The story of creation in the Bible and the Qur’an are the same, right?
They ought to be. We’re told so often that Christians and Muslims believe in the same God. If that’s true, how could they possibly be different from each other? I mean – creation is creation. So “Christian creation” has to line up with “Muslim creation”.
So, how come they don’t? Why are they different?
Creation – up to, but not including, man
In the Bible, we are told about the creation of the universe in 25 brief and contiguous verses. Not only that, but they are right at the beginning. Appropriately, the beginning is at the beginning.
Ge 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
Ge 1:3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
Ge 1:6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.” 7 So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the expanse “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.
Ge 1:9 And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.
Ge 1:11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.
Ge 1:14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.
Ge 1:20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.
Ge 1:24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
As I said – very concise. It flows, from one event to the next.
The only real issue here is over the use of the word “day”. As pointed out in another article, Is evolution a concept from Satan?, “day” can also be – and should be – translated as “a period of time related to an event” when talking about creation. That’s in the definition of the Hebrew word. It was part of their culture. For whatever reason, modern translations continue to use the word “day” – leading to all sorts of issues that should never have come up. The thing to realize and remember – the Hebrew word is not our 24-hour day, but it is this period of time concept. Something like “epoch” would be a much better word to use.
When we move to the Qur’an, creation is covered in more than a dozen different chapters. And each chapter has only a verse or two about creation. There is no single narrative, as there is in the Bible. That in itself is surprising. But there is more to wonder about. Here are those verses, in order of revelation. Note: Since the Qur’an is not printed in chronological order, the chapter numbers will not be in numerical order. Given that single verses are pulled from passages to determine the details of the creation, enough of the passage will be provided to show the context within which the information is given. You’ll see that the context is more about condemning people that it is about creation.
THE FIFTIETH SŪRAH – Qāf
34th in chronological order
(36) AND HOW MANY a generation have We destroyed before those [who now deny the truth]– people of greater might than theirs – but [when Our chastisement befell them,] they became wanderers on the face of the earth, seeking no more than a place of refuge.
(37) In this, behold, there is indeed a reminder for everyone whose heart is wide-awake – that is, [everyone who] lends ear with a conscious mind – (38) and [who knows that] We have indeed created the heavens and the earth and all that is between them in six aeons, and [that] no weariness could ever touch Us.
Note: Although this particular translation uses the word “aeons”, when going to http://corpus.quran.com/qurandictionary.jsp?q=ywm#(10:3:10) to actually get a word by word translation from Arabic to English, the original Arabic word is “days”. To me, this indicates the translator of this edition of the Qur’an is updating the words to provide what is currently known. One of the great disappointments of English translators using “day” when the Hebrew word indicates “a period of time related to an event” is that Moses recorded something akin to “eon” thousands of years ago – long before humans had any such knowledge. A modern translation of the Qur’an substituting a word that portrays something other than the original revelation, which was supposed to have come from God via Gabriel, should be questioned. We’ll see more on this later.
So the first we learn of creation in the Qur’an is told along with the destruction of many generations. It’s certainly an interesting way to see the introduction of the universe in which we live.
Furthermore, given that this is the very first statement even related to creation, the only source of information about God creating the universe must come from the Bible. Given the change in attitude over time towards Jews and Christians, this is fascinating. In the earlier chapters, Muslims are expected to learn much about God from the Jewish and Christian texts. As time moves on, Muslims are told that these same texts are (and were) corrupted. Surely, if this was true – the angel Gabriel would have known that and not misdirected Muslims to something that was corrupted?
THE SEVENTH SARA – Al-A`rāf (The Faculty Of Discernment)
39th in chronological order
(54) VERILY, your Sustainer is God, who has created the heavens and the earth in six aeons, and is established on the throne of His almightiness. He covers the day with the night in swift pursuit, with the sun and the moon and the stars subservient to His command: oh, verily, His is all creation and all command. Hallowed is God, the Sustainer of all the worlds!
(55) Call unto your Sustainer humbly, and in the secrecy of your hearts. Verily, He loves not those who transgress the bounds of what is right: (56) hence, do not spread corruption on earth after it has been so well ordered. And call unto Him with fear and longing: verily, God’s grace is ever near unto the doers of good!
Six aeons again. This time, with something on those whom God doesn’t love and a warning about spreading corruption.
