According to Muslims, the Holy Quran is the Word of God, while nature is the Work of God. As such, we can expect to find considerable harmony between God’s Word and God’s Work. While the Quran is not a scientific textbook, it uses physical phenomena to demonstrate spiritual truths, hence the frequent allegories to the life-giving water (revelation) reviving a (spiritually) dead Earth. However, in many cases the descriptions of physical phenomena seem to serve another purpose — to act as prophecies of future scientific discoveries. These confirm the reader’s conviction that the Quran is not the work of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, but rather the word of God. Naturally, verses claimed to be scientific prophecies have become a major attraction to Islam in the recent era, with many people of a scientific bent being extremely impressed by their articulacy and accuracy. 

In this article, we will explore one verse claimed to describe the Big Bang, and another claimed to describe the expansion of the universe. To do so, we will first recount the relevant science, then the verses themselves, as well as the criticisms of  the Muslim argument. We find that the Quranic claim is accurate and that its criticisms fall short, bolstering the claim that the Author of the Quran is the Author of the Universe.

The Science

Just over 100 years ago, luminaries such as Einstein, along with almost the entire scientific world, believed that the universe did not have a beginning. It was static — it always was and always will be. But Einstein’s own Theory of General Relativity changed that. When physicists looked at the equations governing its applications, they realised that the universe should be expanding. Like a balloon being blown up, if you rewind the clock, you realise that an expanding universe should have started from an initial much smaller point of origin. So was the universe expanding?  The physics world didn’t have to wait long. Painstaking work by Edwin Hubble in the 1920’s showed that the light from distant galaxies was red-shifted — its wavelength was being stretched, like a squiggly line on a balloon becoming stretched as the balloon’s skin expanded. For the first time, cosmologists could ‘see’ the expansion of the universe. Georges Lemaitre, a Belgian Priest who moonlighted as a mathematical prodigy, extrapolated the expansion of the universe back in time to a ‘Primeval Atom’ — a state of the universe where it was highly dense and compact, before expanding and evolving into the cosmos we know and love today. 

While his idea was widely acclaimed for being an elegant solution to cosmology’s problems, many found the idea of a beginning repugnant. It seemed like the religious idea of a ‘Creator’ who set of the universe was creeping into physics. Over the next few decades however, the idea of a Big Bang gained immense empirical support. What really won the day was discovering the radioactive ‘afterglow’ of the Big Bang, the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation, whose measurement confirmed the Big Bang Theory’s predictions. More evidence has poured in since then, and today Big Bang cosmology is the starting-point for understanding of the universe’s origin and evolution. 

Georges Lemaiture
Georges Lemaitre (middle) with Einstein (right) and… someone else (left)

The Quran

The Holy Quran describes God as both the originator and sustainer of the universe. In fact, the second line of the Quran begins by describing God as ‘Rabbil Aalameen,’ meaning that God is the Creator, Sustainer, and Developer of every world. Evolution is the overriding law of the Quran’s cosmology, first from God’s decree into actual existence, and from there into the universe we see today.

(Please note that the Ahmadiyya Quranic numbering system follows traditions of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, which tell us that chapters begin with the verse ”Bismillah…’. Thus we enumerate this verse at the beginning of every chapter. This means that in Qurans published by non-Ahmadi publishers, you should subtract 1 from the verse number given below, in all chapters apart from Chapter 9).

بَدِیۡعُ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ الۡاَرۡضِ ؕ وَ اِذَا قَضٰۤی اَمۡرًا فَاِنَّمَا یَقُوۡلُ لَہٗ کُنۡ فَیَکُوۡنُ

He is the Originator of the heavens and the earth.
When He decrees a thing, He does only say to it, ‘Be!’ and it is. (2:118)

Describing in more detail the early moments of the universe, the Quran says the following: 

