I. Preamble: “Will they not ponder the Quran? Or are there locks upon their hearts?” The Generous Quran (47:24)
1Now, pbuh - peace be upon him/her; pbut – peace be upon them. The acceptance of the existence of a creator is necessary for spirituality and religion to exist at all. Without a higher being, an esoteric view of life is meaningless. On the other hand, simply accepting the existence of a creator does not guarantee wholesome spirituality or fulfilling religious life. Imagining a creator and crafting spirituality and religiosity around that can be as harmful as denying the existence of such a being. Further, should a higher being exist, then it’s not up to us to discover it. Afterall, its vastness and complexity of being as well as creativity is up to the higher being to reveal while making known its intent and relationship with its creation. Therein lies the kernel of true spirituality and religiosity. Only then can we have a life balanced among individualistic, collectivistic and spiritualist drives.
According to mainstream organized religions, such a supreme being exists and that it has made itself known to us variously and at various times through various chosen individuals. Even so, man’s grasp of the message and acting accordingly have often been wanting owing to a variety of factors: inadequate knowledge, lack of sincerity, lack of wisdom, impatience, selfishness, self-importance, sense of entitlement, etc. Along the way, resistance to the notion of a creator has been magnified by, among other things, an inability to reconcile pain and evil, by virulent sectarian persecution, abject spurning of justice, withering poverty, man-god confusion as in ‘Trinity’, organic gender bias as represented by the concept of ‘Original Sin’, and the Theory of Evolution and Natural Selection as well as other scientific ideas such as the Laws of Thermodynamics. Further, man’s failure to acknowledge, much less understand, the possibility of the existence of a plan by the creator for its creation has not helped in his grasp of the role of a creator. Consequently, denying existence of a creator has been an organic response for many.
Then, much like comfort food, there is ‘the good-enough or this-is-the-best-that-there-is’ facile theory for denying the possibility of and a need for a creator, spirituality and religiosity: Humanism. This amounts to escapism for Humanism is not properly defined, broadly understood, or vigilantly monitored. On the other hand, the entirety of all revealed faiths is first and foremost based on and steeped in all dimensions of Humanism, with routines for implementation and correction. If a creator is at the root of such faiths, then man and his matters are at the center of their undertakings.
Today, atheists apparently have arrived at cross-roads of sorts: 1. Unlike as in the past when the universe was believed to have always existed, now there appears to have been a beginning. Question then arises, therefore, who brought it into being? 2. Considering DNA’s miraculous structure, that of atoms and of the realm of stars and planets, another question arises, is there an intelligent designer? 3. Owing to the perfection in organic things that exist, a final question arises, ‘Whereforth are thou evolution?’ Despite this conundrum a vast body of philosophers, scientists, and social scientists are going around in circles embarrassed to admit manifest error while irresponsibly misleading millions of their followers. Their vaunted humanism is drowned out. It’s an anomaly that methodologically exacting professionals, proud of their attachment to extracting facts, ignore facts screaming out at them on this matter in a manner that people protecting a vested interest would only do. They go about their business as usual completely ignoring the elephant in the room.
Among such philosophers, scientists and social scientists often a faint protest is heard. If the concept of a creator could be tested, only then I would be interested in any discussion on this subject. What they mean is, “Give me a null hypothesis that I could reject using data. Only then the alternative hypothesis would be plausible. By my standard, my time spent would be meaningful, not futile.” It’s a tough challenge that has yet to be met by those ascribing to a divine presence. Now, questions arise, if such a thing is possible, whether the test(s) would be quantitative or qualitative, and whether they would be parametric or non-parametric. Also, could analogical, circumstantial or indirect proofs suffice? One thing must be conceded that enunciating a null hypothesis is easier said than done!
Below, I propose to meet the naysayers squarely relenting to their demand for falsifiable (nullifiable) testable hypothesis regarding the presence of a creator. Intimately familiar to me, I use Islam’s view on this matter as captured in its religious text, the Quran. Before I can reach the point of explicating any null hypothesis, I must necessarily weave the Quranic storyline about creator, creation, man, message, messenger, values, actions, expiation, recompense, etc. This I do in Section II. The content of this section represents historic motivators that have caused a vast number of people to turn to Islam for spirituality and religiosity. In Section III, we discover an attempt to find in the Quran miraculous elements, heretofore unknown, unexplored and ununderstood, connected to the exacting art of measurement and science that the exponents think and pray could lead to faith and faithfulness for those yet unconvinced.
II. Faith and Faithfulness: Traditional Experience Leading the Way
Is the Quran Divine?
Yes, the Quran, meaning something to be read or recited, is to the believers Divine Speech written down. It’s an extension of the Creator, His thoughts verbalized. Consequently, it’s uncreated. So, it’s unchanging and unchangeable. In fact, since its first revelation in the Month of Ramadhaan, 610 CE, it has suffered no loss, no alteration and no addition, and nothing like it has ever come into existence before or since. The Quran itself says that its original is kept “In a Preserved Tablet” - Lauhay Mahfudh. (85:21-22) God promised to safeguard the Quran in all its aspects, and He has. Therein is the primary miracle of Muhammed's ﷺ prophethood as the last recipient of God’s message to mankind: God, The One created it all. Mankind must worship Him and only Him, wherein worship is both ritual and functional with positive personal and third-party outcome.
Why is the Quran important to mankind?
God, the Originator of everything in the Heavens and on Earth and everything in-between has rendered in the Quran the final and complete iteration of His message to mankind. In modern jargon, it’s Life’s Operating System for mankind from its Maker! After all, who knows a thing better than the one who conceived it, made it, and shaped it?
How does God describe Himself in the Quran?
