By a member of the MuslimAnswers.net Team
بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيم
The following are notes I have taken on the post entitled ‘Atheist Sophistry On Quranic Science Debunked…By A Muslim Scientitst’ available at the following link. This is basically a lecture by Instructor Hafiz Mehmood on the subject on Qur’an and science, and the mistakes made by Muslims in addition to the deceptions of the non-Muslims on this matter. Now, there are some unclear things in the lecture, the lecture itself does not seem to go in the most organized or coherent of fashions (there seems to be a lot of going back and forth between the topics), plus there are a few points that perhaps I need more clarification about, but I hope that there will be benefit in these notes anyway, and that improvements may be made in the future as needed.
o The instructor starts by saying that this topic will be about certain Qur’anic Verses which are sometimes considered as ‘scientific miracles’, and the obverse, those people on the Internet from among the non-Muslims who consider them not to be miraculous at all, but rather they think this is all nonsense, etc.
o Thus, from the one side we have certain Christian opponents of Islam and even more so the atheist opponents of Islam (and they are both hardcore enemies for the most part), but we also have the Muslims who use these Verses and make it look as if the Qur’an is a sort of science book, and through this they are misinterpreting the Qur’an wholesale in many cases.
o The first thing we must understand is that the Qur’an has been revealed to all beings, and everyone will understand a good portion of the general message of the Verses even without consulting a Tafseer (an exegesis). So from one sense it is simple, but from another angle it is also complex, and for this one needs qualified teachers who will explain the deeper significations, rulings, etc., behind the Qur’anic Verses. That is, we can extract the general basic message of the Qur’an without much difficulty, but if one wishes to discuss technical matters, he will need a teacher.
o Plus, there are things that even the teachers cannot possibly know, since they are talking (for example) about Allah the Exalted, and these are part of the ‘Mutashaabihaat’ (ambiguous Verses) that everyone should simply accept them as they come and not get involved with their deep meanings.
o Now, the teachers should have certain qualifications before being considered as proper teachers, and these are: First, they should know classical Arabic as masters of this genre of Arabic. It is important that we are not talking about the ability to speak the general Arabic that is spoken in the streets, for we see today that many people who speak colloquial Arabic cannot understand the Qur’an, or misunderstand the Qur’an.
o Like if we try to explain it with an analogy to English literature, not many people can understand the writers like Shakespeare. (Personal note: I remember I needed the English teacher to basically translate his plays, they were written as if in another language.)
o Now, the Qur’an is unique in one sense that can be explained with an analogy to the DNA. We know the DNA is kept in the nucleus inside the cell, but if it is stretched out it would go to the moon and back 15 times. But all of this information has been kept in the very confined space of a cell. The analogy then is that the Verses of the Qur’an themselves are in concise format, but the commentary on them could go on and on without it being invalid or repetitive, if studied with a qualified teacher, that is.
o So for this task of commentary one needs knowledge of classical Arabic, plus ‘Ilmul Balaghah (science of rhetoric) – and under this science one has ‘Ilmul Badee’, ‘Ilmul Ma’ani, ‘Ilmul Bayaan (sciences of rhetorical figures, of meanings, and of style, respectively). Plus one needs to know the Ahadeeth plus the understanding of the Ahadeeth, in order to understand what the Prophet ﷺ said bout the Verses of the Qur’an. And we have to make a distinction between the text of the Ahdeeth and its understanding, since not every Muhadeeth can understand all of the Ahadeeth (both matters are important, but they are separate specialties.) Plus, one needs to know Usool well, which entails knowing the principles of the religion. And needless to say, one must have memorized the Qur’an as well, and this is not only the Qira’ah of Hafs that is popular in this day and age, but also the different mass transmitted readings as well (so that they can know the different significations and/or shades of meanings behind any given Qur’anic Verse).
o So by following this path, one can begin to have a background so that one can talk about a Verse of the Qur’an as a teacher. But nowadays, we have people who talk about the Qur’an (Muslims that is), and they do not even know what they mean, and it is almost like a joke: They cannot even pronounce the word properly, and they want to engage in exegesis.
o Now it is theoretically possible to know many rules surrounding the Qur’an and its rules even without knowing the proper recitation of these, but the matter of making a formal Tafseer is so important that it cannot be claimed by those who fail at any one of the sciences directly related to the Qur’an.
o Ok, so the instructor gets into one specific claim by a certain non-Muslim who claimed that the Qur’an and the Muslims maintain that the Earth is flat [this is a claim by a certain Youtuber named the ‘Rationalizer’. Actually, I do not like to give specific non-Muslim names and nicknames that they have for their sites and youtube accounts, since it would seem to elevate their status, but it is mentioned in the link and in the lecture, so I am simply noting down what was said.]
o To refute this, there is not a single Verse in the Qur’an which says that the Earth is flat in an explicit manner. Also, the Qur’an is not a book of geography, mathematics, or physics. So what happens is that some people start reading the Qur’an with the preset idea that they are going to find something of ‘modern science’ in the Qur’an. This is a completely rejected supposition. (Personal note: Why? Because their Usool is totally wrong. They think that ok, modern science is absolute truth, so the Qur’an also being absolute truth must have something that exactly matches with modern science. This is the initial mistake they made, and it is a big error.)
o The Qur’an’s basic general message is in fact very clear: That there is only one God, that the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is the last Prophet and Messenger of Allah, besides the obligatoriness of accepting all the Prophets of Allah who came from the time of Adam (Alayhi Salaam) up to Muhammad ﷺ. And also it talks about our relationship with all of this, which is that we should obey Allah and follow the path He has approved of, that we will die and be resurrected on the Day of Judgment (that is, the temporariness of the world is a very big message in the Qur’an).
o From this we see that there is no reason why Allah would talk about making the Earth as a oblate spheroid, a shape that is flattened at the poles, that its acceleration is such-and-such, and other similar matters. (The issue is that the Qur’an only talks about that which is of importance for the human being to gain salvation in the Hereafter, and knowing all of these very detailed scientific issues is interesting in itself, but not conducive to such goals.)
o But of course, we see people who dabble into reading the Qur’anic Verses, finding some alleged numerical codes behind these Verses, putting them all together and then claiming that the Qur’an has some previously unknown numerological or scientific miracle. Why do these people engage in these matters?
o The answer is that they want to be famous, and this is a disease in people’s hearts that needs to be removed. It would have obviously been much better had these people stuck to the proper rules of Qur’anic exegesis and not let their egos (their Nafs) get in the way. So the instructor talks about Tassawuf, that the way to get rid of these diseases is to practice Islam properly, both in its outward and inward spheres. He says that not a single scholar of Islam rejected Tasawwuf, since the one who rejects the inner dimension of Islam has put himself up for many problems that may have their manifestations both inwardly and outwardly (and these types of numerological games are a part of this outward manifestation of the diseases, in that a person wishes to be a celebrity in the Muslim world and tries to find some strange self-made interpretation that may catapult him to fame.)
o There is also one matter the instructor brings up, which is the difference between rejecting what certain Sufis do, and the science of Tasawwuf itself; because of course, there are those Sufis who practice strange things and have strange beliefs that are rejected by the formal religious scholars, but this does not detract from Tasawwuf or its goals.
o And the instructor explicitly mentions that this is something we must keep in mind, because the one who rejects Tasawwuf will not be able to cure the illness of showing off, and the example he gives is that of a person who wishes to memorize a certain Hadeeth so that he can take it out on people’s faces and prove his point. So what is this other than putting up false airs on one’s self?
o Or we see people who speak at conferences or in television shows, who talk about certain alleged ‘scientific miracles’ in the Qur’an and Ahadeeth, and of course, the audience mostly knows nothing about the subject at hand, plus there is no spiritual sincerity in these endeavors.
o One example is that of Surah al-Anbiyaa’ in Verse 30, which reads (in translation): ‘Have not those who disbelieve known that the heavens and the earth were of one piece, then We parted them, and we made every living thing of water? Will they not then believe?’. So this is well-known as being used by certain Muslim speakers to talk about the Big Bang.
o Now, if we look at the lexical construction of this Verse, we see that the word ‘Yara’ (from ر ا ي) means to see with one’s eyes, and also to consider. (The instructor will talk more about this later on, this is just mentioned right now for us to gain an introduction to the matter.)
o Another word is Samaawaat, the plural of Samaa, which means canopy. The instructor says that the non-Muslim ‘Rationalizer’ thinks – and supposes that others think as well – that a canopy is always flat. But this is not always true, and we can see this in the cockpit of fighter jets, and other types of airplanes, where the ‘ceiling’ is not flat at all, but has another almost semi-circular shape (the shape in fact depends on the aircraft and there is a large variety of difference, but it is not flat, and this is the important point to consider).
o So Samaa is also a ceiling, but we also know that not all ceilings are flat, but this non-Muslim is making an assumption that canopies and ceilings are flat, and that Muslims necessarily believe that they are flat as well, and through this he is trying to deliberately misguide people.
o Of course, this is quite obvious in his case, since we know what he is trying to do in the background to begin with. In addition to this, he reads the translation of the Qur’an in English and when he sees a word like canopy or ceiling, he gives it a certain commentary based on his own thinking and ulterior purposes.
o So the instructor goes back to the rules that one needs in order to explain Verses of the Qur’an as a teacher. But let me take an aside, and field a question that some people may have which is: “Why as a teacher? Why can’t someone just explain the Qur’an as a layman?” The answer is that for some things the meaning is quite clear, but when we get to this level of detail, then we will definitely need teachers. And secondly, it is simply not acceptable for someone to comment on the Qur’an while knowing absolutely nothing of the sciences needed for its interpretation (or more precisely, basically rejecting them outright) when we enter the field of polemics, since polemics has a further element of bias involved in it, and the Muslim who wishes to defend Islam must be extremely careful and also knowledgeable enough to know that there is an element of probable deceit coming from the non-Muslim. This is related to the Hadeeth where it is mentioned that one scholar of Islam is more difficult on the Shaytaan than a thousand normal worshippers, since the scholar can immediately see the tricks of Shaytaan and his friends where others only have blind spots.
