’aanic Soorah remains unmet to this day. A modern rational man, however, would never accept a religious scripture, which says, in the best possible poetic language, that the world is flat. This is because we live in an age, where human reason, logic and science are given primacy. Not many would accept the Qur’aan’s extraordinarily beautiful language, as proof of its Divine origin. Any scripture

1 Al-Qur’an 2:23-24 indicates Soorah or Chapter No. 2 and Ayaat or Verses 23 and 24.

claiming to be a divine revelation must also be acceptable on the strength of its own reason and logic.
According to the famous physicist and Nobel Prize winner, Albert Einstein, “Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.” Let us therefore study the Qur’aan, and analyze whether The Qur’aan and Modern Science are compatible or incompatible?

The Qur’aan is not a book of science but a book of ‘signs’, i.e. ayats. There are more than six thousand ‘signs’ in the Qur’aan of which more than a thousand deal with science. We all know that many a times Science takes a ‘U-turn’. In this book I have considered only established scientific facts and not mere hypotheses and theories that are based on assumptions and are not backed by proof.


The creation of the universe is explained by astrophysicists in a widely accepted phenomenon, popularly known as the ‘Big Bang’. It is supported by observational and experimental data gathered by astronomers and astrophysicists for decades. According to the ‘Big Bang’, the whole universe was initially one big mass (Primary Nebula). Then there was a ‘Big Bang’ (Secondary Separation) which resulted in the formation of Galaxies. These then divided to form stars, planets, the sun, the moon, etc. The origin of the universe was unique and the probability of it occurring by ‘chance’ is zero. The Qur’aan contains the following verse, regarding the origin of the universe: “Do not the Unbelievers see That the heavens and the earth Were joined together (as one Unit of Creation), before We clove them asunder?” [Al-Qur’aan 21:30]

The striking congruence between the Qur’aanic verse and the ‘Big Bang’ is inescapable! How could a book, which first appeared in the deserts of Arabia 1400 years ago, contain this profound scientific truth?


Scientists say that before the galaxies in the universe were formed, celestial matter was initially in the form of gaseous matter. In short, huge gaseous matter or clouds were present before the formation of the galaxies. To describe initial celestial matter, the word ‘smoke’ is more appropriate than gas. The following Qur’aanic verse refers to this state of the universe by the word dhukhan which means smoke.

“Moreover, He Comprehended In His design the sky, And it had been (as) smoke: He said to it And to the earth: ‘Come ye together, Willingly or unwillingly.’ They said: ‘We do come (Together), in willing obedience.’” [Al-Qur’aan 41:11]

Again, this fact is a corollary to the ‘Big Bang’ and was not known to the Arabs during the time of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). What then, could have been the source of this knowledge?


In early times, people believed that the earth is flat. For centuries, men were afraid to venture out too far, lest they should fall off the edge. Sir Francis Drake was the first person who proved that the earth is spherical when he sailed around it in 1597. Consider the following Qur’aanic verse regarding the alternation of day and night: “Seest thou not that Allah merges Night into Day And He merges Day into Night?” [Al-Qur’aan 31:29]

Merging here means that the night slowly and gradually changes to day and vice versa. This phenomenon can only take place if the earth is spherical. If the earth was flat, there would have been a sudden change from night to day and from day to night.

The following verse also alludes to the spherical shape of the earth: “He created the heavens And the earth In true (proportions): He makes the Night Overlap the Day, and the Day Overlap the Night.” [Al-Qur’aan 39:5]

The Arabic word used here is Kawwara meaning ‘to overlap’ or ‘to coil’– the way a turban is wound around the head. The overlapping or coiling of the day and night can only take place if the earth is spherical.

The earth is not exactly round like a ball, but geo-spherical i.e. it is flattened at the poles. The following verse contains a description of the earth’s shape:


“And the earth, moreover, Hath He made egg shaped.” 2 [Al-Qur’aan 79:30]

The Arabic word for egg here is dahaha, which means an ostrich-egg. The shape of an ostrich-egg resembles the geo-spherical shape of the earth. Thus the Qur’aan correctly describes the shape of the earth, though the prevalent notion when the Qur’aan was revealed was that the earth is flat.