THE TWENTY-FIFTH SŪRAH – Al-Furqān (The Standard Of True And False)
42nd in chronological order
(58) Hence, place thy trust in the Living One who dies not, and extol His limitless glory and praise: for none is as aware of His creatures’ sins as He – (59) He who has created the heavens and the earth and all that is between them in six aeons, and is established on the throne of His almightiness: the Most Gracious! Ask, then, about Him, [the] One who is [truly] aware.
(60) Yet when they [who are bent on denying the truth] are told, “Prostrate yourselves before the Most Gracious,” they are wont to ask, “And [who and] what is the Most Gracious? Are we to prostrate ourselves before whatever thou biddest us [to worship]?” – and so [thy call] but increases their aversion.
Six aeons, yet again. this time, it’s with a warning to Muhammad that some will not listen to his message.
THE TENTH SŪRAH – Yūnus (Jonah)
51st in chronological order
(3) VERILY, your Sustainer is God, who has created the heavens and the earth in six aeons, and is established on the throne of His almightiness,governing all that exists. There is none that could intercede with Him unless He grants leave therefor.Thus is God, your Sustainer: worship, therefore, Him [alone]: will you not, then, keep this in mind?
(4) Unto Him you all must return: this is, in truth, God’s promise – for, behold, He creates [man] in the first instance, and then brings him forth anew to the end that He may reward with equity all who attain to faith and do righteous deeds; whereas for those who are bent on denying the truth there is in store a draught of burning despair and grievous suffering because of their persistent refusal to acknowledge the truth.
(5) He it is who has made the sun a [source of] radiant light and the moon a light [reflected],and has determined for it phases so that you might know how to compute the years and to measure [time]. None of this has God created without [an inner] truth.Clearly does He spell out these messages unto people of [innate] knowledge:
(6) for, verily, in the alternating of night and day, and in all that God has created in the heavens and on earth there are messages indeed for people who are conscious of Him!
Note: while the index indicates only verse 3, it’s obvious that other verses in this passage also relate to creation.
The six aeons again is here. We do get some additional information about the creation as well. However, it’s still got warnings such as for those who are bent on denying the truth there is in store a draught of burning despair and grievous suffering.
THE ELEVENTH SŪRAH – HŪd
52nd in chronological order
(6) And there is no living creature on earth but depends for its sustenance on God; and He knows its time-limit [on earth] and its resting-place [after death]:all [this] is laid down in [His] clear decree.
(7) And He it is who has created the heavens and the earth in six aeons; and [ever since He has willed to create life,] the throne of His almightiness has rested upon water.[God reminds you of your dependence on Him] in order to test you [and thus to make manifest] which of you is best in conduct. For thus it is: if thou sayest [unto men], “Behold, you shall be raised again after death!” – they who are bent on denying the truth are sure to answer, “This is clearly nothing but an enchanting delusion!”
The six aeons continues to be mentioned. And once again, a warning, that this is a test to see who is best in conduct. Also, there is the warning about those who won’t listen again.
While the best in conduct practically screams for an explanation, this isn’t the place. I’ll just point out that this is in direct conflict with Christianity – and let you know we will return to this concept.
Note: At this point, I feel a need to point out, although it’s probably obvious, that this is getting quite long. Certainly, it’s much longer than the Bible. And while the six aeons keeps being repeated, there are other bits and pieces that come out along the way. In the interest of completeness, and so as to not be accused to leaving something out, I’ll continue to go through the entries in the index for “creation”.
THE FIFTEENTH SŪRAH – Al-Ḥijr
54th in chronological order
(16) AND, INDEED, We have set up in the heavens great constellations,and endowed them with beauty for all to behold;
(17) and We have made them secure against every satanic force accursed – (18) so that anyone who seeks to learn [the unknowable] by stealth is pursued by a flame clear to see.
(19) And the earth – We have spread it out wide, and placed on it mountains firm, and caused [life] of every kind to grow on it in a balanced manner, (20) and provided thereon means of livelihood for you [O men] as well as for all [living beings] whose sustenance does not depend on you.
(21) For no single thing exists that does not have its source with Us;and nought do We bestow from on high unless it be in accordance with a measure well-defined.
(22) And We let loose the winds to fertilize [plants],and We send down water from the skies and let you drink thereof: and it is not you who dispose of its source – (23) for, behold, it is We – We alone – who grant life and deal death, and it is We alone who shall remain after all else will have passed away!
(24) And well do We know [the hearts and deeds of all human beings – both] those who lived before you and those who will come after you; (25) and, behold, it is thy Sustainer who will gather them all together [on Judgment Day]: verily, He is wise, all-knowing!
Finally, a reference to creation without the word aeons. However, we do see some interesting things in this passage.