اَوَ لَمۡ یَرَ الَّذِیۡنَ کَفَرُوۡۤا اَنَّ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ الۡاَرۡضَ کَانَتَا رَتۡقًا فَفَتَقۡنٰہُمَا ؕ وَ جَعَلۡنَا مِنَ الۡمَآءِ کُلَّ شَیۡءٍ حَیٍّ ؕ اَفَلَا یُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ

Do not the disbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were a closed-up mass (ratqan), then We opened them out (fafataqnahuma)? And We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe? (21:31)

But the Quran does not stop there. It also describes the expansion of the universe: 

وَ السَّمَآءَ بَنَیۡنٰہَا بِاَیۡٮدٍ وَّ اِنَّا لَمُوۡسِعُوۡنَ

And We have built the heaven with Our own hands, and verily We go on expanding it. (51:48)

Let’s take a closer look at these two verses.

The ‘Big Bang’ Verse

اَوَ لَمۡ یَرَ الَّذِیۡنَ کَفَرُوۡۤا اَنَّ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ الۡاَرۡضَ کَانَتَا رَتۡقًا فَفَتَقۡنٰہُمَا ؕ وَ جَعَلۡنَا مِنَ الۡمَآءِ کُلَّ شَیۡءٍ حَیٍّ ؕ اَفَلَا یُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ

Do not the disbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were a closed-up mass (ratqan), then We opened them out (fafataqnahuma)? And We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe? (21:31)

This verse makes a few clear statements: 

  1. The heavens and the Earth (ie: the cosmos), while differentiated now, were once a closed-up mass, described as ratqan (رَتۡقًا)
  2. The heavens and the Earth were opened up (fafataqnahuma) from their state of being ratq
  3. Disbelievers will ‘see’ this, i.e.: there will be observational evidence for this, and the verse’s contents will be an argument for belief in God and Islam. 
  4. Water is the source of all life. 

While the fourth point is now widely accepted as being true, it is not our focus here. The first three points concern us. Are they accurate? 

To explore this, we need to first explore the meaning of ratqan? Ratqan is an accusative form of the noun ratq, and its essential meaning is that of something that is closed up. Meanings given in Malik Ghulam Farid’s Quran Dictionary are being stitched or sewn up when applied to cloth, or the closing up of a breach between two disagreeing parties. Thus the underlying meaning is of harmonising differing elements into one whole.1 Applied to this verse, he translates it as a ‘closed-up mass’, as denoted by the indefinite case. The famous dictionary Lisan-ul-Arab also lists ‘darkness’ as one of the word’s meanings.2 Thus the picture that emerges is a dark, homogenous mass, which becomes the ‘Heavens and Earth.’

Next we turn to the meaning of “and then We opened them up” for which the arabic is fafataqnahuma. This means that something is cloven asunder. Lane’s Lexicon describes the essential meanings as the cleaving asunder of something united to make it disunited.3 The word is in the dual, applying it grammatically to the ‘heaven and the earth’ just described as a closed-up mass. 

So far, so startling. This is a pretty perfect description of the Big Bang. The cosmos was indeed a closed-up mass, ie: a highly dense and tiny point which has opened up to produce the wider universe. 

Lastly, the Quran makes a very specific prophecy regarding this — that the observational evidence for this would be found by the disbelievers, ie: the non-Muslims. The verse ends by addressing this atheistic era: will you not believe? That is: will the modern western world not believe in God and Islam, when a beginning of the universe is now scientifically supported, and its discovery predicted by the Prophet of Islampbuh 1400 years ago, in the depths of the Arabian desert?  

Big Bang evolution
A summary of cosmic evolution


Critics of Islam have scrambled to respond to this verse. We will recount their objections below, using as our reference Wiki-Islam, the ‘encyclopedia on Islam that anyone can edit!’ As we will see, an open-source ethos has not managed to attract well-informed arguments. 

No mention of small volume?

The first major objection is that ratq cannot apply to the early dense state of the universe because there is no explicit reference to the small volume of the universe in that word. This is true. The word ratqan does not necessarily entail ‘occupying a small volume’. However this is in fact implied by the word fafataqnahuma, ie: opening out. Naturally, if the universe has been opened out from a ratq, then that ratq must have been a unified mass smaller than the universe. The meaning of ‘darkness’ further cements it as a good description of the Big Bang. 