The Quran is replete with authoritativeness about God’s creativity, ownership, providence, reach and meta-authority over every outcome manifesting in His creation. His imagination brooks no boundary. In that way, eschewing human fancifulness, there is a satisfying, practical, functional, direct description, not definition, of Himself in His Book! God’s creativity is variously mentioned. (39:62; 54:49; 21:30; 25;2; 25:59)
The Quran, also, resonates with affirmations about the existence of God and His Divine Nature. That is not a surprise given that the Quran is the manifest voice of God. [Substitute Allah for God] The Prophet ﷺ is told, “Say, ‘He is God, The One. God, The Self-Sufficient, neither begetting nor having been begotten. And there is none like Him (The Unique).’” (112:1-4)
All believers, starting with Muhammed ﷺ, are told, “Give warning that there is no god but Me, so fear Me.” (16:2) “So know, surely He, there is no god but Allah, and ask forgiveness for your sin, and for the believing men and women. Allah knows your movements and your resting place.” (47:19)
Further illuminating, we find, “He is God, there is no god but He, Knower of the hidden and of the manifest. He is The Compassionate, The Merciful. He is God, there is no god but He, The Owner, The Holy, The Peace-Giver, The Faith-Ensurer, The Personhood-Protector, The Almighty, The Compeller, The Deserving of Pride. Glorified is God beyond what they associate. He is God, The Creator/Conceiver/Originator, The Maker, The Fashioner. His are the Most Beautiful Names. Whatever is in the heavens and the earth glorify Him. He is The Almighty, The Wise.” (59:22-24)
Thus, God has identified Himself to mankind by sharing some of His Glorified Facets through 99 different names. He has many roles. There is no need to make the error of having different gods with different roles. The balance and coordination in the universe would be upset by the presence of multiple deities with multiple agendas, rules and methods (67:3-4; 55:7-10) Also, man would not be able to show properly weighted respect to all of them. Hence, proper worship and the wholesomeness of personality that ought to follow would always remain impossible.
Besides being The One and The Unique, God is not of created matter for otherwise His existence would be a paradox: He cannot be made of stuff that He made Himself. Thus, being un-gendered, un-fathering and un-fathered is the stuff of the persona of the real God.
Continuing, “He is The Living and The Self-Sustaining, seized by neither drowsiness nor sleep” (2:255); “The First and The Last (temporally autonomous) as well as The Manifest and The Hidden (spatially all-encompassing) (57:3); The Inventor of Death and of Life (67:2) as well as The Altogether Merciful and The Specially Merciful (1:1); The Sustainer of the Worlds (1:2); The King, The Giver of Life and of Death, The Controller (of all autonomously happening and deliberately chosen events) (114:2; 3:156; 57:2 & 5; 114:2; 67:1); The Informed (of all developments) and The Subtle (aware of details) (6:73, 6:103; 34:1); The Thankful and The Knowledgeable, (2:158); The Forgiving and The Loving (85:14); The Bestower (3:8; 38:9 & 35); The Provider, The Powerful and The Firm (51:58); The Almighty and The Sagacious (35:3; 31:27; 46:2; 57:1; 66:2); The Forbearing (2:235; 17:44); The Oft-Returning and The Specially Merciful (9:104; 49:12), The Guide and The Helper (22:54); The Counselor (6:102); The Patron (6:62; 8:40); The Helper (22:78; 8:40); The Judge (Settler of accounts), The Exacting and The Just (6:57; 95:8); The Subduer (14:48) and The Master of the Day of Judgment (1:3).
For anything to exist, all He does is summarily command: “Be! So, it becomes.” (2:117; 36:82) The manifestation of His Power demands no biological propagation!
What does the Quran say about man?
“Surely, man was created in the best of forms, but He reduces man into the lowest of the low” (95:4-5) for his forgetfulness, ungratefulness, uncaring nature and duplicity, his drive for worldly acquisitions and his attachment to possessions (wealth and people).
That man is the most honored of all of Creation. (17:70)
Furthermore, man was created weak (4:28). So, he is liable to make mistakes and be foolish unless he is careful, pays heed to the right sources: God, Prophet Muhammed ﷺ and those in authority among them (of insight, inspiration and propriety). (4:59) Note, also, how the First Parents made themselves unwelcome in the place of their birth, having been tricked by the Satan and under the influence of their innate avariciousness even though they were already in the best of places – the Heavens where they could have transcended death. (2:35-36)
Should man think of himself as superior in his biological mechanisms, he should think again and know that God says that man was not harder to create than the Heavens. (40:57)
What does the Quran say about Prophet Muhammed ﷺ?
First, he is only a man - not divine, to avoid being trapped in an egregious misconception as was done regarding Jesus عليه السلام (68:4 and 33:21). Second, He was a Prophet, whose only job was to inform people about the good news awaiting those guided and to warn those who disbelieved about the consequences of their decision. (2:119) Third, he is the last one in the line of prophets that God has sent to mankind throughout history (33:40), and he was not a father or manager to any of the people around him. (33:40; 6:66) Fourth, like all prophets before him, he was sent with “the Book and the Balance, that humanity may uphold justice.” (57:25) Fifth, he was an orphan, wandering and impoverished, raised illiterate, but was renowned for his truthfulness and the trustworthiness. (93:6-8) God called him, “Mercy to the Worlds” (21:106-107). Sixth, he was asked not to sadden himself to death on account of his people rejecting his message (18:6) and being mean and oppressive to him and his followers. Other prophets had a similar experience with their own people: Noah, Abraham, Lot, Jonah, Moses, Jesus, and others (peace be on them all). His ending would be better than his beginning. (93:4) His reputation would be raised while following hardship would come ease. (94:4-6) Seventh, he was told, “And truly, you are a man of incredible character.” (68:4) We are told, “Surely, for you, in Allah’s Messenger is an excellent example for whoever hopes in God and the Last Day and recalls God often.” (33:21) Muhammed ﷺ himself has said that he had come to perfect moral character! (Malik’s Al-Muwatta’: 1614) Yet people are impatient, dismissive, refuse to give time and energy to think and understand. Faith is a choice as much as it’s a gift. It will enter man’s heart only by his invitation and God’s Mercy!
