Cosmological references in the Noble Qur'ân
An article by : Dr. Zaghloul El-Naggar
Translated by: Hazem Hamdy
The Noble Qur'ân refers in several âyas (verses) to the universe and to many of its constituents (the heavens and earth, and the various forms of creatures, objects, and cosmological phenomena in each). Those âyas are introduced in the context of demonstrating the boundlessness of divine powers by which this universe, including everyone and everything in it, was brought into existence. The âyas also prove that the Creator of this universe is also capable of annihilating it and of subsequently reconstructing it anew. Such reasoning is brought forth as part of confuting infidels, polytheists, and agnostics, and proving that Allâh is the only God and that He has no partner, counterpart, or contender.
The perpetual claim of infidels has been, and will remain until the Day of Judgement, based on attempts to deny the two issues of creation and resurrection after annihilation. Those two issues characteristically fall beyond the immediate perception of scientists, in spite of the tangible evidence that Allâh has maintained in the terrestrial and celestial surfaces to assist sensibly contemplating humans in realizing the reality of creation and the inevitability of annihilation and subsequent resurrection. Understanding the details of such facts in isolation of divine guidance would be more of a wild-goose chase than anything else. In that regard, Allâh ta'ala says in response to wrongful infidel, polytheist, and agnostic humans and jinn:
"I made them not to witness the creation of the heavens and the earth, nor their own creation; nor choose I misleaders for My helpers" (Al-Kahf: 51)
On the other hand, Allâh ta'âla encourages humans to ponder and meditate on the creation of the heavens and earth with the following words of His perfect book:
Lo! In the creation of the heavens and the earth and in the difference of night and day are tokens of His sovereignty for men of understanding. Such as remember Allâh, standing, sitting, and reclining, and consider the creation of the heavens and the earth, and say: Our Lord! Thou createdst not this in vain. Glory be to Thee! Preserve us from the doom of fire. (Al-'imrân: 190-191).
The revelation of the latter two noble âyas and subsequent âyas in the same sûra had an immense impact on the Messenger of Allâh (may the peace and blessings of Allâh be upon him). He was quoted to have said upon their revelation, "Woe unto those who hear those âyas and onto them do not ponder." The explicit command contained therein indicates that pondering on the creation of the heavens and earth is an Islamic duty that must be carried out by a group of Muslims. Such an undertaking is a most honorable and important act of worshipping Allâh the Creator, in addition to being one of the most important means of realizing the reality of creation, the inevitability of annihilation, and the necessity of resurrection, and of assuring the glory of Allâh ta'âla and that He is the only God and Lord.
The universe that we inhabit is of vast size, fine construction, and accurate motion. It is orderly in all its aspects and systematic in its entire construct, fine and coarse. Being as such, nobody with the least of reason can imagine that its is a product of sheer coincidence or that it brought itself into existence. Rather, it must have a magnificent originator possessing an extent of absolute power, perfect wisdom, and comprehensive knowledge sufficient for creating this universe, including everyone and everything in it. It is not possible that such a creator have a contender to his dominion or have an associate in his supremacy, because He is the Lord and Sovereign of this universe. None of His creation resembles Him, for He is the Creator of all things, and He is doubtlessly superior to all of His creation. He may not be limited in space or time, simply because He created both of them. Additionally, neither matter nor energy formation may apply to Him, because he is the Innovator of them both. We know nothing about His Supreme Self other than the definition of Himself introduced in His own words:
The Creator of the heavens and the earth. He hath made for you pairs of yourselves, and of the cattle also pairs, whereby He multiplieth you. Naught is as His likeness; and He is the Hearer, the Seer. (Ash-Shûra: 11).
We also have His words to the last of His prophets and messengers (may the peace and blessings of Allâh be upon him):
Say: He is Allâh, the One! Allâh, the eternally Besought of all! He begetteth not nor was begotten. And there is none comparable unto Him. (Al-Ikhlâs: 1-4).
Accordingly, reflecting on the creation of the heavens and earth is one of the most significant approaches to believing in Allâh, and is thus strongly encouraged in both the Noble Qur'ân and the virtuous Prophetic Sunna.