Earth was not created yet? 

The next objection is that the word meaning ‘We opened the two out’ — fafataqnahuma — is in the dual case, and is applied to the Heavens and the Earth. Critics say that if the verse was to apply to the Big Bang, then the ratq should have been opened out instead. After all, in reality, the Earth did not yet exist, and so could not be cleaved apart from the heavens in the first place. This means that the author of the Quran was ignorant to the fact that the Earth would only be produced billions of years in the future — it was not simply stitched up to the heavens, only to be peeled apart. 

This objection is barely coherent. The entire import of the verse is that the Heavens and the Earth were once an undifferentiated mass, ie: a ratq. Ratqan, as described above, means something which is closed up and seamless, a harmony instead of a plurality. The very meaning of the verse is therefore: what you see as the Heavens and the Earth, different planets, the sun and the stars, were once harmonised as one thing. Nowhere in the verse does it say that the Heavens and Earth were always in their current form. Quite the opposite — it says they were once a ratq! Thus the basic import of the verse contradicts this objection.

But then why does the Quran refer to the primordial form of the Heavens and Earth as being opened out, rather than the ratq? The reason why ‘opened out’ is applied to the Heavens and the Earth and not ratq is to indicate the potential that God knew was latent in the ratq. This is a teleological (purpose-driven) way of speaking that is common in the Quran and in everyday life. God tells us that the current cosmos once was in a ratq, and God opened it out to produce the Heavens and the Earth. 

For instance the Quran refers to individual people and the human species as a whole as ‘man’ even when they are not yet humans, but rather a primordial state, destined to become man:

 ہَلۡ اَتٰی عَلَی الۡاِنۡسٰنِ حِیۡنٌ مِّنَ الدَّہۡرِ لَمۡ یَکُنۡ شَیۡـًٔا مَّذۡکُوۡرًا

“There has certainly come upon man a period of time when he was not a thing spoken of” (76:2)

وَ اللّٰہُ اَنۡۢبَتَکُمۡ مِّنَ الۡاَرۡضِ نَبَاتًا

“And Allah has caused you to grow as a good growth from the Earth” (71:18)

A well-known saying of the Prophet Muhammadpbuh, much commented on by the Sufi Saint Hazrat Ibn Arabi, reads: 

“I was the Seal of the Prophets while Adam was still between water and clay.”

Thus Adam is referred to as being ‘Adam’ while only existing in potentiality. Even more startlingly, it refers to the Prophet Muhammadpbuh as being the Seal of the Prophets despite him being the progeny of Adam, only to be born thousands of years in the future. The tradition indicates that those things which are decreed by God to occur in the future can be referred to as if they have already occurred. This is also the philosophy of why many events on the Day of Judgment, far in the future from our perspective, are referred to in the past tense in the Holy Quran. Their outcome has already been decreed.

We can understand this idea in a more day-to-day way too. If someone is making cupcakes, they first make a mixture of flour, eggs, butter etc… At that point, you have a smooth mixture that is nothing in and of itself. But if you ask the cook what he’s doing, he will say, “I’m making cupcakes, can’t you see?” The cupcakes exist as a plan in the cook’s mind, though they exist only in potential in the mixture itself. If someone throws the baking tray on the ground, they’ll cry “you’ve ruined my cupcakes!”, even though they are completely inedible in their current state.

Thus the Heavens and the Earth existed as a physical potential of the ratq. But since God knew that He would ultimately differentiate the ratq to become the universe we know today, he referred to its future state as if it already existed.

Isn’t the Earth in the Heavens?

