Scientific Errors in the Qur'an
Muslims believe that the Qur'an contains a message from an all-powerful, all-knowing, infallible being. If this is true then it should not contain any errors, mistakes, or information that contradicts known facts about the universe. If even one error exists in the text of Islam's holy book then the claims of divine authorship and infallibility are not true. An objective evaluation of the Qur’an shows that it contains numerous scientific and historical errors and it reflects a pre-scientific, 7th century view of the natural world.
Some will contest these numerous scientific errors in the Qur'an by appealing to metaphor, alternative meanings, or phenomenological interpretations of the text. Even if we suppose that alternative explanations were possible in every case, the wording and content of the Qur'anic verses often mimic the popular mythology and unscientific misconceptions of the time in which they were recorded. The author of the Qur’an makes no obvious statements that differentiate his understanding of the natural world from the common folklore of the people living in the 7th century. If the Qur’an was delivered by an all-powerful, all-knowing being then he would have been able to foresee how such ambiguous and misleading statements would be understood by future generations and the doubts and confusions they would cause. This alone should be reason enough to reject any claims to its divine authorship.
- 1 Astronomy
- 1.1 Geocentricism
- 1.2 Setting and Rising Place of the Sun
- 1.3 Stars are Missiles Shot at Devils
- 1.4 Moon Emits Light
- 1.5 Moon was Split in Two
- 1.6 Seven Earths
- 1.7 Seven Heavens
- 1.8 Stars are Located in the Nearest Heaven
- 1.9 Earth and Heavens Created in Six Days
- 1.10 Earth Created before Stars
- 1.11 The Cause of Shadows Changing Length
- 1.12 The similar size and distance of the sun and moon
- 1.13 Sky is a Tent/Dome
- 1.14 Sky is a well guarded canopy
- 1.15 Sky can Fall Down on People
- 1.16 Sky can be Rolled Up
- 1.17 The Stars Will Fall
- 1.18 Ignorance of the North and South Poles
- 2 Biology
- 2.1 Evolution
- 2.2 Embryology
- 2.3 All Organisms are Created in Pairs
- 2.4 Womb has Three Layers
- 2.5 Functions of the Heart
- 2.6 Source and Purity of Milk
- 3 Geology and Meteorology
- 3.1 The Earth is Flat
- 3.2 Earth has Seven Atmospheric Layers
- 3.3 Permanent Barrier between Fresh and Salt Water
- 3.4 Mountains Prevent Earthquakes
- 3.5 Mountains Cast into the Earth
- 3.6 Chest Contracts with Altitude
- 3.7 Earthquakes are a Punishment from God
- 3.8 Hurricanes and Blizzards are a Punishment from God
- 3.9 Rainwater is Pure
- 3.10 No Evaporation in Water Cycle
- 3.11 Hail Comes from Mountains in the Sky
- 3.12 Allah Uses Thunderbolts to Smite People
- 4 Zoology
- 5 History
- 5.1 Wall of Iron between Two Mountains
- 5.2 Christians Worship Mary as Part of the Trinity
- 5.3 Samaritans existing in ancient Egypt
- 5.4 Mary Confused with Miriam
- 5.5 Coat of Mail was Invented during the Reign of David
- 5.6 Crucifixions in Ancient Egypt
- 5.7 Noah's Ark holds Every Species
- 5.8 Pharaoh or Pharaohs
- 5.9 Jews call Ezra the Son of God
- 5.10 Nobody before John the Baptist was given the name "John"
- 5.11 Supernatural Destruction of Cities
- 5.12 Humans can Live for a Thousand Years
- 5.13 Non-Existent Mosque in Jerusalem
- 6 Sociology
- 7 Myths and Legendary Tales
- 7.1 Humans Transformed into Apes
- 7.2 Golden Calf Statue Moos
- 7.3 Tribe Trapped Behind a Wall
- 7.4 Supernatural Food
- 7.5 A Stick Transforms into a Serpent
- 7.6 Solomon's Army of Genies and Birds
- 7.7 Jonah Performs Repentance inside a Fish
- 7.8 Muhammad Flies on a Winged Horse to Heaven
- 7.9 Body Parts Speak
- 7.10 The Ocean Split in Half
- 7.11 Solomon can Control the Wind
- 7.12 A Dead Man Testified against his Killer
- 7.13 Mountains and Birds can Sing Songs
- 8 Others
- 9 References
- 10 See Also
The Qur'an mentions numerous times that the sun and the moon travel in an orbit (falak - a rounded course), but does not mention once that the earth does too. This is consistent with a earth-centered (geocentric) view of the cosmos that places a motionless earth at the center of the universe and all "heavenly bodies" travel around the earth. This was the prevailing understanding of the universe prior to the 16th century when Copernicus helped explain and popularize a sun-centered (heliocentric) view of the universe. Tellingly, the sun's orbit is almost always mentioned in the context of night and day (13:2 is the only exception) and is always mentioned with that of the moon, which does in fact orbit the Earth each month, and to a naive observer seems to traverse the sky each night when it is visible.
This is in a passage about night and day. Right after describing the change from day to night, it says that the sun runs on to a resting place for it (لِمُسْتَقَرٍّ لَّهَا). A few translations use instead, "appointed term", though in nearly all of the many other verses where we find قرر in this form as a participle they translate it as a place of settlement or an abode or resting place. There are also sahih hadith (Sahih Muslim 1:297 For the Arabic of this hadith, see here) that mention the sun's daily cycle using the same Arabic word as in verse 36:38 to mean a resting place, which is underneath Allah's throne, and is where each night the sun prostrates and is asked to go and rise 'from its rising place' (مِنْ مَطْلِعِهَا). This cycle repeats, until one day Allah asks the sun to rise 'from your setting place' (مِنْ َغْرِبِكِ).