We have made them secure against every satanic force – This is new. The concept of creation being secure against every satanic force isn’t in the Bible. If it’s true, it also begs the question of whether or not Islam sees this as a fallen world like Christians do. (More on that in later articles.) One of two scenarios must exist from this claim of being secure against satanic forces. (1) The universe, including our world, has not been affected by Satan in any way. That would mean this world is exactly the way God intended it to be. Or, (2) whatever was done to secure against satanic forces didn’t work. That means either God underestimated Satan’s power or God failed to “build” adequate protection even though He knew Satan’s power. Either way – this is not a good thing.
From the [RK] translation, we read this:
[15:17] And we guarded it against every rejected devil. [15:18] If any of them sneaks around to listen, a mighty projectile will chase him back.
Very interesting. Devils aren’t even allowed to listen, let alone be able to corrupt anything. On top of that – the wording of these two translations is so far apart, as is the image portrayed by them, that it’s hard to believe both could be an accurate translation. The image of a mighty projectile chasing devils away is very specific – as opposed to the more general statement of being made secure.
We have spread it out wide, and placed on it mountains firm. This is also new. It’s not in the Bible either. Going back to the [RK] translation, we read the following.
[15:19] As for the earth, we constructed it, and placed on it stabilizers (mountains), and we grew on it a perfect balance of everything. The Greeks discovered the earth was round more than 100 years before this revelation was given. It’s curious that the angel Gabriel, delivering God’s message, would not have known that the earth wasn’t placed on mountains – as stabilizers or anything else. As a round object, the earth isn’t built on anything solid. And the mountains are on the surface of the earth, not underneath it providing stabilizing support. As the creator of everything, would God not have known that? And would God have told (or allowed) Gabriel to give a false message to the people? Not to mention – this was apparently never questioned?
THE THIRTY-FIRST SŪRAH – Luqmān
57th in chronological order
(10) He [it is who] has created the skies without any supports that you could see,and has placed firm mountains upon the earth, lest it sway with you,and has caused all manner of living creatures to multiply thereon. And We send down water from the skies, and thus We cause every noble kind [of life] to grow on earth.
(11) [All] this is God’s creation: show Me, then, what others than He may have created! Nay, but the evildoers are obviously lost in error!
We see the creation of the sky. We also see the mountains again, although a bit differently. While they are now said to be placed on the earth as opposed to supporting it from underneath, they are still said to act as stabilizers. This concept of stabilizing is an interesting one, given the way mountains are created. Mountains are formed by volcanoes and / or movement of tectonic plates in the earth. Translation: very unstabilizing volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. While much of what Moses records from God about creation in the Bible could not have been understood at the time, it was still recorded. It appears that the Qur’an translations change over time as new things are learned by scientists, as opposed to staying with the original text, at least in the English translations. Is that a lack of faith in the original revelations? Or is it an attempt to convince non-Arabic speakers that the Qur’an is more accurate than it may have appeared to be? In either case – it is disturbing that what was supposed to have been a revelation from God, by way of Gabriel, has obviously been changed significantly over time and by different translators.
THE FORTIETH SŪRAH – Ghāfir (Forgiving)
60th in chronological order
(56) Behold, as for those who call God’s messages in question without having any evidence therefor – in their hearts is nothing but overweening self-conceit, which they will never be able to satisfy:seek thou, then, refuge with God – for, verily, He alone is all-hearing, all-seeing!
(57) Greater indeed than the creation of man is the creation of the heavens and the earth:yet most men do not understand [what this implies].
(58) But [then,] the blind and the seeing are not equal; and neither [can] they who have attained to faith and do good works and the doers of evil [be deemed equal]. How seldom do you keep this in mind!
(59) Verily, the Last Hour is sure to come: of this there is no doubt; yet most men will not believe it.
(60) But your Sustainer says: “Call unto Me, [and] I shall respond to you!Verily, they who are too proud to worship Me will enter hell, abased!”
We see something here that is in direct conflict with the Bible. (57) Greater indeed than the creation of man is the creation of the heavens and the earth: yet most men do not understand [what this implies].
Genesis tells us the exact opposite. It says that man was the greatest creation. At the end of each portion of the creation of the universe, we read And God saw that it was good. However, after man was created, the Bible records Ge 1:31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day. The one addition to God’s creation on the sixth “day” was man. So the creation of man was what made everything God had done go from “good” to “very good“. Therefore, the Bible tells us that of all the various things God created in this universe, man was the greatest.
