“Origin of Life According to Qur’an”
Excerpts from Chapter 4 of “Origin of Man” book, by Dr. Maurice Bucaille (a prominent French scientist)
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 is fully in keeping with today’s general theories on the formation 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 explanation.
In the present study, I have based my observations on facts and have presented the logical deductions necessarily to be drawn from them. The study represents an innovation in the examination of a Holy Scripture, especially as far as readers in the West are concerned. Indeed, the latter are accustomed to separating texts which, when they approach them for the first time, seem to deal more with faith – any faith – than with reason; in their eyes, a study of the texts does not immediately suggest the need to refer to scientific data. The reader will quickly realize that a textual examination of the Qur’an requires a greater recourse to scientific evidence. The reason for this is the large number of comparisons which must be made; for in this context, the Qur’an contains a wealth of statements, even on the subject of man, a topic that is fairly limited compared to the wide range of other themes dealt with in the Qur’an.
The Origin and Perpetuation of Life
One of the original features of the Qur’an that distinguishes it from the Bible is that, as mentioned above, in order to illustrate the repeated affirmations of divine omnipotence, the Book refers to a multitude of natural phenomena. In the case of a large number of these phenomena, it also provides a detailed description of the way they evolved, their causes and their effects; all of these details are worthy of attention. The statements on man contained in the Qur’an were among those, which struck me the most when I read the Book of the first time in the original Arabic. Only the original can cast light on the real meaning of statements, which are so often mistranslated, owing to the reasons cited above.
What makes these findings so important is that they refer to many notions which were not current at the time the Qur’an was communicated ‘to man and which fourteen centuries later are evidently in perfect harmony with modern knowledge. In this context, there is absolutely no deed to look for the kind of bogus explanations that tend to crop up in certain publications, and even in histories of medicine, in which Muhammad is claimed to possess medical skills (just as the Qur’an is also said to contain medical `recipes, an idea that is totally inaccurate). [All the Qur’an contains are certain dictates concerning hygiene and dietary habits: personal cleanliness, dietary interdicts such as the prohibition of alcohol; a dictate such as the fast of Ramadhan also forms an obvious part of these rules. The mention of honey in the Qur’an does not include any indication of specific cases in which honey might prove beneficial to human health.]
The Origins of Life
The Qur’an provides a clear cut answer to the question: At what point did life begin? In this section, I shall set forth the verses of the Qur’an in which it is stated that the origins of life are aquatic. The first verse also refers to the formation of the universe:
-Sura 21, verse 30:
“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 then not believe?”
The notion of `getting something out of something else’ does not give rise to any doubts. The phrase can equally mean that every living thing was made of water (as its essential component) or that every living thing originated in water. The two possible meanings are strictly in accordance with scientific data. Life is in fact of aquatic origin, and water is the major component of all living cells. Without water, life is not possible. When the possibility of life on another planet is discussed, the first question is always: Is there a sufficient quantity of water to support life?
Modern data lead us to think that the oldest living beings probably belonged to the vegetable kingdom: Algae have been found that date from the pre Cambrian period, the time of the oldest known lands. Organisms belonging to the animal kingdom probably appeared slightly later: They too came from the sea.
The word translated here as `water’ is in fact ma’ [Readers requiring further information on the transliteration of the Arabic into Latin characters are advised to consult the chart that appears in The Bible, the Qur’an and Science (French Edition)], which means both water in the sky and water in the sea, or any kind of liquid. In the first meaning, water is the element necessary to all vegetal life:
– Sura 20, verse 53:
“[God is the One who] sent water down from the sky and thereby We [This change in the grammatical structure of the phrase is a common feature in the Qur’an. God is first referred to indirectly, then the text relates His direct Words, for ‘We’ obviously means God.] brought forth pairs of plants each separate from the other.”
This is the first reference to a ‘Pair’ of vegetals; we shall have cause to return to this notion later.
In the second meaning, which refers to any kind of liquid, the word is used in its indeterminate form to designate the substance at the basis of the formation of all animal life:
– Sura 24, verse 45:
“God created every animal from water.”
As we shall see later on, the word may also be applied to seminal liquid [Secreted by the reproductive glands, seminal liquid contains the spermatozoa].
Thus the statements in the Qur’an on the origins of life, whether referring to life.in general, the element that gives birth to the plants in the soil, or the seed of animals, are all strictly in accordance with modern scientific data. None of the myths on the origins of life that abounded at the time the Qur’an was communicated to man are mentioned in the text.