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THE QURAN'S REFERENCE TO SCIENTIFIC

THE QURAN'S REFERENCE TO SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS BY MEANS OF MIRACLES OF THE PROPHETS

In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.

Not a thing, fresh or withered, wet or dry, but it is in a Manifest Book. (6:59)

According to one interpretation, the Manifest Book is the Quran. This verse states that everything, wet or dry, is found in it. Is that really so? Yes, everything is found in it, but everyone cannot see that everything therein as the things are found at different levels. The Quran contains all things, either in the form of seeds, or of nuclei, or of summaries, or principles, or signs, and they are found either explicitly or implicitly, or allusively, or vaguely, or suggestively. One or other of these forms is preferred according to occasion, in a way fitting for the purposes of the Quran and in connection with the requirements of the context. For example:

How does the Quran allude to scientific and technological wonders?

As the result of man’s progress in science and industry, some scientific and technological wonders such as planes, electricity, motor vehicles, and means of radio and telecommunication have come into existence and taken the most prominent position in the material life of mankind. As it addresses the whole of mankind [at all times], the wise Quran certainly does not ignore these. Indeed, it has not ignored them and points to them in two ways:

By way of the miracles of the Prophets.

In connection with certain historical events.

For example:

Down with the makers of the trench of the fuel-fed fire! When they sat by it, and were themselves the witnesses of what they did to the believers. They ill-treated them for no other reason than that they believed in God, the Mighty, the All-Praised One. (85:4-8)

Likewise,

... in the loaded fleet. And We have created for them the like thereof whereon they ride. (36:41-2)

Verses like these point to trains, while the following verse, besides having many other meanings and connotations, alludes to electricity:

God is the light of the heavens and the earth. The parable of His light is as a niche wherein is a lamp, The lamp is in a glass. The glass is as it were a shining star. Kindled from a blessed tree, an olive, neither of the East or of the West, whose oil would almost glow forth (of it self) though no fire touched it: Light upon light.1 God guides to His Light whom He wills. (24:35)

Since numerous people have occupied themselves with the second sort of verses, those which allude to modern technological wonders in connection with historical events, and since they require much care and detailed explanation, and are in great number, for the present I shall content myself with these verses that allude to trains and electricity.

God made Prophets also the masters and forerunners of material progress

As God Almighty sent the Prophets to human communities as leaders and vanguards in respect of spiritual and moral progress, so also He endowed them with certain wonders and miracles and made them the masters and forerunners with respect to man’s material progress. He commands men to follow them absolutely.

Thus, just as by speaking of the spiritual and moral perfections of the Prophets, the Quran encourages people to benefit from them, so too in presenting their miracles it intends that people should try to achieve the like of them by scientific means. It may even be said that like spiritual and moral attainments, material attainments and wonders were also first given to mankind as a gift through Prophetic miracles. The Prophet Noah, upon him be peace, was the first to build ships, and Joseph, upon him be peace, the clock. Therefore, the ship and clock were first given to mankind as Prophetic miracles. It is a meaningful indication to this reality that so many craft guilds take a Prophet as the ‘patron’ or originator of their craft. For example, seamen take Noah, watchmakers take Joseph, tailors take Enoch, upon them be peace, and so on.

Since truth-seeking scholars and the science of eloquence have agreed that each of the Quran’s verses contains guidance and instruction, then the verses concerning the miracles of the Prophets, the most brilliant among the Quran’s verses, should not be taken as historical events; rather, they comprise numerous indications of guidance. By mentioning the miracles of the Prophets, the Quran shows the ultimate goal of scientific and technological developments, and specifies their final aims. It urges man forward toward those aims. Just as the past is the field for the seeds of the future and mirror to its potential picture, so too the future is the time to reap the harvest of the past life and mirror to the actual situation. Now, out of many examples, I shall point out only a few:

Examples of verses alluding to scientific progress through miracles of the Prophets

Traveling by air

The verse,

And to Solomon (We subjugated) the wind: its morning stride was a month’s journey and the evening stride was a month’s journey. (34:12)

which expresses the subjugation of the wind to Solomon as one of his miracles, says: ‘The Prophet Solomon covered the distance of two months walk in two strides by flying through the air.’ By this it suggests that the road is open for mankind to cover the same distance in the air. ‘So, O mankind! Since the road is open to you, attain this level and do so!’