o So the instructor says that knowing classical Arabic is a must. He knows there are millions of Arabs in the world right now, must the vast majority of them (he says 99%) would not be able to explain the Qur’an taking only their Arabic into consideration. This is because the Arabic we are talking about requires certain stages and an amount of formal education before one can achieve this stage. [Personal note: Perhaps 99% is too high, but we can see that the spoken lay Arabic nowadays has some relationship with classical Arabic, but it is not something that people can use as a base to formally explain the Qur’an in all instances; this is even without considering the other sciences one needs in this field.]
o The instructor says that people are taking the matter of Qur’anic interpretation very lightly, almost like a joke…as if there was a claim that everyone in a town is a physicist, and when the newborn baby is born, he has also become a physicist. No one would give this appellation to a baby even if his parents were the biggest physicists in the world, until and unless he formally learns the science of physics.
o And we must remember the Hadeeth of the Prophet ﷺ, the approximate meaning of which is that the one who speaks about the Qur’an on the basis of his personal opinion, he has committed an error, even if he is right in what he said.
o The people do this with the Qur’an and with Islam in general only because the current world setup is set in such a way so as to totally denigrate religious knowledge, and the non-Muslims wish to destroy the traditional way of the Muslim Ummah so that they can easily control the Muslims – sort of like a “kill the Muslim and save the man” scheme. We know that the non-Muslims will as a matter of course, denigrate traditional Islamic knowledge, not even consider it as knowledge but only as childish rabble, and this is expected of them. But the harsher truth is that those Muslims who try to defend Islam through this method of ‘modern science’ or through methods they have made up by themselves, are only playing into the hands of the non-Muslims, since they have taken the Usool of ‘modern science’ or of ‘individually invented criteria’ as the basis for judging the text of the Qur’an, and this was not and can never be among the acceptable methods of approaching the Qur’an.
o The instructor says that yes, the reason why we are in this mess is because people think that since they are literate (in the narrow sense of reading and writing), that now they can claim the mantle of scholarship, including Muslims.
o One example brought up among the Muslims is that of Dr. Bilal Phillips, who says that the formula E=mc2 is in fact Shirk (associating others with Allah). When the instructor, who is a particle physicist, reads this, he is thinking what on Earth is going on. Because to begin with, he is sure that Mr. Phillips knows nothing about how this formula has been derived and what it signifies. Like, this formula is for a particle at rest, but for a particle that is moving, the formula is completely different (so does his definition of ‘Shirk’ change depending on the particle’s state of movement?)
o We must know that there is a lot of background work that has been done with respect to this equation, but when someone comes and says that this is ‘Shirk’, he is making the corollary statement that whoever thinks this equation is a good description of observed events and has good predictive value is a ‘Mushrik’ (i.e. he has associated others with Allah.)
o The advice from the instructor is that one should stick to that which one knows. If one knows Qur’an or classical Arabic, then he should stick to that, and not also try to become a physicist. What happens is that Mr. Phillips may have read this equation which says that “energy is neither created nor destroyed”, and took out the phrase ‘neither created’ and tried to attach a metaphysical meaning to an equation which is dealing in observational matters.
o (Personal note: Yes, if someone wants to speak about the metaphysical aspects of the Universe, then one can set up one’s definitions and explain everything once the foundations have been set up properly. But there are two problems in here: First, that the word ‘created’ in the equation does not make a statement about metaphysical realities, and secondly, if it were to be shown that this equation is in fact making an overarching metaphysical claim, then one needs a more thorough understanding of Islamic Kalaam sciences in order to refute this matter, but this is also something that Mr. Phillips and those like him are averse to, so it would be difficult for them to properly refute this matter with their current intellectual tools.)
o So the issue is that suppose we burn a piece of metal or plastic and this gives off heat which dissipates (means we have converted mass into energy), or vice-versa, out of energy something is converted back to mass, do we have to call this as a ‘creation’, otherwise we are ‘Mushriks’? So the lay Muslims should be told to avoid such lecturers, since they will really confuse people totally.
o (A Personal note:) It is clear that if we in this delimited Universe come and burn off something and ‘convert it to energy’, we cannot say that we have ‘created energy’, because ‘creation’ in the sense talked about in Islam is for Allah alone. Allah is the one who brings about every change in this world, and we have no effective power to bring about anything at all. The thing is that even if we were to be unsuccessful in our attempts to burn our mass up in smoke, that would still be a creation of Allah, the creation of that state in which we were unable to burn off that mass. Thus, the misunderstanding is in not understanding that ‘Creation’ is something that is the prerogative of Allah alone, and these equations are not to be taken into the same metaphysical ambit that we take hardcore Kalaam issues. (I know, again it may be said that the fault is of those scientists who say that the Universe is a stable system that does not require anything ‘other than itself’ in order to explain it, that there is no need for God at all to explain anything in the Universe. But this needs a more in-depth understanding of exactly what do the equations and the scientists using these equations mean when they present their cases, and it is only from this that we can figure out where the problem actually lies, since the definitions and their meanings need to be seen carefully.)
o Another example is the explanation by Dr. Zakir Naik of Verse 39:5 [translation of the relevant section: He makes the Night overlap the Day, and the Day overlap the Night] (the key word in here is Yukawwir, from the root روك). Thus, Dr. Naik was trying to show that this shows the spheroidical shape of the Earth, but the instructor said that when he heard this, he could not recall this Verse having this signification, not with the Hafs Qira’ah or with any other Qira’ah that he knew of. But he could see those in the audience getting pumped up with this ‘evidence’, since Dr. Naik had been asked about whether the Earth is flat, and he answered by using this Verse, which according to the instructor is almost a type of deceit he is trying to present to the people, if we consider it from the viewpoint of the true Qur’anic sciences.
o So when we go to the Verse, we see the word ‘Yukawwir’, and this has a signification of the day and the night following one another, but it is strange that it would be made to have a relationship with the shape of the Earth itself. Because night and day can be said to have a relationship with time-based matters (a sort of natural clock), but it cannot be said to have a relationship with spatial dimensions, which are related to shape or geometry.
o If one were to push it to the extreme, one may say that it has some connection with energy, but then again, the Qur’an is not a book of science, that someone would push it and pull it and modify its meanings so much until he gets what he wants out of it. This is a completely wrong approach to take, but unfortunately many Muslims are doing this, and this opens the door for non-Muslims and all sorts of skeptics to attack Islam as well.
o Because we see that many times, when people talk like this, they are revealing much more about themselves than what they can possibly show about any Qur’anic Verse. For example, they say that this Verse can be explained in a way that shows the sphericity of the Earth, and it can also be shown in terms of the sine graph, and then they say that: “You did not know this, I have found it in the Qur’an. I am able to find mysterious hidden things, previously-unknown codes in the Qur’an.” [sine graph is mentioned, since it has a recurrent pattern, but how silly would it be for someone to say that ‘Just as the Qur’an says that the Sun and the Moon are in orbit, it is also describing the recurrent and orbit-like pattern of a sine wave.’ It would be very strange indeed, but we find the equivalent of this among Muslims today.]
o So this is nothing other than a sickness of these people, who think they can find anything they want in the Qur’an. Note that yes, of course, the Qur’an does have a huge amount of authentic interpretations for its Verses, but the emphasis should be more on “authentic”, not on “huge”. If all that we can interpret from the Qur’an, after reaching the end of our formal studies, is what others have already mentioned, then well and good, we have saved our Imaan and have not mislead anyone. But if we try to take out anything and everything our minds want from the Qur’an, then if anyone gets affected negatively by this, the fault lies much more with the Muslims who take this approach rather than the non-Muslims; and this is since most people (and particularly the Muslims) will understand that Muslims are the best people for explaining Islam – but if their explanations are far off the mark, then what can a person expect save mass confusion?
o So the instructor says that we need to really look at ourselves and see what is going on, that the Mufassiroon of previous years never came up with these things. I have to say personally, that if we look at ourselves, we would see that many Muslims are only placing the non-Muslim based sciences on a higher pedestal than what they should be.
o Besides, the only thing the non-Muslims will say is: “Wow, look at the highness of our achievements, in order for the Muslims to make any sense of their holy texts, they have to use our techniques. It is only us who guided them to the meaning of their books, before that they were blind.” This would be nothing other than further subjugation of the Muslims by the non-Muslim civilizations, which is an irony, since the Muslims were looking to flee from the clutches of the non-Muslim ways of thinking.
o The instructor says that he has checked many of the Mufassiroon and none of them had mentioned these sorts of things. This is after checking al-Jalaalayn, Ibn Katheer, al-Qurtubi, etc. But he says that he did not check Fakhirudeen ar-Raazi’s Tafseer al-Kabeer, which sometimes does speak about these things.
o Ok, let me put one personal note. I did come across something in ar-Raazi’s Tafseer mentioning the sphericity of the Earth, but this was ar-Raazi’s conclusion based on how eclipses were reported to have occurred, that one eclipse was said to have occurred in the beginning, middle, or end of the day, or not to have occurred at all, based on the place where the witnesses were. I say this would be in fact an endorsement of the traditional ways of considering the Islamic texts within the wider oceans of the Usool of Islaam. Thus, ar-Raazi used not the Qur’anic text directly, but rather the foundations through which information is collected in Islam, applying it to the observable phenomena and the reports about observable phenomena.
o But note one thing about the Mufassiroon is general, they do not represent Allah the Exalted (from what I understand, this gets into the absence of Ismah (infallibility) for any particular exegete, and also the matters of Ijma’ of the Ummah, etc.) But we must also consider that the normal people understand many of the common, simple things of the Qur’an. Like if someone were to ask a shepherd on a mountain about the Earth, he would tell him that the Earth is round, without needing to go into deep scientific or mathematical spheres of knowledge. Because when he looks out into the open sky, he can see the curvature of the Earth directly. Likewise, if someone is in the sea, he can observe these things directly.