Assurance of the Noble Qur'ân that evidence in the heavens and earth proves creation, annihilation, and resurrection
The Noble Qur'ân emphasizes the evidence found in the heavens and earth expressing the absolute divine power obvious in their creation and origination, as well as the inevitability of their eventual annihilation and subsequent reconstruction in a form other than that currently known to us. This is recurrent in several âyas, among which are the following:
- He it is Who created the heavens and the earth in truth. (Al-Ana'âm: 73)
- Allâh created the heavens and the earth with truth. Lo! therein is indeed a portent for believers. (Al-'ankabût: 44)
- Allâh created not the heavens and the earth, and that which is between them, save with truth and for a destined end. But truly many of mankind are disbelievers in the meeting with their Lord. (Ar-Rûm: 8)
- And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the difference of your languages and colors. Lo! herein indeed are portents for men of knowledge. (Ar-Rûm: 22)
- He it is who produceth creation, then reproduceth it and it is easier for Him. His is the Sublime Similitude in the heavens and in the earth. He is the Mighty, the Wise. (Ar-Rûm: 27)
- He created the heavens and the earth with truth, and He shaped you and made good your shapes, and unto Him is the journeying. (At-Taghâbun: 3)
- He hath created the heavens and the earth with truth. He maketh night to succeed day, and He maketh day to succeed night, and He constraineth the sun and the moon to give service, each running on for an appointed term. Is not He the Mighty, the Forgiver? (Az-Zumar: 5)
- Assuredly the creation of the heavens and the earth is greater than the creation of mankind; but most of mankind know not. (Ghâfir: 57)
- And of His portents is the creation of the heaven and the earth, and of whatever beasts He hath dispersed therein. And He is Able to gather them when He will. (Ash-Shûra: 29)
- And We created not the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them, in play. We created them not save with truth; but most of them know not. (Ad-Dukhân: 38-39)
Assurance of the Noble Qur'ân that Allâh ta'âla is the Creator of the heavens, earth, and everything else
Derivatives of the Arabic root term for creation (Khalq) occur two hundred and sixty one times in the Noble Qur'ân, assuring that the process of creation is exclusively attributed to Allâh ta'âla with absolutely no association nor contention. In reality, no one else is capable of creation unless supported by authority from Allâh ta'âla. On the other hand, the Arabic word corresponding to "heaven" (sky) is mentioned in singular, plural forms in three hundred and ten locations in the Noble Qur'ân. One hundred and twenty of those are in singular (heaven) and one hundred and ninety in plural (heavens) in both definite and indefinite forms. Derivatives of the term for earth are mentioned in four hundred and sixty one locations covering various contexts, all of which affirm that Allâh ta'âla is the Creator of the heavens, earth, and everything else, such as the following:
- Such is Allâh, your Lord. There is no God save Him, the Creator of all things, so worship Him. And He taketh care of all things. (Al-An'âm: 102)
- His verily is all creation and commandment Blessed be Allâh, the Lord of the Worlds! (Al-A'râf: 54)
- Lo! He produceth creation, then reproduceth it (Yûnus: 4)
- Say: Allâh is the Creator of all things, and He is the One, the Almighty. (Ar-Ra'd: 16)
- He hath created everything and hath meted out for it a measure. (Al-Furqân: 2)
- Allâh is Creator of all things, and He is Guardian over all things. (Az-Zumar: 62)
- Such is Allâh, your Lord, the Creator of all things. There is no God save Him. How then are ye perverted? (Ghâfir: 62)
- Lo! We have created every thing by measure. (Al-Qamar: 49)
- He is Allâh, the Creator, the Shaper out of naught, the Fashioner. (Al-Hashr: 24)
The Noble Qur'ân extensively and conclusively handles the issues of creation and resurrection by ascribing them exclusively to Allâh ta'âla. This is because they were two of the most challenging issues that have been historically used as arguments by atheists and agnostics lacking knowledge and guidance. Until today, they still use such repudiation and denial in contesting the belief in Allâh ta'âla as the Creator. The Noble Qur'ân refutes their claims as follows:
- Is He then Who createth as him who createth not? Will ye not then remember? (An-Nahl: 17)
- Those unto whom they cry beside Allâh created naught, but are themselves created. (An-Nahl: 20)
- Yet they choose beside Him other gods who create naught but are themselves created. (Al-Furqân: 3)
- Or were they created out of naught? Or are they the creators? Or did they create the heavens and the earth? Nay, but they are sure of nothing! (At-Tûr: 35-36)
- Say: Is there of your partners ( whom ye ascribe unto Allâh ) one that produceth Creation and then reproduceth it? Say: Allâh produceth creation, then reproduceth it. How then, are ye misled! (Yûnus: 34)
- See they not how Allâh produceth creation, then reproduceth it? Lo! for Allâh that is easy. Say ( O Muhammad ): Travel in the land and see how He originated creation, then Allâh bringeth forth the later growth. Lo! Allâh is Able to do all things. (Al-'ankabût: 19-20)
- Stance of the Islamic civilization on the issue of creation
Upon completion of the mission of the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allâh be upon him), Muslims set out to establish the greatest civilization history ever knew. Their endeavor was based on undisputed belief in the fact of creation and the inevitability of resurrection. The aim was achieved because theirs was the only civilization that successfully combined this world with the afterlife in a single formula that lasted for more than ten whole centuries. Such civilization called for worshipping of Allâh as He commanded (on basis of pure monotheism and full denial of any counterpart, associate, or contender to His names and attributes). It concurrently calls for adequate fulfillment of the constructive duties assigned to humans on earth and the realization of justice as set forth by Allâh thereon, based on the laws revealed by Allâh through his final messenger. It is that revelation that Allâh vowed to preserve in the same language as it was revealed; word for word and letter for letter. Truly, it has been preserved so that no human may ever have an excuse after that conclusive revelation was brought forth and preserved under the vow of Allâh from any loss or distortion.