The last possible objection is that the Earth is part of the universe and thus cannot be said to be something different from the ‘Heavens.’ However, this is simply an idiom that exists in every language. We refer to our own planetary home as being one thing, and everything else as another thing. Thus in English everyone understands that the ‘Heavens’ is everything beyond the Earth, while knowing that the Earth is in another sense part of the wider Heavens. That hasn’t stopped the phrase ‘Heaven and Earth’ being used as the title of an 1821 drama by Lord Byron, a 1993 Oliver Stone movie, and a 1989 Kylie Minogue song! 

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Prevalent Creation Myths

The next objection is that in reality, this verse is not surprising, because the idea of heavens and Earth splitting was a known creation myth in the Middle East. The critics write: 

“Among the Egyptians for example, it was the involuntary separation of Geb (the earth god) from his wife and sister Nut (the sky goddess) that was responsible for the division of the earth from the sky. The Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh likewise describes the moment “when the heavens had been separated from the earth, when the earth had been delimited from the heavens” as a result of the separation of a sky God (An) from an earth Goddess (Ki). If you remove the pagan references, you have the same story as found in the Qur’an.”

Thus the objection is that the idea of splitting the heavens and the Earth was simply plagiarised from prevalent myths. 

There are many problems with this conjecture. Chief among these is the failure to recognise the nature of the argument. The idea of different parts of the Cosmos being split is indeed one of many recurring themes in ancient Creation Myths. What is not prevalent is the description of a ratq, a closed-up, dark mass, from which the heavens and earth once emerged, along with the lack of contradictory and inaccurate details. 

Moreover, if the Prophet Muhammad were, God forbid, a plagiariser, why would he go by creation myths from Pagan culture which he detested? Why would he not take from the Bible, to which he at least had theoretical access? But of course, the Days of Creation listed in the Bible are radically different to those in the Quran, as are so many other details. The Prophetpbuh did not plagiarise from the Bible or anywhere else. 

Not only this, but the link between Sumerian/Egyptian creation myths, and Arab creation myths, is simply asserted. There is no evidence for this.

Furthermore, an analysis of Sumerian and Egyptian creation myths refutes this absurd criticism. Sumerian creation myths do indeed mention various gods separating the heavens and the earth. However, what the critics do not describe, is the fact that this separation is part of a much wider creation myth which is completely contrary to both the Quran and modern science. 

Sumerian Creation Myth

For instance, the Sumerians believed that a ‘primeval sea’ pre-dated the heavens and earth, seemingly existing since eternity. Moreover, the heavens and the earth are described as being together on some form of mountain. Lastly, the entire myth was plagued with various mentions of different demi-gods squabbling and fighting each other. Sumerian Mythology expert Samuel Noah Kramer, writes in ‘Sumerian Mythology’ (1944):

“If now we sum up the cosmogonic or creation concepts of the Sumerians, evolved to explain the origin of the universe, they may be stated as follows:

1. First was the primeval sea. Nothing is said of its origin or birth, and it is not unlikely that the Sumerians conceived it as having existed eternally.

2. The primeval sea begot the cosmic mountain consisting of heaven and earth united.

3. Conceived as gods in human form, An (heaven) was the male and Ki (earth) was the female. From their union was begotten the air-god Enlil.” 4

Naturally, the Quran does not mention a pre-existing primeval sea, nor that the heavens and the earth were a mountain, nor the myriad other elements of the rather zany Sumerian creation myths. Drawing a link is therefore implausible, as it would require explaining why only one small part of the creation myth, which just happened to be correct, entered into the Arab milieu. 

It would also not explain why the Prophet Muhammadpbuh, who detested Arab Pagan mythology, would ever partake of such a creation myth. 

Finally, it fails to explain the specific and accurate language of the Quranic verse.  

sumerian mythology
An Akkadian cylinder seal from c. 2300 B.C. representing some prominent deities

Egyptian Creation Myth

When we turn to the Egyptians we find something very similar. It describes Nun, a primeval sea, in which various gods and goddesses inhabited and produced the universe. Garry J. Shaw, the noted Egyptologist, describes their creation myths in The Egyptian Myths.  

