Islam and Science

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Islam and Science – Introduction
Khurshid Ahmad gives us a clear statement regarding the connection between Islam and Science: “The basic Islamic concept is that the entire universe was created by God, whom Islam calls Allah and who is the Lord and Sovereign of the Universe. He is the Lord of the universe which He alone sustains.”1

When it comes to Islam and Science, the Islamic worldview affirms that God created the universe. Thus Christians and Muslims part company with atheistic worldviews that deny the existence of God and assert a naturalistic origin and evolution of the world. “Muslims, like Christians, do witness that God is the Creator. As Creator, he is other than creation. He is not nature; he is above and beyond his creation (transcendent). Muslims believe that God’s creation is perfect.”2

Islam and Science – Creationism
According to Islam and its view of science, God has always existed. He is eternal and self-existent. He created everything and set the universe in order. Echoing Genesis 1, we read in the Qur’an that when God spoke, the world was created. “To Him is due the primal origin of the heavens and the earth: when He decreeth a matter, He saith to it: ‘Be,’ and it is” (2:117). When the virgin Mary found herself with child, she inquired as to how it could be so. “She said, ‘O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man has touched me?’ He said: ‘Even so: God createth what He willeth: when He hath decreed a Plan, He but saith to it, “Be,” and it is!’” (3:47).

Islam and Science – Creation in Six or Eight Days?
Though Christians and Muslims share some common convictions regarding the existence of God and the creation of the world, the Islamic view of creation differs from biblical revelation. For instance, while the Bible describes creation in six days (with God’s Sabbath on the seventh day), the Qur’an asserts otherwise. In some passages creation is said to have taken six days:

    Your Guardian-Lord is God, Who created the heavens and the earth is six Days, and is firmly established on the Throne... (7:54)

    It is God Who has created the heavens and the earth, and all between them, in six Days, and is firmly established on the Throne... (32:4)

    We created the heavens and the earth and all between them in Six Days, nor did any sense of weariness touch Us. (50:38)
But another passage describes the creation as taking eight days (two plus four plus two):
    Say: It is that ye deny Him Who created the earth in two Days? And do ye join equals with Him? He is the Lord of (all) the Worlds. He set on the (earth) mountains standing firm, high above it, and bestowed blessings on the earth, and measured therein all things to give them nourishment in due proportion, in four Days, in accordance with (the needs of) those who seek (sustenance). Moreover He comprehended in His design the sky, and it had been (as) smoke: He said to it and to the earth: “Come ye together, willingly or unwillingly.” They said: “We do come (together), in willing obedience.” So He created them as seven firmaments in two Days, and He assigned to each heaven its duty and command… (41:9–12, emphasis added)

Islam and Science – 24-Hour Days or Ages?
As the Christian community is divided over whether to advocate an old or young earth, Muslims are divided as well. While many more traditional Muslims take the reference to days as twenty-four hours in duration, some contemporary Muslim spokesmen hold that the days of creation were long periods of time (though they do not normally advocate evolutionary theories). “The earth and universe were created by God through a long step-by-step process,” writes Badru Kateregga. “The Qur’anic witness further testifies that God created the heavens and the earth and what is between them in six ‘periods,’ and no weariness touched him (Qur’an 50:38). God created the universe and the earth in an orderly step-by-step progression.”3

Islam and Science – Creation and the Fall
Muslims deny the significance of the fall of Adam and Eve. The Bible describes the significance of the fall not only upon human beings but also upon the world itself. Due to Adam and Eve’s rebellion, the ground is cursed (Genesis 3:17) and has been “groaning” ever since, awaiting the day of the resurrection of humans and the renewal of the earth (Romans 8:19–23). Muslims reject “the Christian view that God in fact ‘cursed’ the ground (Gen. 3:14–24),” writes Katterega. “All that God tells man in relation to the ground after the descent of Adam to earth is as quoted: ‘Therein Ye shall live and therein Ye shall die, and therein Ye shall be brought forth [in the resurrection]’ (Qur’an 7:25).”4

Islam and Science – Conclusion
When summarizing Islam and science, Muslims affirm the existence of God and His creation of the universe. They do not equate God with the creation. They maintain a Creator-creature distinction, as do Christians. They also believe that the design of the universe points to the existence of the Designer. While some modernized Muslims have adopted evolutionary theories (as have some Christians), orthodox Muslims know that such naturalistic theories conflict with the teachings of the Qur’an and Muhammad. While Christians and Muslims hold several beliefs in common, the Qur’an presents confusion on the number of days of creation—though many Muslims read these days in a non-literal fashion—and they deny that the fall of Adam and Eve brought God’s curse upon the earth.

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Notes:

Rendered with permission from the book, Understanding the Times: The Collision of Today’s Competing Worldviews (Rev. 2nd ed), David Noebel, Summit Press, 2006. Compliments of John Stonestreet, David Noebel, and the Christian Worldview Ministry at Summit Ministries. All rights reserved in the original.

1 Khurshid Ahmad, Islam: Its Meaning and Message, 3rd ed. (Leicester, UK: The Islamic Foundation, 1999), 29.
2 Badru D. Kateregga and David W. Shenk, Islam and Christianity: A Muslim and a Christian in Dialogue, electronically available on The World of Islam: Resources for Understanding CD-ROM, published by Global Mapping International, 5350.
3 Ibid., 5273.
4 Ibid., 5350.


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