In this article Moiz Amjad claims the following:
Before presenting my point of view (interpretation) of the statement "Be and it is", I would like to give a short comment on Mr. Katz's remarks that "Many Muslims in recent days try to become modern ... . Even though the earlier commentators took it to be literal days."
I have presented adequate evidence from the pre-Islamic authorities on the Arabic language in one of my other responses to another one of Mr. Katz's criticisms that the the Arabic word "Yawm" is used to imply a particular period of time (whether specified or not) and also the 24-hour interval of time that we call: a "Day".
The traditional Muslim scholars who, obviously were not exposed to the modern day research in the fields of Archeology etc. took the word "yawm" to mean a 24-hour time interval that we call a day. But as man, on the basis of his study, observation and research estimated that the process of creation could not have involved "days" but "eons", the Muslim scholars were faced with the problem of lack of consistency between the Qur'an and Archeological estimations. Thus, they looked again at the words of the Qur'an and found that it was quite consistent with the words used by the Qur'an to say that the related verses of the Qur'an could be taken to mean "six periods" or "six time intervals". The Muslim scholars of old could have been mistaken, like any other human being, because of their lack of exposure to the scientific and Archeological data that was only made available to man at a very later stage in time. Moreover, in my opinion, they must have also been influenced by the opening passages of the Bible, for it was their principle that if the Qur'an did not contradict the Bible, the Bible in those instances could be presumed to be correct. I think it would not be without interest for my readers to have a look at the related portions of the first book of the Bible (Genesis), where the total process of creation has been explained in the following words:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and
empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over
And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning--the first day.
And God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water." So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse "sky." And there was evening, and there was morning--the second day.
And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so. God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas." And God saw that it was good.
Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning--the third day.
And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so. God made two great lights--the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning--the fourth day.
And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky." So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth." And there was evening, and there was morning--the fifth day.
And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind." And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."
Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground--everything that has the breath of life in it--I give every green plant for food." And it was so.
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning--the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created. (Genesis 1: 1 - 2: 4)
The reader should especially note the words:
And there was evening, and there was morning--the first day. (Genesis 1: 5)
And there was evening, and there was morning--the second day. (Genesis 1: 9)
And there was evening, and there was morning--the third day. (Genesis 1: 13)
And there was evening, and there was morning--the fourth day. (Genesis 1: 19)
And there was evening, and there was morning--the fifth day. (Genesis 1: 23)
And there was evening, and there was morning--the sixth day. (Genesis 1: 31)
The especial and repeated emphasis on "And there was evening, and there was morning..." obviously does not allow us (linguistically) to interpret the word "day" in these verses to mean any thing but the 24-hour interval that we call a day. Although the "Expert Commentary" (included in the Compton's Interactive Bible, CD Edition) says: "Some say that the creation days [as mentioned in the above stated verses] were 24-hour days, others that they were indefinite periods", but as we can see that the phrase: "And there was evening, and there was morning..." does not allow us to take the word "day" in any other meaning besides "24-hour days" unless it is linguistically proven otherwise.
Thus when the Qur'an said that "Allah created the heavens and the earth in six days", the traditional Muslim commentators, although they were aware of the fact that the word "yawm" could be used to imply "a period of time", interpreted it to mean 24-hour days, for, besides other reasons, in my opinion, they could have been mistaken because of the words used by the Bible in this respect.
Is it true that the words "there was evening, and there was morning" does not allow for any other meaning besides 24-hour days? Let us see.
First, if the phrase "evening and morning" were taken literally than this would imply a period less than 24 hours. Had the text said, "there was night and there was day" then the Learner may have had a case. This by itself should indicate that Genesis is not necessarily referring to a literal 24-hour day, but is simply expressing God's creative acts in the language of the people to whom it was written.
Furthermore, the text does not technically say the day was composed of "evening and morning". Rather, it simply says "and there was evening, and there was morning - the first day" (1:5). The expression may be a figure of speech referring to the beginning and the ending of a specific act of creation, or of a definite period of time, just as we refer to "the dawn of world history" or the "sunset years of one's life."
