Quran and the Descent of Iron
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Discussion
- 3 Claims by other Muslims
- 4 Conclusion
- 5 See Also
- 6 References
Many Muslims propagate the hilarious ‘iron sent down from heaven miracle’ pseudoscience. This is totally devoid of logic and scientific fact. Such claims may impress the gullible but elicit nothing but laughter among those with even minimal scientific education. A chief proponent of this Islamic pseudoscience is Harun Yahya.
"Anzalna" translated as "sent down"
- And We also sent down iron in which there lies great force and which has many uses for mankind… (Qur'an, 57:25)
This is an illogical premise. The word anzalna/anzala is used 88 times in the Qur'an. It is also used for:
- Cattle: Quran 39:06
- Garments: Quran 7:26
- Food/sustenance: Quran 10:59 Quran 45:05 Quran 2:57 Quran 7:160
- People of the book: Quran 33:26
- Water/rain: Quran 20:164 Quran 16:10 Quran 35:27 Quran 14:32 Quran 22:05 Quran 25:48 Quran 6:99 Quran 16:65 Quran 39:21 Quran 20:53 Quran 41:39 Quran 31:10 Quran 13:17 Quran 22:63 Quran 2:22 Quran 27:60 Quran 23:18 Quran 78:14
None of these things come from outer space or heaven. Does it mean that cattle, garments, food, and the people of the book also come from supernovae? No, it doesn’t. So, why assume that surah 57:26 literally states that iron came from outer space? Why assume the literal meaning with respect to iron but the figurative meaning when referring to everything else? The only logical explanation for the use of the term ‘anzalna’ that is consistent with all its occurrences in the Quran is to denote something provided by a deity, mechanism unknown. To selectively assign ‘origination from supernovae’ to iron but not to cattle, garments, food, and the people of the book, without evidence as to why one should use the literal versus the figurative interpretation is mere supposition, or special mystical interpretation, and thus utter nonsense.
One cannot overstate that it is intellectually dishonest to assign a literal interpretation to a certain case but figurative interpretations in every other case without the evidence to support such distinction.
Pre-Islamic ‘iron from heaven’ proposition
The truth is that most such claims are made by Muslims ignorant of prior knowledge by other peoples. The ‘iron sent down from heaven’ proposition is not distinct to Islam nor was the Islamic version the earliest. The ancient Egyptians referred to iron as ‘iron from heaven’. Thus the concept of iron from outer space/heaven/sky was already known to humanity thousands of years before Islam.
Digital Egypt for Universities, University College London
Prof. Hamed A. Ead, Tour Egypt
Robert H O'Connell in 1983 translated the coffin text Spell 148, which refers to meteoritic impact as being integral to the conception of Horus. `…the blast of a meteorite such that gods fear, Isis awoke pregnant by the seed of her brother Osiris!….5 Even earlier, in 1911, Wallis Budge translated a text from the time of Pepi II (circa 2278- 2184 BC) which speaks of `the iron which came from Set, and was in the forearm of Set; it transferred to the deceased the power of the eye of Horus'.6 As the constellation of the Great Bear was considered to be the abode of Set, we can reasonably conclude that at least one iron-bearing meteorite came from this direction early in the Old Kingdom. And if we were to conclude that the ascension of Horus came about during the unification of the two lands, we would be able to postulate that this unification came about during a period of meteoritic activity.The evidence then, seems to support the notion that the ancient Egyptians were aware of iron, and probably viewed it as a heavenly substance.
Keith Squires, Gizagrid, 2005
As stated previously, this belief is also shared by the Mesopotamians.
Alan F. Alford, Eridu Books, 2004
Iron produced in supernovae
One scientific source provides the following information on this subject:There is also evidence for older supernova events: Enhanced levels of iron-60 in deep-sea sediments have been interpreted as indications that a supernova explosion occurred within 90 light-years of the sun about 5 million years ago. Iron-60 is a radioactive isotope of iron, formed in supernova explosions, which decays with a half life of 1.5 million years. An enhanced presence of this isotope in a geologic layer indicates the recent nucleosynthesis of elements nearby in space and their subsequent transport to the earth (perhaps as part of dust grains).40
This is the logical fallacy of the red herring. All elements heavier than helium (and small quantities of lithium) cannot be produced on the earth and must have originated from supernovae.