o Now, the instructor says that this ‘Rationalizer’ says that there were two views in the 7th century about the Earth, one of them that it was flat, and the other one that it was kind of round, and he says that the Prophet ﷺ believed it to be flat.
o So one of the members in the audience asks that does not the ‘Rationalizer’ basically use the same type of so-called ‘exegesis’ as many of the lay Muslims who are trying to show off while speaking? That is, don’t both of them say: “Ok, here is my personal interpretation of this Verse”.
o So the instructor is trying to explain the matter in more detail, he says that with respect to the Qur’an, we have Muslims and we have non-Muslims. Among the Muslims, there are some who are ignorant, but who think that they know something but they are only thinking they are brave, and overconfident in what they are doing. And also, the people in the audience, they are also ignorant, so it is a matter of the ignorant leading the ignorant. (This should lead us to another question, which is: “Why is everybody ignorant in the first place?” It seems to be that the educational system the Muslims are normally going through is flawed, and is again one of the vestiges left from non-Muslim domination, and is one of the ways in which the non-Muslims are still controlling many of the Muslims. There are some exceptions Alhamdullilah, and some Muslims are waking up, but the situation is for the most part like this nowadays. May Allah save us and our Imaan)
o So it is then presented in a humorous way, that the preacher is talking and then some people in the audience stand up and give spontaneous encouragement (like saying Takbeer, etc.), and this even though on the outside it looks nice and good, but is actually a symptom that something is wrong in the way that Islam is being presented to the world at large.
o The instructor will normally not name people, but if the (Muslim) person is making a huge mistake and others get totally derailed and confused because of that, then he will name them and their mistakes. It is not a matter of thinking these people are evil people, but there is lack of understanding in both the outer and the inner aspects of Islam, which is why these issues are taking place as they are.
o One good advice which is: Do not follow the bandwagon. Ok, if the lay people love some person as a speaker, don’t just start saying that you love him too, simply because he seems nifty and people get excited when he speaks. But we need to have some measuring stick, some criteria in order to decipher the true worth of what any speaker is saying.
o Let me say one thing that I have noticed: The true proofs of Islam require lots of patience to understand and learn. Just if we take simple Kalaam topics, most of the Muslims (let alone non-Muslims) would find them boring and impossible to keep up with; they want something flashy and easy to digest. But it is this effort that really gives you the ‘aha’ moments that are of importance to showing the truth of Islam. Sure, some people can get mesmerized and grasp the really true proofs and evidences of Islam almost instinctively, but these are few, and most will need to go through the sweat, blood, and tears revolving around the study of these matters before understanding them properly.
o Ok, so these lay Muslim speakers translate (or mistranslate) Verses of the Qur’an, and it is really something insane if you look into it (on the scale of translating ‘white’ as ‘black’ or something to that effect.) It is almost like what happens when any of us puts a word into Google translate and tries to get the correct translation…obviously, without knowing the context of the text one is translating, many terrible mistakes would happen. And the instructor says that had he not been a Muslim, as a scientist, had he read these translations, he would have thought that Islam is not a religion that makes sense (Of course, this is simply said in order to show that Allah has blessed him with the correct knowledge and Imaan, and also to point out that the fault for the misguidance of many is to a large part for those who Muslims who misinterpret the Islamic primary texts.)
o Also, some of the speakers amongst the Muslims simply make things up, like the example he gave of the sine graph being present due to what we see in Surah az-Zumar Verse 5 (that is, just some made-up interpretation, that because of movement of the night and day are ordered, and the sine graph is also ordered and neat, so the sine graph can be deduced from this Verse.)
o The instructor also says something interesting, which is that since he is a scientist, he can ‘make things up’ basically, look at a person and make up some equation describing something of him. So how much more someone who is only driven by fame and lack of true knowledge about Islam (or even worse, the one who is a scientist but has malice in his heart towards Islam? But this last portion is for a later discussion.)
o Now, of course, the Muslims who do these sorts of strange things with the Qur’an have two sets of intentions in the main: One of the major ones is to attract non-Muslims to Islam through hook or crook, including lying. (and from what I can tell, it is also to impress Muslims one way or the other.)
o The instructor says that Insha Allah later they will do lectures on Usool al-Hadeeth, and it will become apparent in these classes that there existed, in the past, schools for fabricating Ahadeeth, and their purpose was actually to attract people to worship Allah more. But through what? Through lying, Subhanallah.
o For example, they said that if you pray 100 Rak’aat at a certain time of day (say between Maghrib and ‘Isha), you will be in Paradise. But of course, the time one needs to complete 100 Raka’at is more than what is there between Maghrib and ‘Isha, so this would lead to a farcical way of praying (anyway, this is just a general example for us to understand what did happen in the past, and still has an effect today.)
o So next, what is the reason for these types of well-intentioned lies and manipulations? It is to do with human nature. Islam does provide guidelines for people to improve but certain people have some character traits that need continuous monitoring, but certain people are unable to get past some internal spiritual problems they may have.
o Then we come to the non-Muslims. What they have is also ignorance and added to this they have arrogance (he says some of the Muslim speakers also have arrogance, but obviously it is a different type of arrogance, even though the name is the same and some of the qualities seem to match.) Anyway, whatever we find of negative qualities in the Muslims, we find it in the non-Muslims as well (this is in the very general sense, it is clear that the non-Muslims are in a much worse shape as far as the quality of what they wish to do when they speak about Islam.)
o Ok, so these two groups are doing like a sort of battle on a battlefield, and in the middle, there are normal people who are getting confused. They are also ignorant, but the good thing about them is that they know they do not know. (This is in fact a good quality, to know that one in fact does not know, and not try to be the hero when one does not have the tools.) But among the Muslim and non-Muslim ‘warriors’, this problem of overextending themselves into what is not their field is real and true.
o About the sincere people who do not know, we can only pray to Allah that they reach the truly knowledgeable people who can clarify any conceptual and spiritual problems they may have.
o The instructor gives one example, that he was interviewed for leading Taraweeh in a certain Masjid, and he recited parts of the Qur’an, then it became obvious that the interviewer himself did not know how to recite the Qur’an. So here there was someone who did not know how to recite the Qur’an testing to see whether someone can lead Taraweeh in a Masjid. It seems then, that this person had something else, like money and ownership of the Masjid, and the whole situation did not work out.
o But one additional big problem the instructor mentions is that in this Masjid, the Imam told the congregation that they should buy Saheeh al-Bukhaari and Sahih Muslim and read it to their kids so that they may become good Muslims. But this is fact is wrong, and a sign of inner sickness, since Bukhari and Muslim are not books for the laypeople to read (and then to deduce rulings no less); but they were rather compiled for academic types of people. Thus, the situation in here was that the Imam himself of this Masjid did not know what the correct place of these books in the life of a Muslim is. So it was an issue of not knowing the Usool, the fundamentals of the religion, of how the religion is built up. (By the way, there are books of Ahadeeth for laymen as well, but each has to know his stature and position. A Shaykh I know of and another speaker mentioned Riyaadh as-Saaliheen by Imam an-Nawaawi; and the reason why this book I mentioned is obvious: Since it deals with the narrations of the Prophet ﷺ dealing with spiritual maladies and the correct method that needs to be adopted when considering our actions. It is possible that the person reading al-Bukhaari does not really need to know the Ahadeeth mentioned there, but no person can go about their deeds with wrong and invalid intentions, etc.)
o So anyway, if you read the Ahadeeth in al-Bukhaari to your kids, it talks about warfare for example, about slaves, and you as a father or mother probably will not have the commentary of the Ahadeeth with you. And even if you do, how is a child going to understand the deeper matters of the Fiqh of slavery and warfare, and how these Ahadeeth relate to it? If he is a genius, yes he may grasp it, but geniuses are rare (and besides, most of the lay Muslims who first pick up Bukhari and Muslim are basically at the level of children in their scholastic understanding of Islam, so we must watch out for ourselves as well.)
o Consider that if the matter was so easy, then why do we have al-‘Asqalaani’s Fath al-Baari as a commentary to Saheeh al-Bukhaari? Because there was a need for these Ahadeeth to be explained in greater detail than what was accessible via the text alone.
o The instructor says that the sad reality is that what he has seen is that many of the Imams, nay, even the majority are like this. They do not have knowledge, but have been in a position of leadership since the person running the Masjid had money and insufficient knowledge, so he simply chose whom he thought was best for this situation based on his ignorance.
o Sometimes, there is also a lot of speech directed at irrelevant things, like we know that Islam is being attacked from left and right, but they may be talking in the Masaajid about something else, as if everything was fine – doing their work basically. (Not that talking about general things, like for example, how to have good behavior, smiling at one’s brother, etc., is something that should never talked about at all, but when you are in a state of war, you have a different disposition than what you would have at other junctions in your life.)
o So back to the low-level non-Muslims versus Muslims debates, the non-Muslims have one more quality, which is that they wish to deviate people and attack Islam. They also think that the Qur’an is similar to the Bible, so they make this comparison whichever way they feel like. And you know, what happens is that there are also no qualified Muslims to teach these people in the first place, so many of the Muslims are living in a utopian environment (ok, the Muslims should be there for explaining things properly, if the hardcore non-Muslims do not wish to listen, that is another issue that they will have to answer on the Day of Judgment, but when there are no qualified Muslims in the first place, then things have gotten very ugly.)
o Thus, what we have are basically two extremes: the non-Muslims and the Muslims who both do not have their minds set in the right place, and the lay persons in the middle. Also, even if we consider the Orientalists, we see that their situation is somewhat the same as those of random Internet non-Muslim people one may find, in the sense of mistranslating, making things up, not being sincere, and not having proper knowledge.
