Quran and miracles

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Muslims consider the Quran, the holy book of Islam, as the word of God and a miracle.[1] According to Islamic tradition, the Quran was revealed miraculously to Muhammad by Allah (God) through angel, Jibrīl (Gabriel), as a perfect, verbatim copy of what was written in heaven and that had existed there for all of eternity.[2]

The Quran describes Muhammad as "ummi",[3] which is traditionally interpreted as "illiterate," but the meaning is rather more complex. The medieval commentators such as Al-Tabari maintained that the term induced two meanings: first, the inability to read or write in general; second, the inexperience or ignorance of the previous books or scriptures (but they gave priority to the first meaning). Besides, Muhammad's illiteracy was taken as a sign of the genuineness of his prophethood. For example, according to Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, if Muhammad had mastered writing and reading he possibly would have been suspected of having studied the books of the ancestors. Some scholars such as Watt prefer the second meaning.[4][5] The suggestion is that since Muhammad had no previous knowledge of the content in the Quran, it was in fact composed of miracles. Some Muslims believe that the Quran is "a miracle of eloquence", rather than a source of scientific revelation, and consider scientific miracles as illusions from devils.[6][7] However, the majority of modern Muslim thinkers accept the miracles found in the Quran and their compatibility with science. But, there still exists disagreement regarding the alleged miracles of the saints.[8]

The definition of a miracle is "a marvellous event not ascribable to human power or the operation of any natural force and therefore attributed to supernatural, esp. divine, agency; esp. an act (e.g. of healing) showing control over nature and used as evidence that the agent is either divine or divinely favoured."[9]

The commonly claimed miracles of the Quran can be classified into three categories: inimitability, scientific miracles, and prophecies.[citation needed]

Miracles that may relate to Muhammad[edit]

Several verses that appear in the Qur'an would suggest that certain miracles occurred just in relation to Muhammad: the splitting of the moon (Qur'an 54:2-1), assistance given to Muslims at the Battle of Badr (Qur'an 3:120F), and the night journey (Qur'an 17:1).[8]

Scientific miracles[edit]

The belief that Qur'an had prophesied scientific theories and discoveries has become widely popular in the contemporary Islamic world.[10] These prophecies are often provided as a proof of the divine origin of the Qur'an.[11] Apologists claim that there are many examples of scientific facts mentioned in the Qur'an that were unsupported by the scientific knowledge and beliefs of the time, but have since proved accurate due to modern technology.[12] However, critics point out several fallacies with such claims, including mistranslation of Arabic words.[13] Some examples of such 'miraculous' verses are listed below.

The expansion of the universe The size of the universe has long been in question, but it was not until 1929 when Edwin Hubble, an astronomer at the California Institute of Technology, proposed that the universe was expanding.[14] Apologists claim that the Qur'an acknowledges this idea in the following verse: “And the heaven We constructed with strength, and indeed, We are [its] expander.” (Qur'an 51:47).[15]

Critics point out that older translations of this verse are not similar and do not contain the idea of expanding universe: "With power and skill did We construct the Firmament: for it is We Who create the vastness of pace." (Yusuf Ali, Qur'an 51:47).[16] This leads them to argue that it can be mistranslation. Critics also argue that similar interpretations can be applied to other scriptures: "It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;" (Isaiah 40:22).

Orbits German mathematician, astronomer and astrologer Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) is attributed with correctly identifying planetary motion. His laws of planetary motion concluded that planets move in almost-circular shaped orbits called ellipses. He published these laws in 1609 and 1619.[17] However, the Qur'an mentions orbits in the following verses:[18] "It is He Who created the night and the day, and the sun and the moon. They swim along, each in an orbit. " (Qur'an, 21:33).[19] "By the sky full of paths and orbits" (Qur'an 51:7).[19]

The Sky The sky serves very important functions for life on Earth. The greenhouse effect idea was popularized in the 1800s. It claims that energy radiated by the sun reaches Earth in the form of heat. Some of the heat is trapped due to gases in the atmosphere like carbon dioxide, water vapor, and methane. The atmosphere keeps the Earth at a temperature that sustains life. Without this protection, the Earth would be exposed to the below freezing temperatures of outer space.[20] In addition, the ozone layer of the atmosphere protects the Earth and its living inhabitants from harmful radiation rays and meteors.[21] The protective capabilities of the sky were only discovered in the 19th century, yet the Qur'an states the following:[22] "We made the sky a preserved and protected roof yet still they turn away from Our Signs.." (Qur'an, 21:32).[19]