Dr. David P. Stern, From Stargazers to Starships, September 23, 2004
Thus the fact that iron was produced in supernovae does not prove anything. Almost every element on earth was also produced in supernovae.
Atomic mass and number of iron
This is mere coincidence. The atomic mass of iron is 56, not 57, even though the atomic number is 26. Fe-56 is the most common isotope and the Qur'an is out by one, if we were to accept this ludicrous Islamist line of thinking. Let’s examine how the Qur'an refers to other metals, using lead and copper as examples to show how this Islamist line of thinking is inappropriately selective and flawed.
Lead (Pb-207 atomic number 86) is referred to in surah 18:29. Copper (Cu-63 atomic number 29) is referred to in surahs 18:96, 34:12, 44:45, 55:35 and 70:08. There is no correlation between the surah references and these metals. It is therefore illogical to then infer that there is some ‘miraculous’ association between surah 57:26 and iron, without explaining why there is no similar association between the surah references and other metals.
Other elements "sent down"
Refer to lead and copper (in the previous section) which show absolutely no association between surah references and their atomic numbers.
Relationship between life and iron
Of all the metals there is none more essential to life than iron. It is the accumulation of iron in the center of a star which triggers a supernova explosion and the subsequent scattering of the vital atoms of life throughout the cosmos. It was the drawing by gravity of iron atoms to the center of the primeval earth that generated the heat which caused the initial chemical differentiation of the earth, the outgassing of the early atmosphere, and ultimately the formation of the hydrosphere. It is molten iron in the center of the earth which, acting like a gigantic dynamo, generates the earth's magnetic field, which in turn creates the Van Allen radiation belts that shield the earth's surface from destructive high-energy-penetrating cosmic radiation and preserve the crucial ozone layer from cosmic ray destruction…
Without the iron atom, there would be no carbon-based life in the cosmos; no supernovae, no heating of the primitive earth, no atmosphere or hydrosphere. There would be no protective magnetic field, no Van Allen radiation belts, no ozone layer, no metal to make hemoglobin [in human blood], no metal to tame the reactivity of oxygen, and no oxidative metabolism.The intriguing and intimate relationship between life and iron, between the red color of blood and the dying of some distant star, not only indicates the relevance of metals to biology but also the biocentricity of the cosmos…41
This is so ludicrous as to defy belief. Michael Denton, an anti-evolutionist (thus Harun Yahya’s co-traveller) turned evolutionist, is not a cosmologist and therefore, does not seem to know that more than half the planets in the solar system contain iron cores, just like the earth. In fact, four moons, including our own, also contain iron cores. Not only that but iron-containing asteroids and meteorites strike all the planets.
Iron may be a precondition of life as we know it, but it is not the only precondition as other planets also contain iron but do not support life. It is thus fair to say that conditions for life must all be present for life to occur. Take out one element and life will fail to result. Therefore, to overplay the role of iron in the creation of life as Harun Yahya and Michael Denton seem to be doing is the logical fallacy of ‘slanting’.
For evidence of iron cores in terrestrial planets and four moons (as presently known):
The inner worlds of our solar system are highly dense, made mostly of iron and rock.
Venus has a density of 5.2 g/cm3. This also lies between the densities of iron and rock, indicating Venus is probably composed of these two substances as well.
Earth has a density of 5.52 g/cm3, which again is about halfway between the densities of iron and basalt. Earth is mostly made of iron and rock, even though the Earth's surface is covered with rock and water.
The Moon has a bulk density of 3.34 g/cm3, almost exactly the same density as basalt. We believe this means the Moon is almost entirely made of rock, and it has a very small iron core.This indicates Mars has a higher content of lighter materials than Venus or Earth, but it is heavy enough to make us believe it has an iron core larger than the Moon's iron core.