o So we see that these people they cannot find anything wrong in the Qur’an, so they go for the translation, and try to find out something that they can twist in order to deceive the people. Or sometimes, they do not even find anything they can attack with the translation, since the translation did not contain too much commentary (and as we know, when one speaks too much, he will make mistakes), then they might go to the commentary (since they might be saying many things), and cherry-pick whatever is possible for them to use in attacking Islam; and here also, not from the original Arabic, but rather from a translation they may have found of these commentaries.
o Thus, what happens is that they may show the commentary on the Qur’an as if it was the Qur’an itself. But they are only criticizing someone’s words. And part of this is also coming from the mistakes that some Muslims have made in translation so we have to be aware of this.
o A member of the audience mentions that this is something like asymmetric warfare, because in the case of Christians and non-Muslims in general who attack Islam, they take from the Qur’an, from the translations, from the commentaries, from the translations of the commentaries, and whatever else they can find, and try to say that this is definitely Islam’s position. But when it comes to arguing about Christianity, they will not allow anything other than for us to take from only the literal text of the Bible, so why is there this asymmetry in what is being taken up for consideration during the debate? (What happens is that we as Muslims have to consider the strength of different types of texts, both the Islamic texts, and the non-Muslim texts, before we can engage in a really fruitful discussion, along with the philosophical background behind the positions of our opponents. And this is a tall task.)
o The instructor says that there are different types of Tafseer and Mufassireen, some are more inclined towards Riwaaya (traditions), others towards Diraayah (reasoning, dialectics). Sometimes when the Verse of the Qur’an is explained with a Hadeeth, not every Mufasser will explain the Verses with Saheeh Ahadeeth; some will use weak Ahadeeth, even fabricated Ahadeeth. The reason is that many of the exegetes were not Muhaditheen in the formal sense of the word, so it is obvious that in such a case mistakes would indeed be made, and a number of them have been criticized on this point by the experts on Ahadeeth. (Or also, sometimes they will use from the readings that are not necessarily Mutawaatir for the purpose of explaining or emphasizing that a certain word in the Qur’an has a certain meaning.)
o Now, what we see today is that so many Muslims cannot even read the Qur’an properly, so how can they go to the next step and read the commentaries? Unfortunately, many Muslims are busy pursuing the world, and they cannot pay attention to these very important things of the Islamic sciences.
o Anyway, what we see with someone like the ‘Rationalizer’ is that he is definitely not trying to show people what the truth is, but is rather mocking people, and first of all he is mocking with himself. For example, if we take what is said concerning the two ‘schools’ concerning the Earth’s shape (either flat or spherical), we should first know that the concept of a spherical Earth was around from the 6th century BCE, from a philosophical viewpoint, as a possibility. Even in the 3rd century BCE, the circumference of the Earth had been calculated, and it is actually a myth that the roundness of the Earth had been discovered only in the 15th century.
o But of course, the opponent says that Muhammad ﷺ lived in the desert and thought that the Earth was flat. (Preliminarily, the desert part is flat out wrong, so any opponent who says this is dead in the water to begin with, or otherwise is just being very clumsy in what he is saying.) As we had mentioned before, there is no Verse in the Qur’an which says that the shape of the Earth in flat. Secondly, what the instructor mentions is that both of the groups (Muslims and non-Muslims) many times take Verses out of context. The truth is that the Qur’an has 114 Chapters, and each Chapter tackles certain things; it is called a Chapter for a reason. The importance in mentioning this is that the holistic context of the Chapter is to be considered when we read something about the Samaawaat (the Heavens), the Ardh (Earth), and so forth, so that we do not fall into the trap of arguing “flat Earth” versus “spheroidical Earth”, while the revelation was not about this to begin with.
o Next, a point is being illustrated through an analogy with mathematics: Suppose you have one chapter on triangles, and another chapter on circles. Would anyone in his right mind go to the chapter on triangles to understand circles? No, he would not do that (there are certain points of overlap, but even then one would have to be sure that the referents to the words used in each definition are actually correct and precise when referring to the other shape, otherwise the overlapping is incorrect.)
o What these people are doing in fact is that they are taking Verses out of context. Like for example, if we take Surah al-Anbiyaa that we had discussed before, Verses 30-33 are talking about one thing, and there is a buildup leading up to these Verses. For example, the first Verse is (in translation): ‘Closer and closer to mankind comes their Reckoning: yet they heed not and they turn away.’ So the heedlessness of man is being emphasized in this first Verse, and that they are turning away from all the signs. And the next Verse talks about how the disbelievers are playing when they hear the Qur’an and do not take it seriously. The next Verse also continues this theme, saying that the disbelievers mock at the Qur’an when it is recited to them – a lot like this ‘Rationalizer’ person, who at one moment claims that Muhammad ﷺ wrote the Qur’an, then mocks Allah the Exalted explicitly by saying things like: “Good luck with your next book” and other sarcastic comments, but they show that he is all over the place. (That is, one moment they think that it was Muhammad ﷺ who wrote the Qur’an, the next moment they say he did not exist. As the Qur’an says: “Indeed, you are in differing speech.” (Verse 51:8))
o And of course, there are many people like that in the world today, whether they are agnostics, Christians, or even Muslims who try to deceive people by saying that there is something in the Qur’an which does not exist there (we are not making Takfeer of anyone, but those who do these things have to be very careful about what they do and what they are trying to achieve with their actions.) As an analogy, we know that during the Prophet’s ﷺ time, the Muslim community knew who the hypocrites were, but they would not go and say that this or that person was a hypocrite – so each person should look into his or her heart and see what their intentions are.
o So what these people who claim things about the ‘flat earth’, they are using the phrase ‘Madda al-Ardha’, and this word ‘Madda’ has many meanings: for example, if there is a periodical rise in the tides due to lunar or solar attraction, this is called ‘Madda’. It also means lengthening, extending, elongating, unfolding, unrolling, making something smooth or even (related to ‘Basata’), or to furnish, or related to the flowing of a stream of water.
o In this case, the Verse 15:19 which has the word ‘Madadnaa’ is used by the non-Muslim in order to say that the Qur’an is explicitly mentioning a flat Earth. The instructor says that this is mentioning the smoothing and evening of the Earth, or that it has been made longer or larger than normal, and these are some of the possibilities that this word may take. (He will explain the meanings later on). And we also have another Verse in Surah ar-Ra’d which uses the word ‘Madda’ and this is from the same root as the previously discussed Verse.
o So we know this root and the words deriving from it have many meanings. So when the non-Muslim says “this Ardh (Earth)”. So the Ardh refers to the Earth we stand on, and it is referring to the spreading out of the Earth. The question is does the Verse even refer to the shape of the entire Earth?
o To understand the answer to this, we have to consider that Ardh is the opposite of Samaa, earth is the opposite of the ceiling (just like Layl and Nahar, night and day, are opposites). The reference point in here is the human being, so the instructor says that if he is standing somewhere, the ground he is standing on is the Ardh, and the ceiling is the Samaa. What Allah is saying in here is that He has made the Earth comfortable and livable, manageable for life. The instructor says that the last part of this commentary he is giving is from himself, but he is giving it after reading the whole page in order to understand the context correctly.
o Now, if someone takes this phrase alone ‘Wal-Ardha Madadnaha’ or ‘Madda al-Ardha’ without considering anything else, then this is like someone who just says the phrase “Do you?” without saying anything else. Yes, if someone takes the phrase as “Do you drive?” then we understand the full significance, but if someone only takes it as “Do you” and emphasizes on the “Do”, he might try to mislead people into thinking that it is a command. Such people are already deceived, but they wish to take other people along with them into their deceptions.
o And one sad thing that we see is that this is unfortunately the case with many Muslims who start out with their own speeches and conferences, when they are shown their mistakes, they may not wish to back down and admit that it is a mistake, but may rather persist in their old ways. But the correct way is to recognize those who have more knowledge, especially when this is of the religious type, and to accept the corrections that may be made in one’s work. It is not that one has to defend the mistake no matter what is put in front of one. (The instructor goes off of this topic a little bit into the matters of spirituality, in that he considers himself to be worse than all of the people who are in attendance; this is actually one way to cultivate humility and it was also part of the practice of the Companions to say that they were very lowly people, since they knew of Allah’s Mercy, but they also knew of His Punishment, and were always in a state of guarding the inner selves.)
o In fact, the arguments of the non-Muslims many times take the form of a ‘War of Titans’ but in terms of ignorance. One member in the audience asks whether the non-Muslim opponent is taking from a commentary at least, so that he may say that he has done his homework in some way, like for example, from Ibn Katheer (RA) or someone else. The instructor says that when the exegetes were looking to comment on these words found in the Verses, they would lay emphasis on looking for synonyms, which in this case, would be ‘Farashnaa’, ‘Mihaada’, ‘Dahaaha’, they have close meanings. So they may use something like ‘Basata’ (to spread out) to explain the word ‘Madada’.
o The instructor then says, that he saw in the Tafseer of Jalaalayn, for a Verse in Surah an-Naazi’aat (which is translated as: ‘And the earth, moreover, hath He extended (to a wide expanse);’ the word ‘Dahaaha’ has been used to explain it. And Imam As-Suyuuti (RA) says that there are people who believe that the Earth is round, but this is not a matter of the beliefs of the religion, one will not be punished for believing that the Earth is flat or that it is round.
o This is actually from Verse 88:20 as mentioned by the instructor (translation of the Verse is: ‘And at the Earth, how it is spread out?’). From what I can see, it is as-Suyuuti’s personal opinion that this Verse shows the flatness of the Earth, but it was not decisive enough to make a judgment of the religion about it. Besides, many other scholars, such as Al-Alusi (RA), ar-Raazi (RA), and others, said that the apparent wording of this Verse does not contradict the approximate roundness of the Earth.
