Volcano Miracle in the Quran

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Some Islamic apologists claim that the Quranic verses 99:1-2 give detailed scientific information about volcanos. The verses don't mention volcanos at all.

Miracle claim

Earthquakes or tremors precede eruptions.

Seismic activity (earthquakes and tremors) always occurs as volcanoes awaken and prepare to erupt and are a very important link to eruptions. Some volcanoes normally have continuing low-level seismic activity, but an increase may signal a greater likelihood of an eruption. The types of earthquakes that occur and where they start and end are also key signs.
Wikipedia, Prediction of volcanic activity, 2018

Earthquakes and tremors always precede volcanic eruptions. However 1400 years ago this was portrayed in the Quran.

[Quran 99.1-2] If the earth is shaken with its quake. If the earth brings out its loads.

Earth brings out its loads by volcanic eruptions. In the Quran earthquakes precede volcanic eruptions.

How could an illiterate man who lived 1400 years ago have known that earthquakes precede volcanic eruptions?


The verses

This short sura is obviously about the Day od Judgement. It's not a description of today's world. It's about supernatural events that will happen on that day:

99:1 When (إذا) the earth is shaken with its [final] earthquake

99:2 And the earth discharges its burdens

99:3 And man says, "What is [wrong] with it?" -

99:4 That Day, it will report its news

99:5 Because your Lord has commanded it.

99:6 That Day, the people will depart separated [into categories] to be shown [the result of] their deeds.

99:7 So whoever does an atom's weight of good will see it,

99:8 And whoever does an atom's weight of evil will see it.


Quran, sura 99, Sahih International translation

To hide the fact that the sura is about the Day of Judgement, apologists mistranslated the first word إذا (idhaa) as "if", instead of "when", although from the context we can see it's obviously "when" and it is commonly translated as such:

Dr. Ghali: When the earth is quaked with its (final) earthquake,

Muhsin Khan: When the earth is shaken with its (final) earthquake.

Pickthall: When Earth is shaken with her (final) earthquake

Sahih International: When the earth is shaken with its [final] earthquake

Yusuf Ali: When the earth is shaken to her (utmost) convulsion,


And the verses don't mention volcanos, it only says vaguely "And the earth discharges its burdens", which could mean anything.

The interpretation of Muhammad and his companions is:

Ibn `Abbas said,

﴿إِذَا زُلْزِلَتِ الاٌّرْضُ زِلْزَالَهَا ﴾ (When the earth quakes with its Zilzal.) "This means that it will move from beneath it.

﴿وَأَخْرَجَتِ الأَرْضُ أَثْقَالَهَا ﴾ (And when the earth throws out its burdens.) meaning, it will throw forth that which is in it of the dead. More than one of the Salaf have said this and it is similar to Allah's statement,

﴿يأَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُواْ رَبَّكُمْ إِنَّ زَلْزَلَةَ السَّاعَةِ شَىْءٌ عَظِيمٌ ﴾ (O mankind! Have Taqwa of your Lord! Verily, the earthquake (Zalzalah) of the Hour is a terrible thing.) (22:1) This is also similar to His saying,

﴿وَإِذَا الاٌّرْضُ مُدَّتْ - وَأَلْقَتْ مَا فِيهَا وَتَخَلَّتْ ﴾ (And when the earth is stretched forth, and has cast out all that was in it and became empty.) (84:3-4) Muslim recorded in his Sahih from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah said,

«تُلْقِي الْأَرْضُ أَفْلَاذَ كَبِدِهَا أَمْثَالَ الْأُسْطُوَانِ مِنَ الذَّهَبِ وَالْفِضَّةِ، فَيَجِيءُ الْقَاتِلُ فَيَقُولُ فِي هَذَا قَتَلْتُ، وَيَجِيءُ الْقَاطِعُ فَيَقُولُ فِي هَذَا قَطَعْتُ رَحِمِي،وَيَجِيءُ السَّارِقُ فَيَقُولُ: فِي هَذَا قُطِعَتْ يَدِي، ثُمَّ يَدَعُونَهُ فَلَا يَأْخُذُونَ مِنْهُ شَيْئًا» (The earth will throw out the pieces of its liver (its contents). Gold and silver will come out like columns. A murderer will come and say, `I killed for this' The one who broke the ties of kinship will say, `For this I severed the ties of kinship' The thief will say, `For this I got my hands amputated' Then they will leave it there and no one will take anything from it.)


Ibn Kathir on sura 99

And even if it somehow was about volcanos, the second verse starts with "and" (و), not with "then" (ثم or ف), so it wouldn't indicate that the earthquake comes before the eruption. They could come together, earthquake and eruption.

See also