Ever since the dawn of mankind, we have sought to understand nature and our place in it. In this quest for the purpose of life many people have turned to religion. Most religions are based on books claimed by their followers to be divinely inspired, without any proof. Islam is different because it is based upon reason and proof.
The Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) in the 7th century.
Science at the time was primitive, there were no telescopes, microscopes or anything even close to the technology we have today. People believed that the sun orbited the earth and that the sky was held up by big pillars at the corners of a flat earth. Within this backdrop the Quran was revealed, and it contains many scientific facts on topics ranging from astronomy to biology, geology to sociology.
Some people may claim that the Quran was changed as new scientific facts were discovered but this cannot be the case because it is a historically documented fact that the Quran is preserved in its original language. The Quran was written down and memorised by people during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). One of the copies of the Qur'an which was written a few years after the death of the Prophet Muhammad is preserved in a museum in Uzbekistan. This copy is over 1400 years old and is exactly the same as the Arabic Quran that we have today.
It is important to note that the Quran is not a book of science but a book of ‘signs’. These signs are there for people to recognise God’s existence and affirm His revelation. As we know, science sometimes takes a ‘U-turn’ where what once scientifically correct is false a few years later. However, the verses of the Quran have been unchanged since they were revealed, for over 1400 years.
The following are a few of the scientific facts found in the Quran:
1. Origin of Life
Water is essential for all living things. We all know that water is vital to life but the Quran makes a very unusual claim:
"... and made from water every living thing. Then will they not believe?"
In this verse water is pointed out as the origin of all life. All living things are made of cells. We now know, through intensive scientific research, that cells are mostly made up of water. For example, 80% of the cytoplasm (basic cell material) of a standard animal cell is described as water in biology textbooks.
The fact that living things consist mostly of water was discovered only after the invention of the microscope. In the deserts of Arabia, the last thing someone would have guessed is that all life came from water.
Iron is not natural to the earth. It is not a natural resource on earth, instead Iron originated in outer space and was sent down to earth. This may sound strange but it’s true. Scientists have concluded that billions of years ago, the earth was struck by meteorites. These meteorites were carrying Iron from distant stars which had exploded.
The Quran says the following on the origin of Iron:
“And We sent down iron, wherein is great military might and benefits for the people...”
God Almighty uses the words ‘sent down’ for Iron. It is clear from the verse that Iron is not an earthly material, but was sent down for the benefit of humanity. The fact that Iron came down to earth from outer space is something which could not be known by the primitive science of the 7th century. If this choice of accurate words is not a sign that the Quran is the word of the All-knowing God, then what is?
The Quran draws our attention to a very important characteristic of mountains:
"Have We not made the Earth a resting place? And the mountains as stakes?”
The Quran describes mountains as 'stakes' which in fact is an accurate description of the physical characteristics of mountains. Today we have come to know, that mountains have deep roots which 'stake' the mountain into the ground. Actually, mountains have roots below the earth's surface far larger that the size of the mountain above the ground.
The fact that mountains have deep ‘stake’ like roots was not known, until after the development of the theory of plate tectonics in the beginning of the 20th century. - Another sign that the Quran is the word of God.
4. Expansion of the Universe
At a time when the science of Astronomy was still primitive, the expansion of the universe was described in Quran:
“And the heaven We constructed with strength, and indeed, We are [its] expander.”
The fact that the universe is expanding was discovered in the last century. The physicist Stephen Hawking in his book ‘A Brief History of Time’ writes, “The discovery that the universe is expanding was one of the great intellectual revolutions of the 20th century.”.
The Quran mentioned the expansion of the universe even before the invention of the telescope!
These are just some of the many scientific facts found in the Quran. It is important to note that the Quran is not a book of science, but that it is consistent with science. To claim that scientific facts in the Quran are due to coincidence would be irrational. Rather, the Quran is a result of revelation revealed by the All-knowing God to his Prophet.
The main purpose of identifying the scientific facts mentioned in the Quran is to affirm that there is an All-knowing God that exists. We affirm this by concluding that the facts mentioned in the Quran over 1400 years ago in a civilization with almost no scientific advancements could not have been known by anyone other than the Creator. From here we then identify that science does not conflict with the concept of God, rather it is more logical to say that God, the Creator, has perfected the creation of the universe and all that is within it. This perfection is governed by systems and rules that we call science. Through the Quran, God tells us some of the 'secrets' of the universe's creation/systems, if only humanity would listen.
Just like the Quran contains knowledge about the natural world, it also contains information about the inner dimensions of our souls. It relates to our feelings, wants and needs. The Quran informs us that we have a purpose in life, and that following God’s guidance will lead us to inner peace in this life, and Paradise in the hereafter. And that rejection of his message will lead to depression in this life and Hellfire after death.
"We will show them Our signs in the horizons and within themselves until it becomes clear to them that it is the truth. But is it not sufficient concerning your Lord that He is, over all things, a Witness?"