Mountains The theory of continental drift was proposed by Alfred Wegener, a meteorologist, in 1915. He suggested that the world was originally composed of a single land mass or continent, and that the continents then separated and moved very slowly apart, forming the 7 continents today, and still in motion.[23] The theory of plate tectonics which was developed from continental drift supports this idea and provides evidence of how the plates of the Earth move.[23] Apologists claim that Qur'an describes this phenomena in following verse:[24] "You will see the mountains you reckoned to be solid going past like clouds" (Qur'an, 27:88).[19]

Critics however, reject this claim and contend that this verse is not about general movement of mountains and context of this verse may reveal that it is instead about Judgment Day : "And [warn of] the Day the Horn will be blown, and whoever is in the heavens and whoever is on the earth will be terrified except whom Allah wills. And all will come to Him humbled. And you see the mountains, thinking them rigid, while they will pass as the passing of clouds. [It is] the work of Allah , who perfected all things. Indeed, He is Acquainted with that which you do. Whoever comes [at Judgement] with a good deed will have better than it, and they, from the terror of that Day, will be safe." (Qur'an 27:87-89)[25]

Time German-born physicist Albert Einstein formulated the general theory of relativity in 1915. This theory is a highly successful model of gravitation and cosmology, which has so far passed many unambiguous observational and experimental tests. According to general relativity processes close to a massive body run more slowly than those farther away, an effect known as gravitational time dilation.[26] Gravity has a direct effect on time. Although this theory was not formulated until the early 1900s, the Qur'an says the following:

"They ask you to hasten the punishment. God will not break His promise. A day with your Lord is equivalent to a thousand years in the way you count" (Qur'an, 22:47).[19] "He directs the whole affair from heaven to earth. Then it will again ascend to Him on a Day whose length is a thousand years by the way you measure" (Qur'an, 32:5).[19]

These are just a sample of the many statements in the Qur'an that can be considered to predict scientific discoveries. Muhammad was an illiterate man who would have been incapable of writing the Qur'an, which leads believers to claim that it must have been revealed to him through God.[27]

Islamic scholar Zaghloul El-Naggar believes that the verse, "A time is fixed for every prophecy; you will come to know in time",[Quran 6:67] refers to statements in the Qur'an that predict scientific discoveries made centuries later[11]

In the Muslim world some believe that scientific discoveries were predicted, while others do not.[28] saying that the Qur'an is not a book of science. Al-Biruni, one of the most celebrated Muslim scientists of the classical period, assigned to the Qur'an a separate and autonomous realm of its own and held that the Qur'an "does not interfere in the business of science, nor does it infringe on the realm of science."[11] These scholars maintain the possibility of multiple scientific explanations of natural phenomena and do not subordinate the Qur'an to an ever-changing science.[11]

Prophecies[edit]

Throughout the Qur'an, claims or predictions are made concerning future events. Many of the prophecies are viewed as having metaphoric meanings, while others are taken more literally.[29] Because Muslims believe that the Qur'an contains the exact words of God which were revealed to Muhammad in Arabic and later transcribed, the meaning of the Qur'an has a great effect on Muslim beliefs and understandings.[30] The sheer number of prophecies which Muslims believe to have been fulfilled bolster faith and conviction, generally serving as proof that the Qur'an is indeed of a divine origin.[31] Some prophecies are debated more than others as to whether or not they were actually fulfilled or how the Qur'anic text should be interpreted.[32]

One of the more general prophecies is that the Qur'an predicts its own preservation and endurance. The Qur'an states that the book itself will survive as a valid source and that the religion of Islam will last, even dominate, because of this.[29][31] Muslim scholars argue that today's Qur'an is the same Qur'an originally compiled by Muhammad.[33][34] The following passages from the Qur'an state these prophecies:

“We have, without doubt, Sent down the Message; And We will assuredly Guard it (from corruption)” (15:9).[35]

“It is He Who has sent His Apostle with Guidance And the Religion of Truth, That he may proclaim it Over all religion, Even though the Pagans May detest (it)” (61:9).[35]

