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Chapter-3: Grand Design


The creation of the universe and humanity may be understood as a part of His ‘Grand Design’, which according to Qur’an is based upon trial, balance, justice and mercy. Allah says: “We have created you from the earth, into it We shall return you and from it We shall bring you back to life once again.”(Qur’an;20:55). He has granted freedom of choice to the human through guidance, intellect and reason, resulting in individual responsibility and accountability. However He accepts repentance of sinners and forgives them as He has decreed mercy upon Himself but those who die as rebellious and disobedient to Him, will be punished in hereafter. Allah says: “To Him you shall all return. Allah’s promise is true. He is the One Who originates the process of Creation and repeats it (will bring it back to life) so that He may justly reward (hereafter) those who believed in Him and did righteous deeds. As for those who disbelieved, they shall have boiling fluids to drink and shall undergo a painful punishment because they rejected the truth.”(Qur’an;10:4). The universe has been created in orderly and symmetrical fashion. It has been described in Qur’an: “Moreover He Comprehended in His design the sky and it had been (as) smoke: He said to it and to the earth: “Come ye together willingly or unwillingly.” They said: “We do come (together) in willing obedience.” (Qur’an;41:11); “Do not the Unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together (as one unit of Creation) before We clove them asunder? We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe?” (Qur’an;21:30).
The creation narrative of Qur’an is scientific, not mythological. The Qur’an is the book of guidance, not of science, being the Word of God, ’it does not need verification by science or any other sources, however with the advancement of human knowledge in science and technology, understanding of this Scripture has been further facilitated. According to narrative of Qur’an the creation process of universe took six eons. In His design the sky, had been as smoke, He created the heavens, the making of the sky into the seven firmaments and primeval matter (formless matter) in two eons. The matter was as yet without order, shape, or symmetry. This state may be called Chaos as opposed to Cosmos in Greek Cosmogony. The next stage would be the condensation of this primeval matter, into gases, liquids, or solids: on this subject no precise information is given, it belongs to the realm of physics and geology. The process of creation of heavens and the earth goes along simultaneously. He set the gradual evolution of the form of the earth, its mountains, seas, animal and vegetable life, with the “nourishment in due proportion”, proper to each, in four eons. Hence on the whole, the creation was completed in six eons. (Qur’an; 45:3, 2:29, 7:54, 10:3, 14:19-20, 18:51, 21:30, 23:17, 25:59, 32:4, 40:38, 41:9-12, 46:33, 51:47, 57:4, 55:7, 64, 50, 67:3-4, 87:2, 91:6).
Allah says; “Soon shall We show them Our signs in the universe and in their own selves, until it becomes clear to them that this Qur’an is indeed the truth. Is it not enough that your Lord is a witness over everything?”(Qur’an;41:53). Qur’an  talks about hundreds of things that were not known fourteen hundred year ago, when it was revealed; but they have been scientifically proved recently, some of them are:  The creation of the universe by ‘The Big bang” and smoke (Qur’an;21:30, 41:11). 
Lately E. E. Barnard of the Yerkes Observatory observed certain black spots in front of the great diffuse nebulae that occur throughout our galaxy. Bart J. Bok of Harvard University has investigated these opaque globules of dust and gas; they have about the mass of the sun and about the dimensions of the space between the sun and the nearest star. Lyman Spitzer, Jr., of Princeton University has shown that if large masses of dust and gas exist in space, they should be pushed together by the light of neighboring stars. Eventually, when the dust particles are sufficiently compressed, gravity should collapse the whole mass, and the pressure and temperature in its interior should be enough to start the thermonuclear reaction of a star.
Qur’an mentions about the shape of earth; “And the earth, moreover, hath He made egg shaped (dah-aa -haa).” (Qur’an;79:30). Moon has reflected light and sun has its own light; “And (who) made the moon a light (nur, reflected light) in their midst and made the sun as a (Glorious) Lamp(siraja-own light) (Qur’an;71:16); The Sun Rotates:” It is He Who created the Night and the Day, and the sun and the moon: All (the celestial bodies) swim along, each in its rounded course.”(Qur’an;21:33); “It is not permitted to the sun to catch up the moon, nor can the night outstrip the day: Each (just) swims along in (its own) orbit (according to Law).”(Qur’an;36:40); The other examples are: The sun will extinguish; (Qur’an;36:38,13:2). The expanding nature of universe; (Qur’an;51:47). Atoms can be divided; (Qur’an;10:61). Mountains are like tent pegs firmly fixed providing stability; (Qur’an;78:6-7,21:31,79:32); Darkness in depths of ocean; (Qur’an;24:40). The water cycle;(Qur’an;39:21, 30:24,23:18). Plants & fruits have male and female; (Qur’an;20:53, 13:3). The bee and its skills; (Qur’an;16:68-69). Lifestyle and communication of ants; (Qur’an;27:17-18); Honey has healing for humankind; (Qur’an;16:69); Creation of man from water;(Qur’an;25:54); Creation of living being;“.. We created every living thing from water..” (Qur’an;21:30). Importance of fingerprints: (Qur’an;75:3-4) and the existence of pain receptors in the skin: (Qur’an;4:56).  Embryological stages; (Qur’an;23:12-14, 75:37-39,82:7-8); Embryo partly formed and partly unformed; (Qur’an;22:5). First sense of hearing developed then sense of sight; (Qur’an;32:9,23:78) and Sex determination factor for child; (Qur’an;53:45-46,75:37-39). [For more details refer to books on ; ‘Qur’an and Science’ by Dr.Zakir Naik & “The Bible, The Qur’an and Science” by Dr. Maurice Bucaille].
Finally this world and life will reach its end, followed by the doomsday, the time is only known to God: “Surely Allah Alone has the knowledge of the Hour..”(Qur’an;31:34); “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.”(Mark;13:32). The universe will be destroyed, then recreated: “All that exists on the earth will perish,”(Qur’an;55;26); “But the LORD shall endure for ever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment.”(Psalms;9:7); “For the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?”(Revelation;6:17);“heaven will cleft asunder,”(Qur’an;77:9);“and the sun and the moon will be brought together”(Qur’an;75:9); “On that Day We shall roll up the heavens like a scroll of writings; just as We originated the first creation, so shall We produce it again - that is Our promise, and We will fulfill it.”(Qur’an;21:104); “When the Stars are scattered;”(Qur’an;82:2);“Warn them of the Day when the earth will be changed to a different earth and the heavens as well, and all of them will stand before Allah, the One, the Irresistible;”(Qur’an;14:48).

