Scientific Errors in the Quran

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A common criticism of the Quran, as with the Hadith, is that it contains numerous scientific and historical errors, with no obvious attempts to differentiate its understanding of the natural world and historical events from the common folklore and misconceptions of the people living in 7th century Arabia. Modern responses typically appeal to metaphor, alternative meanings, or phenomenological interpretations of such verses. They also argue that the wording needed to be acceptable to people of its time. Critics typically argue that an all-knowing, perfect communicator would nevertheless have been able to avoid statements in the Quran that reinforced misconceptions of the time, caused future generations to have doubts about its perfection, and on a scale that critics contend is an overwhelming weakness.



The Qur'an mentions a few times that the sun and the moon travel in an orbit or sphere/hemisphere (fee falakin فِى فَلَكٍ[1]), but does not mention once that the Earth does too. This is consistent with an 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 (Quran 13:2 being the only exception) and is always mentioned with that of the moon (which does in fact orbit the Earth each month, and likewise appears, to the unaided eye, to traverse the sky each night when it is visible).

A token unto them is night. We strip it of the day, and lo! they are in darkness. And the sun runneth on unto a resting-place for him. That is the measuring of the Mighty, the Wise. And for the moon We have appointed mansions till she return like an old shrivelled palm-leaf. It is not for the sun to overtake the moon, nor doth the night outstrip the day. They float each in an orbit.
Qur'an 36:37-40

Quran 36:37-40, occurring in a passage about night and day, right after describing the change from day to night, states that the sun runs on to a resting place for it (لِمُسْتَقَرٍّ لَّهَا). There are also sahih hadith (Sahih Muslim 1:297) that mention the sun's daily cycle using the same Arabic word 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 مَغْرِبِكِ).

An alternative view cited by classical exegetes such as Ibn Kathir (d. 1373 CE), attributed to Qatada ibn Di'amah (d. 735 CE),[2] and which is favoured by many Muslim scholars today, was that this refers to the sun's final 'resting' on the last day.

Other verses talk about the sun swimming for a 'term appointed' (using a different Arabic word). Another version of the above hadith possibly supports this view (for details of all these things, see the footnotes in the main article). 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.

And He it is Who created the night and the day, and the sun and the moon. They float, each in an orbit.

A modern vantage point would explain the above 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. Critics argue that this is of no relevance to human time scales, and that nothing from the text implies that the sun is orbiting anything other than the Earth. The Quran never in any way differentiates the sun's orbit from that of the moon and consistently implies that they are of a common nature.

Hast thou not seen how Allah causeth the night to pass into the day and causeth the day to pass into the night, and hath subdued the sun and the moon (to do their work), each running unto an appointed term; and that Allah is Informed of what ye do?

Here the sun running / pursuing its course (يَجْرِىٓ)[3] is something that the author expects people to have seen (thus posing another challenge for the galactic orbit interpretation).

By the Sun and his (glorious) splendour; By the Moon as she follows him;
Qur'an 91:1-2

The word translated as "follow"[4] is primarily defined as to follow, go or walk behind, follow in way of imitation, of action etc. and was often used for animals like camels following behind each other. The Moon does not actually follow behind the sun's movement, nor does it provide its own light like the sun. The verse is most 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. Critics would expect a less suspicious choice of wording in a perfect book if it merely meant the sun and moon appear one after the other. One day instead of following the sun, the moon will by joined with it according to another verse (see the Implied Similar Size and Distance of the Sun and Moon section below).

Abraham said, ‘Indeed Allah brings the sun from the east; now you bring it from the west.’ So the disbeliever was overwhelmed [by astonishment], and Allah does not guide the wrongdoing people.

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[5], 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 apparently believes it to be a good response and sees no problem with it.

Setting and rising place of the sun

In these verses, the author presents a version of a popular Syriac legend from the 6th or early 7th century in which a man called Dhu'l-Qarnayn visits the places where the sun sets and rises.

Till, when he reached the setting-place of the sun, he found it setting in a muddy spring, and found a people thereabout. We said: O Dhu'l-Qarneyn! Either punish or show them kindness.
Till, when he reached the rising-place of the sun, he found it rising on a people for whom We had appointed no shelter therefrom.

Centuries after Muhammad lived, commentators with better astronomical knowledge introduced interpretations of these verses such that Dhu'l-Qarnayn only traveled until he reached "the west" and "the east", or to spots "at the time" when the sun set and rose and not the places where it actually did so. However, these alternative interpretations are severely undermined by the context and Arabic words used in these verses, which instead point to physical locations where the sun did its setting and rising. An abundance of evidence from poems, hadiths and Quranic commentaries show that the early Muslims understood the verse in this straightforward way.

Earth and heavens created in six days

The Qur'an presents the prevailing Middle-Eastern myth that the Earth and heavens were formed in six days. This is in sharp contrast with the findings of modern cosmology which show the Earth to have formed some 9 billion years after the beginning of the universe.

Unlike the hundreds of other verses where the Arabic word yawm or its plural ayyam (أَيَّامٍ) is understood to mean day or days, when the Quran describes the creation of the world some modern Muslim scholars have appealed to its alternative meaning, 'time period'. The author makes no attempt to convey long time periods or to distinguish his description from the prevailing Middle-Eastern creation myths in this regard (or from his own usage of the term 'yawm' elsewhere in the text), which feature six literal days of creation (for example, the Bible in Genesis 1:5 reads, "Evening came and morning came: The first day.").

Neither the universe nor Earth were formed in six distinct long periods of time. There is likewise apparently no attempt to indicate, even poetically, the vast duration of time in which the universe has developed, (namely, 13.8 billion years).

We created the heavens and the earth and all between them in Six Days, nor did any sense of weariness touch Us

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.

Say: Is it that ye deny Him Who created the earth in two Days? And do ye join equals with Him? He is the Lord of (all) the Worlds. He set on the (earth), mountains standing firm, high above it, and bestowed blessings on the earth, and measure therein all things to give them nourishment in due proportion, in four Days, in accordance with (the needs of) those who seek (Sustenance).

Mountains nonetheless 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 (from Quran 41:11-12) which immediately follow the verses discussed above.

Earth created before stars

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 Earth's own. Modern radiometric dating of meteorites and rocks from the Earth and Moon show that these bodies were formed at the same time as the sun and its other planets, 4.5 billion years ago. The Qur'an, on the other hand, describes the Earth as being fully formed before the stars.

Quran 41:12 states that lamps (or more specifically, stars in the similar verse Quran 37:6) were placed in the nearest of the seven heavens. But before there were seven heavens and while heaven was just smoke, the Earth already existed according to the previous verse, Quran 41:11, and the Earth's creation and completion in the preceding days is described in the verses immediately preceeding that one Quran 41:9-10, discussed in the previous section above. The creation sequence is thus as follows:

  1. Heaven and completed Earth;
  2. Seven heavens and each given its mandate;
  3. The nearest heaven adorned with stars and guarded.
Then turned He to the heaven when it was smoke, and said unto it and unto the earth: Come both of you, willingly or loth. They said: We come, obedient. Then He ordained them seven heavens in two Days and inspired in each heaven its mandate; and We decked the nether heaven with lamps, and rendered it inviolable. That is the measuring of the Mighty, the Knower.

Quran 2:29 further confirms that heaven was only fashioned seven heavens when, according to the Quran, everything on Earth had been created.

He it is Who created for you all that is in the earth. Then turned He to the heaven, and fashioned it as seven heavens. And He is knower of all things.

The word lamps (masabeeha مَصَٰبِيحَ) in Quran 41:12 and Quran 67:5 with which Allah adorns (zayyanna زَيَّنَّا) the lowest heaven would need, of course, to include any luminous bodies such as the stars. These are termed as kawakib (كَوَاكِبِ) in Quran 37:6, a word that also appears in Joseph's dream (Quran 12:4) and the destruction of the heavens (Quran 82:1-2).

Some modern Muslim scholars attempt to reconcile the Qur'anic description with modern science by arguing that the word 'Then' in the verses above does not indicate sequence, but that it instead means 'moreover'. This argument collides with the fact that these words (thumma in Quran 41:11 and Quran 2:29, and fa in Quran 41:12 - all translated as 'then') are generally used to indicate sequence. In other contexts, thumma was sometimes used to mean 'moreover'. This alternative usage, however, would always be unambiguous and clear in context, unlike in the passages quoted above, which evidently describe a stepwise process - the creation of the heavens subsequent to that of the Earth.

In another passage, Quran 79:27-33, the heaven (singular) has already been raised and proportioned as a ceiling before the earth is spread, pastures produced and mountains fixed. Ibn Kathir notes in his tafsir that Ibn 'Abbas said the Earth was created first before each of these events and that scholars interpreted the Arabic word dahaha (دَحَىٰهَآ) in verse 79:30 to refer to a specific kind of spreading that occurred after everything on Earth had been created.[6] However, the passage nevertheless appears to contradict the sequence of Quran 41:9-12, in which the heaven is still "smoke" after Earth's sustenance and mountains have been placed.

Earth and heavens torn apart

Modern Muslim scholars generally maintain that the following verse is compatible with and even predictive of the Big Bang theory. According to the Big Bang theory, the Universe was formed 13.8 billion years ago due to a rapid expansion from singularity. The earth was then formed, 4.54 billion years ago, from accretion of debris that surrounded the precursor of the Sun. There was at no stage a "separation" of the "joined" earth and heavens.

The ancient concept can be traced back to Mesopotamian creation myths in which heaven was separated from earth. Quran 21:30 and similar verses assume that listeners are familiar with the basic outlines of this myth which was extremely wide-spread at the time of Muhammad and his companions.

Do not the Unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together (as one unit of creation), before we clove them asunder? We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe?

The word translated "joined together" is ratqan (رَتْقًا)[7] meaning closed up or sewn up, also used metaphorically in terms of reconciling people, but does not imply a homogenous mass or state, let alone a singularity. The words "(one unit of creation)" are the translator's own exegetical note.

Mirroring this is the word fataqnāhumā ("we clove them asunder"), whose root rhymes with ratqan and means to slit, rent asunder, divide, unstitch.[8]

The separation of the heavens and earth can be read in the context of verses that mention something "between" their fully formed state (which seems to be occupied by the clouds Quran 2:164 and birds Quran 24:41), and that the heaven is a roof "raised high" (Quran 52:5).

And verily We created the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them, in six Days, and naught of weariness touched Us.

There is no scientific theory in which the Earth and heavens were torn apart from each other. The verse states that "We clove them" (dual pronoun 'huma'), not "We clove it", thereby indicating that the Earth and heavens are distinct after the cloving. If one holds that Quran 21:30 describes the big bang, the atomic particles that would later form the Earth would at the beginning would have to be separated from those that would go on to form everything else in the universe. This, however, bears no resemblance to modern scientific cosmology, wherein the material that forms the Earth passed through at least one earlier generation of stars, 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.

The very next verse Quran 21:31 speaks of mountains being placed on the Earth. Here, 'the Earth' must mean an actual world, yet modern interpretations of the previous verse hold that 'the Earth' refers merely to atomic particles around the time of the big bang.

Heaven made from smoke

There is no stage in the formation of the universe that involved smoke (carbon particles suspended as a result of combustion; the word translated smoke is the noun dukhan دُخَانٍ, which means literal smoke of the sort that rises from a fire[9]). Similarly, the Earth and heavens did not each "come" as separate entities at any point in time. Rather, the Earth is a part of this universe and has developed within it.

Then turned He to the heaven when it was smoke, and said unto it and unto the earth: Come both of you, willingly or loth. They said: We come, obedient. Then He ordained them seven heavens in two Days and inspired in each heaven its mandate; and We decked the nether heaven with lamps, and rendered it inviolable. That is the measuring of the Mighty, the Knower.

Some modern Muslim scholars nevertheless interpret 'smoke' as the primordial state of the universe after the big bang. It is worth noting, however, that the verse indicates a time when heaven alone, but not the Earth, was smoke. This is especially challenging when one considers that the Earth and its mountains are described as already existing in the previous two verses (Quran 41:9-10, discussed above).

Academic scholarship has identified a late antique Christian homilitic precedent for these enigmatic verses. Basil the Great of Caesarea Mazaca in Cappadocia (d. 379 CE) understood Isaiah 51:6 in the Bible (which in the Greek version stated "The heaven was made like smoke [καπνός]") to mean that the heaven was initially made from a smoke-like substance.[10][11]

Seven Earths

The Quran states that there exist seven earths. Academic scholarship has noted that this concept of seven earths, along with seven heavens, was present in the near east in the first millennia BCE and CE (see Cosmology of the Quran).

Allah it is who hath created seven heavens, and of the earth the like thereof. The commandment cometh down among them slowly, that ye may know that Allah is Able to do all things, and that Allah surroundeth all things in knowledge.

A hadith in Bukhari reveals that these seven Earths are stacked above each other.

The Prophet said, "Whoever takes a piece of the land of others unjustly, he will sink down the seven earths on the Day of Resurrection.

The number, like seven heavens, might have come from a misunderstanding or indigenous interpretation of mythology from classical antiquity in which there were seven moving planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, the sun and moon). The number seven, however, does not accord with the findings of modern astronomers, which know there to be eight ordinary planets and five dwarf planets, making for a grand total of thirteen in our solar system. Modern astronomy also has found many thousands of planets in other solar systems and Cosmologists estimate that hundreds of billions of stars and planets exist in the universe at large.

Seven Heavens

The universe consists of hundreds of billions of galaxies, each with hundreds of billions of stars. The Quran states that beyond our heaven which contains the stars, there exists another six heavens. The myth of seven heavens was a common idea prevalent in the Middle East during the time when the Qur'an was first recited.

See ye not how Allah has created the seven heavens one above another

Some modern Islamic scholars have argued that these verses refer to the seven layers of the atmosphere. However, Quran 37:6 and Quran 67:5 state that stars occupy the nearest heaven. Additionally, there are 5 rather than 7 principal layers to the Earth's atmosphere, and likewise only 5 rather than 7 major layers to the Earth itself.

Surely We have adorned the nearest heaven with an adornment, the stars

Meteors as stars fired at devils

The Qur'an states that stars (kawakib ٱلْكَوَاكِبِ), lamps (masabih مَصَٰبِيحَ) and great stars/constellations/zodiac signs (burūj بُرُوجًا) adorn the heavens and guard against devils.

The Qur'an further asserts that Allah has made them (the stars/lamps) flaming missiles to ward away devils (or in some verses, jinn), who attempt to listen in on heavenly meetings (known as the Exalted Assembly). The Quranic concept has a close parallel in an earlier Jewish development from Zoroastrian mythology. Such myths are best understood as pre-modern attempts to explain the common phenomenon of meteors streaking across the night sky.