So, what is the Quran’s message?
First and foremost, the Qur-n casts broad daylight on all matters spiritual. Once and for all, as the last complete revelation, it extinguishes philosophical meandering about God’s domain of knowledge, creativity, provision, expectation and accountability through its authoritativeness – claiming right away to be free from doubt or speculation (2:2) and crookedness, i.e., displaying consistency, being error-free, uncorrupting and sound. (18:1) The Quran which has variously described itself as Guidance (2:2; 3:96; 14:1, 5; 29:69), Light (4:174), Differentiator (2:185), Upright (17:9), Clarification (26:2), Blessing (16:64), Warning, Cure, Guide and Blessing (10:57), and Confirmation of Past Scriptures (10:37) will reveal its value to only those approaching it not flippantly, but with due reverence. (56:77-80)
Man must know that this life is ephemeral, while the next life is eternal. (40:39) The angels, the revealed books and the prophets are real. Heaven and Hell are real, Judgment Day is real. God’s authority over everything is complete and final. Resurrection and Day of Judgment are real. At this time while resident in the world, man’s reality/conviction/confirmation of belief is attested to only by knowledge and intelligence. Afterwards, starting with entry into the grave, this reality will be further confirmed by sight as well as by the other senses. It’s a paradox that the five senses will be awakened to the supernatural facts only after death. The choices in this life will determine the outcome of the Hereafter. However, God is Ever-Forgiving, Ever-Returning, Ever-Merciful toward man. Man must seek forgiveness and, in some cases, make good, promising never to back paddle. The only sin He will not countenance is the sin of Partnership in His Godhood and those who deny His existence. This is an open act of defiance toward God’s sovereignty. It irretrievably damages their potential as well as the potential of their circle of influence. Such individuals will be resurrected blind. They will bemoan their state, while God will remind them that they were blind to His beseeching while still alive. Their mouths will be sealed, while their bodies will be inspired to bear witness. 2Is this possible? At one time, would we have thought the following things possible? Rings on tree trunks speak to their age, fingerprints, ear shape and size, voice recognition and DNA as well as retinas give away identities, and murmurs in the deep space caught by sophisticated microphones reveal earth’s age. (41:20-21) All their good work will be tossed, even those of secular humanists. [18:103-6] The bottom line according to the Quran is that every individual is responsible to believe, act in goodness, stand up for the Truth and urge others to do the same, and be patient and urge others to have a similar disposition 3This is one of the reasons why there is no priesthood in Islam. (93:1-3); be generous to everyone and everything starting with the parents, those closely related, orphans, needy, travelers, beggars and those being exploited (2:177); man must be just and inclined to goodness, sensitive towards those closely related 4The Prophet emphasized this by saying that a person’s faith will be jeopardized should faith-unrelated family rifts be allowed to fester for more than three days. [Punishment for Breaking Ties in Islam | Insanity at its best! (yousufbawany.com)] Everybody must be an activist for the wholeness of one’s faith., and voice his displeasure and opposition to lewdness, evil and disorder. 5This was finessed by the Prophet when he said: Man’s every action will be evaluated based on his intent. [Sahih Al Bukhari, #1] [16:90] Man must not kill his children out of fear of poverty. However, they should avoid immoral behavior in the first place that often leads to the need for abortion. (6:151; 17:31) Besides taking full care of one’s women in the household (4:34), divorced women must be treated kindly. (2:229, 231-233, 236—237; 4:19) 6The Prophet has said: “The best amongst you are the ones who are best to their wives. I’m the best among you for I’m best to my wives.” About marrying, Islam is the only historic faith that has proscribed adulterous lifestyle while at the same time saying that having one wife may be just about enough for most males. (17:32; 23:5-7; 4:3) Women are given right to education as a duty, to work and retain their earnings, to inheritance, and to be able to divorce. (96:1-5; 4:32; 4:11-12 & 176; 2:229) 7Retaining father’s name has been common practice among married women until only recently when the Western practice of adopting husband’s name has grown in fashion and preference. 8The Prophet, in his last sermon in his one and only Hajj, just a few months before his death, said “O People, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women, but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under Allah’s trust and with His permission. If they abide by your rights, then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers. And it is your right that they do not make friends with any one of whom you do not approve, as well as never to be unchaste.” About marriage, four things are said: that the couple must act as a garment to one another – comforting and protecting from weather, prying eyes and affliction and enhancing the image of the other by how one carries on, in each other the couple will find tranquility and bliss, and professed love must be expressed through action. (2:187; 30:21) Interestingly, the opposite is expected between strangers or adversaries – expression of care and concern along with actions will build bridge of affinity and affection which was before missing. Children must not be denied their birthright inheritance even by the parents nor in this regard bias be shown toward one child over another. (4;11-13) 9 www.learnreligions.com - Inheritance Law in Islam. Recipients of donations must be treated with respect (2:262-265, 267, 270-274, & 280) Also, according to Hadith Qudsi 10Hadith Qudsi - God-inspired thoughts or instructions relayed by the Prophet in his own tongue., spending on others will lead the Creator to spend on us. 11www.sunnah.com - 40 Hadith Qudsi All usurious exploitation must end. (2:275, 278-9) 12In the last sermon, again, the Prophet said: “O People, just as you regard this month, this day, this city as sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim as a sacred trust. Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners. Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you. Remember that you will indeed meet your Lord, and that He will indeed reckon your deeds. Allah has forbidden you to take usury (interest); therefore, all interest obligations shall henceforth be waived. Your capital, however, is yours to keep. You will neither inflict nor suffer any inequity. Allah has judged that there shall be no interest and that all the interest due to Abbas ibn Abdul Muttalib (the Prophet’s uncle) shall henceforth be waived…” To nourish his soul as well as protect and enhance his intellectual capacity, man must take care to earn in a good, fair way and consume only that which is approved, stay away from things that befuddle the mind, avoid gambling and reliance on fortune tellers, all being debilitative. (55:7-9; 83:1-5; 2:219; 2:268; 5:90) Hunting and fishing must be done just to meet one’s need, not for sport. 13www.newmuslimguide.com – Hunting according to Islamic Law. Animals must be slaughtered humanely. 14www.dar-alifta.org – Prophetic Etiquette in Slaughtering Sacrificial Animals Limits of warfare should be completed adhered to. (2:190-3, 22:40) 15www.reliefweb.int – Islamic Law and rules of War, April 24, 2014. People differ in their languages and colors by design, and they have been divided into nations and tribes so that they may know one another and not oppress one another. (30:22; 35:27-8; 49:11-13) 16Further, in his last sermon, the Prophet said: “All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor does a black have any superiority over a white, except by piety and good action.” A single unjustified killing is like killing the entire humanity and saving one innocent soul is like saving the entire humanity. (5:32) 17This is a verse referring to the Jewish People. They were instructed thus, but it also applies to the Muslims. In a Hadith Qudsi 18God-inspired thought that was not-revealed and is in Muhammed's ﷺ language. about gratefulness, we learn that “One who is ungrateful to people on account of benefits received from them is not grateful to God.” 19www.sunnah.com - Sunan Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith #4811. Also, in Quran, 14:7; 100.6-7. The Creator has forbidden oppression upon Himself. (4:40) Finally, to deserve mercy one must be merciful. 20www.sunnah.com - Sunan Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith #1,924. This and much, much more are stuff of humanism, if ever there was such a thing!
What are the criticisms of the Quran and its Prophet?
Even though the Muhammed ﷺ was known as As-Sadiq and Al Amin among his people, the blatant, revolutionary message of the Quran quickly brought out vicious, ugly, jealous side of many of his fellow Quraish. So, the Quran and its Prophet have been variously challenged from the time of its earliest revelations. To diminish the revelation’s revolutionary message, the Prophet was called magician, poet, mad, ill, storyteller, plagiarist - just rehashing from ancient sources, etc. (15:6; 26:244-227; 34:43-46; 37:37; 52:30-33; 6:25; 8:31) The mesmerizing beauty of its language confounded the otherwise poetic Arabs so much so that they thought it was magic. Lately, its Prophet has been suspected by orientalists of being a figment of imagination. Its preservation, a suspect! Its message, confusing. Some readers quickly flipping through the Quran have accused it of incoherence and disorganization. Some orientalists even found grammatical errors in the Quran! Lately, the relentless attacks on the roots of Islam, its Book and its Prophet, have bred another criticism, “What’s there to learn from an illiterate person?” Of course, in the West in the last few centuries, the existence of God has been denied by some, thereby questioning the Quran’s very lineage. In at least one faith there is no god, while in yet another it’s thick with gods.
How can the Quran and its Prophet be defended?
The Quran is a book of faith, faith in the unseen. Importantly, it claims to be from God carrying an unerring message. When the balance of intelligence in the modern world hangs on the perceptions garnered by the five senses, how is the Quran going to fare? It says that materials in it are of two kinds: clear and metaphorical/allegorical. It asks the faithful to avoid loitering on the verses of the second type because it will be unproductive and misleading. Only sick minds dwell on them. Those who have not considered the history of its revelation and its deep connection with its chosen prophet and make summary judgment, they work against themselves. Knowing Muhammed's ﷺ biography prior to reading the Quran and having a Muslim guide to give some introductions are very useful. Knowing that it’s more like life’s handbook or manual is insightful. That unlike the Bible, it’s not a chronological book of history. It’s not a book of fiction having typical handles. Further, it does not follow a biographical pattern. It’s a book about God and not about Muhammed ﷺ. The latter is mentioned only four times compared with Moses عليه السلام and Jesus عليه السلام, who are mentioned at least 75 times and 25 times, respectively. The longest chapter, #2, besides other chapters, has a lot about the Jewish people, while the next chapter is about Mary’s (pbuh) family. There is even a chapter by her name (#19) that is fully dedicated to her. So, whoever of Christian faith burns or flushes the Quran down the toilet, he does so at his own peril. In several chapters, Muhammed ﷺ is either corrected or warned (18:23-24; 66:1; 69:44-47; 80:1-11). If he had authored the Book, would he have written it this way? As to Judaism, it says that the Jews were a favored people (in their time) (2:40; 2:122; 5:20; 3:110; 3:112), but it warns about their penchant to be contrarian 21Making of the Golden Calf when Moses عليه السلام was away communing with God and this after having been freed and saved from Pharoah’s scourge. (20:85-91-97) 22Fearful of current residents, the followers of Moses عليه السلام refused to enter the city which was to be their sanctuary. Consequently, they wandered about for 40 years. (5:21-26) and quibblers as well as sarcastic 23Having received Manna and Salwah from the Heavens, they asked Moses عليه السلام to ask God to get them something different and better. (2:61) 24When asked to sacrifice a cow, they kept repeatedly asking Moses عليه السلام to ask God to explain to them what type of cow they were supposed to sacrifice. (2: 67-71) despite receiving so many favors, for their persecution and killing of prophets and about their scholarly faith leaders for having played with the revealed verses. (3:71; 4:46; 4:171) Regarding Christianity, it condemns Trinity as an unwarranted deviation that Jesus عليه السلام would disown. (5:109-120) A parallel is drawn between the creation of an unfathered Jesus عليه السلام with mankind’s father, the parentless Adam عليه السلام. For God, it’s all rather easy. When he intends something to be, He simply commands, “Be! So, it becomes!!” (3:59) It challenges the idea that Jesus عليه السلام was crucified. It appeared to them to be so. They could not crucify him because God raised him up to Him. (4:157-8). It also condemns Monasticism as an unprescribed, excessive act of devotion. (57:27) Finally, it refutes the claim that only Jews or Christians will enter Paradise. (2:111)
