What did Allah create first Heaven or Earth?
ALLEGED CONTRADICTION: Surah 41:9-12. States that Allah created the earth first and finished the earth and second: created the heaven, which was vapor from the big bang theory and finished the heavens and third made the stars. Science tells us that first: the vapor in the big bang theory came, second: stars and third: the earth.
ANSWER: The skeptics will argue that because verse nine begins with a general description of the earth followed by verse ten which elaborates the creation of the earth in verse nine that a sequential series of events is being established and thus verses eleven and twelve follow the sequence. We shall see how this statement falls flat on its face in light of all the evidence!
First, The Quran does not lay down a definitive sequence of events in 41:9-12 or any other place in the Quran. For example, it does not say First he did this, Second he did this, Third he did this, Fourth he did this, Fifth he did this, and Sixth he did this, giving us the total of the 6 periods of creation mentioned in many places in the Quran (7:54, 10:3, 11:7, 25:59, 32:4, 57:4, 50:38). Incidentally, each time we are told that creation is completed in six periods the word heaven always precedes the word earth.
Second it is interesting to note that Surah 41:9-12 is probably the most descriptive Surah with regard to the creation of the Universe. However, the statement that creation was completed in 6 periods is never reiterated at the beginning of 41:9-12 or any other place in this chapter. Consequently, the statement appears seven times in the Quran, thus suggesting that these verses were not intended to be viewed as A COMPLETE SEQUENTIAL ACCOUNT (see below) of creation. If it were, one would expect the statement to appear again at the beginning of verse nine or at the very least somewhere in the chapter, but it doesn’t; I wonder why.
Wait it gets better, the Quran did not intend for these verses to be interpreted sequentially because if one does the math the periods add up to eight and not six (2+4+2), thus, rendering these verses a mere description of non-sequential overlapping events. Surely, Allah could count to six. Hence, because we have overlapping events we must take this into account when we try to put together an account (see below) of the creation process.
Fourth, the earth could not possibly be the first thing created in the sequence because 79:27-30 states that in no uncertain terms beyond a shadow of a doubt that Allah created the heavens before the earth. Hence, these verses are not a sequential account of the 6 periods of creation and thus must be viewed both jointly and severally in relation to the whole Quranic account of creation. The word "then" in verses 2:29 and 41:11 is "Tumma"; it can mean "and also or moreover." Many translators of the Quran incorrectly use the word "then." The sentence structure clearly breaks and the facts are separate accounts.
Critics also state that since the six periods of creation is identical to the number described in the biblical version of creation that it must be wrong. However, the Arabic word for periods is Yaum, and it can mean a series of time that varies (See 32:5, 70:4). Moreover, Muslims never claim that the bible has no truth to it. What probably happened was a prophet of thousands of years ago was told about the 6 periods of creation and the story was subsequently changed to what we presently see to be clearly incorrect; this is nothing new from the Muslim position, since we see these insertions and deletions in the Bible over and over again!
The following are some key verses that deal with creation in the Quran. It must be remembered that many of these verses would be occurring non-sequential and concurrent just as 41:9-12 implies.
POSSIBLE DESCRIPTION OF EVENTS
THE BIG BANG CAME FIRST -The big bang occurred as a result of massive energy. Plasma eventually was formed.
21:30 "Do not those who disbelieve see that the heavens and the earth were joined together, but we have opened them."- Translation M.H. SHAKIR, YUSAF ALI
(THE HEAVEN AND EARTH WERE IN A FORM (PLASMA) AND DEFINITELY NOT IN THE FORM WE PRESENTLY SEE THEM OTHERWISE HOW COULD THEY HAVE BEEN JOINED? HOWEVER ALLAH INSISTS ON ADDRESSING THEM AS EARTH AND HEAVEN. THUS, IT FOLLOWS WHEN ALLAH SPEAKS OF EARTH AND HEAVEN THEY ARE NOT NECESSARILY TO BE CONSTRUED AS FULLY DEVELOPED ENTITIES AS WE KNOW THEM, FOR THEY WERE IN AN "OPENED" STATE.)
THEN CAME A VAPOR/GAS THAT WAS DESTINED TO BE THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH DURING THIS "OPEN" STATE -Plasma later cooled to gases (helium and hydrogen).
41:11 Moreover, he directed himself to the heaven and it is a vapor, so he said to it and to the earth Come both, willingly or unwillingly. They both said: We come willingly." – Translation M.H. SHAKIR, YUSAF ALI
(THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH ALL BEING PART OF THE SAME GAS/VAPOR (OR "OPENED" ENTITY) AS DESCRIBED ABOVE WERE DESTINED TO "COME WILLINGLY" INTO EXISTENCE. MOREOVER, SINCE WE ARE TOLD IN 79:27 THAT THE CREATION OF THE HEAVEN CLEARLY PREDATED THAT OF THE EARTH, THE EARTH MUST HAVE BEEN PART OF THIS PRIMORDIAL MATTER AND DEFINITELY NOT DEVELOPED. NO SKEPTIC CAN RATIONALLY DENY THIS, OTHERWISE THE SENTENCE WOULD NOT MAKE SENSE: SHALL WE SAY THAT WHEN ALLAH SAID, "DO YOU COME WILLINGLY" HE INTENDED TO RE-IMPLODE THE BIG BANG!)