The alternative view was that it refers to the sun's final resting on the last day. There are other verses (35:13, 31:29, 39:5, 13:2) that mention the sun and moon floating/swimming (with the same verb as is translated "run" in 36:38) for a term appointed (لِأَجَلٍ مُّسَمًّى which does indeed mean term appointed - the word مُسْتَقَرٍّ in 36:38 is a different word). Another version of the above mentioned hadith (e.g. Sahih Bukhari 9:93:520 - for the Arabic see here) probably supports this view, with a different ending indicating that the مُسْتَقَرٍّ (resting place) in 36:38 refers to the end of the world when the sun rises 'from its setting place' (مِنْ َغْرِبِهَا). Whichever interpretation was intended, the sun's movement is nevertheless mentioned right after describing day and night, just as the next verse mentions the different mansions appointed for the moon each night. The whole passage is about day and night and the sun and moon's movement in that context.
Some try to explain away the Qur'anic description of the sun moving in an orbit as a reference to our sun orbiting the black hole at the center of the milky way galaxy every 225 million years. This is an Ad hoc hypothesis, of no relevance to human time scales, and nothing from the text implies that the sun is orbiting anything other than the earth. If the author had knowledge of the sun orbiting a black hole then it is conspicuous that he never mentions it explicitly nor in any way differentiates the sun's orbit from that of the moon. See also the Similar Size and Distance of the Sun and Moon section below.
Notice also that the running / floating of the sun is something that the author expects people to have seen (another problem for the galactic orbit interpretation).
The Arabic word translated "follow" is primarily defined as to follow, go or walk behind, follow in way of immitation, of action etc. and was often used for animals like camels following behind each other. Yet the Moon does not actually follow behind the sun's movement, nor does it provide its own light like the sun. The verse is suggestive of a worldview in which the moon and sun traverse the same or similar paths after one another, which is what a 7th century person might believe from observing the sky. The choice of word is not suggestive merely of appearing one after the other.
Here the Qur'an quotes a few lines from a debate between Abraham and a disbelieving King, where Abraham replies that Allah 'brings the sun' (yatee biashshamsi يَأْتِى بِٱلشَّمْسِ) from the east. The arabic verb and preposition indicates that the sun actually moves. The verb means to come, and when it has an object with the bi preposition it means to bring, as in many other instances in the Qur'an. While the story is quoting a mere human's words, the author clearly believes it to be a good response and sees no problem with it.
Setting and Rising Place of the Sun
The Qur'an assumes a flat earth which has physical places into which the sun sets and rises from. Since the earth is a rotating sphere, the sun does not set in any particular place and you can never travel to "the spot" where the sun sets nor a place where it rises; the sun appears to set or rise on the horizon no matter where you are on the planet. In these verses, the author propagates a popular legend from the 7th century of a man named Dhu'l-Qarnayn who visits the places where the sun sets and rises; here he finds the sun going down into a muddy spring and later rising on a tribe with no coverings.
Centuries after Muhammad lived, people with better astronomical knowledge than him started to come up with creative interpretations of these verses to say that Dhu'l-Qrnayn only traveled until he reached "the west" or to a spot "at the time" when the sun set and not the "place" where the sun set. Unfortunately, these alternative interpretations are severely undermined by the context and Arabic words used in these verses, which instead point to a physical location. There is plenty of evidence showing that the early Muslims understood the verse in this straightforward way. Again, we must ask why an all-knowing being would use such misleading verses that mimic the misconceptions and legends prevalent at the time if one of these alternative explanations is correct.
Stars are Missiles Shot at Devils
The Qur'an says that stars (kawakib ٱلْكَوَاكِبِ) / lamps (masabih مَصَٰبِيحَ) adorn the heavens and guard against devils.
The author of the Qur'an does not seem to know the difference between stars (giant balls of gas thousands of times larger than the earth) and meteors which are small rocky masses of debris which brighten up after entering the earth's atmosphere. Many ancient people confused the two, as meteors look like stars that are streaking across the sky; this is why there were often called shooting stars or falling stars. In the following verse, the Qur'an claims that Allah uses stars as missiles to ward away devils. This repeats a common Arab myth at the time the Qur'an was first recited.
The same Arabic words are used at the start of verse 67:5 as in 37.6 (زَيَّنَّا ٱلسَّمَآءَ ٱلدُّنْيَا), except the stars are described as lamps. Clearly the lamps that 'beautify the heaven' refer to stars (and perhaps also the 5 visible planets), which are always there. Meteors are generally not much larger than grains of sand and are only visible for a second when they burn up, generating light in the Earth's atmosphere after millions of years in darkness, but the author of the Qur'an believes that meteors (the 'missiles') are a kind of star.
In Sahih Muslim we have a hadith confirming that the pursuing flames / missiles in the two verses refer to what we would call meteors which they saw shooting across the sky.
Moon Emits Light
The moon does not emit its own light but simply reflects light coming from the Sun. The Arabic word for reflected (in`ikaas) does not appear in this Qur'anic verse that says the Moon is a "light". It instead uses the word "Noor" which is used to denote an entity that emits light.
Noor appears again (this time as a participle muneeran مُّنِيرًا) in a similar verse about the moon:
Perhaps the best example of a verse showing the noor means light and not reflected light can be found in 33:45-46 in which a lamp is shining light with the exact same Arabic word as in 25:61 above (muneeran مُّنِيرًا)
The word "Noor" is also used in this verse to show that Allah is the "light" of the universe. Clearly the author is not implying that Allah reflects light from another source but is the source of the light.
Moon was Split in Two
The Qur'an and Hadith claim that the moon was miraculously split into two pieces and then, presumably, put back together again. There is absolutely no scientific evidence whatsoever that the moon has ever been split into two. Since the moon is visible to half the planet at any given time, we should expect to see numerous accounts from different parts of the world attesting to this event if it actually happened. The Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, Persians, Chinese and Indians had avid astronomers who should have seen this event and recorded it in their histories. The absence of historical record from other civilizations, contemporary to Muhammad, is a strong indication that this event never happened.
This verse claims there are seven Earths.