For the Qur’an to say something different is very odd. First of all, we’ve already seen that the Qur’an forces (and expects) Muslims to look to the Bible for detailed information on creation. To then turn around and say something in direct conflict with a scripture that Muslims were essentially forced to read is quite unexpected. This is especially surprising given that we’re at the 60th of 114 chapters before being told that the referenced document is incorrect. One would have thought that God would have had Gabriel point this out much earlier.
Furthermore, when someone goes to the Bible to look up something on the creation of man, they would likely find this passage from Hebrews, in the New Testament.
Warning to Pay Attention
Heb 2:1 We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. 2 For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, 3 how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. 4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
Jesus Made Like His Brothers
Heb 2:5 It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. 6 But there is a place where someone has testified:
“What is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
Heb 2:7 You made him a little lower than the angels;
you crowned him with glory and honor
Heb 2:8 and put everything under his feet.”
In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him. 9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
And while a Muslim may not have occasion to check out the book of Hebrews, there are references to David and the book of Psalms in the Qur’an. Therefore, the concept in this Hebrews passage would still have been found, since Heb 2:6 points back to Psalm 8.
For the director of music. According to gittith. A psalm of David.
Ps 8:1 O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
above the heavens.
Ps 8:2 From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise
because of your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
Ps 8:3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
Ps 8:4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
Ps 8:5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
Ps 8:6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet:
Ps 8:7 all flocks and herds,
and the beasts of the field,
Ps 8:8 the birds of the air,
and the fish of the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.
Ps 8:9 O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
So we see, whether it would have been through Hebrews, Psalms, or both – this concept of man being the greatest of God’s creations would almost certainly have been found when going from the Qur’an to the Jewish and Scriptures that Muslims should refer to.
To put all of this in perspective, let’s look at one more passage from Genesis. It’s also part of what any Muslim would look at for details on God’s creations.
Ge 1:28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Ge 1:29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
The passage in the Qur’an says, yet most men do not understand [what this implies]. And yet, I believe the passage from the Bible has a much greater implication. If man is the least of God’s creations in this universe, then we are essentially subjected to the will of the rest of creation. We have no control or responsibility over anything else in creation. In fact, we would be subservient to everything else, since we are the least – the weakest – at the bottom. Far from that, the Bible puts us at the top. We are supposed to be in control of God’s creations on this earth. We are responsible. We should take care of them. Instead, we are destroying not only the things of the earth that we should be caring for – we’re contaminating the space around our planet, and even far away from it with our space travel leaving junk out there. The implications of our actions are much greater from the statements in the Bible than they are for what’s in the Qur’an. And we are messing up big time. We truly don’t understand.
THE SIXTEENTH SŪRAH – An-Naḥl (The Bee)
70th in chronological order
(1) GOD’S JUDGMENT is [bound to] come: do not, therefore, call for its speedy advent!Limitless is He in His glory and sublimely exalted above anything to which men may ascribe a share in His divinity!
(2) He causes the angels to descend with this divine inspiration,[bestowed] at His behest upon whomever He wills of His servants: “Warn [all human beings] that there is no deity save Me: be, therefore, conscious of Me!”
(3) He has created the heavens and the earth in accordance with [an inner] truth; sublimely exalted is He above anything to which men may ascribe a share in His divinity!
There is a note in the translation for the phrase in accordance with [an inner] truth. It says, “I.e., in accordance with a meaning and a purpose known only to Him.“
However, from Sura 10, which we looked at earlier, we also read:
(5) He it is who has made the sun a [source of] radiant light and the moon a light [reflected],and has determined for it phases so that you might know how to compute the years and to measure [time]. None of this has God created without [an inner] truth. Clearly does He spell out these messages unto people of [innate] knowledge: (6) for, verily, in the alternating of night and day, and in all that God has created in the heavens and on earth there are messages indeed for people who are conscious of Him!
This passage, which occurred earlier in terms of chronological order (51st), tells us the exact opposite. Rather than the purpose of creation being something known only to God, we now learn that Clearly does He spell out these messages unto people of [innate] knowledge. As we will see in later articles, when the Qur’an talks about people with “knowledge” and “intelligence”, it’s talking about Muslims.
So – which is it? Is the purpose of creation known only to God? Or is it known only to God and Muslims? What about the Hebrew people to whom the creation history was originally given? And what about the Christians, who also include the Hebrew scriptures that make up the Old Testament as part of the Bible? The Qur’an makes an argument for all four of these options to be true. And yet, they cannot all be true. A careful reading, in chronological order, shows that the attitude of the Qur’an, and presumably of God (via Gabriel) is very different at the beginning and the end. Surely, an all-knowing God would have known, from the beginning of these revelation of the Qur’an, if the Hebrew and Christian scriptures were wrong. And Surely an all-knowing God who cares about His people would have let them know this right from the start. Instead, it appears that the God of the Qur’an leads his people astray (all of them, including Muslims) and then tries to get them back on course.