It was believed by earlier civilizations that the moon emanates its own light. Science now tells us that the light of the moon is reflected light. However this fact was mentioned in the Qur’aan 1,400 years ago in the following verse:.

“Blessed is He Who made Constellations in the skies, And placed therein a Lamp And a Moon giving light.” [Al-Qur’aan 25:61]

The Arabic word for the sun in the Qur’aan, is shams. It is referred to as siraaj, which means a ‘torch’ or as wahhaaj which means ‘a blazing lamp’ or as diya which means ‘shining glory’. All three descriptions are appropriate to the sun, since it generates intense heat and light by its internal combustion. The Arabic word for the moon is qamar and it is described in the Qur’aan as muneer, which is a body that gives nur i.e. light. Again, the Qur’aanic description matches perfectly with the true nature of the moon, which does not give off light itself and is an inert body that reflects the light of the sun. Not once in the Qur’aan, is the moon mentioned as siraaj, wahhaaj or diya or the sun as nur or muneer. This implies that the Qur’aan recognizes the difference between the nature of sunlight and moonlight.

2 The Arabic word dahaha has been translated by A. Yusuf Ali as “vast expanse”, which also is correct. The word dahaha also means an ostrich-egg.

Consider the following verses related to the nature of light from the sun and the moon: “It is He who made the sun To be a shining glory And the moon to be a light (Of beauty).” [Al-Qur’aan 10:5]

“See ye not How Allah has created The seven heavens One above another, “And made the moon A light in their midst, and made the sun As a (Glorious) Lamp?” [Al-Qur’aan 71:15-16]


For a long time European philosophers and scientists believed that the earth stood still in the centre of the universe and every other body including the sun moved around it. In the West, this geocentric concept of the universe was prevalent right from the time of Ptolemy in the second century B.C. In 1512, Nicholas Copernicus put forward his Heliocentric Theory of Planetary Motion, which asserted that the sun is motionless at the centre of the solar system with the planets revolving around it.

In 1609, the German scientist Yohannus Keppler published the ‘Astronomia Nova’. In this he concluded that not only do the planets move in elliptical orbits around the sun, they also rotate upon their axes at irregular speeds. With this knowledge it became possible for European scientists to explain correctly many of the mechanisms of the solar system including the sequence of night and day.

After these discoveries, it was thought that the Sun was stationary and did not rotate about its axis like the Earth. I remember having studied this fallacy from Geography books during my school days. Consider the following Qur’aanic verse: “It is He Who created The Night and the Day, And the sun and the moon: All (the celestial bodies) Swim along, each in its Rounded course.” [Al-Qur’aan 21:33]

The Arabic word used in the above verse is yasbahûn . The word yasbahûn is derived from the word sabaha. It carries with it the idea of motion that comes from any moving body. If you use the word for a man on the ground, it would not mean that he is rolling but would mean he is walking or running. If you use the word for a man in water it would not mean that he is floating but would mean that he is swimming.

Similarly, if you use the word yasbah for a celestial body such as the sun it would not mean that it is only flying through space but would mean that it is also rotating as it goes through space. Most of the school textbooks have incorporated the fact that the sun rotates about its axis. The rotation of the sun about its own axis can be proved with the help of an equipment that projects the image of the sun on the table top so that one can examine the image of the sun without being blinded. It is noticed that the sun has spots which complete a circular motion once every 25 days i.e. the sun takes approximately 25 days to rotate around its axis.

In fact, the sun travels through space at roughly 150 miles per second, and takes about 200 million years to complete one revolution around the center of our Milky Way Galaxy.

“It is not permitted To the Sun to catch up The Moon, nor can The Night outstrip the Day: Each (just) swims along In (its own) orbit (According to Law).” [Al-Qur’aan 36:40]

This verse mentions an essential fact discovered by modern astronomy, i.e. the existence of the individual orbits of the Sun and the Moon, and their journey through space with their own motion. The ‘fixed place’ towards, which the sun travels, carrying with it the solar system, has been located exactly by modern astronomy. It has been given a name, the Solar Apex. The solar system is indeed moving in space towards a point situated in the constellation of Hercules (alpha Layer) whose exact location is firmly established.