Unlike the previous scriptures, the Quran was preserved right away, orally, because that was the Arab tradition. However, it was also written down at the same time on various surfaces and arranged and ordered by the Prophet. Within 30 years of the Prophet’s passing, all the chapters were compiled into one book on uniform material, five copies were made of which four were distributed to the four corners of the state. At one point, for pronunciation purposes, vowel markings were introduced and similarly looking letters were differentiated using dots. The revelations came on a need-to-know basis. It was not a rendering of history. So, coherence based on seriality was absent. Also, the arrangement of the text does not follow the order of revelation. The earliest, shorter, foundational chapters representing creed consisting of six axioms 25Belief in i. God, ii. Angels, iii. Revealed Books, iv. Prophets, v. Day of Judgment, vi. God’s complete authority over whatever of good or bad that transpires. are gathered at the end of the Book. The longer, heavier, legalistic chapters revealed later are placed at the top. These upfront chapters are very relevant to a Muslim who is looking for prescriptions on various matters. However, for a casual reader or even an orientalist scholar, uncommitted, these are not appealing and get them bogged down in the details. They do not see the big picture for it’s hiding at the bottom of the book. Feeling exhausted and bored, they are turned off. Lacking the proper perspective, the orientalists and even the casual readers have long been voicing doubt both about the authenticity and the quality of the text. Also, the language is often in all three tenses. That causes confusion to those who approach it not as a spiritual quest but as a professional undertaking. God pervades time. He is Omniscient. Therefore, He resorts to all tenses as He pleases and as the context demands. As to alleged grammatical errors, the newbies are unaware that the entirety of Arabic Grammar was derived from the Quran taken as representing standard Arabic.
Long before becoming a prophet, Muhammed ﷺ was given the title of As-Sadiq (the honest one) and Al Amin (the trustworthy one). He was an orphan by the age of six. Consequently, he was poor. Lacking parental care, he could not read or write. In his early life, he was a shepherd. This made him hardy, reflective, compassionate, curious and open to learning. In his formal intellectual firmament little, if any, bias became stationed that would make him reticent in accepting the Divine Message. His heart and mind remained open to being watered by God’s invigorating message. Later in his married life, he would lose six of his seven children. That way he remained an emporium of empathy - a mindset which would be so much needed in his line of work to follow.
In his early youth, in 590 CE, Muhammed ﷺ was involved in a movement called, Hilf al Fudhul (The Bountiful Pact). This movement achieved two hallmark goals: Stopping killing by suffocation of unwanted newborn girls by their embarrassed fathers; and, through collective commitment, providing safety and security of life and property to lone travelers without any tribal support system on trade and pilgrimage to Makkah. His involvement in it had a significant spillover effect on Islamic Ethics. By the age of twenty-five, he became known as a successful overland merchant-trader possessing a fair, open and kind disposition. He married his twice widowed female-employer fifteen years his senior upon her proposal when she noted his astute business acumen and magnanimous personal and social qualities. Subsequently, he became a great husband and father. So, cheating from the Bible to write the Quran was not physically possible for him and nor was it in his nature.
The many similarities of the Quran with Torah, Psalm and Gospel are due not to plagiarism but from the fact that they are all from the One and Only God and that His message, through the generations, has been invariant except for some of the circumstantially driven detail. Also, the mistakes of the previous texts are not to be found in the Quran. According to the Quran, the mistakes in the previous texts were due to human errors, forgetfulness, deliberate as well as spurious additions and deletions. The Quran came to make good these mistakes as well as to complete them for it’s God’s final revelation to mankind. In fact, interestingly, prior to Quran’s message, the Jews and Christians were not aware that, along with Moses’ Torah, the Psalms was a revealed text to David عليه السلام and was not his own production.
Ideally, for maximizing understanding and benefit, a newcomer must not approach the Quran unmentored, as a DIY project. Thus, having proper etiquette, being open to suggestion and showing the benefit of the doubt to a book claiming to be from the Lord of the Worlds sent down through Archangel Gabriel عليه السلام for the benefit of mankind constitute requisite approach.
III. Science or Signs in the Quran: Affirming Older Faith, Beckoning Potential Faith
In the Quran, The Author exudes extreme authority and confidence that cover two aspects: One, the quality of the text claiming having in it no reason for doubt (2:2) and no crookedness (18:1). Secondly, about the physical world – its source, content and nature. In the Quran, God repeatedly challenges the heart and the intellect by asking people to reflect. (38:29; 50:36-37) Its verses are literally called ‘signs’. It points out: “We will show them Our Signs in the universe and in themselves, until it becomes obvious to them that this is the Truth.” (41:53) It even challenges people to produce a chapter like it in order to refute its otherworldliness. (11:13; 2:23-25) In 1453 years since then that has yet to happen. The Arabs in those days were rather gifted with poetry and were distinguished for it and proud of it. Yet they could not match up even with the shortest chapter made up of three verses and ten words! (108:1-3) Further, the internal consistency of a book revealed orally over a span of 23 years is indeed a big deal! Afterall, once recited by the Prophet, before being written down, allowed absolutely no room for error.