While stars are giant balls of gas thousands of times larger than the earth, meteors are small rocky masses or grains of debris which burn 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 they were often called shooting stars or falling stars. Large increases in meteors occur on a predictable schedule each year as the Earth's orbit passes through the stream of particles and debris left in the wake of a number of comets (or in a few cases, of asteroids). The most visible is usually the annual Perseid meteor shower in August.

Indeed, We have adorned the nearest heaven with an adornment of stars And as protection against every rebellious devil [So] they may not listen to the exalted assembly [of angels] and are pelted from every side, Repelled; and for them is a constant punishment, Except one who snatches [some words] by theft, but they are pursued by a burning flame, piercing [in brightness].

The same Arabic words are used at the start of Quran 67:5 as in Quran 37:6 (زَيَّنَّا ٱلسَّمَآءَ ٱلدُّنْيَا), except that in Quran 67:5 the word lamps is used instead of stars. The lamps that 'beautify the heaven' must refer to stars (and perhaps also the 5 visible planets), which are always there. Meteors, on the other hand, are now known to be distinct from the distant stars. They are often not much larger than grains of sand and only become visible for a second when they burn up, generating light in the Earth's atmosphere.

And verily We have beautified the world's heaven with lamps, and We have made them missiles for the devils, and for them We have prepared the doom of flame.

The word translated "missiles" is rujūman (رُجُومًا), which are things that are thrown, especially stones.[12]

A hadith confirms that the 'pursuant flames / missiles' in the two verses were understood to mean what we now know are visible meteors. Sahih Muslim 26:5538 and Jami` at-Tirmidhi 5:44:3224 recount an occasion when Muhammad and his companions saw a shooting star at night. He explains to his companions that angels throw these at Jinn when they try to steal information about Allah's commands passed down through the heavens.

Other relevant Quran verses are Quran 55:33-35 (flame of fire and smoke, though a slightly different context), Quran 15:16-18, and Quran 72:8-9.

O company of jinn and mankind, if you are able to pass beyond the regions of the heavens and the earth, then pass. You will not pass except by authority [from Allah]. So which of the favors of your Lord would you deny? There will be sent upon you a flame of fire and smoke, and you will not defend yourselves.
It is We Who have set out the zodiacal signs in the heavens, and have beautified it for the beholders; And (moreover) We have guarded them from every cursed devil: But any that gains a hearing by stealth, is pursued by a flaming fire, bright (to see).
And we have sought [to reach] the heaven but found it filled with powerful guards and burning flames. And we used to sit therein in positions for hearing, but whoever listens now will find a burning flame lying in wait for him.

If the flaming missiles mentioned by the Quran are to be identified with meteors burning up in the Earth's atmosphere, this would locate the eavesdropping devils (or jinn) in the upper atmosphere too, which leaves no way for the (extremely distant) stars to serve as guards in this process as outlined in the verses. However, these verses would of course fit a relatively small universe as imagined by 7th century Arabs, in which a heavenly firmament is adorned with stars able to pelt shooting stars at any devils or jinn in their vicinity, seeming to cover interstellar distances in a flaming streak across the sky. This is further supported by Quran 21:32 which describes the heaven as a guarded ceiling.

The locations of the stars

The Quran swears on the places where the stars settings/positions/locations (mawāqiʿi)[13] of the stars in Q56:75. Many pre-modern people believed stars were fixed in place,[14] as did ancient Arabs as found in pre-Islamic poetry.[15]

I swear by the locations of the stars.

In reality stars don't have fixed settings as they are constantly orbiting e.g. black holes and other stars - they just appear that way from Earth as they are so far away.[16] The verse must be referring to actual stars, as these also 'fall and scatter' (Quran 81:2 and Quran 82:2) on judgement day, and are thrown at spying jinn; Quran 37:6-10, Quran 67:5, Quran 15:16-18 (see: Shooting Stars in the Quran). However we aren't even seeing the locations of the stars (which the Quran is telling it's audience it is swearing on), but rather light which is centuries to millions of years old[17] so the star has since moved away from that 'position', and is constantly orbiting.

Muslims may take a non-literal view of the verse such as arguing it is from a human perspective. But critics argue the Quran could simply have sworn on e.g. the stars (al-nujūm) themselves rather than the literal positions of the stars, to avoid bringing in a concept that would become scientifically outdated as our knowledge of the universe has increased - and adds no value/serves no purpose in the Quran.

Implied similar size and distance of the sun and moon

In a passage about events on the day of resurrection, the Qur'an implies that the sun and moon are of comparable size and distance. As already noted, the Quran says that the moon "follows" the sun (Quran 91:1-2), and "It is not for the sun to overtake the moon, nor doth the night outstrip the day." (Quran 36:40). Verse Quran 75:9 adds that on the last day the sun and moon will be brought together. While such a perspective is intuitive for one in seventh century Arabia viewing the sun and moon with their unaided eye and observing eclipses, modern science has revealed that 64.3 million moons could fit in the sun.

And the moon darkens And the sun and the moon are joined,

The Arabic word translated as "are joined" is jumi'a, a verb which means to collect together, gather together, bring together.[18] Critics note that this would involve our moon, which orbits the Earth 93 million miles away from the sun, being brought together with our local star which is over 400 times wider. To say that such mismatched objects will be brought together (jumi'a) in such a scenario would hardly be apt, critics argue, and a very odd apocalyptic event. Rather, the description sits comfortably in the ancient understanding of the cosmos, whereby the sun and moon were assumed to be two roughly equivalent celestial bodies in the sky above the Earth.

It is worth noting that the "darkening" of the moon in verse 8 is an Arabic word which in hadiths refers to a lunar or solar eclipse (in this case lunar). However, for a lunar eclipse to occur (when the earth's shadow is cast upon the moon) the sun and moon are on opposite sides of the earth and thus are not in any sense "brought together". Nor does brought together in verse 9 work as a reference to a solar eclipse (when the sun occasionally casts a shadow of the moon on the earth). The moon is invisible during the portion of a month when it can eclipse the sun since it must be on the daylit side of the earth, and hence the moon does not "darken" or itself become eclipsed (verse 8) as it passes between observers and the sun but rather its silhouette becomes visible.

Moon split in two

The Qur'an (according to a common interpretation) and a hadith tradition state that the moon was miraculously split into two pieces and then, presumably, put back together again. There is, however, no scientific evidence suggesting that the moon was ever been split into two parts. Critics have pointed out that since the moon is visible to half the planet at any given time, there should exist numerous accounts from different parts of the world attesting to the event if it in fact happened. The Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, Persians, Chinese and Indians had avid astronomers who, critics maintain, should have seen this event and recorded it in their histories. The complete absence of any such historical record from other civilizations contemporary to Muhammad is thus presented as a strong indication that the event described in scripture never happened.

The Hour has come near, and the moon has split [in two]. And if they see a miracle, they turn away and say, "Passing magic." And they denied and followed their inclinations. But for every matter is a [time of] settlement.
Narrated Ibn Masud:

During the lifetime of Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) the moon was split into two parts; one part remained over the mountain, and the other part went beyond the mountain. On that, Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said, "Witness this miracle."

Some modern Islamic scholars and academic scholars interpret the moon splitting verse as an eschatological prophecy. One reason is that the traditional interpretation contradicts the repeated claims that Muhammad was not sent with miracles, but only to warn people with the message (see also Quran 6:109 and Quran 11:12):

The unbelievers say, "Why has God not sent him, (Muhammad), some miracles." (Muhammad), you are only a warner. For every nation there is a guide.

Nature of the moon's light

Modern Muslim scholars have sometimes argued that the Qur'an predicted the realization that 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 the two Qur'anic verses that say the Moon is a "light". Instead, the word noor (nooran نُورًا) is used, which simply means "a light", and, in another verse, the word muneer (muneeran مُّنِيرًا) is used, which means "giving light" and is from the same root as noor. Nonetheless, the usage of these words is vague and appears to permit alternative interpretations.

He it is Who appointed the sun a splendour and the moon a light, and measured for her stages, that ye might know the number of the years, and the reckoning. Allah created not (all) that save in truth. He detaileth the revelations for people who have knowledge.
And hath made the moon a light therein, and made the sun a lamp?

Noor appears again (this time as a participle muneeran مُّنِيرًا) in a similar verse about the moon:

Blessed be He Who hath placed in the heaven mansions of the stars, and hath placed therein a great lamp and a moon giving light!"

Quran 33:45-46 most clearly displays the meaning of noor to be "light" rather than "reflected light". A lamp is described as "shining light" with the same Arabic word used in Quran 25:61 (muneeran مُّنِيرًا):

O Prophet! Lo! We have sent thee as a witness and a bringer of good tidings and a warner. And as a summoner unto Allah by His permission, and as a lamp that giveth light.

In Lane's Lexicon of classical arabic, the word muneer (مُّنِيرً) is defined as 'Giving light, shining bright, bright, or shining brightly'.[19] Noor is defined on the previous page as 'Light; whatever it may be; and the rays thereof'.[20] In reference to Quran 10:5 (quoted above) which describe the moon with this word, Lane writes, 'In the Kur. x. 5, the sun is termed ضياء and the moon نور and it is said that ضياء is essential, but نور is accidental [light]'. The notion of essential and accidental light and its application to the sun and moon originates not from the Arabs at the time of the Qur'an, but rather from the book Kitab al-Manazir, commonly known as 'Optics', published in 1572 by the great polymath and optics pioneer al-Hazen. Lane goes on to say, citing the highly regarded Taj al-Arus classical dictionary, 'it [light] is of two kinds, the light of the present world and that of the world to come; and the former is either perceived sensibly, by the eye, and this is what diffuses itself from luminous bodies, as the sun and moon and stars, and is mentioned in the Kur. x. 5 referred to above'.

The word noor is also used in Quran 24:35 to show that Allah is the "light" of the universe. The author does not imply that Allah reflects light from another source, but rather that he is the ultimate source of all light.

Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The Parable of His Light is as if there were a Niche and within it a Lamp: the Lamp enclosed in Glass: the glass as it were a brilliant star: Lit from a blessed Tree, an Olive, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil is well-nigh luminous, though fire scarce touched it: Light upon Light! Allah doth guide whom He will to His Light: Allah doth set forth Parables for men: and Allah doth know all things.

Furthermore, an almost perfect opportunity to explain that the moons light is not it's own, but rather the sun's shining of it's surface, comes when Muhammad is asked about the phases of the moon. The 'phases/new moons' are caused by the sun only illuminating half of the moon at a time, and as the moon orbits the Earth, at some points the sunlit part of the moon can be seen from the Earth, and at other points, we can only see the parts of the Moon that are in shadow.[21]

Muhammad gives a response. Instead of any explanation which could verify itself scientifically, we are told it's for timekeeping and to mark when pilgrimage begins (i.e., something that was already in use)[22].

(Muhammad), they ask you about the different phases of the moon. Tell them that they are there to indicate to people the phases of time and the pilgrimage season. It is not a righteous act to enter houses from the back. Righteousness is to be pious and enter the houses from the front door. Have fear of God so that perhaps you will have lasting happiness.

The entire heaven has a night and day

The Qur'anic conception of the cosmos accords with its author's visual perception of the sky, even to the extent that in Quran 79:28-29 night and day is mistaken as a feature of the entire heaven (the lowest heaven is elsewhere said to be adorned with stars, as discussed above, and it will become clear that this is the heaven being referred to). In these verses the night and morning brightness are said to be an attribute of the heaven (l-samāu) which Allah built (banāhā) and raised (rafaʿa) as a ceiling (samkahā) and ordered it (fasawwāhā) when he created the heaven and earth.

Are ye the harder to create, or is the heaven that He built? He raised the height thereof and ordered it; And He made dark the night thereof, and He brought forth the morn thereof. And after that He spread the earth,

The possessive hā suffix in laylahā (its night) and ḍuḥāhā (its morning light) relates night and day to the heaven in its entirety. In reality, the night and day we experience is a feature of the earth's rotation on its axis. There is no sense in which the earth's night and day (which happen at the same time) apply across the wider cosmos.

In order to confirm the interpretation of these verses it is important to look at how the significant words are used elsewhere in the Quran. "The night" is a very common word in the Quran, and the morning light is used in the same context in Quran 93:1-2 and Quran 91:1 (see also Quran 79:46).

Indeed, Quran 91:1-6 has many of the same Arabic words as Quran 79:27-30: "its morning light" (this time of the sun), "the night", and "the heaven" (singular) "built" by Allah. Putting the two passages together, it seems that the author of the Quran intuitively believed that the night and the sun's morning light were features pertaining to the entire visible heaven.

Other verses are helpful to confirm what is meant by the heaven (singular) in this context. Quran 2:29 states that Allah turned (is'tawā) to the heaven and fashioned them (fasawwāhunna) seven heavens. These are two forms of the same Arabic verb as is translated "ordered" in Quran 79:28 in the above quote.

He it is Who created for you all that is in the earth. Then turned He to the heaven, and fashioned it as seven heavens. And He is knower of all things.

The word "raised" in Quran 79:28 is similarly used for the creation of the heaven (singular) and earth in Quran 88:18 and the heavens (plural) raised without visible pillars in Quran 13:2.

The word "he built it" in v. 27 (banāhā) also occurs in Quran 50:6, which says regarding the heaven (singular) that Allah "built it" and "adorned it" (wazayyannāhā), a word which in other verses refers to the stars adorning the lowest heaven (Quran 37:6, Quran 41:12 and Quran 67:5, as discussed in the Earth created before stars section above).

This is particularly problematic for apologists that claim the closest sky/heaven is the visible universe (based off those verses that it is adorned with stars).

Day and night as veils pulled across the heavens, not from the Sun or the Earths movement

As the above states, night and day are a property of the sky/heavens rather than a specific phenomena only occurring almost entirely on the surface of the Earth; as one side of it moves (both via rotation on it's own axis and via the movement as it orbits the sun) to face away from the sun. The Qur'ans description extends to the night covering/veiling the day (Quran 7:54) which then follows the night. And god 'strips' the night of the day (Quran 36:37).

In Q6:96 and Q10:5, we are told that the sun and moon are lights created for timekeeping, with both being mentioned in the same way - but not once is the main function of the sun for humans listed; i.e. as the actual source of daylight.

[He is] the cleaver of daybreak and has made the night for rest and the sun and moon for calculation. That is the determination of the Exalted in Might, the Knowing.
It is He who made the sun a radiance and the moon a light, and ordained its phases that you might know the number of years and the calculation [of time]. Allah did not create all that except with justice. He elaborates the signs for a people who have knowledge.

On top of this the day and night are swimming in orbit themselves, along with the sun and the moon in Q21:33 and Q36:40, where they are mentioned as distinct entities.

