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  • Raya Shokatfard


Updated: Nov 2, 2020

By: Raya Shokatfard

Allah began this chapter by reminding us about the Quran and the messenger who received the revelation from Him.

He then invited us to Him by reminding us that our Illah (God) is only One God.

He then showed us that if we reject His message, we would be labeled disbelievers or among the Mushrikoon who worshipped other than Him.

He further described these kinds of people as a way of warning to us followed by the process of the Earth’s creation.

We now continue…

{Then He rose over (Istawa) the heaven when it was smoke, and said to it and to the earth: “Come both of you willingly or unwillingly.” They both said: “We come, willingly.} (41:11)

The word “then” is used at the beginning of the verse, seemingly indicates that the creation of the heavens or the Universe took place after the creation of Earth. This has been an issue of contention by the critics or skeptics about the Quran, claiming that this is a contradiction to other verses that indicates the heavens were created first and then the Earth, which also agrees with the Bible and scientific facts.

Let us look at one of the so called contradictory statements on chapter An-Nazi’at:

{Is your creation more difficult or that of the sky? He has built it, He has raised its height, then made it proper. And darkened its night, and brought forth its daylight. And, after that, He spread out the earth. From it, He brought out its water and its meadows. And firmly fixed the mountains.} (79:27-32)

Islamic scholars unanimously agree that the Earth was created after the heavens.

Although the majority of the verses of the Quran are quite easy to understand and do not need further in depth knowledge of the details, issues such as the one mentioned above require a deeper understanding of all related verses. With such knowledge, one will notice there are no contradictions at all.

Islamic scholars unanimously agree that the Earth was created after the heavens. One may ask then why the verses above mention otherwise?

A detailed explanation on this website may clarify this issue.

The statement, “rose over the heaven”, is said to mean He turned his attention toward heaven. We see here the heaven is singular and not plural. This means that at the beginning the seven heavens or the universe were all in form of gas/smock and were not yet separated as Allah says, “and it was smoke.”

We also see another verse that clarifies the statements on the above link. It is clear here that heaven was already created, but not the “Seven Heavens.” The Earth was created afterwards but all that which is on it was created before the creation of seven heaven. Here we note:

{It is He who created for you all of that which is on the Earth. Then He directed Himself to the heaven, [His being above all creation], and made them seven heavens, and He is Knowing of all things.} (2:29)

Another useful link offers more insight in this issue.

The following statement is from above website indicates:

“Nowhere does Allah say here that He made Earth first and then He made heaven. He merely says that he made all that is on earth and then He turned to heaven that was already created.

If Allah had really created heaven after he created the earth then why would He say “Then He Istawa (rose over) towards the heaven”? After the creation of Earth, how can He “Istawa (rise over) towards the heaven” when he hasn’t created it yet in the first place? The only possible explanation for this is that Heaven and Earth were already created.

Allah made the affairs of the seven heavens as He did same for the earth.

Does this verse say Allah created the Earth?

No! This verse talks only about the “things on earth” and not earth itself! This verse speaks only about the division of heaven and not about its creation.”

Furthermore, the Quran does not lay down a definitive sequence of events in 41:9-12 or any other place in the Quran. For example, it does not say First He did this, followed by next stages, but He does give us the total of the 6 periods of creation mentioned in many places in the Quran (7:54, 10:3, 11:7, 25:59, 32:4, 57:4, 50:38). Important to note that each time we are told that creation is completed in six periods the word heavens always precedes the word Earth.[i]

We move on to the next section of the verse. What is meant when Allah mentions: {said to it and to the earth: ‘Come both of you willingly or unwillingly.” They both said: “We come, willingly”}?