THE SEVENTY-FIRST SŪRAH – Nūḥ (Noah)
71st in chronological order
(13) “What is amiss with you that you cannot look forward to God’s majesty, (14) seeing that He has created [every one of] you in successive stages?
(15) “Do you not see how God has created seven heavens in full harmony with one another, (16) and has set up within them the moon as a light [reflected], and set up the sun as a [radiant] lamp?
(17) “And God has caused you to grow out of the earth in [gradual] growth; and thereafter He will return you to it [in death]: (18) and [then] He will bring you forth [from it] in resurrection.
(19) “And God has made the earth a wide expanse for you, (20) so that you might walk thereon on spacious paths.’”
This passage raises a number of questions. Let’s go through them in reading order.
First of all, some background is in order. The title tells us this has something to do with Noah. It’s supposedly lets us know what Noah told the people of his time, just before the flood.
Let’s start by looking at verses 14-17. In an attempt to find out something about the 7 heavens, I went to a different translation [RK]. It had some pretty major differences, so it raised even more questions.
[71:14] He is the One who created you in stages.
[71:15] Do you not realize that GOD created seven universes in layers?
[71:16] He designed the moon therein to be a light, and placed the sun to be a lamp.
created you in successive stages. Going to a footnote in the CAIR provided translation, it says:
4935 I.e., by a process of gradual evolution, in the mother’s womb, from a drop of sperm and a fertilized germ-cell (the female ovum), up to the point where the embryo becomes a new, self-contained human entity (cf. 22:5): all of which points to the existence of a plan and a purpose and, hence, to the existence of a conscious Creator.
I have to say, this is quite problematic. First of all, it’s way too complicated to have been an explanation that would have been understood (since it wasn’t even known yet!) in Noah’s time. Secondly, this is not the definition of evolution. While the actual usage of the word has changed over time, especially after Darwin, it has never meant what’s described in this process. Whether it be with or without divine intervention, evolution has always been something that takes place over many thousands / millions / billions of years. It most certainly does not describe a process that has always existed – or something that took place in none months. From this description, it’s impossible to tell what is meant by the word translated as stages. Looking up the word on corpus.quran.com yields the exact same translation, “in stages”. So we don’t know what this means.
created seven heavens in full harmony with one another.
So we have one translation that says “heavens” and another that says “universes”. That’s quite different, since universes implies seven of everything, as opposed to seven different and unique “heavens”. Looking at various Islamic sites, there appears to be no agreement as to what is actually meant by the seven heavens. It could be anything from 7 earths, to an unspecified but plentiful number of earths and heavens, to the 7 known planets at the time, to 7 galaxies, Etc. In other words, it has no known / relevant meaning at all.
the moon as a light [reflected], and set up the sun as a [radiant] lamp.
Once again, I went to look up the words, this time related to “light” and “lamp”. The results were interesting. The original text appears to just say “light” and “lamp”. [RK] added what we now know – namely that the sun gives its own light and the moon is reflective. While it had been proposed thousands of years before Muhammad that the sun provided its own light, that’s not necessarily the case for the moon being reflected light. There is so much wrong information out there (by that I mean conflicting) about when it was determined that moonlight is reflective. However, the most reliable sources point to the discovery being long after the time of Muhammad – like hundreds of years later. This seems to be born out by the original text, which makes no claim of the source of light for either the sun or the moon. Any additions in the English translations are just from things we learned later, and had nothing to do with the original revelation at all. This makes it look like an attempt to make Islam more scientifically correct than it really is. We can contrast that with the ability to go back to the original Hebrew or Greek in the Bible to see that, if anything, the accuracy of the original text was “watered down” to make it easier to read – even though it was scientifically correct from the beginning.
He will bring you forth [from it] in resurrection.
Ultimately, there’s one issue left, which has nothing to do with creation. Namely, where did all of this stuff Noah supposedly said come from? Since Noah and the flood are in Genesis, and Muslims have to read Genesis in order to get complete information on many events that are barely mentioned in the Qur’an, why is this so different?
There are a few references to resurrection in the Old Testament, with the earliest being in Isaiah.
Isa 26:19 But your dead will live;
their bodies will rise.