It is He who created the night and the day, the sun and the moon, each swimming in an orbit.
Neither can the sun overtake the moon, nor the night outpace the day: Each of them keeps coursing in its orbit.

And finally that the daylight actually 'reveals' the sun, and the night 'enshrouds' it, which makes no sense as daylight is solely from the sun, and night is simply a result of it's absence on one side of the Earths surface.

By the sun and its brightness,

And [by] the moon when it follows it, by the day when it reveals it, And [by] the night when it covers it

Which the day reveals the sun, and the night enshrouds it

This clear separation of the sun (and moon) as a light for timekeeping that is separate from the 'veils/covers' of day and night 'swimming in orbit' has lead to some classical commentators to believe that the day is not caused by the sun at all, but is rather a totally separate event in the sky.[23]

The sky/heaven as a ceiling

A common myth at the time of the Quran's composition was that the sky or heavens were held up with pillars, which is also a Biblical motif. While classical Muslim scholars often believed in a dome shaped heaven, some academic scholars have argued that the Quranic heavens are flat, stacked expanses (see main article). These heavens are like roofs (saqf Quran 21:32, Quran 52:5), a building/edifice/tent (binaan Quran 2:22, Quran 40:64), a ceiling (samk Quran 79:28), in layers (Quran 71:15 and Quran 67:3), while Quran 13:2 adds that the heavens were raised without visible pillars (perhaps phrased with deliberate ambiguity).

Reinforcing the 2 dimensional imagery, Quran 81:11 adds that the sky is like a covering that can be 'stripped away', while Quran 21:104 states that it will eventually be rolled or folded up like a parchment and Quran 39:67 says that the heavens will then be held in Allah's hand. This will occur after it has been slit (furijat Quran 77:9; the same Arabic noun is used in Quran 50:6 where the listeners are expected to notice that the heaven has no slits, reinforcing the canopy metaphor), rent asunder with clouds (Quran 25:25), split (inshaqqat Quran 55:37, Quran 84:1, Quran 69:16 with angels appearing at its edges Quran 69:17). The heaven will become as gateways (Quran 78:19, a possibility also alluded to in Quran 15:13-15).

[He] who made for you the earth a bed [spread out] and the sky a ceiling and sent down from the sky, rain and brought forth thereby fruits as provision for you. So do not attribute to Allah equals while you know [that there is nothing similar to Him].
Do you not consider how Allah has created seven heavens in layers
And We have built above you seven strong (heavens)
Allah is He Who raised the heavens without any pillars that ye can see
And when the sky is stripped away
The Day when We will fold the heaven like the folding of a [written] sheet for the records. As We began the first creation, We will repeat it. [That is] a promise binding upon Us. Indeed, We will do it.
The Day the heaven shall be rent asunder with clouds, and angels shall be sent down, descending (in ranks),-
Then on that Day, the Resurrection will occur, And the heaven will split [open], for that Day it is infirm. And the angels are at its edges. And there will bear the Throne of your Lord above them, that Day, eight [of them].

The sky/heaven as a guarded ceiling

Quran 21:32 says Allah made the sky/heaven a guarded ceiling (but is not itself a guard or protection, which is a common misreading). This is most likely related to the verses about devils chased by shooting stars (meteors) that guard the lowest heaven. One of those verses, Quran 37:6-10 discussed above, contains a noun meaning "guard" from the same Arabic root (hafiza) as the verb in this verse.[24]

And We made the sky a protected ceiling, but they, from its signs, are turning away.

Interestingly, modern science has revealed that the things by which the sky / heaven is said to be guarded can also 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.

More recently in 2013, in Chelyabinsk, Russia, a house-sized meteoroid entered the atmosphere at over 11 miles / 18 kilometers per second and blew apart 14 miles / 23 kilometers above the ground, having penetrated the Earth's atmosphere. The explosion released the energy equivalent of around 440,000 tons of TNT and generated a shock wave that blew out windows over 200 square miles (518 square kilometers) and damaged buildings. More than 1,600 people were injured in the blast, mostly due to broken glass.[25]

The sky/heaven as something that can fall

The Quran describes the sky/heaven as a roof held up by Allah that can fall or fragments of which may break off and fall upon unfortunate individuals. This is challenging in light of the modern realization that the sky is simply a conglomeration of various gasses.

And if they were to see a fragment of the heaven falling, they would say: A heap of clouds.
See they not what is before them and behind them, of the sky and the earth? If We wished, We could cause the earth to swallow them up, or cause a piece of the sky to fall upon them. Verily in this is a Sign for every devotee that turns to Allah (in repentance).
Hast thou not seen how Allah hath made all that is in the earth subservient unto you? And the ship runneth upon the sea by His command, and He holdeth back the heaven from falling on the earth unless by His leave. Lo! Allah is, for mankind, Full of Pity, Merciful.

Heavens to be rolled up

Quran 21:104 and Quran 39:67 state that the heavens will be 'rolled up' come the day of judgement, implying the corporeality and 'flatness' of space.

The Day when We shall roll up the heavens as a recorder rolleth up a written scroll.
No just estimate have they made of Allah, such as is due to Him: On the Day of Judgment the whole of the earth will be but His handful, and the heavens will be rolled up in His right hand: Glory to Him! High is He above the Partners they attribute to Him!

Stars as something that fall

The Qur'an says that the stars will fall (inkadarat ٱنكَدَرَتْ) as one of many dramatic events surrounding the last day. 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.[26]

And when the stars fall

The structure of space-time is such that nothing, not even stars, can move faster than the velocity of light. That is, even if the stars were to move close to light speed across the sky, their apparent motion would be so slight relative to their distance that it would nonetheless be imperceptible to the naked eye. Moreover, as many visible stars are hundreds of light years away (the nearest star is more than four light years away), the light from such events would take years to reach our eyes. Indeed, many stars still visible in the sky ceased to exist centuries ago and it is only their light which is just now reaching the Earth.

Similarly the stars are said to disperse/scatter (intatharat انْتَثَرَتْ) on judgement day, which classical commentaries have also linked to dispersing/falling on Earth,[27] [28] [29] along with the above verse 81:2.[30][31]

when the stars are scattered,

The cause of shadows changing length

Shadows are produced when the sun's light is obstructed. The Earth's rotation causes these shadows to change size and lengthen. Quran 25:45-46 states that the reason shadows fluctuate in size rather than being stationary is because Allah has made the sun their guide. This appears to confirm the geocentric outlook widely evidenced elsewhere in the Qur'an, for it is only on a geocentric view that shadows would be of fixed length if the sun (rather than the Earth) were not made to do something.

Hast thou not turned thy vision to thy Lord?- How He doth prolong the shadow! If He willed, He could make it stationary! then do We make the sun its guide; Then We draw it in towards Ourselves,- a contraction by easy stages.

Interestingly, Quran 25:46 follows up by stating that Allah 'draws the shadows towards himself'. The exact meaning of this verse is unclear, but if it regards the retraction of an object's shadow 'back onto itself' - that is, to a state where there is no shadow or the shadow is at its shortest - then perhaps it can be interpreted to describe the gradual 'pointing of the shadow towards heaven' or 'upwards towards Allah'. Even this reading is difficult to justify, however, and the verse is perhaps best regarded as having lost intelligibility beyond the vague spiritual sense in which it may be read.

Disregard of 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. These circumstances render many of the most important Islamic rituals impracticable and suggest that the author(s) of the Qur'an and hadith, in so far as they aspired to produce a religion of global practicability, were not aware of the extreme distortions to the day length that take place near the poles.

It is not for the sun to overtake the moon, nor doth the night outstrip the day. They float each in an orbit.

When reading this verse one may also wonder in what sense day and night each have an orbit (See Geocentrism and the Quran).

See also the Fasting and Prayer Requirements Near the Poles section below.



The Qur'an takes what is perhaps best described as the creationist view of the origins and history of life on earth. This diverges sharply from the overwhelming scientific evidence that humans have evolved from prior life forms, over the course of millions of years and through natural selection.[32] Consequently, while some Muslim scholars reinterpret the Quran in order that they may 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.

First humans created from clay

The Qur’an states that the first 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 or our common ancestry with apes and primates. While some scientists argue over the detailed mechanisms driving evolution, they agree that common descent is an overwhelmingly proven fact.

We created man from sounding clay, from mud molded into shape;
He created man from clay like [that of] pottery.

The Quran also states, in a similar vein, that the first man was created from dust (turabin تُرَابٍ).

Lo! the likeness of Jesus with Allah is as the likeness of Adam. He created him of dust, then He said unto him: Be! and he is.

Adam and Eve

The Qur’an contains stories concerning the 'first humans' which detail, among other matters, how all people are descended from Adam and Eve (called Hawa in Arabic), the two earliest ancestors. These humans were created in a garden (the word for paradise in Arabic is jannah, which literally means 'garden') and then brought to Earth fully formed (Sahih Hadiths say Adam was 60 cubits - or 90 feet - tall). This view of the origins of human life is directly challenged by overwhelming DNA evidence and the numerous fossils of pre-Homo sapiens species that lived on earth for millions of years prior to the evolution modern humans.[33] Powerful DNA evidence that humans have common ancestry with other primate families includes endogenous retroviruses in the exact same genetic locations of our respective genomes[34] and the fusion of two primate chromosomes to become chromosome 2 in humans[35] (for more detail see the main article).

It is He who created you from one soul and created from it its mate that he might dwell in security with her. And when he covers her, she carries a light burden and continues therein. And when it becomes heavy, they both invoke Allah, their Lord, "If You should give us a good [child], we will surely be among the grateful."

In the above verse the poetic allusion to sex and pregnancy and the couple's invocation to Allah leaves no doubt that the first sentence is a reference to common descent from Adam (in similar verses this is less explicit). All the classical exegetes state that this “single being” (نَّفْسٍ وَٰحِدَةٍ ) refers to Adam. Both classical Sunni and Shia Tafsirs confirm this and there are even mutawatir hadith narrations (mass transmitted reports) implying that all humans descend from Adam (for details, see Evolution and Islam).

Another verse describes the literal descent of humanity from one man with reference to the sexual means by which it was achieved ("despised fluid" i.e. semen) after Allah had created that first man out of clay.

Who made all things good which He created, and He began the creation of man from clay; Then He made his seed from a draught of despised fluid;

The word translated “seed” in the Pickthall translation is nasl نسل, which means progeny (i.e. descendants).[36]

Some modern Muslim scholars argue that the notion of two ancestral “parents” is consistent with recent scientific findings that show a common female and male ancestor of all modern humans. This results, however, from a confusion with the nicknames (Mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromosomal Adam) by which scientists have referred to human's earliest genetic ancestors. These two individuals, however, are distinct from the Quranic characters as they are simply the last common male and female ancestors of everyone alive today and not of all humans in history. More importantly, whereas the Qur'an describes Eve as Adam's wife (who, notably, was created after him), Mitochondrial Eve lived some 50,000 to 80,000 years earlier than Y-chromosomal Adam.[37] Genetic evidence also overwhelmingly indicates that humans diverged from earlier species as a population rather than as a single couple.[38]


The Qur'an contain descriptions regarding bodily fluids and the stages of development of the human embryo. Many of these descriptions are extremely vague and most bear a telling resemblance to similar descriptions found in the Jewish Talmud as well as the ideas of ancient Greeks, such as Galen. These descriptions do not accord with the findings of modern science and are generally considered unremarkable in the seventh-century Arabian context wherein the Quran was first recited.

Semen originating between the backbone and ribs

The Qur'an states that semen originates from somewhere between the backbone and ribs. Other verses and hadiths too suggest a reproductive function for the backbone. While this aligns with the views of the physicians of antiquity, modern science has shown that sperm comes from the testicles and semen from various glands behind and below the bladder, which is not between the backbone and ribs.

He is created from a drop emitted- Proceeding from between the backbone and the ribs

Embryo formed from semen

The Qur'an describes the initial formation of a human embryo out of fluid emanating from the man, which has been placed in the womb (and possibly mixed with a female fluid). This reflects the widespread contemporary view at that time that semen is the material from which the embryo is initially formed, as taught by Hippocrates, Galen, and the Jewish Talmud. It is also evident in hadiths. By contrast, modern science has shown that semen is the vehicle for the sperm cells, one of which fuses with a woman's ovum in her fallopian tube, and that the resulting cell divides (rather than the seminal medium) and travels back into the womb for implantation.

While many English translations mention a "drop of seed", or "drop of sperm", the Arabic word used in the Quran is nutfah, which literally means a small amount of liquid and was a euphemism for semen.

Did We not create you from a liquid disdained? And We placed it in a firm lodging For a known extent.
Then placed him as a drop (of seed) [nutfah] in a safe lodging;
From what thing doth He create him? From a drop of seed [nutfah]. He createth him and proportioneth him
Indeed, We created man from a sperm-drop mixture [nutfatin amshajin] that We may try him; and We made him hearing and seeing.

Disregard of female ovum

The Quran, in all its discussion of human reproduction, does not mention the role of the ovum, implying instead that reproduction is caused simply by storage and mingling of the male semen in the female womb. Although visible to the human eye, the female ovum is very small and unknown in the 7th century - this appears to explain its omission in the Quran.

He was created from a fluid, ejected, Emerging from between the backbone and the ribs.

Humans created from a clot of blood

The Qur'an describes humans as being formed from a clot of blood after an initial semen stage. By contrast, modern science has revealed that there is no stage in embryonic development where the relevant material is a clot of blood. The Quranic description is likely influenced by a simplistic attempt at explaining human reproduction based on unaided-eye observations of an early-term miscarriage and a woman's menstrual cycle. While in modern times some Muslims scholars have advanced alternative meanings for the relevant word, the historical certainty that the word can mean clotted blood (also the unanimous understanding in the classical tafsirs), which has a clear biological meaning, while being used in the Qur'an in the context of a biological description (formation of a baby), renders the modern reinterpretations extremely challenging.

Then We made the sperm into a clot of congealed blood...
Created man, out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood:
Narrated 'Abdullah bin Mus'ud: “Allah's Apostle, the true and truly inspired said, "(The matter of the Creation of) a human being is put together in the womb of the mother in forty days, and then he becomes a clot of thick blood for a similar period, and then a piece of flesh for a similar period.”

Gender decided at clot stage

The Qur'an states that an embryo is transformed from semen into a clot, shaped (presumably into a human mold), and then determined into either the male or female sex. Modern genetics, on the other hand, has shown that the sex of a human is decided at the moment of conception.[39]

Was he not a drop of fluid which gushed forth? Then he became a clot; then (Allah) shaped and fashioned And made of him a pair, the male and female.