A Tafsir (interpretation of the Qur'an) attributed to Ibn Abbas, but by an unknown author and date, says that Allah means that all 7 Earths are flat.
A hadith reveals that these are seven Earths stacked above each other.
The number, like seven heavens, might have come from a misunderstanding of mythology from classical antiquity in which there were seven moving planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, the sun and moon). If instead we take it to mean seven actual planets the Qur'an is still wrong. According to astronomers, there are eight ordinary planets and five dwarf planets, which leaves the grand total at thirteen in our solar system. Modern astronomy also has found thousands of other planets in other solar systems and Cosmologists estimate that hundreds of billions of stars and planets exist in the universe. The author of the Qur'an singling out such a small number of celestial objects only reaffirms his ignorance of the makeup of the universe.
The universe consists of hundreds of billions of galaxies, each with hundreds of billions of stars. There is no such thing as seven layers to the universe. This myth of seven heavens was a common idea prevalent in the Middle East during the time when the Qur'an was first recited.
Some Islamic websites claim that these are seven layers of the atmosphere, despite the fact that verse 37:6 (see next section) says that stars are in the nearest heaven. There are only 5 not 7 principal layers to the Earth's atmosphere, and likewise only 5 not 7 major layers to the Earth itself.
Stars are Located in the Nearest Heaven
Stars are spread throughout the Universe and there is no such thing as the "nearest" heaven or layer. Also, this verse is in keeping with the author's claim (Quran 71:15 as described above) that the seven heavens are arranged one above the other.
Earth and Heavens Created in Six Days
The Earth first formed around 9 billion years after the Big Bang. The Qur'an, however, repeats the prevailing Middle-Eastern myth that the Earth and universe were formed in six days.
Islamic websites try and rescue the Qur'an by pointing to an alternative meaning of the Arabic word 'yawm', which typically means 'day', but can sometimes mean 'time period'. However, the predominant meaning of the word is day and when a specific number is used, in this case six, the word almost always means a literal 24-hour day. Again, nothing in the context of the verses, nor the Qur'an in general, suggests awareness that the universe or Earth were formed over long time periods. Secondly, neither the universe nor Earth were formed in six distinct long periods of time. It would have been trivial for an all-knowing diety to have indicated the vast duration in which the universe has developed, which has taken place over the past 13.8 billion years.
The Earth specifically was created in two days according to the Qur'an, and in four days (on days three and four according to the tafsirs) were created mountains and the sustenance of the Earth.
Mountains in fact continue to rise and erode to this day. Similarly, living things and their sustenance continue to evolve, yet the Qur'an says that the creation of mountains and sustenance occurred in a specific period that ended two days before the creation of the universe was completed. See the next section regarding the final two of the six days in 41:11-12 which immediately follow the verses shown above.
Earth Created before Stars
The author of the Qur'an is also unaware that the elements in the Earth's crust and core were first formed in stars by nucleosynthesis. When those stars exploded as supernovas, they expelled the elements that were used in future solar systems such as our own. Yet the Qur'an describes the Earth being formed before the stars. All rocky and gaseous planets in the universe were formed in a similar manner to the Earth and the Qur'an singling out the Earth only further highlights the author's ignorance of the history of the formation of celestial objects.
Verse 41:12 says that lamps (or more specifically, stars in the similar verse Qur'an 37:6) were placed in the lowest of the seven heavens. But before there were seven heavens, while heaven was just smoke, the Earth already existed according to verse 11, and the Earth's creation in the preceeding days is described in verses 9-10 already discussed in the previous section.
The verse below further confirms that heaven was only made into seven heavens when the Earth already existed according to the Qur'an.
Some websites attempt to reconcile the Qur'anic description with modern science by denying that the word 'Then' in the verses above indicate sequence, and instead claim that it means 'moreover'. They claim this despite the fact that these words (thumma in 41:11 and 2:29, and fa in 41:12 - all translated as 'Then') generally are used to indicate sequence. In other contexts thumma was sometimes used to mean 'moreover', which is generally clear from those contexts, but the passages quoted above describe a process - the creation of the heavens and Earth, and it would be ludicrous to use these words when describing such a process if they were not indicating sequence.
Earth and Heavens were Ripped Apart
Some websites claim that the following verse is compatible with the Big Bang theory. But according to this theory, the Universe was formed about 13.8 billion years ago due to a rapid expansion from singularity. The earth was formed 4.54 billion years ago from accretion of debris that surrounded the precursor of the Sun. There was no "separation" of the "joined" earth and heavens as this verse suggests. It is, in fact, a repetition of cosmic egg myths in which an egg-like structure was split into two halves, the lower half forming the earth and the upper half forming the heaven.
There is no scientific theory in which the Earth and heavens were split apart from each other. To imagine that this describes the big bang, the atomic particles that would later form the Earth would at the beginning have to be separated from those that would go on to form everything else in the universe. This bears no resemblance to scientific cosmology, wherein the material that forms the Earth passed through at least one earlier generation of star, and more recently was part of various asteroids, comets and planetesimals orbiting the sun (which could all be described as being in the 'heavens') that sometimes collided and merged with each other, sometimes split apart, and gradually coalesced under gravity to form the Earth and other planets.
Moreover, the very next verse Qur'an 21:31 speaks of mountains being placed on the Earth. Here 'the Earth' clearly means an actual world, so how do the Islamic websites expect anyone to believe that in the previous verse 'the Earth' refers merely to atomic particles at the time of the big bang that would billions of years later form the Earth?
Universe was Made from Smoke
Looking once again at the verses discussed above, neither was there any stage of formation of the Universe that involved smoke (carbon particles suspended as a result of combustion). Nor did the Earth and heavens each "come" as separate entites at any point of time. Earth is a part of this Universe and has developed within it.
Apologetics that try to reinterpret 'smoke' as the primordial state of the universe after the big bang should notice (aside from their poor grasp of science) that the Qur'an indicates a time when just the heaven, but not Earth is smoke.