Planetary Geology, Adler Planetarium
Nine Planets - A guide to our solar system and beyond
Calvin J. Hamilton, Views of the Solar System
Dr. Vadim A. Kravchinsky, Geophysical & Environmental Sciences, University of Alberta
National Museums Liverpool
Minnesota State University
The existence of a magnetic field from Jupiter's largest moon, Ganymede. The discovery of volcanic ice flows and melting or "rafting" of ice on the surface that support the presence of liquid oceans underneath at some point in Europa's history. The observation of water vapor, lightning, and auroras on Jupiter in the outer jovian atmosphere. The discovery of an atmosphere of hydrogen and carbon dioxide on the moon, Callisto.The presence of metallic cores in Io, Europa, and Ganymede (but not Callisto).
N. M. Short, Sr. Adapted from NASA's "Remote Sensing Tutorial.", Journal of Cosmology
Some scientists now believe that even the sun possess an iron core.
Kate Melville, Science a Go Go, November 3, 2003
Thus, iron cores are common occurrences in the solar system. The earth’s iron core is not the largest in absolute terms – that honor belongs to Jupiter. Nor is it the largest in proportion – that honor belongs to Mercury. Six of the nine planets possess iron cores – therefore, to lack an iron core is the exception rather than the rule. Also, our present understanding is that four moons possess iron cores. Following the Islamist’s line of thinking, do they suggest Allah ‘sent down’ iron to the moon for the benefit of American astronauts? Do Islamists suggest Allah ‘sent down’ iron to Mars and Jupiter’s moons for the benefit of American robotic probes? It is apparent that no deity ‘sent down’ iron to any part of the solar system for the benefit of humans. The presence of iron in various planet and moons has nothing to do with divine will but is merely the result of how the solar system was formed.
According to the latest scientific theory, the solar system was formed as a result of a collapsed supernova; the more volatile elements were thrown out further to form the outer planets, while the less volatile elements, including iron, coalesced to form the sun, the inner planets and some of the moons.
In short, there is nothing miraculous about the presence of planetary iron cores, terrestrial crust iron depositions, or iron in meteoritic/asteroid strikes.
"Importance" of the iron atom
"Al- Hadid" is the 57th sura in the Qur'an. The abjad of the word "Al-Hadid" in Arabic, when the numerological values of its letters are added up, is also 57. (For abjad calculations see the section on Numerological Calculations (Abjad) in the Qur'an.)The numerological value of the word "hadid" alone is 26. And 26 is the atomic number of iron.
This is patent nonsense. Iron’s atomic number is 26, not 25, thus surat al-Hadid 25 is out by one. The atomic mass of the most common iron isotope is 56, not 57, thus al-hadid is also out by one.
The rest merely states some of iron’s usefulness. However, this is nothing miraculous as other metals are also useful to humans. Secondly, iron is a common element in our solar system, and possibly in other solar systems. There are no humans except on earth to use this iron. Or did Allah also ‘sent down’ iron on the moon for American astronauts to use?
Claims by other Muslims
Energy required to form an iron atom
Some Muslims also make the ludicrous claim that there is not enough energy in the sun to create even a single iron atom, implying a divine provenance.
Nadir Ahmed, ExamineTheTruth
This is totally false. Muslims make grandiose claims to fool the gullible, but a simple calculation shows these claims to be utter nonsense.
The total energy in an atom of iron can be calculated using the Einstein’s famous equation E=mc2.
- 1 mole of Fe-26 = 55.847 g
Avogadro’s number = 6.0221415*10^23
1 atom of Fe-26 = 0.055847 kg / (6.0221415*10^23)
Speed of light = 299,792,458 m/s
E = 0.055847 kg / (6.0221415*10^23) * (299,792,458)^2 = 8.33 * 10^-9 Joules.
If we only calculate the nuclear binding energy of a single atom of iron, then we must use the following calculation:
- Calculate the mass defect:
Fe-56 has 26 protons and 30 neutrons. The mass of a proton is 1.00728 amu and a neutron is 1.00867 amu. The combined mass is 56.449 amu. Therefore, the mass defect is 56.449 amu – 55.918amu = 0.53128 amu.
- Convert the mass defect into kg.
(0.53128 amu/nucleus)(1.6606 x 10^-27 kg/amu) = 8.8224 x 10^-28 kg/nucleus
- Convert this mass into energy using DE = Dmc2.