Another interpretation of the Qur'an is that it predicted the defeat of the Persians by the Romans. Before the prophecy, at the Battle of Antioch, in 613 C.E., the Persians defeated the Romans. Muslims were upset by this defeat because they felt more connected to Rome, a Christian empire, than to Persia, a Zoroastrian one. A few years afterwards, the following verse was revealed in the Qur'an: "The Roman Empire Has been defeated – In a land close by; But they, (even) after (This) defeat of theirs, Will soon be victorious – Within a few years. With God is the Decision, In the Past And in the Future: On that Day shall The Believers rejoice” (30:2-4).[35] By 627 C.E., the Romans had successfully defeated the Persians, resulting in much celebration by Muslims and fulfilling the prophecy of the Qur'an.[36][37]

Another prophecy of the Qur'an that Muslims might argue has been fulfilled is the ease with which the book can be memorized. Because this is not a factual prophecy but based, rather, on opinion, it cannot truly be proven. However, Muslims do consider reciting or reading the Qur'an to be holy and a way to receive blessings, so it is extremely common for Muslims to memorize a large number of Qur'anic verses. The fact that this is possible and has been done by scholars and children alike, does suggest a certain quality of the Qur'an that makes it easily memorable. The Qur'an’s “rhythmic style and eloquent expression” have been cited as aids in verbatim memorization.[30][31][38] The following verse from the Qur'an is one example of the prophecy that the Qur'an will be easily memorized by future readers: “And We have indeed Made the Qur-an easy to understand and remember: Then is there any that Will receive admonition?” (54:17) [35]

Another prophecy, according to the Qur'an, may have predicted the preservation of the Pharaoh of the Exodus's body. In the Qur'an, God says to the Pharaoh: "This day shall We save thee In thy body, that thou Mayest be a Sign to those Who come after thee! But verily, many among mankind Are heedless of Our Signs!" [35] The body of the Pharaoh, who was argued to be either Ramesses II or his son Merneptah, was thought to be lost at sea until the mummies of both were discovered in the 19th century. They are on display today in Cairo's Egyptian Museum; thus, it is argued that the prophecy was fulfilled.[29][39]

Countless other prophecies are claimed to have been fulfilled. Some of the predictions may seem vague and easily fulfilled by a wide variety of events, causing debate and analysis, but, regardless, many Muslims believe that the Qur'an prophesies at least some future events, though perhaps not all those listed in this article. Nevertheless, the following include some of the other potentially fulfilled claims made by the Qur'an.

The development of using fingerprints for identification of criminals: "At length, when they reach The (Fire), their hearing, Their sight, and their skins Will bear witness against them, As to (all) their deeds." (41:20) [32][35]

The problem of environmental pollution as caused by human inventions: "Mischief has appeared On land and sea because Of (the meed) that the hands Of men have earned, That (God) may give them A taste of some of their Deeds: in order that they May turn back (from Evil)" (30:41); "Then watch thou For the Day That the sky will Bring forth a kind Of smoke (or mist) plainly visible, Enveloping the people: This will be a Penalty Grievous" (44:10-11).[32][35][40]

New modes of transportation created by humans: "And (He has created) horses, Mules, and donkeys, for you To ride and use for show; And He has created (other) things Of which ye have no knowledge" (16:8).[32][35]