The Cause of Shadows Changing Length
Shadows are produced when the sun's light is blocked by an obstacle. It is the Earth's rotation that causes these shadows to change size and lengthen. However, verse 25:45 seems to say that the reason that shadows lengthen rather than being stationary is because Allah has made the sun their guide. Yet if the Earth did not rotate (so shadows were stationary) and then the Earth was made to rotate (so that they could lengthen and draw in) the sun would not need to be made to do anything different in either case. Thus the most likely explanation is that the verse represents a geocentric worldview where the sun moves across the sky, guiding the shadows.
Then the next verse, 25:46, says that shadows are drawn towards Allah which has no scientific meaning.
The similar size and distance of the sun and moon
The Qur'an has statements about the end of the world that are much as one would expect if the author believed the sun and moon to be of similar size and a similar distance from Earth.
The word translated "are joined" is Arabic jumi'a, a verb which means to collect together, gather together, bring together. Given that this would actually require the moon to travel 98 million miles away from Earth and into the sun, which dwarfs it by over 600 times in diameter, it seems vastly less fitting as an apocalyptic event than if the ancient conception of the cosmos was correct.
Sky is a Tent/Dome
A common myth at the time of the Quran's composition was that the sky or heavens were held up with pillars. Many Bedouin people living in Arabia imagined the sky as a large tent covering, similar to the tents they used. The author repeats this myth by describing the sky as being "raised" above the earth.
In another verse, the author says that the sky has a covering.
Sky is a well guarded canopy
This seems to relate to the verses about devils chased by lamps (meteors) in the lowest heaven (see above). Somewhat ironically, the things supposedly doing the guarding (meteors) can actually pose a threat to living things on Earth.
Asteroids and meteorites have penetrated the atmosphere and hit the earth throughout the course of history. This includes the massive meteorite that hit near the Yucatán Peninsula 65 million years which killed off numerous species including most dinosaurs. There is no guardian, whatsoever, that prevents these types of events from happening.
Sky can Fall Down on People
The Qur'an author thought that the sky is like a ceiling that can fall on someone while the earth can swallow someone too. This is obviously impossible as the earth's atmosphere is simply made of gas.
Sky can be Rolled Up
This is another verse implying that the sky or heaven is something solid.
The Stars Will Fall
The Qur'an says that the stars will fall (inkadarat ٱنكَدَرَتْ) along with other dramatic events surrounding the last day. The author clearly had no idea of the size and distance of the stars. The word كدر in the form used in this verse (form VII) meant to dart down as is said of a bird or hawk, or to fall and scatter.
The structure of space-time is such that nothing, not even stars, can move faster than the velocity of light. Even if stars were to somehow move close to light speed across the sky their motion would be imperceivable to the naked eye as many visible stars are hundreds of light years away. Neither would we be able to see anything that the stars are doing recently (when we see a star 100 light years away, we are seeing it as it was 100 years ago).
Ignorance of the North and South Poles
In polar regions, the longevity of day and night vary during summer and winter. The day gets shorter and shorter in winter until there are days or weeks of uninterrupted night. At the poles themselves, day and night alternately last for six months and all phases of the moon occur several times between sunrise and sunset. The author of the Qur'an did not know about this and he only repeated earlier geocentric ideas. See also the Fasting and Prayer Requirements at the Poles section below.
Furthermore, when reading this verse one should wonder in what sense day and night each have an orbit. See Geocentrism and the Quran regarding that question.
The Qur'an presupposes a creationist view of life on earth. Its understanding of the history of human life is incompatible with the overwhelming scientific evidence that humans have evolved from prior life forms, over the course of millions of years, through natural selection . While some Muslims accept the theory of evolution, most reject it in favor of a creationist world view. Opinion polls show that the majority of Muslims agree Islam and evolution are not compatible.
Human Creation from Clay
The Qur’an states that man was created instantaneously from clay (salsalin صَلْصَٰلٍ) / mud (hamain حَمَإٍ). There is no indication that the author is aware of the evolution of human life over millions of years nor our common ancestry with apes and primates.
Similarly, it says that the first man was created from dust (turabin تُرَابٍ).
First Humans: Adam and Eve
The Qur’an and Hadith contains stories concerning the 'first humans' and how all people are descended from these two earliest ancestors. It states that humans were created in a garden (paradise) and then brought to earth fully formed. This view of the origins of human life is clearly contradicted by the numerous fossils of pre-homosapien species that lived on earth for millions of years before modern humans first evolved.
Some Muslim creationists will claim the view of two ancestral “parents” is consistent with recent scientific findings that show a common female and male ancestor of all modern humans. They often exploit the confusion caused by scientists referring to these genetic ancestors as Mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromosomal Adam. These two individuals bear little resemblance to the Quranic account as they are simply the last common male and female ancestors of everyone alive today, not of all humans in history. The Qur'an clearly states Eve was created later than Adam, however Mitochondrial Eve lived some 50,000 to 80,000 years earlier than Y-chromosomal Adam. Genetic evidence overwhelmingly indicates that humans diverged from earlier species as a population, not a single couple. .
The Qur'an and Hadith contain statements about bodily fluids and the stages of development of the human embryo. Many of these descriptions are vague and unscientific. Most bear a striking resemblance to similar descriptions found in the Jewish Talmud and the ideas of ancient Greeks such as Galen, including their errors.
Sperm Originates Between the Backbone and Ribs
The Qur'an states, incorrectly, that semen originates from a spot between the backbone and ribs. Today we know sperm comes from the testicles and semen from the pelvic region, which is not between the spine and ribs.
Embryo is Initially Formed from Semen
The author of the Qur'an describes the formation of a human embryo from fluids emanating from the man (and possibly also of the woman). This reflects the contemporary, but incorrect, view that the material for the embryo is initially formed out of semen stored in the womb. In fact, semen is the vehicle for the sperm cells, one of which fuses with a woman's ovum in her fallopian tube, and the resulting cell divides and travels back into the womb for implantation. While English translations mention a "drop of seed", or "drop of sperm", the Arabic word in question literally means a small amount of liquid, a euphemism for semen.
