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Copyright 2009 Joseph A Islam: Article last modified 24th November 2011


It is often asserted in modern Muslim thought that the Quran revealed scientific facts long before they were discovered.


Indeed, the Quran imparts fantastic creative signs of God from human creativity to cosmic space (etc). However, these signs were primarily advanced to the Arab audience of the 6th-7th century so that could readily understand and appreciate it.


This information was not imparted to turn the desert Arabs into future scientists, or to present information which could only be verified 1400 years later by modern scientific developments. Rather, the purpose was to present clear arguments to the Arabs with a view to remove all doubts, so that they could relate to them and understand the authority and power of their Creator behind the claims.  


It would be pointless to present 'facts' which the desert Arabs could never verify. Neither would there be much point to present them with arguments which they could not comprehend nor with details that they could ever grasp. This would actually run contrary to the advice given in verse 17:36.



"And do not follow that of which you have no knowledge. Indeed! the hearing and the sight and the heart - of each of these you will be questioned"


Of course, today's advancements in modern science can better understand some of the information presented by the Quran in further details. This is no doubt fascinating and this presents a cogent reason of its Divine source.  However, this should not obscure the primary function of the 'facts' presented by the Quran which was to convince the desert Arabs of its arguments.


Clearly, any information which would contradict the understanding of the desert Arabs would only cause to heighten the tension they may have already had with the revelation. This would only lend to their claims of a false document.


As an example, let us note the following verse:



"And that He is the Lord of Sirius (Arabic: Shi'ira)"


This pointed reference of the star seems to denote some connection that the desert Arabs had with the celestial object, possibly as an entity of Pagan worship. The fact that Sirius was a point of fascination to the ancients is even attested by other ancient communities such as the Greeks, that referred to it as 'Seirios' (glowing or scorching), which clearly denotes its brightness in the night sky.


However, the Quran made reference to confirm what the Arabs 'knew' in truth. For example, God did not reveal that He was the Lord of the two stars Sirius (a new scientific piece of information) which indicates the binary system that Sirius is part of (Sirius A and B). Such a revelation would only serve to appear to the Arabs as clearly false (even though it is true) and something they could never verify.


Similarly, the Quran recalls:


And that He created pairs, the male and the female. From a drop (of seed) (Arabic: nutfatin) when it is emitted (Arabic: tum'na); 

The Arabic: 'nutfatin' is most likely a reference to semen within the context of the verse. This is a concept that the desert Arabs would clearly be able to relate with reminding them of their miniscule and humble beginnings. However, as the fact is undoubtedly true, further scientific developments can only further deepen its understanding to the point that one can confirm that it is indeed the male that is responsible for determining the gender of a child.


In this way, science further elucidates and confirms the 'facts' presented by the Quran. What is important to remember however, is that the verse was not revealed for science 'to catch up' to explain its 'primary' meaning and relevance which the desert Arabs would have clearly grasped.


Similarly, the fact that embryological stages were appreciated even by communities before the Arabs of the 7th century is well attested in another verse.


"His companion said to him while he was talking to him "Do you disbelieve in the One who created you from dust, then from a drop (of seed), then fashioned you into a man?"

Therefore, there is no reason to assume that such knowledge was new information for the Arabs.






The Quran does indeed present fascinating facts and reveals a heightened understanding and appreciation of creation and its environment. However, the primary focus for the presentation of these facts was to convince the desert Arabs. No doubt as science would have advanced, further insights into the Quranic statements would have become apparent.


Only a message from a Divine Creator can remain so timeless and in perfect harmony with advancement in thought and science.


The Quran remains just that; a completely 'timeless' and 'truthful' message.




Joseph Islam

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