In fact, evening to the Israelites would have signified the start of a new day. Hence, the use of the expression may have signified to the Israelites that this was the start of a new creative act of God.
Second, the expressions "first day", "second day" etc. can be misleading. Dr. Gleason L. Archer notes why:
" the translations the first day, the second day, etc. are in error. The Hebrew says, And the evening took place, and the morning took place, day one (1:5). Hebrew expresses the first day by hayyom hari'son, but this text says simply yom'ehad (day one). Again, in v. 8 we read not hayyom hasseni (the second day) but yom seni ('a second day'). In Hebrew prose of this genre, the definite article was generally used where the noun was intended to be definite; only in poetic style could it be omitted. The same is true with the rest of the six days; they all lack the definite article. Thus they are well adapted to a sequential pattern, rather than to strictly delimited units of time." (Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties [Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids MI, 1982], p. 61)
Third, the context itself indicates that the days are more than 24-hours. For example both the "third" and "sixth" days of creation presume a long period of time. Notice what actually happens on the third day:
Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning--the third day.
According to this passage, God commanded the land to produce vegetation and it did. This implies that a period of time elapsed, allowing for the maturing of the plants and trees.
Furthermore, we are told that God created the land animals along with man (male and female) on the sixth day. Yet according to Genesis 2, God planted a garden, formed the man from the dust, placed the man in the garden, promised the man a helper, brought the animals that had been formed to the man so that he could name them, the man apparently searched for his helper from amongst the creatures, couldn't find one that was suitable, God then puts the man into a deep sleep, cuts open the side of the man, and then fashioned the woman from it. All this on the sixth day!
The final proof from Genesis that the days are not 24 hours includes:
"By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done." Genesis 2:2-3
Do notice that the seventh day has neither a starting nor ending point, i.e. we do not find the phrase "there was evening, and there was morning, the seventh day". The implication here is that God's seventh day is continuous, having no end. Authors David R. Helm and John M. Dennis write:
The description of day 7 in the text is markedly different from the other six. If you look carefully at the account in Genesis 1, you will find a refrain that concludes each day of creation:
And there was evening, and there was morning - the first day. (v. 5)
And there was evening, and there was morning - the second day. (v. 8)
And there was evening, and there was morning - the third day. (v. 13)
And there was evening, and there was morning - the fourth day. (v. 19)
And there was evening, and there was morning - the fifth day. (v. 23)
And there was evening, and there was morning - the sixth day. (v. 31)
Now look at day 7:
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. (2:2-3)
There is no refrain. Don't miss this discovery! The writer did not accidentally leave out the recurrent phrase, And there was evening, and there was morning... In this carefully crafted text there is no closure to day 7. After six workdays, God gave himself a day of everlasting rest: God's rest, and therefore God's rule, is eternal. It is ongoing. (Helm & Dennis, The Genesis Factor [Crossway Books, A Division of Good News Publishers; Wheaton Il, 2001], pp. 42-43)
The authors also respond to those that claim Genesis refers to six literal days:
What are the implications of 2:2-3 for biblical literalism? Remember, biblical literalism is a tradition that views the six days in Genesis 1 as twenty-four-hour time periods. Now, if it is true that day 7 has no end, the implications for the way in which biblical literalists read chapter 1 are significant. For example, one of the first questions that a modern reader asks when approaching this text is, "How long are the days?" Once we realize that the seventh day of Genesis 2:2-3 is no ordinary day, and that God's rest is not the same as our rest, but perhaps only analogous to it, we will begin to question the meaning of "day" in chapter 1. These are no days as human beings commonly construe them. Rather, they are God's days, as he construes them.
The Copy and the Original
The difficulty biblical literalists have in viewing the length of days as anything other than twenty-four-hour periods, may arise from a very simple misunderstanding. Perhaps they tend to think that God's days are like our days; our days last twenty-four hours, therefore, so must God's. But perhaps the opposite is true: Perhaps our days are like God's days. The question really is, which is a copy of which -which "rest" (human or divine) is the copy and which is the original?