E = (8.8224 x 10^-28 kg/nucleus) * (299,792,458 m/s)^2 = 7.9291 x 10^-11 J/nucleus
- Convert Joules to MeV using 1.602 * 10^-13 Joules per MeV
7.9291 x 10^-11 J/nucleus * 1.602 * 10^-13 Joules per MeV = 8.8384 MeV per nucleon.
If that is four times the amount of energy in the solar system we’re all in big trouble. The amount of energy typing this article far exceeds what is contained in one atom of iron.
These numbers aren't very big at all. The Fermilab accelerator is capable of 2 Terra eV.
Fermilab, April 4, 2001
One eV is about 1.602*10^-19 Joules. Therefore 1 TeV is 1.602*10^-7 Joules.
So, the total energy of Fe-26 is a mere 0.0526 TeV, and the nuclear binding energy is only 494.95MeV or 0.00049495 TeV. That's tiny compared to what they routinely see at Fermilab.
Iron could not have been "created in our universe"
Finally, the most hilarious Muslim claim is the following:
Nadir Ahmed, ExamineTheTruth
One would suggest only Muslims could make such a preposterous claim. No credible scientist would claim this. It is obvious that our universe contains the supernovae that produce iron. After all, that’s how these supernovae were discovered – by Western kafir astronomers studying our universe.
Perhaps Muslims think that iron was produced in some parallel universe. How the iron arrived in our universe can only be answered by the black hole that is Islamic pseudoscience.
There is nothing miraculous about surah 57:26 describing iron being ‘sent down’ by some deity. The ancient Egyptians already derived that concept three thousand years before Islam. They called iron “ba-en-pet” or ‘metal from heaven’. This concept was also shared by the ancient Mesopotamians.
The term ‘anzala’ used to describe iron being ‘sent down’ is also used to describe cattle, garments, food, and the people of the book being ‘sent down’ by some deity. There is nothing to suggest that these too were not created in supernovae and sent down to earth. It is intellectually dishonest to assign a literal interpretation when referring to iron but figurative interpretations when referring to everything else without the evidence to distinguish when to use the literal as opposed to the figurative interpretation.
There is nothing miraculous about the surah reference and the atomic number of iron. This is mere coincidence as other metals are also mentioned in the Qur'an and their atomic numbers bear no relation to their surah references. To selectively assign miracles based on coincidence (since godly design is unproven) is a logical fallacy.
Iron is common in the solar system. The majority of the planets and at least four moons contain iron cores. Some scientists believe that even the sun contains an iron core. Therefore, there is nothing miraculous about iron. In fact, all inner planets contain iron cores. It would be a surprise to find the earth an exception. Earth does not contain the largest iron core in absolute or relative terms. Iron is only the second most abundant metal on earth after aluminum and it is the fourth most abundant element in the crust.
Meteoritic iron has been of use since at least 3,000 BC. The fact that iron is of great use to humanity is no surprise. This knowledge has been with us for thousands of years before Islam. Pliny the Elder (23 - 79 AD), the Roman naturalist and writer wrote, "Iron mines bring man a most splendid and most harmful tool. It is by means of this tool that we cut into the ground, plant bushes, cultivate flourishing orchards and make grape vines with grapes. By this same tool we build houses, break stones and use iron for all such purposes. But it is also with the help of iron that we fight and battle and rob. And we do it not only at close quarters, but giving it wings, we hurl it far into the distance, now from embracers, now from powerful human hands, now from bows in the form feathered darts. This, I think, is the most infamous invention of the human brain. For in order to enable death to catch up with man faster, it has given it wings and armed iron with feathers. For that many the blame rest with man and not with the nature."
Thus there is nothing miraculous about surah 57:26 and the ‘descent’ of iron. The claims Muslims make in this regard have either been known many centuries before Islam or are patent scientific nonsense.
- Earth Made of Seven Layers
- Harun Yahya - A hub page that leads to other articles related to Harun Yahya
- Kathryn A. Bard - Encyclopedia of the archaeology of ancient Egypt (P. 526) - Routledge; Ill edition, May 14, 1999, ISBN 978-0415185899
- Kate Melville - Sun's Iron Core May Be Cause Of Solar Flares - Science a Go Go, November 3, 2003