(Draft Article) Answer to an Objection about the Qur’an and the creation of the world in ‘six days’

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By the MuslimAnswers.net Team

بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيم

Statement: Dr. Naik claims that when the Bible says the world was created in six days it is talking about 24 hours days, while when these same claim was plagiarized by Muhammad and rehashed in the Quran it suddenly changed its meaning to “periods of time” or “epochs”. Why a day in the Bible and a day in the Quran should be different is something only Dr. Naik knows. Despite that the universe was not created in epochs.

Answer: Before we say anything about this matter, we have to stress the proper way for a discussion to progress is not to say outright that the founder of our religion is a liar and that he has copied from some or the other source. After all, similarity between the things said in one religion and a later one does not necessarily mean that the founder of the latter religion has copied from previous documents. Such an allegation of copying would have to be backed up with eyewitness evidence that meets rigorous standards, and we do not know of any non-Muslim who has brought up anything other than conjectures on what might have taken place, and then proceeding to turn this into “certain belief” in order to satisfy certain preconceived ideas.

Whenever we ourselves see a problem in some non-Islamic religion, we try to bring up the point in that religion which we deem to be wrong and discuss that point in details as needed, without making any personal accusations on the leaders of the religion or the writers of the tracts we deem to be objectionable. If anyone wishes to discuss what they believe to be plagiarism in the Qur’an, we will enter into such a discussion with the proper temperament and demeanor, but there is no need to bring up this matter in terms of outright lying – effectively bringing up a claim, the vehement rejection of which is well-known amongst us – simply to force a harsh reply from our side. [1]

Now, coming to the matter of the mention in both the Bible and the Qur’an that the world was created in six days [in Arabic ‘Ayyam’, this being the plural of ‘Yawm’] and whether this refers to days like our days or long periods of time, if the Christian wishes to think of the six days as general “epochs” or “long periods of time”, this is not something we will argue about with him, since this is not a major point of discussion between Muslims and Christians with respect to which religion is correct. Rather, the major points of contention surround our disagreements about the nature of the Divine Being and what He is attributed with or cannot be attributed with. All other discussions pale in comparison and should be avoided as much as possible.

From our side though, we will mention a few of the scholars have mention about these six days. For example, Shaykh at-Tantawi says:

…the intended meaning of days in here is a time whose length is not known except by Allah the Exalted.

That is: He- Exalted be He- is the one who brought into existence the Heavems and the Earth and what is in between them, without any similar precedent to them, in six days of His Days- Exalted be He- whose length is not know except by Allah Himself [2].

Similarly, in Maariful Quran we read the following segment, in answer to the question as to how a day or a night could be known if there was no sun and moon to determine the length of days:

May be, before the birth of the universe, Allah Ta’ala had other signs determined for the day and night – as it would be in Paradise where the day and night will not depend on the movement of the sun.

This also tells us that it is not necessary that the six days during which the earth and the heavens were created, be equal to our six days. Instead, it is possible that they may be longer than these – as the Qur’an says about the day of ‘Akhirah which will be equal to one thousand years.

Abu ‘Abdullah Razi has said that the movement of the far firmament is so fast as compared to the movements of our earth that the raised step of a man running here has still to come down to touch the ground when the far firmament moves a distance of three thousand miles. (Al-Bahr Al-Muhit) [3].

 We will present a couple of more statements from the exegetes of the Qur’an. The first is from Allamah al-Alusi in his Ruh al-Ma’ani interpretation, where he says:

And the significance of ‘Yawm’ is time in a general sense, not the one that we are used to, so do not think (that) this (is the case), (especially since) there was no Sun and no Earth. And it was said: What is meant is the amount of time taken to complete a fixed revolution which is called (in the terminology of) the Throne as a complete revolution and towards this (meaning) was (the preference) of Shaykh al-Akbar, may Allah sanctify his secret [4][5] 

And we also can see the opinion of Ibn ‘Aashur (RA) in this connection, where he mentions:

 And it is said that the meaning is: In six timings, for the term ‘Yawm’ is said on the timings, as in the saying of (Allah) the Exalted: ‘Whoso on that day turneth his back to them,’ (Al-Anfal: 16), that is, when you meet them (the disbelievers) advancing (in battle). And the meaning of this saying is that the Heavens and the Earth were created one world after the other, and not all them joined at once in the time of their origination, and whichever of these it is[6], the signification is the quantity (of time), not the (literal) day, (the) one of which is from the rising of the sun to its setting. (This is especially so) since there was no Sun in some of this time, but going deeply into this matter in here is outside of the goals of the Qur’an.[7]

There are a number of other similar statements from the different interpretations done by past and present scholars, but it can easily be seen that the possibility of the six days referring to something other than a literal six days has been clearly mentioned whenever the relevant Verses are encountered.

There may be a future need to expand more on this subject, but we think that it is good enough for the present purposes. And may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon his Messenger Muhammad , his family and Companions.


[1] Of course, we can say that we are not directly answering those hearts that are totally shut off from ever receiving the light of truth (but even here, we cannot categorically say that anyone’s heart is forever sealed). However, if the objection raised is something that may be troublesome for the minds of certain sincere people, then we should endeavor to answer it, and pray that Allah accepts our meager efforts, since our job is only for the sake of Allah the Exalted.

[4]Referring to Shaykh Ibn ‘Arabi (RA).

[6] i.e. whatever the true significance of ‘Yawm’ actually is.

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2 thoughts on “(Draft Article) Answer to an Objection about the Qur’an and the creation of the world in ‘six days’

  1. Dear brother I have a question concerning the verse 17:37 Al Isra “Don not strut arrogantly about the earth: you cannot break it open, nor match the mountains in height” (M.A.S. Abdel Hakeem translation) . I interpreted it as god comparing the average human compared to the size of the mountain and humans unable with out tools to dig deep into the mantle, if an opponent were to say likewise and say we have achieved both with towers, and drills (although even with our current technology we still cant even reach the mantle), how should we respond?

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    • Salam Alaykum,

      I know this is a hurried response, but based on what is written in certain of the Tafseers like Mafaatih al-Ghayb and others, one of the opinions mentioned is that it will be impossible for the human who walks to lift his legs up and puts them down so that he rises all the way up to the mountains and tears the ground below him, respectively. I am certain there are many other considerations, but this is the very brief matter in here from what can be seen in some of the Tafseers.

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