Since the 1980s, approximately, among Muslims, three new trends of analysis of the Quran have taken shape. They have not been fully endorsed by the established scholars. Lately, a lukewarm appreciation in some circles has made references to them possible. It’s more a part of online canvassing by eager Muslims. Why the reluctance? It’s not clear whether such elements are to be construed as clear verses or allegorical. As I have pointed out before, dwelling on the latter type of verses is discouraged. Thus, one of them explores the purported mathematical structure of the Quran that “ensures” its continued integrity. Yet another discovers tell-tale numerical clues that “point to its authenticity”. The other, which motivates this article, is about stray references on various matters that seem to be agreeable with modern day scientific findings. Lacking a scientific bend of mind as well as the capacity to grasp such matters, the early Muslims had no need for revelation subject matters of this nature. Now, with scientific advances, suddenly, these previously glossed over verses appear pregnant with significance. True to its claim of universality and timelessness, the Quran appears to be meaningful to succeeding generations of people.
As to inviolable mathematical structure embedded in the Quran, two quick examples should suffice. For example, the numbers ‘19’ (74:30) 26The late Rashad Khalifa launched this quest. It was later taken upon by the Late Sheikh Ahmed Deedat. and ‘7’ (2:29; 78:12) are mentioned in the text as parts of larger verses, but “appearing” not to carry any faith-related cognitive substance. Now, these two numbers appear to be LCF in multiple calculated instances throughout the text. Thus, adding, deleting, or changing any chapter, verse or word could ruin this aspect of the document. Perhaps jointly, they help maintain the Quran’s integrity.
Interestingly, there are logical statements 27My attention was drawn only recently to this aspect of the Quran by Professor Muhammad Ataul Karim, ex Executive VP, University of Massachusetts. as well in the Quran with equality and inequality relationships. Hence, reflecting upon the likeness of Jesus and Adam (pbut) 28In terms of how they both originated. (3:59) would be an example of an equality-based logical statement. Upon counting the number of times these two prophets are mentioned, we find that they are mentioned an equal number of times: 25! Another example of “equality” is to do with “those who reject Our signs” and “the dog”. In verse (7:176), we see these two being compared as being the same! Both these terms appear five times each. Similarly, in verse (29:71), the Quran states, “The likeness of those who take as protectors other than God is as the likeness of the spider,” with each of these terms appearing exactly twice. That something is greater than or better than something would constitute an inequality-based logical statement. Strangely, considering verses (4:96), (13:16) and (6:50), two things are compared in each as inequalities. Now, every time, any two things being thus compared also appear mentioned an unequal number of times. That is not so strange. However, that they always differ by ‘one’ throws the analyst off!
As to numerical elements strewn about, here are two quick examples. According to geographers, water-to-land ratio on earth is 71% to 29%. In the Quran, land is mentioned 13 times while water is mentioned 32 times, for a grand total of 45. Then, according to the Quranic numbers, water-to-land ratio is 71.1% to 28.9%. Of course, with rising sea level this ratio will change. Perhaps in the future, the spiritual import of that may be reflected upon as well. The Muslims are called, “the middle nation”. This appears in verse number 183, exactly at the middle of the 286 verses long second chapter or sura. Further, the Arabic words for month (sharru) and day (yawm) appear, respectively, 12 and 365 times in a book that was orally recited, without any recourse to edit, over a period of 23 years! In Chapter/Sura 18, regarding how many years the youth, who had secreted away into a cave to avoid persecution owing their monotheism, had slept, it says “300 years plus nine”. Shockingly 300 years in the solar calendar is the same as 309 years in lunar calendar. (18:25) The worldly life (dunya) and afterlife (akhirah) each occur 115 times, equal. Muslims are expected to maintain balance between the two states of existence. For portraying uniqueness or alone, the word ‘wahid’ is invoked. It’s at the root of the word Tawhid referring to the First pillar of Islam: Belief in One God! Absolutely stunningly, wahid appears only once. As Ataul Karim wrote, Muhammed ﷺ had no blackberry to pull this off nor would he be motivated to do something so complicated as this when it would remainundiscovered for over 1,400 years.
Since, as I have already mentioned, God made our life a test, He has not made His Reality available to us to be monitored and measured by our five senses. So, scientific tools of testing are redundant. Whoever wants to use this methodology before considering the possibility of the Divine Existence is unimaginatively hemming oneself in. Now, given the universe of prophets, in the closed campaigns of most, except for the very last one, God has allowed for multiple miracles to be shared. (17:101; 2:87; 5:112-114) People then were given to awe, superstition and fear. It drove some to faithfulness. By the time of His Final Revelation, with the Last Prophet, God knew that, by his plan, mankind had reached intellectual maturity. They did not have to be stunned into acquiescence. One group, the Arabs, had also attained high linguistic proficiency as well as a tradition steeped in memorization. So, to the Arabs, He directed a revelation of high all around literary and artistic value. It was replete with debating points to win people over. (2:260; 21:30; 10:99) Having announced Muhammed ﷺ as the last prophet, the revelation passed down to him was also the very last. It had to be universal from all points of view. In the Quran, God makes many claims to cause mankind to awaken, use its native intelligence, and accept it as the message of One True God. For the Arabs of the first generation and long into the future, testing truthfulness of the Quran through what some of these allusions meant could not have worked. Today, these are precisely everyday issues for many, Arabs and non-Arabs alike as well as Muslims and non-Muslims alike, especially for the statistically versed scientific and social-scientific communities. Today, and over some time now, after a lot of observing, theorizing, experimenting and rehashing, science has many facts to share about ourselves and our world. Almost all the null hypotheses below have been only recently rejected. Some of the null hypotheses, like those related to Adam and Eve (pbut), are conjectured. Some of them are yet to be even posed or tested, like #s 7-10, 15-18, 28-29, 31, 33, 38, 43 and 48. The surprising thing is that, long before science as we know it today, these null hypotheses were rejected almost 1,500 years ago in a spiritual/religious book received by an unlettered prophet in the middle of the desert away from any civilizational history. Are these all coincidences? But there are way too many coincidences! Setting aside the need to have these reflections way back then, in a blind, unlearned world, there is only 50% or 50-50 chance of getting any one of them correct. Working only with the list below, having set aside those listed earlier regarding logical, numerical and mathematical nature of the Quran, the probability of all of them occurring simultaneously is: (0.5)45 = 2.842170943x10-14. However, the actual probability is even smaller! Why? For example, the choice regarding origination of life is not binary. To the unlettered Prophet, if he was writing Quran, life could have originated from, say, light, sound, wind, fire, dirt or water. The probability of choosing water correctly was 1/6, significantly less than ½. Similarly, the human fetus, unlike as described in Hypothesis #32, say, could have looked like a date, a prune, or a grape. So, the probability of getting it right would be 0.25, not 0.50. Hence, the total probability scoring that I did above would be actually even smaller at 4.746425474x10-15. Such is the remoteness of the probability for successfully predicting all of the observations related to the hypotheses below. Such a feat of chance could not have been pulled off by Prophet Muhammed ﷺ. So, who could have done it? Will the open, honest soul, curious and thinking, then not engage?!!