PERIODS 3 AND 4
THE CREATION OF THE HEAVENS -Eventually, the gasses condensed into the stars.
41:12 "So he ordained them seven heavens in two periods, and revealed in every heaven its affair; and We adorned the lower heaven with brilliant stars and made it to guard; that is the decree of the Mighty, the knowing." -Translation M.H. SHAKIR
67:3 "God is the one who created seven heavens one above another." - Translation M.H. SHAKIR
THE EXPANSION OF THE UNIVERSE
51:47 "With power and skill did we construct the heaven: For it is we who expand the vastness of Space." -Translation YUSAF ALI, MAURICE BUCAILLE.
PERIODS 5 AND 6
EARTH IS COMPLETED AFTER THE HEAVENS -Stars eventually exploded and recondensed over numerous cycles, forming the heavy elements that later condensed into planets.
79:27-30 "Are you the harder to create or the heaven? He made it. He raised high its height, then put it into a right good state. And he made dark its night and brought out its light. And the earth, he expanded it after that." -Translation M.H. SHAKIR
41:9 "Say: What! Do you indeed disbelieve in him who created the earth in two periods, and do you set up equals with Him? That is the Lord of the Worlds." – Translation M.H. SHAKIR
41:10 "He set on (the earth). Mountains standing firm, High above it, And bestowed blessings on the earth, and measured therein all things to give them nourishment in due proportion, in four periods, in accordance with (the needs of) those who seek (sustenance)." -Translation YUSAF ALI
(THE FOUR PERIODS DESCRIBED IN THIS VERSE COULD BE SUB-PERIODS OF THE PRIMARY TWO PERIODS DESCRIBED IN 41:9)
A DESCRIPTION OF HOW GOD CREATED THE EARTH AND A SEPARATE DESCRIPTION OF HOW HE CREATED THE HEAVEN. NO SEQUENCE OF EVENTS IS ESTABLISHED FROM THIS VERSE.
2:29 "He it is who created for you all that is in the earth (I.E 41:10); and also he directed himself to the heaven, so he made them complete seven heavens (I.E 41:12)" – Translation M.H. SHAKIR
Heaven or Earth ? Which was created first ?
Response by Randy Desmond
The reader has to understand two things:
First, the word translated "then" is the Arabic word "thumma". It can be rendered "Moreover/Furthermore". Jochen shows this in his web page disputing the number of days of creation. I mention it again in my response to that page. It is also true that "thumma" can be rendered "then" (as in a subsequent "and").
Second, the Arabic word for "he turned" can be rendered as "he turned", " he has turned", or "he had turned". The implication being a past action has occured. See "Written Arabic - An Approach to the Basic Structures" by A.F.L. Beeston (cost about $25.00), Chapter 3, note 22.
So what does this mean with respect to the verses quoted by Jochen?
It means that Surah 2:29 may be read as follows:
That is an acceptable translation of the Arabic and it does not conflict with Surah 79:27-30. In fact if we assume it "thumma" means "then", the sentance could potentially be awkward. (i.e. "...then he had turned...")
So which is the most accurate rendering? I assume there is no contradiction in the Qur'an and so if I can find a legitimate context that renders all the data coherent, I accept that as a proof that contradiction has not been proven. I don't think anyone can claim "contradiction" on anything unless there is no alternative explanation which legitimately explains why a proposed contradiction is not a contradiction.
Continuing, if you look at Jochen's page on the number of days of creation you will see that my response to that supports my argument here. Then look at my response to Jochens page on the heavens and earth ripping apart (if my respoonse has been posted - as I write this I'm not sure if it has), you will further see that the whole creation story is cohesive when we take all the data into account. I will grant the reader that this exchange between Jochen and I may be disjointed and a bit confusing, but please, take all the information into account. To say it is contradictory or confusing is not taking into consideration that translations may be the point of confusion and not the Qur'an.
If these are the kinds of things Jochen has encountered from Muslims attacking a the Bible, his feelings reflected in his purpose statement are understandable. Although I do question his intent and methods for venting these feelings. It seems questions about these "contradictions" should be asked before accusations ensue (or appending "...more to come..." on the webpage - that is a bit presumptuous).
Now, having said all that, I came up with some guide lines we can apply to any book to prove/disprove contradictions. Let me know if you think it is fair.
Is there ever a context for which the proposed contradictory statements are not contradictory?