... According to this standard our days must be based on God's days. Our text offers further support to this reasoning. According to the writer, there are three full "days" of creation before the measurement of time as we construe it is even possible - the sun is not created until day 4! These cannot be days as human beings commonly construe them. Rather, these are God's days as he construes them. Our days are analogous to his days.
As Graeme Goldsworthy has pointed out, the key question of Genesis 1 "is not whether the Bible tells the truth but how it tells it." God created the earth in God's time, in his days. And those days are not necessarily limited to twenty-four-hour periods. (Ibid., pp. 43-45)
Hebrews 4 presents additional evidence for the authors claim that God's seventh day is ongoing:
"Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, So I declared on oath in my anger, They shall never enter my rest. And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: And on the seventh day God rested from all his work. And again in the passage above he says, They shall never enter my rest. It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience. Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before: Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts. For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters Gods rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience." Hebrews 4:3-11
According to the author of Hebrews, God's seventh day of rest was still active during the time of the writing of Hebrews.
Fourth, there are other passages suggesting that the Hebrew word yom-day can mean an indefinite period of time. In response to Dr. Maurice Bucaille's claim regarding the days of Genesis being 24-hour periods, Dr. William Campbell notes:
But if Dr. Bucaille wants this meaning accepted for the Quranic word why did he not quote the following verse from the Bible?
"By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends. With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day ... He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." II Peter 3:7-9
It has a "spiritual" meaning. It concerns the day of judgment. In every way it is parallel to the Quranic usage.
In their book, Genesis One and The Origin of the Earth, Neuman and Eckelmann write,
"An elaborate word study of the Hebrew yom ("day") is not necessary to show that it is used rather like our English word "day". Often it means a period of activity during which the sun is up, roughly twelve hours long, depending on the season (Genesis 1:5; 1:14a). At other times it represents a day-night pair, a 24 hour day (Genesis 1:14b; Numbers 3:13). Less frequently it is used for longer periods of time (Genesis 2:4; Ecclesiastes 12:3)."
Why did Dr. Bucaille omit these last mentioned verses? Genesis 2:4 which follows the six days of creative work and the seventh day of rest mentioned in Chapter one reads,
"These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created. In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens."
Here the word "day" is used to include the whole seven days of creation.
In Ecclesiastes 12:3 the writer says,
"In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened"
This verse is an allegory. In a modern paraphrased translation it reads, "For there will come a day when your limbs will tremble with age and your strong legs will become weak, etc." It is using the word "day" for the period of old age.
Dr. Bucaille's idea that the Arabic "yaum" could stand for a period of time is not new. St. Augustine suggested a similar idea for the Hebrew "yom" in the 4th century saying that the creation days are so great, so majestic, so profound that we cannot consider them as mere sun-divided days, but as God-divided days. They are creative days, not solar days, and so he calls them natures, growths, "dies ineffabiles".
The book Modern Science and Christian Faith, published in 1948, proposed that the six days of creation were long periods or ages of time, and the idea was called the "day-age theory".
This book and others in English may not have been available to Dr. Bucaille, but what of the work of André Neher, L'essentiel du prophétisme published in 1955. In a review of La Bible, Le Coran et la science found in COMPRENDRE, the Frére Christian-Marie comments,
"There follows a long study of the Arabic word YAUM ... as though the Hebrew word YOM of the Genesis account was not an exact equivalent ... It would have been sufficient to consult one of the best exegetes of contemporary Judaism, André Neher:
`In this (first) Chapter of Genesis, the word (YOM) has three different senses. In 1:4 the day is identified as the light, or rather it is the name of the light. YOM has here a cosmic meaning; it is part of the elemental couple of contradictory forces, light-darkness. In verse 1:14, the same word YOM has an astronomical sense; it designates the daythe revolution from one rising of the sun until the next. All through the account, however, appearing at the conclusion of the partial elements of creation, the word YOM has still another sense: it marks a period, one time connected to another, which succeeds it and announces the following. It is thus that the Bible later employs the word YOM for the articulations of history. It is of no importance that the seven days of creation will then be abnormal in the sense that they are not equally divided in relation to the sun. They are not astronomical days, but chronometric, if one can say this. They suggest the mobility of time, its advancement, in other words, HISTORY...They are the first days of a succession of days which from now on scan and emphasize the life of the creation...They define history in the larger sense of a DEVELOPMENT (DEVENIR)."