Biblical Narrative of Creation:

The narrative of creation of universe and humanity is mentioned is Bible (Genesis;Chapters:1-3) with some similarities with the Qur’anic narrative. It is narrated in Bible: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”(Genesis;1:1-2). He called into being, all things out of nothing. This creative act on the part of God was absolutely free, and for infinitely wise reasons. The cause of all things exists only in the will of God: “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.”(Exodus;20:11). The order of creation has been narrated separately for each day.  First day, making light and dividing it from darkness (Geneses;1:3-5; 2 Corinthians;4:6); Second day, making the firmament or atmosphere, and separating the waters (Geneses;1:6-8); Third day, separating the land from the water, and making it fruitful (Geneses;1:9-13); Fourth day, placing the sun, moon, and stars to give light (Geneses;1:14-19); Fifth day, making birds, insects, and fishes (Geneses;1:20-23) and finally on Sixth day, making beasts of the earth, and man (Geneses;1:24,28).
God is glorified for the creations: “Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name; by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing.” (Isaiah;40:26); “O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches. (Psalms;104:24); “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”(Hebrews;11:3). The fact that he is the Creator distinguishes Jehovah as the true God (Isaiah;37:16; 40:12-13; 54:5; Psalms;96:5; Jeremiah;10:11-12). The one great end in the work of creation is the manifestation of the glory of the Creator (Revelation;4:11; Romans;11:36). God’s works, equally with God’s word, are a revelation from him; and between the teachings of the one and those of the other, when rightly understood, there can be no contradiction. However there are many unscientific variations and contradictions, like: Trees were created before man was created.(Genesis;1:11-12, 26-27); Man was created before trees were created.(Genesis;2:4-9).Birds were created before man was created. (Genesis;1:20-21,26-27);Man was created before birds were created (Genesis;2:7,19). Animals were created before man was created (Genesis;1:24-27); Man was created before animals were created.(Genesis;2:7,19). Man and woman were created at the same time.(Genesis;1:26-27);Man was created first, woman sometime later (Genesis;2:7, 21-22). God was pleased with his creation (Genesis;1:31); God was not pleased with his creation.(Genesis;6:5-6),God feeling displeased on His creation is inconsistent with the concept of Omniscience (Having total knowledge).