If it seems that the statements are still contradictory, ask the following:
Have I made any unverified assumptions?
Do you agree that if we answer NO to the first two questions and YES to the last three questions, then we would seem to have a contradiction?
So if, after considering all of the above information, we still have a contradiction, then we can conclude that there is a problem. (Note: this is addressing internal contradictions of a document, I have not thought whether this is also a relevant guideline for external contradictions). Not being scholars in the matters, we could then even consult scholars in the matters and see what they have to say. If after all this there is still a problem. So be it.
Let me also point out that proving contradictions is much harder than disproving them. So, working with the assumption that there is none and conclusively proving a contradiction is a much more credible approach than vice-versa. Now I hope that we can apply these ideas to both the Qur'an and Bible.
Well, that is my opinion. Is it agreeable? God knows best.
Heavens or Earth? Which was created first? First earth and then heaven [2:29], heaven and after that earth [79:27-30]
by Mishal ibn Abdullah
The earth was created first, as mentioned in the first verse of Al-Baqarah(2):29. The first verse uses the word "Khalaqa" (created). The second set of verses only say that God "Daha" (spread out and gave features) the earth after the creation of the heavens, not that he "Khalaqa" (created) it. Please verify my claims by referring to any convenient dictionary, such as "Lisan Al-Arab." In other words, God created the earth, created the heavens, and then gave the earth its features and spread them out. This is explained in sufficient detail by the Companion of the Prophet Ibn Abbas who's words in this regard have been recorded in Sahih Al-Bukhari. The very verses themselves even explain it for those who would like to read the very next verse. The verses say "And the earth He "daha" after that; He extracted from its water and its fodder, and the mountains He planted firmly..." Thus, it is quite clear from the verses themselves what is meant by this word. It simply means "to spread out and give features, such as streams, mountains, plants, etc."
It is very possible that what is meant by "spreading out and giving features" in this verse is the well known "continental drift" theory. In the early 20th century a German meteorologist by the name of A. L. Wegener, after studying numerous scientific indications suggested that the continents had started out as a single unified continent millions of years ago when the earth was first formed. These continents then split apart, and like a giant jigsaw puzzle they moved apart to form the continents we know today as Europe, Asia, Australia, the Americas, etc. This splitting of the continents is postulated to have begun in the Mesozoic Era and is continuing in the present era.
Originally, a huge primeval supercontinent that Wegener called Pangea (Greek, "all land") had rifted and the pieces had separated to form the present continents. According to Wegener, South America and Africa began to separate about 100 million years ago, during the Cretaceous Period, as did North America and Europe, thereby creating the Atlantic Ocean. The Indian Ocean began to open up during the Jurassic Period. The principal movement, however, occurred during the Cretaceous and Tertiary periods, when the Indian subcontinent moved north and collided with Asia, and Australia became separated from Antarctica, driving into the Indonesian Archipelago. The westward drift of the American continents generated the compressive forces that produced the western Cordilleran mountain ranges, and the northward drift of India crumpled a large area, thus forming the Himalaya mountain range. Similarly, the Alpine mountain ranges were the result of north-south compression between Africa and Europe.
Wegener supported his hypothesis by producing evidence from various fields. Wegener did not base his theory simply on the celebrated "jigsaw fit" of the Atlantic continents, rather, much more convincing were the numerous indications evident in the geographic distribution of distinctive types of fossils. The conventional "stabilist" interpretation rejected continental drift and favored transoceanic land bridges that had sunk, such as the fabled Atlantis. Wegener showed, however, that this interpretation was geo-physically implausible. Other evidence supporting Wegener's hypothesis came from a comparison of the rocks on both sides of the Atlantic, which seems to indicate that the continents had been closely connected in the past, as well as from a study of ancient climatic zones and a series of late Paleozoic sedimentary deposits known as tillites.
Although Wegener's hypothesis originally received a generally hostile reception, recently, new geophysical evidence tends to support the hypothesis of drifting continents. Convection cells, plate tectonics, and seafloor spreading are three new sciences which have recently combined to support the continental drift theory.
It is interesting to note that in the Qur'an God ties the "spreading out" (Daha) of the earth with the formation and "planting" of the mountains. An issue which Wegener has confirmed and considers to be an integral part of this theory as seen above. It is also interesting that this matter is only just beginning to receive wide-spread acceptance in the scientific community in this century. One wonders, if prophet Muhammad (pbuh) did not receive his message from God, then where did he get the theory that the earth was "spread out" long after its creation and that this spreading out is related to the creation of the mountains among other issues?
Further, it is also strange that in spite of the fact that the Abdullah Yusuf Ali, the Marmaduke Pickthall, and the Hilali and Khan translations of the meanings of the Qur'an all translate the second verse as "spread out" or "extended," still, in order to generate a "contradiction" the author of this list managed to change this word to "create" in order that it might support his allegations. A strange way to 'prove' one's case.