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THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE
(The Holy Qur'an and Science)

HAFIZ MUHAMMAD SALEEM

Universe is a word which gives expression to whatever exists externally throughout the natural phenomena including the whole creation, all stars, planets1 and their satellites 2 etc. According to "The Macmillan Encyclopedia", "the universe consists of all potentially knowable objects - the earth, sun and other solar-system 3 bodies, the stars and other members of our galaxy , 4 countless millions of other galaxies and the matter between these objects". 5 It also includes rocks, metals, gases, dust, animals, people and all movable and immovable bodies etc. Astronomers, however, use the word "Universe" to mean space and all heavenly bodies contained in it. 6 As regards the vastness of the Universe, the earth, sun and planets are tiny dots. The sun is a single star in a galaxy comprising about 100,000 million stars. Earth and other planets rotating round the sun constitute an organized world dimension which, to our human scale, appear quite colossal. The earth is roughly 93 million miles from the sun. This may be a great distance for a human being, but it is very small in comparison to the distance separating the sun from the farthermost planet from it in the solar system. Pluto is forty times the distance from the Earth to the sun, i.e., approximately 3,672 million miles away. This distance, wheli doubled, represents the largest dimension of our solar system. 7

Many theories have been enunciated concerning the origin of the Universe, but the most modern is known as the "Big " Bang" theory. The Big Bang was first proposed in 1:920 by   Georges Lemaitre, that all the matter and radiation in the Universe originated in an immense explosion, with it began the expansion of the Universe, which still continues. The explosion occurred about 10 to 20 thousand million years ago. Since the initially high temperature of hydrogen and helium,were able to form the observed cosmic abundance othelium, it agrees very well with the predicted value. This matter eventually interacted to form galaxies. Lemaitre pointed out in 1931 that if the outward movement of all the galaxies were traced backwards, then they would presumably meet in a single point. This large blob of matter, known as the primeval atom or cosmic egg, must have been all that existed of the Universe in the distant past. This giant blob ofmatter for some reaso?, exploded, flinging material outwards like a bomb; This marked the creation (origin) of the Universe. 8

Another striking and astonishing discovery about the Universe is Hubble's Law of Expanding Universe. 9 According to this- theory , the expansion of the Universe is go.ing on and this expansion is isotropic -that is, the same ill all directions. It states that the light from distant galaxies is subject to a Red Shift 10 which arises from the recession of the galaxies from us.

Recently, it came out that the scientists have found giant galaxies which appear to be much larger tpan the Milky Wayll and are 10 billion light years away from earth. The galaxies have been identified for the first time and may help scientists determine whether the Universe is'expanding indefinitely or isfated to collapse inwardly itself.

The Holy Qur'an -the final and lastmessage of the Creator, very obviously and clearly reveals the basic facts about the creation of the Universe. It explains that all that exists in the Universe, is a result of His act of creation. The sun, the moon, the skies, the earth and everything which lies between them have been created with due proportion - The Holy Book reveals about the creation of Universe:

"Allah the Originator of the heavens and the earth when He decreeth a thing, He Says unto it only: Be and it is." 12

The verse indicates that Allah is the Originator of the heavens and earth.  The Arabic word "   "  denotes the impression of  "something out of nothingness" as the Holy Qur'an says: 13  The Holy Qur'an further says:  "He is Who created the heavens and the earth in truth". 14

Allamah Raghib says that "al-khlq" is used to indicate about such a new thing which is not modelless, but when it is applied to describe the quality of creation of Allah, it means the creation of anew thing out of nothingness as the Holy Qur'an tells 15  About th ecreation of Universal and physical phenomena, the Holy Qur'an reveals: "And Allah is Who created the night and the day, and the sun and the moon". 16  "It is He Who made the sun a splendour and the moon a light, and measured her stages, so that you might know the number of years, and the reckoning, Allah created not that save in truth.  He detaileth the r4evelations for people who have knowledge".17

"Have they not seen that Allah Who created the heavens and the earth, and was not wearied by their creation is able to give life to the dead". 18

The Holy verses mentioned above make it clear that Allah has created this physical world with due proportion and is able to create a new world like this and it is very easy for Him to create and repeat the action after the collapse of the Universe. His decree is the source of origination of matter and energy and of all the physical laws and forces governing them. His intention about creation of Universe is the source of origination of each and everything found allover the Universe.

The Process of Creation

The process of creation of the Universe has been explained in the Holy Qur'an at various places but the following verses present a brief synthesis of the phenomena that constituted the basic process of the formation of the Universe, the verses reveal:
 "Do not the Unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together, then We clove them asunder and We got every living thing out of water. Will they not then believe?". 19

The second verse speaks about the formation of the heaven after the creation of the earth, which reflects a sequence in the process of creation as:
   "Then He turned to the heaven when it was smoke and said unto it and to earth, come both of you, willing or loth. They said we come, obedient".20

The first verse (21:30) reveals the following facts that:

1- The material which formed the Universe was a single entity.
2- The entire Universe was joined as one piece.
3- The separation occurred systematically to produce the II physical laws and ordering of matter. Not -only is there order for our solar system and for stars wi thin our galaxy, but the galaxies are part of a higher ordering. Instead of being randomly scattered across the Universe,  galaxies are grouped in clusters. Within the cluster the galaxies orbit  their common centre of mass 21

Ibn Kathir has reported some early interpretations of the verse which indicate that Hadrat Ibn ' Abbas, Ibn 'Umar and  Mujahid were of the opinion that "The Heaven was one whole piece and Allah divided it into seven heavens and the earth r was one whole piece and Allah divided it into seven earths while Al-Hasan and Qatadah said that "they were all one   whole piece and they were separated from one another by the atmosphere".22

In recent days, Dr.Maurice Bucaille's stand is very much closer to the ideas of the above mentioned scholars of Islam. He states that "the concept of the disintegration of a whole into several parts is indicated from the word 'FATQ'. FATQ which denotes the meaning of process of separation of primary single mass whose elements were initially fused together (FATQ). the  Arabic word fatq gives the impression of breaking, diffusing, separating while ratq is the action of fusing or binding together to make a homogeneous whole".23

According to contemporary scientific theory "the big bang" did occur from a single cataclysmic event at a single moment of time and at extraordinarily high temperature. It is presumed that at the tIme of big bang the whole Universe was condensed to a single piece at a single point from which the parting occurred, however, the physical laws were not "produced" by the big bang. 24   Here it is clear that the theory of big bang is very close to tlie information given by the Holy Qur'an and it is very much amazmg that the Holy Book revealed it 1400  years ago when there was no sign of such scientific researches.

Moreover the Holy Book reveals the facts about the expansion of the Universe as: "
    "And it is We Who have built the. heavens .with power, and venly It is We Who are steadily expanding".25

When we try to understand th::ocess of expansion of the universe in the light of modern knowledge, we come to know that hydrogen in the sun is continuously converted by nuclear fusion to helium; and star-dust is nothing but a high grade nuclear fuel. Thus the whole Universe is constituted or built of might, or packed energy or power and is expanding. These findings are based on the assumption that the 'Red Shift' results from the Doppler effect on the light from receding objects, and measures their velocity of recession.

About the vastness and expansion of universe, Qur'anic description of Alamin is a matter of great importance, The term 'Worlds' reappears dozens of times in the Holy Qur'an as:
    "But Allah is Gracious unto the Worlds", 26
         "Say: Verily my prayer and my rites and my living and my dying are all for Allah, Lord of the Worlds". 27
         "Lo! His is the Creation and the Command. Blessed is Allah, the Lord of the Worlds". 28
        "And We have not sent thee except as a mercy unto the Worlds", 29 Verily I am Allah, the Lord of the Worlds". 30

All the above mentioned verses indicate that Allah. is the sole Lord-Originator, Sustainer and Organiser of the worlds while the term "Worlds" give the concept of plurality of worlds, In the context of plurality of worlds, 'All am ah Raghib says that Allah has created more than ten thousand worlds including our own. Tafsir Ibn Kathir also confirms the idea of plurality of worlds while describing the meanings of Alamin. The concept of a number of worlds has also been elaborated by Imam Razl approving the notion of "Worlds".