o But the one who is against Islam wholeheartedly he will take Imam As-Suyuuti’s commentary and say that: “This is it, the Qur’an is saying that the Earth is flat”, while what as-Suyuuti was saying was making a preference for his position based on the apparent meaning. If he had seriously thought that the Qur’anic Verse was definitive, then the issue would have gone into Takfeer (calling people disbelievers for rejecting what is in the Qur’an) or at least Tabdi’ (claiming those who opposed him to be people of Bid’ah or innovations), but it is clear that this was not the position taken by him, so the matter is not as big of a deal as some people would like to believe.
o But there is one thing that I think is of importance, and I do not think the instructor mentions it: Do you know why the non-Muslims could stick to the al-Jalaalayn commentary? Because it was translated into English, and they can bring up problems with it. But once we understand even a little bit of the Usool of Islam, plus the commentaries made by other exegetes regarding this Verse, we can place this commentary in its proper location, not denying what as-Suyuuti (RA) said, but also not saying that it constitutes a matter of the religion as some people would want others to believe.
o And the instructor says, going back to the Verse in Chapter al-Anbiyaa’, that if he were to read the Verses in context, everyone would see that the purport of these Verses has nothing to do with talking about a flat or a spherical Earth.
o Another analogy that can be given is that if we take any material object and apply a force to it, we can deform it, and this is something easily known in engineering. And this deformation can take place lengthwise or widthwise, etc. So in the same way, the Earth’s form has been changing, there have been differences over millions of years in the shape of the Earth. And the same goes for the atmosphere, before it was very hostile, hot, and toxic, before it became what it became today. By the way, these are all theories, since no one was there at that time to make exact experiments about how the Earth was at that time and then measure the changes, and so forth, so what can always be said is that “based on current research” we can say such-and-such.
o So what Allah is saying is that the Earth was not habitable, but it was later on made smooth and habitable for people to live on it. For example, if the Earth were the size of a basketball, its crust would be thinner than a sheet of paper, so this is one of the significations surrounding the ‘smoothness’ of the Earth.
o So the instructor says, if we were to talk about plate tectonics, we have divergent and convergent movements, from the divergent movements new land masses are formed, and from the gas and lava that is spewed out by the Earth, this becomes part of the atmosphere. And through convergent plate movements one sees the formation of mountains. There are theories in this field, such as that of the first Pangea and the ‘Ultimate Pangea’. From the formation of mountains, there is a lot of goodness for the people, and this is talked about in the Qur’an, about those people who made strong houses in the mountains.
o So when we say that the Earth is stretched and smooth there is one more consideration: If we see the asteroids, they look like peanut-shaped masses, they do not look anything smooth, so we have to think how a conglomeration of asteroids coming together formed the Earth in the smooth, round shape (flattened (oblate) spheroid) we see today. It took that shape through internal gravity. Thus, it was not in that shape originally, but later on the shape changed.
o Also, the structure and form of the Earth changed, then the atmosphere was built in a manner agreeable for human life. For example, we did not have oxygen, or the ozone layer, before. Certain types of bacteria, they took light energy and they produced oxygen as a by-product, and this oxygen went up into the atmosphere, giving rise among other things to the ozone layer. And this is the layer which protects us from UV rays, and another layer (the mesosphere) protecting us from meteoroids.
o This is why Allah the Exalted says that He has made the Samaa as a protected ceiling. But now comes this person saying that: “Oh, Muslims believe the Earth is flat, so they must also believe that the Saqf is a flat canopy.” But we see that it has nothing to do with these types of wild thoughts.
o May Allah be Exalted, the non-Muslim is trying to tell the Muslims what they must necessarily believe in without due consideration of the fundamentals of Islam. Yes, if it was a position that is unquestionably taken by Muslim scholars and/or was something that was indubitable in both text and meaning, then we can see what how the discussion is to move forward, but without this criteria being met, how can a non-Muslim force his views about a religion he does not even believe in, nay, a religion he is an hardened opponent to? Let me say that had a Muslim tried to force his own personal opinion on others without fulfilling the criteria above, our ‘Ulama would not have taken him seriously, they would have told him to learn the etiquettes of discussion plus the knowledge on the rules of Islamic epistemology. So what about a non-Muslim barging in and basically saying anything he wants to say as ascriptions on Islam?
o Anyway, back to the main discussion, what is happening is that Allah is telling us that this is not something that occurred by chance, because if it was so, then we should consider that in the young Earth, the atmosphere was full of sulfuric acid, carbon dioxide, and other gases, and it was very hot, no complex organisms could live on it. So it was only gradually with bacteria, and with meteorites that brought with them lots of water, that many processes came about until the Earth was made inhabitable for human beings. [Of course, again, this is a presentation based on what the current scientific data has led to in terms of conclusions. But in terms of certain metaphysical statements that may come from this (Such as: “Oh, this shows that the Earth itself made the conditions for life to be able to evolve on it”) this is something we will not accept, and will have to discuss this through different types of arguments; and also take note of what is being said below]
o If you listen to the scientists though, they will tell you that the Earth just worked out to be perfect for life. This phrase ‘just so’ that they use, has been refuted by Allah who says that it has been planned; it is not just like that. Other Verses in the Qur’an also point this out, like where Allah says that the Shams and the Qamar have been made ‘Husbaanan’ (i.e. the Sun and the Moon have been measured in their orbits.) Or from Surah al-Qamar the approximate tradition of it being that everything has been created with a measure (it is not randomness or chance, Qadar refers to the creation of everything by Allah in its due measure, nothing at all is left to chance; for things to come through chance and randomness is an impossible proposition, though the details of this are outside the discussion of this article).
o One person in the audience is asking, can the context of these Verses be known in more detail (I think the instructor already gave some comments about how the Verses of Surah al-Anbiyaa’, from the beginning are giving an indication and a build-up towards the message that we see in Verses 30-33; actually there will be more discussion about this Verses in the future). He asks this since many Verses are taken out of context, and we see this also in the Jihaad Verses.
o The instructor says that yes, there is a lot of this problem appearing from both non-Muslims and even some Muslims. Like in the context of Jihaad Verses, one Verse that is quoted is the one in Surah at-Tawbah [translation of it being: ‘Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day…(the rest of the Ayah)’]. The instructor says that the Verse is in fact talking about fighting those Christians and Jews who attack you first, who oppress you. The one who knows the full context of the Verse would know what is occurring. This is within the context of the Chapter talking about the defense of the Muslims. Another matter within the context of this Chapter is that of the prisoners of war, how they should be treated, and so forth.
o Islam says to fight those who are oppressing Muslims, but the opponent, if he finds the word ‘Qaatilu’ he would say that ‘aha, this is it, the Muslims have been ordered to fight and kill everyone no matter what other situation presents itself.’
o This is a matter related to the Fiqh behind the Verse, but there are in many cases not even commentaries about the significance of the issue from this Fiqhi perspective.
o Now, a personal comment: Based on what I know, the Verse the instructor is actually referring to is Verse 9:5, the translation of it being “slay the polytheists wherever you find them” (while the one he was explaining was 9:29). With respect to this Verse 9:5, there is an explanation of the circumstances behind its revelation on the following link. From the explanation, it is clear that this Verse 9:5 was revealed with respect to certain groups of polytheists, and after they had been given time to reflect on their situation. Now, someone might say that the specifics of Jihaad seem to make it clear that everyone should be fought [whether Jews, Christians, or of other religions] until they become Muslims. This is a matter of jurisprudence that needs more studying that what is possible to cover in here, since the rules are quite detailed and the differences of opinion also appear. But let me just say that Verse 9:29 itself makes it clear that the fighting is not to be carried out until Jews and Christians are ‘forced to convert’, since in that case the Jizya would not be acceptable from them. And also, if someone says that the precepts of Islam do not agree with what we know of treatment of individuals within modern nation-states (where every citizen is equal before the law), we say this is a deficiency in the concept of nation-states and the suppositions behind them, not a deficiency in Islam. This is why we always tell the people not to think only with what they currently know about the world, but rather to specify the rules (especially of logic) and then start discussing matters after we have agreed to a base.
o Finally, if it is said that the instructor is trying to hide the reality of these Verses, and that these Verses in fact refer to offensive Jihaad against Jews and Christians for all times and places, one should not make bad assumptions about people on purpose, but in this case, would rather have to ask the instructor himself as to how his teachers taught him the interpretation of these Verses and how they relate to what they taught him of the Fiqh of Jihaad, and only then can they have some background knowledge in order to pose any further questions.
o Ok, so if we go back to this ‘Rationalizer’ person and the issue of the flat Earth, if he knew something about differential geometry, manifolds, topology, or even if he only knew how planes go around the globe, he would know that there are two things in geometry, called local versus global coordinates. Locally, the Earth is flat.
o This ‘Rationalizer’ person wrote that ‘common sense plus ignorance leads to absurdity’, this is what he said. But beyond that, one also has to wish to make things up in addition to absurdity, so that he can mock at other people. Someone who is ignorant, but thinks that he knows, then he is only joking with others (and at the end of the day joking with himself, this is the truth behind all people who mock).
o Anyway, coming back to this matter of manifolds, even if the person had read online about GPS, they would know about this distinction between local versus global, geometrical coordinates. Even when we study the Universe, we have use of local coordinates, we treat certain parts of the Universe as locally flat.
o So a patch of the Earth, we treat it as locally flat, but globally spherical, and at the end of the day we live on a small scale. If we were to take ourselves as the reference point, the Earth is flat.
o If we want someone to bring a carpet to the room, and the person bringing it says: “I need to bring a spheroid shaped carpet in order to conform to the Earth’s surface” that person will be considered as very silly.
o Thus, in geometry, we do treat coordinates as locally flat. Or if we take the example of a sweater being worn by someone, its parts would considered flat, we would not tell a bug living on the sweater that the host is not flat, that he is of a different shape, since this has no relevance to the bug or the point on the sweater.
o If this person was at least sincere (let us leave knowledgeable for the time being), he would know or at least try to find out about how manifold geometry operates. This is why we have Euclidian spatial dimensions (symbol of E3 for three-dimensional space). If we take the x-y-z coordinates, we have top-down, forward-backward, left-right differentiations. So these are orthogonal, relative directions. We need to know about translational invariables, one needs to study these things in order to understand coordinates.
