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The Quran And Space Exploration

- Published in The Muslim World League Journal (Vol. 36 Jumad Al-Ula 1429) On May 2008

In one of the last issues of the Muslim World League Magazines, readers have seen some Quranic facts about space, which have been confirmed by the science in our modern era. Now we shall see how the Quran marvelously stated facts about space exploration in the 7th century that have all along been subject to denial by the orientalists and those antagonistic to Islam.

The Quran said: (He by His Decree) hath subjected to you whatsoever is in the earth; verily herein are signs for people who think deeply. (45:13)

The famous exponents of the Quran explaining the verse in question said that all the creations in the heavens or in the earth are made for the benefit of mankind. Sun gives heat and light and it is one of the primary causes of life for all the living things on the earth.

The Quran further said: And we have appointed night and the day as two signs, then We have obliterated the sign of the night (with darkness) while We have made the sign of the day illuminating, that you may seek bounty from your Lord, and you may know the number of the years and the reckoning. (9, 17:12)

Thus the Lunar year was in use for many centuries and still it is in use in the Islamic calendar, thus reckoning of the years were with the help of the sun and moon. Solar year was adopted quite late.

The people for a very long time sought guidance in their travels by the polar star and other stars and planets and particularly those who live and travel in desert. The Book of God mentioned it and said, And by the stars they guide themselves. (16:16). The invention of compass came very late.

We make use of all earthly things, this is also a kind of subjection of all those things in our favour. However the modern technology gave us an opportunity to understand the verse in citation with more elaboration. In 7th century when the people of Makkah were blessed with the Quran, the utilization of resources from within the earth was very limited. With the advancement of knowledge man not only availed the natural resources but also dug out the mineral resources. Thus the Quranic prediction whatsoever is in the earth became true. In other words making all things subservient on or beneath the earth was the glad tiding of the advancement of the knowledge and technology. Thus what the Quran said was achieved, And when the earth throws out its burdens. (99:2)

The twentieth century did see the development in all fields of science. After the invention of the aeroplanes – the second amazing invention was of the rockets. During the World War II the Germans had developed the rocket propulsion for aircraft and guided missiles notably the V. 2. After their surrender in 1945, the United States, the Great Britain, France and U.S.S.R fell heir to the technical knowledge of the rocket power developed by them. Few V.2. missiles had been captured and shipped to U.S. However, the rocket technology helped U.S. in launching artificial earth satellite for scientific investigations.

The invention of the rocket was the first step in exploration of the space. It may be known that space may be defined as all the reaches of the universe beyond the sensible atmosphere, which extends to the altitude above hundred miles around our planet earth. This unimaginable void of space, which is measured in millions of light years is not empty. Throughout these vast reaches matter largely hudrogen is scattered at extremely low density of perhaps ten particles per centimeter. Additionally the space is permeated by gravitational field and vide spectrum of electro magnetic radiation including cosmic rays and magnetic fields of unknown intensities and distributions.

These great complexities of the space phenomena could be discovered only after the advent of high altitude of sounding rockets and instrumented satellites along with high speed digital computers.

On October 4, 1957, the then Soviet Union launched the worlds first artificial satellite Sputnik I orbited the earth.

In the United States the National Aeronautic and space administration (NASA) was established in 1958 for the purpose of peaceful exploration of space. The first unmanned artificial satellite launched by U.S for space probe was Explorer I. it was followed by vanguard I. they were launched on January 31 and March 17, in 1958. The United States Mariner program was successful in making probes on Mars and Venus. Mariners 2 and 5 passed Venus within 22,000 and 25,000 miles and made measurements of atmosphere and surface temperatures, magnetic field and radio contact to 54 million and 3 hundred thousand miles. Mariner 4 in 1967 an mariner 6 and 7 in 1969 obtained photographs of Martinian surface and made significant analysis of the atmosphere. Mariner 9 was launched on May, 13 1971.It inserted into Mars orbit on November 13. It obtained exhaustive data and relayed hundreds of photographs. (Encyclopedia of science and technology).

The manned space fights began from April 12, 1961 when the U.S.S.R launched Vostok I into a single earth orbit. The U.S launched freedom 7 carrying Alan. B. Shepard Jr. as the first U.S astronaut on May 5, 1961.

The First Muslim Arab Astronaut

The first Muslim Arab Astronaut to go on discovery G.51 in Ramadhan 1405 H. (1985) form the United States orbiting the earth was His Royal Highness Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia.