No Mention of Female Ovum
The Qur'an's author did not mention the role of the ovum in human reproduction and appears to have no knowledge of it. This verse fails to mention the important role of the female egg, or ovum, plays in the reproduction of humankind. It implies that reproduction is caused simply by the male semen. The human ovum is very small, though visible to the human eye, and it's purpose wasn't understood in the 7th century. Again, we are left wondering why an all-knowing deity would omit such information.
Humans Created from a Clot of Blood
The Qur'an and Hadith depict that humans are formed from a clot of blood. There was never a stage in embryonic development where humans are formed into a clot of blood. This description is likely influenced by an unscientific and primitive understanding of human reproduction based on observations from an early-term miscarriage and a woman's menstrual cycle. While in modern times some Muslims seek to use alternative meanings for the relevant word, the mere fact that it certainly can mean clotted blood (as also is the consensus of the classical tafsirs), in a passage about a biological process (formation of a baby), is a major weakness in what should be a perfect description.
Gender of a Baby is Decided After it Becomes a Clot
The Qur'an says that an embryo is transformed from a sperm to a clot, then it is shaped, and then the male or female sex is determined. Modern genetics has shown that the sex of a human is decided at the moment of conception.
While translators mostly use "And" in verse 39, the Arabic word is fa, as also in the previous conjunction, which indicates 'and then'. The tafsirs also take this view, and it is very much reflected in a sahih hadith found in Bukhari and Muslim:
Narrated Anas bin Malik:
Bones are Formed before Flesh
The Qur'an explains that the bones of a human embryo are formed first and then covered up with flesh. Modern scientific studies and research have shown that the bones and muscles of a developing fetus are formed simultaneously.
All Organisms are Created in Pairs
Not every creature procreates or reproduces through male and female sexual relationship. The whiptail lizard in the U.S. Southwest, Mexico, and South America, is an all-females species which reproduces by parthenogenesis. Viruses reproduce using a host's DNA and are neither female nor male. Bacteria reproduce by cell division. Fungus can reproduce either sexually or asexually. Many species of plants also reproduce either asexually or through pollination.
Womb has Three Layers
The word butun (بطن) means belly/abdomen/midriff, though some translators like to use the more specific word "womb". There are many more layers in the human body such as the endometrium, myometrium, perimetrium, peritoneum, besides the cervix uteri, corpus uteri, abdomen (with walls), and placenta (with layers). The idea of three membranes around the fetus (chorion, allantois, and amnion) was taught by the highly influential Greek physician, Galen. It is likely that the Quranic author is simply repeating this erroneous idea.
Functions of the Heart
In several verses, the Qur'an ascribes understanding and thinking to the heart instead of the brain.
Source and Purity of Milk
The Qur'an states that milk is produced, in the body, somewhere between excretions and blood. The mammary glands, where milk is produced and stored, are nowhere near the intestines which is where excrement is stored. Many kinds of cattle and goat milk needs processing or pasteurization before they can safely be consumed; the milk is often infected with bacteria and other micro-organisms. A significant number of humans are lactose intolerant and unable to digest milk without experiencing abdominal bloating and cramps, flatulence, diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting. This makes the Qur'anic claim that milk is 'pure' and 'agreeable' to those who drink it dubious.
Geology and Meteorology
The Earth is Flat
Facing Toward Mecca
The Qur'an tells all Muslims to face in the direction of Mecca when they pray. However, this would only be possible on a flat Earth because it is not possible to bow down towards the direction of Mecca when you are on the opposite side of the earth. The author here presupposes a small world, local to Arabia, that is flat. Only in that world view can people everywhere face Mecca.
Earth is Spread Out and Flat
The author of the Qur'an mentions to his audience that the earth is 'spread out' and layed flat like a carpet spread on the ground.
The Qur'anic commentator al-Jalalayn in his Tasfir agrees with this understanding of the verse saying that most scholars at his time agree that the earth is flat and not spherical.
Earth is Like a Couch
The earth is described as a couch, flat and laid out for people to lay upon.
Ibn-Kathir in his Tafsir agrees with this interpretation that the earth is flat and comfortable like a bed.
The same root word for couch in 2:22 is used as a verb in 51.48 in the sense of to spread (the first word translated spread here).
Earth is a Bed
The earth is described like a bed (or carpet in Yusuf Ali's translation). Such a word suggests something completely flat and spread out on the ground and not rolled up for storage. The same Arabic word is used in the 3 verses below.
Sometimes the word expanse is translated as bed in this verse too (it is the same Arabic word as the other two verses above).
The same root word is used as a verb at the end of 51.48
Earth is Level
The Qur'an describes a time in the future when mountains will be removed leaving the earth smooth and level. This description assumes the earth is already flat and level with only the mountains giving it shape. The author here appears to have no knowledge that the earth is curved and not level.
Earth has Seven Atmospheric Layers
Some websites claim that the Qur'an describes the layers of the earth's atmosphere when it refers to the seven heavens and of the earth, the like thereof, even though another verse (36:7) says that the stars are in the lowest heaven. However, scientists have determined that there are five principal layers in the atmosphere and not seven.
Permanent Barrier between Fresh and Salt Water
When a fresh water river flows into the sea or ocean, there is a transition region in between. This transition region is called an estuary where the fresh water remains temporarily separated from the salt water. However, this separation is not absolute (thus cannot be described as a "barrier"), is not permanent, and the different salinity levels between the two bodies of water eventually homogenize. The Qur'an however erroneously says that the seperation between the two types of water is absolute and permanent.
Mountains Prevent Earthquakes
Modern geology has discovered that large plates in the crust of the earth are responsible for the formation of mountains. Called Plate tectonic these massive plates meet and the pressure between them pushes up the crust forming mountains but also causing earthquakes and faults. the Qur'an propagates the idea that mountains are crucial in stabilizing the earth when, in fact, the earth would be much more stable and have less earthquakes if mountains did not exist.