In conclusion we see that in spite of an important amount of evidence to the contrary, Dr. Bucaille has chosen and emphasized an interpretation of the Bible which causes it to be in conflict with science. This, then, is another example of the "conflict" approach. (Campbell, The Qur'an and the Bible in the Light of History & Science [Middle East Resources 1992; ISBN 1-881085-00-7], pp. 20-22)
The following also has a direct bearing on how to understand the days of Genesis:
"For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night." Psalm 90:4
The expression here signifies that time is instantaneous to God.
This Psalm is ascribed to Moses, the very one who wrote Genesis. This furnishes a clear example from the writer of Genesis himself that the days of Genesis are not to be understood literally, but must be seen from God's perspective.
Finally, had Moses done what the first Muslims did in describing the Quranic account of creation then there would have been a problem. For example, several traditions attributed to Muhammad and his companions actually go so far as to describe the very exact day of the week that each specific aspect of the cosmos was created. The following examples are from The History of al-Tabari, Volume 1 - General Introduction and from the Creation to the Flood (trans. Franz Rosenthal, State University of New York Press, Albany 1989), pp. 187-193:
"We have stated before that time is but hours of night and day and that the hours are but traversal by the sun and the moon of the degrees of the sphere. Now then, this being so, there is (also) a sound tradition from the Messenger of God told us by Hannad b. al-Sari, who also said that he read all of the hadith (to Abu Bakr)- Abu Bakr b. `Ayyash- Abu Sa'd al-Baqqal- `Ikrimah- Ibn Abbas: The Jews came to the Prophet and asked him about the creation of the heavens and the earth. He said: God created the earth on Sunday and Monday. He created the mountains and the uses they possess on Tuesday. On Wednesday, He created trees, water, cities and the cultivated barren land. These are four (days). He continued (citing the Qur'an): `Say: Do you really not believe in the One Who created the earth in two days, and set up others like Him? That is the Lord of the worlds. He made it firmly anchored (mountains) above it and blessed it and decreed that it contain the amount of food it provides, (all) in four days, equally for those asking'- for those who ask. On Thursday, He created heaven. On Friday, He created the stars, the sun, the moon, and the angels, until three hours remained. In the first of these three hours He created the terms (of human life), who would live and who would die. In the second, He cast harm upon everything that is useful for mankind. And in the third, (He created) Adam and had him dwell in Paradise. He commanded Iblis to prostrate himself before Adam, and He drove Adam out of Paradise at the end of the hour. When the Jews asked: What then, Muhammad? He said: Then He sat straight upon the Throne.' The Jews said: You are right, if you had finished, they said, with: Then He rested. Whereupon the Prophet got very angry, and it was revealed: `We have created the heavens and the earth and what is between them in six days, and fatigue did not touch Us. Thus be patient with what you say."
"According to al-Muthanna- al-Hajjaj- Hammad- `Ata' b. al-Sa'ib- `Ikrimah: The Jews asked the Prophet: What about Sunday? The Messenger of God replied: On it, God created the earth and spread it out. They asked about Monday, and he replied: On it, He created Adam. They asked about Tuesday, and he replied: On it, He created the mountains, water, and so on. They asked about Wednesday, and he replied: Food. They asked about Thursday, and he replied: He created the heavens. They asked about Friday, and he replied: God created night and day. Then, when they asked about Saturday and mentioned God's rest(ing on it), he exclaimed: God be praised! God then revealed: We have created the heavens and the earth and what is between them in six days, and fatigue did not touch Us."
