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This is a new article which I was unable to find at wikiislam.

Since I don't have the right to create new Pages, therefore I had to publish this new article at my talk page (which luckily I am able to edit).

Therefore, I request you to please create a new page for this article, so that I could transfer it there. Thanks.

Quranic Miracle: Universe is steadily expanding

Modern Muslims du'aah have made the claim that the expansion of the universe was foretold in the Qur'an. This claim was never made before the discovery by modern science that the universe is constantly expanding, and moreover a close reading of the text makes clear that the Qur'an does not actually claim it.

They present the following translation of the verse 51:47:

وَالسَّمَاءَ بَنَيْنَاهَا بِأَيْدٍ وَإِنَّا لَمُوسِعُون
Muhammad Assad: AND IT IS We who have built the universe with [Our creative] power; and, verily, it is We who are steadily expanding it.

Zakir Naik writes regarding this verse:

The Arabic word mûsi‘ûn (in verse 51:47) is correctly translated as ‘expanding it’, and it refers to the creation of the expanding vastness of the universe. Stephen Hawking, in his book, ‘A Brief History of Time’, says, “The discovery that the universe is expanding was one of the great intellectual revolutions of the 20th century.” The Qur’aan mentioned the expansion of the universe, before man even learnt to build a telescope!

Criticism

Critics point out that the term “lamūsi‘ūn لَمُوسِعُونَ ” in this verse is a "NOUN"  and not a "Verb", and it describes "God" and not the "heaven" (i.e. the term “wa-innā lamūsi‘ūn وَإِنَّا لَمُوسِعُونَ” means "God is the Expander", and not "the Universe is Expanding").

Thus the earlier Quran Translators translated it as under:

Yusuf Ali: With power and skill did We construct the Firmament: for it is We Who create the vastness of space.
Sahih International: And the heaven We constructed with strength, and indeed, We are [its] expander.

Moreover, the root word of لَمُوسِعُونَ (lamūsiʿūna) is و س ع . However in Quran, this word and it's derivatives have been used in the meanings of "Encompassing".

Look at the following verses:

وَسِعَ رَبِّى كُلَّ شَىْءٍ عِلْمًا
Sahih Intl: My Lord encompasses all things in knowledge

Also see verses 7:89 and 20:98.

Also see verse 65:12, where directly the word of "احاط" (encompass) has been used instead of "wasi'a"

وَأَنَّ ٱللَّهَ قَدْ أَحَاطَ بِكُلِّ شَىْءٍ عِلْمًۢا
Sahih Intl: and that Allah has encompassed all things in knowledge.

ٖThus few translator used this figurative meaning:

Maududi: And heaven – We made it with Our Own Power and We have the Power to do so.

Critics also point out that exactly the same grammar has been used in the next verse 51:48.

Yousuf Ali: And We have spread out the (spacious) earth: How excellently We do spread out!

In this verse, the word الْمَاهِدُونَ (spreader/smoother) has exactly the same grammar [1] as the word لَمُوسِعُونَ (i.e. expander) in the previous verse, but no one translated it as "earth is steadily spreading out".

Critics point out that the modern Muslim apologists have deliberately and deceptively altered the meaning of 51:47 in three ways:

  • They have translated “heaven” as “universe” in the attempt to make the Qur’an sound conceptually more sophisticated than it really is, and to provide a stronger basis for his second and more significant distortion.
  • They then not only translates the Arabic noun for “We are the expander” into a verb meaning “universe is expanding,”
  • And then they add the entirely superfluous adverb “steadily” in an attempt to insert into the Qur’an additional ideas that are not actually there.

With these three translational liberties, modern Muslim apologists have completely changed the meaning of this aya from a simple description of Allah’s creation of the heavens into a scientific statement of Hubble’s expanding universe that is not actually contained in the Qur’an.

Universe consists of "Space", while Quranic HEAVEN is a solid canopy which could not expand

Critics also point out that according to science, universe consists of space and galaxies are travelling away from each other in this space and thus it is considered as an expansion of the universe.

But according to the writer of Quran, :

الذي جعل لكم الارض فراشا والسماء بناء وانزل من السماء ماء فاخرج به من الثمرات رزقا لكم فلا تجعلوا لله اندادا وانتم تعلمون
Who has made the earth your couch, and the heavens your canopy; and sent down rain from the heavens; and brought forth therewith Fruits for your sustenance; then set not up rivals unto Allah when ye know (the truth).

The word translated as canopy is binaa or binaan ( بِنَاء ). This word means "building"[2]. Here, the heavens are described as a multi-story building over the earth. There are seven layers or stories to this building called the heavens. The heavens are built on a foundation called "the earth". The tafsir of Ibn Kathir, among others, elaborates this[3]:

These Ayat indicate that Allah started creation by creating earth, then He made heaven into seven heavens. This is how building usually starts, with the lower floors first and then the top floors

And according to the tradition in Sahih Bukhari, prophets are residing upon these solid heavens along with their nations, and solid things don't expand

References:

  1. Active Participle Form I [1] Verse 51:48
  2. بِنَاء binaa - Lane's Lexicon page 261
  3. Tafsirs 2:22