While translators mostly use "And" in verse 39, the Arabic particle is fa, as also in the previous conjunction, which indicates sequence (i.e. 'and then').[40] Classical tafsirs share this reading, and the same reading is reflected in a sahih hadith found in both Bukhari and Muslim:

Narrated Anas bin Malik: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "At every womb Allah appoints an angel who says, 'O Lord! A drop of semen, O Lord! A clot. O Lord! A little lump of flesh." Then if Allah wishes (to complete) its creation, the angel asks, (O Lord!) Will it be a male or female, a wretched or a blessed, and how much will his provision be? And what will his age be?' So all that is written while the child is still in the mother's womb."

Bones formed before flesh

The Qur'an states that the bones of a human embryo are formed first and then covered up with flesh. By contrast, modern science has shown that muscles and the cartilage 'models' of the future bones start to form at the same time and in parallel. Muscles have started to form before the cartilage models start to be replaced with actual bone.

Then We made the sperm into a clot of congealed blood; then of that clot We made a (foetus) lump; then we made out of that lump bones then (not and) clothed the bones with flesh; then we developed out of it another creature. So blessed be Allah, the best to create!

The Qur'an again parallels the influential Greek physician Galen, who says:

And now the third period of gestation has come. After nature has made outlines of all the organs and the substance of the semen is used up, the time has come for nature to articulate the organs precisely and to bring all the parts to completion. Thus it caused flesh to grow on and around all the bones...
Galen, On semen, p.101

All organisms created in pairs

The Quran states that all beings are created in pairs. However, modern science has revealed that not every creature procreates or reproduces through a male and female sexual relationship.

The whiptail lizard in the U.S. Southwest, Mexico, and South America, for instance, is an all-females species which reproduces by parthenogenesis.

Viruses (if considered a life form) reproduce using a host's DNA and are neither female nor male. Bacteria reproduce by cell division.

Fungus can reproduce either asexually or sexually with thousands of genders.

Many species of plants also reproduce either asexually or through pollination.

Those who are intersex (including those people with both male and female sexual organs and body types) and hermaphrodites of all species also do not appear to fit in to this dichotomy. This has led to discriminatory rulings from Islamic scholars, not allowing those with ambiguous sexes to get married for example, due to the unknowingness of breaking a gender-based rule.[41]

And of every thing We have created pairs: That ye may receive instruction.
Glory to Allah, Who created in pairs all things that the earth produces, as well as their own (human) kind and (other) things of which they have no knowledge.
by Him who created the male and the female:
Then He made of him two kinds, the male and the female.

Fetus in three layers of darkness

The word butun (بطن) means belly/abdomen/midriff, though some translators have opted to use the more specific (and evocative) word "womb".[42] Classical tafsirs interpreted the "three darknesses" as the placenta, womb (uterus), and belly. Modern science has revealed there to be many more such 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). In terms of extra-embryonic membranes, there is also the allantois, which is a sac-like structure and does not surround the embryo, but becomes part of the umbilical cord and is not in any real sense 'a darkness' viz-a-viz the embryo. The other two membranes, the chorion and amnion, together form the amniotic sac, which is quite thin and transparent. The idea of three membranes around the fetus (chorion, allantois, and amnion) was taught by the highly influential Greek physician, Galen, and the description found in the Quran in all likelihood draws on Galen's widespread influence in the late antique world.

He created you from one soul. Then He made from it its mate, and He produced for you from the grazing livestock eight mates. He creates you in the wombs of your mothers, creation after creation, within three darknesses. That is Allah, your Lord; to Him belongs dominion. There is no deity except Him, so how are you averted?

Functions of the heart (cardiocentrism)

The Quran describes the literal heart as a locus of contemplation and thought, an ancient concept known as cardiocentrism, as opposed to the modern scientific understanding of our brain controlling thought, memory and emotion (alongside other physical processes).[43]

The concept of the heart as the seat of the intellect, spiritual contemplation, and the eye of the heart/mind/soul was a common one in East-Syriac Christianity in the centuries before Islam, seen in the writings for example of Pseudo-Macarius, Issac of Nineveh, and Ephrem,[44] in contrast to certain scholars more closely influenced by Greek philosophy which associated the mind with the brain (encephalocentrism).[45]

So have they not traveled through the earth and have hearts by which to reason and ears by which to hear? For indeed, it is not eyes that are blinded, but blinded are the hearts which are within the breasts.
And We place upon their hearts veils lest they should understand it, and in their ears a deafness; and when thou makest mention of thy Lord alone in the Qur'an, they turn their backs in aversion.
Lo! now they fold up their breasts that they may hide (their thoughts) from Him. At the very moment when they cover themselves with their clothing, Allah knoweth that which they keep hidden and that which they proclaim. Lo! He is Aware of what is in the breasts (of men).

See also the below: Scientific Errors in the Quran#The soul in the literal heart

Characteristics 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, however, not located near the intestines, which is where excrement is stored. Sometimes cattle and goat milk needs processing or pasteurization before it can safely be consumed; the milk is often infected with bacteria and other micro-organisms. A significant number of humans lactose intolerant, especially in some regions of the world, and are unable to digest much milk without experiencing abdominal bloating and cramps, flatulence, diarrhoea, nausea, or vomiting. This occurs in adults who lack genes for lactase enzyme persistance which maintains lactose tolerance beyond childhood and is a relatively recent evolutionary development. These realities appear to challenge the Qur'anic notion that milk is 'pure' and 'agreeable' to anyone who drinks it.

And verily in cattle (too) will ye find an instructive sign. From what is within their bodies between excretions and blood, We produce, for your drink, milk, pure and agreeable to those who drink it.

Geology and meteorology

Flat Earth

The Qur'an describes a flat-Earth cosmography. The later idea that Islamic scriptures themselves indicated a spherical Earth was a creative act of reinterpretation as this view became more prominent due to advances in astronomy. Attempts to explain Quranic verses about the Earth only in terms of local flatness at a human level, non-literal readings, and/or by adding context to them never explicitly stated, are often challenged by critics, as discussed in the main article, which also contains further evidence and verses beyond those listed here.

Fasting and prayer requirements near the Poles

The Qur'an instructs Muslims to fast by abstaining from food and drink from sunrise till sunset during Ramadan. In the polar regions there are six months of sunlight and six months of perpetual night during Summer and Winter. Such fasting is not practicable for anyone living in the polar regions, and very easy (depth of Winter) or extremely hard (height of Summer) in places within around 40 degrees latitude of the poles. Various rules have been contrived by Muslim scholars for those at such latitudes to try to accommodate the (here inconvenient) fact that we live on a round Earth.

...Then strictly observe the fast till nightfall...

A similar issue emerges for the five daily prayers. Persons living in the polar region would not be able to make a sunset or sunrise prayer for much of the year. Even in less extreme contexts, for cities further south like Aberdeen in Scotland, the gap between the night prayer (Isha) and the dawn prayer (Fajr) is still around 4 and a half hours in June, so a person praying five times a day is required to interrupt their sleep around 3.20am, then go back to sleep before getting up for the day. These challenges would likely not have been on the mind of the author of the Quran during the 7th century in Arabia.

Establish regular prayers - at the sun's decline till the darkness of the night, and the morning prayer and reading: for the prayer and reading in the morning carry their testimony.

Facing toward Mecca

The Qur'an instructs Muslims to face the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca when they pray. In consideration of the roundness of the Earth, scholars developed the great circle method to carry out this instruction. However, a number of problems have been suggested: one facing Mecca also necessarily has their back turned to it (a display of disrespect which is roundly prohibited in Islam), and one directly opposite Mecca on the globe may pray in any direction.

Another issue leads many North American Muslims, who live in the hemisphere of this antipode of Mecca, to instead prefer the rhumb-line technique (i.e. a straight line on a standard Mercator flat map projection). This is in disagreement with those who follow the great circle method, which causes people north and south in the Americas to face away from each as they pray (great circle lines from this antipode diverge cross the Americas before they start to converge again when they enter the hemisphere of Mecca), and requires much of North America to pray northwards, which to many people feels awkward. Finally, Astronauts in Earth's orbit or on the Moon and Mars would are essentially unable to follow these instructions (suggesting that the author of the Qur'an did not have such future realities in mind).

From whencesoever Thou startest forth, turn Thy face in the direction of the sacred Mosque; that is indeed the truth from the Lord. And Allah is not unmindful of what ye do.

Earth as spread out and flat

The author of the Qur'an mentions that the Earth is 'spread out' and laid flat. The Arabic word here (sataha) was used to describe making the flat top or roof of a house or chamber and making a top surface flat.[46] Words from the same root mean the flat top surface or roof of a house or chamber, a bounded flat plane in geometry, a level place upon which dates can be spread, a rolling pin (which expands the dough), plane or flat.

And at the Earth, how it is spread out?

Despite Muslim encounters with Greek astronomy in the 8th century CE (see Islamic Views on the Shape of the Earth), a flat earth interpretation persisted for many more centuries in some circles.

For example, the Qur'anic commentary of al-Jalalayn (composed by the two “Jalals”; Jalal al-Din al-Mahalli (d.1459 CE) and his pupil Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti (d.1505 CE) - i.e. the 15th/16th century) agrees with this understanding of the verse, saying that legal scholars at his time agree that the earth is flat and not spherical.

And the earth how it was laid out flat? and thus infer from this the power of God exalted be He and His Oneness? The commencing with the mention of camels is because they are closer in contact with it the earth than any other animal. As for His words sutihat ‘laid out flat’ this on a literal reading suggests that the earth is flat which is the opinion of most [the word "most" is not included in the original Arabic: "وعليه علماء الشرع"; see citation for full text] of the scholars of the revealed Law and not a sphere as astronomers ahl al-hay’a have it even if this latter does not contradict any of the pillars of the Law.
Tafsir al-Jalalayn 88:20 (See here for the Arabic)

Earth as like carpet

The Arabic word (bisaatan) used here means a thing that is spread or spread out or forth, and particularly a carpet.[47]

And Allah has made the earth for you as a carpet (spread out)

Earth as like a couch

The Earth is described using an Arabic word (firashan) that means a thing that is spread on the ground to sit or lay upon.[48]

[He] who made for you the earth a bed [spread out] and the sky a ceiling and sent down from the sky, rain and brought forth thereby fruits as provision for you. So do not attribute to Allah equals while you know [that there is nothing similar to Him].

The same root word for couch in Quran 2:22 is used as a verb in Quran 51:48 in the sense of to spread (the first word translated spread here).

And the earth, We have spread it; how excellent (are) the Spreaders!

Earth as like a bed

The Earth is described as a 'bed' (or 'carpet' in the Yusuf Ali translation) in verse Quran 20:53, and similarly Quran 43:10. The Arabic word (mahdan) suggests something completely flat and spread out on the ground (and not, for instance, 'rolled up' for storage).[49]

Who hath appointed the earth as a bed and hath threaded roads for you therein and hath sent down water from the sky and thereby We have brought forth divers kinds of vegetation

Sometimes the same Arabic word is translated as expanse, as in Quran 78:6-7. Together with the next verse, the Earth is here a thing spread out and pegged down by mountains.

Have We not made the earth as a wide expanse, And the mountains as pegs?

The same root word is used as a participle at the end of Quran 51:48.

And the earth, We have spread it; how excellent (are) the Spreaders!

Earth stretched out

In the verse below, as also in Quran 13:3 and Quran 50:7, the Qur'an uses a verb (madadna) that meant to extend by drawing or pulling, stretch out, expand.[50]

And the earth We have spread out (like a carpet); set thereon mountains firm and immovable; and produced therein all kinds of things in due balance.

Earth as a level plain

The Qur'an describes a time in the future when mountains will be removed. Quran 18:47 uses an Arabic word (baarizatan) that means "entirely apparent" to describe the Earth at this time.[51] Quran 20:106 uses words (qa'an and safsafan) that mean a level plain.[52] This description implies the Earth is flat and level and that it is the mountains which give it shape.

And (bethink you of) the Day when we remove the hills and ye see the earth emerging, and We gather them together so as to leave not one of them behind.
They will ask thee of the mountains (on that day). Say: My Lord will break them into scattered dust. And leave it as an empty plain, Wherein thou seest neither curve nor ruggedness.

Permanent barrier between "the two seas" of 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, is not permanent, and the different salinity levels between the two bodies of water eventually homogenize. The Qur'an, by contrast, suggests that there is a separation between two seas, one salty and one fresh water, maintained by some sort of divine barrier placed between them.

Furthemore, Quran 55:20 quoted below states that coral emerge from both seas. However, coral are found only in salt water oceans, and exposure to freshwater leads to coral bleaching.[53]

It is He Who has let free the two bodies of flowing water: One palatable and sweet, and the other salt and bitter; yet has He made a barrier between them, a partition that is forbidden to be passed.
Is He [not best] who made the earth a stable ground and placed within it rivers and made for it firmly set mountains and placed between the two seas a barrier? Is there a deity with Allah? [No], but most of them do not know.
He released the two seas, meeting [side by side]; Between them is a barrier [so] neither of them transgresses. So which of the favors of your Lord would you deny? From both of them emerge pearl and coral.

Another reference to "the two seas" (bahrayn) is found in the story of Moses and his servant.

And [mention] when Moses said to his servant, "I will not cease [traveling] until I reach the junction of the two seas or continue for a long period." But when they reached the junction between them, they forgot their fish, and it took its course into the sea, slipping away.

The story of Moses and his servant is one of four stories in Surah al-Kahf. Modern academic scholarship has identified antecedants of each story in the lore of late antiquity. This particular story is almost unanimously considered to derive from a legend about Alexander the Great and his search for the water of life. For details see the section on the four stories in Surah al-Kahf in the article Parallels Between the Qur'an and Late Antique Judeo-Christian Literature.

It may further be compared to the ancient Akkadian myth of the Abzu, the name for a fresh water underground sea that was given a religious quality in Sumerian and Akkadian mythology. Lakes, springs, rivers, wells, and other sources of fresh water were thought to draw their water from the Abzu underground sea, while the Ocean that surrounded the world was a saltwater sea. This underground sea is called Tehom in the Hebrew Bible. For example, Genesis 49:25 says, "blessings of the heavens above, and Tehom lying beneath".[54] Wensinck explains, "Thus it appears that the idea of there being a sea of sweet water under our earth, the ancient Tehom, which is the source of springs and rivers, is common to the Western Semites".[55] Similarly in Greek mythology, the world was surrounded by Oceanus, the world-ocean of classical antiquity. Oceanus was personified as the god Titan, whose consort was the aquatic sea goddess Tethys. It was also thought that rainfall was due a third ocean above the "Firmament of the Sky" (a vast reservoir above the firmament of the sky is also described in the Genesis creation narrative).

Whether the two seas mentioned in the Qur'an referred to these mythological seas or a more general inviolable barrier between bodies of salt and fresh water, critics argue that the verse in question is scientifically wrong.

