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Posted by ayaat in Miscellaneous.

It was not until I had learnt Arabic and read the Qur’an in the original that I realized the precise meaning of certain verses. Only then did I make certain discoveries that were astounding. With my basic ideas on the Qur’an – which to begin with were inaccurate, just as those of most people in the West – I certainly did not expect to find in the text the statements that I in fact uncovered. With each new discovery, I was beset with doubt lest I might be mistaken in my translation or perhaps have provided an interpretation rather than a true rendering of the Arabic text.

Only after consultations with several specialists in linguistics and exegesis, both Muslim and non-Muslim, was I convinced that a new concept might be formed from such a study: the compatibility between the statements in the Qur’an and firmly established data of modern science with regard to subjects on which nobody at the time of Muhammad – not even the Prophet himself – could have had access to the knowledge we possess today. Since then, I have not found in the Qur’an any support given to the myths or superstitions present at the time the text was communicated to man. This is not the case for the Bible, whose authors expressed themselves in the language of their period.

In ‘La Bible le Coran et la Science’ (The Bible, the Qur’an and Science), which first appeared in the original French in 1976 and which subsequently appeared in English in 1978, I set forth the main points of these findings. On November 9, 1976, I gave a lecture to the Academia de Medecine (French academy of Medicine) in which I explored the statements of the origins of man contained in the Qur’an; the title of the lecture was ‘Donnees physiologiques et embryologiques de Coran'(Physiological and Embryological Data in the Qur’an). I emphasised the fact that these data – which I shall summarize below – formed part of a much wider study. The following are some of the points which arise from a reading of the Qur’an:

* a concept of the creation of the world which, while different from the ideas contained in the Bible, is fully in keeping with today’s general theories on the formations of the universe;

* statements that are in perfect agreement with today’s ideas concerning the movements and evolution of the heavenly bodies;

* a prediction of the conquest of space;

* notions concerning the water cycle in nature and the earth’s relief, which were not proven correct until many centuries later.

All of these data are bound to amaze anyone who approaches them in

an objective spirit. They add a much wider dimension to the problem studied in the present work. The basic point remains the same , however: we must surely be in the presence of facts which place a heavy strain on our natural propensity for explaining everything in materialistic terms, for the existence in the Qur’an of these scientific statements appears as a challenge to human explanations.

That does not mean to say, however, that the statements in the Qur’an – especially those concerning man – may all of them be examined in the light of the findings of modern science. The creation of man as described in both the Bible and the Qu’ran totally eludes scientific investigation of the event per se.

Similarly, when the New Testament or the Qur’an informs us that Jesus was not born of a father, in the biological sense of the term, we cannot counter this Scriptural statement by saying that there is no example in the human species of an individual having been formed without receiving the paternal chromosomes that make up one half of its genetic inheritance. Science does not explain miracles, for by definition miracles are inexplicable, thus, when we read in both the Qur’an and the Bible that man was moulded from the ground, we are in fact learning a fundamental religious principle: Man returns from where he came, for from the place he is buried, he will rise again on the judgment.

Side by side with the main religious aspect of such reflections on man, we find in the Qur’an statements on man that refer to strictly material facts. They are quite amazing when one approaches them for the first time. For example, the Qur’an describes the origins of life in general and devotes a great deal of space to the morphological transformation undergone by man, repeatedly emphasizing the fact that God fashioned him as He willed. We likewise discover statements on human reproduction that are expressed in precise terms that lend themselves to comparison with the secular knowledge we today possess on the subject.

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