“From the Atom to the Galaxy: Quran and Science” lecture, presented by the Muslim Students Association brought together a large number of multicultural students and faculty to hear Abdulaziz Alaswad speak. The room was quickly filled with students and the smell of falafel sandwiches with lots of anxious buzz about the lecture. Alaswad started by addressing the Muslim belief that perfection is God’s creation and these creations are to be contemplated. Alaswad is currently a Ph.D. candidate in physics working with photovoltaic cells, and says his research is based in the science in the Quran.
Alsawad worked from small atoms up to the known universe. At each different size, he compared the science discovered today versus the Quran teachings on the same subject. The Quran is translated as the literal word of God, which has not been changed in 1400 years. Many Muslims memorize the Quran as part of their religious studies. Alaswad has found, and studied the Quran and its relations to modern scientific discoveries.
Humans compared to the earth are extremely small and insignificant, so it can be difficult to understand happenings off of planet Earth, such as day and night, which are controlled by the sun and the rotation of the Earth. Half the Earth bathed in light, and half the Earth is hidden in night at any given point in time. The Earth is surrounded by an atmosphere 100 km thick. Based on this model, you cannot see the light flowing through space, you can only see it within the atmosphere. “When the earth rotates, the shell rotates as well; the default is night, not day,” says Alaswad before referring to a line in the Quran: “A sign for them is the night. I strip the light of day from it, so they are left in darkness [36:37].” Alaswad explains if God removes the skin (referring to the atmosphere), the day would become night. Put another way by Alaswad, “the day is just in the atmosphere, when you leave the atmosphere, you are in darkness.”
Another example where Alaswad believes the Quran accurately states a discovered phenomenon is when it says, “If I opens to people a gate in the heaven and they continue to ascend toward the gate in a curved line, they would certainly say: our eyes have been covered over [15:14]” – God mentions a curved line, which is the direction that light travels around the Earth; it is reflected in a curved line. People at the time when the Quran was written did not understand the true meaning of this statement, but now that more is known about how light works, a connection between science and the Quran can be made, Alaswad says.
Moving away from Earth, Alaswad began to discuss stars and the galaxies around Earth. How is the temperature of the sun measured? Physicists use the approximation of a black body, which is “an ideal emitter and absorber of light” according to Alaswad. The radiation from all stars are considered as black body radiation. The radiance versus wavelength helps calculate the temperature of the stars. The temperature of the sun is 6000K, which is white light, meaning that you can use a prism to get all of the colors of the rainbow from it. If the temperature is within a certain temperature, it its dark, it does not emit light in the visible spectrum. Relating to this, the Quran says “Hell fire has been inflamed continuously for 1000 years until its color became red. Again, it had been burnt for another 1000 years, until its color became white. Still again it had been burn for 1000 year until its color turned into black. So it is black as dark night.” Alaswad has concluded that this black color referred to is black radiation.
“Black holes, they are not black and they are not holes,” according to Alaswad. They are called this because there are areas in the sky where everything around it disappears. Once sophisticated techniques were developed, scientists have realized the black holes are objects, essentially a great amount of matter packed into a small area. What results is a gravitationally strong concentrated area. In the Quran, “God swears by the invisible and moving objects that vacuum/attracts things [81:15-16],” and Alaswad says “If god swears by anything, this thing is very important and great.” This verse is from 1400 years ago, the author knows it is in the sky, but they do not know that black holes are the objects described in the sky.
The most puzzling statement is that “I have built the heaven and surely I am indeed extending (it) wide. [51:47]” How could any author have known the universe was expanding 1400 years ago if they were not the creator? This is the argument Alaswad chooses to focus on for his argument why there is nothing scientifically incorrect in the Quran. To back up his point, he suggested further reading in “The Bible, the Quran, and Science” by Dr. Maurice Buacaille. In his book, Buacaille also finds no flaws in the science of the Quran with modern science. This being said, Alaswad closes his presentation stating that Muslims know the Quran is the word of truth because how could any one person living in the desert know so much about our universe.