“The pre-creation universe is an infinite body of water, an expanse of darkness, inert and motionless… Though beyond true human comprehension, to conceptualize and discuss this infinite watery expanse, the Egyptians personified its intertwined aspects as indissoluble male and female couples – the males as frogs and the females as snakes. There was Nun and Naunet as the limitless waters; Huh and Hauhet as infinity; Kuk and Kauket as darkness; and Amun and Amunet as hiddenness… 

To the theologians of Hermopolis, who emphasized these forces of pre-creation in their myths, the eight gods created the first mound of earth (or island) together, and then formed an egg from which the sun god hatched. Depending on the myth at hand, sometimes the sun is said to hatch from an egg laid by a goose called the Great Honker, or by the god Thoth (see p. 51) in the form of an ibis. In other variations, the eight gods create a lotus in Nun, from which the sun is born, first taking the form of the scarab beetle Khepri and then as the child-god Nefertum whose eyes, when open, gave light to the world… 5

To recap, so far the Egyptian creation myth consisted of a primeval sea, teeming with demi-gods, who produced an original mound of Earth. Then the Sun is born either from some kind of cosmic egg or from a locust. But there is much, much more. 

Shaw goes on to explain that when some of these gods were recalled back to Amun, they find the sun-goddess replaced with another deity. The old sun-goddess is so upset that she cried, and her tears produced humanity. The next generation of demi-gods includes Geb, the Earth-god, and Nut, the sky-god. These are said to be locked in an eternal sexual embrace. The sun travels within Nut, as does the Moon. Nut and Geb have four more demi-god children, which annoys the Moon-god, who has them separated. 

egyptian creation myth
In the centre Shu separates the sky-goddess Nut from Geb below, the earth-god. This is the idea that critics say was plagiarised by the Quran.

Summarising the myth will show us the great chasm between the Islamic vision and Egyptian conceptions:

  • Primeval waters originally existed
  • A Creator-God rose from this.
  • He produced many other gods.
  • A primeval mound of earth was produced.
  • The celestial objects are created.
  • Mankind is produced 
  • Then the sky-god and earth-god are separated. 

Compare this with: 

Do not the disbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were a closed-up mass (ratqan), then We opened them out (fafataqnahuma)? And We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe? (21:31)

Even apart from the pagan idolatry, this verse is rather strikingly different from the Egyptian creation myth. In the myth, the separation of the heavens and the Earth is preceded by primeval waters, a primeval earth, celestial objects, and quite possibly mankind itself. 

In the Quran, no mention is made of these. Unlike the Bible, which may well have been influenced by these myths, there is no primeval water. There is also no prior earth, nor any prior celestial objects. In fact, the Egyptian myth is quite incoherent. The Heavens seemed to have been operating quite well before their separation from the Earth. The Quran however, stresses their primordial unity in precise language. It adds nothing, and summarises the Big Bang theory in entirely appropriate wording. 

For the Prophet Muhammad to have reached within the Egyptian creation myth and pluck out the verse in question would have required nothing short of Divine Insight. Had the myth transmitted into Arab mythology, there is no conceivable reason why it would have ever ended up in the form recounted in this verse. On the contrary, mutual transmission between the Sumerian and Egyptian creation myths is quite likely given their similarities. 

The reality is that the Quranic verse finds no precedent in ancient creation myths. Its language is precisely correct. Atheists would do well to reckon honestly with these facts. 

Expansion of the Universe

وَ السَّمَآءَ بَنَیۡنٰہَا بِاَیۡٮدٍ وَّ اِنَّا لَمُوۡسِعُوۡنَ

وَ الۡاَرۡضَ فَرَشۡنٰہَا فَنِعۡمَ الۡمٰہِدُوۡنَ

And We have built the heaven with might and We continue to expand it indeed. And the Earth We have spread out, and how excellently do We spread it out! (51:48-49)

This verse is quite straightforward — it tells us that God has built the heavens ‘bi aydin’. This means God’s hands, his power, or his might. Obviously God does not have literal hands, so the translation here, of Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmadrh, the 4th Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, is entirely appropriate. Then the verse tells us that surely (wa inna) God is currently expanding it. This is indicated by the word ‘la-musiuna’, which, according to Corpus Quran is the “nominative masculine plural (form IV) active participle”. Naturally an active participle refers to something that is happening now. A technical translation would be something like ‘verily we continue to be its Expander now’, the meaning of which is identical to ‘we continue to expand it.’