"The two reports transmitted by us from the Messenger of God have made it clear that the sun and the moon were created after God had created many things of His creation. That is because the hadith of Ibn Abbas on the authority of the Messenger of God indicates that God created the sun and the moon on Friday. If this is so, earth and heaven and what was in them, except the angels and Adam, had been created before God created the sun and the moon. All this (thus) existed while there was no light and no day, since night and day are but nouns designating hours known through the traversal by the sun and the moon of the course of the sphere. Now, if it is correct that the earth and the heaven and what was between them, except what we have mentioned, were in existence when there was no sun and no moon, the conclusion is that all existed when there was no night or day. The same (conclusion results from) the following hadith of Abu Hurayrah reported on the authority of the Messenger of God: God created light on Wednesday- meaning by `light' the sun, if God wills."
Interestingly, Ibn Kathir states that the reason why Friday was chosen as the day for Jumu'ah is due to the fact that this was the day that Allah finished his acts of creation:
Al-Jumuah (Friday), and the Orders and Etiquette for Friday
Friday is called Al-Jumuah because it is derived from Al-Jam, literally, gathering. The people of Islam gather weekly, on every Friday in the major places of worship. It was during Friday WHEN ALLAH FINISHED THE CREATION. Allah created Adam, and he was placed in Paradise, and ironically, it was A FRIDAY when he was taken out of Paradise. It will be on a Friday when the Last Hour will commence. There is an hour during Friday, wherein no faithful servant asks Allah for something good, but Allah will give what he asked for. All of this is based upon Hadiths IN THE AUTHENTIC COLLECTIONS.
In the ancient language Friday was called Arubah. It is a fact that previous nations were informed about Friday, but they were led astray from it. The Jews chose Saturday for their holy day, but Adam was not created on Saturday. The Christians chose Sunday, WHICH IS THE DAY THE CREATION WAS INITIATED. Allah chose Friday for this Ummah, BECAUSE IT IS THE DAY THE CREATION WAS FINISHED. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Volume 9, Surat Al-Jathiyah to the end of Surat Al-Munafiqun [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors; Riyadh, Houston, New York, Lahore, first edition September 2000], p. 638; bold and capital emphasis ours)
"... Imam Ahmad recorded that Aws bin Aws Ath-Thaqafi, may Allah be pleased with him, said: The Messenger of Allah said ...
((One of the best of your days is Friday; ON THIS DAY ADAM WAS CREATED AND DIED, on this day the Trumpet (Sur) will be blown and all will have swoon away. So on this day send of plenty Salah upon me, for your Salah will be presented to me.)) (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Surat Al-Ahzab, Verses 51 to the end of Surat Ad-Dukhan, p. 41; bold and capital emphasis ours)
The following ahadith also state that Adam was created on Friday:
Narrated AbuLubabah ibn AbdulMundhir
Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said, "Friday is the lord of days and the chief of them in Allah's sight, being greater in Allah's sight than the day of sacrifice and the day of breaking the fast. It has five distinguishing characteristics: on it Allah created Adam, on it Allah sent Adam to the Earth, on it Allah took Adam in death, it contains a time at which no one will ask for anything without Allah giving it, so long as he does not ask for anything unlawful, and on it the last hour will come. There is no angel near Allah's presence, nor sky, nor earth, nor winds, nor mountains, nor sea which do not fear Friday."
Ibn Majah transmitted. Ahmad transmitted from Sa'd ibn Mu'adh. (Ibn Tirmidhi. Number 410 - taken from the Alim CD-ROM Version)
When the Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked for what reason Friday acquired its name, he replied, "Because on it the nature of your father Adam was fashioned, on it will take place the Sa'qah (Nafkh, shout) and the resurrection of the dead, on it the assault will take place, and at the end of three hours in it there is a time at which anyone who makes a supplication to Allah will be answered."
