In the first part of this article on the scientific facts in the Quran, some astronomical facts mentioned were discussed. Here, we review some interesting facts about nature, including some points about mountains, the origin of life, the position of the sky and the seas merging together.
The Quran has used the word stakes to describe mountains: “It is He who has spread out the earth and set in it firm mountains” (13:3), “Did We not make the earth a resting place? and the mountains stakes?” (78:6-7). It means that mountains have deep roots under the ground surface. Mountains do have deep roots, and the word stakes is an accurate description for them. This fact was discovered only in the latter half of the 19th century. The presence of the mountains on the ground also helps to stabilize the crust of the earth . They also hinder the earth-shaking. “He cast in the earth firm mountains lest it should shake with you” (16:15). This is known today under the theory of plate tectonics since the late 1960s .
Life of a human being starts in water. From conception to birth, a fetus is protected and cushioned in a sack of water. A human body needs water in all its cells, organs, and tissues to help regulate its temperature and maintain other bodily functions. Plants also need enough hydration to perform photosynthesis, while animals consume water to carry out cell activity. Overall, water is an essential element for all living beings on earth. This fact was discovered only after the invention of the microscope. Now we know that all living things are made up of cells which are mostly made up of water. This fact has already been stated in the Quran: “We made every living thing out of water? Will they not then have faith?” (21:30).
The sky plays several essential roles as the protector of the earth, such as filtering out the lethal rays of the sun. If there were no sky, the sun’s radiations would have killed off all life on earth. The sky also acts as a blanket around the earth, which protects the living things from freezing out by the cold just above the sky that is approximately -270°C. The greenhouse effect is another role that the sky plays. By warming the surface of the earth by means of heat retention, the sky reduces temperature extremes between day and night . These protective roles of the sky were discovered by scientists in the 20th century. The Quran has mentioned this role of the sky as: “We made the sky a preserved roof and yet they are disregardful of its signs.” (21:32).
It has been discovered by the scientists that there is a barrier between the two different seas that meet. Hence, each of the seas has its own temperature, salinity, and density, like the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean water. Despite large waves, strong currents, and tides in these seas, they neither mix nor do they transgress this barrier . This phenomenon has been mentioned in the Quran as: “He merged the two seas, meeting each other. There is a barrier between them which they do not overstep.” (55:19-20). There is also a case where fresh (sweet) and saltwater meet. Here, the Quran talks about the existence of a forbidding partition along with the barrier: “It is He who merged the two seas: this one sweet and agreeable, and that one briny and bitter, and between the two He set a barrier and a forbidding hindrance.” (25:53). Modern science has discovered that in estuaries, where fresh and saltwater meet, there is a marked density discontinuity that separates the two layers. The salinity of this zone of separation (partition) is different from that of freshwater and that of saltwater. There is, therefore, the division of water in estuaries into three parts: freshwater, saltwater, and the partition .
Follow us on the last part of this topic to find out what the Quran has revealed about human embryonic development, clouds, and deep seas, and the creation of everything in pairs.
One of the principles of Muslims (Shia Islam) is Imamate which means leadership and is a universal authority over people’s religious and worldly affairs. Imams are religious experts who are consciously and willingly infallible and perfect leaders who provide believers with Islamic teachings and laws to help them reach prosperity and perfection.
The followings are the differences between Imams and prophets:
The prophets have brought us the religion, its axioms, and God’s commandments using revelation they received from God, whereas Imams protect the religion against any kind of deviation or distortion and are responsible for the performance of God’s commandments.
In other words, prophets show us the right way towards the divine source, i.e., God, but Imams guide us through this path step by step until we reach it. Apart from the necessity that the Prophet’s path should be known, there have to be leaders (Imams) who are perfect themselves and can teach people and stimulate their energy to help them realize their full potential at any time.
The second difference is that prophets had direct communication with God, and God’s commands were revealed to them, but Imams have not been direct receivers of God’s message; rather, they got it from prophets, and at times, they were supposed to interpret and update that message.
However, whatever roles the prophets had, have been all transferred to Imams. Moreover, our major prophets were Imams, too; they were also responsible for the protection of God’s religion as well as performing His orders in the society and had significant roles in guiding people.
