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Trinkets of the Quran: Science, Oceans & Space

by in Soul on 5th April, 2018


In the Qur’an, Allah invites us to reflect upon the wonders of creation and the numerous natural phenomena as a manifestation of Divine Omnipotence. Our consequential search for meaning thus serves a reminder of a deeper existential truth. The month of Ramadan, for example, is a perfect time to isolate oneself from worldly distractions and utilise our time to contemplate on the meanings of the Quran in order to deepen the love and conviction in our faith.

“Verily, in the alternation of the Night and the Day, and in all that Allah hath created in the heavens and the earth, are Signs for those who fear Him.”

[Yunus 10:6]

There is a wealth of literature exploring the interconnections between the Quran and modern Science. The aim of this piece is to shed light on the ways in which we interact with time and space on a daily basis to help discover the metaphysical truth of our own being. As someone who has studied science and loves teaching it, it is a subject through which I attain closeness to Allah.


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Ibrahim AS

“So also did We show Ibrahim the power and the laws of the heavens and the earth, that he might (with understanding) have certitude. When the night covered him over, He saw a star: He said: “This is my Lord.” But when it set, He said: “I love not those that set.” When he saw the moon rising in splendour, he said: “This is my Lord.” But when the moon set, He said: “Unless my Lord guides me, I shall surely be among those who go astray.”When he saw the sun rising in splendour, he said: “This is my Lord; this is the greatest (of all).” But when the sunset, he said: “O my people! I am indeed free from your (guilt) of giving partners to Allah. “For me, I have set my face, firmly and truly, towards Him Who created the heavens and the earth, and never shall I give partners to Allah.”

[Al An’am 6:75-79]

The story of Prophet Ibrahim (عليه السلام) teaches us that those with knowledge and understanding are able to distinguish between the beauty of Allah and the beauty of His creation. Prophet Ibrahim (عليه السلام) did not worship celestial bodies but he was able to show his followers that their reality was being fashioned, and managed to serve His creation and as nothing but signs from Him.

“We will show Our signs to them in the horizons, and within themselves until it becomes clear to them that it is the truth. Is it not sufficient that your Lord witnesses all things?”

[Al Fussilat 41:53]

The splendour of the earth

Contemplating the beauty of creation is a means of attaining nearness to our Creator. Whether it be listening to the sounds of birds singing at the time of the dawn prayer or observing the aesthetic arrangements of the stars in the night sky, the world in which we live is truly magnificent and it is by pondering the reality of the world around us that we can begin to acknowledge the vastness of the universe and our place within it.

“Who hath created seven heavens in harmony. Thou (Muhammad) canst see no fault in the Beneficent One’s creation; then look again: Canst thou see any rifts? Then look again and yet again, thy sight will return unto thee weakened and made dim.”

[Al Mulk 67:2-4]

The uncharted depths of the deepest oceans and the undiscovered regions of outer space serve as a reminder of human limitations. Each successful attempt to uncover a hidden mystery of the universe leads to more complex questions and scenarios. We discovered the double helical structure of DNA, however, we remain baffled by the human genome; although we coined the term ‘Rapid Eye Movement’ (REM), we are unable to unravel the mysteries or purpose of dreaming; we have become familiar with coastal sea creatures and coral reefs and yet, more than 95% of the world’s oceans remain unexplored; we discovered subatomic particles, but are still grappling with Quantum Mechanics. Whether we attempt to dissect the world at a micro or macro level, each new discovery leads us to a deeper acceptance of the infinite nature of the universe and the reality of creation.


In the hustle and bustle of living in the West, it is sometimes difficult to take time out of our busy lives to just pause and think. Seconds, minutes, hours and days slip through our fingers and before we know it, life has rolled by and the only thing we have to show for it is the material success. At what point should we start valuing time, not just as something relative, but as something precious and valuable?  Days and nights pass by, and we are so absorbed in our own lives that our consciousness fails to appreciate deeper existential truths of the universe.

“He has created the Heavens and the Earth for Truth. He wraps the night up in the day, and wraps the day up in the night.”

[Az Zumar 39:5]

In the Quran, the Arabic word, “Takwir” is translated as “to make one thing lap over another, folded up as a garment that is laid away.” At the time this verse was revealed in the 7th century, common knowledge would have dictated the world to be a flat plain. There would have been no indication of the shape of the Earth and yet, the information about the day and the night wrapping each other can be true only if the Earth is round. Each day that passes is a reminder from Allah about the truth of creation and the blessing of the delicate way in which we experience the transition of darkness into light and vice-versa.

“(God is) the one who created the night, the day, the sun and the moon. Each one is travelling in an orbit with its own motion (yasbahûn).”

[Al Anbya 21:33]

The existence of the individual orbits of the Sun and the Moon, and their journey through space with their own motion is a fact discovered by modern astronomy. The Arabic word used in the above verse is yasbahûn, which is derived from the word sabaha. It carries with it the idea of motion that comes from any moving body. Similarly, if you use the word yasbah for a celestial body such as the sun, it would not only mean that it is flying through space but that it is also rotating as it goes through space. One cannot help but be amazed at the scientific accuracy of the Quranic verses. Should we not, then, ponder over the question: “What was the source of knowledge contained in the Quran?”

“And it is We who have constructed the heaven with might, and verily, it is We who are steadily expanding it (mûsi‘ûn).”

[Adh Dhariyat 51:47]

The notion of the expansion of the universe was mentioned in the Quran centuries before the invention of the telescope. The Arabic word mûsi‘ûn is correctly translated as ‘expanding it’, and it refers to the creation of the expanding vastness of the universe. Some acknowledge the advancement of the Arabs in the field of astronomy however they fail to recognise the scientific facts mentioned in the Quran are not due to the Arabs’ advancement in astronomy. In fact, the reverse is true. The Arabs advanced in astronomy because astronomy occupies a large portion of the Quran. The Quran shed light on various aspects of Science over 1400 years ago. Science developed in the Arab world considerably long after the Qur’anic revelation, and the scientific knowledge prevalent at the pinnacle of Islamic civilisation made it impossible for any human being to have written statements on the heavens comparable to the verses in the Qur’an.

Imrana Mahmood

Imrana Mahmood

Imrana Mahmood is a Creative Producer committed to redefining the arts scene and passionate about working with communities at a grassroots level, with a particular focus on global majority voices. She is the founder of Dar Aminah Book Club and also hosts The Book Club Show on Inspire FM. Her previous projects include Beyond Borders and Echoes of the Diaspora, and she is currently working within the cultural education sector to improve access to the arts for young people. Imrana is a mother of two and in her spare time enjoys reading, watching movies and eating chocolate.