The moon rotates around its axis in the same duration that it takes to revolve around the earth. It takes approximately 29½ days to complete one rotation. One cannot help but be amazed at the scientific accuracy of the Qur’aanic verses. Should we not ponder over the question: “What was the source of knowledge contained in the Qur’aan?”


The light of the sun is due to a chemical process on its surface that has been taking place continuously for the past five billion years. It will come to an end at some point of time in the future when the sun will be totally extinguished leading to extinction of all life on earth. Regarding the impermanence of the sun’s existence the Qur’aan says: “And the Sun Runs its course For a period determined For it; that is The decree of (Him) The exalted in Might, The All-Knowing.” [Al-Qur’aan 36:38] 3

The Arabic word used here is mustaqarr, which means a place or time that is determined. Thus the Qur’aan says that the sun runs towards a determined place, and will do so only up to a pre-determined period of time – meaning that it will end or extinguish.


Space outside organized astronomical systems was earlier assumed to be a vacuum . Astrophysicists later discovered the presence of bridges of matter in this interstellar space. These bridges of matter are called plasma, and consist of completely ionized gas containing equal number of free electrons and positive ions. Plasma is sometimes called the fourth state of matter (besides the three known states viz. solid, liquid and gas). The Qur’aan mentions the presence of this interstellar material in the following verse: “He Who created the heavens And the earth and all That is between.” [Al-Qur’aan 25:59]

It would be ridiculous, for anybody to even suggest that the presence of interstellar galactic material was known 1400 years ago.


3 A similar message is conveyed in the Qur’an in 13:2, 35:13, 39:5 and 39:21.



In 1925, an American astronomer by the name of Edwin Hubble, provided observational evidence that all galaxies are receding from one another, which implies that the universe is expanding. The expansion of the universe is now an established scientific fact. This is what Al-Qur’aan says regarding the nature of the universe: “With the power and skill Did We construct The Firmament: For it is We Who create The vastness of Space.” [Al-Qur’aan 51:47]

The Arabic word mûsi‘ûn is correctly translated as ‘expanding it’, and it refers to the creation of the expanding vastness of the universe. Stephen Hawking, in his book, ‘A Brief History of Time’, says, “The discovery that the universe is expanding was one of the great intellectual revolutions of the 20th century.”

The Qur’aan mentioned the expansion of the universe, before man even learnt to build a telescope! Some may say that the presence of astronomical facts in the Qur’aan is not surprising since the Arabs were advanced in the field of astronomy. They are correct in acknowledging the advancement of the Arabs in the field of astronomy. However they fail to realize that the Qur’aan was revealed centuries before the Arabs excelled in astronomy. Moreover many of the scientific facts mentioned above regarding astronomy, such as the origin of the universe with a Big Bang, were not known to the Arabs even at the peak of their scientific advancement. The scientific facts mentioned in the Qur’aan are therefore not due to the Arabs’ advancement in astronomy. Indeed, the reverse is true. The Arabs advanced in astronomy, because astronomy occupies a place in the Qur’aan.


In ancient times a well-known theory by the name of ‘Theory of Atomism’ was widely accepted. This theory was originally proposed by the Greeks, in particular by a man called Democritus, who lived about 23 centuries ago. Democritus and the people that came after him, assumed that the smallest unit of matter was the atom. The Arabs used to believe the same. The Arabic word dharrah most commonly meant an atom. In recent times modern science has discovered that it is possible to split even an atom. That the atom can be split further is a development of the 20th century. Fourteen centuries ago this concept would have appeared unusual even to an Arab. For him the dharrah was the limit beyond which one could not go. The following Qur’aanic verse however, refuses to acknowledge this limit: “The Unbelievers say, ‘Never to us will come The Hour’: say, ‘Nay! But most surely, By my Lord, it will come Upon you – by Him Who knows the unseen – From Whom is not hidden The least little atom In the Heavens or on earth: Nor is there anything less Than that, or greater, but Is in the Record Perspicuous.’” [Al-Qur’aan 34:3] 4

This verse refers to the Omniscience of God, His knowledge of all things, hidden or apparent. It then goes further and says that God is aware of everything, including what is smaller or bigger than the atom. Thus the verse clearly shows that it is possible for something smaller than the atom to exist, a fact discovered only recently by modern science.