Mountains as pegs which prevent the earth from shifting

Modern geology has discovered that large plates in the crust of the Earth are responsible for the formation of mountains. Called plate tectonics, the slow movement of these massive plates meet and the pressure between them pushes up the crust, forming mountains while also causing earthquakes and faults in the Earth's surface. The formation of mountains and occurance of earthquakes are thus both largely the result of destabilizing tectonic activity. They are part of the same ongoing process and one cannot exist without the other. The Qur'an, by contrast, holds that mountains are like pegs in the ground, and claims that they stabilize the Earth which would shift without them (interpreted by modern Islamic scholars as a reference to earthquakes). Moreover, there are various ways in which mountains can form, not all of which involve a thickening of the continental crust beneath them that some attempt to compare as peg-like (see main article for details).

In early or pre-Islamic poetry mountains are mentioned in terms of the Earth as a whole shifting/convulsing. This seems to support a more straightforward reading of the Quranic verses, backed also by a hadith - that Allah's creation of mountains to prevent the earth shifting/convulsing (tamīda[56]) does not refer to earthquakes, which have occured throughout history including in Muhammad's era and whose seismic waves can actually be amplified in certain locations by mountains, but rather to a movement of the entire Earth (see main article for details on all of these points).

And He has cast into the earth firmly set mountains, lest it shift with you, and [made] rivers and roads, that you may be guided,
Have We not made the earth as a wide expanse, And the mountains as pegs?

Mountains cast upon Earth

Mountains are usually formed through the movement and collision (or in the case of fault-block mountains, separation) of lithospheric (tectonic) plates, as well as by a number of other processes (see main article). This is an ongoing process which continues to this day as the plates slowly move. The Quran, by contrast, states that the mountains on Earth's surface were cast upon it by God. Other verses state that creation of mountains occurred during the first four days, as discussed in the section above on creation of earth and heaven in six days. The imagery is clear when one considers the above verses which describe the Mountains as 'pegs' which stabilize the Earth (which is itself compared to a carpet and bed matt in other verses).

And He has cast into the earth firmly set mountains, lest it shift with you, and [made] rivers and roads, that you may be guided,

The word 'he has cast' is alqa (lam-qaf-ya), which in this form (Arabic verb form IV) is frequently used elsewhere in the Quran to mean throw or cast.[57] It is the same word as is used in Quran 3:44 when lots are cast using pens (it would be easy to imagine that mountains were similarly scattered, though perhaps it should not be taken too literally in this context), and Quran 12:10 when the prophet Yusuf is cast down into the well, and in Quran 20:20 when Moses casts down his staff, which becomes a snake. The implication of such verses is that mountains were a special act of creation rather them being a byproduct of a larger and ongoing process (tectonic plate movement).

Chests contract with altitude

Quran 6:125 states that a person's chest cavity gets smaller at higher altitudes; which is an understandable belief for people to have as oxygen decreases as one travels higher, which in turn leads to hypoxemia (lower oxygen levels in the blood) causing the body to take short, shallow, fast breaths[58] - which feels like the chest is constricted. Modern science, by contrast, has revealed that the opposite is the case.[59]

Those whom Allah (in His plan) willeth to guide,- He openeth their breast to Islam; those whom He willeth to leave straying,- He maketh their breast close and constricted, as if they had to climb up to the skies: thus doth Allah (heap) the penalty on those who refuse to believe.

Earthquakes as a punishment

The Quran describes Earthquakes, blizzards, hurricanes, and other destructive natural activity as being a sort of punishment for the people they inflict. Research, however, has not found any correlation between civilizations' irreligiosity and their susceptibility to these or other type of natural disaster.

Do then those who devise evil (plots) feel secure that Allah will not cause the earth to swallow them up, or that the Wrath will not seize them from directions they little perceive?
But they denied him, and the dreadful earthquake took them, and morning found them prostrate in their dwelling place.
Do ye then feel secure that He will not cause you to be swallowed up beneath the earth when ye are on land, or that He will not send against you a violent tornado (with showers of stones) so that ye shall find no one to carry out your affairs for you

Disregard of evaporation in water cycle

Some modern Muslim scholars argue that the water cycle is described in the Qur'an. Every verse about rain in the Qur'an implies that rain comes either directly from the sky or from Allah. The crucial step of evaporation of water into the air is never mentioned. That Quran describes a linear process orchestrated by Allah rather than a cyclical process (as with the water cycle) renders these modern reinterpretations challenging.

That sends down (from time to time) rain from the sky in due measure;- and We raise to life therewith a land that is dead; even so will ye be raised (from the dead)

Mountains of hail in the sky

Hail forms in cumulonimbus clouds when updrafts raise water droplets to an altitude where they freeze. The Qur'an, by contrast, describes mountain-like masses of hail in the sky / heaven.

Hast thou not seen how Allah wafteth the clouds, then gathereth them, then maketh them layers, and thou seest the rain come forth from between them; He sendeth down from the heaven mountains wherein is hail, and smiteth therewith whom He will, and averteth it from whom He will. The flashing of His lightning all but snatcheth away the sight.

Transliteration: wayunazzilu (and he sends down) mina (from) alssamai (the sky) min (from) jibalin (mountains) feeha (in it ['it' is feminine here so must refer to the sky]) min (of) baradin (hail)

Tafsirs such as al-Jalalayn and the one attributed to Ibn Abbas say that this means mountains in the sky.[60] Ibn Kathir notes two views, that these are literally mountains of hail in the sky, or that they are a metaphor for clouds.[61] Clouds could poetically be described as mountains in the sky, but the verse says "mountains of hail in the sky", which critics would say strongly suggests large masses of ice (in the clouds or otherwise), and it was sometimes understood in this literal way as evidenced in tafsirs.

Allah smites with thunderbolts

The Quran describes thunder and lightning in a manner typical of ancient mythology. Allah, in a manner evocative of the legends most famously regarding Zeus, smites persons he wishes to punish with thunderbolts. A hadith, graded hasan (good) by Dar-us-Salam, further states that Muhammad believed the sound of thunder was an angel striking the clouds, which the angel drives along with a piece of fire (evoking the image of a whip of fire).

And the thunder declares His glory with His praise, and the angels too for awe of Him; and He sends the thunderbolts and smites with them whom He pleases, yet they dispute concerning Allah, and He is mighty in prowess.
Narrated Ibn 'Abbas: "The Jews came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and said: 'O Abul-Qasim! Inform us about the thunder, what is it?' He said: 'An angel among the angels, who is responsible for the clouds. He has a piece of fire wherever that he drives the clouds wherever Allah wills.' They said: 'Then what is this noise we hear?' He said: 'It is him, striking the clouds when he drives them on, until it goes where it is ordered.' They said: 'You have told the truth.'


Ants converse and recognize humans

Ants primarily communicate with each other using pheromones (chemical signals). While scientists have discovered that ants make some noises, nothing has ever indicated that the brains of ants could produce anything approximating complex speech. By contrast, the Qur'an recounts the story of an ant warning her fellow ants of the approach of Solomon's large army of humans. Solomon is able to understand her speech and proceeds, presumably, to leave the ants be.

At length, when they came to a (lowly) valley of ants, one of the ants said: "O ye ants, get into your habitations, lest Solomon and his hosts crush you (under foot) without knowing it." So he smiled, amused at her speech; and he said: "O my Lord! so order me that I may be grateful for Thy favours, which thou hast bestowed on me and on my parents, and that I may work the righteousness that will please Thee: And admit me, by Thy Grace, to the ranks of Thy righteous Servants."

Four types of cattle

The Qur'an states that Allah has provided four kinds of cattle (eight including male and female). There exist, however, many more than four species of cattle. The word "cattle" in Quran 39:6 is al-ana'ami, from a root meaning plentiful subsistence and in this form meant pasturing (i.e. grazing) animals.[62] The word azwajin ("kinds" in the translation of 39:6 below) generally means "mate" or "member of a pair".[63] Quran 6:143-144 clarifies that this refers to male and female pairs of sheep, goats, oxen, and camels, suggesting that the author of the Qur'an was aware of four kinds of grazing animals useful for humans (horses, mules and donkeys are considered a separate category from al-ana'ami, see Quran 16:5-8). This does not include many other types of cattle from the regions outside of Arabia, such as reindeer, which were and remain important to people in northern latitudes.

He created you from one being, then from that (being) He made its mate; and He hath provided for you of cattle eight kinds. He created you in the wombs of your mothers, creation after creation, in a threefold gloom. Such is Allah, your Lord. His is the Sovereignty. There is no Allah save Him. How then are ye turned away
And of the cattle (He produceth) some for burdens, some for food. Eat of that which Allah hath bestowed upon you, and follow not the footsteps of the devil, for lo! he is an open foe to you. Eight pairs: Of the sheep twain, and of the goats twain. Say: Hath He forbidden the two males or the two females, or that which the wombs of the two females contain? Expound to me (the case) with knowledge, if ye are truthful. And of the camels twain and of the oxen twain. Say: Hath He forbidden the two males or the two females, or that which the wombs of the two females contain; or were ye by to witness when Allah commanded you (all) this? Then who doth greater wrong than he who deviseth a lie concerning Allah, that he may lead mankind astray without knowledge. Lo! Allah guideth not wrongdoing folk.

Horses created as transportation

After thousands of years of domestication and cross-breeding, horses were domesticated approximately 4,000 years ago in East Europe and Central Asia. Prior to this, horses were wild animals not yet suitably bred for this purpose. Today feral horses are descendants of once domesticated horses that aren't tamed or used for human transportation. By contrast, the Qur'an appears to suggest that horses were created by Allah already prepared to serve human purposes.

And (He has created) horses, mules, and donkeys, for you to ride and use for show; and He has created (other) things of which ye have no knowledge.

All animals live in communities

The Qur'an emphatically states that all animals live in "communities". Many animals, such as the jaguar or leopard, are however well known for being solitary creatures, rarely meeting in pairs and then only to mate. Animals of these kinds do not live in communities and rather tend to resort to violence when their solitude is disturbed (the opposite, some argue, of what it means to live in a community). There also exist species whose young are not raised as family and which lay eggs and abandon them before hatching. Sea Turtles, for instance, bury their eggs on a beach and leave them. When an egg hatches the baby turtle must dig to the surface and make a sprint to the sea or perish. Some reptiles behave similarly. The Carolina anole, which is a lizard species, is another such example. These anoles lay a single egg every 2 weeks, around 10 in total, each taking 5 to 7 weeks to hatch. Anole hatchlings must fend for themselves and are by nature solitary creatures from birth.

One modern translation of the Quran interprets umamun (community / nation) to mean "genus" (group of species, plural: genera). This interpretation appears difficult, however, for while today we categorize species into genera, families, and other taxonomic ranks within evolutionary tree (phylogenetic) models, such categories are understood as an evolutionary process in which, even now, sub-groups of many species are diverging and gradually evolving into new species.

There is not an animal (that lives) on the earth, nor a being that flies on its wings, but (forms part of) communities like you. Nothing have we omitted from the Book, and they (all) shall be gathered to their Lord in the end.

Bird flight as a miracle

Modern science has revealed the aerodynamic properties of birds' anatomy which enable them to fly. Bird flight essentially 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 have evolved over millions of years and have thereby refined birds' flight abilities. By contrast, the Quran states that 'nothing' holds birds in the air, except for the miraculous power of Allah.

Do they not look at the birds, held poised in the midst of (the air and) the sky? Nothing holds them up but (the power of) Allah. Verily in this are signs for those who believe
Do they not see the birds above them with wings outspread and [sometimes] folded in? None holds them [aloft] except the Most Merciful. Indeed He is, of all things, Seeing.

The same verb for holding (amsaka) appears in Quran 22:65 and Quran 35:41 with regard to Allah holding the sky from falling to earth. As so often with the Quran, modern academic scholarship has found a close parallel in 6th century CE Syriac literature. Joseph of Sarugh (d. 521 CE) similarly stated that only the action of God held up the sky and repeatedly used birdflight as another illustration of the same divine action in words very similar to the Quranic verse. For details, see Parallels Between the Qur'an and Late Antique Judeo-Christian Literature.


Below are a selection of historical errors found in the Quran, a more complete list is located in the article dedicated to historical errors in the Quran.

Massive wall of iron built to trap Gog and Magog until judgement day

The Qur'an states that two dangerous tribes, Gog and Magog, were trapped behind a massive wall of Iron erected by Dhu'l-Qarnayn and will only be let free on the day of Judgement. However, no such wall or tribes have ever been found despite the advent of global satellite imagery.

Bring me pieces of iron!’ When he had levelled up between the flanks, he said, ‘Blow!’ When he had turned it into fire, he said, ‘Bring me molten copper to pour over it.’

So they could neither scale it, nor could they make a hole in it. He said, ‘This is a mercy from my Lord. But when the promise of my Lord is fulfilled, He will level it; and my Lord’s promise is true.’ That day We shall let them surge over one another, the Trumpet will be blown, and We shall gather them all, and on that day We shall bring hell into view visibly for the faithless.

Those whose eyes were blind to My remembrance and who could not hear.

The trumpet blowing in Quran 18:99 is referred to many other times in the Qur'an as happening on judgement day (see Quran 27:87, Quran 69:13 and Quran 39:68), with the word 'yawm' يوم being used in Q18:99 and 18:100, meaning on that day[64] specifically. Another passage confirms that this wall was supposedly still intact and that its future opening will be associated with other apocalyptic events.

But there is a ban on any population which We have destroyed: that they shall not return,

Until the Gog and Magog (people) are let through (their barrier), and they swiftly swarm from every hill.

Then will the true promise draw nigh (of fulfilment): then behold! the eyes of the Unbelievers will fixedly stare in horror: "Ah! Woe to us! we were indeed heedless of this; nay, we truly did wrong!"

Mary as part of the Trinity

Mainstream Christian doctrine has never held Mary to be a part of the Trinity. The Qur'an, however, apparently implies as much, leading many to conclude that Muhammad misunderstood Christian doctrine.

And behold! Allah will say: "O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah'?" He will say: "Glory to Thee! never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart, Thou I know not what is in Thine. For Thou knowest in full all that is hidden

This alternative formulation of the trinity is present even more clearly in Quran 5:72-75, which makes no mention of the holy spirit and takes measure to disprove the divinity of Jesus and his mother by pointing out that they, like normal human beings, also ate food.

They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary. The Messiah (himself) said: O Children of Israel, worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord. Lo! whoso ascribeth partners unto Allah, for him Allah hath forbidden paradise. His abode is the Fire. For evil-doers there will be no helpers. They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah is the third of three; when there is no Allah save the One Allah. If they desist not from so saying a painful doom will fall on those of them who disbelieve. Will they not rather turn unto Allah and seek forgiveness of Him? For Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. The Messiah, son of Mary, was no other than a messenger, messengers (the like of whom) had passed away before him. And his mother was a saintly woman. And they both used to eat (earthly) food. See how We make the revelations clear for them, and see how they are turned away!