o But this non-Muslim says that the Muslims do not accept the idea of down, that if the Earth is flat (this is one supposition) then both sides of the Earth are up, so this person is even denying that Muslims have a difference between physical up and down. If the supposition behind this were to be followed to its limit, it would have to be said that since we are living on a sphere, thus whoever says that something is up or down while being on the Earth is very mistaken. (In fact, up and down would be worthless anywhere in the Universe if we were to follow his logic.) He is the only one who is deeply mistaken, he cannot even understand scientific things properly, let alone make himself ready to speak about the Qur’an and the Ahadeeth.
o As another example, we also say that the gravity is moving the objects down, and whatever is going up is trying to move away from gravity. The instructor says that from his primary school days up to the Ph.D. level, they were always using terms like gravity, up and down, but according to this ‘Rationalizer’, up and down is not to be mentioned on this spheroidical Earth. The truth is that he is very confused and trying to confuse others.
o Another Verse mentions pillars that you cannot see. Rafa’a is the key word used in here, which means to raise, to go up, Allah raised the Heavens, the canopy, with pillars that you cannot see. If you see the sky, the atmosphere, one may think as to how are these objects up there, since you cannot see any physical foundation, and what we are used to is for pillars to be there whenever we build things. As a quick concrete example, one never sees houses in the air simply floating there.
o So we ask the normal people that we read in the Qur’an, that Allah has raised the Heavens with invisible pillars, what is this referring to? The ‘Rationalizer’ thinks they must be literal invisible pillars. But in fact, Allah is saying that He can crate things in whichever way He wishes, without something we humans might comprehend or see.
o Like can we see gravitational pull, the electromagnetic forces? The instructor says he has studied these things, scientists have not actually seen gravity, they do not know how space-time actually looks like in and of itself. Even hypothetical particles have been formulated, with scientists saying that gravity is due of ‘gravitons’. The reason why they say this is because all other forces like the electro-magnetic force, the weak force, they have particles, so why not gravity? Besides, they have not found it yet, but they made experiments and through this they can know that this force (or more precisely, this ‘particle’) exists indirectly.
o So when the instructor reads this Verse, this is what pops up in his mind, since gravity is almost like an invisible pillar. So the pillar is there to hold that object in its place, and gravity does the same thing.
o Based on what a member of the audience is saying, the thing is that for our opponents, the Qur’an cannot possibly use metaphorical language, if it says pillar, it must be a literal pillar, if it says ‘spread out’, it must be flat. So the non-Muslim is saying: ‘Oh, why is it saying raised up, it should have said far away!’ This claim of his is because of his saying that if the Qur’an is talking about the stars as being the ‘Heaven’ and referring to them as such, then it must have said far away.
o But this person does not know even basic cosmology, that not all stars are ‘far away’, since the Universe is in an accelerating motion and it is expanding, so they were all already made close to another, and then the expansion started. Also, not all stars have been made now, so if he wants to be so scientifically accurate, this word ‘far away’ that he suggested is not appropriate, you cannot generalize everything to such a degree. And most importantly, Allah is not talking to ‘giants’ who live on big stations in outer space, he is referring to normal people who live on this “smooth, flat Earth”.
o Coming back again to the issue concerning the shape of the Earth, when one is driving, if they need to take on a slope, they say within themselves that: “Oh I need to go on a slope”, because normally they are travelling on a flat surface, and Allah is revealing the Qur’an to these people who live within normal human condition along with the space-time determinants that they are familiar with.
o What would be the point of Allah saying instead of ‘Wal Ardha Madadnaahaa’, that ‘I made the Earth spherical’, what would the normal person, even today, say? He would say: ‘Oh my God, you made my life difficult, why did you not make it flat and smooth so that I can walk freely and nicely’ (of course, we are just talking about the reaction of some people to this hypothetical situation; and we would never be ungrateful to any situation that Allah puts in front of us). So the point is that Allah is saying that in this spherical Earth there are many complexities, many different type of forces, gases and liquids inside the Earth, and yet He made it habitable, and easy for humans to live on it, the humans do not need to worry about anything.
o Now, certain people may say that: “There are earthquakes, so how are mountains said to be stable?” We have to see that everything is created in pairs, there is darkness and there is light, there is steadiness and shaking, these things are there in order to explain certain facts about the Creation of Allah, so that we may also become grateful at how many things Allah has saved us from. For example, the instructor calculated that there are 500 thousand earthquakes a year, and only 0.02% cause damage. So from this we say, it is amazing how many catastrophes we are saved from. And we notice, moreover, that Allah sometimes threatens people who go against him with earthquakes. In such a case, the earthquakes that people sense are from the calamities that people can relate to, so that they understand that Allah has the Power to destroy them totally if they disobey Him. (And besides, all of this would only be the ‘lesser punishment’ that the disbelievers would have to suffer in the life of this world, and when the people comprehend that these earthquakes, heavy winds, etc., are the ‘lesser punishment’, they may pay heed so that they do not suffer the ‘larger punishment’ of the Hereafter.)
o Now, coming back to the Verse talking about the “’Amaad” (pillars), the instructor is not saying that this Verse is talking about gravity, but as a scientist, the thing that comes to his mind is that it is talking about gravity. But he is not at all making a concrete statement about it, since there could be a legitimate challenge from others to show that this is indeed mentioned explicitly in the Verse, and such an explicit connection cannot be shown. Yes, if we think that there is a clue in the Verse concerning gravity, then we should keep it to ourselves. If we find someone who is level-headed, perhaps we can share this matter as per our personal observations. But it is not correct to mass publicize it, making people come to conferences, setting up television shows, and the like.
o (Personal comment) The reasons are obvious: First, it is nearly impossible to show that ‘gravity’ is mentioned in the Qur’anic Verse, when this word and its concepts were developed many centuries after the revelation of the Qur’an, while what we have is only one phrase. Second, if this connection becomes embedded in people’s minds (both Muslims and non-Muslims), and then later it becomes known in the scientific community that gravity operates in some other way, or that ‘gravity’ is actually a term denoting a deeper substrate that has nothing to do with the Verse, then our opponents would take it as a ‘clear sign’ that the Qur’an was wrong all the time. So we must be very careful about this and similar matters.
o There is a question, as to whether there is anything in the Qur’an mentioning a word like ‘disc’, etc., which would lead people to hold that the Earth is flat, and the answer is that there is no word like this. [As an aside, also notice that there is a usage of the word ‘disc’ in many cases when referring to the sun, moon, etc. There is obviously a background for this usage, but we need to stress that the usage is there even today.]
o Moving on to another Verse, we can consider how certain people use the Verse 21:30 with the Big Bang. First of all, Yara has the meaning of seeing and contemplating. And the instructor says that there is not a single person who can say how the Big Bang started. By the way, this is only a theory, and there are other theories out there as well, such as quantum gravity, string theory, and others. (And we have to consider the possibility that some time from now, the Big Bang theory may be superseded, not only within physics circles, but also within the generality of people.)
o Now, the Verse talks about contemplating, but one cannot really contemplate the Big Bang as presented in the theories due to the singularity, at which point the laws of physics break down. What could the people who bring up this Verse in connection with the ‘Big Bang’ probably be talking about in here, could it be about islands of temperature, or cosmic background radiation? Even scientists do not know what a singularity is, what space-time is, and these are respected people in their fields (whether they are atheists, Muslims, or otherwise), but the point is that they have been trying to find out the answer to these questions for many years.
o But now some person comes and says: ‘Oh, yes, I have found the Big Bang theory in the Qur’an because, well, I read it while searching on google’. If the person does not even know what the equation or theory is actually talking about [like the E=mc2 issue and Dr. Phillips], then this is a very bad sign of what has happened to the mentality of the Muslims.
o Actually, more important than this, is that the people must reflect, in the sense of pondering that: “Ok with what I am saying, Big Bang happened then… water came.” The instructor says that he studied cosmology, he even wrote a paper on space-time, black holes, which is a subject related to the Big Bang theory, he wrote on string theory, he says that he has never seen even a drop of water mentioned after the Big Bang, or any clue about water after the Big Bang.
o So what these people are saying is that first there was a Big Bang, the Ardh (the Earth) was separated from the Samaa (the Heavens, the canopy), water came, then Allah stretched the Earth we stand on. If someone says this, this is totally against modern scientific knowledge, what our current research shows is that water came after the formation of the Earth, due to meteorites, and so forth.
o (A personal note: Allah knows best, and I am only saying this since I read about the possibility of the ‘Big Bang’ being referred to in this Verse in proper traditional interpretations, but it may be possible for it to be said that this separation of the Heavens and the Earth is talking about the initial stage of the Universe when there was no Heaven and no Earth, but they were so as to say “already created”, but needed to be manifested as such. And it may be said that the water being referred to in here does not need to be related to the Big Bang or any other cosmological theory in astrophysics, since Allah is only mentioning that He created everything from water, and this may have occurred at a much later stage after the formation of the Universe (these things are just what came to my mind, it is definitely not a Tafseer at all). In any case, I am sure that I will need to ask about this matter from the scholars after presenting the situation to them. But I do see that it is difficult to say with definiteness that these Verses refer to any given scientific theory.)
o Also, immediately after this, the formidable mountains are mentioned in Verse #31 [Rawaasi]. And this refers to mighty mountains that cannot be easily shaken. It does not mean that they cannot be shaken by the movement of tectonic plates. It means whether you are living on the mountain, or on the Earth, you can live in them, it is hospitable for living.
o Plus, there are many benefits from these mountains. For example, we can consider their role in the change of weather. If we consider the Andes, the warm and cold clouds meet, there are thunderstorms, and lighting, and these mostly occur on the mountains. If these had occurred on flat land, it would cause many catastrophes for the people. And if we consider it from this angle, we see that the mountains trap these clouds, and most of the lightning and thunderstorms happens in these mountains.