4 A similar message is conveyed in the Qur’an in 10:61.



In 1580, Bernard Palissy was the first man to describe the present day concept of ‘water cycle’. He described how water evaporates from the oceans and cools to form clouds. The clouds move inland where they rise, condense and fall as rain. This water gathers as lakes and streams and flows back to the ocean in a continuous cycle. In the 7th century B.C., Thales of Miletus believed that surface spray of the oceans was picked up by the wind and carried inland to fall as rain. In earlier times people did not know the source of underground water. They thought the water of the oceans, under the effect of winds, was thrust towards the interior of the continents. They also believed that the water returned by a secret passage, or the Great Abyss. This passage is connected to the oceans and has been called the ‘Tartarus’, since Plato’s time. Even Descartes, a great thinker of the eighteenth century, subscribed to this view. Till the nineteenth century, Aristotle’s theory was prevalent. According to this theory, water was condensed in cool mountain caverns and formed underground lakes that fed springs. Today, we know that the rainwater that seeps into the cracks of the ground is responsible for this.

The water cycle is described by the Qur’aan in the following verses: “Seest thou not that Allah Sends down rain from The sky, and leads it Through springs in the earth? Then He causes to grow, Therewith, produce of various Colours.” [Al-Qur’aan 39:21]

“He sends down rain From the sky And with it gives life to The earth after it is dead: Verily in that are Signs For those who are wise.” [AlQur’aan 30:24]

“And We send down water From the sky according to (Due) measure, and We cause it To soak in the soil; And We certainly are able To drain it off (with ease).” [Al-Qur’aan 23:18]

No other text dating back 1400 years ago gives such an accurate description of the water cycle.



“And We send the fecundating winds, Then cause the rain to descend From the sky, therewith providing You with water (in abundance).” [AlQur’aan 15:22]

The Arabic word used here is lawâqih, which is the plural of laqih from laqaha, which means to impregnate or fecundate. In this context, impregnate means that the wind pushes the clouds together increasing the condensation that causes lightning and thus rain. A similar description is found in the Qur’aan: “It is Allah Who sends The Winds, and they raise The Clouds: then does He Spread them in the sky As He wills, and break them Into fragments, until thou seest Raindrops issue from the midst Thereof: then when He has Made them reach such Of His servants as He wills, Behold, they do rejoice!” [Al-Qur’aan 30:48]

The Qur’aanic descriptions are absolutely accurate and agree perfectly with modern data on hydrology. The water cycle is described in several verses of the Glorious Qur’aan, including 3:9, 7:57, 13:17, 25:48- 49, 36:34, 50:9-11, 56:68-70, 67:30 and 86:11.


In Geology, the phenomenon of ‘folding’ is a recently discovered fact. Folding is responsible for the formation of mountain ranges. The earth’s crust, on which we live, is like a solid shell, while the deeper layers are hot and fluid, and thus inhospitable to any form of life. It is also known that the stability of the mountains is linked to the phenomenon of folding, for it was the folds that were to provide foundations for the reliefs that constitute the mountains. Geologists tell us that the radius of the Earth is about 3,750 miles and the crust on which we live is very thin, ranging between 1 to 30 miles. Since the crust is thin, it has a high possibility of shaking. Mountains act like stakes or tent pegs that hold the earth’s crust and give it stability. The Qur’aan contains exactly such a description in the following verse: “Have We not made The earth as a wide Expanse, And the mountains as pegs?” [AlQur’aan 78:6-7]

The word awtad means stakes or pegs (like those used to anchor a tent); they are the deep foundations of geological folds. A book named ‘Earth’ is considered as a basic reference textbook on geology in many universities around the world. One of the authors of this book is Frank Press, who was the President of the Academy of Sciences in the USA for 12 years and was the Science Advisor to former US President Jimmy Carter. In this book he illustrates the mountain in a wedge-shape and the mountain itself as a small part of the whole, whose root is deeply entrenched in the ground.5 According to Dr. Press, the mountains play an important role in stabilizing the crust of the earth.