You who dwell in the dust,
wake up and shout for joy.
Your dew is like the dew of the morning;
the earth will give birth to her dead.
The problem. of course, is that Isaiah was alive during the 8th century BC. The flood was about 2,000 years before that. The Qur’an relies on Muslims reading Genesis, which includes the account of Noah. Since the Hebrew scripture records nothing of resurrection in the account of the flood, not to mention the other things allegedly said by Noah, where does this come from? While it’s convenient to claim that the revelations were to clarify the Hebrew and Christian scriptures – the truth is that this is way beyond clarification. It’s a rewrite. A rewrite of history. A history that was initially to be read “as is” – and only claimed to be flawed in later chapters of the Qur’an.
Once again, it takes us back to the question of wouldn’t God, through Gabriel, have made things more clear and without conflicts? Did the God of the Qur’an intentionally mislead the people? Was he mistaken? Did he allow Gabriel to corrupt the message?
THE FOURTEENTH SŪRAH – Ibrāhīm (Abraham)
72nd in chronological order
(19) ART THOU NOT aware that God has created the heavens and the earth in accordance with [an inner] truth? He can, if He so wills, do away with you and bring forth a new mankind [in your stead]: (20) nor is this difficult for God.
We see a new warning here. God, if He so wills, do away with you and bring forth a new mankind.
There’s also a problem here. In Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, God is faithful. So when we read something like the passage below from the time of the flood, we can believe it.
Ge 9:8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: 9 “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
Ge 9:12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”
Ge 9:17 So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”
Clearly, this is in direct conflict with the passage from the Qur’an, He can, if He so wills, do away with you and bring forth a new mankind. How can Islam explain away this difference?
The word “faithful” is never used in the Qur’an translation that I have when referring to God. However, there is the verse below that says God will never fail to fulfill His promise.
(47) And [so, O Muḥammad,] they challenge thee to hasten the coming upon them of [God’s] chastisement: but God never fails to fulfil His promise – and, behold, in thy Sustainer’s sight a day is like a thousand years of your reckoning.
This verse is from Sura 22, which is nearly the last one revealed – being the 103rd of 114. But still, even though it’s much later than the one we’re currently looking at, it should still be valid. As such, it appears to show that either the promise was never made – or falsely threatens that the God of the Qur’an will do something he has no intention of doing.
If anything, this covenant after the flood shows us that God does not want to destroy all life. Maybe the difference in relative importance of God’s creations sets up a scenario where it’s supposed to be easy for God to destroy man and create a new mankind. After all, the Qur’an says we are the least of all, while the Bible says we are the greatest of God’s creations. The message from the flood wasn’t that it’s easy for God to destroy mankind. Far from it, the lesson was that God will not destroy mankind. That is, until the End Times. God will bring a new earth for those who love Him – in the Bible. In the Qur’an, it’s a bit different – especially the fact that love has nothing to do with anything. But we’ll cover that in later articles.
I point this out here, because it’s yet another glaring difference between the Qur’an, and the scriptures that it references from Judaism and Christianity.
(32) [And remember that] it is God who has created the heavens and the earth, and who sends down water from the sky and thereby brings forth [all manner] of fruits for your sustenance; and who has made ships subservient to you, so that they may sail through the sea at His behest; and has made the rivers subservient [to His laws, so that they be of use] to you; (33) and has made the sun and the moon, both of them constant upon their courses, subservient [to His laws, so that they be of use] to you; and has made the night and the day subservient [to His laws, so that they be of use] to you.
(34) And [always] does He give you something out of what you may be asking of Him; and should you try to count God’s blessings, you could never compute them. [And yet,] behold, man is indeed most persistent in wrongdoing, stubbornly ingrate!
There is so much in this passage that’s in “[ … ]”, which is the translator’s addition to the original text, that I turn to [RK] to get a better feel for what it really says.
[14:32] GOD is the One who created the heavens and the earth, and He sends down from the sky water to produce all kinds of fruit for your sustenance. He has committed the ships to serve you on the sea in accordance with His command. He has committed the rivers as well to serve you.
[14:33] He has committed the sun and the moon in your service, continuously. He has committed the night and the day to serve you.
[14:34] And He gives you all kinds of things that you implore Him for. If you count GOD’s blessings, you can never encompass them. Indeed, the human being is transgressing, unappreciative.
Interesting. He has committed the ships to serve you on the sea in accordance with His command. There are many references to ships and the sea in the Qur’an. We’ll get to them in a later article. However, what we do see is another example of creation being mentioned at the same time as letting humans know that we are essentially awful.