o The mountains are useful for other things as well, such as wind movements, climate changes, and many people live on the mountains. Nowadays more people are living in the cities or in flat spaces, but especially in the past, more people were residing in the mountains. The Qur’an even mentions those who took their homes on the mountains, and built strong houses therein.
o The instructor says that he went somewhere in Turkey, and there was basically a city composed of homes carved inside the mountains, because they thought this to be a strong place for living. Because if one builds his house on flat surfaces, some sand, tornado, or even a small earthquake may destroy it, or at least damage it. But if it is part of the mountain, it is almost like a cave, and caves are the best places for people to hide inside when there are dangers, they are like natural bunkers. (Personal comment: We know of a number of cave-like cities in different civilizations, so the issue of people living in mountains has been known and practiced upon in different times and places.)
o So we need to understand the different stories of the Qur’an as well, and how it relates to the Verse a person may be reading at that junction. So Allah is talking not about the non-shaking of the mountains when the Earth shakes; and we know this since Allah says in other Verses that the mountains will be moved just like the clouds move. Because mountains are part of the tectonic plates, and these plates move through convection. Allah in Surah an-Naml says that the mountains will move the movement of clouds, but that is in the Day of Judgment, at the end of time. Whether it has anything to do with the Big Crunch or the Big Rip, the instructor does not know, and it is not meant to be talking about that anyway. So just like the Earth was first inhospitable and difficult to live on, it will return to that state. These mountains will be turned to dust and rubble, maybe a scientist can explain how this is going to happen or how it may happen (that is, from a theoretical perspective).
o Some people read the Verse saying that the mountains are moving like the clouds and say that it is speaking about our current times, but if we truly see the matter, we will notice that the 3 Verses talking about mountains in this way are all talking about the Day of Judgment. If that is the case, then these Verses cannot be used to describe current conditions.
o [Let me say something of a personal observation: Yes, most of the traditional interpretations are talking about what is to occur on the Day of Judgment when they are talking about this Noble Verse in the Qur’an. But I also found that Shaykh ash-Sha’raawi (Rahimahullah) in his own Tafseer says that this is actually speaking about the current conditions…he gives the reasons for this position he is taking, such as saying that the Verse says that you have a Thann (a thought that is not certain) that these mountains are still, but they are moving like the clouds. He says that had it been referring to the Day of Judgment, this Verse would not be saying that one is merely in illusions, since everything will become extremely clear and there are no doubts on that Day. In any case, I am only presenting what I read elsewhere, and this matter may be discussed as needed in the future.]
o The instructor continues by saying (in general): “Let us say that we do take them as such (that is, talking about current conditions). So yes, mountains are moving with the tectonic plates due to convection, and so are the clouds also moving due to another type of convection and also due to winds. We can talk about many different concepts, but the Qur’an was not revealed to be a geography textbook.
o Allah is simply saying that look at how Mighty He is, that He will crush these mountains on the Day of Judgment, and that this will be a tough day.
o So one in the audience asks about the allegation that mountains do not move as per the Verse ‘Wal Jibaala Awtaada’ in Surah an-Nabaa’. The translation of this is roughly: “Did we not make the Earth Mihaadan”, place where one can live (like a flat surface), Wal Jibaala Awtaada, “(Were not) the mountains (made) like pegs or anchors”. We created you in pairs, you sleep then you wake up to seek out Allah’s Bounties, and you have your nights and days. Water is beneficial for you, so that you can grow your plants and produce from it.
o So there is a context for this saying of Allah concerning the mountains. So when we see the mountains as pegs, or when we consider pegs in general, we see that one side is down and the other side is visibly up. It is something like anchoring a ship. But why would anyone think that mountains are irremediably fixed based on the above?
o Let us say that we have a boat and a peg comes to a surface and anchors it, but how is it being said that this signifies being fixed without any chance for movement; this is also a statement going against science if we consider it correctly.
o Mountains are there so that people may live, they are lofty structures, people would rely on the mountains, so that it would not shake with them. If we have a flat surface or plate it moves, the people would move along with it. When it comes to mountains, it is there, fixed and pegged, so that people would not have to follow them.
o How do we rely on the mountains? Through agriculture, wood, forests, many benefits for human beings. With respect to the phrase “it would not shake you”, that is if you live on them or around them. On the contrary, if you live in a house where earthquakes are always happening, you would try to move out. Thus, the word ‘Rawaasiya’ used with respect to mountains simply means lofty, formidable, and so forth. And people are generally awed by mountains, so many of the things that are said about them, both in the sense of their sturdiness and their future destruction are connected to how human beings perceive mountains.
o Apparently, many of these people are perhaps looking at the Muslim commentaries from certain angles different than the one intended by the commentator himself, and then they are coming up with their own things.
o Coming back to another word (the word ‘Mihaada’), Mihaada is like Basata, Midaada, to make it level, smooth.
o Firaasha is another word that has been brought out for baseless criticism. Firaasha with respect to the Earth refers to the Earth as a resting place, a carpet, a bed. What do people use carpets for in the first place? Because the hard floor is not suitable for setting and we are trying to make it more hospitable. Also, note that the carpet takes the shape of whatever it is put on, so if it is put on a sphere, then it will take that shape only. The meaning that can be understood is very simple, in that carpets are comfortable, otherwise the floor would be hard and difficult to live on, and Allah is using this word in order to describe how the Earth has been made easy for people to live on it.
o One member in the audience says that there is an element of xenophobia in here as well, in that the objectioner wishes to project his ideas of flatness of the Earth in addition to what they believe a carpet must be, in order to denigrate the Muslims. (But it is obvious that the meaning may be and has been explained in ways other than the narrow confines of a ‘flat Earth’ or a ‘straight carpet’, and when this is known to anyone conducting a research, he must be smart enough to understand how this may relate to the information and/or misconceptions he may have had about Islam.)
o Coming back now to the local geometry of things, we can see that, for example, local geometry talks about the curvature of shapes. For example, if we consider the Universe, we talk about the observable Universe. But if we were to use global geometry to describe the topology of the Universe as a whole, the measurement of this is not within our ability. Within local geometry, there are different types of local geometry, such as Euclidian geometry; if we did not know about this type of geometry, there would be no technology at all, since we calculate so many things based on it. And what is the curvature of Euclidian geometry, it is zero, it is not at all curved, rather, it is flat.
o When we come to 3-dimensional shapes, spherical structures, they have a positive curvature, and when we treat hyperbolic curves, these have negative curvatures. We need to make things clear and be clear in matters such as local versus global geometry. After all, the people generally live on a small scale on this Earth, they are not beings living outside the Earth.
o We should thus understand that the Qur’an talks about those who take Mutashaabihaat (ambiguous) Verses and try to give them some meanings different than the ones agreed upon by Islamic scholarship (or give them meaning where silence is the only option). Such people have a sickness in their hearts. This also applies to those among the Muslims who use the Qur’an as if it were a science textbook.
o A question is posed as to “Do mountains move?” The instructor says that based on what he knows mountains are the result of the convergence of the boundary-like movements between different plates. However, the movement of mountains is very slow, something like 0-10 centimeters per year, even though after many years there will be convergence or divergence of the plates. The example is given of the Pacific Fault and the San Andreas Fault, that the first fault is moving faster, so that after many years the cities will come closer together (longitudinally).
o And we have to bring in other Qur’anic statements as well to understand the issue of the mountains and their movements. For example, Allah says: ‘Wa Fil Ardhi Qita’un Mutajaawiraat’, and in here there is mention of land segments (we can think of them like continents). So the Verse can be said to signify that on the Earth there are neighboring land segments, and they move. But the movement of these mountains is a negligible movement in comparison to the human being which moves very fast. The reference point is always the human being. The people who try to find faults in the Qur’an should remember the simple fact that people do not live 100 million years. Geological lifespan that they are using as their yardstick, is a really inappropriate method to take, since if people live let us say 100 years, even this period will not have much difference at all when we consider the movement of the mountains.
o The message (to the Muslims at least, who will be more open to advice and warning) is again that: “What are you doing?” You should take the message, and take it to lead us in your path to salvation, and you can think deeply about these things
o Of course, again, the people with a problem in their hearts may read the Verses signifying that Allah created us and the mountains in proportions, and other Verses saying that we will not be able to become as long as the mountains, and take it mean that there is an indirect comparison of us to the mountains. So some (non-Muslim) might say that: ‘Oh, the Qur’an is comparing people with mountains, this is a scientific error.’ Then the Muslim comes in and says: “Ok if we were to enlarge the human being to the size of a mountain then we would find out this and that scientific fact, and on and on”. But this is a terribly wrong methodology to take from so many angles, since this was not the purport of these Verses to begin with, that Muslim apologists would “elongate” humans to the size of mountains and then see what they can get from that.
o (In fact, what has happened is that the Muslim is simply playing to the tune of the non-Muslim. If the non-Muslim says that there is this or that problem in whichever field of the empirical sciences [even if it is not really related to the Verse to begin with, but he just wants to mock], the sincere but ignorant Muslim will take the bait and use the same wrong methodology in trying to show that the non-Muslim is in error, but this was a game to the non-Muslim to begin with. So we should be very careful with respect to such games that the non-Muslims wish to play with the Islamic religion, know what to discuss and when to discuss it, and not take every single topic as a basis for a valid discussion.)
o Ok, so the message of the Qur’an is simple and clear enough: There is no Lord but Allah, Muhammad ﷺ is the Messenger of Allah, that Allah will protect this Qur’an, and that the believers should not deviate from the middle path. Many people are not following the middle path from among the Muslims, which is why we have these sorts of problems.
o Another thing this guy says, is that in Surah al-Inshiqaaq, there is a mention of the stretching out and elongation [‘Wa Idha al-Ardhu Muddat’ (translation: ‘And when the Earth has been extended’)], and he says: ‘Oh this is referring to the flat Earth’, but this is about the Qiyaamah, so it is irrelevant to bring this matter up to this discussion. We can see that it is almost a fetish for trying to ‘prove’ a flat Earth.
