An article has been written by Hamza Tzortzis on whether or not there are scientific miracles in the Qur’an. His article is quite lengthy, so I have decided to address the main two points of contention he has brought forth:
I. The knowledge implied by the Qur’ānic verses was available beforehand and/or at the time of revelation
Hamza makes the claim that each Qur’anic scientific miracle has been mentioned before by other civilizations, which negates its miraculous nature and therefore can not be used by Muslim apologists. It should be noted that he does not hold the blasphemous view that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) inserted these things into the Qur’an.
However he still does not acknowledge the miraculous natures of the following: Iron being sent down, Moon borrowing light from the Sun, Mountains being Roots, the Big Bang; among others. I don’t want to go into each example because I think a general argument will suffice.
First of all it should be noted that the detail by which the Qur’an goes into these miracles far surpasses those that are mentioned by previous civilizations and with more accuracy; a point that Hamza does admits may be true, but
” the primary or explicit meanings the verses point to knowledge – that although not entirely inaccurate – could have been accessed or known at the time of revelation. In light of this, claiming that the verses are miraculous is wrong. “
Why does it automatically have to be that Muslims have copied this from previous knowledge obtained from ancient civilizations? Why can it not be that the Qur’an confirms ancient scientific knowledge that had never been known in Arabia the same way the Qur’an confirms modern scientific knowledge? No one would claim that Muslims had taken knowledge from modern science books just because they have similar content. Likewise, just because scientific knowledge is shared between ancient civilizations and the Qur’an, does not mean there was ‘copying’ going on.
The onus is on the atheist to establish a clear link between the knowledge of ancient civilizations and the Qur’an, and the best way to show or validate their claim would be to bring a document in Arabic from that time or before which had included that knowledge. For example a translation of the Epic of Gilgamesh in Arabic or another document or book, which Hamza mentions in his article that could have been used as a ‘source material’.
It is clear that ancient scientific knowledge was only known to Muslims after the advent and expansion of Islam into other territories. One example I would like to bring up is regarding embryology . Many claim that the Qur’an copied from the Greek physician/philosopher Galen, however we know from academic sources that :
The Islamic reception of Greek scientific knowledge in the 9th and 10th centuries ad relied directly on the preceding adoption of elements of Greek culture, such as medicine, by Eastern Christians. The transmission of medical learning from Syriac into Arabic was wholesale. Muslim support for the Arabic translations of Galen and the new hospitals was the direct result of courtly patronage, and it remained so. Apart from the desire to train Muslim doctors and to found medical institutions, the promotion of Islamic medicine may have played a part in competition with contemporary Byzantine emperors, who were well-known patrons of such charitable activity.
From the above quote we see that only later-on did this type of knowledge become available to the Arabs and the Muslims, not before or prior to their expansion of the Islamic civilization. And when it did come to the Muslims, it came all at once. Not in minor fragments or a trickle, as atheists would have you believe. As much as it is true for Galen and embryology, it also holds true for the other ancient knowledge which Hamza eludes to.
Moreover, even if we grant the claim that each of these miracles (on its own) are not-miracles because they have appeared in previous nations; the mere fact that ALL of this knowledge has come to the Prophet(pbuh) ,a simple merchant of his time and culminated in one book is a miracle in itself.
This brings us into the second point:
II. The Prophet (upon whom be peace) had access to this type of knowledge through various means
Hamza makes the following claim that atheists could object to, is that:
The Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be peace) could have accessed some form of popularised knowledge at the time of revelation because he already referred to other cultures and civilisations.
In addition to this, Hamza mentions that 7th Century Arabian economic life was based around trade and commerce; and therefore, it is not impossible that there was an exchange of popular scientific practices and ideas. He concludes the section by saying that :
… in the view of a sceptic or seeker of truth, the assertion that the Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be peace) could not have accessed knowledge that was implied by the Qur’ānic verses is false. This is due to the fact that the probability of Prophet (upon whom be peace) exchanging ideas and practices with other cultures is higher than the probability of the Prophet (upon whom be peace) not accessing such knowledge. Therefore a new approach is needed to overcome to this intellectual obstacle….
Again the onus would be on the atheist to show that this knowledge was being passed by word of mouth. All of these arguments hinge on that fact that there is transfer of knowledge through verbal means. In Arabia at that time with its rich literature of Jahiliyah poetry (pre-islamic oral traditions which were later written down) , would have included such knowledge but it doesn’t.
This argument that Muslims copied from previous generations is not unique to Atheists. Christians and Jews also make the same claim; are we to discount the miraculous nature of the whole Qur’anic narrative because there is “possibility” that it could have copied from previous generations?
The point of doing dawah is not to address every single silly or absurd objection. This reminds me of the story of an atheist who was so baffled by how the Qur’an mentions the embryological development of the fetus, that he proposed/devised a scenario that Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) had (God forbid!) killed women at every stage of pregnancy, and then examined the fetuses so that he could include this knowledge in the Qur’an. I don’t know how to address such claims ! Are we really to entertain every single outlandish theory that atheists bring forth?
This concludes my response. Whatever is good is from Allah while evil and sin are from ourselves and Satan.
I would also like to invite Hamza to consider the numerous scientific miracles which are also present in hadith. I have included the links for two below:
And Allah(swt) guides whom He wills!