In verses (21:30-32) ALLAH, subhanahu wa ta’ala, stated several scientific facts: (1) that all objects in the universe (heavens and earth) started as one entity, (2) HE then separated them, (3) all living things are made of water, (4) HE placed in earth mountains to provide balance and in earth HE made pathways to guide them, and (5) HE made the sky a protected ceiling.
Quran.com-Sahih International and Tenzil.net translated these verses as: Have those who disbelieved not considered that the heavens and the earth were a joined entity, and WE separated them and made from water every living thing? Then will they not believe? (21:30). And We placed within the earth firmly set mountains, lest it should shift with them, and WE made therein [mountain] passes [as] roads that they might be guided. (21:31). And WE made the sky a protected ceiling but they, from its signs, are turning away. (21:32).
Zaki (2006), translated them as: Have those who disbelieve not seen by the knowledge they acquire that the heavens and the earth were conjoined as one mass and WE separated them and that we have made every living thing therein from water? Will they not then believe in God’s oneness (21:30); So too have WE set in the earth anchoring mountains so that it does not sway with them upon it as it spins. And we made therein pathways so that they might find guidance therein (21:31); And we made the heaven a vault safeguarded above the earth. Still they turn away from pondering the wonders of its signs (21:32).
Al Maududi translation of the same verses is as follows: Did the unbelievers (who do not accept the teaching of the Prophet) not realize that the heavens and the earth were one solid mass, then We tore them apart, and We made every living being out of water? Will they, then, not believe (that We created all this)? (21:30) And We placed firm mountains on earth lest it should sway with them, and We made wide paths in them that they may find their way; (21:31) and We made the sky a secure canopy; and yet they turn away from these Signs. (21:32)
These three translations conveyed the same general meaning but used different words. For example, The Qur’an used the Arabic word Ratqan to describe how the skies and the earth where joined together and used the word Fatakna to describe the process of separating or splitting or un-joining them. The Ratq means when two or more things are sewn together and Fataqa means the un-stitching of the different parts. These two words (Ratqan and Fataqa), were used only in this verse and nowhere else in the Qur’an. This implies that the joining and unjoining of these different parts were by special design. They do not just simply imply pressing or compressing and splitting of parts of the same structure. Nor do they imply a haphazard mixture.
Each one of these verses describes a majestic scientific fact that scientists are still wrestling with today. In sha ALLAH, subhanahu wata’ala each will be the subject of a future article.
By Bassam Jamil Jody, Ph.D.