Mountains Cast into the Earth
Mountains are usually formed through the movement of lithosphere plates. They were not thrown down into the earth.
The word he has cast is alqa (lam-qaf-ya), which means to cast down and is the same word used in 12:10 when Yusuf is cast down into the well, and in 20:20 when Moses casts down his staff, which becomes a snake.
Chest Contracts with Altitude
This verse says that your chest cavity gets smaller with higher altitude when in reality the opposite is true.
Earthquakes are a Punishment from God
Some of the highest death tolls from natural disasters in the last decade were in Muslim countries. In fact, natural disasters do not differentiate between Muslim or non-Muslim nations nor are they controlled by a divine being. Earth quakes are extremely common along tectonic fault lines and are not a punishment for human behavior but the byproduct of natural forces. The Qur'anic author perpetuates an unscientific understanding of his phenomena in there verses.
Hurricanes and Blizzards are a Punishment from God
Two of the deadliest blizzards in history happened in Muslim countries. However, the Qur'an regards those natural disasters as violent punishment from God. Weather patterns follow predictable patterns and are not controlled by a divine being.
Rainwater is Pure
The Qur'an says rainwater is pure, though in some industrial areas rainwater can contain significant amounts of pollution and acidity. Called acid rain this type of rain causes harmful effects on plants, aquatic animals and buildings.
No Evaporation in Water Cycle
Every verse about rain in the Qur'an implies that rain comes either directly from the sky or from Allah. However evaporation of water into the air is conspicuously never mentioned.
Hail Comes from Mountains in the Sky
Hail forms in cumulonimbus clouds when updrafts raise water droplets to an altitude where they freeze. However, the Qur'an mistakenly ascribed the formation of hail to invisible mountains in the sky.
wayunazzilu (and he sends down) mina (from) alssamai (the sky) min (from) jibalin (mountains) feeha (in it ['it' is feminine so must refer to the sky]) min (of) baradin (hail)
Tafsirs such as Jalalayn and the one attributed to Ibn Abbas say that this means mountains in the sky. Ibn Kathir notes two views, that these are mountains of hail in the sky, or that they are a metaphor for clouds. Yet we should rightly wonder whether the author of the Qur'an really meant mountains as metaphors for clouds, given that he mentions clouds explicitly earlier in the verse, and we can see that the word mountains was understood literally as evidenced in tafsirs.
Allah Uses Thunderbolts to Smite People
The Qur'anic author was superstitious about thunder and lightning and imagined that they strike those whom Allah wishes to smite.
Muslim tafsirs, such as al Jalalayn and the tafsir (attributed to) Ibn Abbas, explain this verse clearly, even indicating that the author of the Qur'an believed that thunder was not an impersonal natural phenomenon, but an angel:
Ants Recognize Humans and Speak with Each Other
Ants typically communicate with each other using pheromone which are a chemical signal. While scientists have also discovered that ants make some noises, nothing has ever indicated that the brains of ants could produce such complex communication as is depicted in the Quranic story of Solomon and the ants. However, the Qur'an tells us that not only does an ant warn her fellow ants of the approach of a large army of humans, but it recognizes one of the humans as Solomon. Then, he also understands her speech. How an ant could even see that far or have known the identify of Solomon is never explained. This account of a talking ant is clearly a legend and not scientific.
Horses Created as Transportation
It took thousands of years of domestication and cross-breeding before horses were domesticated approximately 4,000 years ago in East Europe and Central Asia. Prior to this, horses were wild animals though the Qur'an neglects to mention this important fact. Even today feral horses are descendants of once domesticated horses that aren't tamed or used for human transportation.
Bird Flight is a Miracle
Today, engineers and scientists are well aware of the aerodynamic properties of a bird's wing. It functions by creating a difference in the air pressure between the lower and upper part of the wing and this creates lift that pushes the bird upward. The wings of birds evolved over millions of years to acquire this feature. The author of the Qur'an, however, is unaware of these scientific details and says that 'nothing' holds up the bird except the miraculous power of Allah.
Only Four / Eight Types of Cattle
While the Qur'an states that there are eight kinds of cattle for use by humans, In fact there are more than a dozen kinds of cattle. The word "cattle" in 39:6 is al-ana'ami, meaning pasturing (i.e. grazing) animals. The word azwajin ("kinds" in the translation of 39:6 below) generally means mate or member of a pair. Qur'an 6:143-144 clarifies that these refer to male and female pairs of sheep, goats, oxes and camels, so in fact the author of the Qur'an is aware only of four kinds of cattle useful for humans. This neglects other types of cattle from the regions outside of Arabia such as reindeer, which are important to people in northern latitudes.
Birth Defects and Imperfections
The author of the Qur'an states that there are no flaws in anything. The author fails to mention the numerous defects and imperfections in all species.
Poisonous Sea Life is Edible
A number of sea creatures are deadly and fatal to humans if consumed. This includes the puffer fish, poison dart frong, marbled cone snail, blue ringed octopus and stonefish. The Qur'an, however, makes no prohibition against eating these types of animals even though it goes into lengthy detail forbidding the consumption of pigs, which are safe for humans to eat.
All Animals Live in Communities
Some animals such as the jaguar, leopard, and panda are well known for being solitary creatures, rarely meeting in pairs and only to mate. They do not live in communities and routinely fight each other over territory.
Wall of Iron between Two Mountains
The author of the Qur'an repeats the Syrian legend of Alexander the Great as a great king who helps a tribe of people build a massive wall of iron between two mountains. Even with satellites and near universal exploration of the world, no archaeologist has ever found even a trace of such a massive structure.
"Bring me blocks of iron." At length, when he had filled up the space between the two steep mountain-sides, He said, "Blow (with your bellows)" Then, when he had made it (red) as fire, he said: "Bring me, that I may pour over it, molten lead." Thus were they made powerless to scale it or to dig through it.