Comparative Analysis of Creation Narrative of Bible and Qur’an:

The Biblical astrophysical study of the origin and evolution of the universe, reflects old Babylonian cosmogony, the scheme is apparently to be taken literally as to ‘days’. The Qur’anic scheme of creation is wholly different. Allah did not rest, after creation and never rests: “His Throne doth extend over the heavens and the earth, and He feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them”(Qur’an;2:255). Allah’s work has not ended; His activity still goes on (Qur’an;32:5 & 7:54); Man does not come in with land animals; his advent is much later. In contrast to Bible, the Qur’anic stages of creation are not sharply divided from each other, they overlap and have parallels i.e. the stages for earth and heaven are not in rigid sequence of time.
Creation of the Universe in Six Days: As per the Bible, the universe was created in six days and each day is defined as a twenty-four hours period(Genesis;1). Even though the Qur’an mentions that the universe was created in six ‘Ayyaams’, ‘Ayyaam’ is the plural of years; this word means; a day, or ‘stage’, ‘period’ or ‘epoch’, eon; very long period. When the Qur’an mentions that the universe was created in six ‘Ayyaams, it refers to the creation of the heavens and the earth in six long periods or epochs; also affirmed by scientific theories . The creation of the universe has taken billions of years, which contradicts the concept of the Bible which states that the creation of the Universe took six earthly days (of twenty-four hour duration) each.
Sun Created After the Day: The Bible state; that the phenomenon of day and night was created on the first day of creation of the Universe by God (Genesis;1:3-5). The light circulating in the universe is the result of a complex reaction in the stars; these stars were created according to the Bible (Genesis;1:14-19) on the fourth day. It is unscientific to mention the result that is the light (the phenomenon of day and night) was created on the first day of Creation when the cause or source of the light was created three days later. Moreover the existence of evening and morning as elements of a single day is only conceivable after the creation of the earth and its rotation around the sun. On the other hand, the Qur’an does not give any unscientific sequence of Creation.
Creation of the Sun, The Earth and the Moon: According to the Bible, (Genesis;1:9-13), the earth was created on the third day, and as per verses 14 to 19, the sun and the moon were created on the fourth day. The earth and the moon emanated, as well known, from their original star, the Sun. Hence to place the creation of the sun and the moon after the creation of the earth is contrary to the established idea about the formation of the solar system.
Vegetation Created on the third day and Sun on the fourth day: According to Bible(Genesis;1:11-13), vegetation was created on the third day along with seed-bearing grasses, plants and trees; and further on as per verses 14-19, the sun was created on the fourth day. It is scientifically not possible for the vegetation to have appeared without the presence of the sun. Qur’an does not contain any statements which are incompatible with scientific facts. The Sun and the Moon both emit light According to the Bible both the sun and the moon emit their own light: “And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night”(Genesis;1:16). According to science it is a proven fact that the moon does not have its own light. This confirms the Qur’anic concept that the light of the moon is a reflected light.

Synthesis of Islamic & Scientific Narrative of Creation:

By synthesizing the Islamic narratives of creation with the scientific theories, a possible visualization emerges: In the beginning God created a concentrated core of (light) energy, and then, He caused it to explode in a Big Bang, leading to creation of Time, Space and Matter, as understood by human. God is not bound by time or space, for He Himself has created them. This phenomenon of creation out of nothing represents the manifestation of divine command “Be!” The Big Bang did not happen at any specific place as the space itself was created with this explosion. Similarly it did not occur at any particular instant, as the time itself came in to being with the Big Bang. Since then, the universe has been continuously expanding, rotating, and evolving. Many cosmologists have suggested that at a predetermined point in future the universe will stop expanding. From that point onwards, the contraction or folding back phase of the universe will commence- either due to the gravitational pull of the unseen matter exceeding the forces of expansion or as a result of the swallowing up of entire galaxies by Black Holes – leading ultimately to the Big Crunch, which is the disappearance of the cosmos in catastrophic implosion, like the Big Bang in reverse. In terms of modern cosmology the Islamic belief about resurrection can be expressed by stating that the Big Crunch will be followed by another Big Bang, leading to the creation of a new universe that will last forever. This new universe will be totally different from the present universe, utterly beyond the realm of human imagination. The rebirth of all humanity, their final judgement, the Hell and the Paradise, are believed according to the revealed scriptures, though the exact nature of that state of existence is simply inconceivable. As far as end of this world is concerned, it seems that a major catastrophe will take place, destroying a part of this galaxy including the sun and the earth, and that this will happen well before the universal doomsday or the Big Crunch. Probably it is this local doomsday that is referred to in Qur’an as “the Startling Calamity,” “the Hour” and “the Inevitable.”