THE TWENTY-FIRST SŪRAH – Al-Anbiyā’ (The Prophets)
73rd in chronological order
(30) ARE, THEN, they who are bent on denying the truth not aware that the heavens and the earth were [once] one single entity, which We then parted asunder? – and [that] We made out of water every living thing? Will they not, then, begin to believe?
(31) And [are they not aware that] We have set up firm mountains on earth, lest it sway with them and [that] We have appointed thereon broad paths, so that they might find their way, (32) and [that] We have set up the sky as a canopy well-secured? And yet, they stubbornly turn away from [all] the signs of this [creation], (33) and [fail to see that] it is He who has created the night and the day and the sun and the moon – all of them floating through space!
Let’s begin with the passage, not aware that the heavens and the earth were [once] one single entity, which We then parted asunder. Again, I point out that Muslims are to read Genesis to get the details of creation. There is nothing in Genesis that says anything like what this passage describes. There’s no basis for it.
Going to [RK] provides a fascinating alternative translation.
[21:30] Do the unbelievers not realize that the heaven and the earth used to be one solid mass that we exploded into existence? And from water we made all living things. Would they believe?
[21:31] And we placed on earth stabilizers, lest it tumbles with them, and we placed straight roads therein, that they may be guided.
[21:32] And we rendered the sky a guarded ceiling. Yet, they are totally oblivious to all the portents therein.
[21:33] And He is the One who created the night and the day, and the sun and the moon; each floating in its own orbit.
The commentary in this translation says verse 30 confirms the Big Bang Theory. Actually, to see a verse that, when properly translated, tells us the same thing as the Big Bang Theory, see my article Why are scientists running away from The Big Bang? It looks at Ge 1:3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. from the point of view of the original Hebrew, not the translated English words. Using that method gives us a very different meaning of “light”. If you’re really into the science of things, and would like to check out some interesting possibilities for “God said”, I invite you to also read Science vs God – The Concepts of String Theory. It shows how there could be (emphasis on could) a relationship between “said” and the vibrations of String Theory. There’s no math – just hopefully simple explanations that don’t lose the integrity of the science.
We’ve already looked at the mountain / stabilizer statements. Creating all life from water is something for the next article on creating man.
But what about the well-secured canopy that we call the sky? No one today would use those words to describe the sky. We know objects from space can penetrate our atmosphere. We also know that we can penetrate it, with rockets. We also know that we can destroy the atmosphere, with various chemicals and emissions from things we have “created”. So this is just plain wrong.
THE TWENTY-THIRD SARA – Al-Mu’minūn (The Believers)
74th in chronological order
(17) And, indeed, We have created above you seven [celestial] orbits; and never are We unmindful of [any aspect of Our] creation.
(18) And We send down water from the skies in accordance with a measure [set by Us], and then We cause it to lodge in the earth: but, behold, We are most certainly able to withdraw this [blessing]!
(19) And by means of this [water] We bring forth for you gardens of date-palms and vines, wherein you have fruit abundant and whereof you eat, (20) as well as a tree that issues from [the lands adjoining] Mount Sinai, yielding oil and relish for all to eat.
(21) And, behold, in the cattle [too] there is indeed a lesson for you: We give you to drink of that [milk] which is within their bellies; and you derive many [other] uses from them: for you eat of their flesh, (22) and by them – as by the ships [over the sea] – you are borne [overland].
There’s really nothing new here, so in the interest of not making this even longer than it already is (sorry), let’s move on to the next one.
THE THIRTY-SECOND SARA – As-Sajdah (Prostration)
75th in chronological order
(4) IT IS GOD who has created the heavens and the earth and all that is between them in six aeons, and is established on the throne of His almightiness. You have none to protect you from God, and none to intercede for you [on Judgment Day]: will you not, then, bethink yourselves?
(5) He governs all that exists, from the celestial space to the earth; and in the end all shall ascend unto Him [for judgment] on a Day the length whereof will be [like] a thousand years of your reckoning.
It has nothing to do with creation, but let’s just mention something about You have none to protect you from God, and none to intercede for you [on Judgment Day]. I mentioned earlier that the attitude in the Qur’an towards Jews and Christians changes drastically from the beginning to the end. By this point, the Qur’an is turning more and more anti-Christian. This is a two-fold reference. One is to all Christians – because by this time, the Qur’an says clearly that Jesus is not the Son of God – that God has no son at all. Obviously, not the God of the Bible. The other reference is to Catholics in particular, who teach that Mary (especially) and other Saints are able to intercede on behalf of Catholics. Probably one of the best known examples would come from the “Hail Mary”, which concludes with, “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.” Islam teaches that all of that is gross blasphemy.