As mentioned above, not every prophet was Imam, nor did every one of them have the opportunity to expand and interpret the commandments they received from God. There are two important examples of the greatest prophets that were also Imams; Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and Prophet Abraham.
What the Quran says about Abraham is that he was tried by God with certain commandments which he fulfilled (2:124). His final test was to slay his son - Ishmael- who was born to him when he had reached his old age. After they both submitted to the command of God and Abraham showed his willingness to sacrifice all his belongings for Him, God asked him to stop, for He wanted to see his sheer submission, not sacrificing his son. So Abraham had passed the stages of prophethood and a lot of exams when he reached the status of Imamate and God appointed him as the leader of humanity:
“[Allah] said, I am making you the Imam of mankind ” (2:124).
This dignity was also given to our last prophet -Muhammad (PBUH) - who conveyed the message of God at the beginning of his mission and in the meantime he carried on teaching people and leading them to the right path.
In the religion of Islam, Imamate is a position that is necessary according to the following rationales:
According to Shia viewpoints, Imamate is proved to be the grace of God (Lutf), which is one of His attributes defined as ‘beneficence’ or ‘kindness’ that would help to bring His creatures nearer to His obedience and facilitate their moral rectitude. In fact, that is the grace of God that requires Him to appoint Imams to keep people away from God’s disobedience.
People are different in obtaining awareness; some are capable of finding the right path, some are not; Imams help both groups to find their way through perfection.
23 years of preaching did not give Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) the opportunity to teach people Islamic laws, thoughts, and beliefs completely. So, there had to be perfect people, trained by the prophet to give humans all the Islamic teachings and to guarantee the endurance of religion.
Prophets are necessary to strengthen the rational knowledge of humans by their words. Although people can rationally understand the majority of realities about religious principles, there are still uncertainties in their hearts which can prevent them from carrying out such principles wholeheartedly.
However, when these rational perceptions are strengthened by prophetic words then all of these doubts and distrusts would be obliterated, and humans can approach their sacred goals. There are some affairs whereby the common sense of human beings cannot identify their advantages and disadvantages.
In such cases, people should resort to religious leaders to help them distinguish the good from what is not. Many things can be useful, and some others can be harmful. Before ascertaining which is which, human beings are not able to distinguish between the good and the bad purely by relying on their intellectual power. Consequently, they feel the need for someone who can clarify these qualities, and this is something which is only within the power of religious leaders who are connected to the divine through revelation .
God has a purpose for his actions, and since He is absolute perfection, the ultimate purpose of His divine action is creating the human being, and the aim of human creation is his perfection, the best example of whom are Imams. Furthermore, the human is the noblest of all creatures and Imams are the noblest of them who reach perfection before anyone else on earth. In other words, life, existence, knowledge, power, and beauty cannot be given to or obtained by the other creatures before they are manifested in perfect beings, Imams.
The importance of Imamate is clearly stated in this verse of the Quran:
“Today I have perfected your religion for you, and I have completed My blessing upon you, and I have approved Islam as your religion” (5:3).
Complete vs. Perfect
According to this verse, Imamate is what through which God has perfected His religion and completed His favor. Here we need to see the difference between perfect and complete:
The religion is considered complete only if it includes all the necessary constituent parts. Perfect versus incomplete, however, has a different meaning. A complete compound object can potentially turn to something it is capable of; that is one can change and pass through the stages of perfection until they reach it and as long as they have not attained that very last stage, they are still incomplete.
The religion of Islam gets completed when God’s commandments (favors) like praying (Salat), fasting (Sawm), Zakat, Khums, etc. are all sent to us. Imamate completes the religion, for it is the last favor sent to human.
The perfection of Islam, though, concerns the truth of this religion, not the exoteric laws and commands. One cannot fully understand the reality of Islamic doctrines, i.e., monotheism (Tawhid), prophethood (Nubuwwah), the afterlife (Ma’ad), alone without Imams. Therefore, Imamate, the last stage of human evolution, improves the quality of faith without which the religion cannot reach its perfection.