A common interpretation advocated by Muslim scholars today is that this refers to a fringe Arab Christian sect known as the Collyridians. However, this sect were only mentioned in a 4th century CE book on heresies. The most plausible alternative interpretation proposed so far relates these verses to a Byzantine theological dispute and contemporary war propaganda (for details, see the Qur'anic Trinity section of the article Parallels Between the Qur'an and Late Antique Judeo-Christian Literature).

For further Christology in the Quran, see Qur'anic Christology and Isa al-Masih (Jesus Christ).

Mary as Miriam

Mary the mother of Jesus was born in the first century BCE and was not related to Moses and his family whose story is set 1500 years earlier. Miriam was the sister of Moses and Aaron and daughter of Amram (Imran). The Quran appears to confuse these two characters, as it describes Mary, the mother of Jesus, as the "Sister of Aaron" and her mother as the "wife of Imran" in context where the "Imran" being discussed is evidently Miriam's father. A possible source of this confusion is the fact that both Miriam and Mary had the same name in Arabic, or were at least similar enough sounding for the original distinction to have been lost or neglected (the word used in either case in the Quran is the same and is pronounced maryam).

Then she brought him to her own folk, carrying him. They said: O Mary! Thou hast come with an amazing thing. O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a wicked man nor was thy mother a harlot.
And Mary, daughter of 'Imran, whose body was chaste, therefor We breathed therein something of Our Spirit. And she put faith in the words of her Lord and His scriptures, and was of the obedient.
Lo! Allah preferred Adam and Noah and the Family of Abraham and the Family of 'Imran above (all His) creatures. They were descendants one of another. Allah is Hearer, Knower. (Remember) when the wife of 'Imran said: My Lord! I have vowed unto Thee that which is in my belly as a consecrated (offering). Accept it from me. Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Hearer, the Knower! And when she was delivered she said: My Lord! Lo! I am delivered of a female - Allah knew best of what she was delivered - the male is not as the female; and lo! I have named her Mary, and lo! I crave Thy protection for her and for her offspring from Satan the outcast.

"Wife of 'Imran" is here im'ra-atu ʿim'rāna, literally woman of Imran, though the same construction certainly means "wife" a few verses later (Quran 3:40), and in several other verses.

Some modern academic scholars cite evidence that this could be a case of typology (deliberate literary allusion between characters - see main article). This may be the best explanation, although the verses would still be misleading as historical statements. Sahih Muslim 25:5326 seeks to explain the coincidence based on alleged customary forms of address (to explain "sister of Aaron") or naming customs (to explain why Imran named his daughter Mary), depending on interpretation of the hadith. Either interpretation only reduces part of the coincidence. Even if a naming custom could increase the odds that this father-daughter pair would share names with some earlier biblical family, a further coincidence would still be required if her father happened to be named the same as the father (Imran) in the particular biblical family alluded to when his daughter is addressed as "sister of Aaron". Another attempted explanation is that this Imran actually had a son called Aaron as well as a daughter named Mary.

Ezra as the son of God in Jewish doctrine

Historically, Judaism has been a strict form of monotheism. The Quran, by contrast, describes the Jews as practitioners of polytheism by stating that they hold Uzair (Ezra) to be the son of God. This is compared directly with the Christian doctrine which hold Jesus to be the son of God. This appears to be a confusion resulting from conflating the alternative senses in which Jewish and Christian theologians have employed and understood the word "son".

The Jews call 'Uzair a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. Allah's curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!

David invented coats of mail

Historians commonly credited the invention of coat mail (not to be confused with scale armor) to the Celts in the 3rd century BCE.[65]. Mail has also been found in a 5th century BCE Scythian grave, and there is a cumbersome Etruscan pattern mail artifact from the 4th century BCE.[66] The nature of coat mail is such that it should persist for several millennia, and such advantageous military technologies would spread rapidly, so it is unlikely that coat mail would have originated much earlier, undiscovered by archaeologists. While, older translations of the Bible mention Goliath and David wearing a "coat of mail" in 1 Samuel 17:5 and 17:38 respectively, this is a well known mistranslation for a word meaning armor in general.

In the Qur'an, by contrast, David in the 10th century BCE is taught by Allah how to make long coats of mail (sabighatin سَٰبِغَٰتٍ[67]) after Allah made the iron (al hadid ٱلْحَدِيدَ) malleable for him and told him to measure the chainmail links (as-sardi ٱلسَّرْدِ) thereof.[68] A second passage adds that people should be thankful for this knowledge which has been passed down since David and protects them today.

And assuredly We gave David grace from Us, (saying): O ye hills and birds, echo his psalms of praise! And We made the iron supple unto him, Saying: Make thou long coats of mail and measure the links (thereof). And do ye right. Lo! I am Seer of what ye do.
And We made Solomon to understand (the case); and unto each of them We gave judgment and knowledge. And we subdued the hills and the birds to hymn (His) praise along with David. We were the doers (thereof). And We taught him the art of making garments (of mail) to protect you in your daring. Are ye then thankful?

Chainmail seems to have been familiar to the early Muslims. Muhammad is narrated as using a metaphor of two coats of iron (junnataani min hadeedin جُنَّتَانِ مِنْ حَدِيدٍ), one owned by a generous person and the other by a miser in whose coat every ring (halqat حَلْقَةٍ[69]) becomes close together (Sahih Muslim 5:2229). Ibn Kathir in his tafsir for 34:11 has narrations in which Mujahid and Ibn Abbas use that same arabic word meaning rings (الحلقة) to explain the Quranic verse[70].

Crucifixions in ancient Egypt

The first historical reference to crucifixion as a method of execution is from 500 BCE, when the technique began being used in several middle eastern cultures. The Qur'an, by contrast, tells of crucifixions at the time of Moses (approximately 1500 BCE) as well as Joseph (approximately 2000 BCE).

O two companions of prison, as for one of you, he will give drink to his master of wine; but as for the other, he will be crucified, and the birds will eat from his head. The matter has been decreed about which you both inquire."
(Pharaoh) said: Ye put faith in him before I give you leave. Lo! he is your chief who taught you magic. Now surely I shall cut off your hands and your feet alternately, and I shall crucify you on the trunks of palm trees, and ye shall know for certain which of us hath sterner and more lasting punishment.

Ancient Egypt has been subjected to extensive study by archaeologists. While there exists hieroglyphic evidence of people impaled through upright stakes in ancient Egypt, this remains distinct from the palm-tree crucifixions described in the Quran, as palm trees are of too great girth to be used to vertically impale an individual.

The same verb for crucifixion is used in Quran 4:157 regarding Jesus. Two other verses, Quran 38:12 and Quran 89:8, use another word to call Pharaoh "owner of the pegs" or "stakes". Sometimes this is claimed to refer to impalement and even mistranslated as such. However, the context in Quran 89:6-11 shows that it refers to unspecified and lasting rock-hewn monuments (most likely columned temples, obelisks or possibly even the pyramids).

Moreover, there is no ancient Egyptian evidence of cross amputation (punitive removal of a single hand and foot on alternate sides). It seems that here again a contemporary punitive practice has been transferred in the Quran to ancient Egypt. A parallel using the same Arabic words occurs in Quran 5:33, which commands crucifixion or cross amputation among a range of punishment options (both of which became part of Islamic jurisprudence). In the exceptionally cruel combination of both punishments put in the mouth of Pharaoh (see also Quran 7:124 and Quran 26:49), the victim would need to be fastened to the palm tree and / or nailed through the remaining two extremities.

The singular Pharaoh

Geographically, the Coptic land of Egypt is adjacent to Arabia. Thus, most Arabs were aware of the preservation method applied by the ancient Egyptian to their pharaohs. Pharaohs were preserved intact using methods such as salt to dry the body (hence, salt in the body of Ramesses II does not suggest that he drowned in the dead sea). There were many pharaohs from numerous dynasties who were preserved in this way. The Qur'an, by contrast, only speaks of "Pharaoh" (Firaun) singularly, as a proper noun without the definite article, suggesting that its author was unaware of the multiplicity of pharaohs.

We took the Children of Israel across the sea: Pharaoh and his hosts followed them in insolence and spite. At length, when overwhelmed with the flood, he said: "I believe that there is no god except Him Whom the Children of Israel believe in: I am of those who submit (to Allah in Islam)."

Nabatean rock tombs at al-Hijr as homes and palaces from before the time of Pharaoh

The Qur'an frequently lists destroyed peoples of the past, particularly the peoples of Noah, Lot, Pharaoh's army, Midian, Aad and its successor, Thamud. The destruction of Thamud after they disbelieved their prophet Salih is mentioned many times, either by an earthquake Quran 7:78 or a thunderous blast (for example Quran 54:31).

Its destruction is also alluded to by a believer from the family of Pharaoh:

And a believing man from the family of Pharaoh who concealed his faith said [...] And he who believed said, "O my people, indeed I fear for you [a fate] like the day of the companies - Like the custom of the people of Noah and of 'Aad and Thamud and those after them. And Allah wants no injustice for [His] servants.

The companies / factions (l-aḥzābu) is a term used collectively for the list of destroyed cities also in Quran 38:12-14.

Thamud is a term used by experts for a people or peoples of a particular region over a number of centuries (8th century BCE to the 4th century CE), but the Qur'an speaks only of a particular destruction of Thamud after the warnings of their prophet Salih went unheeded. It describes them as the builders of well known palaces and homes, skillfully carved from the mountains, clarified in the Quran and hadith as a place in Arabia known as al Hijr (the rocky tract), or Mada'in Salih today.

The errors in the Quran here are two-fold: It is now known that these were actually elaborately carved tombs, not homes or palaces, and that they were made by the Nabateans from the 2nd century BCE to the 2nd century AD, not before the time of the Pharaohs[71]. Petra in Jordan was the Nabateans' more famous city before al Hijr. There are over 100 tombs at al-Hijr, some very large, and many of them small, believed even by a 14th Century CE Arab traveller to contain the bones of the people of Thamud in their houses.[72]. Nabatean inscriptions forbid opening the tombs, reusing them or moving the bodies. The town of al-Hegra where the people lived some distance from the surrounding rock tombs was built of mud-brick and stone.[73]

The Quran says Thamud carved palaces from its plains, and homes from its mountains:

And to the Thamud [We sent] their brother Salih. He said, "O my people, worship Allah; you have no deity other than Him. There has come to you clear evidence from your Lord. This is the she-camel of Allah [sent] to you as a sign. So leave her to eat within Allah 's land and do not touch her with harm, lest there seize you a painful punishment. And remember when He made you successors after the 'Aad and settled you in the land, [and] you take for yourselves palaces from its plains and carve from the mountains, homes [ buyūtan بُيُوتًا [74]]. Then remember the favors of Allah and do not commit abuse on the earth, spreading corruption."
And you carve out of the mountains, homes [ buyūtan بُيُوتًا ], with skill.

These ruins were well known to Muhammad's listeners:

And [We destroyed] 'Aad and Thamud, and it has become clear to you from their [ruined] dwellings [ masākinihim مَّسَٰكِنِهِمْ [75]]. And Satan had made pleasing to them their deeds and averted them from the path, and they were endowed with perception.
And [with] Thamud, who carved out the rocks in the valley?

Al-Hijr is widely accepted as this location. It is also mentioned once by name in Quran 15:80-83 ("the companions of al-Hijr") and its description and destruction matches that for Thamud.

And certainly did the companions of Thamud [ al-Hijr ٱلْحِجْرِ ] deny the messengers. And We gave them Our signs, but from them they were turning away. And they used to carve from the mountains, houses [ buyūtan بُيُوتًا ], feeling secure. But the shriek seized them at early morning.

Al-Hijr is also identified in hadiths as the "al Hijr, land of Thamud" (al hijr ardi Thamudi الْحِجْرِ أَرْضِ ثَمُودَ):

Narrated `Abdullah bin `Umar: The people landed at the land of Thamud called Al-Hijr along with Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) and they took water from its well for drinking and kneading the dough with it as well. (When Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) heard about it) he ordered them to pour out the water they had taken from its wells and feed the camels with the dough, and ordered them to take water from the well whence the she-camel (of Prophet Salih) used to drink.

Samarians in ancient Egypt

The Qu'ran states that Moses dealt with a Samarian during his time. However the Samarians did not exist until well over half a millennium after Moses is supposed to have existed.

Oxford Bibliographies (an academic website) says the following:

Samaria (Hebrew: Shomron) is mentioned in the Bible in 1 Kings 16:24 as the name of the mountain on which Omri, ruler of the northern Israelite kingdom in the 9th century BCE, built his capital, naming it also Samaria. After the conquest of the Northern Kingdom by the Assyrians in 722/721 BCE, the district surrounding the city was likewise called Samaria (Assyrian: Samerina). The Bible presents an etiology or folk etymology when it claims that the city was named after Shemer, the original owner from whom Omri bought the hill. It is more likely that the name is derived from the root šmr, to “watch, to guard”; that is, the hill was a point from which particularly the north–south route could be watched and guarded.

The likely root of the Quranic confusion is the story in the Bible, Hosea 8:5-8 or 1 Kings 12:25-29 where there is mentioned a golden calf (or two of them) created in Samaria after the time of Solomon. One modern perspective holds that the Qur'an might be referring to Zimri, son of Salu (Numbers 25:14). However, the Quranic character is referred to three times in Quran 20:85-88 as l-sāmiriyu with the definite article, "the Samiri", so this is a descriptive title rather than a proper name.

“( Allah) said; ‘We have tested thy people in thy absence: the Samiri has led them astray’.”
“( Moses) said, ‘What then is thy case, O Samiri?’”

Noah's worldwide flood

Main article: Historical Errors in the Quran - Noah's worldwide flood

The Quran contains a version of the worldwide-flood story widespread in ancient near-Eastern mythology and most famously found in the Bible. Since geological evidence suggests such a flood never took place, some modern Muslim scholars have reinterpreted the account in the Quran as referring to a more limited, local flood. Several elements in the tale, however, militate against this rereading. Elsewhere in the Quran whenever the heavens and earth are mentioned together, it means in their entirety. In this story waters are released from both of them. Another such detail is the storage of "two of each kind" of animal aboard the ship, since it is not clear what purpose this would serve if the flood were local. Similarly, the purpose of the boat itself appears unclear in this reading - as with the ample warning time that Noah was given, he and his family could have simply evacuated the area that was to be flooded. The relevant passage also states plainly that nothing, not even a tall mountain, could save an individual from drowning on that day except for Allah - this seems to contradict the idea that individuals and animals could have escaped the flood simply by evacuating the flooded area. Noah is recorded praying to God, "O my Lord! Leave not of the Unbelievers [kuffar], a single one on Earth!" - the flood is an answer to this prayer, which likewise suggests that the flood described is a global flood that drowns all those not chosen by Allah to persist aboard the ark.

