Fire Whirl Non-Miracle in the Quran
The Bible mentioned whirlwinds with fire long before Islam. Then the Quran mentioned it again and now Islamic apologists claim that it is a scientific miracle of the Quran.
A fire whirl, also known as fire tornado or fire twister, is created when a wildfire or firestorm creates its own wind, which can turn into a vortex of fire.
An extreme example of a fire whirl is the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake in Japan, which ignited a large city-sized firestorm and produced a gigantic fire whirl that killed 38,000 people in fifteen minutes in the Hifukusho-Ato region of Tokyo. Wikipedia, Fire Whirl, 2018 The Quran described this phenomenon long before it was discovered:
[Quran 2.266] Would anyone of you like to have a garden of palms and vines, under which rivers flow, with all kinds of fruit in it for him, and old age has stricken him, and he has weak children, then a tornado containing fire burns it? Thus Allah makes clear the signs for you, so that you may reflect.
1400 years ago the only known tornados were those with rain and hail. Fire tornados were not known at that time.
How could an illiterate man who lived 1400 years ago have known about fire whirls?
The verses 2:264-265 compare people to mountain and gardens:
2:264 O you who have believed, do not invalidate your charities with reminders or injury as does one who spends his wealth [only] to be seen by the people and does not believe in Allah and the Last Day. His example is like that of a [large] smooth stone upon which is dust and is hit by a downpour that leaves it bare. They are unable [to keep] anything of what they have earned. And Allah does not guide the disbelieving people.
2:265 And the example of those who spend their wealth seeking means to the approval of Allah and assuring [reward for] themselves is like a garden on high ground which is hit by a downpour - so it yields its fruits in double. And [even] if it is not hit by a downpour, then a drizzle [is sufficient]. And Allah, of what you do, is Seeing.
2:266 Would one of you like to have a garden of palm trees and grapevines underneath which rivers flow in which he has from every fruit? But he is afflicted with old age and has weak offspring, and it is hit by a whirlwind (إعصار) containing fire and is burned. Thus does Allah make clear to you [His] verses that you might give thought.
- The verses are parables, they don't say that it actually happens in nature.
- The "miraculous" part of 2:266 is preceded by "Would one of you like...", so it is a part of a hypothetical question.
The meaning of the parable was explained by Ibn Abbas:
Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Al-`Awfi said that Ibn `Abbas said, "Allah has set a good parable, and all His parables are good. He said,
﴿أَيَوَدُّ أَحَدُكُمْ أَن تَكُونَ لَهُ جَنَّةٌ مِّن نَّخِيلٍ وَأَعْنَابٍ تَجْرِى مِن تَحْتِهَا الأَنْهَـرُ لَهُ فِيهَا مِن كُلِّ الثَّمَرَتِ﴾
(Would any of you wish to have a garden with date palms and vines, with rivers flowing underneath, and all kinds of fruits for him therein.)
But he lost all this in his old age,
(while he is striken with old age) while his offspring and children are weak just before the end of his life. Then a lightning storm came and destroyed his garden. Then he did not have the strength to grow another garden, nor did his offspring offer enough help. This is the condition of the disbeliever on the Day of Resurrection when he returns to Allah, for he will not have any good deeds to provide an excuse - or refuge - for him, just as the man in the parable had no strength to replant the garden. The disbeliever will not find anything to resort to for help, just as the offspring of the man in the parable did not provide him with help. So he will be deprived of his reward when he most needs it, just as the man in the parable was deprived of Allah's garden when he most needed it, when he became old and his offspring weak.
Also there one hadith which says that the word i'saar (إعصار) means "dust" (not whirlwind):
قَالَ أَبُو دَاوُدَ الإِعْصَارُ غُبَارٌAbu Dawud said: Al-i'sar means dust.
So the verse might be about fire-dust.
People 1400 years ago definitely knew that fire exists and they knew that whirlwinds exist. Even if they didn't see a fire whirl, they could have come up with that idea by combining whirl and wind in their imagination.
And secondly, fire whirls were observable in and before the 7th century, so describing a fire whirl cannot be a scientific miracle.
Similar imagery was already mentioned in the Bible:
And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire.
For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire.