Sinkhole Miracle in the Quran

From WikiIslam, the online resource on Islam
Jump to: navigation, search

The Quran says that Allah made the Earth swallow Qarun. Some Islamic apologists claim it's a scientific miracle.

The claim

Sinkholes vary in size from 1 to 600 m (3.3 to 2,000 ft) both in diameter and depth, and vary in form from soil-lined bowls to bedrock-edged chasms. Sinkholes may form gradually or suddenly, and are found worldwide.
Wikipedia, Sinkhole, 2018
In the northern part of Guatemala City, the downpour created a sinkhole the size of a street intersection. Residents told CNN that a three-story building and a house fell into the hole.
CNN, More than 175 dead from weekend storm in Central America, 2018

Sinkholes can suddenly swallow buildings. But 1400 years ago this was portrayed in the Quran:

[Quran 28.81] So We collapsed the earth beneath him and his house. He had no company to save him from Allah, and he could not defend himself.

The earth suddenly collapsed beneath him and his house. Today we know this is called a sinkhole.

How could an illiterate man who lived 1400 years ago have known about sinkholes?


The verse

In the context we can see that it's not a description of what happens in nature, but it's rather a part of a story where Allah inflicted supernatural punishment on Qarun, by making the Earth swallow him:

28:76 Indeed, Qarun was from the people of Moses, but he tyrannized them. And We gave him of treasures whose keys would burden a band of strong men; thereupon his people said to him, "Do not exult. Indeed, Allah does not like the exultant.

28:77 But seek, through that which Allah has given you, the home of the Hereafter; and [yet], do not forget your share of the world. And do good as Allah has done good to you. And desire not corruption in the land. Indeed, Allah does not like corrupters."

28:78 He said, "I was only given it because of knowledge I have." Did he not know that Allah had destroyed before him of generations those who were greater than him in power and greater in accumulation [of wealth]? But the criminals, about their sins, will not be asked.

28:79 So he came out before his people in his adornment. Those who desired the worldly life said, "Oh, would that we had like what was given to Qarun. Indeed, he is one of great fortune."

28:80 But those who had been given knowledge said, "Woe to you! The reward of Allah is better for he who believes and does righteousness. And none are granted it except the patient."

28:81 And We caused the earth to swallow him and his home. And there was for him no company to aid him other than Allah, nor was he of those who [could] defend themselves.


Quran 28:76-81, Sahih International

Although apologists like to translate 28:81 as "We collapsed the earth beneath him" to fit their agenda, the verse is commonly translated as:

Muhsin Khan: So We caused the earth to swallow him and his dwelling place.

Pickthall: So We caused the earth to swallow him and his dwelling-place.

Sahih International: And We caused the earth to swallow him and his home.

Yusuf Ali: Then We caused the earth to swallow up him and his house;


So it's a story about Allah inflicting a supernatural punishment and there is no indication that the author of the Quran had knowledge about sinkholes happening in nature.

The Bible

If the story is a miracle, then it's a miracle of the Bible and not of the Quran, because the Bible mentioned it first:

Then Moses said, “This is how you will know that the Lord has sent me to do all these things and that it was not my idea: If these men die a natural death and suffer the fate of all mankind, then the Lord has not sent me. But if the Lord brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the realm of the dead, then you will know that these men have treated the Lord with contempt.”

As soon as he finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households, and all those associated with Korah, together with their possessions. They went down alive into the realm of the dead, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community. At their cries, all the Israelites around them fled, shouting, “The earth is going to swallow us too!”


The Bible, Numbers 16:28-34

Just like in the Quran, it's presented as a supernatural punishment, not as a description of what is happening in nature.

See also