This construction of the Quran is remarkable. It tells us not only that God has expanded the universe, but that it is currently expanding. While the expansion of the universe from an initial point has been known since Hubble’s observations, it was assumed for decades that the expansion is slowing down. However, this expectation was overturned in the 1990’s with the discovery that while the universe’s expansion did decelerate, it then suddenly started speeding up about 5 billion years ago.6 The driver of this is ‘dark energy’, an unknown force the true nature of which is still being determined. 

Interestingly, while modern cosmology tentatively believes that this expansion of the universe will go on forever, the Quran speaks of a time when the universe will be rolled up and be collapsed back into a high-density point, from which a new universe will be created. 

یَوۡمَ نَطۡوِی السَّمَآءَ کَطَیِّ السِّجِلِّ لِلۡکُتُبِ ؕ کَمَا بَدَاۡنَاۤ اَوَّلَ خَلۡقٍ نُّعِیۡدُہٗ ؕ وَعۡدًا عَلَیۡنَا ؕ اِنَّا کُنَّا فٰعِلِیۡنَ

“Remember the day when We shall roll up the heavens like the rolling up of written scrolls by a scribe. As We began the first creation, so shall We repeat it — a promise binding upon Us; We shall certainly perform it.” (21:105)

As Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmadrh pointed out in his revolutionary book Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and Truth, the idea of the universe being rolled up completely fits the picture of the universe collapsing into a black hole, with angular momentum causing the fabric of space to enter into it like the rolls of a parchment, before somehow emerging into a new universe. Moreover, the characterisation of the universe as a written sheet — that is, a flat geometry laden with information which can be contorted into different topologies, should be of keen interest to the Muslim cosmologist. They should ponder over its implications, and ask themselves what predictions can be generated from this description. 

angular momentum black hole
An artist’s drawing a black hole named Cygnus X-1. Note the compressed ribbons around the black hole’s centre. (NASA, CXC/M.Weiss)

For instance: if the universe will eventually collapse, does that mean that dark energy cannot be a true cosmological constant, but may vary? Does it exist as a scalar field, as in the Quintessence idea? How else can we generate a collapsing universe from its current condition, and how do we empirically test these ideas? Though pursuing these ideas lies outside the scope of this article, they should be pursued nonetheless. 


The Earth isn’t being spread?

Wiki-Islam isn’t happy with this verse at all. They ignore the fact that ‘la-musiuna’ denotes an ongoing expansion, and try and refute this by looking at the next verse, in which God says is spreading out/preparing the Earth, al-mahiduna’.

“The problem here is that since identical verb forms and grammar are used for the last word in these two verses, to include tense, how can Harun Yahya [a Muslim apologist they critique] claim the first ayah refers to an ongoing, continuing expansion of the heavens, without also concluding that the second must also refer to an ongoing, continuing spreading of the earth?

The word al mahidoon الْمَهِدُونَ (the spreaders) in verse 48 is from the root mahada مهد which means to make plain, even, smooth, spread a bed. Also from this root is the noun mahdan, meaning a bed or even expanse, which appears in other verses about the creation of Earth where it was made a bed in the past tense… The tense is clear in those verses to mean a past event rather than an ongoing process.”

The authors are right to notice the identical construction of the two participles. They are wrong to conclude this is a problem for the Quran! For as we have already discussed in a separate article, the spreading out of the Earth is both something that has both happened in the past and is something which is happening today! Tectonic plates have spent millennia spreading across the Earth, with oceanic crust being literally created by a process called ‘seafloor spreading.’ 

seafloor spreading
A diagram explaining ‘seafloor spreading’ where new oceanic crust is created. Courtesy of Pearson Education (2011).