The above Qur'anic verses clearly reveal that there are so many worlds, other than that in which we are living and life certainly exists there, There are also billions of galactic systems and each galactic system has billions of stars and planets within each system. If only one star in every 100,000 of the 100,000 million stars that exist in the Milky Way alone has one planet which bears Earth-like life, that still means there may be a million such planets that could communicate with Earth.  However, in the light of modern knowledge of cosmology, it can be anticipated that the active communication to other planets would be Possible in near future.

The fact of seven heavens has also been described in the Holy Qur'an as:

"(Allah) is the One Who created for you all that is on the earth. Moreover He turned to the heavens and fashioned seven heavens with harmony. He is full of knowledge of all things". 31 "We have created seven paths above you. We have never been unmindful of the creation". 32 "Allah is the One Who created seven heavens one above another. Thou canst see no fault in the creation of th

There must be many heavens and earths, and it comes as no small surPrise to the reader of the Holy Qur'an to find that earths such as our Own may be found in the universe, as the Holy Book says:
    "Allah is the One Who created seven heavens and of the earth a similar number. The command descends among them so that you know that Allah has power over all things and comprehends all things in His Knowledge".34

According to Maurice Bucaille, "The word seven indicates an indefinite plurality. It is Possible to conclude that the Qur'anic Text clearly indicates the existence of more than one single earth, there are others like it in the Universe. Another observation which reveals the fact that verses refer to three groups of things created, i.e.
-  things in the heavens
-  things on the earth
-  things between the heavens and the earth".35

All the verses quoted above and many other passages of the Holy Book describe the plurality and multiplicity of the heavens and the earth, and the balanced and controlled movements of the heavenly bodies in extreme precision and regularity according to the Law of their Creator. The review of Prof. Muhammad Qutb, about the Universal phenomena may be quoted here with advantage: "the celestial phenomena draw human attention to the glory of God and show that all the Universe, with its immense space and unlimited number of celestial bodies, which seem so huge in comparison to man's world and beyond his comprehension, is just a tiny part of the Kingdom of Allah. Man is advised to learn a lesson from this natural world. How many spiritual journeys can we make into Allah's miraculous phenomena in this Universe, which is simultaneously huge and orderly? Our minds, as well as our finest and most developed, well equipped machinery, fail to reach the depths of its vastness, or conceive the hugeness of its stars and planets, or comprehend the miraculous precision intheir undisturbed circulation". 36

A scientific data concerning the hugeness of the Universe has been given by Dr. Maurice Bucaille which can be concluded that "the sunbeam takes nearly six hours to reach Pluto, and yet the journey is made at the speed of over 186,000 miles per second. The light coming from stars on the very confines of the known celestial world therefore takes billions of years to reach us". 37

This brief analysis of the natural world may help us understand the meanings of the Qur'llnic Version -"We have built the heavens with power and We are steadily expanding". 38 Referring to the condition of ash and smoke in the early history of the Universe, the Holy Qur'an reveals:
    "Then He turned to the heaven when it was smoke and said unto it and unto the earth come both of you, willingly or loth, they said we come obedient". 39

The existence at an early stage of the Universe of the 'smoke' referred to the above mentioned verse, meaning thepredominantly gaseous state of the material that composes it. Modern science gives forth the concept of nebula which deals with the primary stage of the Universe.

When we read the two verses: "Do not the unbelievers see that the heavens and' earth were one single entity, which We then parted asunder" (21:30), and the second verse "then He turned to the heaven when it was smoke (41:11)", we draw the conclusion that process of formation occurred as a result of condensation of the primary nebula and then their separation. This is exactly what the Qur'an reveals clearly when it refers to -the processes that produced a fusion and subsequent separation starting from a celestial 'smoke'. This is, what  modern science is trying to explain about the origin of the Universe.