Almighty God also means by this verse:

O man! A servant of mine did not obey his carnal desires, and I mounted him on the air. If you give up laziness and benefit properly from certain of My laws in nature, you too can mount it.

Inventing a device to obtain water

The verse,

When Moses asked for water for his people, We said: ‘Strike the rock with your staff.’ Then gushed forth there from twelve springs (so that) each tribe knew their drinking place’, (2:60)

indicates that it is quite possible to benefit with simple tools from the treasuries of Mercy under the earth. In places hard as rock even, the water for life may be drawn with so simple a device as a staff. Thus, through this meaning, the verse says to man, ‘You can find the finest blessing of Mercy, the water for life, with a staff-like device. Therefore, come on, work and find it!’

Through this verse, God Almighty suggests:

O man! Since I gave to a servant of Mine who relied on Me such a staff that he draws with it the water for life from wherever he wishes, you too can obtain a device resembling it provided you rely on My laws of Mercy. So, come and do so!

One of the important results of the scientific developments which mankind have achieved is the invention of devices with which water is caused to well up from most of the places where they are applied. The verse points to further goals and limits beyond that, just as the previous one specified further attainments far ahead of today’s planes.

The farthest point in medical developments

The verse,

I heal him who was born blind, and the leper, and I raise the dead by God’s leave, (2:60)

concerning a miracle of Jesus, upon him be peace, alludes to and encourages the highest level of healing with which the Lord endowed him. It suggests:

It is possible to find cures for even the most chronic ailments. Therefore, O man! O calamity-stricken sons of Adam! Do not despair! Whatever the ailment, its cure is possible. Search for it and you will find it. It is even possible to give a temporary tinge of life to death.

By the verse God Almighty means:

O man! To a servant of Mine who renounced the world for My sake, I gave two gifts, one the remedy for spiritual ailments, the other the cure for physical sicknesses. Dead hearts were quickened through the light of guidance, and ill people who were as though dead found health through his breath and cure. You too may find the cure for all illnesses in My ‘pharmacy’ in nature where I attached to each thing many important purposes. Work and find it! You will certainly find if you seek it!

Thus, this verse marks the final point of medical developments, a point far ahead of the present level, and urges man towards it.

Using iron and copper in industry and extracting minerals

The verses,

We made the iron supple for him. (34:10), and, We gave him wisdom and sound judgment in speech and decision. (38:20)

which are about David, upon him be peace, and,

We caused the fount of copper to gush forth with him. (34:12)

which is about Solomon, upon him be peace, indicate that the softening of iron is one of the greatest bounties of God, through which He shows the virtue of a great Prophet of His. Softening of iron, that is, making it soft like dough, and smelting copper, and extracting minerals is the origin and source, and basis of all material industries. So, the verses state:

Softening iron, making it like dough and fine like a thread, and smelting the copper are a great bounty granted to two great Prophets who ruled in a part of the world according to God’s commandments, and they are the means to most general industries.’ Since God endowed a Prophet who was both a Messenger and a Caliph, that is, one who was both a spiritual and worldly leader, with wise speech and craftsmanship and industry, He urges people to speak wisely and encourages them toward craftsmanship and industry.

By these verses, God Almighty also suggests:

O sons of Adam! I gave such wisdom to the tongue and heart of one of My servants who obeyed My religious commandments that he judged of and distinguished between all things with perfect clarity and discerned the truth. Also, I endowed him with such skill that he could cast iron into whatever mould he wished, and make use of it as an important source of strength for his rule. Since this is possible, and since iron is of great significance for, and you are in much need of it in, your social life, that wisdom and skill will be bestowed on you provided you obey My commands of creation, My laws of nature. In the course of time you will attain it!

By softening iron and smelting copper, man has achieved great progress in industry, and great power in material terms. These verses direct man’s attention towards this truth, and just as much as they warned the people of former times who did not appreciate how important it was, so too they warn those lazy people of the present.

The ultimate point in the transmission of images and sounds

The verse,

One with whom was knowledge of the Book said: ‘I will bring it to you before your gaze returns to you (in the twinkling of an eye).’ When Solomon saw it set in his presence... (27:40)

describes this wonderful event: In order to procure the transport of the throne of the Queen of Saba, one of Solomon’s ministers who was well versed in the transport of things said: ‘I’ll have the throne here in your presence in the twinkling of an ...
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