To recap — the Wiki-Islam authors ignore the grammatical construction of the word which indicates ‘ongoing expansion.’ They then defend this stance by appealing to the next verse which says that the Earth is being spread out. They then handily ignore the fact that the Earth is being spread out.

Similarities to Isaiah

“This is what God the LORD says— the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it:” Isa 44:24

“It is I who made the earth and created mankind on it. My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts.” Isa 45:12

“… that you forget the LORD your Maker, who stretches out the heavens and who lays the foundations of the earth…” 51:13

Though Wiki-Islam don’t use this argument, another objection could be made that the Quranic verse is similar to a few verses in Isaiah in which the Prophet Isaiahas says that the heavens are ‘stretched out.’ Almost all translations have ‘stretched out’ in the past tense, with a few in the present tense – online Biblical tools do not make it clear which is most appropriate. The hebrew word is נָטָה nâṭâh, whose primary meaning is ‘stretching’, generally applied to a tent, canopy or curtain that is stretched. 

It is clear that there are similarities between the Biblical statements and the Quran’s statements. This does no violence to the validity and force of the Quranic statement, for a few reasons. 

Firstly, the word nâṭâh is quite different to ‘la-musiuna’, which has a clearer meaning of expanding or making vast, rather than the primary meaning and usage of nâṭâh, meaning to stretch. Had the verse been plagiarised, why would the Quran not use an equivalent word for stretch? Such a word is readily available, and phonetically closer to the hebrew — نطا (nataa). This also has the meaning of lengthening. Were the verse plagiarised, this would have been the word to use. 

Secondly, the Bible does not make clear that this is an ongoing process, as the Quran does.

Thirdly, despite its relative deficiencies, there is no reason to think that these verses of Isaiah were not revealed by God — Muslims accept the validity of much of the Bible, though believe in the superiority and sanctity of the Quranic revelation. 

Fourthly, had the Prophet Muhammadpbuh plagiarised this verse, God forbid, it begs the question of how incredibly, and excellently selective he was. Why did the Prophetpbuh not plagiarise the cosmogony of the Bible’s opening verses? Why are there so many differences between the Garden of Eden story of the two books, as well as countless other differences? What, short of divine insight, would cause him to dig out a few reasonable verses in Isaiah rather than myriad more prominent and more inaccurate verses? 

In reality, the Quranic verse is clear and accurate. Its grammar and word selection is superior to the Biblical verse, which may well have been divinely inspired itself, though we cannot rule out later tampering by human hands. 


We have seen that the Holy Quran contains a concise and accurate description of the salient features of the Big Bang theory. It also accurately describes the expansion of the universe to a tee. Attempts to grammatically attack the Quranic verses falter at the slightest scrutiny. Attempts to draw lines of transmission between ancient creation myths and the Quran are implausible on account of the vast differences between them, as well as an absent chain of transmission. Partial similarities to the Bible only testify to the fact that the Bible contains some authentic revelation, and does not detract from the Quran’s grandeur. Meanwhile, the force of the Quranic statements stands as testimony to its Divine Authorship. 

This article and line of argumentation in entirely indebted to the analysis of Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmadrh in his book Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and Truth. My thanks also goes to Maulana Abdul Jahangeer Khan sahib for his invaluable feedback.

  1. Malik Ghulam Farid, Dictionary of the Holy Quran, pg. 311
  2. Lisan-ul-Arab (arabic)
  3. Lane’s Lexicon, pg. 2331 (1863)
  4. SUMERIAN MYTHOLOGY: A Study of Spiritual and Literary Achievement in the Third Millennium B.C. Samuel Noah Kramer (1944, revised 1961), Chapter 2: Myths of Origins.
  5. The Egyptian Myths, Garry J. Shaw, 2014, Chapter 1
  6. Cosmology for the Curious, D. Perlov, A. Vilenkin (2017), pg. 137