Ahmad transmitted it. (Al-Tirmidhi, Number 412- taken from the Alim CD-ROM Version)
... Yahya related to me from Malik from Yazid ibn Abdullah ibn al-Had from Muhammad ibn Ibrahim ibn al-Harith at-Taymi from Abu Salama ibn Abd ar-Rahman ibn Awf that Abu Hurayra said, "I went out to at-Tur (Mount Sinai) and met Kab al Ahbar and sat with him. He related to me things from the Tawrah and I related to him things from the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. Among the things I related to him was that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, The best of days on which the sun rises is the day of jumua. In it Adam was created, and in it he fell from the Garden. In it he was forgiven, and in it he died. In it the Hour occurs, and every moving thing listens from morning till sunset in apprehension of the Hour except jinn and men. In it is a time when Allah gives to a muslim slave standing in prayer whatever he asks for. Kab said, That is one day in every year. I said, No, in every jumua. Then Kab recited the Tawrah and said, The Messenger of Allah has spoken the truth" ... (Malik's Al-Muwatta, Volume 5, Number 17- taken from the Alim CD-ROM Version)
Now had Moses written that on Monday God created vegetation and on Friday he had created man etc., then the Learner may have had a case. But since this is not what we find, and in light of the preceding factors, we therefore see that Mr. Amjad's assertion regarding the days of Genesis 1 has little substance behind it.
In case the Learner tries to argue that certain Muslim scholars actually taught that the days of the Quran were not literal, but that each day referred to a thousand years this would still be problematic.
First, this would still leave us with the problem that the universe was created in approximately six thousand years, a number that the consensus of the scientific community rejects.
Second, if it is claimed that day refers to an epoch or eon of time, then what need was there to refer to six epochs or eons when simply stating that God created the universe in an epoch or eon would have sufficed?
If it is argued that the reference to six eons refers to specific successive creative acts, much like the Genesis account then this introduces another problem. Namely, the Quranic account regarding the order of God's creative acts is incorrect from the modern scientific perspective:
Say: Is it 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 measure therein its sustenance, in four Days, alike for (all) who ask. THEN (thumma) He turned to 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 completed them as seven firmaments in two Days, and He assigned to each heaven its duty and command. And We adorned the lower heaven with lights, and (provided it) with guard. Such is the Decree of (Him) the Exalted in Might, Full of Knowledge. S. 41:9-12
It is He Who hath created for you all things that are on earth; THEN (thumma) He turned to the heavens, and made them into seven firmaments; and of all things He hath perfect knowledge. S. 2:29
The picture of the earth being formed, cooled, and growing nourishment before the formation of the heavens does not agree at all with modern theories of the beginning of the universe.
The Learner might want to interject that the Arabic word thumma doesn't necessarily refer to sequential time or successive acts, and can refer to a parallel act. It might be true that thumma may convey the meaning of a parallel act, but that doesn't tell us what thumma means in these specific contexts. Words can mean different things in different contexts at different times.
Therefore, in order to know what thumma means we must look at the context to see if it gives us any hints. We must then look to the early Muslims to see how they understood the term thumma within the context of these passages.