Testable Hypotheses on the Authenticity of Claims in the Quran:
- H0: The Abrahamic faiths (& those since Adam (pbuh)) do not have one central message (3:84; 42:13)
- H0: The first act of creation of the universe was not instantaneous (2:117) 29The Higgs-Boson particle has a half-life of (1.56x10-22) second or 15.6 thousand billion billionth of a second
- H0: The universe was not flat at the beginning (55:7; 79:28)
- H0: The Centripetal force (pulling toward the center, like gravity) did not join the already active Centrifugal force (pulling away from the center) to bring balance (order) to the universe by sorting as well as stabilizing matter (55:7; 67:3-4)
- H0: The universe is not expanding (51:47; 41:11)
- H0: The sky is not like a woven net (51:7)
- H0: The sky is not created in layers (2:29; 41:12; 67:3-4; 65:12)
- H0: There are no replicas of the earth (65:12)
- H0: Each layer of the heavens does not have its own laws (41:12)
- H0: The earth is not in the lowest layer of the heavens (41:12)
- H0: The Heavens and the Earth were never joined together (21:30; 41:11)
- H0: Neither the sun nor the moon, not even any of the galaxies, travel in its own orbit (21:33; 39:5; 55:5; 81:15-16)
- H0: The sky is not a well-protected canopy (21:32)
- H0: The universe was not dark in the beginning (79:29)
- H0: The Heaven was not more difficult to create than the human (40:57; 79:27)
- H0: The earth did not produce its own water (79:31)
- H0: The earth/universe will not be destroyed by an externally sourced sound (39:68)
- H0: Eventually, the universe will not be rolled/folded back like a scroll (21:104)
- H0: Iron originated on earth (57:25)
- H0: Besides its value in warfare, iron does not have any other use-value (57:25) 30Hemoglobin, Electricity, Computer, Earth’s Magnetic Field, etc.
- H0: The mountains are not like stakes holding the ground down (16:15; 21:31; 41:10; 78:7; 79:32)
- H0: Upon meeting in the seas, emptying freshwater and attendant saltwater mix easily and immediately (55:19-20)
- H0: The ocean and seas do not have waves deep inside (24:40)
- H0: Man can probe outer space without proper knowhow (55:33)
- H0: The moonglow is not reflected light (10:5; 71:16)
- H0: There is no benefit in the alternation of day and night (2:164; 3:190; 10:6; 45:5)
- H0: There is no benefit in the change of wind pattern (i.e., seasons) (2:164; 45:5)
- H0: Life is not formed from water (24:45)
- H0: Living organisms do not come in pairs (of opposites) (78:8)
- H0: Adam did not come first (39:6; 4:1) 31[Could Eve have supplied the ‘Y-Chromosome’ - deduction]
- H0: Not every community was sent down a messenger (16:36)
- H0: Man as an embryo did not start out as a lump of blood clot, progressed to looking chewed up and clinging like a leech (96:2; 32:7-8)
- H0: The human gonads are not/were not located between the backbone and the breast bones (86:5-7)
- H0: The human fetus is not shrouded in three layers of darkness (23:)
- H0: The human fetus does not have the following growth path: From Seed to Clot, Clot to Lump, Lump to Bones, and to Bones covered with flesh (23:14) 32www.ncbi.nim.nih.gov – in Sabiha Saadat’s ‘Human Embryology and the Holy Quran’
- H0: Human decisions are not made in the frontal area of the brain (96:15-16)
- H0: Human sensory nerves are not located in the skin (4:56)
- H0: The Quran will not be preserved (15:9; 56:7-80; 85:21-22)
- H0: The Quran can be copied (2:23; 10:38; 11:13; 17:88; 52:34)
- H0: Humans can recover food stolen by a fly (22:73)
- H0: If all the false gods that people worship got together, they could make a fly (22:73)
- H0: The leader of any ant colony is a male (27:18-19)
- H0: In a beehive, the female bees do not produce honey (16:69)
- H0: The fingertips of all humans are the same (75:4)
- H0: Vegetations as well as animals do not get their colors from the colored rocks in the mountains (35:27)
Abdel Haleem, M. A. S., (translator of the meaning of) The Qur’an, Oxford World’s Classics, Oxford University Press, 2004
Khattab, Mustafa, The Clear Quran - A thematic English Translation of the Message of the Final Revelation, Al-Furqaan Foundation of Book of Signs Foundation, Lombard, IL, 2016
Asad, Muhammad, The Message of the Qur’an: The Full Account of the Revealed Text accompanied by Parallel Translation, The Book Foundation, 2008
Al-Mubarakpuri, Safiur-Rahman, The Sealed Nectar – Biography of the Noble Prophet, Maktaba Darussalam, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 2008
Armstrong, Karen, Muhammad – A Biography of the Prophet, A Phoenix Press Paperback, Great Britain, 1991
El-Affendi, AbdelWahab (ed.), About Muhammad – The Other Western Perspective on the Prophet of Islam, Legacy Publishing Ltd., UK, 2010
Emerick, Yahya J., Muhammad – Critical Lives Series, Dorling Kindersley Publishing, Inc., 2002
Haykal, Muhammad Husayn, The Life of Muhammad, tr. by Isma’il Ragi A. al Faruqi, American Trust Publications, 1976
Hazelton, Lesley, The First Muslim: The Story of Muhammad, Penguin Publishing Group, 2013
Lings, Martin, Muhammad – his life based on the earliest sources, Inner Traditions International, Rochester, Vermont, 1983