As mentioned before, Imamate is the last grace of God upon us which has to exist so as to prove God’s perfection. This cannot be endowed unless Imams are infallible and therefore this status of them needs to be text-oriented; that is their selection by God is stated in Quran and Hadith and asserted by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and each of his twelve successors:
God has never left the earth devoid of an Imam; Imam Mahdi is our current Imam and the ultimate savior of humankind who has been living in occultation since 874 AD and will return with Christ to fill the earth with peace and justice.
So the concept of Imamate, rooted in the revelation of God, is approved in important verses of the Quran, and what’s more, it is rationally based on the reasons mentioned above. God has created humans to give them the opportunity to go through the right path to attain eternal bliss and perfection. That is why He has appointed for us infallible Imams as successors of the last prophet -Muhammad (PBUH) - to help us achieve this purpose.
Allah Almighty is the all-knowing all-wise creator. He has considered a unique way of perfection for every creature and then guided it to reach its excellence (20:50). Human beings, as autonomous creatures, are in real need of divine guidance to know how to live a perfect and purposeful life. According to Islamic beliefs, the Quran is the divine revelation to Prophet Muhammad PBUH&HP that contains necessary guidelines for human beings: "As We sent to you an Apostle from among yourselves, who recites to you Our signs, and purifies you, and teaches you the Book and wisdom, and teaches you what you did not know." (2:151). The question is that, is the Quran Allah's words? Let's see why the answer is: Yes.
If the Quran was Prophet Muhammad's PBUH&HP words, his PBUH&HP narrations should have been of the same eloquence and beauty of the Quran. But that's not the case. The Quran is unique in style, expression system, and arrangement. And that's why no one has been able to bring even a chapter (Surah) similar to that of the Quran. As the Quran says: "And if you are in doubt concerning what We have sent down to Our servant, then bring a Surah like it, and invoke your helpers besides Allah, should you be truthful." (2:23). Although the prophetic narrations are articulate and eloquent, some of them have been imitated and distorted, unlike the Quran .
If the Quran were Prophet Muhammad's PBUH & HP words, it would have been logical for him to claim that these eloquent words were his. Consequently, he could have promoted his position, fascinated his opposers, and gathered more followers. But, he never intended to be considered and praised as a superior power. On the contrary, in one instance, someone came to him and was uneasy because of his magnificence and grandeur, he said: "Calm down! I am not a king" .
In some of the Quranic verses, the objections and disagreements of Prophet's PBUH&HP opposers are answered. If the Quran was Prophet Muhammad's PBUH&HP words, all these verses should have been quickly revealed right after an objection was raised, or when he was insulted or oppressed. But, this was not always the case .
For example, the Qiblah at the time of Prophet Muhammad PBUH&HP was originally the Noble Sanctuary (Al-Aqsa Compound), similar to Judaism. That was a reason for Jews to mock Muslims and say that Muslims follow them; hence, they are superior. Prophet PBUH&HP waited 16 months for the divine revelation to let him change the Qiblah while he was disturbed by Jew's words. It was after such a long delay that he received a response: "turn your face towards the Holy Mosque, and wherever you may be, turn your faces towards it!" (2:144). If the Quran was Prophet Muhammad's PBUH&HP words, he could have changed the Qiblah much sooner and suffer less.
In some of the verses of the Quran, Prophet Muhammad PBUH&HP is warned. In Surah Tawbah, he is told that: "May Allah excuse you! Why did you grant them to leave [to stay behind] before those who told the truth were evident to you, and you had ascertained the liars?" (9:43), or in another Ayat: "A prophet may not take captives until he has thoroughly decimated [the enemy] in the land." (8:67). Is it logical at all that someone blames himself and makes it public?
Prophet Muhammad PBUH&HP was not literate, and this is stated in the Quran and historical records. "You did not use to recite any scripture before it, nor did you write it with your right hand, for then the impugners would have been skeptical." (29:48). So, how can someone illiterate bring such eloquent words?
This holy book was revealed for 23 years. And something astonishing about the Quran is that there is no contradiction among the verses of it. If it was a human's words, there surely existed contradictions and errors in the Quran because human beings are forgetful, and for example, they forget what they told two years ago. But, this is not true about the Quran.
- Allah's words
- M. H. Hakimi, et al. "Al-Hayat," vol. 2, Translation: A. Aram, Iran, 1986.