Then opened We the gates of heaven with pouring water And caused the earth to gush forth springs, so that the waters met for a predestined purpose.
At length, behold! there came Our command, and the fountains of the earth gushed forth! We said: "Embark therein, of each kind two, male and female, and your family - except those against whom the word has already gone forth,- and the Believers." but only a few believed with him.
The son replied: "I will betake myself to some mountain: it will save me from the water." Noah said: "This day nothing can save, from the command of Allah, any but those on whom He hath mercy! "And the waves came between them, and the son was among those overwhelmed in the Flood.
And Noah, said: "O my Lord! Leave not of the Unbelievers, a single one on earth!

Flood waters boiled from an oven

Aside from waters pouring from gates in the heaven, the Qur'an further describes the flood waters as boiling from an oven. There is no scientific nor historical evidence for a large flood of this nature. This element is not found even in more ancient versions of the story (Epic of Gilgamesh, Atra hasis, and Ziusudra). Its ultimate origin appears to be a highly tenuous rabbinical exergisis in the Babylonian Talmud, based on a word in an unrelated verse that means heat or wrath.[76]

The Gemara answers: Even according to Rabbi Eliezer a change was made, in accordance with the statement of Rav Ḥisda, as Rav Ḥisda said: They sinned with boiling heat, and they were punished with boiling heat; they sinned with the boiling heat of the sin of forbidden sexual relations, and they were punished with the boiling heat of scalding waters. This is derived from a verbal analogy. It is written here, with regard to the flood: “And the waters abated” (Genesis 8:1), and it is written elsewhere, with regard to King Ahasuerus: “And the heated anger of the king abated” (Esther 7:10), which implies that the word “abated” means cooled. This indicates that at first the waters of the flood had been scalding hot.

Note that in his translation, Yusuf Ali mistranslates the Aramaic loan word for the oven (alttannooru ٱلتَّنُّورُ)[77] as "fountains". The Arabic verb translated "gushed forth" (fara فَارَ) means "boiled" in the context of water in a cooking pot[78], as well as in the other verse where it is used, Quran 67:7.

(Thus it was) till, when Our commandment came to pass and the oven gushed forth water, We said: Load therein two of every kind, a pair (the male and female), and thy household, save him against whom the word hath gone forth already, and those who believe. And but a few were they who believed with him.
Then We inspired in him, saying: Make the ship under Our eyes and Our inspiration. Then, when Our command cometh and the oven gusheth water, introduce therein of every (kind) two spouses, and thy household save him thereof against whom the Word hath already gone forth. And plead not with Me on behalf of those who have done wrong. Lo! they will be drowned.

Noah's ark holding every species

Part of the legend of Noah's Ark is that a pair of every living species was stored on board. While we do not know exactly how many animals Muhammad, or specific 7th century Arabs were aware off, it can be assumed they were aware of local cattle, birds and visible insects etc. in Arabia - where gathering two of every pair was a difficult, but not impossible task.

Modern science has, however, revealed over 2.1 million species identified so far across all taxonomic groups. This includes over a million identified insect species, 110,000 arachnids, 11,000 birds, 11,000 reptiles and 6,500 mammals that live spread across the entire planet and each of which require different climates, habitats, and diets, while a widely cited estimate for the total number of terrestrial species including those as yet undiscovered is 6.5 million.[79]

These discoveries appear to render the idea that all animals could have been kept on board a single ship impossible.

(Thus it was) till, when Our commandment came to pass and the oven gushed forth water, We said: Load therein two of every kind, a pair (the male and female), and thy household, save him against whom the word hath gone forth already, and those who believe. And but a few were they who believed with him.

Countable currency in ancient Egypt

Surah Yusuf mentions that the caravan that rescued the eponymous prophet from the pit sold him to an Egyptian "for a low price, a few dirhams". Leaving aside the fact that dirham coins did not exist in ancient Egypt, a more fundamental problem is that the price is indicated as having been some kind of discreetly countable currency: darāhima maʿdūdatin ("dirhams counted"). The word maʿdūdatin occurs throughout the Quran denoting something discreetly numbered, for example "[Fasting for] a limited number of days" in Quran 2:184. Thus, it is not describing a weight of valuable material, but a countable currency. Such a thing did not exist in ancient Egypt. Rather, there were stone weights, particularly the denben, for measuring amounts of precious metals and to price other goods that could be barter traded, but not itself nor units of metal used as a means of exchange.[80]

And they sold him for a reduced price - a few dirhams - and they were, concerning him, of those content with little.



And He taught Adam the names - all of them. Then He showed them to the angels and said, "Inform Me of the names of these, if you are truthful."

Quran 55:3-4 states that Allah created man and taught him clear speech, while Quran 2:31 quoted above states that Allah taught Adam the names of everything. Adam and his wife are both spoken to and speak articulate sentences with complex symbolic thought, for example Quran 7:23, and their sons have a fully articulate conversation in Quran 5:27-31.

While the species Homo sapiens arose c. 300,000 years ago, the earliest use of language is extremely uncertain and may even predate this. However, the earliest evidence for symbolic thought (necessary for complex utterances) dates to c. 100,000 years ago, consisting of very simple engraved markings on pieces of orche and egg shells,[81] and an explosion of symbolic thought occured around 40,000 years ago.[82]

Some 1.9 million species of plants and animals have been identified and named, out of some 8.7 million that may actually exist[83]. Millions more have become extinct. Far more numerous are the living objects, galaxies, the countless stars and planets of the universe. In light of this, it is not clear what is meant by the idea that Allah taught Adam 'all the names', especially since the first humans do not appear to have been extremely knowledgeable.

Incidentally, the element in the Quranic verse in which the angels could not name animals after had Adam done so was a tale invented by a Rabbi. See the relevant section on that topic in the article Parallels Between the Qur'an and Late Antique Judeo-Christian Literature.

Arabic as eminently accessible

Fewer than 4% of the world's population grows up speaking Arabic. The Arabic of this 4%, however, is not the Arabic of the Quran and is instead comprised of various regional dialects of modern colloquial Arabic. The text of the Quran is thus directly accessible only to a small portion of the world's population. Additionally, there are present in the Quran many words, phrases, and references whose original 7th century Arabic meaning, being unrecorded, has been entirely lost to history or, in some cases, has remained subject to inconclusive debates. Consequently, while Muslims are obligated to pray and recite the Quran in Arabic, it is only a small proportion of the Muslim population that can claim to have some sense of what they recite on a daily basis. These circumstances are difficult to reconcile with the Quran's assertion that the Quran was 'revealed in Arabic so that people may understand it'.

We have made it a Qur'an in Arabic, that ye may be able to understand (and learn wisdom).

The people of Lot as the first homosexuals

Despite the overwhelming evidence (listed in the main article) that homosexuality occurs naturally in all populations, the Quran claims the first people to commit the act were in a town to which the prophet Lut was sent.

This is set long after the first humans (who appeared ~300,000 years ago),[84] with the town described in the story being too advanced for a hunter-gatherer tribe society, so at the earliest is set after the first Agricultural Revolution in the following Neolithic period where these kind of settlements began to occur, beginning ~12,000 years ago.[85] Yet we are told:

And [We had sent] Lot when he said to his people, "Do you commit such immorality as no one has preceded you with from among the worlds? Indeed, you approach men with desire, instead of women. Rather, you are a transgressing people."
And [mention] Lot, when he said to his people, "Indeed, you commit such immorality as no one has preceded you with from among the worlds. Indeed, you approach men and obstruct the road and commit in your meetings [every] evil." And the answer of his people was not but they said, "Bring us the punishment of Allah, if you should be of the truthful."

The testimony of a woman is worth half of a man's

Main Articles: Islam and Women - WikiIslam and Qur'an, Hadith and Scholars:Women

There is no proof that women lie more than men, in fact to the contrary there is research showing that while dishonesty or intelligence is not caused by the sex of a person, certain studies suggest that men tend to lie more on average as a group than women.[86] Men also commit crime in much higher rates than women across the world,[87] and this is not just limited to violent crime.[88] Women are also not less intelligent than men.[89] Yet the Quran tells us the testimony of a women is worth half of a man's in a legal context (and one can easily take other non-legal inferences from this verse).

O you who have faith! When you contract a loan for a specified term, write it down. Let a writer write with honesty between you, and let not the writer refuse to write as Allah has taught him. So let him write, and let the one who incurs the debt dictate, and let him be wary of Allah, his Lord, and not diminish anything from it. But if the debtor be feeble-minded, or weak, or incapable of dictating himself, then let his guardian dictate with honesty, and take as witness two witnesses from your men, and if there are not two men, then a man and two women—from those whom you approve as witnesses—so that if one of the two defaults the other will remind her. The witnesses must not refuse when they are called, and do not consider it wearisome to write it down, whether it be a big or small sum, [as a loan lent] until its term. That is more just with Allah and more upright in respect to testimony, and the likeliest way to avoid doubt, unless it is an on-the-spot deal you transact between yourselves, in which case there is no sin upon you not to write it. Take witnesses when you make a deal, and let no harm be done to the writer or witness, and if you did that, it would be sinful of you. Be wary of Allah and Allah will teach you, and Allah has knowledge of all things.

While apologists may argue this shows that this is a command from God, and so human ideas of logic or fairness may not apply, making it not an 'error', critics content that this misogynistic view of women is evidence of it's human authorship (the reason for this is further provided by Muhammad in Sahih Bukhari 1:6:301, in that women are deficient in intelligence and religion, and can lead even cautious men astray (which is also why the majority of inhabitants of hell are women)), from a highly patriarchal society of 7th century Arabia, rather than all-knowing and just God.

Miracles and myths

While miracles by definition are supposed to defy the laws of nature and scientific explanation, the examples of myths and legends briefly listed in this section illustrate the pre-scientific worldview with which the Quran was composed.

Humans turned apes

The Qur'an records a miraculous event where Sabbath breakers are transformed into apes.

And well ye knew those amongst you who transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath: We said to them: "Be ye apes, despised and rejected."

Mooing statue

The Qur'an describes a statue of a calf that was capable of mooing.

So he brought forth for them a calf, a (mere) body, which had a mooing sound, so they said: This is your god and the god of Musa, but he forgot.

Supernatural food

The Qur'an states that Jesus received a feast sent down from heaven.

Jesus, son of Mary, said: O Allah, Lord of us! Send down for us a table spread with food from heaven, that it may be a feast for us, for the first of us and for the last of us, and a sign from Thee. Give us sustenance, for Thou art the Best of Sustainers. Allah said: Lo! I send it down for you. And whoso disbelieveth of you afterward, him surely will I punish with a punishment wherewith I have not punished any of (My) creatures.

Stick turned serpent

The Quran states that Moses' staff transformed into a serpent.

Then (Moses) threw his rod, and behold! it was a serpent, plain (for all to see)!

The existence and attributes of Jinn

The Quran, Hadith and Sira all support the existence of supernatural, generally invisible creatures known as Jinn (جن‎ ǧinn, singular جني ǧinnī ; variant spelling djinn) living among us. In the Qur'an, satan/devil(s) are also jinn (Quran 18:50), which like humans are sent prophets and have (at least some: see Qur'an, Hadith and Scholars:Predestination) free-will and will be judged accordingly alongside mankind (Quran 6:130). They can interact with us (Quran 6:128) and even possess humans (Quran 2:275) (which the main article elaborates on), and cause people to forget things (Quran 18:63). As well as create buildings/structures (Quran 34:12-13). There is no evidence that these exist.

Say, [O Muhammad], "It has been revealed to me that a group of the jinn listened and said, 'Indeed, we have heard an amazing Qur'an.

Solomon's Army of jinn and birds

A story in the Qur'an, drawing on Jewish folklore, states that Solomon commanded a massive army comprised of 'Jinns and men and birds'. Solomon is described as speaking with a Hoopoe bird and thereafter desiring to execute the bird when it is tardy to his assembly. The Hoopoe bird, it is then revealed, was only delayed because it had been spying on a beautiful female ruler, Queen Sheba, who Solomon subsequently insists is misguided and must be conquered. At this point, Solomon assigns a Jinn from his assembly the task of stealing Queen Sheba's magnificent throne. There is, however, no scientific evidence that Jinn exist, that birds can be commanded as soldiers, or that birds can engage in elaborate conversations with humans.

And Solomon was David's heir. He said: "O ye people! We have been taught the speech of birds, and on us has been bestowed (a little) of all things: this is indeed Grace manifest (from Allah.)And before Solomon were marshalled his hosts― of Jinns and men and birds, and they were all kept in order and ranks.
And he took a muster of the Birds; and he said: "Why is it I see not the Hoopoe? Or is he among the absentees? I will certainly punish him with a severe Penalty, or execute him, unless he bring me a clear reason (for absence). But the Hoopoe tarried not far: he (came up and) said: "I have compassed (territory) which thou hast not compassed, and I have come to thee from Saba with tidings true. I found (there) a woman ruling over them and provided with every requisite; and she has a magnificent throne.

The existence of magic and sorcerers

Main article: Qur'an, Hadith and Scholars:Witchcraft and the Occult

No evidence has ever proven that magic is real. However, Quran 113:4 ("evil of those who blow on knots") is reported in commentaries as referring to those who practice magic.[90] Knots were commonly associated with magic in antiquity.[91] The next verse, Quran 113:5 ("evil of the envious when he envies), is said to refer to a superstitious belief known as 'The Evil Eye', a physical and mental supernatural condition that affects those who envy. For further explanation see the main article.

1. Say: I seek refuge in the Lord of the dawn

2. From the evil of what He has created
3. And from the evil of the utterly dark night when it comes
4. And from the evil of those who blow on knots

5. And from the evil of the envious when he envies

At least once, humans are taught magic by satans (believed to be jinn) and angels (Harut and Marut are named in this verse):

and they follow what the Satans recited over Solomon's kingdom. Solomon disbelieved not, but the Satans disbelieved, teaching the people sorcery, and that which was sent down upon Babylon's two angels, Harut and Marut; they taught not any man, without they said, 'We are but a temptation; do not disbelieve.' From them they learned how they might divide a man and his wife, yet they did not hurt any man thereby, save by the leave of God, and they learned what hurt them, and did not profit them, knowing well that whoso buys it shall have no share in the world to come; evil then was that they sold themselves for, if they had but known.

Living inside a big fish

The Quran presents a version of the Biblical tale in which Jonah is swallowed by a whale ('the big Fish') and then lives in the whale for some time while praying. Scientific research, however, suggests that a person could not persist long inside a whale's digestive tract and, if not crushed by the whale or by water pressure, would almost immediately suffocate.