The gradually-acquired equality for women and women's rights: "When the female (infant), Buried alive, is questioned - For what crime she was killed" (81:8-9).[32][35]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ F. Tuncer, "International Conferences on Islam in the Contemporary World", March 4–5, 2006, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, U.S.A., p. 95–96
  2. ^ Wilson, Christy: "The Qur'an" in A Lion Handbook The World's Religion, p. 315
  3. ^ Quran 7:157
  4. ^ Richard Bell (Revised and Enlarged by W. Montgomery Watt) (1970). Bell's introduction to the Qur'an. Univ. Press. pp. 31–51. ISBN 0852241712. 
  5. ^ Günther, Sebastian (2002). "Muhammad, the Illiterate Prophet: An Islamic Creed in the Quran and Quranic Exegesis". Journal of Quranic Studies 4 (1): 1–26. doi:10.3366/jqs.2002.4.1.1. 
  6. ^ Sheikh Mahmud Shaltut, Dr. Aisha Abd al-Rahman, and Khaled Montaser were among the ones who rejected the idea the Quran scientific miracles. Arabic original source (Google English translation)
  7. ^ وهم الإعجاز العلمى (Arabic book for Dr. Khaled Montaser, titled meaning: The lie of scientific miracles)
  8. ^ a b Fletcher, Charles. "Oxford Islamic Studies Online". 
  9. ^ Oxfod English Dictionary, 2nd ed., definition of "Miracle".
  10. ^ "The Scientific Miracles of the Qur'an". Mission Islam. Retrieved 18 Apr 2014. 
  11. ^ a b c d Ahmad Dallal, Encyclopedia of the Qur'an, Quran and science
  12. ^ Hughes, Aaron (28 Apr 2014). Science, Islam and. New York: Macmillan Reference USA. 
  13. ^ "Qur'an and the Big Bang". 26 December 2014. Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  14. ^ "Sloan Digital Sky Survey". Retrieved 18 Apr 2014. 
  15. ^ Sahih International, Qur'an 51:47: http://www.quran.com/51/47
  16. ^ http://www.islamawakened.com/quran/51/47
  17. ^ Smith, George. "Newton's Philosophiae Naturalis Principa Mathematica". The Metaphysics Research Lab. Retrieved 18 Apr 2014. 
  18. ^ Rafiabadi, H. Naseem (2007). Challenges to Religions and Islam: A Study of Muslim Movements Personalities Issues and Trends. Sarup & Sons. p. 607. 
  19. ^ a b c d e f Asad, Muhammad (21 Apr 2014). The Message of the Qur'an. The Book Foundation. 
  20. ^ "A Student's Guide to Global Climate Change". Retrieved 18 Apr 2014. 
  21. ^ Rafiabadi, H. Naseem (2007). Challenges to Religions and Islam: A Study of Muslim Movements, Personalities, Issues and Trends. Sarup & Sons. p. 618. 
  22. ^ Rafiabadi, H. Naseem (2007). Challenges to Religions and Islam: A Study of Muslim Movements, Personalities, Issues and Trends. Sarup & Sons. p. 616. 
  23. ^ a b "Continental Drift". Retrieved 18 Apr 2014. 
  24. ^ Rafiabadi, H. Naseem (2007). Challenges to Religions and Islam: A Study of Muslim Movements, Personalities, Issues and Trends. Sarup & Sons. p. 615. 
  25. ^ Sahih International, Qur'an 27:87-89: http://www.quran.com/27/87-89
  26. ^ "Gravitation and the General Theory of Relativity". Retrieved 18 Apr 2014. 
  27. ^ Isik, Himket. "The Prophet Muhammad's Illiteracy". Fountain Magazine. Retrieved 18 Apr 2014. 
  28. ^ "Sunnah Online". Islamic Research Foundation. Retrieved 18 Apr 2014. 
  29. ^ a b c "Hidden Prophecies of Quraan". Retrieved 2014-04-19. 
  30. ^ a b Godlas, A. "The Qur'an and Qur'anic Interpretation (tafsir)". Retrieved 2014-04-19. 
  31. ^ a b c "The Prophecies of the Quran". IslamReligion.com. Retrieved 2014-04-19. 
  32. ^ a b c d e Raza, Ansar. "FULFILLED PROPHECIES OF THE HOLY QURAN". Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Retrieved 2014-04-19. 
  33. ^ See:
    • William Montgomery Watt in The Cambridge History of Islam, p.32
    • Richard Bell, William Montgomery Watt, 'introduction to the Qurʼān', p.51
    • F. E. Peters (1991), pp.3–5: “Few have failed to be convinced that … the Quran is … the words of Muhammad, perhaps even dictated by him after their recitation.”
  34. ^ "How the Holy Qur'an was Preserved" quran.org.uk
  35. ^ a b c d e f g h i Ali, Abdullah Yusuf (2002). The Holy Qur'an: text, translation and commentary. Elmhurst, N.Y.: Tahrike Tarsile Qur'an. ISBN 0-940368-32-3. 
  36. ^ IslamReligion.com. "The Prophecies of the Quran". Retrieved 2014-04-19. 
  37. ^ "AR-RUM". USC Muslim Students Association Islamic Sever. Retrieved 2014-04-19. 
  38. ^ iiie.net. "Preservation of the Quran (part 1 of 2): Memorization". IslamReligion.com. Retrieved 2014-04-19. 
  39. ^ Farhat, Amtul. "Pharaoh of Moses: A Quranic Prophecy Fulfilled"
  40. ^ "TRUTH EXPOSED Islam, The Only Solution For Humanity!: Prophecies". Retrieved 2014-04-19. 

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Muhammad in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia of the Prophet of God (2 vols.), Edited by C. Fitzpatrick and A. Walker, Santa Barbara, ABC-CLIO, 2014. ISBN 1610691776