Christians Worship Mary as Part of the Trinity
Christians have never worshipped Mary as part of the Trinity. The author of the Qur'an seems to be mistaken in his understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity and the theology of Christians throughout history.
Samaritans existing in ancient Egypt
The Qu'ran claims that Moses dealt with a Samaritan during his time, however they did not exist until over half a millennium after this even supposedly occurred. The term Samari itself comes from the city of Samaria, an archaeologically confirmed city which was built by King Omri in around 870BC, nearly 700 years after Moses is supposed to have existed.
These verses concern the story of the golden calf in the time of Moses. It seems that Muhammad may have been confused because there is another Biblical passage in Hosea 8:5-6 about a much later golden calf that the Samaritans worshipped after the time of Solomon.
Mary Confused with Miriam
Each of the following verses narrates the story of Jesus's birth. But Mary the mother of Jesus was born in the first century BCE and is not related to Moses and his family that existed 1500 years before. Miriam, not Mary, was the sister of Moses and Aaron and daughter of Amram (Imran).
Hence the claim that Mary's mother is the wife of Imran is also false.
The fact that two different people are given the exact same name despite supposedly living over 1000 years apart in communities which spoke completely different languages (ancient paleo-hebrew and then syriac-aramiac), with different alphabets, also casts serious doubt on the precise historicity of the Qu'ranic account.
Coat of Mail was Invented during the Reign of David
There is no evidence that Coats of mail existed during the time of David (10th century BCE). The earliest example of a coat of mail was Celtic. Its invention is commonly credited to the Celts in the 3rd century BCE.
In the Qur'an, David is taught by Allah how to make coats of iron chainmail (sabighatin سَٰبِغَٰتٍ) and people should be thankful for this knowledge which has been passed down from him.
Crucifixions in Ancient Egypt
There are no references from any culture anywhere in the world to crucifixion as a method of execution before 500 BCE, where they started to appear in several middle eastern cultures, and it is not clear that their crucifixions were the same as what we know (the Roman crucifixion)/they are the same type. Ancient Egypt has been extensively studied in archaeology as well. However, the Qur’an tells of crucifixions at the time of Joseph (approximately 2000 BCE) and Moses (approximately 1500 BCE).
Not only that, but crucifixions are often mentioned in a very casual way in the Qu'ran, so the practice must have been widespread enough to be understood by common people, as common people are being addressed in these suras.
Noah's Ark holds Every Species
The legend of Noah and the Ark states that two of each kind of animal was placed on an ark. However, there are over a hundred thousand species of animals including penguins, polar bears, koala bears, and kangaroos that live spread across the entire planet and in different climates and requiring specialized diets. There is no way such an event could have occurred.
Pharaoh or Pharaohs
Geographically, the Coptic land of Egypt was adjacent to Arabia. Thus, most Arabs were aware of the preservation method applied by the ancient Egyptian to their Pharaohs. There were so many Pharaohs ranging from numerous dynasties, many of them were preserved intact. But the Qur'an merely narrated one Pharaoh that was preserved.
Jews call Ezra the Son of God
Historically, Judaism has been a strict form of monotheism. But the author of the Qur'an accuses Jews of polytheism by stating that they call Uzair (Ezra) the son of God in the same way that Christians see Jesus as the son of God. The author of the Qur'an seems to be unaware of the different theological implications of these two terms between Judaism and Christianity.
Nobody before John the Baptist was given the name "John"
The name "John" originates from the Hebrew name Yohanan. Several figures in the Old Testament bore this name. To quote historical examples, there was a high priest named Johanan (3rd century BC)}} and a ruler named John Hyrcanus (died 104 BC). These people existed before John the Baptist, who was a contemporary of Jesus. But the Qur'an claims that nobody before John the Baptist (Yahya in Arabic) bore his name.
Supernatural Destruction of Cities
The Qur'an author thought that outside the vicinity of Arabia there were cities and tribes destroyed by Allah. He acquired this information through hearsay from Arabian folklore as well as other legends. Those cities and tribes probably were destroyed by natural disasters, famine, wars, migration or neglect.
Humans can Live for a Thousand Years
The oldest verified human life has been a little over 120 years. Based on fossil records and testing on human remains, anthropologists have concluded that human life spans are increasing, not decreasing. Nevertheless, the Qur'an claims that Noah lived for almost 1,000 years.
Non-Existent Mosque in Jerusalem
Muslims claim that Al-Aqsa mosque is mentioned in the Qur'an as the furthest mosque, even though there was obviously no mosque in Jerusalem during Muhammad's time.
Fasting and Prayer Requirements at the Poles
The author of the Qur'an was apparently unfamiliar with the polar regions in which there are six months of sunlight and six months of perpetual night during winter and summer. The Qur'an claims that Muslims should fast from sunrise till sunset, however this is arguably not observable by anyone living in the polar regions.
A similar issue exists for the five daily prayers. Anyone living in the polar region would not be able to make a sunset or sunrise prayer all year round. Even for cities further south like Aberdeen in Scotland, the gap between the night prayer (Isha) and the dawn prayer (Fajr) is around 4 and a half hours in June, so anyone following these rules has to interupt their sleep around 3.20am, then go back to sleep before getting up for the day. Such issues would not have crossed the mind of a 7th century man in Arabia, who believed that everyone experiences sunrise and sunset when he does, and where it would be perfectly natural to arise at dawn any time of the year.
People are Protected in Mecca
The Qur'an claims Allah has made Mecca and the Ka'aba a place of safety. However, historically it has been attacked and seen battles numerous times. Juhayman al-Otaybi, Abd-Allah ibn al-Zubayr, and Abu Tahir al-Janabi killed thousands of Muslim pilgrims in Mecca. Moreover, Yazid Bin Muawiya sent an army battalion to attack Mecca and desecrated the Ka'aba. The universal safety of people in Mecca has no historical evidence supporting it.
Requirement to Learn in Arabic
There are over 5,000 languages and dialects in the world, with less than 4% of the world's population being native Arabic speakers. However, it is incumbent upon Muslims to pray in Arabic, recite the Qur'an in Arabic, and understand commentaries and the traditions of Muhammad in Arabic. We are left wondering why an all-knowing being would not provide a more efficient way to send his message to all people on earth and why he does not account for the immense diversity of languages.
Non-Muslims are Deaf, Dumb, and Blind
The Qur'an calls non-believers "deaf dumb and blind". However all the technology, medicine, and scientific advancements in the Muslim world are almost exclusively purchased from the non-Muslim countries. Computers, television, space travel, helicopters, media players, nuclear bombs, cameras, satellites, birth control pills, vaccinations, telephones, radios, light bulbs, microchips, games consoles, refrigerators, microwaves, plastic, aluminium, x-rays, antibiotics, heart-transplants, the internet etc., were all invented by non-Muslims.
Myths and Legendary Tales
While miracles by definition are supposed to defy the laws of nature and scientific explanation, it is interesting to observe some of the strange and absurd myths and legends in the Qur'an.
Humans Transformed into Apes
The Qur'an records a miraculous event where Sabbath breakers are transformed into apes. This account seems to be a mere legend and has no basis in scientific fact.
Golden Calf Statue Moos
A statue of a calf was cast out of ornaments but it could moo.
Tribe Trapped Behind a Wall
The story of Dhul-Qarnayn says that a tribe is trapped behind a massive wall of Iron. According to the Qur'an, these two beast tribes concealed themselves behind this metal wall and will only be let free on the day of Judgement. Obviously, no such wall has ever been found nor is there a tribe somewhere on earth trapped behind it.
The Qur'an states Mary received food sent down from heaven. There have never been any scientifically verified accounts of fully cooked food falling from the sky.
A Stick Transforms into a Serpent
Solomon's Army of Genies and Birds
Throughout history, kings and emperors had commanded huge and small amount of armies. None was ever recorded to possess armies that entirely consists of birds and genies. This story in the Qur'an draws on Jewish folklore.
He spoke with a Hoopoe bird and wanted to punish it for a small error.
The Hoopoe bird was in fact busy eavesdropping on a beautiful female ruler, Queen Sheba.
Jonah Performs Repentance inside a Fish
A human could not live inside a fish and pray.
Muhammad Flies on a Winged Horse to Heaven
It took one week to travel from Mecca to the Farthest Mosque by camel. But the Qur'an reveals that a magical winged horse, called the Buraq, traveled a similar distance in a matter of minutes. No such creature has ever been shown to be real and it seems to only exist in legend and mythology.
Body Parts Speak
The limbs and organs of a human are controlled by the brain that conveys electrical signal through the nervous system. But the Qur'an believes that the limbs can talk and testify against the person, even though they would have no voice, memory or mind of their own.
The Ocean Split in Half
Moses and the Israelites crossed an ocean that was split into two halves.
Solomon can Control the Wind
King Solomon had the authority to manipulate the wind at his command and could fly anywhere he wanted.
A Dead Man Testified against his Killer
Allah told some people to hit a murder victim with a piece of cow to temporarily resurrect him.
Mountains and Birds can Sing Songs
The Qu'ran states that the first humans "Adam and Eve" spoke to each other in some kind of language in many suras, and also that God told them the names of everything. Thanks to the modern field of linguistics and the history of language we know that the type of sentences constructed in the Qu'ran would simply not have been able to be spoken by humans until over 100,000 years since the first humans evolved. The language of the first humans would be incomprehensible to us and they would not be able to express the kinds of sentences that Adam and Eve do in the Qu'ran.
Mathematical Error in Hereditary Laws
4.11: Allah (thus) directs you as regards your Children's (Inheritance): to the male, a portion equal to that of two females: if only daughters, two or more, their share is two-thirds of the inheritance; if only one, her share is a half. For parents, a sixth share of the inheritance to each, if the deceased left children; if no children, and the parents are the (only) heirs, the mother has a third; if the deceased Left brothers (or sisters) the mother has a sixth. (The distribution in all cases ('s) after the payment of legacies and debts. Ye know not whether your parents or your children are nearest to you in benefit. These are settled portions ordained by Allah; and Allah is All-knowing, Al-wise.4.12: In what your wives leave, your share is a half, if they leave no child; but if they leave a child, ye get a fourth; after payment of legacies and debts. In what ye leave, their share is a fourth, if ye leave no child; but if ye leave a child, they get an eighth; after payment of legacies and debts. If the man or woman whose inheritance is in question, has left neither ascendants nor descendants, but has left a brother or a sister, each one of the two gets a sixth; but if more than two, they share in a third; after payment of legacies and debts; so that no loss is caused (to any one). Thus is it ordained by Allah; and Allah is All-knowing, Most Forbearing.
- Wife: 1/8 = 3/24,
- Daughters: 2/3 = 16/24,
- Father: 1/6 = 4/24,
- Mother: 1/6 = 4/24,
- Total = 27/24=1.125
The total does not equal to 1. This error can never be reconciled in any way. 
People use the Forehead to Lie
According to a particularly imaginative miracle claim made by some Islamic websites, the Qur'an identifies which part of the brain is used for telling lies. Brain wave technology has shown that electrical activity happens in the entire brain when a person is being deceitful.
Sailing of Ships is a Miracle
Ships float due to buoyancy and they can be driven by various sources of power.
If it be His Will He can still the Wind: then would they become motionless on the back of the (ocean). Verily in this are Signs for everyone who patiently perseveres and is grateful.
Or He can cause them to perish because of the (evil) which (the men) have earned; but much doth He forgive.
- Harrison's principles of internal medicine. (17th ed. ed.). New York [etc.]: McGraw-Hill Medical. pp. 2339–2346. ISBN 978-0-07-147693-5, 2008.
- Rusu, M., "Das Keltische Fürstengrab von Ciumeşti in Rumänien", Germania 50, 1969, pp. 267–269
- The ancient world, Richard A. Gabriel, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007 P.79