Then the big Fish did swallow him, and he had done acts worthy of blame. Had it not been that he (repented and) glorified Allah, He would certainly have remained inside the Fish till the Day of Resurrection. But We cast him forth, on the naked shore in a state of sickness

Buraq, the winged horse

While it took one week to travel from Mecca to Jerusalem (the location of the alleged 'farthest Mosque') by camel, the Qur'an states that a magical winged horse, called the Buraq, transported Muhammad from Mecca to Jerusalem in a matter of minutes. Creatures like the Buraq were common characters in near Easter myths.

Glory to (Allah) Who did take His servant for a Journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the farthest Mosque, whose precincts We did bless,- in order that We might show him some of Our Signs: for He is the One Who heareth and seeth (all things).

Speaking body parts

The Quran states that human organs will, on the Day of Judgement, testify against their own persons.

On the Day when their tongues, their hands, and their feet will bear witness against them as to their actions.

Sea split in half

The Quran present a version of the Biblical story where Moses splits the sea and crosses it with the Israelites. There is no historical or other evidence that such an event occured.

And remember We divided the sea for you and saved you and drowned Pharaoh's people within your very sight.

Manipulating the wind

The Quran says that Solomon had the power to control the wind and traditional sources elaborate that Solomon could use this wind to fly upon a gigantic wooden carpet to wherever he pleased.

Then We subjected the wind to his power, to flow gently to his order, Whithersoever he willed
A flying carpet made from wood, on top of which he could carry everything in his kingdom including chairs, to wherever Solomon wants to go, whilst flocks of birds would fly over to give shade
Tafsir Ibn-Kathir on 21:81

Testimony of a dead man

The Quran states that Allah instructed a group of people to strike a murdered man with a piece of a heifer (young female cow that has not yet borne a calf) in order to temporarily resurrect him and discover the identity of the murderer.

And We said: Smite him with some of it. Thus Allah bringeth the dead to life and showeth you His portents so that ye may understand.

Mountains and birds sing psalms

The Qur'an states that hills and birds would sing the psalms with David.

And assuredly We gave David grace from Us, (saying): O ye hills and birds, echo his psalms of praise! And We made the iron supple unto him

The soul in the literal heart

Alongside the outdated idea of cardiocentrism (see the above: Scientific Errors in the Quran#Functions of the heart), where the heart was believed to be responsible for thought as opposed to the brain, we see this imagery furthered as the heart being the literal seat of the mythical soul in the body, that rises to the throat at death.

Yes, when the soul reaches to the clavicles
Then why not when it reaches the throat,

As Islamic scholar Angelika Neuwirth notes:

The conception that the soul rises up to the clavicle bone—see the related image in the somewhat later sura 56:83: idhā balaghati l-ḥulqūm (“when it reaches up to the throat”)—presupposes an analogy between soul (nafs) and heart (qalb). In Q 33:10 there is mention of the rising up of the heart into the throat in a situation of fear (see also Q 40:18, cf. on this Seidensticker 1992: 41).
Neuwirth, Angelika. The Qur'an: Text and Commentary, Volume 1: Early Meccan Suras: Poetic Prophecy (p. 257). Yale University Press.
Warn them of the Approaching Day, when the hearts will be at the throats, choking with suppressed agony, [and] the wrongdoers will have no sympathizer, nor any intercessor who might be heard.
[Remember] when they came at you from above you and from below you, and when eyes shifted [in fear], and hearts reached the throats and you assumed about Allah [various] assumptions.

One has to wonder how heart transplants work in this situation.


Unmathematical 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.

In a variety of situations, the shares of inheritance outlined in the Quran do not add up to one, and there is no way to reconcile the shares presented.[92] By contrast, the Quran states that the rules it contains are perfect.

  • 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

To deal with such problems, scholars had to innovate the post-Quranic 'awl system. In that system, after each category of beneficiary is alloted their share (in a sequence defined by the scholars), the fraction shared by the next category is calculated from the remainder of the estate.

Another inheritance contradiction occurs between the above verses and Quran 4:176, a verse oddly appended to the end of the surah (see discussion at end of the main article).

See Also


  1. Lane's Lexicon p. 2443 فَلَكٍ and p. 2444
  2. Tafsir ibn Kathir for 36:38
  3. Lane's Lexicon p. 415 يَجْرِىٓ
  4. Lane's Lexicon p. 313 تَلَىٰ
  5. Lane's Lexicon p. 15 يَأْتِى
  6. Tafsir ibn Kathir 2:29
  7. Lane's Lexicon p. 1027 رَتْقًا
  8. Lane's Lexicon p. 2331 فتق
  9. Lane's Lexicon p. 861 دُخَانٍ
  10. Hexaemeron, Homily 1:8 - New Advent church fathers website
  11. Julien Decharneux (2023), Creation and Contemplation: The Cosmology of the Qur’ān and Its Late Antique Background, Berlin: De Gruyter, pp. 128-9
  12. Lane's Lexicon p. 1048 رُجُومًا
  13. موقع - Almaany dictionary entry
  14. Pedersen, Olaf (1974). Early physics and astronomy : a historical introduction. Pihl, Mogens. London: MacDonald and Janes. pp. 65–67. ISBN 0-356-04122-0. OCLC 1094297.
  15. Neuwirth, Angelika. The Qur'an: Text and Commentary, Volume 1: Early Meccan Suras: Poetic Prophecy (pp. 166-167). Yale University Press. The scattering of the stars alters the ancient Arab cosmic conception, according to which the stars—as perceived by the poet who stays awake at night—appear as if fixed by ropes; see Imruʾ l-Qays, Mu ʿallaqa, v. 47: fa-yā laka min laylin ka-anna nujūmahū / bi-kulli mughāri l-fatli shuddat bi-yadhbulī jandalī (“What a night—as if the stars are held by ropes pulled tight to Mount Yadhbul”; cf. the slightly divergent text in SEAP, 1082).
  16. Why are all the stars fixed in space? Science Questions with Surprising Answers. West Texas A& University Website. Dr Christopher S. Baird. Physics professor at West Texas A&M University. 2013
  17. Light as a Cosmic Time Machine. Andrew Fraknoi. PBS
  18. Lane's Lexicon p. 455 جُمِعَ
  19. Lane's Lexicon p. 2866 مُّنِيرً
  20. Lane's Lexicon p. 2865 نُورًا
  21. See: NASA - Lunar Phases and Eclipses for an explanation of the phenomena.
  22. For example, see discussions on the pre-Islamic calendar, noting use of the moon and it's links to pilgrimage. Ioh, H. (2014). The Calendar in Pre-Islamic Mecca. Arabica, 61(5), 471-513. The Arabian Calendar and an Archeoastronomical Investigation of the Pre-Islamic Pilgrimage Shrines at Mecca. Hisham Abad.
  23. For example, the famous tafsir 'al-Tafsir al-Kabir ' of Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (d. 1209) (often referred to as Al-Razi), he explains on his commentary on Verse 7:54, that the sun has two types of movements; one in a day, and one in a year. He says that night and day, however, are not due to the movement of the sun, but rather to the movement of the great orb/sky which is also Allah's throne. Angels are said to separately move the heavenly bodies.
  24. Lane's Lexicon p. 601 حفظ
  25. Meteors & Meteorites - NASA website
  26. Lane's Lexicon p. 2596 ٱنكَدَرَتْ
  27. Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs Verse 82.2. Ibn Abbas. Unknown date.
  28. Tafsir Al-Jalalayn Verse 82.2. Jalal al-Din al-Mahalli (d. 864 ah / 1459 ce) and his pupil Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti (d. 911 ah / 1505 ce).
  29. Tafsir ibn Kathir Verse 82.2. Ibn Kathir c. 1300 – 1373.
  30. Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs Verse 81.2. Ibn Abbas. Unknown date.
  31. Tafsir Al-Jalalayn Verse 81.2. Jalal al-Din al-Mahalli (d. 864 ah / 1459 ce) and his pupil Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti (d. 911 ah / 1505 ce).
  34. DNA Evidence That Humans & Chimps Share A Common Ancestor: Endogenous Retroviruses -
  35. Professor Ken Miller on DNA fusion events -
  36. Lane's Lexicon p. 3032 نسل
  37. Adam, Eve, and Human Population Genetics: Responses to Popular Arguments - Biologos website
  38. How big was the human population bottleneck? Another staple of theology refuted. - Why Evolution is True website by Professor Jerry Coyne
  39. 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. 
  40. Lane's Lexicon p. 2321 ف
  41. See for example rulings from sheiks and scholars listed on IslamQA in response to the question: Ruling on marrying a man who is intersex or impotent, and the difference between them
  42. Lane's Lexicon p. 220 بطن
  43. Brain Anatomy and How the Brain Works. Brain, Nerves and Spine. Home. Health. Conditions and Diseases. Johns Hopkins Medicine.
  44. Julien Decharneux (2023), Creation and Contemplation: The Cosmology of the Qur’ān and Its Late Antique Background, Berlin: De Gruyter, pp. 95 -102
  45. Enrico Crivellato, Domenico Ribatti, Soul, mind, brain: Greek philosophy and the birth of neuroscience, Brain Research Bulletin, Volume 71, Issue 4, 2007, Pages 327-336, ISSN 0361-9230,
  46. Lane's Lexicon p. 1357 سُطِحَ
  47. Lane's Lexicon p. 204 بِسَاطًا
  48. Lane's Lexicon p. 2371 فِرَٰشًا
  49. Lane's Lexicon p. 2739 مَهْدًا
  50. Lane's Lexicon p. 2695 مدد
  51. Lane's Lexicon p. 187 بَارِزَةً
  52. Lane's Lexicon, Suppliment p. 2994 قَاعًا, Lane's Lexicon p. 1694 صَفْصَفًا
  53. Corals and Coral Reefs - Smithsonian Institution website
  54. Wensinck, Arent Jan (1918). "The Ocean in the Literature of the Western Semites". Verhandelingen der Koninklijke Akademie van Wetenschappen te Amsterdam. Afdeeling Letterkunde. Nieuwe reeks. dl. 19. no. 2. page 14
  55. ibid. page 17
  56. تَمِيدَ tamīda Lane's Lexicon page 2746
  57. Lane's Lexicon, Suppliment p. 3012 أَلْقَىٰ
    See paragraph number 4 for the form IV verb definition.
  58. What Is Hypoxemia? What are the symptoms of hypoxemia? Healthline. Medically reviewed by Avi Varma, MD, MPH, AAHIVS, FAAFP — Written by Jill Seladi-Schulman, Ph.D. — Updated on April 26, 2023
  59. Callison, W.É., Kiyamu, M., Villafuerte, F.C. et al. Comparing high versus low-altitude populations to test human adaptations for increased ventilation during sustained aerobic activity. Sci Rep 12, 11148 (2022).
  60. Tafsir al-Jalalayn 24:43
  61. Tafsir Ibn Kathir 24:43
  62. Lane's Lexicon, Suppliment p. 3035 أَنْعَٰمِ
  63. Lane's Lexicon p. 1266 أَزْوَٰجٍ
  64. Lane's Lexicon dictionary - يوم
  65. Richard A. Gabriel, The ancient world, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007 P.79
  66. Robinson, H. R., Oriental Armour, New York:Dover Publications, 1995, pp.10-12
  67. Lane's Lexicon p. 1298 سبغ
  68. Lane's Lexicon p. 1298 سَٰبِغَٰتٍ, Lane's Lexicon p. 1347 ٱلسَّرْدِ
  69. Lane's Lexicon p. 629 حلقة
  70. Tafsir of Ibn Kathir for 34:11 (Arabic)
  71. Hegra Archaeological Site (al-Hijr / Madā ͐ in Ṣāliḥ) - (includes many photographs of the tombs)
  72. al-Hijr UNESCO nomination document p.36 (includes detailed site description)
  73. History and mystery of Al-Hijr, ancient capital of the Nabateans in Arabia -
  74. Lane's Lexicon p. 280 بيوت
  75. Lane's Lexicon p. 1394 مسكن
  77. Lane's Lexicon p. 318 تَّنُّورُ
  78. Lane's Lexicon p. 2457 فور
  79. How many species are there? - Our World in Data website
  80. Trade in ancient Egypt - World History Encyclopedia
  81. Tylén, K. et al. (2020) The evolution of early symbolic behavior in Homo sapiens Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Volume 117, Issue 9, p.4578-4584
  82. Thinking in Symbols American Museum of Natural History website, 2012
  83. Mora, C. (August 23, 2011). "How Many Species Are There on Earth and in the Ocean?". PLoS Biology 9: e1001127. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001127. PMID 21886479. PMC:3160336. 
  84. An Evolutionary Timeline of Homo Sapiens - Smithsonian Institution magazine - 2 February 2021
  85. Neolithic Revolution -
  86. Frontiers | Face-to-Face Lying: Gender and Motivation to Deceive ( Pekka Santtila. Judee K Burgoon. Norah E. Dunbar. 2022. Front. Psychol., 22 March 2022 Sec. Forensic and Legal Psychology Volume 13 - 2022 | This research article written and reviewed by three university professors covers previous academic studies on this topic, they quote e.g. a meta-analysis on honesty where men were 4% more dishonest than women (Gerlach et al., 2019), and see the General Discussion section for an overview of their findings (confirming men lie more on average) on this topic and it's nuances.
  87. Gender and Crime | Gender and Crime. Law. Legal and political magazines. Article written by Professors Darrell Steffensmeier and Emilie Allan.
  88. E.g. Fraud: Distribution of perpetrators of fraud cases worldwide in 2020 and 2021, by gender. Statica. Einar H. Dyvik, Aug 5, 2022. And white collar crime inc. corporate fraud: Why do men commit more crimes than women? Prof (Dr.) K Jaishankar. Principal Director & Professor of Criminology - IIJPS. Jan 13 2024.
  89. E.g. There is no difference between men and women in general intelligence: Hunt, Earl B. (2010). Human Intelligence. Cambridge University Press. p. 389. ISBN 978-1139495110. Similarly '"there are both differences and similarities in the cognitive abilities of women and men, but there is no data-based rationale to support the idea that either is the smarter or superior sex."' Halpern, Diane F. (2001). "Sex Difference Research – Cognitive Abilities". In Worell, Judith (ed.). Encyclopedia of Women and Gender. Elsevier Science. p. 964. ISBN 0080548490. For a summary see pp 963 - 967. Women consistently beat men on average in grades at school: Why Girls Tend to Get Better Grades Than Boys Do - The Atlantic. Education. Enrico Gnaulati. 2014
  90. Tafsirs for Quran 113:4
  91. Day, C. L. (1950). Knots and Knot Lore. Western Folklore, 9(3), 229–256