What about on a Day the length whereof will be [like] a thousand years of your reckoning? This is one of two references to a day being like a thousand years. Neither explains anything. Neither gives a clue as to where it comes from. There are two possible sources from the Bible.
A prayer of Moses the man of God.
Ps 90:1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place
throughout all generations.
Ps 90:2 Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
Ps 90:3 You turn men back to dust,
saying, “Return to dust, O sons of men.”
Ps 90:4 For a thousand years in your sight
are like a day that has just gone by,
or like a watch in the night.
The Day of the Lord
2Pe 3:1 Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. 2 I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.
2Pe 3:3 First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
2Pe 3:8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
2Pe 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.
2Pe 3:11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
2Pe 3:14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
2Pe 3:17 Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
2Pe 3:8 is quoting from PS 90:4. If someone was to search the Bible for this thought – both would probably be found, and both would be correct, since both had to do with Judgment Day. The thing is, the Qur’an itself provides none of this background on the significance of the “thousands days”. It’s only by turning to the Bible that one can get a better feel for its meaning. And then, when doing that, conflicts arise between the two. In this case, we learn about God being faithful – keeping His promises. Something that’s often repeated in the Bible, but appears only once in the Qur’an.
To be sure, there are other verses that mention things related to creation. However, the ones above cover all of the actual creation topics, as well as all of the various thoughts that went along with them. In no instance is there an actual Creation narrative like the one in Genesis. In order to get a complete picture, Muslims must go to the Jewish and Christians scriptures. Then, Muslims must also decide what to do about the differences – some of which are major. Some statements between the two are in direct conflict with each other.
Conclusion: Creation in the Bible and the Qur’an
Now that we’ve finally reached the end, I must say that all of these verses remind me very much of one passage from the Bible. It’s from the first chapter of Romans. It’s not the telling of creation. The Bible tells us about creation at the very beginning. We learn much about God’s love for His people, and how much / often the people turn away from Him. When we get to the Gospels in the New Testament, we learn just how much God loves His people – the price God Himself is willing to pay to save those who not just believe in Him – but those who actually believe Him.
Then, we read Romans. This passage in Romans seems to be the blueprint for all of the verses in the Qur’an that talk about creation. As you read it, keep in mind that in the Bible, this comes after we read about a creation narrative that shows us God loved mankind, all of the Old Testament events that showed God’s love and mankind’s tendency to turn away from Him, and after the Gospels that tell us of the ultimate event showing God’s love for us. Only then do we read this passage.
God’s Wrath Against Mankind
Ro 1:18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
Ro 1:21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
Ro 1:24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
Ro 1:26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
Ro 1:28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
This gives us another example where we go to the Bible and read one passage to find a message clearly and concisely given. To get the same information from the Qur’an takes searching through it to find a few verses scattered throughout over a dozen chapters. Even after that, we still don’t have the complete picture that’s presented in the beginning of Genesis or in this one section of Romans.
And so, in the Qur’an, we learn about creation as bits and pieces are put together with condemnations of what is called the lowest of the God of Islam’s creations – people.
While in the Bible, we learn about creation in one place. Further, that one place tells us that mankind is God’s greatest creation. To be sure, throughout the Bible we do get combinations of God’s love and our indifference – or even hatred – of Him. But the thing missing from the Qur’an is God’s love for us. Then, in that one Romans passage, we get a concise statement of why our lack of acknowledgement of God as creator causes His wrath against us.
If you’re a Christian, reading some of the for the first time, hopefully it gives you some idea of what the Qur’an is like.
If you a Muslim, also reading some of this for the first time, hopefully it gives you some idea of what the Bible is like.
Either way, it should give some insight into the differences between Allah of the Qur’an and the God of the Bible. Both scriptures are supposed to have come from the same God. So why the differences? Further, given that Muslims have to read the Jewish and Christian scriptures to even get complete / understandable information for their own scripture – which one seems like it comes from an all-knowing / all-powerful – loving God? A choice must be made. The two cannot be reconciled. Your would depends on making the right choice.
Unless otherwise noted, all Qur’an references are from The Message of The Qur’an; Translated and Explained bu Muhammad Asad; distributed by CAIR – Council on American–Islamic Relations.
The Qur’an references marked with [RK] are from Khalifa Ph.D., Dr. Rashad. Quran – The Final Testament – Authorized English Version of the Original