o Notice also, that the Earth keeps rejuvenating itself. You may remember the “Mrs Nerg” criteria for determining the characteristics of living things, which are: movement, respiration, sensitivity, nurture, excretion, reproduction, and growth. Earth only lacks the reproduction part, but otherwise, the Earth is basically alive. And the Qur’an is being sent for long periods of time, while the Earth is still changing.
o Since these people are very narrow-minded, they expect the Qur’an to be written in a very textbook like, very restricted manner. This shows the ignorance of such people, and both Muslims and non-Muslims who do these sorts of things are in the same boat. They are after fame. Some are sincere, but still fundamentally ignorant. May Allah help us all in this respect, since deviance based on ignorance (concerning the fundamentals of the religion) is not excusable even if there is sincerity in the seeker. So we need both knowledge and sincerity, if one of the two is missing, we will be in loss in the Hereafter.
o One more amazingly sad thing is that this person is also taking quote from both the Bible and the Qur’an and comparing them whichever way he wants. For example, he talks about the roots of the mountains. There was apparently some video by a Muslim concerning the base of the mountains and the Muslim said that the pegs of the mountains are like roots. Then this ‘Rationalizer’ took these comments by whichever lay Muslim and found it in the Bible and said Muslims have taken this from the Bible. The really amazing thing is that this was not from the Qur’an, not from the translation, not from the classical commentaries, not from their translations, but rather from the comments of some normal Muslim trying to explain the matter based on his understanding – and then this matter, removed 4 levels from the actual Qur’anic text, was presented as the undeniable Islamic position.
o (If someone says that didn’t the instructor himself refer to the pegs as roots, the response is that he gave an example and he referred to that thing he showed as a crude analogy as being a ‘root’ in its lower part, and this was presented only in a very general sense. But to say that the word ‘root’ as found in the Bible was transposed to ‘pegs’ is a very big jump.)
o In the Tafseer, you see that the exegetes mention words like ‘Thaabit’, ‘Thawaabit’, which means strong, secure, firm, immovable, with respect to human beings. Like for humans you have up and down, left and right, and these have always been used in order to make things clear for us.
o Coming to another issue, if we consider the Big Bang, some of the Muslims taking about Verse 21:30 claim that they can understand what happened at that time of the Heaven and the Earth being together and then being separated. But in fact, 96% of the Universe is dark and only 4% is visible, the stars are visible, and the scientists they are making their theories based on what they can see directly. (Of course, what they cannot see also factors into their theories, but only based on some effect that can somehow be seen or measured).
o We as human beings lack lots of knowledge, as a scientist the instructor can say this and be fine with it, but these people (some of the Muslim speakers and writers) come and make up whatever they think the Qur’an means and they play with it as if it was a jigsaw puzzle, only a game; this shows that all seriousness and robustness is gone from them, and as we recall, speaking about the Qur’an without knowledge is a very big error.
o If we come back to the issue of the ‘flat Earth’ issue, we find one interesting thing, which is that some texts will describe the atmosphere as ‘stretchy’, and if that is the case with the atmosphere, it should be the same with the surface of the Earth (since the atmosphere is an envelope for the Earth). Elasticity, brittleness, movements, deformations, and more, are really present on the Earth. The non-Muslim propagandists can fool the ignorant – but even then, there is no excuse for being ignorant on Islam, and one cannot come in front of Allah on the Day of Judgment claiming only ignorance and laziness in following up on matters related to the fundamentals of Islam.
o Now, relating this with the Big Bang discussion, we know that the Qur’an says that the atmosphere has been raised. And at the beginning, the Earth’s crust was very hot, then there were many processes, such as the eruption of super-volcanoes, with the emission of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and steam, then the steam condensed, etc. Then we had the oceans and photosynthesis from which oxygen came into the atmosphere, and from this we know this is a protected Saqf.
o But these guys are bringing this into the Big Bang discussion, yet how is this possible when there was no Earth and no Samaa (no Heavens), there was nothing, so how did the Earth and Heavens come into the picture?
o We have no clue actually about what happened before and even to a large degree after the Big Bang, we know that all was plasma, there was nothing, then some things happened, but there is no concept of ‘ceiling’ at that time. It is sad in fact when the matters are confused in such a way.
o And another issue we have to consider, but that only be done in passing right now, is that Samaa’ is used for both masculine and feminine [like as-Samaau Munfatirun Bihi is masculine, Idha as-Samaaun Fatarat is feminine]. Why do we have feminine and masculine, this is one discussion, and which instance of Samaa’ is related to the atmosphere, and which one to outer ceilings or farther skies, is another discussion. The earth and the moon are also used in the feminine form. Why is it mentioned like this? This is part of the vastness of Arabic and Balaaghah (sciences of rhetoric). Like, as another example, there is one Verse that Allah says He created Seven Samaawaat (ceilings) and of the Earth like it (seven Earths). A talk on this can be given in the future.
o So the issue for this talk is that the ego of the people is sky high and they know nothing, and sincere people in the middle are getting confused.
o The instructor then says that there are some good Imams but many are making grievous errors [I guess he means the speakers who talk about these matters, or about important Islamic issues]. To understand this with respect to translations, some translations are seriously in error, beyond what would have been normally imagined. For example, ‘Idha ash-Shamsu Kuwwirat]. Same root Ka-wa-ra as in Verse 39:5. We can say that it is coiled – so then, what is coiling?
o It is in a way taking more mass, akin to how one would make a snowball, roll it and roll it until it becomes a good snowball. So this Verse is taking about the Doomsday, that the Sun is going to become bigger and bigger. The instructor knows this is the ‘Red Giant’, and in such a case the brightness decreases, the wavelengths of light become longer [in some translations, they say that there is coiling, and its light is gone, but the light does not go. This is wrong. Another example of coiling is like a turban being wrapped.
o Nujuum Inkadarat [Inkaradat] it means they become hazy. Stars are bright now, at that time, they will look hazy, their light will be diminished. In this we consider the subjects of longer wavelengths, expansion of space, the Doppler Effect, then light becoming dimmer, the stars moving further away, etc.
o The instructor can make this connection, it makes sense to him. But he cannot say that this Verse is actually talking about the Doppler Effect. The translation should be referring to the hazy light of the starts, but in many translations it is written as falling. [There will be a need to have another talk for heavenly bodies in the Qur’an and what they mean in each circumstance].
o We need to consider that the Qur’an is itself a miracle if one knows how to read it correctly, but some people are taking what they know previously and trying to fit it with the Qur’an whichever way they can.
o For example, with respect to the phrase “Nujuum Inkaradat”, we know the Universe is expanding and accelerating, the father away the stars go, the longer wavelengths they emit. The closer ones, they have a shorter wavelength, and then we have concepts like the Red Shift and the Doppler Effect. Now, if the instructor were to say that this Verse is definitely talking about the Doppler Effect, this is an overextension of the matter.
o It may be possible to translate is as it is, then make a commentary that based on what current research says, there is a possibility that this may have some relationship with the Doppler effect in the future. We should also present the Arabic words in an academic manner and sober manner, not in the way of saying: “Yeah, Doppler effect is in the Qur’an! Look at it, this is the miracle!”
o So the other question that may be asked by the skeptic is that well then, before these effects and discoveries were made, was this Verse and Chapter miraculous or not? Of course it was miraculous all the while, but the only thing is that the people may be too lazy to learn Arabic formally and properly in order to understand the most important aspect of the Qur’an’s miracle, then they go for the ‘scientific miracles’ aspect. Note that they are also lazy to learn science properly in many cases, and they are only taking that which they know from general online sites in this respect. So unfortunately, both their formal training in Qur’anic sciences and the “modern sciences” are lacking. (I have mentioned this elsewhere, but for the “modern sciences”, one should have a good background in Islamic metaphysics and epistemology, not just barge through and study “science” – this is another one of the problems afflicting this Ummah nowadays.)
o Also, we should not be overconfident. If we learn something, we should share it with humbleness. The problem is that many things are presented with fanaticism, while they are not leaders in their fields. They are simply shouting out Chapter and Verse numbers, along with their personal interpretations, etc. The true scholars of this Ummah, when they presented a Verse, they did it with utmost humility, since this is the revelation of Allah to mankind, we should show deference and reverence towards it.
o Another example is from Surah al-Anbiyaa, there is a Verse referring to the Day if Judgment (Verse 104), where there is mention that Allah will fold the sky like a scroll. Of course, no one knows what will happen on that Day (in terms of “modern science”), how the stars will “fall”, one can make as many computer simulations as one likes. But at the end we do not know what will occur, and whether it has any connection to theories such as the Big Crunch, the Big Rip, or anything else that may come up as theories at that time.
o Anyway, we see the sky and all other celestial bodies, they are nothing in comparison to Him, He will be destroying everything, and the similitude given is to ‘folding it like paper’ (or scrolls).
o If one knows Balaaghah, then he can understand this Verse, since it is talking about how the Universe will be Ka-Tayyi Sijjilli [and this refers to starting the creation again after destroying it totally]. But this is not like the folding of a scroll in the literal sense as presented by some of our opponents, because if we simply roll up a scroll, then it still exists. It just changed the shape (it is not the same as recreation). Those who come up with this ‘explanation’ are only literalists for the purpose of mocking, so we should be wary of them.
o A final personal comment: The lecture basically finishes in here and only a few more things that were mentioned before are reiterated. From my part, I think this can be regarded as a starting point for engaging in deeper lectures concerning the true way we should blend the Usool of Islam, the Qur’anic text, and what is termed as ‘modern science’. There is definitely room for improvement in this field, but it will take a long time to set up the foundations from which we can start to comment about this matter with more robustness, since as we have found out in this and other lectures and writings, we must tread carefully, and move away from the urge for quick fame and recognition.