Applying such a balanced combination of divine revelation with endeavors to acquire beneficial knowledge, the Islamic civilization enlightened all religious and civil aspects of life, while establishing a solid foundation for religious, scientific, and technological matters. This was based on belief in the natural coherence of knowledge, and that believers enjoy ultimate entitlement to wisdom, simply because they are constantly pursuing it. As such, the Islamic civilization compiled knowledge from all sources, no matter how distant or how disparate the initiating civilization and the beliefs of its members were. However, such knowledge was never taken for granted. Rather, all available human heritage would always be screened using Islamic criteria that are based on pure belief in the unity of Allâh, in order to purify that heritage from all the blemishes of polytheism, atheism, and repudiation towards Allâh ta'âla. Additionally, the Islamic civilization made substantial inherent contributions to all aspects of human heritage, which subsequently served as a springboard for the modern scientific and technological renaissance. This is a fact that many a contemporary scientist admits all over the world.
Believing in the unseen never impeded scientific and technological progress of the Islamic civilization. In fact, the Islamic civilization strongly encouraged pursuing such progress, considering it one of the patterns of worshipping Allâh ta'âla. It also encouraged contemplation of the creation and methodological means of induction based on the laws set by Allâh in the universe with the ultimate goal of utilizing them to the constructive benefit of this world in fulfillment of one of the duties assigned to humans on earth. Such efforts thus represent the other side of worshipping Allâh; the first side being acts of worship based on obeying His commands and following the course of the last of prophets and messengers (may the peace and blessings of Allâh be upon him).
- Stance of the current materialistic civilization on the issue of creation
The current materialistic civilization was originally formed in the Islamic civilization crucible and rose therefrom. However, contrary to the Islamic civilization, the western civilization was built on a purely materialistic foundation. It repudiated religion and assumed a denying position with regards to believing in Allâh, His angels, books, and messengers, and the Day of Judgement. It also rejected anything that is unseen in an explicitly hostile and scornful manner. It thus deviated off-track and went astray, in spite of its tremendous amount of scientific discoveries and amazing technological achievements. In fact, such discoveries and achievements are potential factors of the eventual destruction of that very civilization in the absence of any religious, spiritual, or ethical commitment. How truly has this been expressed in the Noble Qur'ân more than fourteen hundred years ago, in the revealed words of Allâh ta'âla: Then, when they forgot that whereof they had been reminded, We opened unto them the gates of all things till , even as they were rejoicing in that which they were given , We seized them unawares , and lo! they were dumbfounded. So of the people who did wrong the last remnant was cut off. Praise be to Allâh, Lord of the Worlds!
By rejecting belief in Allâh, western societies have descended to an extremely inferior standard of depravity, social deterioration, and defiance of the nature with which Allâh created every being. This coincided with their enjoyment of material superiority that supported their hegemony, subjugation of others, and spreading of injustice; as they lack fear of a Lord and of judgement, all of which pose a combined threat to the very existence of humanity!
Human knowledge as a whole, and science in particular, are still being composed on purely materialistic grounds that only take tangibles into consideration and neglect everything beyond. Human societies drifted with such directions into an endless labyrinth, thus going astray and misleading others, in spite of the enormous amount of information contained therein and the amazing technological progress that has been achieved.
Misguidance of modern materialistic civilization reaches its peak when it deals with issues that simply cannot be subjected to direct human perception, such as those related to creation, annihilation, and resurrection (creation of the universe, of life, of humans, and subsequent annihilation and resurrection thereof anew). Those are some of the issues that imply the need for divine guidance. Otherwise, profound misguidance is certain. Allâh ta'âla most truthfully confutes those claims made by wrongful infidel, polytheist, and agnostic humans and jinn as follows:
I made them not to witness the creation of the heavens and the earth, nor their own creation; nor choose I misleaders for (My) helpers. (Al-Kahf: 51)
The Noble Qur'ân assures that none of humans or jinn witnessed the creation of the heavens and earth, nor even of his own self, for that matter. However, it concurrently affirms the necessity of pondering on the creation of heavens, earth, and life as the most significant indicators of the boundless power of Allâh and the perfect craft of divine production. They equally indicate the inevitability of afterlife and the necessity of resurrection, judgement, paradise, and hell. This is due to the fact that the Creator (highly exalted and glorified) left clues in the terrestrial rocks and in the celestial plane to help humans understand the issues of creation and resurrection, in spite of their limited mental and perceptive abilities vis-à-vis the vastness of the universe, the enormity of its dimensions, and the complexity of its structure, in addition to the structural complexity of the human body and its cells. Such a combination produces a marvelous form of placing the entire universe at the service and benefit of man, and of rendering it within his conception and perception.