Ramadan, Tariq, In the Footsteps of the Prophet – Lessons from the Life of Muhammad, Oxford University Press, 2007
Zakaria, Rafiq, Muhammad and the Quran, Penguin Books, 1991
|↑1||Now, pbuh - peace be upon him/her; pbut – peace be upon them.|
|↑2||Is this possible? At one time, would we have thought the following things possible? Rings on tree trunks speak to their age, fingerprints, ear shape and size, voice recognition and DNA as well as retinas give away identities, and murmurs in the deep space caught by sophisticated microphones reveal earth’s age.|
|↑3||This is one of the reasons why there is no priesthood in Islam.|
|↑4||The Prophet emphasized this by saying that a person’s faith will be jeopardized should faith-unrelated family rifts be allowed to fester for more than three days. [Punishment for Breaking Ties in Islam | Insanity at its best! (yousufbawany.com)] Everybody must be an activist for the wholeness of one’s faith.|
|↑5||This was finessed by the Prophet when he said: Man’s every action will be evaluated based on his intent. [Sahih Al Bukhari, #1]|
|↑6||The Prophet has said: “The best amongst you are the ones who are best to their wives. I’m the best among you for I’m best to my wives.”|
|↑7||Retaining father’s name has been common practice among married women until only recently when the Western practice of adopting husband’s name has grown in fashion and preference.|
|↑8||The Prophet, in his last sermon in his one and only Hajj, just a few months before his death, said “O People, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women, but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under Allah’s trust and with His permission. If they abide by your rights, then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers. And it is your right that they do not make friends with any one of whom you do not approve, as well as never to be unchaste.”|
|↑9||www.learnreligions.com - Inheritance Law in Islam.|
|↑10||Hadith Qudsi - God-inspired thoughts or instructions relayed by the Prophet in his own tongue.|
|↑11||www.sunnah.com - 40 Hadith Qudsi|
|↑12||In the last sermon, again, the Prophet said: “O People, just as you regard this month, this day, this city as sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim as a sacred trust. Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners. Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you. Remember that you will indeed meet your Lord, and that He will indeed reckon your deeds. Allah has forbidden you to take usury (interest); therefore, all interest obligations shall henceforth be waived. Your capital, however, is yours to keep. You will neither inflict nor suffer any inequity. Allah has judged that there shall be no interest and that all the interest due to Abbas ibn Abdul Muttalib (the Prophet’s uncle) shall henceforth be waived…”|
|↑13||www.newmuslimguide.com – Hunting according to Islamic Law.|
|↑14||www.dar-alifta.org – Prophetic Etiquette in Slaughtering Sacrificial Animals|
|↑15||www.reliefweb.int – Islamic Law and rules of War, April 24, 2014.|
|↑16||Further, in his last sermon, the Prophet said: “All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor does a black have any superiority over a white, except by piety and good action.”|
|↑17||This is a verse referring to the Jewish People. They were instructed thus, but it also applies to the Muslims.|
|↑18||God-inspired thought that was not-revealed and is in Muhammed's ﷺ language.|
|↑19||www.sunnah.com - Sunan Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith #4811. Also, in Quran, 14:7; 100.6-7.|
|↑20||www.sunnah.com - Sunan Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith #1,924.|
|↑21||Making of the Golden Calf when Moses عليه السلام was away communing with God and this after having been freed and saved from Pharoah’s scourge. (20:85-91-97)|
|↑22||Fearful of current residents, the followers of Moses عليه السلام refused to enter the city which was to be their sanctuary. Consequently, they wandered about for 40 years. (5:21-26)|
|↑23||Having received Manna and Salwah from the Heavens, they asked Moses عليه السلام to ask God to get them something different and better. (2:61)|
|↑24||When asked to sacrifice a cow, they kept repeatedly asking Moses عليه السلام to ask God to explain to them what type of cow they were supposed to sacrifice. (2: 67-71)|
|↑25||Belief in i. God, ii. Angels, iii. Revealed Books, iv. Prophets, v. Day of Judgment, vi. God’s complete authority over whatever of good or bad that transpires.|
|↑26||The late Rashad Khalifa launched this quest. It was later taken upon by the Late Sheikh Ahmed Deedat.|
|↑27||My attention was drawn only recently to this aspect of the Quran by Professor Muhammad Ataul Karim, ex Executive VP, University of Massachusetts.|
|↑28||In terms of how they both originated.|
|↑29||The Higgs-Boson particle has a half-life of (1.56x10-22) second or 15.6 thousand billion billionth of a second|
|↑30||Hemoglobin, Electricity, Computer, Earth’s Magnetic Field, etc.|
|↑31||[Could Eve have supplied the ‘Y-Chromosome’ - deduction]|
|↑32||www.ncbi.nim.nih.gov – in Sabiha Saadat’s ‘Human Embryology and the Holy Quran’|