The manned flights ascending to the sky were many. However, the Quran mentioning the possibility of the ascent to the sky earlier in 7th century told the posterity of Adam:

Even if we open to them a gate from the heaven and they were to keep on ascending thereto, they would surely say our eyes have been dazzled nay we are a folk bewitched. (15: 14, 15)

Ibn Khathir explaining the above verse said, That their severity in their infidelity and their enmity (against Islam) is to the extent that if a gate in heaven is opened for them and they are made to keep ascending even then they will not believe (in Islam) but they would say their eyes have been bewitched. It is to be noted that if Allah mentioned the possibility of any occurrence it can never be infeasible. The Arabic text of the verse under citation is conditional. If the infidels after hearing the revelation had vowed to believe, they would have been made to ascend the sky in any way Allah had so desired. When particularly the bodily ascent of the Prophet (peace be upon him) was the living example of It. it is preceded that Allah has subjected to you all the things whatever is their in the heavens and in the earth. This news was the glad tidings of the advancement of the knowledge and the technology. The next half of the 20th century did observe the scientific advancement. Further the Quranic contention to open the gate from the sky meant to provide means to ascend in the sky. The rocket technology provided mankind with those means.

The second contention that they would keep ascending also did occur. The 20th century has so far accorded more than 2,000 flights both manned and unmanned and many more that we do not know.

The big leap in ascending to the sky was the Lunar Module from Apollo on the moon as surface. Apollo II was launched on July 16, 1969. Neil, Armstrong, Edward. E. Aldrin, and Michael Collins manned it. Armstrong and Aldrin transferred themselves to the Lunar Module, and descent and the landing was made on July 2o, at 8:17 Greenwich mean time. Armstrong stopped on the moon’s surface at 2:56 am GMT. He reported sinking approximately 1/8th of an inch into the fine powdery surface material, which adhered in a thin layer to his boots. Aldrin joined Armstrong and they spent 2 hours taking photographs collecting about 47.7 pound of lunar soil including core samples and planning the United States flag. They were seen on earth by means of a camera, which was erected on some distance from Lunar module. Their total stay time was 21 hours and 3 minutes. The astronaut made their Lunar ascent stage take off July 21st, transferring to the command module that is Apollo II. They relanded on the earth on July 24, 1969. There was a great commotion on this wonderful success throughout the world. If we opened them the gate from sky and they kept ascending through it, has become a reality.

The Quran sounding another note on penetration through the regions of the earth and sky said:,

O company of Jinn and men if you can penetrate (through) the regions of the sky and earth, and pass beyond (them). You will never pass them with save with force. (55:33)

The Arabic word Tanfazu means penetrate, breaking through, infiltration. (Al-Muwrid/Arabic-English) The other word Sultan means power, force, prevails over (Khazin). Imam Razi says the Arabic word, Sultan means utter force. The verse signifies the possibility of piercing through the zones of the sky and the earth with the help of the force, i.e. that man can attain the desired force. This force could be attained with the progress of the knowledge and technology.

Let us not forget the means of the communication during the advent of the Quran were limited to mules, horses, and camels or few boats that sailed across the river and the seas. God has made the winds subservient to the command of the Prophet’s Solomon. It took him to the month’s journey in the morning and month’s journey in the evening (34:12). Ibn Kathir said that he used to put everything he needed like mules, camels, tents and mounted his armies on a wooden large throne and ordered the wind to carry them away. It was a miracle granted to the Prophet Solomon, which ended with him. We also learnt from the Quran that whenever Jinn attempted to hear anything from the heaven, a flame followed them. That proved that the Jinn who have been created from the fire have the force of penetration to the regions of the sky. The power of mankind being extremely limited, particularly during the pre-scientific age. It could never be fancied that they would ever be able to prevail over the regions of the earth, what to talk of sky. With such an open reality to invite the men along with Jinn to pass through the regions of the sky and the earth establishes that the Quran is not the Book written by Muhammad the Prophet (peace be upon him) as held by infidels because during his time none could dream of even penetrating through the regions of the earth.

There is a peculiarity in this verse, that is did not say that it is impossible to pierce through the regions of the sky but it held its happening on obtaining the desired force. Glory to be Allah (God) this proves He is Omniscient of all things. He created man and He knows what development will be achieved by them till Doomsday. For many years the unbelievers denied the Quran. They said the flying of Solomon’s throne is a fable, soled material cannot fly. But time when hundreds of tons of weight fly in the air from place to place. It was Allah’s command Who made the winds subservient to Solomon, and the force of wind flew the throne of Solomon. There is a point to be noted, Solomon flew month’s journey in the morning and so on in the evening, that shows his speedy flights. Today we know that the speed is a major factor in making solid things to fly. This conforms the truth of the Quran. Those who refute the miracles think that Allah’s power is insufficient in comparison to the man. It was He Who penetrated the body of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) not only through the regions of the sky but to the Seven Heavens. It is He who gave the ability to pass through the regions of the earth and land on the moon.

But whatsoever power man may attain, he can never pass beyond the authority of Allah (God the Unique). One may go to the moon or Mars Allah’s term will come to him. He will be resurrected, punished or awarded.

- By Ahmad Wahaj Al-Siddiqui Al-Taimi