The Qur’aan clearly mentions the function of the mountains in preventing the earth from shaking: “And We have set on the earth Mountains standing firm, Lest it should shake with them.” [Al-Qur’aan 21:31]

5 Earth, Press and Siever, p. 435. Also see Earth Science, Tarbuck and Lutgens, p. 157.


The Qur’aanic descriptions are in perfect agreement with modern geological data.



The surface of the earth is broken into many rigid plates that are about 100 km in thickness. These plates float on a partially molten region called aesthenosphere. Mountain formations occur at the boundary of the plates. The earth’s crust is 5 km thick below oceans, about 35 km thick below flat continental surfaces and almost 80 km thick below great mountain ranges. These are the strong foundations on which mountains stand. The Qur’aan also speaks about the strong mountain foundations in the following verse: “And the mountains Hath He firmly fixed.” [Al-Qur’aan 79:32] 6

6 A similar message is contained in the Qur’an in 88:19, 31:10 and 16:15



Consider the following Qur’aanic verses: “He has let free the two bodies Of flowing water, Meeting together: Between them is a Barrier Which they do not transgress.” [Al-Qur’aan 55:19-20]

In the Arabic text the word barzakh means a barrier or a partition. This barrier is not a physical partition. The Arabic word maraja literally means ‘they both meet and mix with each other’. Early commentators of the Qur’aan were unable to explain the two opposite meanings for the two bodies of water, i.e. they meet and mix, and at the same time, there is a barrier between them. Modern Science has discovered that in the places where two different seas meet, there is a barrier between them. This barrier divides the two seas so that each sea has its own temperature, salinity and density. 7 Oceanologists are now in a better position to explain this verse. There is a slanted unseen water barrier between the two seas through which water from one sea passes to the other.

But when the water from one sea enters the other sea, it loses its distinctive characteristic and becomes homogenized with the other water. In a way this barrier serves as a transitional homogenizing area for the two waters. This scientific phenomenon mentioned in the Qur’aan was also confirmed by Dr. William Hay who is a well-known marine scientist and Professor of Geological Sciences at the University of Colorado, U.S.A. The Qur’aan mentions this phenomenon also in the following verse: “And made a separating bar between the two bodies Of flowing water?” [Al-Qur’aan 27:61]

This phenomenon occurs in several places, including the divider between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean at Gibralter. But when the Qur’aan speaks about the divider between fresh and salt water, it mentions the

7 Principles of Oceanography, Davis, pp. 92-93.

existence of “a forbidding partition” with the barrier. “It is He Who has Let free the two bodies Of flowing water: One palatable and sweet, And the other salty and bitter; Yet has He Made a barrier between them, And a partition that is forbidden To be passed.” [Al-Qur’aan 25:53]

Modern science has discovered that in estuaries, where fresh (sweet) and saltwater meet, the situation is somewhat different from that found in places where two seas meet. It has been discovered that what distinguishes fresh water from salt water in estuaries is a “pycnocline zone with a marked density discontinuity separating the two layers.” 8 This partition (zone of separation) has salinity different from both the fresh water and the salt water. 9

This phenomenon occurs in several places, including Egypt, where the river Nile flows into the Mediterranean Sea.



Prof. Durga Rao is an expert in the field of Marine Geology and was a professor at King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He was asked to comment on the following verse: “Or (the Unbelievers’ state) Is like the depths of darkness In a vast deep ocean, Overwhelmed with billow Topped by billow, Topped by (dark) clouds: Depths of darkness, one Above another: if a man Stretches out his hand, He can hardly see it! For any to whom Allah Giveth not light, there is no light!” [Al-Qur’aan 24:40]

Prof. Rao said that scientists have only now been able to confirm, with the help of modern equipment that there is darkness in the depths of the ocean. Humans are unable to dive unaided underwater for more than 20 to 30 meters, and cannot survive in the deep oceanic regions at a depth of more than 200 meters. This verse does not refer to all seas because not every sea can be

8 Oceanography, Gross, p. 242. Also see Introductory Oceanography, Thurman, pp. 300-301.
9 Oceanography, Gross, p. 244 and Introductory Oceanography, Thurman, pp.

described as having accumulated darkness layered one over another. It refers especially to a deep sea or deep ocean, as the Qur’aan says, “darkness in a vast deep ocean”. This layered darkness in a deep ocean is the result of two causes: