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Mansoor: More light on Koranic cosmology

Reader comment on item: Britain's Encounter with Islamic Law
in response to reader comment: Plato has finished Tomatoes

Submitted by Plato (India), Mar 18, 2008 at 10:32

Hello again,

Mansoor, let me do a tafsir on this Zakir Naik's take on Koranic cosmology.

You have quoted several verses about the time Allah took to create the universe. All of them talk of days.

But whatever the actual durations all the verses are contradicted by this one about the primal origin of the universe: 002.117 YUSUFALI: To Him is due the primal origin of the heavens and the earth: When He decreeth a matter, He saith to it: "Be," and it is.

So why did Allah struggle for days, be it six or eight, when He could have done it in the blink of an eye? Would any sane being labour for six-eight days over a job when he could do it in a flash?

But let us not be distracted by such small matters and get back to the tafsir on the verses you have provided. Since you have called upon Zakir Naik, the star Muslim batsman, to bat for you I will bring my star bowler, Dr. Richard Carrier to test his batsmanship. Please visit this site : http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/islam.html (Cosmology and the Koran: A Response to Muslim Fundamentalists )

Zakir Naik has cleverly chosen a translation by Yusuf Ali where 41:11 begins with ‘Moreover' whereas most translations start with ‘Then'. Shakir, Pikthal and Maulvi Mohammed Ali use ‘then'. So I am inclined to think that ‘then' would be more correct The reason he has done this is to avoid the time progression of the creation event. Using then would mean that the rest of the universe was created after the earth and so prove Koranic science contradicts known facts.

Carrier points out that there is a clear temporal order to the verses. 41:9 talks of creation of the earth. 41:10 talks of things that could have come only after the creation of the earth, plants and mountains. As Carrier says: "…thus 41:10 follows 41:9 in time, so it is only reasonable to conclude that 41:11 and 41:12 continue the temporal progression--which makes sense, since the one heaven could not have been separated into seven heavens and adorned with stars before it was smoke.

But this is what the very clever Dr. Zakir Naik has to say: …However, the four days in (41:10) include the two days in (41:9), because the processes described in (41:9-10) form one series.….

The reason for this claim according to him is: "In Holy Verses (15:19-20, 13:3, and 16:15) we see that Allah Almighty took special care in planet earth to provide all the necessary means for us to be able to survive. This shows that the four days in (41:10) include the two days in (41:9), because the processes described in (41:9-10) form one series.

Can you believe that? Allah taking four whole days to create this small planet in a remote part of the universe.

Zakir Naik claims because many verses show that he took special care about the earth (the earth which is like a microscopic bit of dust when compared to the rest of the universe takes all of four days for the universe's two days) means that the four days of 41:10 is includes the two days of 4:9. How does the good doctor come to that conclusion?? Does the Koran not frequently claim that it is a clear book easy to understand. Zakir Naik's interpretation contradicts this Koranic dictum.

This is purely Zakir Naik's invention aided by using ‘moreover' instead of ‘then' used by other translators.

Carrier continues: "It gets worse. Verse 41:12 describes in no uncertain terms the last two days of the six days of creation, since it says in these two days creation was "completed," yet it is only then that stars, the "lamps," adorn the sky. This completely reverses scientific reality: earth could not possibly have existed before stars adorned the sky--no planet could. We know that as a matter of firmly-established fact: for only stars can produce the heavy elements of which planets like the earth are made. Yet the Koran says, with no ambiguity and beyond any shadow of a doubt, that stars appear in heaven after the earth. Any book that says that is simply wrong, and certainly not supernaturally inspired."

Some cleverer Muslims than Zakir Naik deny there is any chronological order at all. Dr. Carrier shoots down this claim also: "….But this argument is false, for thumma can in fact mean a chronological "then," and as I have shown the context makes no other interpretation logically possible. But this also entails his own refutation: for if there is no chronology here, then the claim that the universe "originated" as dukhan is not in the Koran at all. By denying the chronological nature of this passage, he denies the very claim he wants to make. It thus does not say anything about the whole universe originating as smoke.

Zakir Naik again: "…In highly poetical language, the earth is described as spread out like a carpet, on which the eternal hills act as weights to keep it steady."

After claiming science in these verses, when the Koran talks of the earth spread like a carpet and hills acting as carpet weights (like paper weights on our tables) the Koranic language now have to be seen as poetical. Carpets are flat and the earth is spherical. Even Zakir Naik knows mountains are not some kind of paper weights to pin down the carpet!

.>>Plato...please please behave...there is no point of contradiction in Quran...<<

Have I misbehaved by any chance for having shown, with considerable help from Dr. Carrier, that your guru Dr. Zakir Naik had better stick to the medical science he has trained in and not stray into cosmology about which he has no clue.

>>…Your continuous attempts are only causing distress and disappointment to you alone.<<

It is not causing me any distress. On the contrary, I am enjoying it.

>> You cannot prove anything wrong in Quran...better start attempting to understand Quran with Positive mindset. It is best in your favour.<<

Merely pleading that the Koran has no contradictions does not help. You have to back it up with solid evidence. If positive mindset means accepting the nonsense science in the Koran, no thank you.

>> I hope your next reply would be little better to accept for me and for the other readers who are hoping that you may come up with a different ammunition stockpile.<<

Since you said something about frustration with my replies I brought in Dr. Carrier for a change. His ammunition is far superior to mine. I hope his counterpoints to Zakir Naik are acceptable to you.

Regards

Plato

Submitting....

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