The arguments and approach taken in this blog post should not go to my credit. I have taken the liberty to pick up arguments and text from various sources on the internet, rewrite and update them to suit local audience. This is second in the series of proposed posts ExposingIslamists: Zakir Naik.
Zakir Naik and many others have claimed over time that the Qur’an reveals that the moon has reflected light while the sun is a source of light. This claim is stated by Dr. Zakir Naik in his video “Is the Qur’an God’s Word?“ and was strongly documented by Shabir Ally in his booklet “Science in the Qur’an”. Apologists have been using this to say that this was novel information which Quran communicated 1400 years ago when none knew it – so it was a scentific mirance of the Quran. Truth is far from it.
The two Quranic verses often quoted in this respect are provided below:
Sura 71 verse 16 talks about both the sun and the moon:
In this case, Quranic term for the moon is qamar and for its light noor; for the sun a lamp (siraaj). However, the verse does not categorically calls moon as reflected light, as obvious from all translations.
The other widely quoted verse in this regard is, Sura Al-Furqan 25:61 which says:
In this case, Quranic term for the moon is (Arabic: qamar) and for the sun (Arabic: siraaj). The word added with moon is (Arabic: muneer) translated as luminous. Again, the verse does not categorically calls moon as reflected light, as obvious from all translations.
According to Zakir Naik’s arguments then, Sun (lamp, noor, siraaj, source of light) and Moon (qamar) and reflected light (muneer).
Scientifically, it is correct that the moon does not emit its own light but only reflects the light of the sun. But this was known already at least a thousand years before Prophet Muhammad, for example to the ancient Greek astronomers, and can hardly be called miraculous knowledge. This approach of trying to extract scientific information from the Quran can only lead to embarrasment and disrespect for the Quran – nothing else. Quran is not supposed to be a scientific book, its a record of communication between the Prophet and the God, which for sure was not scientific in nature.
Anaxagoras (4-5 Century BC) indicated that within the ancient scientific of his time it was argued whether the moon shines by reflected light or emits its own light. Even in this era, even without divine revelation human thinkers got a number of ideas scientifically correct, such as Aristarchus (310-230 BC) whose ideas predicted the modern scientific discovery that the earth with the other planets orbits the sun and that the earth was in a constant rotation, and completed a full rotation once in every twenty-four hours (Russel, History of Western Philosophy, p.222-223) Anaxagoras living in 4th/5th century BC is attributed to discovering that moon is only a reflected light of Sun and not a light source – I’m sure this isn’t a service to Islam to take up others work and credit it to Allah – such plagiarism and discrediting others is against the ethical spirit of Islam.
If we insist on scientific miracles or treat Quran as a book of Science, then we have the right to look at it critically and expect scientific language and accuracy. If the Almighty wanted to convey a scientific message, use of more speicific words could have helped rather than calling the sun as a lamp and the moon as light. Further, none of the verse clearly mention the moon as reflected light of sun, atleast I could not find the the Arabic word for reflection in`ikaas in any of the verses, or any words making it more clear and explicit. The word used as an adjective with moon (qamar) is muneer (luminous). Let us have a look at the use of this word elsewhere in the Quran:
Use of word noor (reflected light?) for not just moon but for Allah
Quran 24:35 used the word noor to associate with Allah. If we continue to insist that the use of same word i.e. noor with moon (in earlier qouted verses) means reflected light, I dare ask whose reflection is God then? Before Zakir Naik’s literalist Salafist interpretation of Islam declares me kaafir and beheads me, I point to the fact that the word noor has been associated with Allah in 24:35.
Use of word siraaj (lamp) for not just sun but for the Prophet
In this verse, the words siraaj-muneer have been used for the Prophet i.e. the lamp giving light or the source of light if we interpret it as per principles dervided by Zakir Naik’s understanding.
Based upon the above two observations, if we continue to insist that the Arabic words “noor” and “muneer” imply “reflected light, then based on the use of these words in the Qur’an, Prophet Muhammad is like the sun, and Allah is like the moon. Would Muslims really like to believe that Prophet Muhammad is the source of light, and Allah is only his reflection.
Clowns like Zakir Naik have made a joke of both Science and Religion. With such gibberish and taka-tak mix of religion and science, they are only adding to the preilious state of Muslims. The golden age of Muslims, of which these Islamists take pride in, was not a product of finding lame scientific excuses out of Quran but was a result of serious dedication to Islamic/Quranic message to seek knowledge, to unleash the universe and its hidden patterns. The likes of Al Razi, Ibn Sina and Al Farabi did not crammed page numbers and their contents, neither did they attempt to make scientific advancements by wasting their time trying to make up “scientific explanations” out of Quran. There should be no doubt that the modern world and all of us are indebted to the Muslim scientists who contributed to literally every field of Science – they took up the work done by Greeks and took it to a new level resulting in Muslim Golden Age. However, at the heart of this scientific advancements was unflinching dedication to critical thinking and a burning desire to know, to uncover the universe. The likes of Zakir Naik only make Al Farabi and his colleagues roll in their graves.