We have already documented in the above traditions that the early Muslims clearly believed that the earth had been created before the heavens. We also present the comments of Ibn Kathir on S. 2:29:
Before Allah mentioned proof of the creation to the disbelievers and what they witness in themselves. In this verse, He mentions another proof of the creation of the heavens and the earth: <He created for you all that there is on earth; then He turned to the sky and fashioned it into seven heavens.>
Mujahid said that Allah created the earth before the heavens, and when He did, smoke evolved and rose - by the will of Allah - <then He turned to the sky>. The action of turning to the sky involves movement because the verb is followed by the preposition (to). <and fashioned it into seven heavens.> that is created seven heavens. The interpreters do not agree as to whether Allah created the earth before the heavens or vice versa. Each has evidence although the evidence of those supporting the opinion that the creation of the earth preceded the heavens IS STRONGER BECAUSE ALLAH SAID: <He created for you all that there is on the earth; then he turned to the sky> using the adverb "then", WHICH IMPLIES SEQUENCE, that is Allah created the earth and what is in it, then He moved to the sky and fashioned it into seven heavens. On the other hand, those who support the opinion that the creation of the heavens was before the earth refer to the verse <What! Are you harder to create than the heaven which He has built? He raised it high and fashioned it. He made dark its night and brought out its light. And after that He spread the earth, And then drew its water and its pastures. The the mountains he fixed:> (79:27-32) This was narrated by Ibn Jarir who quoted Qatadah. However, this opinion is not sound; in fact, the truth is the reverse. Al-Bukhari mentions in his Sahih that when Ibn 'Abbas was asked about this very issue his reply was that the earth was created before the heavens, and that it was spread out after the creation of the heavens. The phrase 'spread out' was further explained in the verse <And after that he spread the earth, And then drew from it water and pastures. Then the mountains He fixed:> (79:31-32) whereby the action of spreading is explained by drawing out the water stored in it and thus causing plants to flourish in their myriad types, forms, kinds, colours and shapes. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir - Part 1 Surah Al-Fatiah Surah Al-Baqara, ayat 1 to 141, abridged by Shaikh Muhammad Nasib Ar-Rafai'i [Al-Firdous Ltd., London, 1998 second edition], pp. 92-93; bold italic and capital emphasis ours)
Here also is Ibn Kathir's lengthy commentary on S. 41:9-12:
<Who created the heavens and the earth in Six Days> (7:54).
is explained in more detail; the creation of the earth and the creation of the heaven are discussed separately. Allah says that He created the earth FIRST, because it is the foundation, and the foundation should be built first, then the roof. Allah says elsewhere:
<He it is Who created for you all that is on the earth. Then He rose over (Istawa ila) the heaven and made them seven heavens>
With regard to the Ayat...
<Are you more difficult to create or is the heaven that He constructed? He raised its height, and has perfected it. Its night He covers with darkness and its forenoon He brings out (with light). And after that He spread the earth, And brought forth its water and its pasture; And the mountains He has fixed firmly, (to be) a provision and benefit for you and your cattle.> (79:27-33)
This Ayah states that the spreading of the earth came after the creation of the heavens, but the earth itself was created BEFORE the heavens according to some texts. This was the response of Ibn 'Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, as recorded by Al-Bukhari in his Tafsir of this Ayah in his Sahih. He recorded that Sa'id bin Jubayr said: "A man said to Ibn 'Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, saying: 'I find some things in the Qur'an which confuse me: ...
... And Allah says:
<Are you more difficult to create or is the heaven that He constructed?> until; ...
<And after that He spread the earth.> (79:27-32)
So He mentioned the creation of the heavens before the earth, then He said:
<Say: "Do you verily disbelieve in Him who created the earth in two Days?" > until; ...
<We come willingly.> Here He mentioned the creation of the earth before the creation of the heavens ...
Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with Him. Replied: ...
Allah created the earth in two days, THEN He created the heavens, THEN He (Istawa ila) the heaven and gave it its shape in two more days. THEN He spread the earth, which means that He brought forth there from its water and its pasture. And he created the mountains, sands, inanimate things, rocks and hills and everything in between, in two more days. This is what Allah says:
<(He) spread (the earth)> (79:30)
And Allah saying:
<(He) created the earth in two Days> So He created the earth and everything in it in four days, and He created the heavens in two days ..." (Tafsir Ibn Kathir - Abridged Volume 8 Surat Al-Ahzab, verse 51 to the end of Surat Ad-Dukhan, pp. 517-521; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Ibn Kathir continues:
<(He) created the earth in two Days> means Sunday and Monday ...
<He placed therein firm mountains from above it, and He blessed it.>
means, He blessed it and gave it the potential to be planted with seeds and bring forth produce ...
<And measured therein its sustenance>
means, what its people need of provision and places in which to plant things and grow crops. This was on Tuesday and Wednesday, which together with the two previous days add up to four days...
