I was recently approached by a non-Muslim who said that the reason that the Qur’an has scientific facts is that new meanings were attached to ancient Arabic words consequently changing the meaning. Please could you help me give a response to this person.
Before coming to your specific question I would like to refer to our view on the Qur’anic references to some of the scientific facts. In one of the previous discussions Mr. Moiz Amjad writes:
The Qur’an is not a book of science. It does not present itself as such. The Qur’an, on the contrary, is a book of spiritual, moral and religious guidance for man. Nevertheless, because the Qur’an has repeatedly referred to the material world around us or to historical incidents, as evidence of the correct beliefs, which it wants man to accept, one may sometimes feel that the Qur’an has uncovered a ‘scientific’ or a ‘historical fact’. This, however, is not correct. The Qur’an has generally not uncovered any scientific fact’. It has generally referred only to those ‘facts’ of the material world, which were already known to its addressees.’
He further writes:
Being a revelation from the Lord of the worlds, the Qur’an does not entail any incorrect reference to the material world. Thus, even though the Qur’an is not a book of science, yet it is out of the question that it may entail any reference to the material world, which any scientific discovery proves to be incorrect. Thus, it is quite justified to judge the Qur’an on the basis of ‘scientific facts’ (not theories).
I completely disapprove conveying the message of the Qur’an in scientific terms. In my opinion, the message of Islam should be conveyed in the same style as the Most Wise and the Most Knowledgeable has done, in the book revealed for the purpose.’
As asserted in the first point above we believe that the Qur’an does not contain any incorrect references. However, there have been efforts by some scholars to present the Qur’an as a book replete with scientific facts which could not have been discovered until very lately. I am afraid this approach is not very accurate and can lead one to interpret some verses stripping them off of the context in one’s frenzy of discovering scientific facts from the Holy Book. Therefore the allegation forwarded by your friend may be correct in some instances. We could only discuss the matter if a certain matter is presented as an example.
I hope I have made myself clear.
Tariq Mahmood Hashmi
April 5, 2003