There are various verses in the Quran where Allah indicates that everything that He has created, prostrate to Him. Prostration only occurs if there is a consciousness; and if there is consciousness, there must be will. So would it not be easy for Him to bestow the consciousness of His existence upon all that He created? If such consciousness in fact does exist, would it be surprising that they all submit themselves to Him?[ii]

{Do you not see that to Allah prostrates whoever is in the heavens and the earth and the sun and the moon and the stars and mountains and trees and animals and many people…} (22:18)

Such prostrations are indications of state of humility in these creatures toward the Creator. Yet, humans do not perceive the depth of wisdom at work in creation of this vast universe and all the living beings.

{Then He completed and finished from their creation (as) seven heavens in two Days and He made in each heaven its affair. And We adorned the nearest (lowest) heaven with lamps (stars) to be an adornment as well as to guard. Such is the Decree of Him the All-Mighty, the All-Knower.} (41:12)

The above verse indicates that Allah made the affairs of the seven heavens as He did the same for the earth.

The word used for two days here, contrary to biblical assertion that it was 2 periods of 24 hours, actually means periods of time as well as days in Arabic. Additionally, how would there be “days without a sun?” Each period could be billions of years.

And We adorned the nearest (lowest) heaven with lamps (stars)…” is another alleged contradiction that there are stars all over the universe and not just the nearest heaven which is close to Earth.

It is logical to assert that by “seven heavens” Allah may have intended to point to the entire universe.

Furthermore, related questions are put forth by the skeptics to challenge similar issues such as the following:

The Quran teaches that there are seven heavens one above the other (67:3, 71:15), and that the stars are in the lower heaven (67:5, 37:6, 41:12), but the moon is depicted as being in/inside the seven heavens (71:16), even though in reality the stars are much further away from the earth than the moon.[iii]

Response: A closer look at each verse above, the issue becomes clearer that there are no scientific contradictions here.

First let us look at the location of the earth, the moon, planets and the stars:

As we can see, the moon is closest to the earth, and stars are much farther away.

Now, let us examine a related verse.

{[And] who (Allah) created seven heavens in layers. You do not see in the creation of the Most Merciful any inconsistency. So return [your] vision [to the sky]; do you see any breaks?} (67:3)

It is logical to assert that by “seven heavens” Allah may have intended to point to the entire universe.

Biblical version of Creation also seems to be in agreement with this concept:

The Hebrew word for “heavens” is shamayim, it is in a plural form, meaning “heights,” “elevations.” It is found in the first verse of the Bible (Genesis 1:1; 2:1). The Bible teaches in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, He did not make another heaven after this time. The phrase “heavens and earth” are used to indicate the whole universe (Genesis 1:1; Jeremiah 23:24; Acts 17:24). According to the Jewish tradition from the Bible there were three heavens. All are attributed to God as the creator. Psalm 102:25 “Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands.”[iv]

The Quran indicates that the nearest heavens were adorned with stars. Is it possible that humans have only discovered the nearest heavens that include all we can see or perceive and we have no knowledge of the other heavens?

{And We have certainly beautified the nearest heaven with stars…} (67:5)

So, if the entire universe consists of seven layers, we can easily imagine that the first layer which is so vast beyond our imagination would include not only the earth, the moon, the plants, but perhaps billions of stars in the same layer.

So, here again it is mentioned that the stars are in the nearest heaven, and leaves no other assumption but to understand that the other heavens are meant to cover the entire universe.

Let us conclude this section by reminding ourselves that Allah only speaks the truth and our own shortcoming in understanding His words should not allow us to fall into doubt. We also have to deal with those who try to discredit Allah’s Word with patience and forbearance.

{We did not create the heavens and the earth and all that is between them save with truth (meaningfully, and with definite purpose, and on solid foundations of truth); and the Last Hour is surely bound to come. So, overlook (the faults of the people, O Messenger) with a gracious forbearance.} (15:85)

To be continued…

[ii] Shokatfard, Raya. Quran Contradictions Addressed. Islamic Online University, Thesis 2014. [iii] ibid [iv]


Published on:  Friday, 16 May 2014

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