The Holy Qur'an has described the past and present of the Universe in a manner that proves much of the modern scientific knowledge of the cosmos. Upto date research in cosmology could  have hardly been imaginable to scientists even 50 years ago.The Holy Qur'an mentioned all these facts 1400 years ago which is an open invitation to the whole humanity.to believe in the supremacy of the Holy Qur'an and Islam.

NOTES and REFERENCES

1. Planet is a celestial body that moves around a star and shines by      light  reflected     from its surface. The only known planets are those      orbiting the sun. There are nine major planets and numerous minor      planets. The major planets in order from the Sun are Mercury, Venus,      Earth and Mars, Juipter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune and outermost      Pluto. (The Macmillan Encyclopedia).
2. Satellite is a celestial body orbiting a planet. The planets of the solar      system have at least fifty known satellites, ranging greatly in size.
3. Solar system: A system comprising the sun and the astronomical     bodies ! gravitationally bound to the sun, that is the nine major     planets, their satellites and the immense number of minor planets,     comets and The planets orbit the sun in the same direction, and with     the exceptio of Pluto, move in the paths close to the earth's orbit.and     the sun's equator .
4. Galaxy: Huge assemblies of many millions of stars, gas and dust      bound together by gravitational interactions.
5. The Macmillan Encyclopedia; 1986, p. 1250.
6. Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, 1986, VI/1819.
7. Maurice Eucaine: The Bible, The Qur'cln and Science, p. 142.
8. Fateh rnlah Khan: God, Universe and Man, Wajidalis, Lahore, 1982,     p.22. 1929 following the observations that the light from distant     Galaxies is subject to a red shift.
10. Red Shift means an over all displacement towards larger wave      lengthsof the spectral lines of a celestial object. Its astronomical      significance was suggested by Edwin Hubble in 1929, when it was      used as the basis of the Theory that the Universe is expanding. A      red shift usually arises from the 'Doppler effect', that is from      recession of a celestial object.
11. Milky Way is a diffused band of light that is seen, on a clear      moonless night, stretching across the sky. It is composed of      innumerable stars that are too faint to be seen individually.
12. The Holy Qur'an: 2:117.
13. Imam Raghib: Al-Mufradiit-ul-Qur'an, Karachi, 1961, p. 37.
14. The Holy Qur'cin, 6:73.
15. Al-Mufradat-ul-Qur'an, p. 157. I 16. The Holy Qur'5n, 21 :33.
17. lbid., 10:5.
18. The Holy Qur'an, 46:33.
19. Ibid., 21:30.
20. Ibid., 41:11.
21. A.M.A. Zindani & Mustafa Ahmed: The Origin and Expansion of the        Universe, paper presented at the International Conference on        Scientific Miracles of Qur'an and Sunnah, Islamabad, 1987.
22. Tafsir ibn Kathir, Dar Al-Shaab, vol. 5, p. 332.
23. The Bible, The Qur'iin and Science, p. 139.
24. Refer to Dr .Mustafa's paper (Reference No.21).
25 The Holy Qur'an, 51:47.
26. Ibid., 2:251.
27. Ibid., 6:163.
28. Ibid., 7:54.
29. Ibid., 21:107.
30. Ibid., 28:30.
31. Ibid., 2:29.
32. Ibid., 23:17.
33. Ibid., 67:2-4.
34. Ibid., 65:12.
35. The Bible, The Qur'an and Science, p. 140.
36. Mzalur Rahman: Qur'anic Science. The Muslim School Trust        London,1981, p. 53. -
37. The Bible, The Qur'an and Science, p. 143.
38. The Holy Qur'an, 5:47.
39. Ibid., 41:11.
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This article has been published in Hamdard lslamicus, Vol. xnI, No.3, 1990.