<Then He completed and finished their creation (as) seven heavens in two Days>
means, He finished forming them as seven heavens in two more days, which were Thursday and Friday. (Ibid., pp. 521-522; bold emphasis ours)
Secondly, if the Quran is referring to a parallel act then the passage would not have said "then we turned to the sky when it had been smoke," but rather, "then we turned to the earth and the sky when they were still smoke."
We realize that the Learner has chosen to reject these hadiths. Yet this only highlights Mr. Amjad's circular reasoning. Mr. Amjad has written:
It is primarily because of this reason that a narrative, before being accepted as a true reporting of a saying of the Prophet (pbuh) should be as thoroughly checked vis a vis its contents, as it is checked with reference to its sanad. Thus, even if a narrative is reported by a strong and reliable chain of narrators it can only be accepted as a true and accurate reporting of an actual saying of the Prophet (pbuh) after analyzing its contents on the following two criteria:
The narrative under consideration is not in contradiction to anything contained in the Qur'an or the Sunnah OR ESTABLISHED HUMAN KNOWLEDGE AND INFORMATION;
If the narrative relates to a religious issue then its contents should have a clear basis in the Qur'an and the Sunnah, the two basic and independent sources of Islam. This, obviously, implies that no addition or deletion in the main corpus of religion is made on the basis of Hadith alone.
If the narrative falls short on these criteria, even if it is reported by honest and reliable people, then the decision regarding its acceptance would either be deferred till the time that an adequate explanation is given for such a narrative or would be rejected as one wrongly ascribed (possibly due to the element of misperception of a saying or its misreporting) to the Prophet (pbuh). (Source)
I think these words and the paragraphs that precede it are not difficult to understand. I have simply tried to make the point that for a narrative to be taken as absolutely accurate, it is not sufficient that truthful and honest people narrate it. Many other factors, most of which are not even determinable are also of equal importance. We, from our everyday life experiences, know quite well that every statement narrated by a truthful, honest and dependable person is not necessarily a correct one. For a narrative to be correct, besides issues like general integrity and honesty of the individual, the accuracy of his understanding and comprehension of the particular narrative [while hearing it], the soundness of his memory with regard to the particular narrative and his unblemished [oral or written] presentation of the particular narrative [while narrating it to the next person in the chain] are also of utmost importance. I am sure, "The Doubter" and everyone else will agree with me that the case is really so. We can by no means be certain about the correctness or otherwise of the ascription of a particular narrative to the Prophet (pbuh) under these circumstances.
That is the very reason why, in my opinion, all narratives, even if they have been reported by people of impeccable character, integrity and honesty should not only be considered in the light of the Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh), but also in the light of common sense. Any narrative reporting anything against the Qur'an, the Sunnah or COMMON SENSE, even if reported by highly truthful and honest people is wrongly ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh). I would like to ask "The Doubter" to provide me with the basis relying on which he is so sure that the saying [under consideration] is correctly ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh). I am sure that if he has any communicable and comprehendible basis of this certainty, I will also be able to understand these basis and the problem shall stand resolved without much discussion. Till such time, I have no option but to repeat again that "It is not the understanding of Mohammad (pbuh) but the understanding ascribed to Mohammad (pbuh) that has been reported in the narrative under consideration. This ascription, obviously, may or may not be correct". (Source)
Yet Mr. Amjad's criterion assumes his conclusion and is the classic textbook fallacy of begging the question. It goes something like this:
Since the Quran is God's word and Muhammad is God's prophet, neither source would contradict common sense or established human knowledge and information.
These hadiths regarding the creation days of the Quran contradict established human knowledge and information.
Therefore these hadiths must have been falsely attributed to Muhammad since Muhammad is a prophet and would not contradict common sense or established human knowledge and information.
Be that as it may, we simply conclude by stating that unlike the Quran and Hadith with all its problems, the Genesis account of creation can be easily harmonized with the rest of scripture and with modern scientific understanding of the origin of the universe.
In the service of our risen Lord and eternal Savior Jesus Christ forever, by God's grace. Amen. Come Lord Jesus, come. We will always love you.
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